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IMPORTANT things TO KNOW before you visit Machu Picchu - Incatrailhikeperu
Machu picchu Tours

Important Things To Know Before You Visit Machu Picchu

Written by: Incatrailhikeperu May 9, 2022

Inspiring all that behold its wonder, Machu Picchu is undoubtedly Peru’s number one attraction, bringing thousands of tourists every year. Lost to the world except for a few surrounding local communities, it was rediscovered approximately 400 years later. There’s a lot of Machu Picchu information out there, make sure you are prepared before you make the trip and are up to date on all the latest changes.

1.- Buy your Tickets in Advance

Make sure you have your Machu Picchu ticket purchased in advance. During the dry season we recommend at least 6 months before, or when the dates become available. During the rainy season there is less demand so you may be able to book your tickets a few weeks or days before but, you will be rolling the dice. If you are wanting to hike one of the mountains make sure you book those tickets in advance as well. Additionally, make sure you know which circuit to choose.

2.- Hiking the Famous Mountains

You’ll need to purchase tickets in advance for both Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu Mountain if you want to hike either one. The tickets have an additional cost to the standard Machu Picchu entry ticket. You will be given an assigned time range to start the hike. Please note, if you are even a few minutes late you will not be allowed to start the hike. With Huayna Picchu being the more popular of the mountains it’s recommended to purchase your ticket at least a few months in advance. For Machu Picchu Mountain and Huchuy Picchu Mountain you can usually get away with purchasing your ticket a few weeks in advance.

Option 1: Huayna Picchu Mountain

A shorter hike when compared to Machu Picchu Mountain, it’s the most crowded hike by far. The hike is around two hours in total, there are steep sections that require the assistance of ropes and rails. Additionally, there is a narrow tunnel at the end where adventurers need to crawl on their hands and knees! This hike is not for people with an extreme fear of heights. To access this hike, you must take circuit 4.

Option 2: Machu Picchu Mountain

Longer than Huayna Picchu Mountain, this hike offers the highest views of Machu Picchu and, is the only ticket that allows re-entry (Only one time). With some steep cliffs and drops this hike is difficult but not as bad as Huayna Picchu. However, both hikes are very steep and are not for individuals who struggle with stairs. Please exercise extreme caution while on these treks due to the very real dangers. To get to this hike you can either take circuit 3.

Option 3: Huchuy Picchu Mountain

The smallest mountain in the complex, Huchuy Picchu Mountain is a great option for those wanting an easier shorter alternative to the two other mountains. The mountain takes around 30 to 40 mins to summit and is accessible through circuit 4. Although its smaller than the other mountains Huchuy Picchu offers great unique views of Machu Picchu.

3.- Moderate Altitude

The Incan Citadel of Machu Picchu is situated at 2,430m which is significantly lower than that of Cusco 3,400m. If you have spent a few days in Cusco, you should have no problems regarding altitude sickness at Machu Picchu. Remember to keep a slow steady pace if you are planning to hike either of the mountains. The mountain’s elevation is higher than that of Machu Picchu, 3,000 meters for Machu Picchu Mountain (~9,842 feet) and 2,700 meters (~8,858 feet) for Huayna Picchu Mountain. If altitude sickness is still a concern for you make sure to drink lots of water and consider chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea. There are also altitude pills available at any pharmacy. Finally, consult a doctor for any additional questions or concerns.

I.- Entrance Schedule for Machu Picchu ONLY

Open hours are from 6:00 to 17:30 you cannot access Machu Picchu outside of these hours. When purchasing entry tickets, you must choose a time slot of 60 minutes. If you do not make it in your assigned time slot you will not be allowed entry! Machu Picchu entry tickets do not allow hikes to either of the mountains. You must buy passes to the mountains separately.

Group 1 :

  • Entry time 6am – 7am
  • Exit time 10am – 11am

Group 4:

  • Entry time 9am – 10am
  • Exit time 1pm – 2pm

Group 8:

  • Entry time 12pm – 1pm
  • Exit time 4pm – 5pm

Group 2:

  • Entry time 7am – 8am
  • Exit time 11am – 12pm

Group 6:

  • Entry time 10am -11am
  • Exit time 2pm -3pm

Group 9:

  • Entry time 1pm – 2pm
  • Exit time 5pm – 6pm

Group 3:

  • Entry time 8am -9am
  • Exit time 12pm – 1pm

Group 7:

  • Entry time 11am -12pm
  • Exit time 3pm – 4pm

Group 10:

  • Entry time 2pm – 3pm
  • Exit time 6pm – 6pm

Visitors are allowed 4 hours in the site. Please keep in mind if you want one of the early slots you will have to reserve months in advance.

