Planning Your First Trip to Machu Picchu: A Comprehensive Guide

by | Oct 4, 2023 | Inca Trail, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Machu Picchu guiding Tour

Are you a first-timer planning a trip to visit Machu Picchu? Look no further! This guide will provide you with all the information you need to ensure a memorable and hassle-free experience. Discover the best tips, tricks, and must-knows for exploring this iconic destination. Don’t miss out on this incredible adventure!

Machu Picchu is the most popular Travel destination in Peru, – it’s an incredible place to visit once in a lifetime. If you’re planning to visit Machupicchu, there are a few things you should know to make the most of your trip to Peru.

To begin with, it is crucial to plan ahead and purchase tickets in advance. The entire site is limited to a specific number of visitors, so it’s important to secure your spot early on. Entrance Tickets to Machu Picchu usually go on sale about months before the desired date of visit and they sell out quickly, so don’t wait until the last minute! You can easily purchase Machu Picchu tickets through the official Machu Picchu official website.

How to get to Lima, the Capital of Peru, From The United States

When I am Traveling to Peru from San Francisco, CA, typically takes me around 14 to 16 hours, depending on the specific flight and layover durations. The journey generally involves a transit in Lima, the capital city of Peru. From Lima, you will need to catch a domestic flight to Cusco city, which is the closest city to Machu Picchu.

The flight from Lima to Cusco usually takes about an hour. Once in Cusco, you can take a train to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. From Aguas Calientes, it’s a short, steep bus ride 30 minutes to the entrance of Machu Picchu.

SF to Dallas: 4 Hours approx, and

From Dallas, TX to Lima: 9 Hours Approximately

The First flight to Cusco Embarkation time is 4:15 am: Arrive time to Cusco by 5:40 am

There are Various Options for Flying to Lima Nonstop.

American Airlines flies nonstop to Lima’s Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM) from Miami International Airport (MIA) and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). LATAM Airlines offers service to the city from MIA, John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

While SkyTeam partner Delta Air Lines flies from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). United Airlines also flies to Lima from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), and Florida dwellers have even more options from MIA thanks to JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines, both of which fly nonstop to Lima.

Why To Visit Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is often regarded as one of the most sought-after travel destinations globally—a city shrouded in mystery and allure. Nestled high in the Andean mountains, it holds numerous secrets about the ancient Incan Empire, rendering it a paradise for knowledge seekers. The city’s archaeological significance, accompanied by intriguing insights into the scientific and religious practices of the Incas, presents a captivating journey back in time.

On a trip to Machu Picchu, you can uncover the rich tapestry of Peruvian culture and savor the country’s sublime gastronomy. Staying awhile allows you to venture beyond Machu Picchu and explore some of Peru’s other historical wonders like the vast, mysterious images inscribed into the hills of the Nazca Valley—their origins are still a topic of debate among historians.

And Peru is not just about history and culture; its natural beauty is equally stunning. From tasting tangy ceviche, beholding the striking rainbow-striped mountain, and visiting a desert oasis that mirrors a picturesque painting rather than an actual locale, to relishing numerous Pisco sours, your trip to Peru promises to be a memorable one. So why wait? Start planning your dream visit to Machu Picchu today!

There are only three ways to visit Machu Picchu

When planning a visit to Machu Picchu, it’s crucial to remember that there are only three ways to reach this magnificent Inca site: by train, by hiking the classic Inca Trail group service, or by exploring an alternative trail that leads to Machupicchu.

Machu Picchu by Train is by far the most popular option, as it’s much easier and faster than hiking. However, if you do choose to hike the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most stunning views. But You need to Book the Trail 6 Months in advance with an official Inca Trail tour operator.

Where to Stay And Eat In Cusco

Cusco is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. The site was once the capital of the Inca Empire and is now known for its Spanish colonial architecture as well as its indigenous heritage. Cusco is also a gateway to Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. If you’re planning a trip to Cusco, here are a few travel tips to help you make the most of your time in this fascinating city.

Where to Stay in Cusco: There are several great hotels and hostels in Cusco, ranging from budget-friendly accommodations to luxury properties. For those on a tight budget, Hostels offers several options for under $70 per night. If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, the Monastery Hotel is a popular choice among travelers.

Where to Eat and Drink in Cusco: There are plenty of great places to eat and drink in Cusco. For traditional Peruvian cuisine, check out Restaurant Malkun or La Casa Nostra, La Chicha Restaurant (recommended) For something lighter, El Encuentro Café offers sandwiches, salads, and soups.

Vegetarian Restaurants Cusco: Green Point Vegan Restaurant, Chia Vegan Restaurant, Vida Vegan Vistro.

For those who want to experience Cusco’s nightlife scene, there are several bars and clubs located around Plaza de Armas, such as Mama Africa and Lost City Disco Bar, LA Republica De El Pisco.

What to Do in Cusco BeforeBest Visit Machu Picchu

There’s no shortage of things to do in Cusco. Beyond exploring the city’s abundant museums and archaeological sites, you should also take advantage of the outdoor activities on offer, which include hiking, mountain biking, and rafting.

Day Tours and Attractions Before Visit Machu Picchu

Peru is home to numerous Natural attractions and national parks. If you’re specifically planning to visit Machu Picchu, it’s worth considering Day trips in Cusco:

Cusco Day Tour:

  • City Tour Cusco ( Sightseeing Tour )
  • Sacred Valley Cusco ( Sightseeing Tour )
  • Rainbow Mountain Cusco Peru ( Challenging Hike More Info Bellow )
  • Humantay Lake Hike (Challenging You can Use Hore)
  • Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain ( Moderate )
  • Inca Bridge Queshuachaka (Tour By Car)

Machu Picchu Pro Tips:

While you’re visiting Machu Picchu, be sure to explore the main temples, as well as wander around to find all of the hidden gems throughout the complex. For some of the best views in Machu Picchu, visit Huayna Picchu Mountain and Machu Picchu Mountain – [ entrance Ticket required ].

By following these Tips To Travel to Machu Picchu, you’re sure to have an incredible experience in a wonderful Inka city.

When is The Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu, the awe-inspiring ancient Inca citadel, offers visitors a fascinating journey into history. However, one might wonder, when is the ideal time to experience the magic of this remarkable Lost City Of The Incas?

The answer depends on several factors, including your budget, your travel plans, and your personal preferences. If you want to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit Machu Picchu is during the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October. These months offer milder weather than the peak tourist season (May/September), and you’ll still be able to enjoy all that Machu Picchu has to offer.

Prices might be more expensive to book a trip during the June – August months, but it’ll still be worth it in the long run. Our suggestion is always to plan any big trips at least six months out so you have enough time to get everything on hand without any problems.

Pro Tip For Visit Machu Picchu: If you’re looking for a bargain, you may want to visit Machu Picchu during the low season of February-March or November. These months see fewer tourists, so you’ll be able to find better deals on hotels and Tours to Machu Picchu. However, you should be aware that some businesses may be closed during this time, and the weather may not be as ideal.

How to Prevent Altitude Siccnes In Machu Picchu

If you’re like most travelers, you probably don’t give much consideration to how you’ll adapt when you reach a new destination.

After all, isn’t it just a matter of adjusting to the new environment? While it’s true that acclimation is a natural part of the travel experience, there are steps you can take to ease the transition. This is particularly important when visiting Machu Picchu, situated at an elevation of 7,972 feet above sea level.

Here are a few tips on how to get acclimated when you arrive in Cusco

Drink plenty of Water: It is important to stay hydrated when you are acclimating to a new altitude. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate your body.

Eat light meals: Eating light meals will help your body adjust to the new altitude. Avoid fatty foods and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Take it easy: Don’t push yourself too hard when you first arrive. Take it easy for the first few days and let your body adjust before you start exploring the Cusco area.

