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How to buy tickets for Machu Picchu: everything you need to know.

Traveling to Machu Picchu Peru is a dream come true for many people.

Machu Picchu has been registered on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list since 1983 and is now so popular that, even before purchasing your flight tickets, you should check availability and book tickets for Machu Picchu. Yes, because in high season tickets can sell out three months in advance.


Visiting Machu Picchu is certainly not the only reason to organize a trip to Peru, 2 weeks in Peru will be just enough to touch some of the main attractions of this enchanting country where its smiling and friendly people will make you feel at home.

Being informed on how to buy tickets to Machu Picchu is important because unfortunately it is not a visit that can be improvised. It requires a little planning, but don’t worry, here you will find all the info you need.

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DIFFERENT TYPES OF TICKETS

The first thing to do is identify what type of entrance to buy. There are 3 different Machu Picchu entrance tickets:

  • THE GENERAL ENTRANCE TO THE CITADEL OF MACHU PICCHU.
    (adult 152 soles/ £35/ €39/ $43)

    This is the general ticket, the most common, which allows you to visit the whole complex of Machu Picchu ruins but not to climb the two peaks.
    The first entry to the site is at 6am
    There are 9 daily admissions, every hour from 6am to 2pm to choose from.
    This ticket gives you the opportunity to stay on the site for 4 hours.
  • THE ENTRANCE TO THE CITADEL AND HUAYANA PICCHU (adult 200soles/ £46/ €51/ $57)

    Machu picchu and Huayna Picchu tickets give you the opportunity to visit the Citadel and to climb Huayana Picchu.
    By opting for this ticket you have to choose between the two time slots to start the climb to Huayna Picchu. You can choose to start the climb at 7am or 10am.
    Among the various tickets to Machu Picchu this is the one that sells out first, in the high season even 3 months in advance.
  • THE ENTRANCE TO THE CITADEL AND MACHU PICCHU MOUNTAIN ((adult 200soles/ £46/ €51/ $57)

    This ticket gives you the opportunity to visit the Citadel and climb another peak inside it.
    By opting for this ticket you will have to choose between the two time slots to start the ascent on Machu Picchu Mountain. You can choose to start the climb at 7am or 9am.
    Machu Picchu mountain is higher than Huayana Picchu (so the climb is decidedly longer), with an even more spectacular view, but there are no ruins to visit along the ascent.

If it seems difficult to choose between the different Machu Picchu entry tickets then start by analyzing your situation and your physical condition.

The climb to Huayana Picchu is definitely magical (if you can ignore the fact that you are going up in Indian file with another 199 people).

It will make you feel part of a different era, but don’t forget that the climb up lasts about an hour and is very demanding. A section of the path is called the Stairs of Death … presumably with good reason…and then you have to come down too!!!!


We decided that visiting Machu Picchu with two small kids was a possible adventure and we will never forget it, but we refrained from attempting the climbs.

Machu Picchu ticket prices

I noted above the price for a foreign adult. There are reduced prices for students and children. Here is a recap of Machu Picchu ticket costs :

Machu PicchuMachu Picchu and Huayana PicchuMachu Picchu and Mountain
Adult152 soles £35/ €39/ $44200 soles £46/ €51/ $57200 soles £46/ €51/ $57
Student (under 25 with student card)77 soles £18/ €20/ $22125 soles £29/ €32/ $36125 soles £29/ €32/ $36
Child 8-17 years old70 soles £16/ €18/ $20118 soles £27/ €30/ $34118 soles £27/ €30/ $34
Price update June 2020

These are the prices you will pay if you buy your ticket to Machu Picchu in person or online, an agency will charge you a fee on top of the ticket price.

Machu Picchu: how many pictures are too many?
Machu Picchu: how many pictures are too many?

WHERE TO BUY MACHU PICCHU TICKETS

There are 3 ways to buy tickets for Machu Picchu:

  • In advance through the Machu Picchu official site
  • In person in Cusco or Aguas Calientes
  • In advance through an agency

Let’s have a look at same details

BUY TICKETS FOR MACHU PICCHU ONLINE: STEP BY STEP PROCESS

In December 2018 the Peru government updated their website, and thankfully it is now much better than the previous prehistoric version, but there is still some missing information and hiccups.

To start go to the official ministry of culture Peru, website https://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/.

HOT TIP: If you have a passport issued from the United Kingdom switch immediately the language to Spanish (I’ll explain later why).

starting page in english and spanish
starting page in english and spanish

HOT TIP: the website doesn’t mention if small kids need to pay. After reaching out directly to the Ministry of Culture office I found out that Kids under 8 years old can enter free and don’t need a ticket, just bring a valid document to the entrance gate to prove the age.

FIRST STEP: select how many Macchu Picchu entrance tickets you want to buy and move to the next page.

