MAchu Picchu Cusco Peru

Machu Picchu Overview 2022-2023


Machu Picchu was voted one of the new 7 Wonders of the World in 2007 and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. It truly is a must-visit for anyone visiting South America! These majestic ruins were built by the Inca Empire and are located in the scenic Andean mountain range, surrounded by beautiful cloud forests and mountain scenery.

Cusco is the main access point for the famous Machu Picchu Citadel. From Cusco, you need to reach Aguas Calientes (the city next to Machu Picchu) which can only be done via train, trek, or a combination of bus and walking. Once you get to Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu lies at the top of the mountain.

Getting from Cusco to Aguas Calientes

There are 3 options for you to choose from:

  • Trekking from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, via Short and Classic Inca Trail, Lares Hike or the Salkantay Trek. (The most adventurous option). You’ll need a tour operator for this option but this is the best way to experience Machu Picchu.
  • Taking the train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, which can be done by yourself or any reliable tour operator. If you take the train from Ollantaytambo you need to take a bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo.
  • Taking the bus from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. The bus takes you to Santa Maria then to Santa Teresa where you get off and then it is a 3 hour trek to Aguas Calientes. (Not recommended because it’s a long drive on a very dangerous road and you still have to walk without a guide)

Getting From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu

  • Walk up the steep hill (around 1.5 hours, up the mountaineous road)
  • Take a bus (25 minutes ride – around US$24 round trip)
  • Or a combination – we recommend taking the bus up to Machu Picchu, and hiking back down if you feel comfortable with the hour long walk

We recommend the following formal companies who have years of experience and good feedback from over 250,000 customers:

Visit our guide to Tour Operators for more information about how to choose the right operator for Machu Picchu.

Multi-Day Treks

  • Treks are ideal for those who want to experience walking in the footsteps of the Inca.
  • 2, 3 or 4 days of walking is required.
  • All treks start in Cusco and end in Machu Picchu so all planning is done for you. Trekking companies should include transportation back to Cusco after your visit to Machu Picchu . (Door to door service)
  • Trekking companies usually include most of the tickets, like entrances to Machu Picchu, train tickets, transportation, meals and guide.
  • Most treks also include food and accommodation (check your itinerary first)

The Classic Inca Trail

  • The #1 trek to Machu Picchu
  • Must book 6 months in advance due to limited number of permits
  • Considered to be a difficult trek
  • Sleeping in tents every night
  • Closed every year in February
  • Prices range from $600-$1500
  • 4 Days of trekking, stopping at famous Inca sites along the way

Check tour operators, compare prices and book your trek here!

The Inka Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu

  • Combination of trekking and adventure sports
  • Difficulty level is Medium(3 days is easier than 4 days)
  • Treks available all year round
  • Booking 2-3 weeks in advance is usually fine
  • Prices range from $350-$750
  • 4 day option includes trekking on a part of the official Inca Trail

Check out tour operators, compare prices and book the trek here!

The Salkantay Trek

  • 4-5 full days of trekking
  • Incredible scenery as the trek passes through the Cordillera Vilcabamba
  • One of the best treks in the world according to National Geographic
  • Difficult trek- some say harder than the Inca Trail
  • Booking 2-3 weeks in advance is usually fine
  • Prices range from $380 to $750

Check out tour operators, compare prices and book the trek here!

The Lares Trek

  • Visit native Andean communities with tons of Llamas & Alpacas
  • See stunning mountains and enjoy amazing glacial lagoons & hot springs
  • Prices range from $450 to $800
  • Departs every few days
  • Experience authentic Andean culture and local communities

Day Hikes Inside Machu Picchu

Once inside the citadel, you have the option to climb either Huayna Picchu (the famous peak seen in pictures of the citadel) or Machu Picchu Mountain. Tickets for these additional treks need to be booked separately and in advance. We recommend checking with the tour operator you use for your main trek.

Huayna Picchu Mt

  • The highest peaked mountain of Machu Picchu
  • There are Inca structures at the top
  • Reaches an altitude of 2,720m
  • 50-minute hike to the top of the mountain
  • Difficult hike – a good level of fitness is required

Machu Picchu Mountain (Montaña Machu Picchu)

  • Located on the southwest end of Machu Picchu.
  • A longer trek than Huayna Picchu- around 1 hour 30 to the summit
  • Less steep and less crowded than the alternative
  • Offers great views over Machu Picchu and surrounding area

2 Day Inca Trail (Hiking)

  • You will hike the last 1/3 of the famous Classic Inca Trail (12km in total)
  • You will hike the actual trail that the Ancient Incas hiked more than 600 year ago
  • You get to hike through the Sun Gate all the way to famous Machu Picchu Citadel
  • You get to visit Machu Picchu Citadel twice, the 1st and 2nd day of the trek

Check tour operators, compare prices and book your trek here!

1 Day Tour by Train

  • Enjoy a Panoramic train ride to Machu Picchu with amazing views along the way.
  • See panoramic mountains views, rivers and valleys as you pass by ancient cites
  • Prices range from $300-$600
  • Take your time exploring the majestic Machu Picchu Citadel.
  • Shop in Aguas Calientes

Find our the detailed itinerary here!

