Everybody wants them, everybody needs them, but nobody understands their complexity or the different options that exist. What are we talking about? Machu Picchu tickets. And not many Machu Picchu operators explain which ticket is best for you.
Is it the availability of 4000 tickets per day? No. The new Machu Picchu regulations implemented in January 2019 as well as the ticket options you can choose from are what confuse thousands of travellers most.
It’s like a small child in a candy store: there is this one lollipop but it has different tastes and toppings. So confusing! The child just wants to have the best lolipop, the sweetest and yummiest of them all!
This could be you when deciding which Machu Picchu ticket to get. Why?
Because you need to consider the
- variety and capacity of entrance times to avoid a sold out status,
- hike options to Machu Picchu Mountain, Huayna Picchu or the Sun Gate that are available at specific times or under certain conditions,
- and crucial regulations regarding entering and behaving at Machu Picchu.
After this article, you’ll be perfectly set to decide what ticket time and -type fits best to your preferences, while having the Machu Picchu regulations in mind.
Let’s dive in…
|Table of contents:
The path to Machu Picchu Mountain is full with picturesque views.
General Information & Regulations
We’ll go through it step by step to ensure that you understand the Machu Picchu ticket complexity and the available options.
General Machu Picchu Ticket Information
First of all, it’s worth it knowing about the following facts.
- You’re allowed to enter only once (using the general ticket)
- There are no toilets inside of Machu Picchu. However, restrooms are outside and can be used before or after your guided tour (cost: S/ 1 per usage).
- Your guided tour takes between 2 – 2.5 hours (time comparison of Machu Picchu tours)
Official Machu Picchu Ticket Regulations
Apart from the facts, did you know about the new governmental regulations and prohibitions?
Those were implemented due to past problems with travellers who disrespected Machu Picchu and its visitors.
The most important regulation is that it’s obligatory to have an official Machu Picchu guide that should be included in every tour you’ll find. Further,
you’re not allowed to:
- Smoke normal or electronic cigarettes
- Jump, be noisy, cause disorder or generate tumult
- Climb on walls or lean against them
- Fly a drone
- Remove stones or take them with you.
In addition to enter without problems, don’t bring:
- Brackets, trekking poles or similar objects
- Tripods or extensions for mobile phones and cameras
- Backpacks that exceed more than 5 kilogram
- Heels with hard-plant shoes
With this in mind, we can move on to the different Machu Picchu tickets.
Some of the impressive steep Machu Picchu ruins.
Machu Picchu Tickets
There arethree different Machu Picchu tickets based on the two mountains that you can climb during your visit:
- Machu Picchu Mountain (MPM) and
- Huayna Picchu (HP)
Both hikes are rather difficult and only recommended to travellers that are in good shape.
Regarding the ticket availability, limitations are challenging. Due to the high demand, especially during dry season with up to 4000 visitors per day, those tickets are sold out quickly.
Another hike that was not mentioned yet is the Sun Gate hike. It is not a mountain but a checkpoint from the Inca Trail, and before you’ll learn more about those additional options, we quickly look into the Machu Picchu entry times.
Machu Picchu Ticket Times
|General Machu Picchu Ticket (option to hike to Sun Gate in private tour)
|Hourly entrance from 6 am to 2 pm
|Starts at 6:00 am with 800 spots and lowers to 360 spots at 12:00 pm.
From 1:00 pm onwards there are 540 spots. No limit for the Sun Gate.
|Machu Picchu Ticket + Huayna Picchu (HP)
| First entrance option:
Machu Picchu guided group tour 6am
HP group leaves between 7 – 8 amSecond entrance option:
Machu Picchu guided group tour 8 am
HP groups leave between 10 – 11 am
|400 travellers per day, divided into 200 per shift.
|Machu Picchu Ticket + Machu Picchu Mountain (MPM)
| First entrance option:
Machu Picchu guided tour 6am
MPM groups leave between 7 – 8 amSecond entrance option:
Machu Picchu guided tour 8 am
MPM groups leave between 09 – 10 am
|400 travellers per day, divided into 200 per shift.
Overview of the different Machu Picchu tickets and the respective entrance times
Machu Picchu Group Information
You realize that Machu Picchu group tours with an additional hike included, either to Huayna Picchu (HP) or Machu Picchu Mountain (MPM),only have two entrance times available: at 6 or 8 am.
