Planning a Trip to Machu Picchu in Peru 13

Is Machu Picchu on your bucket list? It has every reason to be! Maybe YOU will be the one to figure out how the Incas were able to accomplish such an incredible feat building this mysterious city!

Machu Picchu is one of the world largest attractions and rightly so, it’s one of the 7 New Wonders of the World! The journey to get there is exhilarating with views that will leave you breathless!

Planning a Trip to Machu Picchu

Here are a few tips to help you plan your trip to Machu Picchu! If you don’t have a trip planned yet, START TODAY! It’s not to be missed!

Machu Picchu Peru When to Visit and Hike the Inca Trail

When Should I Plan My Trip to Machu Picchu?

The best time to visit Machu Picchu and hike the Inca Trail is from July-August. This is your best chance for clear skies and good weather. It is also summer time for many foreign countries so you can expect lots of crowds and possibly sold-out entrance permits. Give yourself plenty of time to reserve a permit that works with your schedule.

The official rainy season in Peru is from October-April. We planned our trip in early March and even though it rained on us while we were hiking it didn’t ruin our trip. It was a little foggy but the clouds parted right when we crested the Sun Cloud Gate and we had a clear view of the ruins.

It can rain at any given point during the year, so it’s hard to say when the “perfect” time is! Machu Picchu is open year-round but it is good to note that the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance the month of February.

Tourists Taking Pictures of Llamas at Machu Picchu, Peru

How Many Days to Visit Machu Picchu?

If you are planning to do a 5-day Inca Trail hike and also explore around Cusco, 10 days would be perfect. You’ll be able to acclimate to the altitude, explore the city of Cusco, visit the Sacred Valley, hike the Inca Trail, and visit Machu Picchu without feeling too rushed.

Peru is a great place to go on a 2-week vacation or longer! There’s lots more to see in southern Peru near Machu Picchu. If you have extra time you can always explore Lake Titicaca and the Floating Islands, Colca Canyon, and Lima. Check out our complete 2 week itinerary in Peru for some ideas!

How Much Does It Cost to Visit Machu Picchu?

It’s possible to visit Machu Picchu on your own, you just need to purchase your entrance tickets at least 4 months in advance. Below are some of the prices you can expect to pay for transportation and fees. If you book a tour, all of the fees are usually included in your price. If you don’t want to hassle of organizing it all yourself, this is a great option.

Entrance Fee to Machu Picchu: (last updated October 2015)

  • $128 for Foreigners
  • $64 for Peru Nationals
  • Children under 8 years old don’t pay
  • Children 18 and younger pay student prices of $65 (with card)

Shuttle Bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu:

Tickets cost about $10 one way. The buses operate from 5:30am to 6:00pm. The lines can be long so consider purchasing tickets the day before in Cusco or at the bus station in Aguas Calientes.

Peru Rail Train – Cusco to Machu Picchu:

  • VistaDome (more views from train with skylights) – about $90 each way
  • Expedition (4 seats facing each other) – about $50-$60 each way

Hiking Tour Prices (All Fees Included)

  • 5 Day / 4 Night (Classic Tour) = $1,070 per person
  • 4 Day / 3 Night = $650 per person
  • 2 Day / 1 Night = $525 per person

(Reflecting Llama Path Tours who we used to book our trip)
*Note: Prices are cheaper if booking for a larger group.

As you can see, planning a trip to Machu Picchu can be pricey, but it’s worth every penny! We decided to book through a tour company because we knew we wanted to hike the Inca Trail and thought it would be easier to have a tour company arrange the permits, transportation, accommodation, entrance fees, etc. It was well worth it!

Since we were a group of 4, we were able to save a bit on the cost! We showed up and were able to enjoy the trip without worrying about the details! Check out Llama Path for more tour options and itineraries!

Peru Rail from Cusco to Aguas Calientes before hiking the Inca Trail

Sample Itinerary for Traveling to Machu Picchu:

  • Before You Go: Research Tour Companies to hike the Inca Trail. You can choose between a 1 day, 3 day, or 5 day hike. Decide if you want to hike the Inca Trail or just visit Machu Picchu.
    Note: You must have a permit to hike the Inca Trail. Arranging your hike through a tour company is a great way to get all those requirements met!
  • Fly into Cusco, Peru
  • Allow 2-3 days to acclimate to the altitude and rest from your flight over. This is a great time to explore Cusco and there is plenty to see and do!
  • During your “acclimation” period, consider planning a trip to the Sacred Valley, especially if you are planning to hike the Inca Trail. This is a great introduction to the types of trails you will be walking on!
  • If you are on a tour, most of the “getting” to Machu Picchu will be included in your trip. If not, you will want to take the Peru Rail Train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. 
  • Take the shuttle bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.
  • Spend the day exploring Machu Picchu. You can learn a lot about the building construction, history, and temples if you have a tour guide to explain it to you. You can also explore it yourself if you prefer to walk at your own pace. 
  • Spend the night at Aguas Calientes and enjoy the Hot Springs
  • Take the train back to Cusco.

Peru Sign at the Border of Peru and Bolivia

What to Pack for a Day Trip to Machu Picchu?

  • Rain jacket
  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Bug spray
  • Coins for using the bathroom
  • Passport
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera

Good luck planning your trip to Machu Picchu in Peru! It’s really a marvelous architectural wonder that will leave you in awe! Feel free to ask us any questions by leaving a comment below! 

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13 thoughts on “Planning a Trip to Machu Picchu in Peru

  • Candice

    Hi Landon,
    Thanks so much for your time. We will be going to machu picchu as well before Bolivia – will April be misty or just fine?
    Hope to hear from you soon

    • Landon Post author

      You’ll love Bolivia! We spent 5 weeks there and can’t wait to go back.

      We went to Machu Picchu in March and it was a little misty and rainy, but we had some nice weather and got some nice pictures as well. You’ll probably get a little better weather in April because the rainy season will be ending. We have the perfect blogpost about planning your trip to Machu Picchu that might answer some more of your questions!

  • Shannon

    Great post, my husband and I were also at Machu Picchu recently. There’s a lot of things that are hard to figure out about the trip before hand. Looks like you pretty much got all the tips and tricks here though!

  • Drew

    I have been curious about how many days I should plan for my trip to Peru so this was really helpful! It’s nice knowing what might be worth the time and what might not. This should help my plan a lot more efficiently. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Damir

    Great writeup guys! Also love the fact that you stress the fact, that machu picchu is beautiful througout the year. Can only agree. Even if it rains (and there are times when there is a high chance) the Inca ruins will be soooo stunning! There is no bad weather – only bad clothing :P

  • Lauren Woodley

    Thank you for the insight about going to the Sacred Valley. You talk about how this is a great trip to take because it helps you get an idea of the type of trails you’ll be walking on. Over all, I think that if you go to Peru, you need to hike, but that takes adjustment. So, going to Sacred Valley is a great introduction and help with that! Thank you for sharing!

  • Maratha Goodmann

    Hi Landon !!

    You write well about machu picchu tour and gives every information regarding the trip. The site was once an estate for the Inca emperor, as well as a place of worship and education.
    It remained hidden in the Andes, shrouded by green mountains and clouds of mist, completely unknown to the outside world. But the best time to visit Machu Picchu is between May and September, when the weather is dry.

  • Chaska

    Hi Landon.

    It is a great post .

    My name is Chaska Peruvian Tour Guide ,Sometimes Altitude sickness can be a problem , I would like to recommend stay in cusco 2 days before start any trek to Machu Picchu also start drink lot of water and some coca tea. this will help you body adequate better to altitude.
    king Regards.
    more info visit my web: