How to get to Machu Picchu and come back alive ⛰

Learning Spanish near Machu Picchu

After walking three days 10 hours per day I finally settle in the small village located on the foot of Machu Picchu. This was the heaviest thing I ever did in my life, but the rewarding feeling is already present before even visiting the mighty world wonder the following day.

The next moring I hear heavy rain coming down on the roof of my cheap hostel room, something you don’t want to hear in these moments

after the bus and avoiding all the vendors selling ponchos, I get the first glimpse of the mysterious ruins. At that moment, rain stops and clouds drift away from the mountains clearing the spectacular view…

Are you traveling to Peru and planning to see the famous Machu Picchu site but you are not sure how to get there? Or maybe you want to know how much a trip to the historical Inca ruins will cost you?

On this page, I will tell you all you need to know about getting to Machu Picchu, how much it costs and the best time to travel to Peru.

Why visit Machu Picchu

Before I went to Machu Picchu I was pretty skeptical whether I should go or not. I figured it will be a really busy and touristic place, and normally I don’t like these things all that much. In the end, it was such a good decision that I went and I can’t tell you enough how worth it is to visit Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu in Peru is one of the most famous tourist sights in the world! The famous Inca place was built between 1438 and 1472. It is unique because even with modern technology we are not 100 percent sure how the place was created. Some of the stones are really heavy and we are not sure how the Inca’s where able to get them to such a high elevation.

Another thing that is unique about Machu Picchu is that there was no cement or any other binding material used to build the temples. Even after multiple earthquakes most of the place is still intact!

Every day 5,000 people visit Machu Picchu during the high season and the sight has about 1 million visitors every year! Making it one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world!

The place is magical and it comes as no surprise that so many people want to visit it. Once you are there you can feel the history and imagine the story of the people that used to live here.

Important info before you visit Machu Picchu

Before you visit Machu Picchu there are a few things that you should keep in mind.

Booking a ticket for Machu Picchu online

It is important that you book your ticket for Machu Picchu online in advance. You can do this on this website: Ministerio de Cultura

Website to book online tickets to machu picchu

Tickets for Machu Picchu will cost you around 50 euro and you can book for different times in the day.

I booked my ticket a week in advance and there was still plenty of space available. Two weeks before your visit is probably the best time to buy.

Personal Advice: Book the earliest tickets, this way you avoid the croud.

Do you need a guide to enter Machu Picchu?

When I was looking for information about Machu Picchu I noticed a lot of people asking whether or not you can enter the site without a guide?

You don’t need a guide to visit Machu Picchu!

People who tell you that you need a guide are either looking to sell you a tour or a service. There is absolutely no one who will ask you for a guide and you will not need a guide to show you around.

There are many ways to travel to Machu Picchu and these are the best options I found while I was there:

Getting to Machu Picchu

Most people, including myself, will start their travel to Machu Picchu from Cusco because it’s the most famous starting point and the most convenient.

Cusco is located about 6 hours from the capital Lima. From Lima, you can either take a cheap flight or you can take a bus ride to Cusco.

Note: Sometimes a flight can even be cheaper than taking the bus.

Once you arrive in Cusco these are the different options to visit Machu Picchu:

1. The train to Machu Picchu from Cusco

If you don’t have much time or you just don’t want to hike all the way, taking the train is the fastest option to get to the sight.

The train to Machu Picchu leaves from Cusco and will take you to the city Aguas Calientes. This city is in the valley where Machu Picchu is on top. To get from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu you can do 2 things.

  • You can take a bus leaving from the center of the city. The bus leaves really early in the morning and there will be a short line waiting to get in.
  • The other option is to walk your way up the mountain. If you booked an early entrance ticket this option is not suggested, it will take you about 1 hour to reach the top.

2. Take the bus from Cusco to Machu Picchu

There are so-called collectivo’s or minivans running from Cusco to Hydro Electrica every day. Hydro Electrica is a point from where you can get to Aguas Calientes by foot or by train.

Walking from Hydro Electrica to Aguas Calientes is about 1 hour. The walk is nice and if you are in normal shape it’s not worth taking the train for 100 dollars.

The bus ride from Cusco to HE is about 5 hours and it is a direct connection so you won’t have to change busses.

You can ask your hostel or hotel from where the bus will depart wich is normally behind the main square in Cusco. And it will cost you around 15 dollars one way.

3. Walk the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu

This is the option I ended up taking and it was one of the most amazing things I did after 6 months in South America.

A 3 or 4-day hike that leads you through the stunning landscapes of Peru at it’s finest. During this hike, you will see some of the most amazing things that mother nature has to offer.

Like the name says you will be walking around the Salkantay mountain which is a 6000m + snow-topped mountain. The views you will get are absolutely wonderful and worth every step on this sometimes heavy journey.

You can either do this hike by yourself or with a guided tour. I ended up doing the hike by myself and there is not really a way to get lost or run out of supplies.

If you decide to do the hike by yourself there is a couple of things you have to keep in mind:

  • Bring enough food and water filtering tablets.
  • Download maps.me on your phone for offline maps.
  • Make sure you have a decent power bank to charge electronics.
  • Don’t pack too heavy, it’s a long way
  • The first night it froze outside my tent so bring warm equipment.
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Daan Liberta

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My name is Daan a 23 year old Digital Nomad and creator of this blog! If you like the things I write about please read this first: