Last Updated on May 7, 2022 by Nellie Huang
With new restrictions, it’s not as easy to get to Machu Picchu as it used to be. Here is my detailed guide on how to get to Machu Picchu.
A trip to Peru is not complete without visiting Machu Picchu, where you can traipse through its ancient stone paths and walk in the footsteps of the Incas. One of the seven modern wonders of the world, Machu Picchu has remained incredibly well preserved thanks to its remote location on the mountaintops of the Sacred Valley.
We have just returned from our second visit to Machu Picchu, and it’s just as spectacular as we remembered it. However, because of the new regulations introduced by the government to protect the site, Machu Picchu is even harder to get to these days. To help you plan your journey, this is my detailed guide on how to get to Machu Picchu.
How to Get to Machu Picchu
An Overview of Machu Picchu
Poised in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Machu Picchu is located in the Eastern Cordillera of southern Peru. It is perched at 7,979 feet (2,430 m) on a mountain ridge high above the Sacred Valley.
It is believed that the ruins’ natural setting is as important to the site as the buildings themselves. Recent research has shown that the site’s location, and the orientation of its most important structures, was strongly influenced by the location of nearby holy mountains.
In fact, Machu Picchu is just one of the many Inca ruins you can find in the Sacred Valley. The Ollantaytambo archaeological site, for instance, is an impressive area with the ruins of Emperor Pachacuti’s palace. Most travelers will pass through Ollantaytambo anyway as it’s the starting point for trains to Machu Picchu (more details below).
The History of Machu Picchu
Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was constructed as an estate for the Inca Emperor Pachacuti. The Incas built the citadel around 1450 but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish conquest.
Although known locally, it remained unknown to the outside world until American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to international attention in 1911. Machu Picchu then became the familiar icon of the Inca Empire.
However, it was often mistaken to be the “Lost City of the Incas” (Vilcabamba). Bingham spent most of his life arguing that Machu Picchu was Vilcabamba. The real Vilcabamba is now believed to have been built in the jungle about 50 miles west of Machu Picchu.
When to Travel to Machu Picchu
In general, Machu Picchu can be visited any time of year. Peak season in Machu Picchu runs from June to August when tours and accommodation are usually booked out well in advance.
The best time to visit Machu Picchu is during the dry season from April to October. The weather is good during these periods and everywhere is less crowded. During the rainy season, the rains can be fierce when they hit, causing landslides and disrupted transportation schedules.
You can also time your trip to coincide with Inti Raymi, the largest Andean festival in Peru. The Festival of the Sun falls on June 22, 2020 and celebrates the Sun God Inti. There will be big parades in Cusco as well as sacrifices of llamas and re-enactment of Inti Raymi.
How Much Time to Visit Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is perched on the mountaintops at the end of the Sacred Valley. Getting there is a journey on its own, so I suggest staying at least 1 night in the Machu Picchu pueblo, the town beneath it.
For those limited on time, it IS possible to visit Machu Picchu on a day tour from Cusco. I don’t recommend it, as you’ll only get 2 to 2.5 hours at the archaeological site, and you’ll be there at the busiest time of the day. The whole day trip will take around 15 hours, and you’ll be picked up at 4am from your hotel.
- Viator offers this popular Machu Picchu day trip from Cusco with excellent reviews. It includes round-trip hotel transport, the train and bus to Machu Picchu, entrance fee and a local guide. Confirmation is immediate, and prices start from $350.
- GetYourGuide also has attractive day tours to Machu Picchu starting from $320. These are personalized small group tours of up to 8 people. I’ve been on several GetYourGuide trips and have been very satisfied.
Visiting Machu Picchu in 2022: What’s New
Due to the overwhelming number of visitors, the Peruvian government has imposed new regulations. The biggest change that we noticed (from our recent trip in 2022 vs our last trip in 2008) was the designated circuits. A big portion of the archaeological site is condoned off, and visitors are limited to the trails which are named Circuits 1, 2, 3 and 4.
The circuits are uni-directional, which means you can only move in one direction. There are guards to make sure the traffic flows. Sadly that means you can’t go back to your favorite spot for one last photo or simply stop and take a break.
Here are the new rules:
- The number of visitors allowed per day has been reduced further, so make sure to book your tickets at least 1 month in advance. The tickets for the extra hikes (especially Waynapicchu) run out even earlier.
- When booking the tickets, you need to choose a time slot for entry. If you booked the 7-8 am time slot, you will need to enter the site at 8.3am at the very latest.
- Visitors are not allowed to stay in Machu Picchu for more than 4 hours at a time. To be honest, nobody checks your ticket to see what time you entered.
- All visitors must wear a mask at all times and keep a safe distance from others.
- Eating is not allowed anywhere on the site, but small snacks are fine (even guides also bring snacks with them) as long as you bring all the trash with you.
- The rules state that you can not allowed to visit Machu Picchu without an official guide, but that is not enforced at all. We did not get a guide, and saw quite a few independent travelers like us without guides. That said, you can always hire a Spanish-speaking guide for US$40 (or English-speaking guide for $60) at the gates.
Machu Picchu Ticket Prices (2022)
Here are the official prices of the various Machu Picchu entrance tickets for 2022. Scroll down to read the details of what’s included in each ticket.
Machu Picchu Citadel – 152 soles/$39 USD – BOOK NOW
Machu Picchu Citadel + Wayna Picchu hike – 200 soles/$52 USD – BOOK NOW
Machu Picchu + Machu Picchu mountain hike – 200 soles/$52 USD – BOOK NOW
Machu Picchu + Huchuy Picchu hike – 200 soles/$52 USD – BOOK NOW
*NOTE: Some websites might show the lowest price as US$35, but that is the price for nationals from the Andean community. The above prices are for foreigners.
Things to Know Before Traveling to Machu Picchu
It is not difficult to visit Machu Picchu per se i.e. you don’t need to be physically fit or trek the Inca trail to do so, but you do need to plan in advance. You need to book an entrance ticket and train tickets online at least 1 month in advance. You cannot buy entrance tickets at Machu Picchu itself!
Also, visiting Machu Picchu is not cheap. There’s no road access to Machu Picchu and the train is the easiest way to get there, but the Machu Picchu train is expensive. The Vistadome and 360° trains cost around US$65/way. But these trains have huge glass windows and are worth the splurge. If you don’t mind missing out on the scenery, night trains are much cheaper (at around US$25 each way).
If you want to do the Inca Trail (a high altitude 4-5 day trek considered one of the best treks in the world) to Machu Picchu, I recommend booking your trip at least 6 months in advance. The trail fills up almost a year out, especially during high season.
How to Visit Machu Picchu
Finally, we get to the golden question! There are many ways to get to Machu Picchu, depending on your budget, interest and travel style. I will elaborate each option below.
On our recent trip, we booked the train and headed up to Machu Picchu on our own. It was easy, though our train was canceled due to the nationwide protests and we had to rebook them.
For our first trip, we were shoestring backpackers so we booked a 2-day budget bus tour from Cusco to Machu Picchu. The tour bus brought us to Hidroeléctrica and then we had to hike for 2 hours to Aguascalientes. The next day, we woke up at 4am and get to Machu Picchu for sunrise. It was truly an incredible experience, seeing ancient site at the crack of dawn.
- Get to Machu Picchu on Your Own
- Get to Machu Picchu on a Tour
- Get to Machu Picchu on a Trek
How to Get to Machu Picchu on Your Own
Cusco is the gateway to Machu Picchu, but it’s still 3.5 hours away from the archaeological site. You can easily fly into Cusco from Lima (1 hour flight). Spend at least 3 days in Cusco to acclimatize before heading to Machu Picchu. Check my detailed guide and things to do in Cusco.
From Cusco, you need to get to Ollantaytambo by bus or car rental. We loved our time exploring Ollantaytambo and the Sacred Valley as the area is chocked full of Inca sites and rural villages. Then, catch a train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu pueblo), the town at the foot of Machu Picchu — there is no road access!
