Are you ready to discover one of the 7 wonders of the modern world? Today we want to share with you a very complete guide to visit Machu Picchu and give you some tips and advice so you can plan your visit to one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
Year after year, tourists from all over the world travel to Peru to visit one of the most visited historical, archaeological and tourist icons in Latin America.
The Inca citadel was built in the Kusi Chaka ravine, surrounded by the Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountains, northeast of the famous city of Cusco.
Although there are still various theories as to what it meant in ancient times, what we are sure of is that it is one of the greatest symbols of the splendid architecture of the Inca Empire.
Surrounded by terraces, temples, squares, roads, houses and terraces, Machu Picchu is undoubtedly one of the most amazing archaeological sites in the world.
Without further ado, let’s start with our top tips for travel to Machu Picchu.
🍀 WARNING! At the end of the article there is a super interesting summary with links to ticket purchases, trains and excursions, whether you want to go to Machu Picchu on your own or with a tour. Take a look at the table of contents or see here.
📜 TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is the best time of year to visit Machu Picchu?
While Cusco is a city with a dry climate, the citadel of Machu Picchu has a tropical climate, so it is important to consider the best time of year to travel to Machu Picchu.
The rainy season is from november to march, which makes the visit to the citadel a bit more complicated, as the hikes become a bit more difficult and there is a risk of rainfall along the way.
The best time of year and the time when many travellers choose to go is the dry season, which runs from april to october.
During these months, the weather is good for tourists who want to visit Machu Picchu and take advantage of the hikes.
However, it should be noted that there are still times during the dry season when rainfall can occur, but it is usually in short periods of time.
Something you should also bear in mind when travelling to Machu Picchu is that during the whole month of february access to the citadel is closed.
During this month, the local authorities are closing the complex for maintenance activities.
⚠️ If you are travelling in high season, we recommend that you book your accommodation and buy your ticket to visit Machu Picchu at least 3 weeks in advance.
I travelled with my friends in july, and when we arrived at Machu Picchu, we found that everything was covered with clouds. Nothing could be seen! But between 9 and 10 a.m., it started to clear up and we were able to get around very well.
What to take to Machu Picchu?
Packing a suitcase is often one of the most critical times for many travellers. Especially for places like Cusco and Machu Picchu where, during the day, the weather is usually warm and sunny and at night the temperatures drop considerably.
In order to make this task a little easier for you, I would like to recommend you some items and clothes that you should definitely pack when you go to Machu Picchu.
The idea is that you lack nothing to have a comfortable experience and enjoy 100% your visit to this archaeological icon.
To begin with, I recommend that you pack sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses in your backpack, as this place is at an altitude of 2,430 metres and the sun is very strong.
Another important thing you should have on hand is insect repellent. Machu Picchu is close to the Peruvian jungle and you are likely to encounter a wide variety of bugs.
You should also have a bottle of water with you, not only to combat the heat and dehydration, but also because there are no water outlets along the route through the citadel.
It is also necessary to wear comfortable clothing such as long walking shoes, clothing to protect your limbs from the sun and insect bites and, most importantly, a waterproof jacket in case it rains during the walk.
🔝 Very close to Machu Pichhu is Cusco. Check out this article about things to do in Cusco.
How to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco?
One of the most frequently asked questions by those wishing to visit Machu Picchu is how to get to the citadel from Cusco.
When you pass through the city of Cusco, you will find different alternatives to travel to Machu Picchu Pueblo, better known as Aguas Calientes (the town you will have to pass through to get to the Inca citadel).
There are options for all types of travellers and budgets.
Below is a brief summary of each alternative.
Travelling to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail
This option is for the more adventurous travellers, as you reach the citadel of Machu Picchu by walking for 4 days and camping for 3 nights on the mountain.
The route is about 39 kilometres along trails built by the Incas hundreds of years ago.
Although this trail requires a certain amount of skill and physical effort, it is a unique experience. On the last day of the trek, you will arrive at Intipunku (the Sun Gate), which was the access to Machu Picchu used by the Incas.