SECOND STEP: In this page is you will decide how you want to organise your visit: just enter the main site, or if you also want to climb the Huayana Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain.

THIRD STEP: Fill the personal information required.

Here if you are from the United Kingdom you can face an issue.

On the website, on the left hand side of each page, it gives you important info and at this stage it tells you that it is very important you select the right native country.

So what do you do when the UK is not listed? Not under United Kingdom, nor as Great Britain… the menu only shows England, but of course it isn’t the same, especially if you are from Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland, and your passport has been issued by the UK.

United Kingdom isn't listed in the drop down menu
United Kingdom isn’t listed in the drop down menu

Well apparently in the end it isn’t so important that you select the right native country. I reached out again via email to the Ministry of Culture office and they said that the key is that the name matches.

HOT TIP: If at the beginning you follow the advice to switch to Spanish you can solve this issue selecting Reino Unido (UK translated in Spanish). Be aware that you can’t change language at this stage, you will need to start again.

FOURTH STEP: Checks. This step is easy you just need to check that all the info you added is correct and accept the terms and conditions.

FIFTH STEP: Another easy step: just add your email address.

SIXTH STEP: On this page the system will generate a reservation number (you will receive an email confirming it) , from this moment you have 3 hours to make a payment. To pay online you can only use a Visa card (on the MasterCard tab there is a coming soon sign)

HOT TIP: Sometimes the Machu Picchu official website payment page doesnt load properly. When I tried to pay for example it didn’t show any space to input the payment details. if this is happening to you then open the website again and on the first page select check in and add the reservation number. This will send you again to the payment page and it should work fine. For me it worked well also on mobile.

Be aware: you have to print the ticket, there isn’t a mobile version available!

BUY TICKET TO MACHU PICCHU IN CUSCO OR AGUAS CALIENTES

Another option to get your tickets for Machu Picchu, is to get them in person in Cusco or Aguas Calientes.

In Cusco you can go to the office of the Ministerio de Cultura. The office is very central near Placa Regocijo and is open from Monday to Saturday from 7am to 8pm. You can pay by card or cash.

In Aguas Calientes instead look for the Machu Picchu cultural center in the main square. The center is open every day from 5am to 10pm but only accepts cash.
Don’t forget that in both places you will have to show your passport.


Having the option of buying tickets for Machu Picchu in person can be useful if you are flexible with your itinerary, have a lot of time available, or travel in the low season.

Usually the general entrance tickets to Machu Picchu are available up to 2-3 days before. However if you want a particular day then don’t risk it, buy in advance.

BOOK MACHU PICCHU TICKETS THROUGH A TOUR OPERATOR

The official site for the purchase of tickets has improved a lot since the prehistoric version active until 2018, but it still has some flaws.

Furthermore, it must be said that to organise a visit to Machu Picchu you will have to consider other elements (which we will see in more detail shortly) such as the purchase of the train ticket to Aguas Calientes, the bus from Agua Calientes, or the guide inside the site.

In both cases, Get Your Guide is a reliable tour operator that will be able to buy only the entrance ticket for you or provide a complete package

HOW TO GET TO MACHU PICCHU

When I decided to write this article I did it because I wanted to clarify some issues on how to buy Machu Picchu tickets online.
Especially to explain what to do if you are traveling with toddlers and you are from the UK!

Because an action that shouldn’t require more than 10 minutes cost me so much time in emails and research because things were not clear enough, so I hope I will be able to save you this time!

However, the purchase of tickets is only one of the element of a Machu Picchu trip. You need to decide how to travel to Machu Picchu and you need to consider different elements in advance.

HOW TO VISIT MACHU PICCHU INDIPENDETELY

If you decide to climb Machu Picchu independently, you will need to consider to book:

  • the train to get to Aguas Calientes from the Sacred Valley or Cusco
  • the bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
  • the guide to enter Machu Picchu

Unless you are staying at Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, (the only hotel next to the entrance to the ruins), you must carefully consider how to get to Machu Picchu from where you are.


In this case you will have to organise the purchase of the train ticket, the bus ticket and the guide to accompany you inside the citadel.

The more common places to use as a base are Aguas Calientes, Sacred Valley or Cusco.

If you stay in the Sacred Valley or Cusco

  • In my opinion staying in the Sacred Valley is the best solution, especially if you decide to rent a car and explore this enchanting area full of peace, smiling people, and lovely places to see independently.

    There are several villages that you can use as a base. The largest are Ollantaytambo and Urubamba.

    Even if you choose this option you will still have to reach Aguas Calientes and the only possible option is by train. So, as you can imagine, the train ticket must be bought in advance.

    Incarail and Perurail are the only 2 train companies that provide a route to Machu Picchu. Unfortunately they are foreign owned and they set their price crazy high for the route they cover.