Here is the general route you need to take to get to Machu Picchu:
- Lima -> Cusco
- Cusco -> Ollantaytambo
- Ollantaytambo -> Aguas Calientes
- Aguas Calientes -> Machu Picchu
1. Getting from Lima to Cusco
Cusco is about 620 miles (1000km) from Peru’s capital, Lima. It is a 1.5 hour flight ( or 21-hour bus journey) and flights cost around US$100 return. LATAM Airlines fly from Lima to Cusco daily. Check for flights here.
However, you might run the risk of suffering from altitude sickness when flying into Cusco as it’s located at 11,200 feet (3,399m) above sea level. I suffered from nausea and dizziness on my first day in Cusco. Remember to bring dramamine to avoid altitude sickness. The locals also recommend chewing on coca leaves.
On our first trip to Peru, we took the 21-hour bus from Lima to Cusco to avoid altitude sickness (a gradual ascent is better than flying). Our trip on Peruvian bus company, Cruz del Sur, was very comfortable (akin to an airline’s business class) and we had no complains. Book your bus ticket here.
Where to Stay in Cusco
Budget: Nao Victoria Hostel
An affordable yet stylish hotel with wooden-paneled form rooms and suites offering great views. Bestseller in Cusco with excellent atmosphere! Check the rates.
Midrange: Loreto Boutique Hotel
Located by the Plaza de Armas, Loreto Boutique Hotel offers great value with stylish rooms in a refurbished building originally built during Inca times. Check the rates.
Luxury: Belmond Hotel Monasterio
This former monastery dated from 1592, offers luxurious colonial-style accommodations set around a courtyard. It is located in Cusco’s lively historical city center and 2 blocks away from Plaza de Armas Square. Check the rates.
2. Getting from Cusco to Ollantaytambo
Once the capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco oozes historical charm and a bohemian atmosphere. There are a lot of spectacular architecture, churches and restaurants to keep you busy. I recommend staying at least three nights in Cusco to allow your body to adjust to the altitude – especially if you’re doing the Inca Trail. Check out my list of things to do in Cusco.
To get from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, the easiest way is to rent a car. We hired a car for 5 days from Cusco Airport and found it an excellent way to explore the Sacred Valley. Our Cusco car rental cost around US$280, which was not cheap but gave us more freedom. We always book on Discover Cars, as they’ve consistently given us the best rates and service.
Yes driving in Peru requires some grit and the steep mountain roads of the Sacred Valley aren’t easy to navigate. But, if you’ve got experience driving abroad, it is doable and definitely makes for an adventure!
If you speak Spanish, navigating the public transport isn’t too difficult. You just need time, as colectivos (shared taxi) can be unreliable and only leave when they’re full. Colectivos leave regularly from Calle Pavitos, located just off of Plaza de Armas, and cost about 10 soles per person ($2.50). It should take around 2 to 2.5 hours.
For those who don’t drive but prefer your own transport, Taxidatum is a useful service that allows you to make a private driver reservation online. Taxidatum can pick you up at the airport, hotel, or anywhere. They’ll wait for you as well as take you around the Sacred Valley. The trip between Cusco and Ollantaytambo cost roughly US$40.
Where to Stay in Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo may be the gateway city to Machu Picchu, but it deserves to be a destination on its own. The village’s old town is an Inca-era grid of cobblestoned streets and adobe buildings, that you can easily spend days getting lost in.
Start at Plaza de Armas, the main square flanked by tourist-centric restaurants selling pizza, pasta, burgers, and alpaca steaks. Duck into one of the side-streets and you’ll find much more authentic eats, shops, art galleries and even yoga studios.
Lodges and hotels are generally cheaper here than in Aguas Calientes. I recommend staying at least 3 nights to give yourself time to unwind after Machu Picchu and explore the town.
Budget: Wayras Hostal, Ollantaytambo
Wayras Hostal has an excellent location next to the Ollantaytambo train station. We chose to stay here for a night as we had an early morning train to Machu Picchu to catch. The triple rooms are comfortable, with thick duvets and the sound of the river outside the window. Check rates here.
