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Exploring the ancient city of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu Travel Guide

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This article explains what you should know before visiting Machu Picchu in 2023, including the newly established tourist circuits, COVID-19 protocols, entrance tickets, and prices.

How Do You Get To Machu Picchu?

The long journey to Machu Picchu begins with a flight to Lima, Peru's capital on the Pacific coast with a flight to Cusco, followed by a train ride to Aguas Calientes and a bus ride to the ruins of Machu Picchu.


Travelers frequently spend the night in Lima and fly to Cusco the following morning, as there are few flights to Cusco in the afternoons due to high winds. The historic center of Lima is one of the most impressive colonial centers in the new world and is worth a visit. Sections of Lima such as Miraflores are a favorite with travelers, and Barranco and San Isidro are also worth exploring as they are filled with art galleries, museums, cafes, and restaurants.

Cusco, Capital of the Inca Empire

The flight from Lima to Cusco takes about 1.5 hours, and the Cusco Airport is located near the center of Cusco. Cusco is high in the Andes at 3400 meters/11,000 feet above sea level, so be cautious with exerting yourself the first few days. After a quick taxi or van ride to your hotel, check in and relax or hit the ancient streets of Cusco lined with Inca walls and colonial churches.

The Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu

To get to Machu Picchu, you must travel to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo) by train from Cusco, or catch the train in Urubamba or Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. The train departs several times per day from the train station outside of Cusco, and the trip to Aguas Calientes takes about 4 hours. Some times of the year, travelers may be required to take a bus to Ollantaytambo, where you can board a train for the remaining two-hour trip to Aguas Calientes. There are two train operators:
  • Peru Rail (Cusco to Machu Picchu, Cusco to Puno (Lake Titicaca), and
  • Inca Rail (alternative trains to Machu Picchu).
Due to limited capacity on trains, travelers must check their bags. A maximum of 157 cm in length, width, and height is allowed per person, with a maximum weight of 5 kg.

Social distancing measures have been implemented to maintain safety and health protocols. The waiting line for the shuttle bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu now has socially distanced markings on the floor. At train stations, one seat between passengers must remain vacant.

Trips to Machu Picchu generally include an overnight hotel stay at Aguas Calientes or the ruins.

Take the bus from Aguas Calientes early in the morning to the ruins of Machu Picchu to maximize your time at the ruins.

Why are there New Restrictions in Machu Picchu?

Four new circuits have been established to improve visitor flow throughout Machu Picchu. This minimizes the possibility of infection by Covid 19 while also safeguarding the archaeological site for future generations. Machu Picchu's Inca City, or “Llaqta,'' is protected by the "Regulation on Sustainable Use and Tourist Visits for Conservation'' and the Ministry of Culture's approved health guidelines (COVID). 

What are the New Routes to Visit Machu Picchu in 2023?

Circuit 1: High Short (red) - This route begins in the upper sector, over the agricultural terraces, past the guard’s house, through the main entrance to the urban sector, then the Temple of the Sun, and from there over the water mirrors into the lower sector and then back to the exit.
Circuit 2: High Long (blue) - Similar to the first circuit with the addition of Intiwatana (Pyramid), Llamakancha, and the Sacred Rock. Exit through the terrace in the lower sector past the condor temple. This is the most comprehensive tour and is suggested for those interested in exploring the citadel entirely.
Circuit 3: Low Short (yellow) - access through the Qolqas (storehouses), terraces, the House of the Inca, the Water Fountains, and exit through the Pisonae Square. This is the combined route with a visit to Machu Picchu Mountain. This circuit requires only a few stairs and is especially suggested for individuals with limited mobility.
Circuit 4: Low Long (light blue) - similar to the third circuit with the addition of Llamakancha, the Sacred Rock, the qolqas, or warehouses (from the east side). Exit through the terrace in the lower sector. This is the route that is combined with a visit to Huayna Picchu. This circuit only passes through the lower sector, leading to the citadel's rear section.
New Circuits/Routes for Visiting Machu Picchu in 2022
New Circuits/Routes for Visiting Machu Picchu in 2022
                                                             Machu Picchu Circuit Map (Source: Peru Ministry of Culture)

Can I Enter Machu Picchu?                                                               

Yes, in addition to the four circuits for viewing the Incas' lost city, the new Machu Picchu entry guidelines include the following measures to consider when visiting the Inca city in 2023:

1. Before entering the facility, guests with a temperature greater than 37.5°C (99.5°F) will be denied entry.
2. Wearing a mask is required for the duration of your visit to Machu Picchu.
3. To enter Machu Picchu, all visitors must be accompanied by a tour guide. 
4. Groups of no more than ten individuals per guide are permitted.
5. A guided tour duration helps free up space, avoid confusion, and protect the Inca city. 
6. It is prohibited to re-enter the complex. Only the 'Machu Picchu with Mountain' ticket allows you to exit and reenter Machu Picchu. Warning: There are no toilets in the ruins as the last ones are in front of the gateway, and if you have to leave due to this inconvenience, you will not be able to return! 
7. To prevent overcrowding, visitors are limited to a four-hour maximum stay.
8. During the Machu Picchu tour, a minimum distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) between visitors is suggested, and for groups, at least 20 meters (66 ft)

Can I Enter Machu Picchu Without a Guide?

