10 Tips to Travel to Machu Picchu

In this short article you will find everything you need to know to travel to Machu Picchu, so pay attention and follow these RESPONSible tips so that your trip will go smoothly.

Seasons

From April to October is the dry season with clear skies, while from November on clouds appear and strong rain showers start in late December until March. Sometimes, these produce landslides on the railroad to Machu Picchu (and roads around it) that can become problematic. You can check our special post Best Time to Travel to Peru for more detailed info.

Family portrait in Machu Picchu from the old mountain lookout | Responsible Travel Peru
Machu Picchu mountain lookout gives a great view and a less crowded experience

Time

A day tour to Machu Picchu lasts a whole day. If you do a day trip to Machu Picchu, we suggest taking the earliest train to Aguas Calientes to seize the day and avoid crowds. An even better option is leaving in the afternoon and sleeping in Aguas Calientes so that you take the climb up to Machu Picchu the following day in the early morning. Another alternative is sleeping in Ollantaytambo and leaving early the next day.

Of course, the best way to visit our New Wonder of the World is with any of our multi-day tours to Machu Picchu, like our already famous Coffee Routes. With any of these routes, you’ll be able to visit Machu Picchu early in the morning of the last day.

Tickets

Buy tickets in advance as they are highly demanded. Consider that there are different types of tickets that include either Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu Mountain or only the citadel itself. There are new rules in Machu Picchu since the end of 2021 that we’ll explain in further detail in a separate article. You can buy Machu Picchu tickets online here.

Trains

There are different types of trains to different tariffs to travel to Machu Picchu. They leave from the train station of Cusco, Poroy, and Ollantaytambo. The companies are Peru Rail and Inca Rail. Another local train exists with special prices only for Peruvians.

Peru Rail Train to Machu Picchu | Responsible Travel Peru
Train from Hidroelectrica station to Aguas Calientes

Bus

You can take the 30-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. The busses leave from 5:30 am. However, you can also walk up, but for this climb, you will have to be in good shape and consider starting at least 1 hour before your entry time.

Trekking

For those that want to arrive on foot, the routes to get to Machu Picchu are the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek, and the Coffee Route. You should always go with good guides and reserve your spot months in advance.

Happy couple of Inca trail trekkers at Llactapata | Responsible Travel Peru
Llactapata are the ruins where the Classic Inca Trail of 4 days starts
Snow peak of Salkantay on sunny day with clear skies | Responsible Travel Peru
Views of the Salkantay mountain are always impressive due to the contrast with the surrounding jungles
Steep lesser Inca trail in arid mountain slope  | Responsible Travel Peru
This is a breath-taking section of the Inca trail that you can experience during our Coffee Route to Machu Picchu

Car

Plan the way to the train station by car to not be late.

Clothing and accessories

Carry only a few things, only the necessary ones. A lightweight jacket, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellent, water bottle, and rubber-sole shoes. Accessories like walking sticks, selfie sticks, and shoes with hills are not allowed.

Guide

Hire a good guide, preferably by recommendation, to ensure a tour with valuable and accurate information on the citadel. In the same Machu Picchu, it is also possible to get a guide, who usually charges between 30 and 60 dollars. All programs of RESPONS include a well-trained guide.

Four girls standing on the way to the Inca bridge in Machu Picchu | Responsible Travel Peru
Good guidance allows not to miss a thing

Lunch and drinks

It is recommended to buy food and drinks in the town of Aguas Calientes before you go up to Machu Picchu because up there the prices are much higher. There is a restaurant; however, it is very expensive, which is why we recommend taking our lunch box if you are going with us. Keep in mind that consuming food and drinks (except water) inside the archaeological site is forbidden, so its consumption has to be before or after the visit.


For those who just arrived, we recommend taking a few days of a break in Cusco to acclimatize a little and avoid altitude sickness. To go to Machu Picchu (2400m) on your own, you have the advantage of managing your schedule and adjusting the itinerary at any time, though you must deal with all the logistical issues: Coordinating the hotel shuttle to the train station, buying train tickets, the bus to Machu Picchu, the entrance ticket for Machu Picchu and the return

(please take into consideration that we do not sell tickets alone and only as part of an itinerary).

To get the most out of your travel time in Cusco, at RESPONS we take care of the entire process so that our traveling friends can enjoy the destination before and after the trip to Machu Picchu, leaving all the work to us. You just have to make your enquiry or write to [email protected]. We are happy to help!

By Tito Cornejo

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