a stone ruins on Machu Picchu
69537192 - machu picchu ruins in peru

Before you book your flights…

One look and you’re hooked. It only took about 500 years but in July, 2007 the quite literally breathtaking Incan marvel of Machu Picchu was finally recognized as one of the seven “new” wonders of the world. Despite multiple flight connections, lengthy train journeys and all but guaranteed altitude sickness, it became an instant tourism hit thanks in part to enviable photos. Business is booming. To protect the centuries old icon and improve guest experience, strict new ticketing rules for Machu Picchu have been put into place in 2019 in addition to the 2017 rules. If you don’t plan ahead, you may miss it entirely…

a stone buildings on Machu Picchu

New Rules For Machu Picchu Citadel Visitors

Getting to Machu Picchu isn’t cheap, nor is staying anywhere near it; so if you’re going, you want to enjoy the perfect experience. To do so, more advanced planning is required. Effective January 1st, 2019 the UNESCO World Heritage site launched a new ticketing system designed to prevent overcrowding and access abuse. Unpredictable wait times created a decline in visitor satisfaction and to tackle all issues, visitors must now purchase entry tickets in advance, for specific dates and even more specific times with a time limit too. You’ll also need a guide, if it’s your first time.

Machu Picchu Ticket Booking Process

Here’s how it works. Before booking flights, you’d be smart to check current availability for your desired dates, which you can do here on the official ticket website. Adult tickets are roughly $45 U.S. Dollars per person ($150 PEN). Students or children are about half. Once you find availability, your ticket will allow a one hour window on the desired day, based on the entry time you select. If you book an 8AM ticket, it won’t be valid for entry after 9AM. Once inside the park, there’s a 4 hour time limit and no matter what time you book, everyone gets booted at 5:30PM.

Plan Trains, Hotels And Hikes With Safe Timing

Unless you’re staying near the entrance to the Citadel, train journeys, shuttles or hikes to the entrance can be seriously time consuming. A hike from Aguas Calientes or other popular starting points can take over two hours, which is important to note for someone considering a 7AM ticket reservation! Be sure to plan appropriately and view available train schedules to ensure an on time arrival to the Citadel. If you miss your slot, you may be completely out of luck. On the bright side, as of today, there are still tickets available for today so depending on dates you may be able to quickly purchase new tickets in the nick of time.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Hiking from Aguas Calientes does not take over two hours.

    Google Maps might show 2 hours but that’s because it only shows the road, not the hiking path.

    45 minutes for the super fit, up to 100 mins for the layman with breaks. It took me one hour, I am athletic and have long legs, but I’m also a former smoker and the altitude does affect me.

    It is basically a big stair climb, so keep your fitness level in mind and make sure you’re acclimatized before attempting it.

    In any case I highly suggest taking the bus UP, and the stairs DOWN. Save your energy for the citadel!

  2. Hi, I’m looking to buy tickets for January 2020, but the site won’t let me past December 31. Do you know when it will open up for January?

    I don’t know who else to ask, but you seem knowledgeable.

  3. I was confused at first about two-hour travel time until I read the comment by El Gordo. He’s correct about a long stair going straight to the citadel and back. You’d cross lot of roads so watch out for those careening buses!

    There is a shuttle bus service between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu citadel, which I elected to take in 2016. A couple of things worth knowing is that the service is on first-come, first-served basis (that is unless it was changed since then). That means a long queue early in the morning with many visitors wanting to see the citadel in the morning light. The buses are small types with less than 30 or so seats so they fill up quickly. The bus travel takes about 30 minutes unless there’s inclement weather, forcing the buses to travel slower, or unforseenable circumstances such as mechanical failure, backing up the traffic greatly.

    If you are looking for the early morning visit before the sunrise without the hassle of hiking up or riding the buses with other visitors, you can stay at a hotel built next to the entrance. The price is expectedly expensive given the close proximity. Belmond Sanctuary Lodge is the name of this hotel. https://www.belmond.com/hotels/south-america/peru/machu-picchu/belmond-sanctuary-lodge/#bf-hero-widget-accommodations-modal

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