Mid Range: Del Pilar Ollantaytambo
We stayed at this countryside hotel (pictured) for most of our time in the Sacred Valley. The hotel’s location (a 20-minute drive from Ollantaymbo) may be inconvenient for those without a car, but we loved being surrounded by the mountains. The hotel has quality furnishings, an excellent recreation room with boardgames and pool table, as well as mountain bikes that you can use for free! Check rates here.
Luxury: Hotel Pakaritampu
This traditional lodge is located close to the scenic ruins and from the Ollantaytambo train station. The setting is gorgeous, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and alpacas roaming its gardens. Check the rates.
3. Getting from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes
The easiest and most popular way to get from Ollanytaytambo to Aguas Calientes (or Machu Picchu pueblo) is to take the train. The scenic route is perhaps one of the best train journeys in the world. You’ll whizz alongside the raging Urubamba River, stare up steep canyons, and gaze upon snow-peaked mountains, while retracing Hiram Bingham’s footsteps into the lost city of the Incas.
There are regular train departures on both Peru Rail and Inca Rail. They use the same tracks and serve the same stations, and ticket prices are approximately the same. Both train companies also offer packages that include bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and then train to Aguas Calientes.
Be sure to buy your tickets in advance online to get the best price and departure times for your trip. The journey is around 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Expedition: Cheapest at $60 return, comfortable train
- Vistadome: Cheapest at $130 return, more modern cars and larger windows
- Hiram Bingham: $578 return with gourmet meals and 2.5 hour tour of Machu Picchu
Peru Rail or Inca Rail?
We’ve traveled to Machu Picchu on the Peru Rail twice, but the next time we’ll definitely book with Inca Rail instead.
During our recent trip, we had to rebook our trains as nationwide protests caused all roads to be closed and trains to be cancelled. We couldn’t reach anyone at Peru Rail and ended up waiting in line at the train station for an hour to change our tickets. Most of the next day’s trains were fully booked, so we had to wait another day to go to Machu Picchu.
In contrast, other travelers we met who booked with Inca Rail were able to contact them by phone and email. One of them got her refund immediately, while another was rebooked on the next day’s train within minutes.
4. Getting from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
There are two ways to get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes: by foot or by bus. It takes around 2 hours to walk up to Machu Picchu and the hike is extremely steep. Start walking away from the town and once you pass a bus depot and river, you’ll see signs leading to the trail. Don’t forget the high altitude makes walking even more challenging.
We took the bus on both trips as we preferred to keep our energy for Machu Picchu. The bus ride to the top takes about 25 minutes and you can purchase your tickets in Aguas Calientes at the bus stand the night before. Buses are operated by Consettur and are all modern and air-conditioned.
Tickets are $12 each way and you’ll need to show your passport to buy them. Buses run throughout the day and leave when they’re full. They leave regularly for Machu Picchu 05:30 – 15:30 and depart Machu Picchu from 06:00 – 15.30.
PRO TIP: If you want to be there for sunrise, start lining up about 3.30am. We were glad we did that on our first trip — seeing sunrise at Machu Picchu was one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had.
Where to Stay in Aguas Calientes
I recommend staying at least 1 night in Aguas Calientes as it’ll give you time to unwind and visit the hot springs in town. It’s advisable to book accommodation ahead in high season as hotels get fully booked quickly.
Budget: Inti Llaqta
Located 5 minutes’ walk from the main square, this hostel offers cheap rooms and a rooftop with panoramic views of Machu Picchu. Check the rates.
Midrange: Hotel Taypikala Machu Picchu
Located steps from the main square, this midrange hotel features large windows with mountain views, rooms decorated with bamboo floors and wooden furnishing. We enjoyed our stay here! Check the rates.
Luxury: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Named one of the unique lodges of the world by National Geographic, this lodge is a colonial-style property decorated with traditional Andean tapestries and terracotta tiles (pictured). The straw-roofed restaurant overlooks the Vilcanota River. Check the rates.
Be Sure to Acclimatize Before Heading to Machu Picchu!