There is no re-entry, Except if you are hiking Machu Picchu Mountain! If you leave you will not be allowed back in.

The visitor can stay in Machu Picchu for up to 4 hours after admission.
For the first schedules, you need to book way in advance, at least 2 or 3 months.

*PLEASE NOTE: Hikes to the Sun Gate are no longer available. You will need to get to the sun gate via one of the multi day treks

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 1 day - Incatrailhikeperu

II.- Huayna Picchu Mountain Schedule

This ticket allows you to enter both Machu Picchu and summit Huayna Picchu Mountain.

  • Group 1: Entry to Machu Picchu 6 to 7am / Entry to Huayna Picchu 7 to 8am
  • Group 2: Entry to Machu Picchu 7 to 8am / Entry to Huayna Picchu 8 to 9 am
  • Group 3: Entry to Machu Picchu 8 to 9am / Entry to Huayna Picchu 9 to 10am
  • Group 4: Entry to Machu Picchu 9 to 10am / Entry to Huayna Picchu 10 to 11am

***The only circuit for Huayna Picchu is circuit 4

III.- Machu Picchu Mountain Schedule

This ticket allows entry to both Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain. Unlike Huayna Picchu there are only two schedules. This ticket allows one re-entry!

  • Group 1: Entry to Machu Picchu 6 to 7am / Entry to Machu Picchu Mountain 7 to 8am
  • Group 2: Entry to Machu Picchu 7 to 8am / Entry to Machu Picchu Mountain 8 to 9 am

***This is the only ticket that allows re-entry (only one time)

IV.- Huchuy Picchu Mountain Schedule

  • Group 1: Entry to Machu Picchu 6am – 7am / Entry to Huchuy Picchu 7am – 8am
  • Group 2: Entry to Machu Picchu 7am – 8am / Entry to Huchuy Picchu 8am – 9am
  • Group 3: Entry to Machu Picchu 8am – 9am / Entry to Huchuy Picchu 9am – 10am
  • Group 4: Entry to Machu Picchu 9am – 10am / Entry to Huchuy Picchu 10am – 11am
  • Group 5: Entry to Machu Picchu 10am – 11am / Entry to Huchuy Picchu 11am – 12pm
  • Group 6: Entry to Machu Picchu 11am – 12pm / Entry to Huchuy Picchu 12pm – 1pm
  • Group 7: Entry to Machu Picchu 12pm – 1pm / Entry to Huchuy Picchu 1pm – 2pm
  • Group 8: Entry to Machu Picchu 1pm – 2am / Entry to Huchuy Picchu 2pm – 3pm

5.- No bathrooms inside Machu Picchu

The only restroom is just before the entrance to Machu Picchu. Remember, there is no re entry unless you have a ticket for Machu Picchu Mountain. If this is the case you can leave the site buy snacks and use the bathroom then return for your hike.

6.- Passport Stamp

You’ll need your passport to enter Machu Picchu anyway so why not get a stamp to remember your visit? Just past the entry there will be a small desk, if you can’t find it ask a staff member for help. Sometimes it’s after the exit.

7.- Licensed Guide Required

You are not allowed to enter Machu Picchu without licensed a guide, whether in a group or on a private tour you still need a guide. There will be guides offering their services outside the entrance so don’t worry if you don’t have a guide when you arrive. Although if you choose a last-minute guide, you are taking a risk. It’s much safer to book a guide through a reputable tour operator, their guides are bilingual, professional, and have a wealth of knowledge.

8.- Biting Insects

There are notorious biting insects at Machu Picchu that love to bite tourists, “sand flies” is the most common name for these annoying little terrors. Wearing long clothes that cover all of your body is the best way to avoid getting bitten, Insect repellents vary in effectiveness. Some individuals report no problems after applying repellent while others have no luck at all. Make sure you take precautions to avoid getting bit.

