Machu Picchu (meaning “Old mountain” in Quechua) – is an Inca citadel built in the 15th century and abandoned just 30 years later after people started living there. Machu Picchu was unknown to the outside world until 1911, which is the reason it is so well preserved. This mysterious place has truly given us many riddles to solve and many discoveries about its civilization!
So, your dream is to go to Machu Picchu and you are wondering how much will it cost you?
I have taken the tripon my own and carefully wrote down all the costs for you.
- 1. Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu
- 2. Transportation costs to Machu Picchu
- 3. Accommodation costs
Your costs will add up from 3 main sources –
- Ticket to Machu Picchu
- Transportation to Machu Picchu
- Accommodation in Aguas Calientes and Cusco.
Let’s talk about each of them in more detail:
1. Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is a UNESCO world heritage site and the most popular place to visit in Peru, thus, the entrance to the site is obviously not free and only 2,500 people per day are allowed to visit..
US $30 for Machu Picchu or US $45 for Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu together (see the explanation below).
What is Huayna Picchu and why should you go there?
Huayna Picchu (also Wayna Picchu/Wayna Pikchu in a different spelling) is another mountain which gives you a perfect view OF Machu Picchu. I highly recommend going there, too. But please take into consideration that it is a very difficult 40-minute to one hour climb; people in good physical shape can definitely do it. I was quite exhausted, I remember. But the view was worth it!
Note that Huayna Picchu has its own separate limit of people that are allowed in– only 400 people can visit per day, 200 people at 7:00 am and 200 people at 10:00 am. Huayna Picchu is located inside the Machu Picchu complex so you cannot visit Huayna Picchu by itself.
How to buy Machu Picchu tickets
- Choose your dates;
- Head over to the http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/ website;
- Buy your tickets online (deal with payment problems if you encounter them);
- Print your ticket and show it at the entrance.
a) Choose the dates
Once you know your preferred dates, you can buy your ticket. The sooner you do it, the better. Why?
Remember that there is a limit of 2,500 people per day!
This means you really should choose your dates in advance, especially during the high season (June-July). This is always a headache for tourists (me included) because it is usually hard to pick the exact day in advance.
I have heard that in the low season you can even buy your ticket on the same day of the visit, but if you are sure about your dates, better to take care of it in advance.
If the worst happens and when you are in Peru with no tickets left, don’t panic! There is still an option, and you did not come all the way for nothing!
My guide told me that if you come to the entrance, you will still be let in. There are people at the entrance who will take cash from you. Last July, on the very busy days, there were up to 7,500 people instead of the maximum 2,500 allowed in, crazy! I am not sure if the government will change the rules next year and be more strict, so I recommend taking care of choosing your dates in advance.
b) How to buy Machu Picchu tickets on the official website
http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/ is the official website where you can buy the entrance tickets to Machu Picchu.
As the site is absolutely not user-friendly, I will explain the procedure step by step:
- Head over to http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/
- There will be a pop up window, click Cerrar/Close;
- Choose English;
- On the left side bar choose Visit Place (Macchu Picchu);
- Select entry route (you have the choices of ONLY Machu Picchu, Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu + Machu Picchu mountain). I recommend the 2nd choice. Choose the preferred time. I chose to enter Huayna Picchu from 10 to 11; that seems to be the best time, because there are less chances of having clouds;
- Choose your preferred date;
- Under Foreign Category, click on Quantity, chose how many tickets you want;
- You will see the price (in Peruvian Soles). At the moment 1 adult ticket for Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu is 152 soles (or US $46);
- Press Step 2. (if you have a pop up message saying “No existe disponibilidad de ingreso” that means your dates are already taken. You should either choose another day if possible, or you will have to risk it and try to buy a ticket at the gate);
- In Step 2 fill in your name, passport details etc. Press Step 3;
- Type your email. Tick the fields “The provided information is correct”, “I accept the terms and conditions”. Press “Book”;
- There will be a pop up pdf file underlining your booking code. Save the pdf. Note that the booking code is only valid for 3 hours;
- That was the booking, now you need to pay. Click on Payments;
- Paste your booking code, click “Pay”;
- There will be a small processing fee (in my case 6 soles), click “Enviar”;
- Fill in your card details and press “Pagar”;
- You will receive your ticket by email. Print it.
Here we go, done! You are ready to go!
c) What to do if you can’t buy your Machu Picchu ticket online?
But wait, what if there are payment problems?
Apparently, card denial on the official Machu Picchu website is a common problem; there are numerous forums on the internet discussing the issue and the possible solutions.
