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6 Smart Tips for an Unforgettable Machu Picchu Tour

6 Smart Tips for an Unforgettable Machu Picchu Tour

Machu Picchu, the amazing Inca Citadel nearby Cusco, is a must-see for every traveler in Peru. In case you have not visited Machu Picchu yet or are planning to see this fascinating world wonder in Peru, these 6 SMART TIPS FOR AN UNFORGETTABLE MACHU PICCHU TOUR will help you to plan and organize your trip to Machu Picchu. Make sure to make the most out of your visit to this beautiful site in the Peruvian Andes, nearby Cusco, with the following trips.

Tip 1: Getting up early

It is important to know that trips to Machu Picchu should ALWAYS start in the early morning because there is just so much to see! Not to mention the possibility of an amazing early morning sunrise….

Therefore, we always recommend you spend the night before your tour in Aguas Calientes. And you get Machu Picchu Tickets for the early morning. (However, if this is not possible, a one day Machu Picchu Tour is still an amazing experience and totally worthwhile.)

Aguas Calientes – officially called Machu Picchu Pueblo – is the small town at the bottom of the valley, next to Machu Picchu. It is the primary access to the Inca Citadel. In Aguas Calientes, you can find restaurants, hotels and cafes all gathered in the (very) nearby surroundings of the train station.

Reading tip: The ultimate Guide to Aguas Calientes

Tip 2: Trains to Machu Picchu

If you cannot spend an extra day in Aguas Calientes, start your Machu Picchu train Tour very, very early in the morning in Cusco or in Ollantaytambo.

It takes approximately 4 hours to travel from Cusco to Machu Picchu from the San Pedro Station and 3 hours from the Poroy Station in Cusco (times can vary depending on the type of train). If you leave from the Ollantaytambo Station, in the Sacred Valley, you can expect a train ride from between 1 hour and 40 minutes to 2 hours depending on whether you take the Expedition or the Vistadome Train. The ride from Cusco to Ollantaytambo takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes or a bit more depending on traffic.

There are a few trains leaving very early, but even then you won’t arrive to Machu Picchu as early as you would have if you had been sleeping in Aguas Calientes. The trip on the train to Machu Picchu is an experience in itself you would not want to miss.

Aguas Calientes Machu Picchu Cusco Peru


Read about different train tours to Machu Picchu


Tip 3: From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu

If you spent the night in one of the hotels in Aguas Calientes, you can take one of the early morning Consettur buses that offer the approx. 25-30 minute ride from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu for $12 one-way. In the high season, queues for the buses start at 4 am and stretch for hundreds of meters!

If you want to save money, a hike up to Machu Picchu is also a nice option. It will warm up your muscles and wake you up for your big day at Machu Picchu! The walk up takes approx. 2-3 hours, depending on your speed and motivation! We always recommend taking the bus up so you have plenty of time for your tour and then walking down without any rush if you wan to save $12.

Tip: make sure you are well acclimatize to the altitude before you start a hiking adventure in Peru

Huayna Picchu Trek


Tip 4: Machu Picchu Hiking

Once you’re up at the archaeological site, there are many options to discover the surrounding mountains and areas. Since 2019, you need to explore the famous Inca Citadel with a guide. Make sure you take beautiful pictures, relax and enjoy. There are also several hikes within Machu Picchu. There are four excellent options for some Machu Picchu Hiking.

*NOTE 2020: The Ministerio de Cultura is not offering the hikes described below at this time, due to the Corona pandemic; there has been no official announcement about their reopening.

1. Huaynapicchu or Huayna Picchu or Wayna Picchu

This is very popular hike, and Huayna Picchu tickets need to be paid for and booked in advance. Huayna Picchu is the highest peaked mountain of Machu Picchu. The way up consists of approximately 1,500 steep steps, also called the Stairs of Death. The Huayna Picchu hike is definitely a challenge, and you will reach an altitude of 2,720 meters. The hike up requires around 50 minutes and a good level of fitness is required.

Fun fact:
In Quechua, the language of the Incas, Machu Picchu means old mountain. Huayna Picchu, on the other hand, means young mountain.

2. Machu Picchu Mountain

This mountain is located at the southwest end of Machu Picchu. Here, tickets also need to be bought in advance, as the capacity is limited. The hike up can be challenging and requires around 1 hour and 30 minutes to the summit. Machu Picchu mountain is less steep and less croweded than the alternatives and offers great views over Machu Picchu and the surrounding area.

3. Sungate or Inti Punku

A cheap and challenging option is a hike to the sun gate. The Incas entered Machu Picchu through this gate when they took the famous Inca Trail from Cusco. This even and gentle path is free, and no ticket is needed. It takes around 30 minutes up and around 20 minutes back. The height is the same as Huaynapicchu (2,720 m) but is not as challenging. It gives travelers a great view of the surrounding area of Machu Picchu.

Sun Gate Machu Picchu Peru


4. Inca Bridge

This is an old Inca bridge that is a small hidden gem of Machu Picchu. The 15-minute flat, but rather perilous, walk along the slope of Montaña Picchu is short and interesting. There are no charges for this site, and it can be visited throughout the whole day.

Tip 5: How to pack for your Machu Picchu Tour

If you’re planning to do any of the above-mentioned Machu Picchu hiking options, you’ll want to pack the essentials, as you will have to carry them around!
The most essential items are:

  • Hiking shoes
  • Trekking pants
  • A rain jacket
  • Your camera
  • Water (at least 1 liter)
  • Snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat

Here you can find a good packing list for the Inca Trail

Machu Picchu mountain Peru


Tip 6: Practical information

Finally, a few last quick Tips for your Machu Picchu visit:

  1. If for some reason you are traveling with a larger backpack that is not needed at Machu Picchu, there is a storage place at the Machu Picchu entrance. Here you can store your belongings while you explore the ruins.
  2. Make sure your batteries are charged, and that you take extra batteries just in case. You won´t have the opportunity to charge electronic devices while visiting Machu Picchu.
  3. Also, keep in mind that the only stores (to buy water or snacks) are at the entrance to Machu Picchu or down in Aguas Calientes.
  4. Furthermore, remember that it is prohibited to smoke within the site or to sit on the ruins.
  5. And finally: Toilets can be found only at the entrance (there are no bathrooms in the site itself).


Machu Picchu Tour Dos manos Peru


For more information about Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu Tours, please, contact us
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3 reading tips:
Interesting: Ten things you Didn’t Know about Machu Picchu
Overview of the best Outdoor Tours in Peru post-pandemic
Good tips: When is the best time to visit Peru?
Do you want to read this article in Spanish?
6 consejos inteligentes para un tour inolvidable a Machu Picchu
Do you want to read this article in Dutch?
6 slimme tips voor een onvergetelijke Machu Picchu Tour

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