Get plenty of rest: Getting enough sleep will help your body recover from the stresses of travel and acclimation. Make sure to get at least eight hours of sleep each night.

Drink Coca Tea: Drinking coca tea is a tradition in Peru, and it can also help with acclimation. The tea contains coca leaves, which have been used for centuries to help people adjust to high altitudes.

If you follow these tips, you should have no problem acclimating to the altitude in Machu Picchu. Just remember to take it easy and give yourself time to adjust.

How To Choose The Right Tour Operator To Make the Most While Visiting Machu Picchu

There are a lot of tour operators out there, and it can be difficult to know which one to choose for your Machu Picchu Tours. Here are a few things to consider when making your decision:

Do your research: It’s important to do your research before booking a tour. Read reviews, compare prices, and look at what each tour operator has to offer.

Consider your budget: Don’t overspend on your trip. Choose a tour operator that offers a Peru Tour Packages price that also fits within your budget.

Consider in your travel plans to hike the Inca trail: Select a tour operator that provides a tour aligned with your travel plans. If your intention is to embark on the Inca Trail, ensure that the tour operator includes this option in their offerings.

Consider your personal preferences: Choose a tour operator that offers a tour that matches your personal preferences. If you want an intimate experience, for example, make sure the tour operator you choose offers small group tours, Family Tours, or Machu Picchu honeymoon Tours

Carefully considering these factors will assist you in selecting the ideal tour operator for your visit to the magnificent Machu Picchu.

There Are 3 Ways To Get to Machu Picchu From Cusco

1. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail is a four-day hike that takes you through beautiful mountains, cloud forests, and ancient Inca ruins. It’s a physically challenging journey, but those who complete it say that the breathtaking views of Machu Picchu at sunrise make the effort worthwhile. Prices for the Inca Trail vary, but they generally include camping equipment, meals, and a guide.

Note: If you are short on time you can visit Machu Picchu by hiking the the 2 days Inca Trail with Hotel

2. Train Ride Through Ollantaytambo

This is the most popular way to reach Machu Picchu. The journey is quite scenic, taking you past the beautiful Urubamba River and Andean villages. The Machu Picchu by train departs from Ollantaytambo, which is about a 1.5-hour drive from Cusco. Prices for the train ride vary depending on the service class chosen.

3. Alternative Route Through Hydroelectric

An alternative route to reach Machu Picchu is through Hydroelectric. This route involves a bus ride to the Hydroelectric Station followed by a 2-3 hour hike along the railway tracks to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. This option is the most budget-friendly but is also the most tiring.

Other Alternative trail to Machu Picchu:

  1. Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5 days
  2. Lares Valley trek to Machu Picchu 4 days
  3. Ancascocha Trek 5 Days ( Recomended )
  4. Luxury Inca Trail 5 Days ( Optional)
  5. Private Inca Trail ( for Families )

Each of these options offers a unique experience and varies in terms of travel time and cost. Your choice will ultimately depend on your personal preferences, budget, and the kind of adventure you seek. Remember to book in advance as tickets tend to sell out quickly, especially during peak travel seasons. Enjoy your journey to this world-renowned Inca citadel!

How to Visit Macchu Picchu By Train

First Cusco Train Station:

The Cusco train station isn’t actually located in the heart of Cusco city but in a nearby town named Poroy. It’s a relatively short distance, with a taxi ride setting you back no more than $20. However, to ensure you don’t miss your train, it’s recommended to leave at least 45 minutes for the journey from Cusco Main Plaza to the Poroy station. During peak times, you might even need to allow a bit more time. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to catching your train to Machu Picchu!

Second Cusco Train Station:

The second train station is in Ollantaytambo, often referred to as the Sacred Valley, and is located around three hours away from Cusco. The train journey to Machu Picchu, from this station, takes approximately two hours.

Be prepared, as the traffic en route to Ollantaytambo can be brutal, and seemingly never-ending road work can add to the congestion, making the journey seem even longer than anticipated. Therefore, it’s advisable to factor in these potential delays when planning your departure time from Cusco to ensure you don’t miss your train to Machu Picchu.

