How to Visit Machu Picchu Full Day

How to Visit Machu Picchu Full Day

There is only one bad thing about Machu Picchu: the information about the site is overwhelming and confusing… It seems like you need a master’s degree to understand the types of tickets, how to get there, and how to visit it. But don’t worry, we’ve gathered some tips to visit Machu Picchu with everything we wish we had known before going.

Related Tour: Machu Picchu Full day tour

For many, visiting Machu Picchu is the highlight of a trip to Peru. And no matter how many times you’ve seen it on a screen, when you finally stand before this wonder, a chill will run through your body: it’s the thrill of standing before a piece of history. And what a piece of history it is: none other than that of the Incas, one of the most astonishing civilizations that ever existed on earth.

Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu

The ideal time to go is during the dry season, which runs from May to November. Although you can’t guarantee that not a single drop of water will fall, in the rainy season (from December to April) the precipitation is continuous, and the experience, while still magical, is not as enjoyable.

How to Get to Machu Picchu

After the discovery of the ancient Inca city, a town was built at the base of the hill to accommodate the many curious visitors first and tourists later, attracted by this wonder. It is known as Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Pueblo. The downside is that it is not accessible by road, so the most convenient way is to use the train from Cusco or from Ollantaytambo, but it is the most expensive way (expect to pay around 120 USD per person round trip).

There is a cheaper transportation option, but you need to prepare for several hours of buses and shared taxis, followed by an 11 km walk. This is the well-known Hidroeléctrica route.

The more adventurous will have the possibility of joining a multi-day trek, such as the popular 43 km Inca Trail which takes 4 days and 3 nights, its shorter version of 2 days and 1 night, or the alternative Salkantay Trek, which takes 5 days and 4 nights.

How to Get from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu

Buses leave from 5:30 in the morning from Aguas Calientes and travel the winding 3 km road to the entrance of Machu Picchu. It costs 12 USD per trip, and it is necessary to buy the ticket at the sales office with your passport (you cannot buy it on the bus).

Types of Entrance Tickets to Machu Picchu

Before explaining the different tickets, we need to know that there are 5 circuits to visit Machu Picchu:

  • Circuit 1: short tour of the Llaqta (2 hours)
  • Circuit 2: long tour of the Llaqta (3 hours). This is the one we did
  • Circuit 3: the only one you can take if you want to climb Machupicchu Mountain
  • Circuit 4: the one allowed for those climbing Waynapicchu Mountain and Huchuypicchu
  • Circuit 5: for those arriving via the Inca Trail

*Llaqta literally means “city” and refers to the area of archaeological ruins.

The indicated times are indicative, but theoretically, you cannot stay more than 4 hours inside the site with tickets for just the Llaqta, 6 hours if including Huayna Picchu, and 8 hours if climbing Machupicchu Mountain.

Circuits 1 and 2 can be extended with a visit to the Inka Bridge, an ancient wooden bridge reached via a trail (1 km, 20 minutes), corresponding to one of the many Inca roads (qhapaq ñan) that were distributed throughout the Tahuantinsuyo and retain the original stones.

IMPORTANT: The circuits are one-way, so you cannot go back the same way you came.

Here are the images with the maps (you can enlarge them by clicking on them):

Once this is clarified, the ticket options to visit Machu Picchu are as follows:

  • Circuit 1, 2, 3, or 4 (a single ticket): entry from 6:00 to 15:00
  • Circuit 1 or 2 + Inka Bridge: entry from 7:00 to 15:00
  • Circuit 3 + Machupicchu Mountain: access to the mountain from 7:00 to 9:00
  • Circuit 4 + Waynapicchu Mountain: access to the mountain from 7:00 to 11:00
  • Circuit 4 + Huchuypicchu Mountain: access to the mountain from 7:00 to 15:00

When making the reservation, you need to select the type of ticket and the time slot in which you will enter. They are not very flexible with this, so we recommend thinking carefully before deciding.

How Much Does the Ticket to Machu Picchu Cost?

The prices depend on the type of entrance:

  • Circuit 1, 2, 3, or 4 (same entry): 152 soles (about 40€)
  • Circuit 1 or 2 + Inka Bridge: 152 soles (about 40€)
  • Circuit 3 + Machupicchu Mountain: 200 soles (about 50€)
  • Circuit 4 + Waynapicchu Mountain: 200 soles (about 50€)
  • Circuit 4 + Huchuypicchu Mountain: 152 soles (about 40€)

Where to Buy the Entrance to Machu Picchu?

