A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Rio de Janeiro vs. Cusco for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Rio de Janeiro or Cusco?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel cost comparison between Rio de Janeiro and Cusco can help. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is the most popular travel destination in Brazil. It is the second largest city in Brazil and the sixth largest in the Americas. A portion of the city has been designated a World Heritage Site. The peak time to visit is during the city's famous Carnival festival, which is one of the most famous festivals in the world. However, Rio's appeal as a travel destination is apparent year around. The city has a wonderful natural harbour that is surrounded by Sugar Loaf Mountain, Corcovado Peak, and the hills of Tijuca, creating an absolutely breathtaking and awe-inspiring setting. And you can't miss the beach, either!

Cusco

Cusco is most famous as the historic capital of the Inca Empire. It is in the southern Sierras and is one of the most popular travel destinations within Peru. The city is located at 3,400 meters above sea level so it is best to acclimate yourself slowly to avoid altitude sickness. (Read this advice about managing the altitude in Cusco and Machu Picchu.)

Which city is cheaper, Cusco or Rio de Janeiro?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Rio de Janeiro is $81, while the average daily cost in Cusco is $38. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Rio de Janeiro and Cusco in more detail.



Accommodation

The average price for accommodation for two people in Rio de Janeiro is $100. This is for two people sharing a typical double occupancy hotel room.

A hotel room in Cusco is about $34 This assumes double occupancy and modest accommodations.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Rio de Janeiro $50
    Cusco $17
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Rio de Janeiro $100
    Cusco $34

Food

The average traveler spends about $15 per day in Rio de Janeiro for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.

Cusco food costs typically run travelers around $9.59 per day. Eating every meal in a nicer restaurant will drive the cost up, and grabbing fast food or casual meals will help you save money.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Rio de Janeiro $15
    Cusco $9.59
Typical Food prices in Rio de Janeiro

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Rio de Janeiro:


  • Popcorn
    $0.57
  • Corn on the Cob
    $0.76
  • Hamburger
    $0.95

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Rio de Janeiro

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Rio de Janeiro.

  • Food Tour Rio de Janeiro: $30
  • Cooking Class for Cacao Lovers: $51
  • Feijoada Food Tour in Rio de Janeiro with Hotel pick-up and drop-off: $55
  • Plant-based Brazilian Flavours Cooking Class: $56
  • Dinner & Rio Scenarium Nightclub Admission with Transfer: $60
  • Private Tour in Rio Scenarium with Dinner: $65
  • Skip the line: Samba Show Admission & Transfer with Dinner Option: $70
  • Dinner and Brazilian Music Show in Rio Scenarium: $70
  • Small-Group Boozy 7-Recipe Brazilian Cooking Class: $75
  • Brazilian Food And Caipirinhas Cooking Class: $75
  • Food Tour Experience in Rio de Janeiro (Small Groups or Private): $80
  • Secret Food Tours Rio de Janeiro: $82

Typical Food prices in Cusco

Some typical examples of dining costs in Cusco are as follows:


  • Sandwich
    $1.95
  • Mango
    $0.49

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cusco

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Cusco.

  • Small-Group Virtual Peruvian Cooking Experience: $25
  • Small-Group Virtual Ceviche Cooking Experience: $25
  • Tunupa Cusco Restaurant: Dinner with Show: $28
  • CUSCO COOKING CLASS LUNCH 12:00PM TO 1:30PM (Available only in English): $37
  • Peruvian Cooking Class and Local Market in Cusco: $39
  • Dinner at Calle del Medio restaurant: $40
  • Dinner at Pachapapa restaurant.: $40
  • Peruvian Cooking Classes: $43
  • Dinner at Tunupa restaurant with folkloric show.: $45
  • Dinner at Inca Grill Restaurant: $45
  • Curious Monkey- The Gordito, Walking Food Tour: $45
  • Fully hands-on High End Peruvian Cooking Class & San Pedro Market Guided Visit: $45

Local Transportation

While taxis and private drivers typically cost much more than public transportation, people usually spend around $6.22 per day to get around in Rio de Janeiro.

The average price of local transportation around Cusco is $8.69 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Rio de Janeiro $6.22
    Cusco $8.69
Typical Local Transportation prices in Rio de Janeiro

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Rio de Janeiro:


  • Taxi Ride
    $2.86

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Rio de Janeiro

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Rio de Janeiro:

