Machu Picchu Tickets Online, Best Time Of Day To Visit, Day Trip From Cusco – Everything You Need To Know
Fast Facts and Recommendations:
- Machu Picchu opens at 06:00 AM every morning and allows visitors in 9 hourly slots with the last slot entering Machu Picchu at 02:00 PM.
- Machu Picchu closes at 5:00 PM. That is, if you’re visiting Machu Picchu at 2:00 PM, you will have around 3 hours at the site, which is sufficient in my opinion.
- Your ticket expires 1 hour after your scheduled entry time. That is, if you’ve booked a 09:00 AM slot, you can still enter in the 10:00 AM slot, but not anymore after that.
- There are different ways you can buy your Machu Picchu entrance tickets. You can buy it online or you can buy it from government offices located in different cities like Cusco and Aguas Calientes. Please note that you CAN NOT buy tickets at the entrance gate. In my opinion, purchasing Machu Picchu tickets online is the most convenient.
- Machu Picchu entrance ticket costs around 157 Soles for an adult.
- Machu Picchu entrance ticket DOES NOT include bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu. The bus ticket cost around $12 one way (around $24 for the return trip). However, if you don’t want to spend money on bus tickets, you can choose to hike to the Machu Picchu entrance on foot. The hike takes around 2 to 3 hours one way, and it is very steep.
- The bus tickets CAN NOT be purchased online (at least officially). However, the bus ticket office is located pretty close to the bus stop. There was hardly any line when I arrived there to purchase bus tickets for my 1:00 PM slot. They accept credit cards or cash, and you will need to bring your Machu Picchu tickets and passport.
- Once you’re inside the Machu Picchu complex, there are no restrooms, shade, or snacks available. Restrooms and refreshments are available right outside the entrance. Please mind that restrooms cost 2 soles, cash only.
- Though I’d read online that guide is mandatory at Machu Picchu, it was not the case when I visited Machu Picchu. Maybe, the ticket collectors there are too busy to bother about checking guides for every ticket they scan. Anyway, if you don’t want to hire a guide, try your luck as I did. If it doesn’t work, there are a lot of licensed guides available at the entrance gate for you to hire.
Best Time Of Day To Visit Machu Picchu:
When it comes to the best time of day to visit Machu Picchu, you will get different answers depending on whom you’re talking to. If you ask a photographer, he/she would say morning is the best time to visit Machu Picchu. It’s true that morning mist adds a certain layer of an enigma to the pictures, but is it really the best time to visit for an average tourist who wants to soak in the real beauty of Machu Picchu without waiting for hours in different lines? I say the best time to visit Machu Picchu is in the afternoon, and here are some reasons based on my experience:
- Morning slots at Machu Picchu are always full, and people spend hours not only in the entrance line but also in the bus line.
- If so many people are going up around the same time, it is only obvious that all these people will come down around the same time, which means more wait times in the bus lines which brings down tourists to Aguas Calientes.
- If you’re on a tight schedule, afternoon slots work best for a day trip to Machu Picchu from Cusco.
Day Trip to Machu Picchu from Cusco:
I was on a 8-day trip to Peru. Not a good idea to begin with, because there is so much to see and do in Peru, and 8 days is simply not enough. Anyway, because of my tight schedule there, I decided to take a day trip to Machu Picchu from Cusco without spending any nights in Ollantaytambo or Aguas Calientes. Here is my itinerary:
06:30 AM: Catch a shared or private taxi from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. I took a private taxi from right outside my hostel, and it cost me around 100 soles.
07:45 AM: Arrive in the beautiful town of Ollantaytambo. Take a stroll around the main square and grab breakfast in one of the many cafes there. The railway station is located just 10 mins away on foot.
09:15 AM: Catch the PeruRail Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes.
10:45 AM: Arrive at Aguas Calientes railway station. Go to the main town/bus stop which is located just 10 mins away on foot from the railway station. There are dozens of cafes and restaurants serving different cuisines. It is the best time to grab breakfast and/or lunch. Don’t forget to purchase your bus tickets from the bus tickets office which is located just a few blocks away from the bus stop.
12:00 PM: Queue up in the bus line for the 1:00 PM slot. The bus ride takes around 20 mins from Aguas Calientes to the Machu Picchu entrance.
01:00 PM: Enter Machu Picchu. Please note that a passport is required in order to enter Machu Picchu. Also, since there are no restrooms and snacks available after the entrance, make sure you use the restrooms now. The restrooms cost 2 soles in cash.
04:00 PM: Queue up in the bus line to go down to Aguas Calientes. Don’t forget to stamp your passport with the Machu Picchu stamp which is available right outside the exit gate. When I arrived around 04:00 PM, there was no line and I didn’t have to spend any time waiting in line to get into the bus.
04:30 PM: Arrive in Aguas Calientes. It is now a good time to explore the town of Aguas Calientes, especially the area near the main square. It is also a good opportunity to grab a few drinks and/or eat early dinner.
06:20 PM: Catch the PeruRail Expedition train to Ollantaytambo from Aguas Calientes.
08:00 PM: Arrive in Ollantaytambo and catch a taxi back to Cusco. The taxis are available from right outside the train station, and it costs around 100 soles for a private taxi.
Disclaimer: Please note that I am sharing my itinerary just for reference. This itinerary worked great for me. However, there is no guarantee that what worked best for me would work equally well for others as we all have our own speed and way of doing things. Therefore, please feel free to modify this itinerary for your day trip to Machu Picchu from Cusco as per your needs.
How To Book Machu Picchu Tickets In Advance Online:
As I stated above, it is possible to buy Machu Picchu tickets in person in Cusco or Aguas Calientes, I highly recommend booking your tickets online in advance as tickets can sell out pretty quickly.
Step 1: Visit Ministry of Culture website
By default, the website may load in Spanish. Change the language by selecting English in the upper right corner.
Step 2: Enter your visit date and other information
Step 3: Select ticket type and times of visit
At this step, you will have to choose what type of ticket you want to purchase. Machupicchu tickets are the most common tickets, and it allows access to Machu Picchu ruins that you see in most pictures.
Wayna Picchu is a mountain located pretty close to Machu Picchu ruins for higher views. Wayna Picchu is open for visitors between 7:00 AM to 08:00 AM and between 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM.
Machu Picchu mountain is another mountain with restricted access to higher views. Entry is allowed between 07:00 AM to 08:00 AM and between 09:00 AM to 10:00 AM.
Step 4: Enter your passport details
Step 5: Confirm the information
Click on the “The visitors information is right. I confirm it.”
Check “I read and accept the terms and conditions. I agreed”
Step 6: Generate the ticket
Step 7: Pay by Visa or Master Card
Please use a Visa or Master Card with no foreign transaction fee for your purchase.