Now, there are three huge disadvantages of doing Machu Picchu + an additional hike to one of the surrounding mountains in a group instead of a private tour:
- Firstly, you have to join the group tour first and you can only hike the mountain afterwards, not the other way around. You don’t have any flexibility.
- Secondly, you can only stay 1.5 instead of 2.5 hours with your guide at Machu Picchu. After 1.5 hours you’ll have to leave to arrive on time at the meet-up point where the hike starts.
- Thirdly, group tours start at 8 am. Thus, the 6 am tour with the 8 am hike option is only available for private tours.
However, past travellers told us that if you value your time at Machu Picchu and would like to do one of the hikes, you might consider the option of a private Machu Picchu tour. You’ll have the flexibility to do the hike first and later the guided Machu Picchu tour.
Important: Planning to enter Machu Picchu before 8 am? You’ll have to stay overnight in Aguas Calientes and the tour has to be private. Group tours leave from Cusco and enter after 8 am.
Did you know that you’ll find over 150 buildings at Machu Picchu?
Let’s take a quick breath for a moment and process everything.
I hope it all was understandable until now so that we can go on with a quick elaboration on what you can expect from the three optional hikes to Machu Picchu.
Maybe you’d like to make one of them part of your time there?
Optional Hikes at Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu can be seen from different viewpoints.
No matter which location you choose, you’ll have an unforgettable view on Machu Picchu.
1) Sun Gate (Inti Punku)
2) Machu Picchu Mountain
3) Machu Picchu
4) Huayna Picchu Mountain (right at the feet of where the photo was taken)
Which hike would fit you best?
- Sun Gate (1): You like hikes and the other two options (2, 4) are sold out.
- Machu Picchu Mountain (2): You don’t like heights but want to see Machu Picchu from another viewpoint. Moderate hike.
- Huayna Picchu (4): Most thrilling, only for adventurers that are not afraid of heights.
Remember, the altitude is most challenging and thus these hikes are only recommended to travellers with a good level of fitness.
Huayna Picchu is the mountain you see right behind the Machu Picchu city itself when entering the complex. It’s the steepest hike of the 3 Machu Picchu hikes and welcomes those who are looking for an adrenaline kick.
Tip: Because of the thrilling experience and only 400 tickets available per day, this ticket is sold out quickly and should be booked at least 3 to 4 months in advance.
On top of Huayna Picchu with a view over the lost city
In case you’re afraid of heights, you should rather consider the hike to Machu Picchu Mountain instead of Huayna Picchu.
Machu Picchu Mountain
Hiking Machu Picchu Mountain isn’t as difficult as hiking Huayna Picchu. It’s the favorite option for travellers that prefer a less adventurous hike but still seek a beautiful view of Machu Picchu.
Note that you will still face hundreds of stairs on your way there. Calculate with at least 1.5 hours to the top and 1 hour back.
Hiking to one of the two mountains requires that you are in good physical shape.
Both hikes to Machu Picchu Mountain and to Huayna Picchu have to be led by an official guide, which is the reason why you need a ticket for the hike.
If you did not get a ticket for one of the previously mentioned hikes, the one-and-only option to see Machu Picchu from far is from the Sun Gate.
The Sun Gate, also known as Inti Punku, represents the main entrance to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail. Inca Trail participants say it’s their favorite moment of the 4-day hike to Machu Picchu.
With an approximate hike time of in total 2.5 hours you might consider it as an interesting alternative. Important to know is that you can only hike the Sun Gate on a private tour.
Entrance to the Sun Gate looking back to the lost city and Huayna Picchu.
Why It Pays off to Be Informed About the Machu Picchu Tickets
Machu Picchu tickets can be confusing and may lead to frustrations if you don’t understand them well enough.
But no worries, now you aren’t a misinformed traveler anymore! With your gained knowledge you’re perfectly prepared to evaluate which Machu Picchu ticket will make your tour unforgettable.
If you’re in good shape and have some extra time, we definitely recommend doing one of the additional hikes.
The views you get of Machu Picchu are simply breathtaking and something you won’t experience anywhere else.
A final word: In case you plan to hike one of the mountains, be aware of the Machu Picchu weather. Stairs can be slippery and dangerous, depending on when you visit the New Wonder of the World.