When you fly into Cusco from Lima, there’s a chance of getting altitude sickness as the whole city of Cusco lies at an imposing 11,000 feet (3,399m) above sea level. I personally suffered from altitude sickness the day after we landed in Cusco. I felt nauseous, dizzy, and weak, and spent the whole day in bed. Thankfully, I felt fine in the evening after taking some Acetazolamide (or Diamox) and coca tea.
One of the best tips I read (and wished I’d listened to) is to head straight to the Sacred Valley when you arrive in Cusco. Sacred Valley is lower, at 8,000 feet (2,440m) above sea level, and makes for a good stop to acclimatize. Sacred Valley ended up being my favorite part of Peru. Read my guide to Sacred Valley Peru.
Tips to Cope with Altitude Sickness:
Altitude sickness can hit anyone, irregardless of age or fitness level. Symptoms of altitude sickness include shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, stomachaches, even vomiting. Here are some things I learned:
- Take it easy on the first day. I know there are many things to do in Cusco, but you’ll have time to explore after you’ve acclimatized.
- Drink lots of water before and during your trip to Cusco. Also, avoid heavy meals since your stomach takes longer to digest food at high altitudes.
- Coca is a great natural remedy for altitude sickness. It was revered because of its healing qualities and is still utilized in exactly the same way today as it was in Incan times. Most hotel lobbies have them readily available.
- Bring Acetazolamide (or Diamox) with you; otherwise most pharmacies in Cusco also sell it.
How to Get to Machu Picchu on a Tour
For those tight on time and prefer to let others do the planning, there are many tour options that’ll include transport and guide. There are no information or signs at Machu Picchu, so if you want to learn all about the history and origins of the place, I highly recommend booking a guide.
Visit Machu Picchu on a Budget Tour (Without a Train)
An alternative route to get to Machu Picchu is an interesting one, that allows you to skip the expensive train route. On our first trip, we chose to do this Machu Picchu by car tour as it was much cheaper.
A small van will take you on the paved road from Cusco to Santa Maria then on an unpaved road until Hidroeléctrica. This is a car journey of 6 hours in total. It’s not an easy drive and many people get motion sickness. From there, you will walk around 2 or 3 hours to get to Aguas Calientes.
Some people do this journey on their own, but I’d recommend that only for those with lots of time. It’s difficult to catch a colectivo on the unpaved road and you might be left stranded. This tour is much cheaper than the usual tours that go by train. Prices start from US$180 for 2-day Machu Picchu by car tour on Viator.
Visit Machu Picchu on a Day Tour
It IS possible to visit Machu Picchu on a day tour from Cusco. But I don’t recommend it, as you’ll only get 2 to 2.5 hours on a guided tour of Machu Picchu. The whole day trip will take around 15 hours, leaving from your hotel in Cusco at 4am.
Viator offers this popular Machu Picchu day trip from Cusco with excellent reviews. It includes round-trip hotel transport, the train and bus to Machu Picchu, entrance fee and a local guide. Confirmation is immediate, and prices start from $350.
GetYourGuide also has attractive day tours to Machu Picchu starting from $320. These are personalized small group tours of up to 8 people. I’ve been on several GetYourGuide trips and have been very satisfied.
Visit Machu Picchu on a Multi-Day Tour
If you want to take your time and not rush, I recommend booking a 2-day tour from Cusco. That way, you’ll get to stay a night at Aguas Calientes and get to Machu Picchu early in the morning.
2-day tours are slightly more expensive, at US$430 and include a hostel stay and the train journeys. This was the option we went with on our first trip.
Adventure seekers can also opt for multi-day active tours that will bring you biking and rafting in Santa Maria and trekking in Santa Teresa. This tour includes entrance to Machu Picchu and the nearby Waynapicchu mountain.
Other multi-day tours include:
How to Get to Machu Picchu on a Trek
The Inca Trail is almost as famous as Machu Picchu itself. The 3 or 4-day is lauded as one of the best treks in the world.
It was said to be the same route that the royal Incas used to take to weave through the Andean Mountains. You’ll be hiking through sacred ancient sites, rocky paths, and imposing mountain passes. As they say, the journey is more important than the destination.
The Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is not an easy hike and the chances of getting altitude sickness are high. My friend who was quite fit had to opt out of the trek halfway because of altitude sickness. I wouldn’t advise hiking it on your own.
As mentioned, it’s advised to book the Inca Trail at least 6 months in advance. The Inca Trail is closed all of February each year for maintenance.
Booking a guided trek means all your meals, porters and camping facilities are taken care of. I recommend G Adventures as I’ve traveled with them many times (to Antarctica, Brazil, Mongolia, and Nepal) and every trip was epic. Don’t go for the cheapest tour, as their equipment might not be the best (i.e. leaky tents!)
Inca Trail can get quite busy and crowded, but there are actually quite a few lesser-visited, cheaper alternatives.
Short Inca Trail
This condensed version of the Inca Trail is designed for those who want to hike but have limited time. You’ll be doing the last part of the Inca Trail, and get to see sweeping views of the Andes and Huayna Picchu.
- Distance: 6 miles (10km)
- Duration: 2 days
- Level of difficulty: 4/10
- How to: 2-Day Inca Trail
The Choquequirao Trek is perfect for those who want to get off the beaten path. The ruins of Choquequirao are equally impressive, but more remote than nearby Machu Picchu and see few visitors. This means you’ll get to experience Incan history in near-solitude, surrounded by nothing but ancient architecture and spanning forests.
Lares Trek is another quiet trail that begins near the town of Lares, 40 miles north of Cusco. Trek through the mountains around the Sacred Valley, passing by remote communities, farms, and friendly faces.
Salkantay Trek is a challenging trek set at the highest peaks of Humantay Mountain, where the cold ice of the mountains meets the steamy heat of the Andes. Salkantay has been dubbed the most spectacular peak in the Peruvian Andes. The trek is very diverse and has rich geography, Andean culture and history.
Booking Your Machu Picchu Tickets
For those who decide to go to Machu Picchu on your own, you’ll need to get entrance tickets in advance. There are three different tickets available, some are more limited than others. I recommend booking an extra hike, as that’ll allow you to enter the main citadel anyway.
TOP TIP: Book just 1 entrance ticket and spend the day there. It’s said that you only have a 4-hour window at the site, but nobody actually checks how long you’ve been there. There’s NO NEED to buy more than 1 entrance ticket.
This is the official Ministry of Culture website where you can get Machu Picchu tickets. But the system can be complicating to use. You can also get your tickets on Viator, which offers slightly cheaper official Machu Picchu tickets than GetYourGuide.
1. Machu Picchu Entrance Only (Circuit 1/2/3/4)
Adult: $39 USD (152 Soles)
Students: $20 USD (77 Soles)
Child (below 18 years): $18 USD (70 Soles)
This only allows entry to Machu Picchu’s main ruins, terraces, and temples. Most people get this entry ticket and spend 4 hours at the archaeological site. That’s what we did on our first trip.
It doesn’t matter which circuit you choose to go on, they all crisscross the citadel and main city itself. I recommend getting a morning ticket as it’s much cooler in the morning and there are less people.
2. Machu Picchu Circuit 4 + Wayna Picchu
Adult: $52 USD (200 Soles)
Student: $32 USD (125 Soles)
Child (below 18 years): $30 USD (118 Soles)
This combo ticket allows entry to the small mountain peak, Wayna Picchu, in the backdrop of Machu Picchu. Here you’ll have sweeping views of the surrounding peaks and you get to visit Temple of the Sun. It’s said to be one of the best day hikes in the world.
These tickets get sold out FAST, so you need to book at least 3 months in advance. You must choose between 2 time slots to climb, either 7-8am or 10-11am. It takes around 1 hour to climb to the peak of Wayna Picchu. Only kids above 12 years of age are allowed.
3. Machu Picchu Circuit 3 + Machu Picchu Mountain
Adult: $52 USD (200 Soles)
Student: $32 USD (125 Soles)
Child (below 18 years): $30 USD (118 Soles)
This ticket allows you to climb the taller mountain, Machu Picchu Mountain. This mountain is generally less busy but has no ruins. It takes 1.5 hours to reach the top. You must choose between 2 time slots to climb, either 6-7 am or 8-9 am.