On this tour, you will arrive at the Puerta del Sol just at sunrise for an extraordinary view of the citadel.
This is a privilege that only those who do the Inca Trail can enjoy.
📷 Book this 4-day trek to Machu Picchu on the Short Inca Trail from Cusco.
Travel to Machu Picchu Pueblo by train from Cusco
The option of travelling to Machu Picchu by train is ideal for people who are short on time or simply prefer comfort.
This alternative is the fastest way to get to Aguas Calientes, as you can take the train in the city of Cusco and in only 3 hours you will be arriving at Machu Picchu Pueblo.
You won’t have to hike and you can go there and back in a day or just stay overnight in Aguascalientes and leave the next day.
The views from the train windows are incredible. You will be able to appreciate nature during the whole tour while you travel comfortably seated.
🔔📢 Train tickets tend to sell out quickly in high season, so I recommend that you buy them before you travel to Machu Picchu.
📷 Travel to Machu Picchu by train. You can buy your ticket from Cusco or from Ollantaytambo.
Getting to Aguas Calientes by hydroelectric power plant
The option of travel to Machu Picchu by the Hidroelectrica trail is the cheapest, but most time-consuming alternative.
In order to get to Aguas Calientes by this means, you will have to make several transfers and finally walk for two or three hours.
From Cusco, you will have to take a bus to Santa Maria, which takes about 5 hours.
Once there, you will have to take another bus to Santa Teresa.
And finally, from Santa Teresa, you will have to take a taxi to Hidroeléctrica and walk from there to Aguas Calientes.
🔝 Thinking of travelling in Peru? Check out things to do in Lima in one or two days.
How to visit Machu Picchu in one day?
It is possible to travel from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and visit Machu Picchu in one day.
This is perfect for people who are short on time or who prefer to disengage from the organisation, walking and transfers and just enjoy the journey.
There are agencies that offer one-day tours to Machu Picchu that include transfers to and from the citadel, entrance to the citadel, a guided tour of the archaeological site and a few hours free to explore the town of Aguas Calientes.
This type of excursion lasts between 14 and 18 hours in total and is very intense, but allows you to get to know Machu Picchu, its people and its history in a quick and comfortable way.
📷 Book this 1 day tour from Cusco to Machu Picchu and don´t miss a thing!
How to visit Machu Picchu based in Aguas Calientes?
If you have some time and want to fully enjoy the small town of Aguas Calientes, you can easily travel from Cusco, spend the night in Machu Picchu Pueblo and return to the city the next day.
For this option you can go on your own by taking the train or the Hidroeléctrica trail and staying in one of the lodgings in Aguas Calientes. Alternatively, you can take a two-day tour with an agency, which will include transfers, accommodation and entrance to Machu Picchu.
Whichever alternative you choose, you will have the possibility to live this experience in a more relaxed way.
📷 Book this excursion to visit Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.
📷 Book this 2-day excursion from Cusco to visit Machu Picchu, staying overnight in Aguas Calientes.
How to get from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu?
If you have not booked a tour to visit Machu Picchu, you will need to plan how you will get from the town of Aguas Calientes to the citadel.
The road that separates them is 10 kilometres, which may not seem like much, but the reality is that you have to climb big steps for about two hours. So I recommend that you take this option only if you think you are in good physical condition.
The alternative option to the hike is to take a bus that will take you from the village to the entrance of the complex. This bus takes about 30 minutes and tickets can be purchased directly at the bus stop.
📌 For the early hours of the day, the queue for the bus is quite long, so I recommend that you go early.
📷 Book the bus, without queues, to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.
Where to stay in Aguas Calientes?
If you are planning to visit Machu Picchu based in Aguas Calientes, you will need to find accommodation for your stay.
Aguas Calientes is a small village in the middle of a valley. It is a very safe place and everywhere is within walking distance. So whichever area you choose to stay in will be a good choice.