2 Day Bus/Walk

  • Take the long 5 to 6 hour bus ride from Cusco to Hidroelectrica (the last stop) via Santa Maria
  • 3 hour trek alongside the train tracks to Aguas Calientes – be careful not to get lost.
  • Spend the night in Aguas Calientes and either trek (1.5hours) or get the bus up to the citadel early the next morning $25 round trip.
  • Walk back to Hidroelectrica and drive back to Cusco
  • Can be dangerous because of the quality of the roads and there is no guide for the 3 hour trek.
  • Prices range from $150 to $200
  • Not the best option to get to Machu Picchu
  • In Quechua, the language of the Incas, Machu Picchu means old mountain. Huayna Picchu, on the other hand, means young mountain.
  • You can get your passport stamped at the entrance of Machu Picchu for an original souvenir
  • The building technique that the Incas used is incredible, because the stones are cut in such a way that they fit perfectly together without even having to put mortar between them
  • Machu Picchu also served as an astronomical observatory. The sacred Intihuatana stone indicates the two equinoxes and twice per year, the sun sits directly over the stone creating no shadow.
  • Inca Trail is now the only option to hike directly into Machu Picchu Citadel through the Sun Gate – Inca Trail). You can no longer hike to the famous Sun Gate from Machu Picchu.
  • Your ORIGINAL passport! You cannot enter without it!
  • Your ticket to Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu / Huayna Picchu Mountain; has to be bought in advance.
  • Some money for the passport stamp, bathroom breaks at public rest rooms and for souvenirs you may want to buy, as well as dinner or lunch at the restaurant
  • A camera – no selfie sticks allowed
  • Good walking shoes
  • Water and toilet paper
  • A lunchbox and some snacks
  • Sunscreen and/or small foldable umbrella depending on the weather
  • Insect Repellent
  • Hat to protect from the sun
  • Tripods and selfie sticks are not allowed at the historical site. You can leave both of them in the lockers outside
  • Professional cameras are not allowed. Permits for professional cameras are over $300 so avoid bringing a professional-looking camera in to save some money
  • You cannot come to Machu Picchu with your travel backpack. Only smaller bags are allowed so leave your backpack. You can pay a hotel a small amount of money to take care of it.
  • Walking sticks are not allowed unless you really need them
  • Only small foldable umbrellas are allowed so avoid bringing a big umbrella with spikes
  • If travelling to Machu Picchu on your own, you will probably go by minibus or taxi (at least part of the way). They often drive dangerously on narrow roads on steep cliffs with hairpin turns. Accidents happen all the time so try to avoid travelling like this or at least make sure not to drive after sun down or during rainy season. There can be mud slides, roads washed out, rivers of water crossing the road and or falling rocks.
  • Tour operators need two certificates, one from the city and one from the tourist board. Make sure they have one of each hanging in their office
  • Like all touristic sites in the world, keep an eye out on your valuables. For safety carry backpack in front of you. Cameras and cell phones are what are what thieves are looking for. Protect them.

Where is Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is located 112 km from the City of Cusco, Peru in South America. The nearest town is Aguas Calientes which you can get to by train or by bus/minivan and train. The only other route is a 5 to 6 hour bus ride on dangerous roads and then 3 hours of walking to Aguas Calientes. Not recommended.

What is Machu Picchu?

It’s the most impressive archaeological Inca ruin in South America, named a World Cultural and Natural Heritage by UNESCO in 1983, and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the World. Machu Picchu is a city of stone, built in the middle of the Cordillera de Vilcabamba, without the use or help of wheels or iron tools. Most of the citadel’s structures remain intact today, which is why many consider it the perfect example of the Incas’ brilliant engineering.

How high is Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level. Cusco, on the other hand, has an elevation of 3,400 meters (11,154 ft).

How to get Machu Picchu Tickets?

You should buy your Machu Picchu Tickets at least 6 months before your trip. Tickets are sold on the official government website ( or via tour companies. Tickets can be paid for with credit or debit cards plus paypal at some companies.

What is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?

Consider visiting Machu Picchu from April through May (fall) and from September through October (spring). The high-tourist season months are June, July and August when it doesn’t rain.

When was Machu Picchu discovered?

Machu Picchu wasn’t exactly ‘discovered’ because local people have always known about its existence. In 1911, the American explorer Hiram Bingham made public his findings and wrongly called it ‘The Lost City of the Incas’.

Nine years before Bingham had arrived, the Peruvian Agustin Lizárraga had found the ruins and left his signature on one of the walls of the Three Windows Temple in the Citadel.

  • Anna Brown says:

    Really informative website ; thank you
    It certainly helped me with my planning and selection of a tour company.

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packages operated by Sam Travel Perú or Orange Nation Perú

Hotel In Hollantaytambo

A scenic 10 m drive from Ollantaytambo, follow the river and the train tracks to the Veronica View Hotel. Along the way, watch across the river for the original terraces from Incan times! Arriving at the hotel, you will be greeted amid gardens of native flowers and orchids. Take in the stunning sight of the Veronica Mountain, covered with glaciers year-round. After you settle into your room, walk through the gardens to the pool and restaurant area. There is a steam sauna, dry sauna, spa, heated swimming pool and restaurant at your feet.

Triple Accommodation Room

Three comfortable single beds, ideal for groups of friends or family, enjoy the same spectacular view of the Veronica Mountain as the other rooms in the main building. Each room has a private bathroom with beautiful marbled counter tops.

King Size Room

Enjoy the luxury of a King size bed, along with all of the other indulgent services offered by the Veronica View Hotel. Each room is carefully situated to give you the best view of the Veronica Mountain. King rooms are in the main building on either the first or second floor. All King Rooms include jacuzzi

Double Accommodation Room

Double rooms are located in the main building, a beautiful room with an expansive view of the snow covered Veronica Mountain and the Urubamba Valley. Double rooms have one double bed, one twin bed and a private bathroom. These rooms are located on the first and second floor