4. Machu Picchu Entrance + Huchuy Picchu
Adult: $39 USD (152 Soles)
Students: $20 USD (77 Soles)
Child (below 18 years): $18 USD (70 Soles)
This ticket allows you to climb the small mountain, Huchuy Picchu, that’s overlooking the ruins. This is a new route and is a relatively easy hike, that’s suitable for those with kids. We chose this ticket on our recent trip and really enjoyed the hike. Kaleya in particular loved the challenge, though I was a little nervous going up the narrow trails with no railings. This was definitely the highlight of our time at Machu Picchu.
Which Machu Picchu Ticket to Choose?
This depends how much time you want to spend at Machu Picchu. We were glad that we booked the tickets with Huchuy Picchu hike, as that allowed us to get away from the crowd and see new perspectives of Machu Picchu.
For those without kids, Wayna Picchu is a great option as it is considered one of the best day hikes in the world. The peak stands at 8,923ft (2,720m) and the climb to the summit is a strenuous hike that takes around 1 hour each way. Expect to use your hands at some point to hike the trail. Wayna Picchu is only opened to people over 12 years old.
Machu Picchu Mountain’s summit is higher at 10,111ft (3,082m). This hiking trail is less steep but longer than the route to Wayna Picchu. It takes around 1.5hours each way. The trek has no age limit.
Is 1 Entrance Ticket Enough to See Machu Picchu?
There is NO need to buy more than one entrance ticket as one day is enough to see it all. I made the mistake of buying two tickets – one for the day of our arrival and another for the next day – but we ended up using only one.
Buy just 1 entrance ticket for a morning slot and you’ll be sure to have enough time for both the hike and citadel. Get there early, preferably for the 6am time slot, and you can enjoy a whole day there. Try to do the hike first before seeing the citadel.
This is what we recommend:
- Take the Inca Rail afternoon train (16:30) from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu pueblo
- Stay the night in Machu Picchu pueblo
- Head up to Machu Picchu at 6am
- Catch sunrise and spend the day there
- Stay one more night in Machu Picchu pueblo to relax
- Take the morning train (08:30) back to Ollantaytambo
Machu Picchu Opening Times
Since the introduction of the new regulations, the tickets are sold by 1-hour time slots, starting from 6am to 2pm. Visitors can stay up to 4 hours within the ruins. That said, the guards don’t usually check your ticket.
On our first trip, we booked the 6am ticket and were lucky enough to see sunrise on Machu Picchu. It was absolutely spectacular, seeing the clouds lift up and the sun’s rays pouring over the citadel. It wasn’t crowded and we spent around 7 hours exploring the whole place.
I highly recommend choosing the morning ticket as there are less people in the early hours and it’s much cooler.
Visiting Machu Picchu with Kids
We brought our 7-year-old daughter on our recent trip to Machu Picchu, and it turned out to be fantastic! She really enjoyed hiking Huchuy Picchu, and she found the ruins intriguing. The only thing she didn’t like was the crowd.
Visiting Machu Picchu with kids is definitely doable, especially if your kids are of hiking age (around 5 and above). There are designated hiking trails and it’s impossible to get lost or go off the trail. Note that there are no toilets once you start the hike up Machu Picchu, so make sure to use the toilet at the base.
We saw a couple of families with babies/toddlers on their hiking carriers. It can be fun to bring tiny tots on hikes, as long as they’re comfortable in the hiking backpacks.
What to Pack for Machu Picchu
A good pair of hiking boots are important for travel to Machu Picchu, as you’ll be doing quite a lot of walking. The walking paths are made of stone and can be very slippery when wet.
An important thing to note is that large backpacks are not allowed into the archaeological site. If your bag is larger than 15.7 inches x 13.7 inches x 7.9 inches (40 cm x 35 cm x 20 cm) it won’t be allowed in. You can however pay to store it in the lockers before you can enter the site.
A small daypack should suffice for your raincoat, layers (it gets cold in the morning), cap, and water bottle. Only reusable water bottles are allowed (not plastic ones)!
