As one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is a must-visit for many travelers to Peru. Visitors are required to enter with an official tour guide in small groups of up to 16 people. Entry is permitted in hour-specific time slots and is limited to four hours.
Those pressed for time often visit the ancient ruins on a day trip by train from Cusco, but the 4-day trek along the legendary Inca Trail is another popular option. Some multi-day tour options also visit other regional highlights, such as Lake Titicaca and the Amazon rain forest.
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Things to know before you go
Entry tickets sell out early, especially in the Peruvian winter (May to September). Book well ahead of time.
All travelers must visit with a licensed guide and organized tours make it easy to visit this popular destination.
Selfie sticks, tripods, and strollers are not allowed at Machu Picchu. Expect to have your bag checked at the gate.
One of the most iconic views of Machu Picchu is seen from the top of Huayna Picchu.
Expect a full-day tour from Cusco to last upwards of 13 hours.
Machu Picchu is not wheelchair accessible.
How to get there
The quickest way to Machu Picchu is by train (PeruRail or IncaRail) from Cusco or Ollantaytambo, followed by a short bus ride or steep hike from the town of Aguas Calientes. For some, hiking the Inca Trail is as much a part of the Machu Picchu experience as the ruins themselves. This busy trail isn't the only trekking route; others such as the Salkantay trek or Lares route provide off-the-beaten-path alternatives.
When to get there
In high season between late May and early September, the Lost City of the Inca allows a maximum of 2,500 people to visit each day. June, July, and August are the busiest and driest months, while January is the wettest and February sees the closure of the Inca Trail. Spring and fall strike a nice balance between pleasant weather and manageable crowds.
Tips for the Inca Trail hike
If your dream Machu Picchu experience includes hiking the Inca Trail through the Sacred Valley, book well ahead of time, as the number of hikers is limited to 500 per day (including guides and porters). This difficult trail requires a fair amount of physical fitness, particularly given the high altitude in the Andes mountains. Give yourself at least two days in Cusco to acclimatize, and buy some coca leaves to help with any altitude sickness. Pick up a pair of walking sticks too—you'll be glad you did.
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- Aguas Calientes
- Ollantaytambo Ruins
- Inca Quarry Trail
- Maras Salt Pools
- Lares Trek
- Chincheros Indian Market (Mercado Chincero)
- Salkantay Trail
- Sacred Valley (Urubamba Valley)
- Sacsayhuaman (Saqsaywaman)
- Ausangate Trail
- Sacred Valley of the Incas
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- Mercado Central de San Pedro
- Plaza de Armas (Huacaypata)