You might (like me and many other people) have some problems with the payment. You can only pay with a Visa verified card, and it often does not work.
If you are one of the lucky ones, and you have received your confirmation, just skip this section.
If you encountered the same problem, read on because I researched this extensively and here are the solutions.
If calling your bank did not help, in this case you can:
- try using a friend’s card (you will not need to show it at the entrance);
- ask your hotel to buy the ticket for you;
- buy it through retailers or other agencies (usually US $20 more expensive);
- pay the reservation in all Banco de la Nacion if you are in Peru;
- write to Mr. Augusto Cier on [email protected].
As you can see, there are many options, but I hope one of the first 2 will work well for you.
In my case, my hotel in Cusco bought the tickets for me (more about them below). I just paid them the money later.
Extra payment inside Machu Picchu
Now, once inside the place, I HIGHLY recommend hiring a guide. I would have missed out on SO much if I did not take the guided tour. The price for the guide is ~US $15 per person in a group or US $50 for a private tour. (That is already a negotiated price, but you might be able to lower it a bit).
When is the high season?
January is supposed to be the low season due to the rains, but during my visit it was quite crowded. June is the high season. The best months to visit are March and November
PRO TIP 1: The majority of people leave before 2:00 p.m., so if you stay longer, at 2:30 – 3:00 p.m. there is almost nobody. You have the whole of Machu Picchu all to yourself!
PRO TIP 2: As there are no cafes inside, try to bring your own food with you. There is one overpriced restaurant right outside the Machu Picchu entrance. Or you can buy sandwiches from women near the bus in the morning; it will be much cheaper.
PRO TIP 3: Remember there are no toilets inside. You can leave two times and present your ticket at the entrance each time to get back inside.
2. Transportation costs to Machu Picchu
Most probably, transportation costs will surpass any of the other costs for you.
Cusco is the closest city to Machu Picchu. You will need to get there first.
There are no car roads leading to Machu Picchu and no direct train line, thus, you will have to change trains a couple of times.
about US $150 round trip per person (see the breakdown below)
UPDATE: You can now go directly to Machu Picchu from Cusco on the train. The trains depart from Poroy. Travel time is around 3 hours. The price is US $140.
How to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco
Unfortunately, there is no direct way of getting from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
I have not really found a map explaining clearly how to get there, so I made my own for you (you are welcome!)
Here is the step by step process of getting to Machu Picchu from Cusco by train:
- Start – Cusco, a big city that is the closest to Machu Picchu;
- Ollantaytambo, that is where the train starts from (bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, 2 hours, US $3 or ~US $30 by taxi);
- Aguas Calientes, a little tourist city where you should stay overnight and start your visit early in the morning (train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, 1 h 40 mins, US $60);
- Machu Picchu (shuttle bus from Aguas Calientes, 20 mins, US $12).
NOTE: All prices are one way.
Even if there are many steps, you will see that the procedure is pretty simple and clear if you go by train.
However, you can skip the train and walk instead on the rails for 12 km, but I do not recommend it unless you are on a very tight budget.
How to buy train tickets online
While of course you can buy a ticket to Ollantaytambo right there, the train tickets sell out fast (or prices increase).
Here is how to buy them online (it is much easier than the Machu Picchu entrance tickets, don’t worry!:))
The companies are pretty much the same and provide similar service.
Just head over to both websites, compare the prices and the time more suitable for you and buy the ticket. The interface is quite intuitive now, so I don’t need to explain how to buy a ticket.
My round trip ticket was somewhere around US $110. Tickets can be both cheaper (not much though) or more expensive for you, depending on how much in advance you are buying them
!VERY IMPORTANT!: on the platform, when you have your ticket scanned, you will need to show the credit card with which the payment was made. Thank God I read this the night before, otherwise I am not sure they would have even let me on the train. In case some of your relatives are paying for your ticket, you have to email his/her passport copy to Peru Rail/Inca Rail in advance.
3. Accommodation costs
In order to organize your Machu Picchu trip, you will most probably stay in 2 cities –Cusco (the old capital, highly recommended to stay for at least a couple of days to discover some of the Inca heritage) and Aguas Calientes (the night before Machu Picchu).
The cost of the hotel will, of course vary according to your needs and budget.
About US $45 per person for 1 night accommodation in Cusco and in Aguas Calientes (see the breakdown below).
Where to stay in Cusco
The price in a hostel can START at US $10, in a hotel from US $25.
