How to visit Machu Picchu (Step by Step)

History | The compelling power of the Inca people

If there’s an archeological site that should be on every person’s bucket list, that place has got to be Machu Picchu. Located in the heights of the Peruvian Andes at 2.430 meters above sea level, lays more than just massive blocks of stone and granite that reminisce the prime of an empire that ruled South America’s Pacific coastline 500 years ago. Machu Picchu is a heritage of the Inca Empire that showcases the compelling power of the Inca people and the bold ambition of its creator and ninth Inca Emperor, Pachacuti (Pachacútec).

Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World HopperThe mystery of Machu Picchu’s purpose remains hostage among its ruins. Archeologists are still trying to find clues that would lead today’s modern world researches to concise answers to an audacious Empire that challenged the force of nature and tested their engineering skills without the help of wheels to build a city with palaces, temples, and terraces in an unthinkable location that draws travelers from all over the globe to experience in their skin the enigmatic magic of the Inca spirit in Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World HopperLeaving the history aside, in this article I will break down all the steps you need to follow and things you need to know before visiting Machu Picchu. It can be tricky and a bit confusing but don’t worry, I will try to explain it to you in the most didactic way possible. 😉

Travelers, please note the information in this article is mainly focused on all those who want to visit Machu Picchu on their own without hiring a travel agency. Inca Trail is not being discussed in this article. However, if you have any questions regarding the Inca Trail, feel free to contact me.

Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World HopperMachu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World Hopper

When to visit Machu Picchu

The first thing you need to consider before visiting Machu Picchu is whether you want to visit it during the peak season (dry season) or low season (rainy season). I have been fortunate enough to visit Machu Picchu during both periods —and I’m not saying this to brag— I want to give you an insight into what to expect during the dry and rainy season.

The dry season goes from April to October. May, June, and July are the best months to visit Machu Picchu.

The rainy season goes from November to March. Despite what many may think, it does not rain throughout the day and light showers may happen either in the early morning hours or late afternoon.

How to get to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is located at 2.430 meters above sea level amid the Andes Mountains and the easiest and fastest way to make it over there is flying to the city of Cusco. However, you can also make your way to Cusco by land from Lima; I’m giving you more details below 😉

Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World HopperMachu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World HopperMachu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World Hopper

Lima to Cusco

Cusco is a charming and colonial city that once served as the cradle of the Inca Empire and now is considered to be one of Peru’s most visited hotspots due to its history and proximity to Machu Picchu.Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World HopperMachu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World Hopper

By Air
The nearest airport to Machu Picchu is in Cusco. There are currently several airlines such as Amaszonas, LATAM, Avianca, Viva Air Peru and Sky Airline, serving direct and none-direct flights to Cusco from major South American cities but the most common route is from Lima which takes roughly one hour.

By Land
A fun and inexpensive way to get to Cusco from Lima is by bus onboard Peru’s most reliable bus company, Cruz del Sur. The journey takes nearly 24-hours and VIP seats offer in-seat entertainment and food onboard for about S/.185 depending on the season.

Cusco or Ollantaytambo as a base

Despite most travelers chose Cusco as their base for a few well-spent days before and after visiting Machu Picchu, some travelers chose Ollantaytambo or Poroy instead to run away from the swarm of travelers in the streets of Cusco during peak season.Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World Hopper

How to book your entrance to Machu Picchu

Entrances to Machu Picchu, as well as a visit to Waynapicchu, can be purchased online directly on Machu Picchu’s official government website. Please check the availability calendar and book your entrance before booking your train ticket. More info below.

Visits to Waynapicchu are limited and entrances are assigned a specific time. Please make sure you are at the Waynapicchu check-in point inside Machu Picchu at the designated time. 😊

Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World HopperMachu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World Hopper

How to get to Aguas Calientes

There’re three ways to get to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo). The most popular option is by train from Ollantaytambo, by foot through the ruta hidroeléctrica (hydroelectric route) which takes 2 hours, or through the Inca Trail which takes up to 4 days. Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo) is your last stop before entering the Inca citadel. I highly recommended to spend a few days, or at least one night, in Aguas Calientes prior to your visit to Machu Picchu. There are countless hostels and restaurants in town as well as a very popular Hot Spring.Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World Hopper

How to book a train to Aguas Calientes

There’re two companies that offer train services to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo), the last town before entering Machu Picchu Inca citadel: Incarail and Perurail. Both companies offer very similar rates. All tickets include the bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and back and the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo) and back. Return tickets can be purchased the same day or with a several-day gap in between.

If departing from Cusco, the chosen company will take you on a 2-hours drive from Cusco to Ollantaytambo where you will then catch the infamous train to Aguas Calientes.

If departing from Ollantaytambo, you will simply need to proceed to the train station to board your train.