The best way is to do it on the official website www.machupicchu.gob.pe or in the offices in Cusco. There are no official ticket offices at the entrance to Machu Picchu or in Aguas Calientes.

What If There Is No Ticket Availability?

Access to Machu Picchu is limited to a certain number of places per day and by time slots, so it is advisable (almost mandatory) to buy the ticket in advance, especially for the mountains.

But if you haven’t been able to get the ticket online, you can buy them in Cusco at local agencies, with packages that may include transportation, or on websites like Civitatis:

  • Guide + ticket + transport from Aguas Calientes
  • Excursion to Machu Picchu from Cusco

Which Ticket Do I Need?

To know which ticket best suits your plan, you need to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Do you want to climb one of the mountains and sacrifice part of the visit to the ruins, including the terrace from where the best photos are taken?

    If the answer is NO, your ticket will be the one that includes Circuits 1 or 2, which is the most complete. Circuit 3 also passes through a panoramic area known as the Guardian’s House, descending from Machupicchu Mountain. Otherwise, move on to the second question:

  2. Which mountain are you going to climb?

    As we understand it, the ascent to Waynapicchu is more difficult and dangerous, and on rainy days a recklessness, but the panoramic view of the surroundings is better as it is higher.

    The path to Machupicchu Mountain is easier and less steep, although longer, and from the top, you will have views of the ruins with the iconic Waynapicchu behind them. Additionally, our guide informed us that in Circuit 3, after climbing Machupicchu, you can reach the Guardian’s House, with panoramic views like those from the terraces.

    Lastly, Huchuypicchu Mountain is the most accessible of the three, located on the same path as Waynapicchu and can be an interesting alternative for those who don’t want to walk much.

Right now, you are probably thinking: “So if I want to climb one of the mountains, I won’t be able to visit the entire archaeological area of Machu Picchu?” Correct, in fact, we met people who, to visit everything, bought two tickets on consecutive days: the first for Waynapicchu Mountain with Circuit 4, and the second for Circuit 2. It seems that a new route is being considered to reach the panoramic terrace in the circuits that include mountains, but for now, this is what we have.

Machu Picchu Hours and Best Time to Visit

Machu Picchu is open every day of the year from 6:00 to 17:00, with the last entry at 16:00. We entered around 9:30 and did not find crowds at any of the points, not even on the panoramic terraces.

From our experience, we believe that the most crowded times are for sunrise and sunset. When we returned to Aguas Calientes around 14:00, the queue to wait for the bus was much longer than in the morning.

The reason is simple: these are possibly the best times to visit Machu Picchu in terms of pure spectacle, but be aware that you will not be alone.

There is also the risk that after all the early rising and waiting to catch one of the first buses, the fog covers all the mountains and leaves you disappointed. This is not uncommon, and if it happens, it usually clears up early in the morning.

Interestingly, some places within Machu Picchu close at certain times to limit the impact and protect them. This is the case with the Intiwatana Pyramid, which is open from 7:00 to 10:00, or the Temple of the Condor from 10:00 to 13:00.

The Best Things to See in Machu Picchu

As we mentioned, the ideal is to hire a guide and not worry about knowing what to see, but in any case, here are some of the most important places:

  1. Temple of the Sun: A sacred site that can be accessed only with a guide.
  2. Intihuatana: This is one of the best-preserved monuments and it’s believed to be used as a sundial.
  3. The Main Square: The heart of the city.
  4. The Temple of the Three Windows: It’s one of the main attractions.
  5. The Guardhouse: Offers the classic postcard view of Machu Picchu.

What to Bring for Your Visit to Machu Picchu

Here are some essentials to bring:

  • Passport: Required for entry.
  • Water Bottle: It’s important to stay hydrated.
  • Comfortable Shoes: There’s a lot of walking involved.
  • Snacks: Food options are limited and expensive on site.
  • Sunscreen and Hat: To protect yourself from the sun.
  • Rain Gear: Weather can be unpredictable.

Conclusion

Visiting Machu Picchu can be a life-changing experience, but it requires some planning. By considering the type of ticket, the time of year, and your personal interests and physical condition, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable visit.

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