    In here you can read more details on how to independently organize a day trip to Machu Picchu starting from the Sacred valley.

    Once you arrive in Aguas Calientes you obviously need to get the bus tickets to Machu Picchu

HOT TIP: if you want to go to Machu Picchu as a day trip from the Sacred Valley, check at the same time the availability of entrance tickets and train tickets.

  • If you want to visit Machu Picchu after you have been spending some days exploring the magnificent city of Cusco, the steps to follow are the same as those from the Sacred Valley.

    The only difference is that the train journey is longer. Be sure to carefully check the departure times and stations, as there are two in Cusco: San Pedro and Poroy.

If you stay in Aguas Calientes

  • The closest town is Aguas Calientes. Even if not particularly attractive, is convenient base for getting on the bus to Machu Picchu in about half an hour!

    Staying in Aguas Calientes is also the only option if you have opted for the 6am entrance to try to see the sunrise.

    The bus stop is located near the river going towards the railway. Departures start at 5:30 am, but be careful in the high season as the queue is formed an hour earlier !!!!

    Machu Picchu bus tickets, disproportionately expensive considering the short route ($ 12 adult), can be bought in the office just round the corner from the bus stop or online through some tour operators but not on the bus itself.

    Of course, the more daring can consider climbing from Aguas Caliente on foot to the entrance to the ruins …

Book a Machu Picchu tour guide

  • The last thing to consider if you organize yourself is that the new Peruvian government laws say that you can only enter Machu Picchu accompanied by an official guide.

    At the entrance of the site you will find several guides ready to accompany you, but the ideal would be to contact or book someone in advance so you can be confident of a competent guide

    Below in the FAQ you can read about our experience about entering without a guide.

JOIN MACHU PICCHU TOURS

Organizing a visit to Machu Picchu without a tour is absolutely possible, but it is undeniable that some people might find it a little stressful.


If you plan to spend a couple of days in Aguas Calientes you will surely have more flexibility with the times for travel or the entrance ticket.


Instead, if you want to plan a day trip to Machu Picchu, you will have to coordinate the train, bus, and entrance timetables much more carefully.


A convenient option is to contact a tour operator like GetYourGuide that offers countless options at extremely reasonable prices.

Cusco-Machu Picchu tours are really popular and you can decide to combine the visit to the citadel with one or 2 days discovering the Sacred Valley or other activities. If you want to make your life easy these tours are the best option!

Last but not list you can consider to enter Machu Picchu after hiking 4/5 days the Inca trail or from the Hydroelectric station to Aguas Calientes. As we were travelling with 2 small kids we decided to not challenge our-self this time as both this option require a strong physical activity.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do I need to buy Machu Picchu tickets in advance?

  • Yes, booking Machu Picchu tickets in advance will give you the possibility to choose exactly the day and time you prefer. Even more important if you want to climb Huayna Picchu as there are only 400 tickets available each day.

How far in advance should I book Machu Picchu?

  • In high season, from June to September try to book at least 3 months in advance. In low season it is possible to find general admission tickets even just a couple of days in advance.

Do Machu Picchu tickets sell out?

  • Yes they do sell out, usually morning entrance sells out faster than afternoon entrance. Machu Picchu tickets availability is capped to 2,500 tickets a day. In high season they can sell out months in advance.

How many hours do you need at Machu Picchu?

  • With a general admission ticket you can stay in the site for 4 h. Usually 2 to 3 hours can be enough to visit everything.

What is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?

  • It depends what you want to get from your visit. Many people choose to go early in the morning to see the sunrise over the ruins. Unfortunately frequently the fog and the cloud compromise the view.
    Instead, in the afternoon there are usually less people around so more opportunity to enjoy a quiet space.

Can you enter Machu Picchu without a guide?

  • From 2019 the government website says that it is compulsory to enter Machu Picchu with a guide. When we were there in mid 2019 we entered without a guide and we didn’t have any problem. It is difficult to know if they will start to enforce this new rule.

Can you walk from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu?

  • Yes you can, it takes between 1.5 to 2h. Be aware that it is a steep ascent. Don’t loose all your energy before you even get to the Machu Picchu entrance.

Are there toilets at Machu Picchu?

  • Toilets are located near the entrance, there are no toilets inside the ruins. Keep it in mind before you go in or you will need to go all the way back.

Which is better Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain?

  • They both offer spectacular views over the main ruins. Huayna Picchu is a shorter ascent but really stee, and there are ruins to visit along the way. Hiking Machu Picchu Mountain is a little bit easier but longer and the ruins will be much further away.

And here we are at the end! At this point you should have your ticket ot you should be ready to buy it! let me know if I forgot something and if this has been helpful!!!

Enjoy Machu Picchu!

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