Consider this when planning out how long you’ll need for any given destination while traveling through Peru with its incredible sights (and distances).

What is the Main Road like to Machu Picchu?

The main road to Machu Picchu, whether you’re coming from Cusco, Ollantaytambo, or Hydroelectric Town, is well-maintained, providing a smooth and comfortable journey for travelers. The Peruvian government recognizes the importance of this World Heritage Site and ensures the routes leading to it are in optimal condition, allowing visitors from all corners of the globe easy access to this remarkable location.

The picturesque landscapes on the way add a captivating charm to the journey, making the entire experience unforgettable. Despite the high altitude and often twisty routes, the sturdy construction of the roads ensures your safety and comfort throughout the ride.

Is the Alternative road to Machu Picchu challenging?

Nestled in the southern region of Cusco, this road presents a formidable challenge with its 14 sharp turns, narrow pathways, and steep inclines reaching a maximum gradient of 27% on certain sections. It is certainly not recommended for the faint-hearted.

How To Choose The Train Rides To Machu Picchu

While all three companies offer similar destinations to Aguas Calientes town, it is important to consider some key differences when deciding which company to book with.

Inca Rail: offers the shortest journey time, at just over three hours you can only get onboard from Ollantaytambo.

Peru Rail Train: This is the most popular option. The train schedule is expensive according to the horaries, but it includes a stop at the Ollantaytambo train Station before arriving at Machu Picchu.

Belmont Hiram Bingham Train: This is the only company that offers luxury service, with an onboard bar and restaurant car. Ultimately, the best train company for you will depend on your budget and your travel preferences.

It’s best to book your train ticket as soon as you know your travel dates. Tickets can sell out weeks in advance, especially during peak months.

Train From Ollantaytambo Station

Don’t worry if you can’t find any train tickets from Poroy train Station- there are always buses. Instead. You buy your train ticket to Aguas Calientes which departs from the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley.

Getting There: Taxi, Minivan, or an Overnight Stay?

If you’re short on time, the quickest way to reach Ollantaytambo is by taking a taxi or minivan, which takes just over an hour and 40 minutes. However, if you have a bit more flexibility in your schedule, consider transforming your journey into an exploratory adventure.

Plan an overnight stay in Ollantaytambo and immerse yourself in the rich Incan history that permeates the village. The cobblestone streets and age-old buildings whisper tales of a bygone era, offering a unique historical perspective. Don’t miss out on the delightful archaeological sites that dot the landscape.

Consider taking the Sacred Valley Tour, which brings you face-to-face with the majesty of the Incan empire. The tour concludes in Ollantaytambo, giving you the chance to spend the night in this charming village. The next morning, you can board the train from Ollantaytambo Train Station to Machu Picchu, refreshed and ready for the exciting journey ahead. Remember, the essence of traveling lies not just in the destination, but also in the voyage that leads you there.

To experience all that Peru has to offer, you can’t beat a stay at one of these luxurious hotels in Urubamba. If comfort is what matters most then there is plenty for your taste and budget: from colonial-style houses, perfect for locals looking not only for immediate access but also low prices; big name chains like Hotels – which offer everything from five-star stays along the sacred valley of the Incas.

Up through family suites with poolside cabanas! All come complete with superior amenities such as spas, restaurants, and gymnasiums.

5 Star Hotels | Sacred Valley, Peru

Recommend Hotels in Cusco

  1. El Monasterio Hotel ( Cusco )
  2. Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge
  3. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel ( Aguas Calientes Town)
  4. Palacio Nazarenas ( Cusco)
  5. Belmond Sanctuary Lodge ( Machu Picchu )
  6. Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort and spa ( Urubamba )

These are only a few of the most recommended places to stay while in Cusco – Machu Picchu for more ideas, check out our complete list of the best hotels in Machu Picchu Peru!

The 4-Day Inca Trail is the most popular hike to Machu Picchu. The classic four-day hike takes hikers through some of the most stunning scenery in the Peruvian Andes, culminating with a sunrise visit to the lost city of the Incas.

The Inca Trail is not the only option for reaching Machu Picchu. There are several alternative trails that offer hikers a different experience.

Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

This is one of the shortest hikes, the two-day Inca Trail is a great option. This trail covers the day hike from km 104 to the Sun Gate. As a result, hikers don’t have as much time to enjoy the scenery, but they do get to experience all of the highlights of the Inca Trail in just two days.

Looking for a more challenging hike, there are several alternative hikes to Machu Picchu.

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu 5 Days: The Salkantay Trek is a five-day trek that takes hikers through some of the most remote and beautiful parts of the Peruvian Andes this trek is cataloged as one of the best hiking treks by national geographic.

Lares Valley Trek 4 day: The Lares Trek is another option for those looking for a challenge, and it can be done in three or four days.

Finally, the Inca Jungle Trek 4-5 Days is an adventure trek that combines hiking with biking, rafting, and zip-lining. This trek can be done in four or five days.

Hiking to Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience. With its stunning scenery and rich history, it’s no wonder that Machu Picchu is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Things to Know Before You Visit to Machu Picchu

First: make sure to bring your Machu Picchu entrance ticket and passport.

Most people need a day or two in Cusco to adjust to the high altitude before embarking on any strenuous activities. Also, remember to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun. The UV rays at high altitudes can be surprisingly intense, even on cloudy days, so it’s important to apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and carry sunglasses.

Ensure a seamless experience by securing your tickets in advance. Machu Picchu, with a daily limit of 4,500 visitors, mandates pre-purchase of tickets for each year

So it’s essential to secure your spot as early as possible. Do remember that the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance every February, so plan your trip accordingly.

Lastly, don’t forget to pack appropriately. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring layers of clothes to adjust to the varying temperatures throughout the day. Rain is common in the mountains, so a waterproof jacket or rain poncho.

Remember to respect the Inca site and follow the established trails, as Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to help preserve it for future generations. Happy planning!

Secondly: don’t bring any food or drinks to the Inca site – there are plenty of options available for purchase once you’re outside of the park.

Finally: don’t miss the bus! buses run regularly from Aguascalientes to Machu Picchu and back, and it’s the most efficient way to get around. Depending on your schedule, you can take a morning or afternoon bus.

Once you’re at Machu Picchu, there are plenty of things to see and do. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike up Huayna Picchu Mountain or Machu Picchu Mountain Peak both require additional tickets.

Hire a private tour guide – required: Tour Guides are required for Machu Picchu Walking Tours, whether you’re on an organized tour or traveling independently. Hire one outside the gates, or make a booking in Aguas Calientes.

Be sure to find a knowledgeable guide – they’ll help make your experience even more enriching. And finally, don’t forget to stay for lunch! Sanctuary Lodge’s buffet prepares delicious meals using fresh ingredients from the local area. You won’t be disappointed.

What To Do In Agaus Calientes

There are a few different accommodation options in Aguas Calientes, depending on your budget and preferences. For those on a tight budget, there are several hostels available. These are basic but clean and comfortable and provide a great option for budget-minded travelers.

For those looking for something a bit nicer, there are several hotels in Aguas Calientes. These are typically family-run businesses and offer a more personal touch than larger chain hotels.

Finally, for those looking for luxury accommodations, the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is a great option. This five-star hotel offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and features an on-site spa and restaurant.

Where To Eat in Aguas Calientes

There are several great restaurants in Aguas Calientes, ranging from local cafes to fine dining establishments. For a quick and cheap meal, stop by one of the many cafes or bakeries. These serve up sandwiches, pastries, and other simple fare.

For something a bit more substantial, there are several restaurants that serve traditional Peruvian dishes. These range from casual to formal and offer a great way to try some of the local cuisines.

