How to visit Machu Picchu? What tickets do I need?

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To Machu Picchu you can travel with a tour or on your own. If you choose this last option, you must buy one of the available tickets. In addition, the train ticket to Aguas Calientes is essential. Find out what other tickets you need: their prices, buy online and more.

The trip to Machu Picchu: with tour or on your own?

Do you plan or dream of traveling to Machu Picchu? Well, the first thing you need to do is choose whether to go with a tour or on your own.

Obviously the tours already include everything you need for the visit: tickets, transportation, the tour guide, lodging, and, in some cases, food.

If you choose to go without a tour you will need to purchase all these services on your own. In the case of the trip to Machu Picchu, the purchase of at least two tickets is essential: tickets and train tickets. The rest can be arranged on the same day of the trip.

Have you already decided? Whatever your choice, Machu Picchu is a destination worth the effort. Whether economic, time or so on.

Why choose tour?

Are you more inclined to the trip to Machu Picchu with tour? Know that these services are obtained through a tourism agency, either in its online version or in the city of Cusco itself.

The most common tours are those that last a whole day (from 4 in the morning until 6 or 8 at night). These services start and end in the city of Cusco.

There are also 2-day tours departing from Cusco and including a night of tourist hotel in the town of Aguas Calientes (the nearest town of Machupicchu).

Standard day tours include: pick up from your hotel in Cusco, transportation to train station, train ride, final bus ride, entrance to Machu Picchu, tour guide service and return to Cusco also by train. Lunch is not always included.

Standard two-day tours include: pick up from your hotel in Cusco, transportation to train station, train trip, final bus trip, tourist accommodation in Aguas Calientes, tour guide service and return to Cusco also by train. Lunch, dinner or breakfast is not always included in this service.

Do you feel it is in your best interest to travel with a tour? Well, older adults, families with children or people traveling as a family are the ones who prefer this way of knowing ‘mapi’.

Tours to Machu Picchu can be purchased with any tourism agency in Cusco, either online or in person once in Peru. Which tourism agency to choose? Choose the one that seems more serious and organized. An excellent option to avoid being ‘scammed’ is to review the comments about said agency (positive and negative) from other tourists about the service. In Cusco, as in any part of the world, there are good and bad agencies.

Why choose to go on your own?

People who choose to visit Machu Picchu on their own are usually young ‘backpackers’ who do not have their itinerary defined in Cusco.

One of the main reasons to choose to go to Machu Picchu without a tour is that the trip can be cheaper. In addition, the visitor can organize his itinerary according to his preferences, with greater freedom.

Anyway, to go to Machu Picchu on your own you need to secure the two indispensable tickets (the entrance to Machupicchu and the train tickets).

If you make the purchase in Cusco it is very important to do it at least a week before. Remember that tickets have limited availability!

What tickets do I need to go on my own?

Do not forget that these two tickets are essential to go on your own to Machu Picchu

  • Entrance Machupicchu – The entrance ticket to the ‘Inca City’ is the first and most important thing you must do to go on your own. Depending on the date and time of your visit you must organize the trip by train.
  • Train tickets – These tickets are very important since without a train trip, how will you get to Machupicchu? Like the tickets to the ‘Inca City’, you can buy these tickets online.

It is also advisable to buy:

  1. Final bus tickets – On the day of your visit to Machupicchu the train will take you to the town of Aguas Calientes. From there it is necessary to ascend 10 kilometers to the archaeological site of ‘mapi’. While it can be done on foot (more than 2 hours of walking), it is best to take the bus (30 minutes). The good news is that bus tickets can be purchased in the same village without problems. There is availability for everyone!
  2. Tour guide service – For a more complete visit you can hire the tour guide service in Machu Picchu. Right at the entrance door are the guides offering their services. They are in the morning schedules: from 6 in the morning until 10 in the morning approximately.
Tickets to Machu Picchu: which one to choose?

The entrance to Machu Picchu can be purchased on the official website: www.machupicchu.gob.pe. You can also do it in the authorized office of the city of Cusco: Maruri Street 324.

There are four types of tickets you can choose from:

  • Entrance Machu Picchu Solo – It is the most used ticket by visitors. It only allows you to visit the constructions of the Inca archaeological site. It costs 152 soles for foreigners. 64 soles for Peruvians.
  • Entrance Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu – Allows you to visit both the Inca archaeological site and the famous Huayna Picchu mountain, at the top of the ‘Inca Citadel’. It costs 200 soles for foreigners. 112 soles for Peruvians.
  • Entrance Machu Picchu with Mountain – Allows you to visit both the archaeological site of the Incas and the Machu Picchu mountain, the highest of all. It costs 200 soles for foreigners. 112 soles for Peruvians.
  • Entrance Machu Picchu with Huchuy Picchu – Allows you to visit both the Inca archaeological site and the Huchuy Picchu mountain, located a short distance from the ‘Inca City’. It costs 152 soles for foreigners. 64 soles for Peruvians.

Don’t worry that all entrances to Machu Picchu allow you to tour the archaeological site. Thus, the visitor will appreciate famous constructions such as the Sacred Plaza, the Temple of the Sun, the Sacred Rock, the Temple of the Condor, the Hall of Mirrors and more. The entrance to the Huayna Picchu mountain is only allowed to tourists over 12 years of age. All other tickets are allowed for visitors of all ages. Choose your best option and enjoy ‘mapi’!

Train tickets: which one to choose?

Train tickets are purchased through the only two companies available: Peru Rail or Inca Rail. Although it can be purchased in person in Cusco, it is best to do it online in advance. To do this you must enter www.perurail.com or www.incarail.com.

There are different services according to each company.

Peru Rail:

  • Expedition Train – It is the most economical tourist service. That is why it is the one that most foreign visitors use. Includes all amenities on board. Even sale of snacks and drinks.
  • Vistadome Train – It is a service that stands out for its large side and upper windows. In the return section includes dance show and parade of clothes made of alpaca.
  • Vistadome Observatory Train – It’s a similar service to the Vistadome, only it adds a live music show. This inside a very entertaining observatory car.
  • Hiram Bingham Train – It is a luxury train that includes almost everything: observatory car, dining car, bar car, live music, complimentary champagne, lunch (or gourmet dinner). Even tour guide service in Machu Picchu!
  • Local train – This is the service used by Peruvians. It is very economical compared to tourist trains. The reason? It is intended for daily use by the local population. Unfortunately foreign tourists cannot use it.

Inca Rail:

  1. Voyager Train – It is a tourist service that includes all the amenities on board. It is the most economical of those available on Inca Rail. It also offers snacks and drinks.
  2. Train 360 – It is a service that stands out for its wide and side windows similar to a car with 360-degree views. It offers complimentary snacks.
  3. Train The First Class – It is a ‘First Class’ service that includes observatory car with bar, private bus to Machu Picchu, ambient music and gourmet lunch or dinner.
  4. Train The Private – It is an exclusive luxury service for the visitor and his private group. It includes gourmet menu, live music, bus to Machu Picchu, observatory car with exclusive bar, welcome champagne and even cooking classes.
Should I also buy bus tickets?

Bus tickets cover the route Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes.

The outward route is uphill for almost 10 kilometers. Due to the difficulty of climbing on foot, it is best to take the bus. Walking up takes from 2 hours to more. The bus ride takes only 30 minutes.

The return route is downhill. If there is free time, it is possible to walk back (2 hours of route more or less). However, if the train’s departure time is pressing, it is best to take the bus.

The bus company is called ‘Consettur’. Bus tickets can be purchased in the town of Aguas Calientes without inconvenience. Availability is not exhausted. The price of the round trip is 24 dollars for foreigners and 15 dollars for Peruvians.

In case you need it, know that walking is free.

Machupicchu is open all year round (including Sundays and holidays) from 6 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. That is why the buses depart from Aguas Calientes from 5:30 in the morning. The last bus leaves at 3 in the afternoon on average. Due to the high number of visitors in the mornings, long queues tend to form to get on the buses. In the afternoons you don’t see these queues. Most tourists prefer to visit Machupicchu in the early hours of the day.

Is it mandatory to hire a tour guide in Machu Picchu?

Although the rule indicates that it is mandatory to tour Machu Picchu with a tour guide, this is not fulfilled in practice. Therefore, it is not mandatory to hire a guide in ‘mapi’.

However, is it advisable to hire a guide? The answer is a resounding yes. The tour guide provides the necessary information to fully understand the importance of the ‘Inca City’. In addition, unfortunately within the archaeological site there are no information panels.

The tour with a tour guide of Machupicchu takes approximately 2 hours.

The ‘shared’ service is the one that the visitor does together with others of different origins. The cost of this service is from 10 to 15 soles per person.

The ‘private’ service is what the tourist does with his exclusive group of friends, families, couple or simply one. The cost of this service is 70 or 100 soles per group (up to 8 people approximately).

How long before I have to make the purchase of tickets?

The more you make the purchase earlier, the better.

The entrance to Machu Picchu must be purchased three or four weeks in advance. However, if you are looking to get the ticket ‘Machupicchu with Huaynapicchu’, the purchase is three or four months before. There is little availability for this ticket!

Train tickets must be purchased two to three weeks in advance. The most advisable thing is to acquire them as soon as the date and time of visit to Machu Picchu is known. If you expect to buy tickets once in Cusco, it is best to do so as soon as you step on Cusco soil. Be careful that you run out of tickets!

The other tickets (bus or tour guide) can be purchased once in Cusco.

What else do I need?

If you plan a visit of more than one day in Machu Picchu, it is also advisable to book the lodging or hotel in advance.

In the months of high tourism (from May to August) the hotels can be full. That’s why it’s best to book the rooms two or three weeks in advance. Today, thanks to the internet, it is easy to get early availability.

Last but not least, don’t forget to secure your plane tickets to Peru. Foreign tourists must purchase at least two flights: from their country to the city of Lima (capital of Peru). And from Lima to Cusco.

That’s all! Hopefully you can visit Machu Picchu soon!