Packing List for Machu Picchu
Packing List for Inca Trail or Other Treks
For those doing the Inca Trail or other treks, you will need to bring a camping mattress, sleeping bag and hiking poles. But you can also just rent them in Aguas Calientes or Cusco. It costs around 45 soles (US$12) to rent each item.
The best clothing for trekking is either wool or synthetic materials in layers, as this is quick-drying and can keep heat in better. We suggest a base-layer, then a mid-layer such as a light fleece jacket or similar, then a windproof and waterproof layer. These are the additional items on top of the list above.
*Check with your tour operator if they are provided. These items can be rented at Cusco or Aguas Calientes.
Final Tips for Travel to Machu Picchu
- Don’t forget your passport as you’ll need to present it with your ticket to enter!
- Since you have your passport, you can get a special Machu Picchu passport stamp in Aguas Calientes. (It’s FREE!)
- If you get carsick, consider taking motion-sickness pills, as the drive to Ollantaytambo involves several switchbacks and curves.
- Pack sunscreen and a hat when heading up to Machu Picchu as the sun can be strong. Also bring a big bottle of water. You will not find any store or vendor in the archaeological site.
- Food is not allowed in the archaeological site, but guides say that some snacks are fine as long as you bring all the trash with you.
- The least busy time of day at the ruins is early morning (06:00 to 08:00) and late afternoon (14:00 to 16:00).
- If you have some time in Aguas Calientes, be sure to visit the Museo Manuel Chávez Ballon, a museum dedicated to Machu Picchu. It is located at km 112 “Puente Ruinas” (the old train station), approximately 1.7 km from Aguas Calientes. Entrance is free in the afternoon.
Further Reading on Peru
Regardless of how you get to Machu Picchu, a trip to this ancient site is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While Machu Picchu isn’t the easiest place to get to, it’s definitely worth your while.
Are you ready for an adventure to Machu Picchu? Let me know if you have any questions, in the comments field below.
Take a look at some of our other posts on Peru:
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you can book something through my links, I’ll get a small % of commission, AT NOT EXTRA COST TO YOU.
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MY TOP TRAVEL RESOURCES
Over the years (and traveling to 140+ countries), I’ve learned a thing or two about travel planning. I’ve put together this list of travel resources that I personally use to find the best deals and book travel! For more details, check out my travel tips resource page.
- Booking Flights: Kayak is brilliant for finding the best dates to fly as it allows you to search for the lowest airfares within a 3-day period. Then I use Skyscanner as they’ve consistently given me the lowest airfares.
- Accommodations: I always use Booking.com to book hotels, mainly because of the flexible cancellation policy and good customer service. You can also find short-term rental apartments there (I prefer not to use Airbnb due to the extra charges).
- Travel Insurance: It’s important to have travel insurance, regardless of whether you’re traveling for a few days or months. Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers any healthcare expenses I may have worldwide. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.
- Health Advice: I always refer to the travel guides on the CDC website for recommended medications and vaccines. You can get them at your travel doctor’s office or a walk-in pharmacy.
- Tours: If you’re looking for all-encompassing tours, I recommend small-group adventure tour outfitter, G Adventures. I’ve traveled with them to Antarctica, Mongolia, Svalbard, and Nepal, and loved every single trip. For day tours, I always book with Viator and GetYourGuide; they have easy booking systems and free cancellations.
- Car Rental: I always book car rentals on Discover Cars, as they’ve consistently given us the best rates and customer service (with free cancellations). We’ve used them in Seychelles, South Africa, Spain, Peru, and Mexico.
- Transportation: Whenever possible, I book local transportation online using Bookaway and Busbud. They’re more reliable than many local transport websites and cover trains, buses, and car hire.
- Restaurants: TripAdvisor is my go-to resource for restaurant reviews and bookings. I also make restaurant reservations on OpenTable.
- Travel WiFi: I always travel with my Travel WiFi Sapphire 2 device; it’s the most convenient way to get internet data on the go. Instead of getting a local SIM card in every country I travel, I get an internet data package online and the device works immediately when I land.
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