Low-Budget Tips To Enjoy Cusco - And Machu Picchu

May 2, 2019

by Bruna Monte

Cusco is a city in the southeast of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, in the Andes region. It is the best-known city in Peru due to the presence of one of the 7 wonders of the modern world, the Machu Picchu.
Because of the altitude of Cusco, about 3400 meters above the sea, it is normal that many tourists feel uncomfortable with altitude sickness, feeling headache, panting and tired. In addition, due to the altitude, the temperature of Cusco varies from the 30s to 40s Fahrenheit at night. But don’t get nervous, because cold items are sold in every corner and at very affordable prices.

When to go to Cusco?

Cusco has only two seasons: dry and rainy. The dry season runs from May to October and rainy from November to April.
During the dry season, the city usually gets more crowded, since this weather facilitates a lot in those who will backpack to Machu Picchu. But if you like rain and prefer a more calm trip, perhaps the rainy season is best for you.

Best places to eat in Cusco

In Peru, in general, it is very common that you find in the restaurants the option “Menu”, which includes entrance, main dish, dessert, and drink. The price of the “Menu” usually fluctuate from 5 soles up to 30 soles. Remembering that Novo Sol (soles), the currency of Peru, is devalued, which makes everything even cheaper.
Here are some restaurants that I could meet in Cusco that offered great service for an unbelievable price:

La Divina Patricia

The restaurant focused on contemporary Peruvian food serves “Menu” for 10 soles with Ceviche, soup, main dish (various options of pasta and meat) and lemonade. The food is spectacular and the service is very pleasant.

La Divina Patricia is located on Calle Quera 259, 400 meters from Cusco’s Plaza de las Armas.

Rustic Pizzeria

A spectacular promotion of 1 individual pizza roasted in stone fire, garlic bread, and the Cusqueña beer for only 15 soles. This pizzeria is extremely unknown, does not accept card, but it is an inexplicable find.

The Pizzeria is on Calle Hospital, next to Iglesia San Pedro.

Foods and drinks to try in Cusco


 The Alpaca meat is not so famous and common in other parts of Peru, but in Cusco, it is typical. Almost all the restaurants have it on the menu. It is very soft and, for being different, I believe it is nice to try it.

Pisco Sour

It is the typical drink of Peru. It is based on lemon, pisco, and egg white, and even though it does not seems so tasty, it is amazing. It is a very cheap drink, and in almost all restaurants and bars you will find the promotion of 2 pisco sours for 15 soles.

Lomo Saltado

This dish is a blend of juicy meats cooked with steamed vegetables and a very tasty special sauce. It is almost always included in the promotional menus of 5 to 30 soles I mentioned earlier.

Cusqueña Beer

It is the typical beer of the region, and so it is cheap and consumed everywhere. In restaurants, it usually costs between 7 to 10 soles, and in the markets of 3 to 6 soles. The Cusqueña Beer has the flavors: wheat, gold, black and red. All of them are wonderful!

Coca tea

In order not to suffer from altitude sickness, it is good to take coca tea at least 2 or 3 times a day. In addition, buying coca candies also helps to prevent discomfort.

Things to do in Cusco

The center of Cusco revolves around the Plaza de las Armas. From there you get to go to several local handicraft fairs for very cheap prices. For example, I was able to buy a Peruvian backpack for only 35 soles.
Near the Plaza de las Armas you can also find several museums and the possibility to visit the Cathedrals.
The entrance to the Basilica Catedral de Cusco, located right in the heart of the Plaza de las Armas, costs 25 soles for adults and 12.50 soles for students.


How to get to Macchu Pichu on a low budget

The only way to get to Machu Picchu is going from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, and from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.

It is possible to do all this way direct by train, but only the one-way ticket costs between $ 75 and $ 95 dollars. So not paying for the train back and forth is already a big saving, especially considering the unavoidable expense of admission to Machu Picchu, which is $ 70 dollars for adults and $ 41 for students in the most basic tour package (but that includes the essential).
So to spend the least possible amount of money, it is best to divide your trip into 5 parts:

Cusco – Hydroelectric

It is necessary to hire a bus or van service in a tourism agency located in the Plaza de las Armas that goes from Cusco to the Hydroelectric. This route takes about 6h and passes a curvy and dangerous road, but the drivers of the region are accustomed to it and drive normally. The route Cusco – Hydroelectric round trip usually goes for 60 soles (and usually includes lunch in the Hydroelectric).

Hydroelectric – Aguas Calientes

This route is made in a 13km walk following the train tracks. Many backpackers make this trail, so it’s always full of people. Go prepared with a raincoat, water, clothes and, especially, comfortable shoes, since the way is all stepping on small stones. The journey takes around 2h30 / 3h.

Overnight in Aguas Calientes

The best option is to sleep one night in Aguas Calientes to get to know a little of the village and rest to get ok for Machu Picchu the next day. After all, it is inevitable to be tired. Usually, the hotels and hostels in the area offer daily rates of 30 to 50 soles and it is not necessary to book early, you can search as soon as you get there.

Ascent and descent to Machu Picchu

It is possible to go up and down from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu by bus, but this route costs around $ 40 dollars. So to save that money you can follow the trail. This trail takes about 1h30 and is quite hard and tiring. To come back from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes, follow the trail. Downhill is easier and less tiring.

Returning to Cusco

To return it is necessary to do the same route you did to come. When arriving from Machu Picchu, if you are not too tired, have lunch in Aguas Calientes and start the trail back to the Hydroelectric. If you are very tired, it might be interesting to think about another overnight in Aguas Calientes, since the walk to the Hydroelectric is very exhaustive. Arriving at the Hydroelectric, find your van/bus and return to Cusco.


 Why do you need to visit Cusco?

Cusco is a historical and special city. They have a humble origin and live on tourism. You will be able to get in touch with completely different realities, meet people from all over the world, eat typical dishes that you never imagined you would taste and guarantee spectacular photos and videos of memories you make there.
It is no surprise that Machu Picchu is one of the 7 wonders of the modern world. It’s really inexplicable and incomparable. I can not explain the feeling of being there … You need to go there and feel it!

Good trip!

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May 3, 2019

Essa menina já é bem viajada. Mas fará ainda mais viagens pelo mundo. Porque ela pode conquistar tudo o que quiser na vida