It can be confusing piecing together information on the internet to work out exactly how much a trip to Machu Picchu costs. Whether you plan to visit the Inca citadel of Peru independently, or are looking to get an idea of how much different tours, such as the Inca Trail or other hiking routes to Machu Picchu cost, we’ve put together this guide to help you figure it out.
Know before you go: Traveling to Machu Picchu
How far is Machu Picchu from Cusco?
The distance from Cusco to Machu Picchu is only 75 kilometers as the bird flies. However, in practice, it’s a lot more complicated than this, as there are no roads that directly lead to Machu Picchu. Instead, you can arrive by train or on foot.
What’s the best way to visit Machu Picchu?
How you travel to Machu Picchu depends a lot on your budget and on your timeframe. You can choose between hiking, a train tour or a bus tour.
If you want to follow in the footsteps of the Inca, a section of the old Qhapaq Ñan, forms the route to Machu Picchu known as the Inca Trail. This is the most popular way of visiting Machu Picchu, and restrictions are in place so that only a limited number of hikers per day can hit the trail. It also closes for reparations in February. When hiking, you must be accompanied by a licensed guide hired by an authorized travel agency in Cusco. This hike normally takes four days, but can be extended or shortened to suit your timeframes.
An alternative trek such as the four-day Inca Jungle Trail doesn’t follow the Inca road but explores the stunning cloud forest by bike as well as hot springs, while long-distance hikes, such as the three- or four-day Lares, five-day Salkantay Trek and the more challenging nine-day hike via Choquequirao, are becoming increasingly popular means of traveling to Machu Picchu.
All of these treks offer splendid, high-Andean scenery that culminates in the ruins of the Inca city.
If you’re planning a trip to Machu Picchu and have less time, the luxury Hiram Bingham train or the other trains offered by Peru Rail and Inca Rail allow for a quicker way of getting to Machu Picchu from Cusco or from Ollantaytambo. The cost of this train journey depends on the type of service you choose (more on this shortly).
Machu Picchu Tours via bus are becoming more common among backpackers. The bus tour is a more affordable (but certainly not a more comfortable) way of getting to Machu Picchu as compared to the train journey. You can expect to travel on fairly poor dirt roads for around six hours to seven hours. Therefore, it isn’t an ideal choice for someone who experiences travel sickness. Also, delays are pretty common, especially during the rainy season. You need a minimum of 2 days for a Machu Picchu visit by bus, and you have to hike the final eleven kilometers along the tracks from Hidroeléctrica to Aguas Calientes (or take the train (cost: USD $ 15.00). Finally, if you travel independently, you also need to be prepared for changing buses at least two times (in Santa Maria and in Santa Teresa, where you take the last bus (it’s actually more of a van) to Hidroeléctrica).
How long should you spend at Machu Picchu?
As long as possible! Given it’s likely that you’ll only end up visiting this magnificent site once, it stands to reason that you’ll want to plan your Machu Picchu trip to allow you to spend as much time as you can exploring the ruins.
Visits to Machu Picchu begin at 6:00 am and the site closes at 5:30 pm. There are 9 visit slots from Monday to Sunday. The entrance hours to Machu Picchu are from 6 am, 7 am, 8 am, 9 am, 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 1, pm and 2 pm. You’re also required to have a Machu Picchu guide show you around the site. You have the option to take a guided tour in shared service (8 visitors and a guide) or a private guided tour. Touritsts have a maximum visit time of 4 hours. If you book a Machu Picchu Train Tour with a travel agency, the guided tour is always included.
Due to the spread of COVID, entry to both Huanyna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain are restricted until further notice.
How many days do you need for a visit to Machu Picchu?
The number of days you need for a visit to Machu Picchu depends on the type of transport you take. For example, if you go by train, you can actually visit Machu Picchu in just one long day.
If you take a bus, you need to spend one night in Aguas Calientes (also called Machu Picchu Pueblo) and spend the following day at Machu Picchu.
If you hike the classic Inca Trail, the normal trip is four days and three nights, (although a shorter version of the Inca Trail is also a possibility), while for the Salkantay trek, the standard duration is five days.
If you want to hike the more unusual Lares Trail or the route that passes Choquequirao and continues on to Machu Picchu, you need three to four and nine days respectively.