9.- Essential While Visiting Machu Picchu

Make sure you bring sunblock as you will be at a decently high altitude and the sun will be very strong, especially in the dry season. As stated before, some type of insect repellant is highly recommended as well. Good footwear with good treads is also recommended, the stone steps of Machu Picchu can be slippery when it’s raining. Raingear is also essential, being high in the Andean Cloud Forest it can rain at any time even during the dry season, however unlikely. Finally, a day bag will come in handy during your stay. The only condition is that your bad cannot be bigger than 40 cm x 35 cm x 20 cm (15.7 inches x 13.7 inches x 7.9 inches). If your bag is too big you will have to pay for a locker and store your bag outside of Machu Picchu.

***PLEASE NOTE: You will need to bring a 30 liter backpack with you on the Inca Trail for your daily essentials.

10.- Plastic Water Bottles Not Allowed

You can bring a reusable water botting but plastic water bottles are forbidden. Please help keep this pristine area clean and free of garbage by bringing only reusable water bottles. Additionally, be responsible by disposing of or packing out any trash you may bring such as wrappers, zip lock bags, etc. Respect this world wonder by practicing “pack it in pack it out”, the last thing we want to do is disrespect this sacred place by leaving behind a plastic bottle or candy wrapper.

11.- Bus from Aguas Calientes

You can always walk from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, however, it’s a 1 or 2 hour steep walk with lots of steps. You will also be crossing the road a few times and it can be very dusty in the dry season. It’s recommended to take the bus up to Machu Picchu, and if you want to save some money, walk down on your way back to Aguas Calientes. The price for the bus is $12 each way and takes around 25 minutes. You can buy tickets at the bus station the night before but, you will need your passport. The price for the bus is really expensive compared to other bus transportation in Peru.


Generally speaking no you are not allowed re-entry to Machu Picchu, with one exception. If you are hiking Machu Picchu Mountain you are allowed one re-entry to use the bathroom and buy snacks you need. If you do not have a Machu Picchu Mountain ticket it’s recommended to buy everything you need before entry and make sure to use the bathroom so you don’t have to cut your visit short.

Taking the bus to Machu Picchu

Make sure you get to the station early if you are taking the bus. Arrive at least 3 hours before your designated entry time to Machu Picchu. Depending on the season the lines for the bus can be extremely long. For example, if your entry time is at 6:00am try and arrive at the station by 3:00 am. The government is trying to fix this issue by changing the entry schedules so this year it might be better than years past.

The trip back can sometimes be just as long as the wait going up to Machu Picchu. For this reason it’s recommended to walk back down to Aguas Calientes if you are able. It’s around a 1 to 2 hour walk which is not bad considering the wait for the bus alone can sometimes be as long as three hours!

Pro Tips!

There is not any water available while inside Machu Picchu. Make sure to bring a big reusable water bottle or two smaller ones especially if you are planning to hike one of the mountains. There is food and water for sale outside the entrance but it’s very overpriced. Make sure to eat before entering, snacks are allowed inside Machu Picchu but, large amounts of food such as take out are not.

The trains allow a limited amount of luggage. Make sure you bring only your essentials, leave your large bags at your hotel back in Cusco or wherever you may be staying.

There are some shady restaurants in the small town of Aguas Calientes that charge an additional 20% at the end of the meal. These places will not tell you beforehand and it’s not listed on the menus. If you decide to eat at Aguas Calientes make sure to ask about this hidden fee before ordering your food.

Places of interest inside Machu Picchu

Although the complex of Machu Picchu in its entirety is an amazingly surreal sight to behold there are important sites that you shouldn’t miss.

  • Temple of the Condor (open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
  • Temple of the Sun
  • Intiwatana stone (open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
  • Inca House
  • Water Mirrors
  • Temple of the three Windows
  • Guard House (Postcard Picture)

Please check out the Orange Nation Peru for more information.

Altitude sickness

Avoiding altitude sickness will make your trip much more enjoyable. Known as “soroche” in Quechua, the best way to avoid this illness is to keep a slow steady pace when in high altitude and drink lots of water. If you can, it’s best to spend a few days in cusco before taking on any of the hikes. Try and rest the first day you arrive in cusco, drink coca tea and chew coca leaves if needed. Coca leaf is a traditional medicine that’s been used for thousands of years to treat altitude sickness. Additionally, try not to eat your first day in Cusco if you can, small snacks are okay but large meals could upset your stomach.

IMPORTANT things to KNOW before you visit Machu Picchu was updated in March 2024.

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