As for the hotel offer, the reality is that it is very varied and you will be able to adapt it to your type of trip and budget.
Below is a list of accommodation that includes hostels, hotels and B&Bs so that you can choose the one that best suits your tastes and needs.
- Chakana Boutique Hotel
- Sanctuary Lodge Machu Picchu
- Amakonkay Machupicchu
- Supertramp Eco Hostel
- Panorama B&B
- Jaya Suite Machu Picchu
🏨 Find here the best hotels in Machu Picchu.
Where to buy tickets to Machu Picchu?
There are four types of tickets you can buy to visit Machu Picchu and this can often be confusing when planning your visit.
So, here’s a brief summary of what’s included in each ticket so you can decide which one best suits your tastes.
1) Machu Picchu entrance only
This ticket, we could say, is the classic. It includes only the visit to the Inca citadel.
At the time of purchase you can choose between different entrance times and you will be able to visit Machu Picchu for up to 4 hours.
This type of entry is recommended for people of all ages and requires the least physical effort.
2) Entrance to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountain
This ticket allows you not only to visit the citadel, but also to climb the Huayna Picchu mountain.
When you buy your ticket, you will see that you have a timetable for entering the complex and a timetable for ascending the mountain.
Once you enter Machu Picchu, you can stay up to 6 hours.
This type of tour is only suitable for people over 12 years of age.
📷 Take this 1 day tour from Cusco to Machu Picchu, including entrance to Huayna Picchu.
3) Entrance to Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain
This ticket will allow you to tour the citadel and climb the Machu Picchu mountain.
Although this mountain is much less steep than Huayna Picchu, its route is longer, so you will be able to stay in the complex for up to 7 hours.
This tour is suitable for all ages and also allows a re-entry to Machu Picchu.
📷 Book this 1 day tour from Cusco to Machu Picchu and its Mountain.
4) Entrance to Machu Picchu and Huchuy Picchu mountain
This entrance was the last to be added to the different options to visit Machu Picchu.
It includes, like all of them, the visit to the citadel and also the possibility to climb the Huchuy Picchu mountain.
The hike to the top of this mountain takes only an hour, but is quite demanding. However, access with children is possible.
⚠️ Only 200 seats of this type of ticket are allowed per day. So if you want to climb the Huchuy Picchu mountain I recommend you to buy your ticket in advance.
If you need more information about the different entrance fees, tours and, importantly, online availability, you can visit the official Machu Picchu website.
What to see and do inside Machu Picchu?
🔘 Check out the rest of the World Heritage Sites we have visited.
House of the Guardian of the Funerary Rock
It is a stone house located in the upper part of the citadel. It can be reached on foot and there are often llamas around to take photos.
Sacred Rock of Machu Picchu
The Sacred Rock is carved in one gigantic piece, and resembles the shapes of the mountains behind it in the distance (in the photo, they appear to be obscured by clouds).
It is sacred as it is said to have positive energetic properties.
Climbing Huayna Picchu
It is the highest typical mountain that appears in most photos of the place. The ascent is not easy as it is quite steep. If you’re afraid of heights, you’re going to have a bad time.
Also, there is not so much space upstairs, so you have to get a special ticket. Available in advance (recommended) or on the day.
Map – Things to do in Machu Picchu (inside and outside)
Moreover, if you take a tour with a guide, he or she will explain every detail. And, although I have already mentioned the most important places, there are others of great interest, such as:
- Temple of the Three Windows
- Temple of the Sun
- House of the Inka
- The Main Square
- The Pyramid of Intiwatana
- The Hall of Mirrors
- Temple of the Condor
Locate all the places to see in Machu Picchu on this map:
What to see and do in and around Machu Picchu Pueblo?
While most people who travel to Aguas Calientes do so exclusively to visit Machu Picchu, there are some travellers who choose to spend a few days in the tranquillity of this town.
And if this is your case, you are probably looking for other things to see and do besides touring Machu Picchu.