Let me tell you about the hotel where I stayed in Cusco:
The hotel I stayed in Cusco is called R House Cusco. It is located a 15 minute walk from the main plaza and it has a fantastic view of the city!
Just check it out:
The thing I liked most about R House: it has a charming big living room where I could sit on a sofa and enjoy the night view of the old Inca city while drinking coca tea. Awesome! The breakfast is also served in the living room every day. No need to go downstairs.
The staff was very nice and helpful. When I was in trouble buying those Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu tickets, they bought them for me without any problems. I just had to tell them my passport details and I could pay later when I checked out.
Thank you very much for that, you saved me from so many troubles!
If you are traveling with a big group, R House is just perfect for you because you can rent up to 4 bedrooms on one floor and enjoy your own penthouse!
Also, leaving your luggage while you are enjoying Machu Picchu is absolutely not a problem as they even have a special locker room for that.
PRICE: the prices in Cusco R House start from US $60 for a double room with breakfast included.
Best hotels to stay in Cusco and where to stay
Luxury (US $250 and up): Palacio del Inka will take your breath away with its amazing design and impeccable customer service. It will give you the feeling of living in a real palace. JW Marriott El Convento has an antique air to it, with sculpted walls and unique interior designs. It also has an indoor swimming pool and is home to the finest cuisine.
Middle (US $100 – $150): Costa del Sol Ramada Cusco has its own charm in its design and even offers breakfast at 4:00am for guests going on hikes. Hotel TamboArriero Boutique is located within walking distance from the city center and it will offer you the experience of living in an authentic Peruvian house.
Budget (up to US $100): Hotel Santa Maria: you can’t be any closer to the city centre. This is a great choice for exploring the city on foot. Hotel El Virrey Boutique is the perfect choice for people who want to experience local cuisine and bars, as it has plenty of them surrounding it.
Where to stay in Aguas Calientes
You can stay absolutely anywhere. You know why?
You will have to wake up at 4 a.m. any way. Thus, unless you are staying for a couple of days, I see no point in booking a posh hotel with a swimming pool. Just choose any hotel that is nice enough to spend the night and that serves breakfast at 4:30 am in the morning (most of them do).
Here are my hand-picked recommendations for you:
Luxury (US $100 and up):
For a pampering, luxury stay near Machu Picchu, my recommendation is Jaya Machupicchu – the rooms are simply gorgeous and in the morning you can choose from a buffet or a la carte breakfast! If this one is full, you can book a room at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel – a 5-star hotel that has a sauna, massage services, buffet breakfast and many other facilities. What more could you wish for?
Middle-priced (US $40 to US $100):
Waman Suites Machu Picchu is a very nice hotel which offers great value for your money. Some of the amenities include free Wi-Fi, air-conditioned rooms and a very friendly staff. Another amazing option is Retama Inn Machupicchu – they have luggage storage and even a 24/7 receptionist with a tour desk that can help you organize whatever you please!
Budget (up to US $40):
For a great budget stay in Aguas Calientes I can recommend Mapiland, which is located very close to the bus stop! It serves a delicious buffet breakfast each morning and the rooms and nice and cozy. Alternatively, you can book a room at Qhaqya and you will benefit from a shared kitchen and private bathrooms for each unit.
PRO TIP: If you are a foreigner, you don’t have to pay the 18% VAT if you present your immigration paper (the one they give you when you cross the border, so don’t lose it!) before checking in. Don’t forget to take it with you to Aguas Calientes.
NOTE 1: Please note that I did not include food in my calculation. That really depends on your personal preferences so I did not include it in the price breakdown.
NOTE 2: The price can be a bit cheaper (~20 – 30%) if you decide not to go to Huayana Picchu and stay in hostels. The price can obviously be much higher if you decide to take a private guide, stay in better hotels etc.
In this article I calculated the average price, and you can estimate your own according to your needs.
In case you do not want to organize all this by yourself, here is a great tour I can recommend – it is about US $300 per person, with all transportation, tickets and a guide included.
It might be a great option for those who don’t have much time in Peru (you come back to Cusco the same day), and those who do not have time to organize the trip or plan and book everything.
I calculated how much your expenses will be if you organize a visit to Machu Picchu on your own (by summing up your transportation, entrance and accommodation expenses). See the detailed breakdown above.
I also talked a lot about some problems you might encounter on the way – how exactly to get to Machu Picchu, how to buy tickets online, what to do if your card is not accepted (happened to me) and much more!
Hope the info here was useful and now you will be able to avoid many mistakes as you organize the vacation of your dreams.
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