How To Get Machu Picchu Tickets

Getting Machu Picchu tickets is easier than you’d imagine.

Machu Picchu is a wonder of the world. It’s a super popular destination and receives millions of visitors per year, and so it’s understandable that you can’t just rock up whenever you like, get a ticket, and go in.

In fact, as of 2017 the UNESCO World Heritage Site has implemented a time slot system, with a certain amount of time slots in which a certain number of visitors are allowed in at a time. In total, less than 3,000 people daily are allowed to enter Machu Picchu, and tickets sell out quickly in the high season (June through August).

With that in mind, it is important that – as soon as you know when you want to go – you book your tickets right away. Don’t leave it to the last minute!

In this post, I will tell you everything you need to know to plan your visit to Machu Picchu, including how to get Machu Picchu tickets and how to get there.

Inca Trail Packing List

2021 MACHU PICCHU UPDATE!

Given the current circumstances, and with a view to protecting this incredible site, all visitors to Machu Picchu need to purchase tickets in advance and select a specific time slot to enter the site. There are 9 time slots of one hour each, per day, and visitors can spend up to four hours on the site (which is a pity: I spent a full day there the first time I visited!) unless they are also hiking to Huayna Picchu, in which case they obviously will have longer.

Another new and important rule is that only guided visits are allowed – mainly because guides follow certain circuits and ensure that there are no large gatherings of people at any time. You can hire a guide directly at Machu Picchu entrance (official guides will be wearing a badge) or join one of the guided tours departing daily from Aguas Calientes or Cusco (more about that in a bit).

Finally, contrary to the past, once you leave the site you won’t be allowed to re-enter on the same day (unless you have a ticket for Machu Picchu Mountain).

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu tickets

Why You Must Visit Machu Picchu When In Peru

Machu Picchu isn’t just something to tick off on the tourist itinerary in Peru. This 15th-century Inca citadel is truly a marvel, and if you think you’ve seen it because you’ve seen photos, think again – nothing compares to actually being there and taking it all in. It’s such an enchanting site that I literally burst into tears when I first caught a glimpse of it in person!

Aside from the spectacular scenery surrounding this Inca ruin, there is the intrigue that surrounds the citadel itself. It feels mysterious – even today. The site was long abandoned before being “discovered” by Hiram Bingham III in 1911. In fact, when he chanced upon Machu Picchu, he was actually looking for something else, Vilcabamba – the former Inca capital.

There is also the added dimension of being able to reach Machu Picchu by hiking along a historic path, the Inca Trail, making this place feel like even more of an adventure.

If you are interested in history, architecture, or even just the vastness of nature (or if you are on the hunt for UNESCO World Heritage Sites), this marvel of South America really is a must, whoever you are.

Puente del Inca tickets to Machu Picchu

Visiting Machu Picchu More In Depth

Machu Picchu is often just thought of as one single citadel, but actually there’s much more to this “lost city” than one, or a handful of buildings. There are many places to see and discover and learn about with your guide spread across the 13-square-kilometer site.

Below are just a few of the highlights – I can’t possibly name them all as there is too much to see!

Wayna Picchu

Wayna Picchu is the name of the mountain that overlooks the famous citadel – as famous a landmark as Machu Picchu itself. This towering peak can also be accessed as part of your ticket when you book, as an addition to the cost.

It’s perfect if you are a keen hiker and you feel like working up a sweat, or just getting an amazing view of Machu Picchu from above. Be warned, however, that getting to the summit of Wanya Picchu is a steep, narrow climb, so come prepared.

Machu Picchu Mountain

Also looking out across the Inca ruins is the eponymous Machu Picchu Mountain. This comprises a less popular hike than the one at Wayna Picchu, so chances are you will be enjoying this one (almost) in solitude.

Note that this is also a tougher climb, and it takes longer, too. However, once you’re at the top, you will be treated to some incredible views. It’s easy to see why the Incas used to perform ceremonies up at this sublime spot.

Wayna Picchu

Temple of the Sun

Built by the Inca for ceremonies in which offerings were given to the sun and creator god of their civilization, the Temple of the Sun was also used as an astronomical observatory. It is one of three of the main sights to see at Machu Picchu.

The Royal Tomb

It is thought that sacrificial or burial rituals took place at what is now called the Royal Tomb. Situated below the Temple of the Sun, more than a hundred skeletons have been excavated at this site. Also close by are a series of ceremonial baths that are connected to an aqueduct system, showcasing more impressive Inca masonry.