So I’ll tell you briefly what else you can do in Aguas Calientes.
Climbing Putucusi Mountain
For the brave and adventurous, climbing Putucusi Mountain can be an excellent experience.
This mountain, together with Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, make up the three peaks that surround the Inca citadel. But, unlike its sisters, to access Putucusi it is not necessary to enter Machu Picchu, but you will have to go to the outskirts of the village.
The road to the Putucusi viewpoint is only 2 kilometres long, but it is extremely demanding, as it is not only steep, but in some parts you will have to climb.
Therefore, this activity is only recommended for people who are in very good physical condition.
Relaxing in the thermal baths of Aguas Calientes
The name of the village comes from the hot springs that surround and cross it.
One activity you can do to relax after visiting Machu Picchu is to soak in one of the hot springs pools located in the upper part of the village.
There, for a small fee, you can enjoy the healing properties of sulphurous waters at temperatures between 38˚C and 46˚C.
Visiting the Mándor Gardens
The Mandor Gardens are an ecological reserve located at the base of Huayna Picchu Mountain, about 3 kilometres from Aguas Calientes.
It is an excellent place to enjoy nature and be surrounded by a myriad of native plant and bird species.
On your tour of this reserve, as well as admiring the flora and fauna, you will be able to reach the Mandor Falls, a waterfall that looks like something out of a fairy tale.
Buy your travel insurance and travel safe!
🚑 Take a look at these tips for choosing the best travel insurance (updated to 2023 and with juicy discounts) for the type of traveller you are, and they will also help you clear up the most common doubts. Travel safe!
REVIEW – See here all the options to travel to Machu Picchu
⚠️ If you came here via the link above, please note that the article explains each of these points in detail. And there are other tips too! Don’t miss them!
We are at the end of the article and, throughout the article, I have been including links to train tickets, excursions and ticket purchases, but to make it easier to find all the info, I have also prepared this section.
We wanted our trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu to be as “on our own” as possible (we wanted to do the Hydroelectric Trail), but in the end we ended up booking an excursion at the airport. It was a good value for money and included a lot of activities in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, return trains, entrance fees to Machu Picchu with a guide, etc. In the end it was more organised, comfortable and we saw a lot more things! Also, too bad for us, we had NOTHING booked in advance and ran the risk of being left out.
⚠️ BEWARE! Buy everything well in advance (even several months in advance) as you may not have availability and be locked out. There are fixed opening hours and capacity limitations.
On your own:
Purchase return trains from Cusco or Ollantaytambo below:
- Travel by train Cusco – Machu Picchu – GO – RETURN.
- Travel by train Ollantaytambo – Machu Picchu – GO – RETURN.
If you need more information about tickets, tours and, importantly, online availability, please contact us:
- See the tickets on the official website of Machu Picchu Picchu.
You can book the bus to the site, the guide or a more complete tour (bus, guide and entrance tickets) by clicking on the following links:
- Excursion to visit Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. (guide only or excursion with guide and entrance fees).
- Book the bus, no queues, to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.
Excursions from Cusco:
Do you want to do the Inca Trail?
- 4-day route to Machu Picchu on the Short Inca Trail from Cusco (shorter days available)
Are you in Cusco and want to travel on a 1 day trip to Machu Picchu? These excursions include entrance to the archaeological site, round trip train, Spanish speaking guide, bus up and down, and pick up from your hotel in Cusco.
- 1 day excursion from Cusco – entrance Machu Picchu only.
- 1 day excursion from Cusco – Huayna Picchu entrance.
- 1 day excursion from Cusco – Machu Picchu Mountain entrance fee.
Do you have more days? Take it easy!
- 2 day excursion from Cusco to visit Machu Picchu, staying overnight in Aguas Calientes.
We come to the end of this complete guide to visit Machu Picchu. I hope all this information has been of great help to you and that you enjoy your visit to one of the 7 wonders of the world as much as I did.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
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