Long story short: there is no need to rely on travel agencies or reseller. All tickets can be bought online from official vendors. That is not only cheaper but often also more reliable. We learned the hard way, as we almost missed out on visiting Machu Picchu due to the travel agency booking for the wrong week. However, we were able to swiftly reorganize everything the day before our arrival at Machu Picchu. Here's what we did and how you can do it (without all the hustle) yourself. How to get to Machu Picchu?
- Buy your entrance to Machu Picchu from the Ministry of Culture
- Get your Bus Ticket directly from the Bus Company
- Book your Train Ticket with one of the two operating train lines
- Book a guided tour in English on site
- Highly recommended: visit the nearby archaeological site of Ollantaytambo
Avoid our mistakes. We guide you through all the steps needed for your visit to Machu Picchu. The process is much easier than you may think, and with proper planning, the tickets can even be quite affordable. So, let's get started.
Book your entrance to Machu Picchu online
Use the official page of the Ministry of Culture to reserve your entrance. You can book up to 5 tickets at a time, unfortunately only in Spanish (DeepL or Google Translate for the win). Choose the aspired date and the area you want to visit to check the availability. For adults, the entrance fee is about 150-200 Peruvian Sol (about 40-50 USD). You are not allowed to enter earlier than the provided time slot indicated on the ticket. From that time on your ticket on you'll have a slot of one hour to pass the ticket control at Machu Picchu. Afterwards your ticket becomes invalid.
We recommend to take an time slot early in the morning. That way the sanctuary is not as crowded as in the afternoon. It is also great to start with some fog that clears up during the day.
Book your ticket to Machu Picchu
The easiest, cheapest and most reliable way to get your ticket to Machu Picchu. The Ministry of Culture issues the tickets and sells them online. You can book up to 5 tickets at once and check availabilities for each time slot. You receive the ticket and receipt instantly as email.
The hike to the top of Montaña Machu Picchu is simply beautiful and what we have seen the best choice. It takes about two hours (up and down), for sporty people. Those who like it more leisurely should not book any of the mountains. Adrenaline junkies should go for the Mountain Huayna Picchu, but be aware that this route is considered very dangerous.
How to reach Machu Picchu
From Aguas Calientes (sometimes called Machu Picchu Town) you can either hike for about two hours to the entrance of the historic site of Machu Picchu or take the 30-minutes bus ride. Aguas Calientes itself is only accessible by train or by foot.
Book your Bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
In the small town of Aguas Calientes buses leave every 10 minutes starting from about 5 AM. Consettur is the only operating bus company. Tickets are sold either online or in a small shop in Aguas Calientes or Cusco. Make sure to have your passport available for the booking. Foreigners pay about 12 USD per direction.
Bus drivers check your ticket for the entrance time in Machu Picchu and only allow you the boarding 30-45 minutes before your time slot. Make sure to arrive early enough and make the queue but there is no need to get there more than an hour early. You will not be allowed to enter the bus earlier to avoid congestion at the entrance of Machu Picchu.
Get your train ticket to Aguas Calientes
Trains to Aguas Calientes are operated by Peru Rail or Inka Rail. Most of the train connections start in Ollantaytambo (buses or private transfers between Cusco and Ollantaytambo are frequently available). If you book early you can also get train tickets between Cusco and Machu Picchu. There are different price categories. To be honest we did not really see much difference between each category - the panorama views are always amazing.
Last but not least: organize a guided tour
What would be a visit to an archaeological sanctuary without getting all the details of its history. How did the Inca build Machu Picchu or how was it discovered? If you do not want to do the research yourself you can hire a local guide to explain all the details on site. Plenty of guides offer their services right next to the bus station in Aguas Calientes. Just have a chat with them and if you get along negotiate a price for you (or your group). That way you can directly check if you understand each other (both personally and content wise).
Spend a night in Aguas Calientes or Ollantaytambo
We recommend to choose one of the earliest time slots available for the visit to Machu Picchu. Therefore you could arrive the night before to Aguas Calientes and stay a night there. The same goes for Ollantaytambo. The town itself has an impressive archaeological site - even bigger than Machu Picchu - and a neat little old town.
Ollantaytambo itself is worth a visit. So why not take the train from there and seize the opportunity to visit it's Inca constructions too?
Best Hotel in town
We definitely recommend this hotel. The staff is friendly and helpful, especially when it comes to recommending activities in the region. It is situated perfectly - in walking distance to the main plaza of Ollantaytambo and the train station.
Best hotel in Ollantaytambo
Quiet, nice rooms yet the best location in the center. Highly recommended
For the smaller budget
If you on a smaller budget or prefer to spent your money on the delicious Peruvian food (100% understandable!) this B&B is everything you're looking for.
B&B with everything you need
Certainly the optimum value for money
Best restaurant in Ollantaytambo
Is most certainly the Chuncho. It is not the cheapest place around but worth every cent! All food is locally sourced - some herbs are even homegrown in the Ollantaytambo school's garden. The staff is welcoming and sometimes they host little concerts. Say hi from us - maybe they remember the "Germans with a terrible travel agency experience" ;) Anyways, enjoy!