The Intihuatana stone

This carved rock may look like some sort of throne, but it was in fact used as a sundial. More than simply telling the time, the Intihuatana stone was actually used for predicting solstices, as well as the dates for religious ceremonies to be performed.

how to get to Machu Picchu

How To Get Machu Picchu Tickets

Now that you know what the main points of interest in Machu Picchu are, and why you need to visit, let’s discover how you can bank Machu Picchu tickets easily.

Types of Machu Picchu Tickets

There are various types of different tickets to Machu Picchu. There are five to be precise (plus concessions), each of which requires you to choose a particular time slot for your visit. Here they are – I am also reporting the official price of a ticket to Machu Picchu at the time of writing, as seen on the official site.

Standard tickets to Machu Picchu

Standard tickets to Machu Picchu give you access to all of the ruins, but not to the mountains or museum. When booking, you have to select a time of entry – from that time, you will have four hours at the site to explore.

The first time-slot is at 6:00 am (there are only 300 of these early morning slots available), and considering it takes one hour or more to get from Machu Picchu entrance to the Inti Punku (the sun gate) from where you can admire the sun rising over the site, this may not be a viable option if you are visiting in the Peruvian summer, when the sun rises much earlier, and seeing the sunrise is one of your priorities.

Foreigners: 152 Peruvian Soles (around $37 USD)
Peruvian and Andean Community Residents: 64 Peruvian Soles (around $15.50 USD)

Choquequirao

Tickets to Machu Picchu + Wayna Picchu

This ticket to Machu Picchu allows you access to the site and also permits you to hike to the summit of Wayna Picchu overlooking the citadel if you want.

Note that the hike there and back takes around two to three hours, but in addition to that you will also have the four hours allotted time slot for your visit of Machu Picchu. There are four available time slots to walk up to Wayna Picchu.

Foreigners: 200 Peruvian Soles (around $39 USD)
Peruvian and Andean Community Residents: 112 Peruvian Soles (around $27.50 USD)

These combined tickets to Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu are also available to book on Viator. For more information, click here.

Tickets to Machu Picchu + Huchuy Picchu Mountain

Huchuy Picchu is the smaller mountain next to Huayna Picchu – and it’s in fact known as the Little Huayna Picchu. If you want to climb this mountain you will have the option of 9 different time slots – with a few also in the afternoon – but need to purchase a specific Machu Picchu ticket with Huchuy Picchu Mountain – and it is only sold on the official site.

Foreigners: 152 Peruvian Soles (around $37 USD)
Peruvian and Andean Community Residents: 64 Peruvian Soles (around $15.50 USD)

Inca Trail hike

Tickets to Machu Picchu + Machu Picchu Mountain

If you want to climb Machu Picchu Mountain, then you will have to purchase this particular ticket. However, access to this mountain is only from 6:00 am and 8:00 am, so it is really a morning-only ticket. The hike itself takes two hours for a round trip.

Foreigners: 200 Peruvian Soles (around $39 USD)
Peruvian and Andean Community Residents: 112 Peruvian Soles (around $27.50 USD)

Tickets to Machu Picchu + Manuel Chavez Ballon Museum

This ticket provides access to the museum as well as Machu Picchu itself, but not the mountain. Named after the famous archaeologist Manuel Chavez Ballon, it is located around a half an hour walk from Aguas Calientes and offers a rich background to the site.

Artefacts include an original National Geographic magazine published in 1913, totally dedicated to Machu Picchu. Allow at least an hour for the museum.

Foreigners: 174 Peruvian Soles (around $47 USD)
Peruvian and Andean Community Residents: 86 Peruvian Soles (around $21 USD)

Access to the museum by itself is 22 Peruvian Soles (around $5 USD).

Concession Machu Picchu tickets

Some visitors to Machu Picchu are not required to pay the full price for a variety of reasons. Children under 18, for example, have reduced prices and pay 70 Peruvian Soles (around $70 USD); whereas students pay 77 Peruvian Soles (around $19 USD).

Machu Picchu

How to get Machu Picchu tickets

There are a few different ways that you can purchase your Machu Picchu tickets. However, no matter which way you do it, you must get your ticket ahead of your visit, you cannot simply turn up and buy a ticket at the entrance.

In high season, tickets sell out way in advance, so it is highly recommended that you buy your tickets at least a few weeks before you plan to visit. Thankfully, we’re living in the modern day, so that means you can enjoy the luxury of buying tickets for a site built in the 15th century online – without having to go anywhere. With this method, you also have a few different options other than the official Machu Picchu site.

