Complete Guide to Visit Machu Picchu, Peru

Complete Guide to Visit Machu Picchu, Peru

Complete Guide to Visit Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu in Peru, an ancient Incan city, built in the 15th century on top of a mountain. The once-lost city was rediscovered in 1911 covered by the Andean forest. It is an archaeological masterpiece, and just like the Pyramids in Egypt, Machu Picchu belongs to the world’s wonders.
No matter if you visit via the stunning train ride or the world-famous Inca hike; It is set to become one of the highlights of your Peru Route.

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visit machu picchu peru

Machu Picchu Tickets

Visiting Machu Picchu is incredibly popular – With over 6500 people entering the archaeological site each day it is necessary to purchase a ticket in advance.

Selecting a specific time slot for your visit is required when purchasing tickets (e.g. 6 AM – 12 AM). This allows the organization to control the number of people for a better experience.

In total, you will need 3 – 6 hours of exploring depending if you choose to climb on of the mountains.

➳ Must-read: Complete 3-week Peru Travel Guide

visit machu picchu peru sunrise

Machu Picchu Ticket Types

When it comes to purchasing a ticket, you have three options. Book your multi-day tour here (includes Machu Picchu).

  1. Machu Picchu Ruins only
  2. Huayna Picchu Mountain + Ruins
  3. Machu Picchu Mountain + Ruins

We would recommend purchasing either option one or two.

Tickets are available online, at tour companies and at all major cities like Cusco or Aguas Calientes. Bring your passport and cash when purchasing it in the city.

Visiting Machu Picchu in Peru

Beat the crowds by getting up early and entering when Machu Picchu opens at 6 AM. Walk a short 5-min up to the first ruins and be on time for the incredible sunrise to appear from behind the mountain tops shining down on Huayna Picchu Mountain. (The large mountain behind the ruins)

➳ Also, visit the Rainbow Mountain in Peru

It is simply mind-blowing when you see all the terraces in a valley with that incredible backdrop.

Tip: Make sure to visit a bathroom before going to the top as there are no toilets inside the sight.

visit machu picchu viewpoint girl dress

How to visit Machu Picchu

Bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu

In order to get an early start, spend the night in Aguas Calientes, a small town located near Machu Picchu. From there, take the first shuttle bus (30 minutes) to the entrance. Please note that a return bus ticket costs 24 USD which is high compared to standard rates in Peru.

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Please note: It is prohibited to take food, tripods, selfie sticks, and drones.

The first bus departs at 5:30 AM but do start queueing at 4:30 AM as the line can get extremely long. Don’t let the length of the line scare you; the shuttle buses are very convenient and fast.

➳ Also: Discover the surprising capital Lima, Peru.

Hike from Aguas Calientes

Your second option is to save a lot of money and hike about 60 minutes uphill to the entrance of Machu Picchu.

view machu picchu

Inca Trail

Another option is to walk the official Inca Trail and be earlier inside the site than everybody else. It is a 4 or 5-day trek that, undoubtedly, gives a huge satisfaction while finishing at Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu Ruins

After sunrise, explore the Inca ruins. Vast stone structures that used to be buildings for the people living here. The 600+ terraces were built and used for growing crops and as drainage. 

Huayna Picchu Mountain

If you bought a ticket that includes the hike to Huayna Picchu, please note that the gates to go up are only open between 7 and 8 AM or 10 to 11 AM. (Check the time on your ticket) – To climb Huayna Picchu it is recommended to book your tickets 8 weeks in advance.

peru machu picchu

The Passport Stamp

And when your time slot expires head to the exit to place the official Machu Picchu stamp in your passport. It is allowed to do this in your passport but if you don’t feel comfortable with that, take a postcard with you to the top to stamp.

Get your tickets here

Getting from Cusco to Machu Picchu Town

Cusco is the gateway to Machu Picchu in Peru. Take the incredible 1.5-hour train ride from Ollantaytambo to Agues Calientes, where each wagon has a see-through roof. The train is, next to hiking, your only option since there are no roads in the mountains.

Best Things To Do in Cusco, Peru

train cusco to machu picchu

Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes, better known as Machu Picchu Pueblo (town) is located just 30 minutes away from the world-famous site. This tiny traveler’s town is built around the train tracks and offers a handful of good restaurants and hotels. Other than that, there isn’t much to do, and it is just a relaxing village to be for one or two days.

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Machu Picchu elevation and altitude sickness

Altitude sickness can be a very unpleasant feeling. Fortunately, the ruins are located at 2450 meters. That is below the 2500 meters where altitude sickness can start appearing. Spend a few days in the higher located Cusco to acclimatize followed by a visit to the Mapi Ruins.

Best Things To Do in Cusco, Peru

Hotels to stay

It is best to find a hotel in Aguas Calientes while visiting Machu Picchu. Another option is to stay in Cusco or Ollantaytambo, but this would require an earlier departure and a train ride. This would take up quite some time.

Best time to visit Machu Picchu

Weather-wise, it is best to visit during the winter in Peru. Winter is dry season and runs from May to September where June to August are the busiest months tourism wise. October to April is with the least tourists because of its wet season; however, a visit in October or April can be an excellent choice.

Blog comments (15)

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  • Hello!
    Did you book your Machu Picchu tour through exploor as posted in your blog? If so, how did you choose this company over others and did you stay in aguas calientes or cusco when you went to machu picchu?

  • Hi would you suggest visiting peru during March if it’s a wet season?

    • Salt in our Hair

      Hi Rashmi! Peru in March is the tail end of the wet season in the Sacred Valley (Machu Picchu) but it will still be beautiful in the rain (although a little muddy) and you will have way less tourists so can spend more time at the site without crowds. The coastal areas in March should be sunny :)

  • Elizabeth Fulton

    Thanks for sharing a great post about MP, I’m visiting in a couple months and this was so helpful. From a photography standpoint I’d still like to know more about the ticket differences. The photos you took together on the terrace with MP in the background- is that from Huana Picchu or with a MP-only ticket ? Thanks for your help, looking forward to purchasing your presets as well!

    • Salt in our Hair

      Hi Elizabeth, lovely to hear that! You are welcome. All the photos you see in this article are only within the normal MP ticket. Happy travels and editing, make sure to tag your photos with #saltypresets.

  • Sam Farrugia

    Could you share a packing list please :) going in three weeks but confused as to what to pack for the weather. Thanks for all the other tips

    • Salt in our Hair

      Hi Sam,

      As you are going right at the end of October/beginning of November, you are right at the beginning of the rainy season so a rain jacket is a definite must. Temperatures are always pretty mild so it really depends on whether you are trekking or not? If you are trekking wear a t-shirt, waterproof trousers and pack a rain jacket and another lighter layer in case you get cold at the top. Hope this helps!

  • Heya Great Blog……
    Would like to know more about it …..please keep on posting such blog!!!

  • Aww!! Thanks for such an amazing blog. Pics are looking awesome!! Pichu is one of my favourite destination and would soon explore it!!

  • Visiting Machu Pichu is a dream of mine! Thank you for sharing your beautiful images and your insights from there. I should really buy my ticket soon ;)

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