Machu Picchu Citadel inspires awe and elation at first sight. Forgotten after the fall of the Inca Empire, and then it was re-discovered 400 years later. Machu Picchu is without a doubt Peru’s top tourist attraction. Browse our guide below for essential facts, travel tips, and top attractions on a tour to Machu Picchu.

1. You must buy your tickets in advance!

Don’t even consider trying to purchase tickets at the gate the day of your trip! Machu Picchu tickets are sold out up to 2 months or more in advance, especially in high season between April to October. If you’re lucky, it may be possible to get your ticket weeks or even days ahead of time during low season which is also the rainy season. But in order to avoid disappointment and to make sure you enter the site on your desired day, it’s best to plan as far ahead as possible. You cannot even purchase your train ticket until you are sure there are Machu Picchu Citadel tickets available. If you find tickets, at your preferred date, book right away because large tourist agencies book banks of tickets of 20 to 40 or more at once. If you plan to do any of the hikes to places within Machu Picchu there are limited entrances, such as nearby Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, booking early is essential. Huayna Picchu can be booked out months in advance in high season due to very limited ticket availability.

2. You pay extra to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain

If you’re hoping to hike the mountains surrounding the ruins, you must purchase a second tickets of $75 when you purchase your Machu Picchu Citadel ticket. Once purchased, you’ll be assigned a specific time when you can begin your hike. You must be on time. Those hoping to hike Huayna Picchu should plan to buy their entrance tickets at least three months or more ahead of time and for Machu Picchu Mountain, three to four weeks before you go.

Huayna Picchu mountain offers a shorter hike of about one to two hours with a narrow path and very steep drop-offs. You have to use your hands or crawl around the rocks in spots where there aren’t guardrails. It´s a very popular trek which means it can get crowded with people going up and down. If you suffer from vertigo or are afraid of heights, do not do this hike.

Machu Picchu Mountain is a longer hike of about two to four hours up steep stone steps. There are a few drop-offs but it’s not quite as vertigo-inducing a trek as Huayna Picchu – this mountain is much higher and the hike is longer. It has incredible 360 degree views of the valley below.

*** Please keep in mind that both hikes are extremely steep and not appropriate for anyone with mobility issues. Even if you are more fit and able, it’s recommended to be extremely careful when doing these hikes as rescues are difficult, due to their remote location. With that being said, these extra hikes offer incredible views of the ruins and surrounding landscapes!

3. The altitude isn’t actually that bad for Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is 2,430 meters (7,972 feet) above sea level, which is much lower than the city of Cusco – 3,400 meters or 11,152 feet – so it’s likely you won’t suffer from altitude sickness if you’ve already spent time acclimatising in Cusco first. However, if you plan to hike Machu Picchu Mountain, know that the altitude at the top is more than 3,000 meters (~9,842 feet) and Huayna Picchu is about 2,700 meters (~8,858 feet) tall, so you may feel some ultitude sickness. If you’re concerned about the altitude, take it slow and drink plenty of water. You could also drink coca tea or take an altitude sickness pill — available at local Peruvian pharmacies. You should consult your doctor at home about the effects and remedies of altitude sickness before you come to Peru.

4. What are the time slots for visiting Machu Picchu

Due to new regulations, you can now only enter Machu Picchu from 6am to 2pm:

A. Entrance schedule ONLY for Machu Picchu.

With this ticket you can tour and explore Machu Picchu Inca city. There are four circuit tickets available when entrances into Machu Picchu every hour from 6am to 2pm. Machu Picchu closes at 5:30pm. You can stay in Machu Picchu for up to 4 hours after admission.

*** You are NOT allowed to exit and re-enter during your visit. Be sure to use the rest room before entering.

B. Schedules to enter Machu Picchu Citadel + Huayna Picchu

In order to climb Huayna Picchu, you need to purchase 2 tickets into Machu Picchu. One ticket to explore the Citadel and the other to climb Huayna Picchu (ticket includes circuit #3)

  • Entrance into Huayna Picchu is permitted every hour from 7:00am to 10:00am
  • You can only stay inside the Citadel gates up to 4 hours after the moment of entry.
C. Schedules to enter Machu Picchu Citadel + Machu Picchu Mountain

You need to purchase 2 tickets into Machu Picchu to hike, one for the Citadel and one for Machu Picchu Mountain, (circuit #3). The ticket to climb Machu Picchu Mountain starts at the Guardhouse (viewpoint). From here you get the most amazing panaromic views of Machu Picchu. The hike usually takes around 3 to 4 hours.

  • Entrance into Machu Picchu Mountain is only permitted at 7:00am and 8:00am.
  • Ticket doesn´t include entrance into the Citadal, its only valid for the mountain climb.
  • You can only stay inside the Citadel gates up to 4 hours after the moment of entry.

5. There are no bathrooms beyond the main entrance

You’ll find a small snack bar, restaurant and bathroom just outside the gate of Machu Picchu before you enter the site. You are NOT allowed to exit and re-enter during your visit.

6. Bring your passport with you – and get it stamped

This one is simple: Don’t forget your passport since you’ll need to present it with your ticket to enter. To commemorate your visit, you can also get a special Machu Picchu stamp in your passport — look for a small desk just past the entrance or ask a staff member where to find it once you get in. Sometimes it is located just outside the exit.

7. Wear pants, not shorts

The mosquitos in Machu Picchu are merciless. Their bites itch for weeks and sometimes regular repellent doesn’t deter them. Wearing pants and long sleeves, even if the weather is warm, is the best way to avoid them.

8. Bring these 5 items — but not a large backpack

Be sure to bring sunblock and bug spray. It’s also a good idea to wear comfortable walking shoes, bring a raincoat and several layers of clothing. It can be very chilly in the morning, very hot at midday and rainy at a moment´s notice. Small or regular-size backpacks are allowed. However,if your bag is larger than 40 cm x 35 cm x 20 cm (15.7 inches x 13.7 inches x 7.9 inches) it won’t be allowed in and you’ll have to pay to store it in the lockers before you can enter the site. It´s better to just not bring it.

9. Make sure you take your trash with you

You can bring snacks into the area, however you must take any trash or wrappers with you – bring an empty carrier bag to store any rubbish in so you can dispose of it when you leave and find a bin. It´s our planet, lets all play a role in preserving it.

10. Take the Bus From Aguas Calientes

There is a bus that takes you to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, that is if you don’t want to walk. The walk takes about 60 minutes. You will need to purchase your tickets the night before at the bus stand in Aguas Calientes. Tickets are around $12 each way and you will need to show your passport to buy them. There can be long queues for these buses, even with tickets, so make sure to get there early! If you are traveling with a tourist agency they may include everything in your tour package, including these tickets.


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