Due to necessary restrictions imposed by the Peruvian Government, it is mandatory to have a guide in Machu Picchu. In other words, you cannot access Machu Picchu without a guide.

Adventure Life Guides are the unsung heroes whose efforts create unique experiences for our travelers. They will become like family as they guide you through Peru and Machu Picchu.

How Does 2024 Entrance Tickets to Machu Picchu Work?

Tickets to the ruins must be purchased in advance for the specific date you will visit. Your tour likely includes tickets, contact us for more information and inquire about purchasing tickets for your travel dates. Tickets for trekking to Machu Picchu on the full Inca Trail and Short Inca Trail must also be purchased in advance.

Since 2021, the Ministry of Culture has approved seven different types of tickets for access to Machu Picchu. Only four are available now. See below Machu Picchu tickets 2024 respective entrance times and prices:
 Type of Ticket Description Daily Pax Limit Time Slots Prices
Llaqta de Machu Picchu only  Allows access to the Inca citadel via circuits 1, 2, and 3. You can choose any of the circuits that suit your schedule and fitness. 3000 Nine daily slots from
6:00-7:00 am to 2:00-3:30 pm
Adult: 152 Soles ($51)
Student: 70 Soles ($18)
Child: 77 Soles ($24)
Machu Picchu Circuit 4 + Huayna Picchu The most popular peak in the Machu Picchu complex due to its spectacular views. 200 Huayna Picchu 4 slots:
6:00 a.m
7:00 a.m
8:00 a.m
9:00 p.m
Adult: 200 Soles ($65)
Student: 118 Soles ($33)
Child: 125 Soles ($37)
Machu Picchu Mountain + Circuit 3 (permits to re-enter the citadel) Best alternative to the Huayna Picchu Mountain. The higher summit is opposite Huayna Picchu. 400 Machu Picchu Mountain 2 slots: 
6:00 a.m. 
7:00 a.m. 
Adult: 200 Soles ($65)
Student: 118 Soles ($31)
Child: 125 Soles ($37)
Machu Picchu Circuit 4 + Huchuy Picchu This new route is the small mountain in front of Huayna Picchu, a cheaper alternative.
200 Nine daily slots from
6:00-7:00 am to 2:00-3:00 pm
Adult: 152Soles ($51)
Student: 70 Soles ($18)
Child: 77 Soles ($24)

Visitors should take the Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu shuttle bus no later than 30 minutes before the start of their scheduled visitation time slot. If you can get up early enough to arrive at the site for the first admission at 6 AM, the crowds will be much fewer than they are at lunchtime.

Available Hiking Options For Your Second Day in Machu Picchu:

  • Huayna Picchu is that iconic peak you see behind Machu Picchu in all postcards.
  • Machu Picchu Mountain is the higher peak towering above the ruins opposite Huayna Picchu. 
  • Huchuy Picchu is the smaller peak, located just next to Huayna Picchu.
  • The Sun Gate or Inti Punku served as the entrance to Machu Picchu.
Should you include the additional hiking permit for Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, or try to decide between the two? See our helpful comparison HERE

Prohibitions During your Visit to the Llaqta of Machu Picchu:

Visitors who engage in activities or enter with forbidden items on this list will be immediately expelled without reimbursement and the start of legal actions, if required. The Ministry of Culture's park guards and the National Police officers command the monument grounds. 
1. Backpacks, bags, or purses larger than 40x35x20 cm
2. Food or kitchenware, i.e., plates, cutlery, thermoses
3. Any illegal substance or to be under the influence of any substance
4. Any type of alcohol or be under the influence
5. Umbrellas, walking sticks, portable chairs, tripods, monopods, and selfie sticks.
6. Animals, except guide dogs
7. Feed domestic or wild animals
8. Any aerosol
9. Deface, alter or leave any graffiti
10. Any musical instrument, megaphone, or speakers
11. Make loud or disturbing noises (scream, whistle, clap, sing, etc.)
12. Use virtual apps in narrow paths or outside designated areas
13. Heels or hard-sole shoes
14. Baby strollers
15. Knives or weapons of any kind
16. Banners, posters, films, photos, clothing intended for advertising purposes
17. Generate turmoil, undress, lie down, run and jump
18. Climb or lean on walls and structures. Touch, extract or move lithic elements such as rocks and stonework
19. Disturb, collect or remove flora or fauna
20. Perform obscene acts contrary to morality and good manners, such as fashion shows, dances, and social commitments.
21. Smoke or vape, or start a fire of any kind
22. Litter
23. Stray from the established circuits/routes
24. Sell or trade inside the monument and surrounding areas until Puente Ruinas
25. Flyover with paragliders, drones, or any craft

Is Machu Picchu Worth it?

While it is worth seeing, it demands a significant investment of time, money, and energy. Machu Picchu is widely regarded as one of the world's most important cultural landmarks and the most impressive urban creation of the Inca Empire. Set in a lush tropical forest at an elevation of 2,430 meters above sea level, this site is home to many native plants and animals.
Contact Adventure Life's Peru experts for help finding the perfect trip to Peru and Machu Picchu that fits your particular interests, schedule, and budget.


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