Machu Picchu is by far the most popular attraction in Peru and is often the sole reason many plan a trip to this South American country. Of course, there is plenty more to see in Peru, but coming all this way not to see the famous ruins of Machu Picchu is a colossal mistake. By visiting Machu Picchu, you not only get to see incredible ruins from the Incan Empire but also the breathtaking scenery of the Andes Mountains.
A place like Machu Picchu tends to create very high expectations, so you’ll want to do all you can when planning your visit to ensure you have a great time. One of the most important steps is securing your Machu Picchu tickets, because you would not believe how quickly they can sell out. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on how to buy tickets for Machu Picchu to help you with your planning.
Quick Answer – How to Buy Tickets to Machu Picchu: It’s almost impossible to get tickets to Machu Picchu in person, so we highly recommended you either book your Machu Picchu tickets in advance here or book a guided tour of Machu Picchu. Out of these two, the guided tour is the better option as you get to learn more about the history of this fascinating world wonder.
Best Ways to Get Tickets to Machu Picchu
With an incredible place like Machu Picchu that is such an important part of any itinerary around Peru, it makes sense that there are various ways to get your tickets. Here we’ll take you through where to buy tickets for Machu Picchu, explaining each of the ticket options, their strengths, the best places to get them, and why booking them in advance is so crucial.
1. Line Up in Person (Not Recommended)
A good rule of thumb for any popular tourist attraction is that waiting to get tickets until you get there on the day is never a good idea. This counts double for Machu Picchu, as tickets can sell out months in advance and you’ll just be setting yourself up for disappointment.
If you decide to risk it, it’s important to understand that you can’t actually buy tickets to Machu Picchu at the main entrance. Instead, you’ll need to head to the cultural center in Cusco or Aguas Calientes and see if they have any tickets available. Because of this setup, there aren’t really such things as skip-the-line tickets for Machu Picchu, since there is no ticket line to skip.
2. Book Online (Recommended)
Rather than run the risk of missing out by leaving it too late, we strongly recommend that you book tickets to Machu Picchu well in advance online. You may even want to see when you can get tickets for and then plan the rest of your trip around those dates.
All tickets, from general entry to ones that also include the special mountain hikes, can be booked online through the official government website. However, it should be said that many parts of the website, including the ticket ordering page, are only available in Spanish. Tickets purchased through the official website are also nontransferable and nonrefundable, meaning you’ll be out of pocket if your plans change.
For both those reasons, we recommend using GetYourGuide to arrange your tickets. These tickets, although admittedly more expensive, are extremely easy to book and allow you to cancel your booking up to 24 hours in advance and still receive a full refund. Through GetYourGuide you can book:
- Machu Picchu Ticket (Ruins Only)
- Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu Ticket
- Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain Ticket
3. Book a Guided Tour
While you won’t be disappointed by the incredible scenery of Machu Picchu if you visit by yourself, it’s not the best way to learn about the site and its history. For that, it’s best to take a guided tour of Machu Picchu with a professional tour guide who can help you appreciate the significance of this amazing place.
Tours can be arranged in person in Cusco or Aguas Calientes, but again it’s better to organize it well before you plan to visit, which is why we recommend booking a tour that includes a tour guide and transport from Aguas Calientes.
4. Book a Day Trip From Cusco
Planning a trip to Machu Picchu involves more than just getting your tickets. It requires working out your transport to the site from Aguas Calientes but also getting to Aguas Calientes itself, likely from Cusco, the main tourist destination in this corner of Peru, where you’ll also find plenty of things to do.
Travelers not keen on organizing all of this may want to look at booking a day tour to Machu Picchu from Cusco. While it will be a long day, a day trip condenses the experience for those short on time and saves you the hassle of worrying about the logistics, allowing you to sit back and just enjoy the experience.
Useful Information for Visiting Machu Picchu
What’s the Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu?
Getting the right Machu Picchu tickets isn’t the only important part of planning your visit since working out when you’re going to go can have a pretty big impact on your enjoyment as well. Knowing when the site is at its busiest and the best times to visit can help your planning, but, honestly, the best time to visit is whenever you’re able to get tickets.
Machu Picchu and other attractions around Peru are at their busiest from May to August because of the good weather, but this can mean less availability for tickets and an even greater need to book in advance. For fewer fellow tourists and weather that’s still comfortable for outdoor sightseeing, consider instead coming from September to November.
The ruins of Machu Picchu are pretty busy during the morning, especially because the sunrise entry is such a highly coveted experience and it’s when all the hikers on the Inca Trail arrive. But this does mean that the site is quieter in the afternoon, making it a fantastic time to tour Machu Picchu and get some better photos.
Machu Picchu Hours of Operation
Machu Picchu is open every day of the year to visitors. The ruins are open from 6:00 to 17:30, with last admission into the site at 14:00. As for each of the mountains you can hike, they are open from 7:00 and close at 14:00 for Huayna Picchu and 15:00 for Machu Picchu Mountain.
Visits throughout the day are divided into a morning and an afternoon session, and visits are limited to four hours, with exceptions made for tickets that include any of the mountain hikes as these take time to do.
How to Get to Machu Picchu
The gateway to Machu Picchu for visitors is the small mountain town of Aguas Calientes. It’s from Aguas Calientes that you’ll take the bus up to Machu Picchu that all visitors take if they’re not hiking. It is also possible to hike from Aguas Calientes to the entry of the Machu Picchu ruins, but that hike can take 1.5 to 2 hours, which could mean a very early start to your day.
So, the question then is how do you get to Aguas Calientes? For that you have the choice of either taking the train from the city of Cusco or the town of Ollantaytambo, or taking a bus first to Ollantaytambo and then boarding a train from there. Both approaches take around four hours to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, while Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes takes around 1.5 hours.
There are other more complicated options that involve lengthy hikes or multiple colectivos (shared transport), but the most straightforward option outside private transport or a tour involves the train.
How Do Machu Picchu Tickets Work?
If you’re wondering how Machu Picchu tickets work, don’t worry because there’s no doubt you’re not alone. But it is something that’s important to understand so that you can get the most out of your experience.
Tickets to Machu Picchu are broken down into two types. First, there’s the general admission ticket that gives you full entry to see and explore the ruins of Machu Picchu.
The other type of ticket is one that includes access to the ruins but also includes access to one of the site’s special mountain hikes. Each hike takes you to a different viewpoint, allowing you a better view of the ruins as a whole. The mountain viewpoints to choose from are Huayna Picchu (also spelled Waynapicchu), Machu Picchu Mountain (or Montaña), and Huchuy Picchu, which is actually an early stop on the route to the top of Huayna Picchu.
When booking tickets, you’ll need to select the time you want to visit from the set entry times that are available. Make sure to arrive in time for your scheduled entry; if you’re too late, you may not be permitted entry. There are a limited number of tickets for each type of ticket per day to manage visitor numbers and preserve the site.
How Much Do Tickets for Machu Picchu Cost?
Now that we’ve covered how the tickets work, let’s look at the different prices for tickets to Machu Picchu. Below you’ll find the prices for tickets as shown on the official government website.
Regular tickets for the ruins of Machu Picchu, as well as tickets that include access to Huchuy Picchu, cost S/152 for adults, S/77 for students, and S/70 for minors aged 3 to 17. Tickets that include hiking Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain cost S/200 for adults, S/125 for students, and S/118 for minors.
There are also significant discounts for visitors from certain countries, specifically Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Regular tickets for citizens of these countries cost S/64 for adults, S/32 for students, and S/32 for minors.
Best Hotels for Machu Picchu
Since there isn’t actually anywhere to stay directly by the ruins of Machu Picchu, visitors tend to stay in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes. As the gateway to Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes is packed with places to stay despite its small size. It won’t take you long to find the right accommodation for you, but here are some suggestions to help you get started.
You can’t pass up the chance to stay at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel if gorgeous and luxurious accommodation is what you’re after. This five-star hotel boasts spacious rooms and suites decorated in true Andean style but also comes with complimentary half-board, a wellness center, and an inviting lounge library.
Those seeking somewhere to stay that offers plenty of comfort without a huge price tag will be pleased with Rupa Rupa High Jungle Eco B&B. Rooms boast all the essential amenities, while the terrace where the complimentary breakfast is served offers views of the nearby mountains.
Backpackers will be pleased to find great budget options around Aguas Calientes, like the fun and colorful Supertramp Hostel Machupicchu. At this hostel, you’ll find affordable dorms and private rooms, a tremendous complimentary breakfast, and a bar to hang out in.
Security Process at Machu Picchu
Because Machu Picchu is such an important landmark in Peruvian culture but also quite a fragile one, there are understandably some rules that visitors need to follow. Probably the most important thing to know is that you must show your actual passport before you are allowed entry.
There are also rules regarding what you’re allowed to bring into the site, with drones, tripods, large backpacks, and, most importantly, food being among the prohibited items. Should you forget, there is a small manned luggage storage where you can leave things for a small fee.
Other than that, many of the rules for the site are just common sense and meant to give this historical site the respect it deserves.
Visiting Machu Picchu With a Disability
Given that Machu Picchu is a remote, mountaintop ruin, it’s probably no surprise that accessibility isn’t one of its strengths. But that doesn’t mean it’s totally impossible to visit if you have a motor disability or other impairment.
After certain accessibility measures were introduced in 2019, the general consensus is that tourists in wheelchairs are able to explore the site but will require assistance from companions to get about in certain places, generally the higher parts. Unfortunately, visitors in wheelchairs will not be able to ascend any of the mountains for their viewpoints as these all require steep climbs up long staircases.
FAQ – Facts About Machu Picchu
What Is Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is the ruin of a citadel dating to the Incan Empire in the mountains of Peru.
When Was Machu Picchu Built?
Machu Picchu was built during the 15th century, according to archeologists.
How Old Is Machu Picchu?
It is believed that Machu Picchu was occupied by the Incans from roughly 1420 CE to 1530 CE, making the ruins around 500 years old.
Who Built Machu Picchu?
The Incan Empire built the city of Machu Picchu, likely during the rule of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the ninth Sapa Inca.
Why Was Machu Picchu Built?
Archeologists believe that Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui had Machu Picchu built as a royal estate or retreat.
Where Is Machu Picchu Located?
Machu Picchu is located by the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba Province in the Andes Mountains of southern Peru.
Now that you have all this information on how to visit, planning your trip and getting your tickets to Machu Picchu shouldn’t be difficult. Hopefully, you now understand why organizing your visit in advance is so important as well.