Here are some of the best ways to get your Machu Picchu tickets.

Online via the official website of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture

The official website of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture provides a web portal for buying tickets to Machu Picchu. This way allows you to purchase tickets for the lowest price, basically, but the website is admittedly a little bit clunky – not to mention, it’s only in Spanish.

You may have to be patient as you book your tickets. Once you’ve booked your ticket, make sure to print off your confirmation and make a note of your reservation number just in case.

To book your Machu Picchu entrance ticket via the official website, click here.

Tickets to Machu Picchu

Get Machu Picchu tickets via a third party site

Alternatively, you can also buy tickets from a number of different third-party websites. One thing to note is that, even though the sites may be a little more slick, the prices of the tickets will be a little more hiked up than those sold on the Peruvian Ministry of Culture website.

On the other hand, you will also have the company to contact or go back to if you have any problems – and there will be someone available to talk to 24/7. Third party sites include GetYourGuide, Tiqets and Viator, for example.

Get your Machu Picchu ticket on GetYourGuide here.

To get your ticket on Viator, click here.

If you prefer using Tiqets, click here.

tickets to Machu Picchu

Join a Machu Picchu tour

If you book yourself on a guided tour of Machu Picchu, the tour will include tickets to the site itself in the cost of the tour. The price per person for a Machu Picchu tour will vary, depending on the company and what the tour entails – it might be a multi-day tour, you may be visiting other places along the way, or it may be a trekking tour.

If you are choosing to embark on a Machu Picchu tour, make sure to do your research and only use reputable tour companies that come with lots of great reviews.

For information on guided day tours departing from Cusco, click here or here. For guided tours from Aguas Calientes, click here.

Cusco Inca Trail Packing List

Get your Machu Picchu tickets in person in Cusco

It is possible to buy your Machu Picchu entrance tickets in person, too, if you happen to be in Peru and haven’t already booked them in advance online. If you want to do this and you’re in Cusco, then you will have to go over to the Ministerio de Cultura – there are two places you can go:

  • Casa Garcilaso in Calle Gargilaso – only 2 blocks from the Plaza de Armas, in the Historic Center of Cusco.
  • Calle Maruri 324 at the Desconcertada Direction of Culture Cusco – also close to the Plaza de Armas.

In order to buy your ticket, you will need your passport. You can pay in cash or by credit / debit card.

Get your Machu Picchu tickets in person in Lima or other cities in Peru

You can also get your Machu Picchu tickets in person in Lima and other cities in Peru via the Banco de la Nacion, but the process is less than straightforward. You will have to reserve your ticket on the official site, print a confirmation and within 6 hours find a Banco de la Nacion where you can pay for your tickets – provided you speak enough Spanish to explain what you need to do (or you can pay online via the bank page). Then, you’ll have to go back to the official Machu Picchu website to retrieve your ticket and print it.

It’s honestly so tricky that getting tickets from Cusco or Aguas Calientes is probably a better idea.

Get your Machu Picchu tickets in person in Aguas Calientes

If you really want to leave it to the last minute and you’re willing to risk not being able to enter, then it is possible to buy your tickets at Aguas Calientes – the gateway to Machu Picchu.

If you are going to do this, then you’ll need to make your way to the Machu Picchu Cultural Centre (Dirección Regional de Cultura Aguas Calientes Office), over on Avenida Pachacutec. It’s open from Monday to Sunday, pretty much the entire day – from sunrise to well into the night. Again, you’ll need your passport, but it’s cash-only here (there are ATMs in town if you need them).

Walk the official Inca Trail

If you want to arrive at Machu Picchu in one of the most adventurous ways possible, then you may be interested in hitting up the iconic Inca Trail. This multi-day hike is done with a guide and porters, who will carry your luggage and lead you all the way to Machu Picchu.

Only 500 people per day are allowed to trek along the Inca Trail (and that includes the porters). Tickets sell out extremely quickly for this option. This option will also include a guided tour of Machu Picchu.

G-Adventures is known to be the best Inca Trail operator and this guided Inca Trail hike comes highly recommended. You can book it here.

Make sure to read my post A Complete Guide To Walking The Inca Trail To Machu Picchu.

Salkantay how to get to Machu Picchu

Walk one of the alternative hikes

It’s not just about the Inca Trail. In fact, there are many different hikes that weave their way around this part of the Andes all the way to Machu Picchu. These range anywhere from one to 12 days in length.

Routes include the Lares Trail and the Salkantay Trail and included in the cost of these or other trekking tours will be entry and a guided tour of Machu Picchu once you arrive.

