Machu Picchu (meaning “Old mountain” in Quechua) – is an Inca citadel built in the 15th century and abandoned just after 30 years after people started living there. Machu Picchu was unknown to the outside world until 1911, which is the reason why it is preserved so well. This mysterious place has truly given us many riddles to solve and many discoveries about this civilization!
So, your dream is to go to Machu Picchu and you are wondering how much will it cost you?
I have made the trip independently and carefully wrote down all the costs for you.
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 details:
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.
30$ for Machu Picchu or 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 different spelling) is another mountain which gives you a perfect view TO Machu Picchu. I highly recommend going there too. But please take into consideration that it is a quite hard 40 minutes to one hour climb, people in good physical shape will definitely do it. I was quite exhausted I remember. But the view was worth it!
Note that Huayna Picchu has its own separate limit to enter – only 400 people can do it per day. 200 people at 7 am and 200 people at 10 am. Huayna Picchu is located inside the Machu Picchu complex, so, you cannot visit Huayna Picchu alone.
How to buy Machu Picchu tickets:
- Choose the dates;
- Head over the http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/ website;
- Buy your ticket online (Deal with payment problems if you will 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 2500 people per day!
This means, you really should plan your dates in advance, especially in the high season (June-July). This was always a headache for tourists (me included) because it is usually hard to say the exact day in advance.
I have heard that in the low season you can even buy your ticket 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 happened, you are in Peru, and there are no tickets left, don’t panic! There is still a way, and you did not come all the way for nothing!
My guide told me that if you come at the entrance, you will still be let in. There are people at the entrance who will take cash from you, the last July in the very busy days there were up to 7 500 people instead of the maximum 2 500, crazy! I am not sure if the government will change the rules next year and be more strict, so I recommend taking care of the 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. 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 do you want;
- You will see the price (in Peruvian Soles). At the moment 1 adult ticket for Machu Pichu + Huayna Picchu is 152 soles (or 46$);
- Press Step 2. (if you have a pop up message saying “No existe disponibilidad de ingreso” means that your dates were already taken. You should either choose another day if possible, either you will have to risk it and buy it at the gate);
- In Step 2 fill in your name, passport details etc. Press Step 3;
- Type your email. Tick the fields “The provided information is correct”, “I accept the terms and conditions”. Press “Book”;
- There will be a pop up pdf file underlining your booking code. Save the pdf. Note that the booking code is valid only for 3 hours;
- That was the booking, now we need to pay. Click on Payments;
- Paste your reservation code, click “Pay”;
- There will be a small processing fee (in my case 6 soles), click “Enviar”;
- Fill in your card details and press “Pagar”;
- You will receive your ticket by email. Print it.
Here we go, done! You are ready to go!
c) What to do if you can’t buy your Machu Picchu ticket online?
But wait, what if there are payment problems?
Apparently, card denial on Machu Picchu official website is a common problem, there are numerous forums in the internet discussing the issue and the possible solutions.
You might (like me and many other people) have some problems with the payment. You only can pay with a Visa verified card, and it often does not work.
If you are one of the lucky ones, and you have received your confirmation, just skip this section.
If you encountered the same problem, read through, I made an extensive research and here are the solutions.
If calling to the bank did not help, in this case you can:
- try using a friend’s card (you will not need to show it at the entrance);
- ask your hotel to buy the ticket for you;
- buy it through retailers, agencies (usually 20$ more expensive);
- if you are in Peru, you can pay the reservation in all Banco de la Nacion;
- write to Mr. Augusto Cier on email@example.com.
As you can see, there are many options, 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 taking a guide, I would miss out SO much if I would not take the guided tour. The price for the guide is ~15$ per person in the group or 50$ for a private tour. (That is already negotiated price, but you might be able to lower it a bit).
When is the high season?
January is supposed to be a low season due to rains, but in my visit it was quite crowded. June is high season. The best months to visit are March and November
PRO TIP 1: The majority of people leave before 2 p.m., if you stay longer, at 2 30 – 3 p.m. there is almost nobody. You have the whole Machu Picchu all for yourself!
PRO TIP 2: As there are no cafes inside, try to get your own food with you. There is one overpriced restaurant right outside 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 go outside two times presenting your ticket at the entrance.
2. Transportation to Machu Picchu costs
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 a couple of times.
about 150$ round trip per person (see the breakdown below)
How to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco:
Unfortunately, there is no direct way of getting from Cusco to Macchu 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 a step by step procedure 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, 2 hours, 3$ or ~30$ by taxi);
- Aguas Calientes, a little touristic city where you should stay overnight, to start your visit early in the morning (train, 1 h 40 mins, 60$);
- Machu Picchu (shuttle bus, 20 mins, 12$).
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 are fast to sell out (or increase their price).
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 website, compare the prices and the time more suitable for you and buy the ticket. The interface is quite intuitive now, so I guess I will not explain how to buy it.
My round trip ticket was somewhere around 110$. It can be both cheaper (not much tough) and more expensive for you, depending how much in advance you are buying them
!VERY IMPORTANT!: on the platform, when you will have your ticket scanned, you will need to show the credit card with which the payment was made. Thanks God, I read this a night before, otherwise I am not sure they would even let me on the train. In case some of your relatives are paying for your, you have to email his/her passport copy to Peru Rail/Inca Rail in advance.
3. Accommodation costs
In order to organize your Machu Picchu trip, you will most probably stay in 2 cities –Cusco (The old capital, highly recommended to stay for at least a couple of days to discover some of the Inca heritage) and Aguas Calientes (the night before Machu Picchu).
The cost of the hotel will, of course vary according to your needs and budget.
About 45$ 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 from 10$, in the hotel from 25$.
Let me tell you about the hotel I have stayed in Cusco:
The hotel I stayed in Cusco is called R House Cusco. It is located 15 minutes walking from the main plaza and it has a fantastic view to the city!
Just check it out:
The things I like the most about R House: it has a charming big living room, where I could sit on a sofa, enjoying the night view to the old Inca city while drinking the coca tea. Awesome! The breakfast is also served in your 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 it for me without any problems. I just had to tell them my passport details and I could pay later when I check 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, you can rent up to 4 bedrooms on the floor and enjoy your own penthouse!
Also, leaving your luggage while you are enjoying Machu Picchu is absolutely not a problem, they even have a special locker room for that.
PRICE: the prices in Cusco R House starts from 60$ for a double room, breakfast included.
Where to stay in Aguas Calientes:
You can stay absolutely anywhere. You know why?
You will have to wake up at 4 a.m. in any way. Thus, unless you are staying for a couple of days, I see no point to book 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).
PRICE: the accommodation in Aguas Calientes (search Machu Picchu in the search box) typically starts from 25$ for a hostel and 35$ for a hotel.
PRO TIP: If you are a foreigner, you don’t have to pay 18% VAT If you present your immigration paper (the one they give you when you cross the boarder, don’t loose it!) before checking in. Don’t forget to take it with you to Aguas Calientes.
GRAND TOTAL: 240$
NOTE1: Please note that I did not include food in my calculation. That really depends on your personal preferences and I did not include it in the breakdown.
NOTE2: 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 was trying to calculate the average price, and you can estimate your own according to your needs.
I calculated how much will be your expenses if you organize a tour to Machu Picchu independently (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 with me) and many more!
Hope the info here was useful and now you will be able to avoid many mistakes and organize the vacation of your dreams.
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If I forgot about something, please ask me in the comments, I will be glad to answer!