Finally, for a truly special dining experience, make a reservation at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel restaurant Another option is Indio Feliz French Peruvian restaurant. You will also need a reservation. This fine dining restaurant serves gourmet cuisine, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients.

Things to Do In Aguas Calientes After or Before Your Tour In Machu Picchu

For those interested in history, culture, and archaeology, the Machu Picchu Inca Museum is a must-see. A visit here can be done as part of an organized tour or independently is only 45 min from the town.

For those looking to get away from the crowds, there are several hikes available in the area. These range from easy to strenuous and offer a great way to explore the stunning scenery of the Mandor Waterfall. If you are interested in bird watching, this is the right spot.

Finally, for those looking to relax and rejuvenate, the massage spot available is a great option.

This world-class spa offers a variety of treatments, using locally sourced ingredients.

What To Pack For Machu Picchu

What an amazing view from Machu Picchu! If only I had known what to pack for Machu Picchu before my trip. Lucky for you, I’m going to share with you everything you’ll need for your visit so that you can enjoy every minute of this unforgettable experience! Whatever the weather is like during your time in Peru, be sure to bring a jacket- it can get chilly at night!

You’ll also want to have sunscreen, insect repellent (especially if you’re visiting during the rainy season), water and snacks, and money for entrance fees and souvenirs. If you’re planning to hike Huayna Picchu or climb Machu Picchu Mountain, make sure to bring sturdy shoes and plenty of water.

And finally, don’t forget your camera- between the ancient ruins and stunning landscape, there will be plenty of photo opportunities! Enjoy your visit to Machu Picchu- it’s a trip you won’t regret!

1. Passport

The most crucial detail you need to remember is that you won’t be able to gain entry into the site without your passport as your ticket will have the same information. Plus, it’s pretty neat to get a Machu Picchu stamp in your passport upon entry as a souvenir!

2. Extra Cash

A few items, like snacks, are not allowed inside Machu Picchu. If you bring any banned items with you, you’ll need to store them in a locker outside or keep them with you at the restaurant.

3. Water

Snacks have been banned from Machu Picchu nowadays due to littering on the ancient site. You are also not allowed to take in water in plastic bottles. However, you can fill up a flask or camelback and take that in with no problem.

4. Camera

You can’t go to one of the most amazing sights in the world and leave with no photos. There are so many iconic images to capture, and you’ll want to make sure you remember your trip forever.

5. Bug Spray

One of the most important items you need to double-check is in your day pack. The bugs aren’t dangerous, but man, will they bite! It’s not rare to see visitors wandering around Cusco with shorts and a minimum of 50 bug bites all over their legs.

6. Sun Protection

This includes everything you need to help protect your eyes and skin from the hot Cusco sun. Remember that you are at a higher altitude here so the sun can burn and do damage a lot quicker than at lower levels.

7. Thin Clothes

Most of the year, Machu Picchu is very sunny and can be hot. First thing in the morning, not so much, but it soon warms up. You’ll be walking around a lot of the time so it will get even hotter.

It’s a good idea to have some thin long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt.

8. Comfortable Footwear

Some of you may go to Machu Picchu for the day and then head back to Cusco, and some of you may have been on a trek for days before visiting. Whichever one you do, you’ll want to have comfy shoes.

9. Light Waterproof

Even if you get to the top and the sun is shining brightly, that doesn’t mean that rain isn’t on the cards. The weather in Cusco is highly unpredictable and it’s ALWAYS a good idea to have some waterproofs on you, whether it be a raincoat or a poncho.

10. Swimming Suit

If you get to Aguas Calientes the day before you visit Machu Picchu, you will likely have some time to visit the hot springs in the town. They are very relaxing after a few days of trekking and are a welcome rest for anyone who’s been touring Cusco for a few days.


Machu Picchu is an amazing place that everyone should visit at least once in their lives. By following these tips, you can make the most of your trip and create memories that will last a lifetime. If you have any questions or would like more information about Machu Picchu, please let me know in the comments below. I hope you have a wonderful time on your travels!


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