If you have time, I highly recommend booking your train to Aguas Calientes a few days, or at least one night, before your visit. It is less stressful and you won’t need to wake up at 3-4 am to make the long journey all the way to Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World Hopper

Going up Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Once you are in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo), you may book a bus from town all the way to the entrance of the Inca citadel. Bus tickets can be purchased at the bus office in Aguas Calientes a day before your visit. You might stand in line hours on end on peak season so make sure you book your tickets as soon as possible. Tickets cost between 12 USD one way. If you are up for some adventure, you may go on a 2-hour hike on steep steps in the middle of the jungle to the entrance of Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru, The World Hopper


Learn the meaning of these vocabulary words in Quechua!


“Machu” means old/ ancient, and “Picchu” means mountain. Therefore, Machu Picchu translates as “Old Mountain.”


“Wayna” means young, and “Picchu” means mountain. Therefore, Wayna Picchu translates as “New Mountain.”


‘Inca’ in Quechua, literally translates to ‘lord, king’.


● Some travelers suffer from altitude sickness in Cusco due to its altitude of 3.399 meters above sea level. Spending a few days in Cusco to get used to the altitude will most likely help you kill that altitude sickness for a pleasant visit to Machu Picchu.

● Coca leaves are a common natural legal medicine to battle altitude sickness. Feel free to try a coca tea, coca candy or even chew on coca leaves. 😛

● I highly recommend you to hire one of the official tour guides standing at the entrance of Machu Picchu for a complete and enhanced visit.

● There are free walking tours in Cusco every day. The meeting point is at Plaza de Armas. Take a stroll around there and join a group for an excellent opportunity to take a closer look at Cusco’s history.


Written & Photographed
by Lipe Planells

Other Posts

perito moreno, glacier, patagonia, argentina, chile, the world hopper

How to visit Perito Moreno Glacier

Welcome to Perito Moreno glacier, the world’s most accessible ice field No other physical force has been more accountable for sculpturing and shaping the surface of the earth like ice. The imposing superpower and strength of glaciers have been responsible for molding valleys, lakes, and fiords around the globe for millions of years. As a...
Read More

What to See in the Atacama Desert (With Inspiring Pictures)

There is a place that already existed as we know of it today way back to the time when dinosaurs walked the planet and the Earth was undergoing severe geological transformations. That place is called the Atacama Desert, the oldest desert on the planet dating back to 150 million years. Located in the North of...
Read More

How to visit Machu Picchu (Step by Step)

History | The compelling power of the Inca people If there’s an archeological site that should be on every person’s bucket list, that place has got to be Machu Picchu. Located in the heights of the Peruvian Andes at 2.430 meters above sea level, lays more than just massive blocks of stone and granite that...
Read More
Valensole, Provence lavender fields, the world hopper

Visiting the Lavender Fields of Valensole, France

One of the most picture-perfect experiences for any traveler and photographer alike is witnessing the charming endless lavender fields of France’s Provence region during the European summer. From mid-June to early July, the French Provence is covered with an unmistakable fragrance that emerges from the endless fields tainted with a purple thin layer of lavender....
Read More
Bwindi Impenetrabel Forest, Uganda, mountain gorillas, gorilla trekking, baby gorilla, the world hopper

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

The fascinating idea to venture deep into the jungle of Eastern Africa in search of the endangered mountain gorilla is — in the mind of many— nothing but something only a National Geographic’s explorer could do. Well, I have great news for you; Uganda has gained popularity in recent years for being a tourist-friendly destination...
Read More
La casa del desierto, gorafe, glass house, the world hopper

Sleeping in a Glass House in the Spanish Desert

I have always been drawn to deserts and when I was giving the opportunity to sleep in a glass house in the middle of the Spanish Desert of Gorafe, I immediately jumped on board. I was mesmerized by the fascinating location and unique accommodation style from the very beginning and I couldn’t resist. The Creators...
Read More
Top safari destinations in africa, the world hopper

Top Safari Destinations in Africa

Deciding which country to go to in Africa for your so-long dreamed safari adventure can easily become a dilemma. And truth is, Africa is a limitless continent with incredible national parks and game reserves that would be the perfect scenario for a brilliant safari experience but, which national park should you visit? Below is a...
Read More

Visiting Holland’s Amazing Tulip Fields

Be ready to be mesmerized by Holland’s tulip fields, the world’s  largest flower gardens. Every year, Holland’s grounds serve as a massive colorful garden for millions of crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips, as they come into bloom covering half of the country with an incredible and marvelous ocean of flowers, especially in Keukenhof, known as the...
Read More

Meet Sri Lanka: Lonely Planet’s Top Country in 2019

Sri Lanka will seduce you with extraordinary experiences. The word is out: Sri Lanka is Lonely Planet‘s Top Country to visit in 2019 in the guide’s annual tally. I personally wonder why it has taken it so long for Sri Lanka to be acknowledged as a top destination to visit. Despite its proximity to the remarkable...
Read More

20 Experiences that will make you want to visit Africa

Africa offers countless epic lifetime experiences for those willing to venture deep into its lands. Africa! Oh, Africa! I get excited by simply writing or pronouncing its name. The truth is that Africa has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. And I’m quite sure it all begun when I...
Read More


- Instagram feed not found.

Leave a Reply

COVID-19 | Spain New Health Control Process. Please visit

Got it!