As we are just back from the Machu Picchu, I’m sharing with you all the tips, information how to get to Aguas Calientes, how to buy the entrance, what are the prices, the difference between Llaqta Picchu, Wayna, Huchuy and la Montaña… and where to get your Machu Picchu passeport stamp!
How to get to the Machu Picchu?
1- Get to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu pueblo)
You can either choose to take the bus from Cusco (7h through a shitty road but only 70soles with return) or take the train.
We took the train from Ollantaytambo. You have plenty of discounts on Peru Rail website and it was cheaper from Ollantaytambo than from Cusco. We paid 28$ – 100soles and it took only 1h30 to arrive to Aguas Calientes from Ollantaytambo.
You can go directly from the train station to the archeological site but we preferred to sleep there (50soles a double room with private bathroom) and go to the Machu Picchu first hour in the morning!
How to go to Ollantaytambo from Cusco?
You have colectivos starting Calle Pavitos in Cusco. It costs 10 soles per person and took 1h to get to Ollantaytambo.
Notes about the train:
– In the train you need to wear 2 masks + a facial protection (you can buy it 2 soles in front of the train station).
– No need to print anything: they scan your ticket on your phone.
– You need to fill in a declaration before boarding.
2- Get to the archeological site of Machu Picchu
Option 1: By bus
As foreigner, for 12$ (24$ with return) you can take a bus from Aguas Calientes. It takes about 30min and spares you a hard (but nice) walk.
Option 2: Walking
From Aguas Calientes you will walk 20min to the bridge (open from 5am). Then you will have 1900 steps to arrive to the entrance of the site. It took us 1h to climb!
How to choose your ticket for the Machu Picchu?
If you want to visit everything you will need to buy several tickets which is really annoying… We wanted to do the full tour (circuit 2) and to visit Wayna Picchu but you can only visit it in the morning, and only with the circuit 4.
Also the problem is the weather: in the morning it’s VERY cloudy. We entered at 7am (to avoid too many tourists) but waited 2h to be able to see the full view of the site. People who got a guide couldn’t wait like us so they missed the beautiful postal card view… Of course it depends of your luck and the season (rainy season is between November and April).
If you want to avoid bad weather it’s better to pick up an arrival time after 9am (but seing the clouds leaving and the site appearing is magical).
> Book your ticket to the Machu Picchu online
Do I need to book in advance the Machu Picchu?
Right now (March 2022), not really… We only booked our tickets the day before our arrival and there were still plenty! (maybe there was less tourism because of the CoVid, and the rainy season). You can check online how many entrances are left . I advise you to book it as soon as you can, because it can be full for weeks…
How to buy the ticket of Machu Picchu?
You can buy your ticket online or in an office in Cusco or Aguas Calientes. When you buy your ticket entrance for the Machu Picchu you have 4 options (see the picture above with the fees).
> Check the trend for the coming days and months
What are the different options of Machu Picchu tickets entrance?
What is Llaqta de Machu Picchu?
Machupicchu 1, 2, 3 o 4 or “Llaqta de Machu Picchu” offers you 4 circuits. You only can do one of them, in only one way (guards make sure you follow the road):
What is called “Montaña”?
It was closed when we were there, but it’s the Machu Picchu mountain that you can reach on the South part of the site, at 3082m.
What is Wayna Picchu?
Meaning “Young peak” this is the mountain you can see on the right side of all the postal cards of Machu Picchu. You need to climb very narrow and steep steps.
What is Huchuypicchu?
A new place to visit: the small hill you can see on the left of the postal card of Machu Picchu.
Tips to visit the Machu Picchu
- If you want to enjoy the famous view of Machu Picchu you need to pick up the first or second circuit. If you are tired of the circuit 2 (the big one) you can switch to circuit 1, the short one.
- You will need to pick up a slot: We took the general entrance at 7am-8am. We could still enter until 9am (they leave you 1h buffer). For the other tickets you are obliged to be at the entrance of the mountains on time. Example: If you buy an entrance at 7am for circuit 4 + Wayna Picchu you need to enter at 7am and to be at 8am at the gate of Wayna Picchu.
- The only solution if you want to visit everything could be: start by the Wayna Picchu (or other mountain) early, then go back to the gate and buy a second ticket to start again…
- If it’s cloudy, just wait, it’s getting better with a bit of patience:
– Some of the temples close during the day (see the picture above). The Inca Bridge was also closed and so was the Machu Picchu mountain and the temple of the Moon (on Wayna Picchu side).
– You have plenty of restrictions (no eat, no smoke, no umbrella, no selfie stick…) and the toilets are only available in the entrance (2 soles).
Where to get the Machu Picchu stamp on your passeport?
- In Aguas Calientes: At the “Centro cultural” Avenida Pachacutec.
- In the entrance of Machu Picchu.
10 thoughts on “How to visit Machu Picchu”
In your opinion is it better to get a guide? Can you do everything without a guide? There are a lot of differing opinions on the internet. Thanks.
Hello there! Difficult question, let me share with you my pros and cons:
– Pros: you have somebody with you answering all your question and teaching you A LOT about Inca’s history, culture and of course the amazing architecture and technics. You won’t miss any detail.
– Cons: if you take the long way, the visit will be around 3h, and the guide will make sure you are on time. It means you won’t really be able to take the time you want to appreciate this magical place. Remember that you are not allowed to go back (guardians make sure you’re following only one way).
Also if, like I did, you arrive early, the site is still under the clouds and you will need to wait a bit. But if you are with a guide you won’t have this freedom.
=> We preferred being alone as we already contracted guides at Sacsaywaman (fortress in Cusco) and at Ollantaytambo. Their comments were not about the Machu Picchu but we’ve already learnt a lot about the Incas (we also watched an archeological documentary about the Machu Picchu the day before the visit).
Hope it will help, enjoy your trip 🙂
Next post coming: how to visit the sacred valley by yourself!
Can you literarly walk between the ruins of machu picchu or is it just as the pictures show, seeing the ruins from a bit of a distance? Are there also special restrictions due to covid that you have noticed being in Peru?
Hello there! As you can see in the post there are 4 “circuitos” means you CAN walk into the ruins 🙂
Is it worth visiting if only circuits 3 or 4 are left? Would have loved to see the main peak but it’s sold out for over a month out. Any suggestions?
Of course it does worth it anyway! It’s not because you won’t have THE postcard picture that you won’t enjoy this magical place 🙂
Jennifer, thanks for an amazing article. I have ticket to Machu Picchu only for October 2nd and there’s availability for Machu Picchu+ mountain on October 3rd.
Do you think it’s really worth to wait an extra day to head to Machu Picchu mountain hike. I’m planning to do circuit 2, do you think it’d cover most of the must visit things there?
Thanks so much
Hi Indra and thanks for reading! I didn’t go to the mountain so I couldn’t tell you if it’s really worth it… You would have a nice global view on the site but that’s it I guess. Also it’s already challenging to climb to the entrance (if you don’t take a bus)so depends also on your motivation! Enjoy your trip in this magical place 🙂
Hi, we have a question about luggage allowance on the railways. Both Peru Rail and Inca Rail seem to limit bags at 8 kg. I’ve been reading online that the railways don’t always enforce this policy. This is an important factor in our decision to either stay in Aguas Calientes for the night or just make a single day trip to & from Ollantaytambo. What was your experience with this?
Hi JB! We were travelling with 2 backpacks: 70L and 50L, the first one 15kg and second one 10k. Nobody said nothing, I didn’t even know there was a rule about this!
Enjoy your trip and do not hesitate if you have more question.