the inca ruins of Machu Picchu seen from above

Machu Picchu FAQ

This is a list of frequently asked questions on Machu Picchu. For the sake of brevity, answers will be kept short. Please surf through the Tips & Tricks section of this website for further explanation. You can also make use of our contact form for further inquiries.  We will update this list frequently.

1. How old is Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is believed to have been built as a private royal estate during the reign of the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438-1472). Construction probably started around 1450 but was never finished

2. Why was Machu Picchu abandoned?

Machu Picchu was most probably abandoned due to the Spanish Conquest probably around 1530-1550. There was also the issue of a smallpox epidemic that killed an estimated 2/3 of the population during the years of 1524 to 1526.

3. How high is Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is located 2,430 meters above sea level

4. Is altitude sickness an issue?
Altitude sickness should not be a problem in Machu Picchu itself. Most people traveling to Machu Picchu will, however, come through Cusco. Cusco lies 1,000 meters higher and altitude sickness might be an issue here.

5. When was Machu Picchu rediscovered?
Popular credit goes to Hiram Bingham in 1912. His publications made the unique Inca citadel known to the western world. There is evidence of continuous Peruvian occupation of the site, as well as other explorers finding the city before Hiram Bingham.

6. What is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?
The best time to visit Machu Picchu is during the dry season from May to September. Fog and mists are still known during these months, especially in the morning.

7. How long does a tour through Machu Picchu take?
The circular route through Machu Picchu will take 2 hours.

8. How much cost the tickets for Machu Picchu?
Tickets cost 128 soles per person. This will be around 40 US-Dollar

9. When does Machu Picchu open?

The doors to Machu Picchu open at 6 am in the morning and close at 5 pm

10. Can you visit Machu Picchu on a day trip?

Visiting Machu Picchu on a day trip from Cusco or Ollantaytambo is possible if you take the first train in the morning and leave with the last train. It is advisable to stay a night to appreciate the ruins to its fullest
Machu Picchu with its city wall clearly visible in the forground.

11. Can I rent a car to get to Machu Picchu?

It is not possible to reach Machu Picchu by car. The only way to Machu Picchu is by train or on foot.

12. Why are there no hotels in Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is located on a high mountain ridge. All hotels are located in the valley below in a town called Aguas Calientes. There is only one luxury hotel (the Belmond Sanctuary lodge) directly in front of the entrance.

13. How do I get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes?

There is a regular bus going from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu (~20 US-Dollar per roundtrip). You can also option to hike the 400 meters of altitude, which will take you 60 to 90 minutes)

14. When does the first bus leave from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu?
The first bus leaves around 5:30 am and will be in Machu Picchu around 6:00 am. This is also when the gates open. Tickets can be bought the day before. The last bus leaves around 6 pm.

15. Where can I see Machu Picchu from above?
Two mountains are located close to Machu Picchu: Huayna Picchu and Machu Mountain. You will need tickets for both. The Sun Gate also offers a decent view from above, no tickets needed.

16. How long does it take to hike Huayna Picchu?
The challenging hike will take you roughly 2-3 hours depending if you like to see the Temple of the Moon or not.

17. Can I hike Huayna Picchu without tickets for Machu Picchu?

The entrance to Huayna Picchu is located inside Machu Picchu. It is not possible to hike Huayna Picchu without tickets for Machu Picchu itself. You need to reserve your tickets for hiking Huayna Picchu in advance. They sell out very fast in the peak season.

18. Should I buy tickets for Huayna Picchu early in the morning (7 to 8 am) or should I get tickets for the 10-11 am slot?
Heavy fog and mist are common early in the morning in Machu Picchu. While it will be hotter later in the day, there is also less chance of a clouded view. Also, the Inca ruins itself will be most crowded around noon.

19. Are there toilets in Machu Picchu?
There are no toilets in Machu Picchu itself. Only one IN FRONT of the entrance

20. I am not very sure-footed. Can I still visit Machu Picchu?

The paths in Machu Picchu are well maintained. There are a few steep stairs and pathways can be slippery. Generally speaking, no special hiking experience is needed to walk around the main ruins of Machu Picchu.
The central plaza of Machu Picchu and the Royal Palace in the background

21. Can I bring walking sticks?

Walking sticks are prohibited inside Machu Picchu

22. Can I visit Machu Picchu in a wheelchair?

Due to its elevated location, Machu Picchu is not handicapped accessible. It will not be possible to see any of the ruins in a regular wheelchair. With help (i.e. someone carrying you around), it might be possible, but you should definitely contact the authorities prior to your visit and ask for permission.

23. Can I buy tickets at the entrance?
No tickets are sold at the entrance. There is one ticket office in Aguas Calientes and one in Cusco. It is better to buy tickets online months in advance as they sell out quickly. Remember to bring your passport as a means of identification.

24. Can I see all of Machu Picchu in one day?

If you start very early it is possible to see all of Machu Picchu in one day. With Sun Gate (Inti Punk), Inca bridge, Huayna Picchu, Temple of the Moon and the ruins itself, it will be a packed day. If you want to hike both Huayna Picchu and Machu Mountain, you will definitely need two days, though.

25. Are there and restaurants or snack bars in Machu Picchu?

There are no restaurants, bars or vending machines in Machu Picchu. There is a luxury hotel in front of the entrance. The two restaurants are open to the public during the day. The hotel also runs a small snack bar for sandwiches.

26. Can I leave Machu Picchu and come back?

Your ticket entitles you to leave Machu Picchu once (for seeing the restroom or going for a small snack). If you want to enter multiple times, please ask the staff before you leave (which generally should be no problem). Tickets are only valid one day!

27. Which train should I take to Machu Picchu?

Trains to Machu Picchu are operated by PeruRail and IncaRail. PeruRail has the most spacious cars but is also a bit expensive. The cheapest option is the regular train by PeruRail, while the Belmond Hiram Bingham Express is the high-end luxury train with its own observation deck and bar wagon.
Alternative classic panorama of Machu Picchu Peru in the late afternoon sun

28. Do I need bug repellant in Machu Picchu?

There are some big gnats in Machu Picchu. Bringing a bug repellant is recommended.

29. What should I wear for Machu Picchu?

The weather in Machu Picchu is very humid. Bring light-weighted and fast drying clothes. During the daytime, it can get very hot, but never go without a light poncho as rains can occur.

30. Do I need hiking shoes for Machu Picchu?

If you just take the standard tour through Machu Picchu, no special hiking shoes are needed. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. If you plan to hike Huayna Picchu or do the Inca Trail you will definitely need hiking shoes.

31. Is taking the Inca Trail worth it?

The Inca trail will take you through the beautiful Urubamba valley, and you will see many other spectacular Inca ruins. It can be crowded, though. Also, Peru is a country of many facets. Depending on your personal preferences it might be better to invest your time into seeing other highlights in Peru.

32. Should I do the 4-day or the 2-day Inca Trail?

If you are into hiking and outdoor adventures, you should definitely do the 4-day Inca Trail. The 2-day Inca trail just covers the last leg of the Inca trail and will only be 4 hours of true hiking. (the other day will be reserved for seeing Machu Picchu).

33. Are there any alternatives to the Inca trail?

If tickets for the Inca Trail are sold, you can also option to do the Salkantay trek, which will take 5 or 7 days. It is an equally beautiful trek, but less crowded

34. Can I take a helicopter flight over Machu Picchu?

Since 2006 there is a flight ban over Machu Picchu. It is not possible to see Machu Picchu from a helicopter or a small plane.

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A comprehensive list of 34 frequently asked questions about Machu Picchu. Planing a trip to the inca ruins? Click for more information!