How much does a trip to Machu Picchu really cost?
As we’ve outlined above, the average cost of a trip to Machu Picchu varies significantly. For this reason, we’ve broken down the costs associated with different types of travel to help you understand these differences.
Machu Picchu entrance ticket price
- The entrance fee to Machu Picchu costs S/152 as of 2021.
- The entrance fee for Machu Picchu, including access to Huayna Picchu mountain, costs S/200 as of 2021.
People with a valid ISIC Card pay S/77 and children pay S/70. Children are visitors who have not reached the age of 18 by the date of their visit.
Entry tickets are sold on the official Machu Picchu website. (accepts only credit/debit card payments). If you plan to climb up Huayna Picchu mountain for panoramas of the full site, you need to book well in advance to secure a spot as tickets are limited to 400 per day.
Machu Picchu by train
All trains arrive at Aguas Calientes, the small village located beneath the ruins, from where it’s possible to take a shuttle bus up to Machu Picchu ($12 USD each way) or to climb the steps up to the ruins, which takes around an hour and a half.
|Machu Picchu from Poroy (25 minutes outside of Cusco)||Machu Picchu from Urubamba||Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo|
|Company:||Peru Rail, Inca Rail||Peru Rail||Peru Rail, Inca Rail|
|Duration:||3 hours and 50 minutes approx.||2 hours and 30 minutes approx.||1 hour 40 minutes approx.|
|Frequency:||4-7 daily (can vary depending on train company)||1 daily (can vary)||4-26 daily (can vary depending on train company)|
|Train price:||$60-$510 USD one way (prices subject to change)||$95 USD one way (prices subject to change)||$60-$200 USD one way (prices subject to change)|
Machu Picchu by bus
Although it is possible to take the public bus from Cusco to Santa María, connecting with another bus in Santa Teresa and then on to Hidroelectrica (where you need to walk the final eleven kilometers to Aguas Calientes), most people opt to take a tour bus directly operated by a travel agency from Cusco to Aguas Calientes as a far easier and quicker solution. Please note that als with this bus tour, you still need to walk the 11 kilometers. There is simply no road that will take you to the Inca Citadel (nor to Aguas Calientes) directly.
From Aguas Calientes, a shuttle bus can take you up to Machu Picchu ($12 USD each way) or you can climb the whole way up to the ruins, which takes around an hour and a half.
|Tour bus from Cusco to Aguas Calientes|
|Company:||Plenty of agencies in Cusco offer this option|
|Train price:||$85-$180 USD|
Machu Picchu Hike costs
The cost* of hiking to Machu Picchu varies according to the type of hike you do.
|Inca Trail||Short Inca Trail||Inca Jungle Trek||Salkantay Trek||Lares Trek||Trek Via Choquequirao|
|Company:||Lots (only authorized by Cusco government)||Lots||Lots||Lots, although you can hike this independently.||Lots||Lots, although you can hike this independently.|
|Duration:||4D/3N||2D/1N||4D/3N (or 3D/2N)||5D/4N (or 4D/3N)||3D/2N or 4D/3N||9D/8N|
|Frequency:||Daily, except closed all of February||Daily, except closed all of February||Daily||Reduced departures January-March (rainy season)||Reduced departures January-March (rainy season)||Reduced departures January-March (rainy season)|
|Tour Prices:||$620-$1,500 USD||$450-$600||$300-$700||$325-$1,500 USD||$550-$1,200 USD||$1,000-$2,000 USD|
*The prices mentioned above are from registered travel agencies in Cusco that pay fair wages to the staff and that take responsible travel (more or less) seriously.
Want more information? We offer a wide range of hiking tours to Machu Picchu, led by our expert, bilingual guides.
Extra Machu Picchu trip costs to consider
Don’t forget that, if you plan on visiting Machu Picchu independently, you also need to budget in an overnight stay in Aguas Calientes, which can cost anywhere from $25 USD for a very basic hostel, to over $800 USD for luxury lodgings.
You’ll also need to consider food, which should cost anywhere from $5 to $20 for a meal and, the transfers to and from the bus or train station.
Fancy taking the stress out of planning your Machu Picchu trip?
Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.