You can book your Lares Trek here or here.

For more information about the Jungle Trek, click here.

You can book your Choquequirao Trek here.

You can book your Salkantay Trek here or here.

Machu Picchu tickets

What to do if tickets to Machu Picchu are sold out

If tickets are sold out, don’t panic! The first thing you should do is head online and check out third party sites. Usually there are some number of Machu Picchu entrance tickets allotted for third party websites, so if you check websites for companies like Viator or GetYourGuide, you might be lucky and find a ticket available for your desired date and time slot.

Get your Machu Picchu ticket on GetYourGuide here.

To get your Machu Picchu ticket on Viator, click here.

To get your entry ticket on Tiqets, click here.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Other Useful Information For Visiting Machu Picchu

Best time to visit Machu Picchu

The high season for visiting Machu Picchu is June through August, which coincides with much of the northern hemisphere’s summer vacation. This also falls within Peru’s dry season, which actually runs for much longer than the typical “summer”, meaning you can have dry weather either side of high season. April and October, for example, are good shoulder season options and great to avoid crowds.

The rainy season runs from November to March, and probably isn’t the best time to visit Machu Picchu. You should also take note that in February the Inca Trail is closed for restoration work.

Machu Picchu opening hours

Machu Picchu’s visiting hours are 6:00 am to 5:30 pm. If you’re visiting in June through August, you’ll be able to catch a sunrise if you manage to get a 6:00 am admission and hike up really fast to the Inti Punku; or an early sunset, but other times of year it’s just a little too late (or early) for either one.

How to get to Machu Picchu

There are a number of different ways to get to Machu Picchu – usually people make their way from Lima to Cusco via bus or a flight, and then from Cusco towards Machu Picchu. Here are the best ways to get there.

For a more complete guide, make sure to read my post How to get To Machu Picchu.

Train

Train travel to and from Machu Picchu comes in different shapes and sizes, from economy to 1920s Pullman-esque luxury. The trains run from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, where your onward travel is in the form of a shuttle bus (or short hike) to Machu Picchu.

Get your Expedition Train tickets on GetYourGuide here, or on Viator here.

Get your Vistadome Train tickets on Viator here or on GetYourGuide here.

You can book your Hiram Bingham Train here.

Inca Trail packing list

Hike

For more intrepid travelers, hiking is the ideal way to reach Machu Picchu. You could take multi-day treks along the Urubamba Valley (including the Inca Trail), hike through the jungle, or hike along the railway tracks from Ollantaytambo.

Shuttle Bus

The shuttle bus is also an option to reach Machu Picchu. Once you arrive in Aguas Calientes, you can either hike – or take one of these buses to the entrance. They leave every ten minutes (first departure being 5:30 am).

You can buy your tickets in Agua Calientes before you get on the bus, but there will be a line at the counter. A round ticket costs $24 USD, and a one way ticket costs $12 USD. You can also get your tickets in advance on sites such as GetYourGuide – for more information, click here.

how to get to Machu Picchu

Toilets at Machu Picchu

You may be expecting toilets at Machu Picchu – it is a well-trodden tourist site after all, but be warned: this is a timeworn ruin without any plumbing.

The restrooms at Machu Picchu are actually located outside the main entrance to the site, and are not free, costing 2 Peruvian Soles per person to use.

However, the only problem with this is if you exit the citadel to use the toilet you will not be allowed to re-enter with your general admission ticket, since it is outside the main entrance. Average time for visiting the citadel is three hours (you can only stay up to four anyways), so make sure you go to the toilet before you enter and don’t end up ruining your experience by almost bursting by the end!

Accessibility

Machu Picchu has not always been accessible to those in wheelchairs. However there are now specialized Machu Picchu tours on offer which have opened up the entire site, making it much more available for people with different abilities.

If you do visit in a wheelchair, and not on a specialized Machu Picchu tour, you will probably need the help of other people to get around and visit certain areas. It is possible to visit the lower part of Machu Picchu by yourself, but you will probably need help to access the higher parts, so bring a friend.

Luggage storage

If you are traveling to Machu Picchu by train, keep in mind, there are actually restrictions on baggage on PeruRail (carry-on luggage only).

Many people choose to leave what luggage they do have at their accommodation in Cusco, or wherever else they may be based – including Aguas Calientes. PeruRail can also store luggage at Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes station, if you need to do so.

Further Readings

For more tips to plan your trip to Peru, check out the following posts:

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Discover how to get tickets to Machu Picchu - via @clautavani

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