  • Private Departure Transfer from Rio de Janeiro City or Copacabana to SDU Airport: $19
  • Executive Transfers - Rio de Janeiro - Santos Dumont Airport SDU: $20
  • Private Airport Transfer: Santos Dumont Airport (SDU) to Rio de Janeiro: $21
  • Private Airport Transfer: from Rio de Janeiro to Santos Dumont Airport (SDU): $21
  • Private Departure Transfer from Rio de Janeiro City or Copacabana to GIG Airport: $22
  • Shared Transfer from hotels to Rio de Janeiro airport: $22
  • Shared Transfer from Airport to hotels in Rio de Janeiro: $22
  • Private Airport Transfer: Galeao International Airport (GIG) to Rio de Janeiro: $23
  • Private Airport Transfer: Rio de Janeiro to Galeao International Airport (GIG): $23
  • Galeão Airport Shared Transfers: $23
  • Rio de Janeiro to Santos Dumont Shared Airport Transfer: $23
  • Transfer in Private Vehicle from Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont Airport to City: $23

Typical Local Transportation prices in Cusco

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Cusco:


  • Taxi Ride
    $0.97

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cusco

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cusco:

  • Aiport Transfers Service: $41
  • Airport Cusco Transfers: $60
  • Airport Transfer, City Tour, Sacred Valley & Machupicchu (All Included): $580
  • Arrival Private Transfer Cusco Airport CUZ to Cusco City by Minivan: $27
  • Arrival Private Transfer from Cusco Airport CUZ to Cusco City by Sedan Car: $18
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Cusco Airport CUZ to Cusco City by Sprinter Minibus: $51
  • Arrival Transfer & Cusco City Tour: $43
  • CUSCO MAGICAL 4D Transfer, Hotel, City Tour, Sacred Valley and Machu picchu: $641
  • Cusco – Puno Direct Transfers: $39
  • Cusco Airport Arrival Transfer: $8.20
  • Cusco Airport Arrival Transfer: $9.67
  • Cusco Airport Arrival or Departure Private Transfer: $9.70

Is it cheaper to fly into Rio de Janeiro or Cusco?

Prices for flights to both Cusco and Rio de Janeiro change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Entertainment

Activities, things to do, and other forms of entertainment usually cost around $17 per person, per day in Rio de Janeiro. This cost includes the price of admission tickets to attractions and museums as well as daily tours.

Cusco's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $20 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Rio de Janeiro $17
    Cusco $20

Tours and Activities in Rio de Janeiro

Here are a few actual costs in Rio de Janeiro for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Rio Line Panoramic City Tour - Boulevard Route: $10
  • Inside Rio Photography Walking Tour: $10
  • Hiking Tour to Pedra do Telégrafo (Telegraph Stone): $12
  • Carnival Backstage Tour - Visit a traditional Samba School: $16
  • Rocinha Lucky Tour: $16
  • Rio Street Art Experience 2 Hours: $19
  • Half-Day Downtown Walking Tour: $19
  • 2 Hour Vidigal Favela Tour Discovery the Most Laidback Favela: $19
  • Favela Tour -The path of Michael Jackson in Rio: $20
  • Historical Downtown and Lapa - Walking Tour: $20
  • Private Walking and Cultural Tour Rocinha-Rio de Janeiro: $25
  • Boat Tour Guanabara Bay - Rio de Janeiro - Sightseeing: $25

Typical Entertainment prices in Cusco

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Cusco are as follows:


  • Salsa Class
    $2.44

Tours and Activities in Cusco

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Cusco are as follows:

  • Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary Admission Ticket: $7.00
  • the best tour 4 ruins cusco: $10
  • Cusco Cathedral Admission Ticket: $10
  • Walking tour in Cusco: $10
  • Walking Tour Game: $11
  • city cusco tour: $12
  • City Tour in Cusco: $14
  • Tours in Cusco with mgtravelsperu: $14
  • Machu Picchu: 2-Hour Small Group Guided Tour: $14
  • City Tour cusco and archaeological sites: $15
  • Shared Cusco City Tour by Bus: $15
  • City Tour Cusco Peru: $15

Alcohol

While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Rio de Janeiro may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $9.43 per day on alcoholic beverages.

The average person spends about $6.81 on alcoholic beverages in Cusco per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Rio de Janeiro $9.43
    Cusco $6.81

Sample the Local Flavors in Rio de Janeiro

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Rio de Janeiro:

  • Pub Crawl Rio de Janeiro: $11
  • Skip the line: Ipanema Pub Crawl: $28
  • Beautiful Imperial Petropolis City Tour Optional Lunch & Bohemia Brewery: $34
  • Rio By Night Tour: Pub Crawl Experiencing Music, Dancing, Drinks & Local Culture: $105
  • Petrópolis City and Brewery Bohemia Tour - Best of Rio's Mountains: $135
  • Rio: Sitio Burle Marx and Cachaça Distillery Private Tour: $160


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Rio de Janeiro and Cusco, we can see that Rio de Janeiro is more expensive. And not only is Cusco much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Cusco would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Cusco and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Rio de Janeiro would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Rio de Janeiro than you might in Cusco.

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Rio de Janeiro vs. Cusco Travel Comparison

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