Established around 1450 CE and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu is on everyone’s list when travelling to South America. Over the last few years the citadel ruins are showing increasing signs of damage from high visitor numbers. In an effort to protect and preserve the ruins for future generations of Peruvians and travellers, the authorities have implemented a circuit and timed ticket entries system.
Depending on whether you want to summit mountains, visit temples or take incredible photographs, in order for you to have the best experience during your visit, it’s important that you choose the right ticket for you. There are 4 ticket types that have different entry times, circuit options and visit time limits. If you don’t know your Huayna Picchu from your Huchuy Picchu, don’t worry, it’s all explained below.
Visiting Rules and Regulations
- All visitors must show their valid ticket and passport at the entrance to Machu Picchu.
- The entry ticket entitles you to a single entry. It is not possible to leave and re-enter the citadel with the same ticket (exception: Machu Picchu + Mountain tickets). Please note there are no bathroom facilities within the Machu Picchu complex. Leaving to use the bathroom and then re-entering Machu Picchu is not allowed.
- You cannot take large bags or disposable bottles into the citadel. You may only carry one small bag with you. Walking sticks are only allowed for physically challenged or elderly visitors.
- Each ticket has a designated admission time. You cannot enter the complex before your admission time.
Areas of Interest
There are 4 main areas of interest within of the Machu Picchu complex:
Machu Picchu Citadel
Machu Picchu Mountain
Machu Picchu Citadel
With this ticket you can tour Machu Picchu and see more than the 150 structures that make up the city. You will see temples, terraces, residences, water channels and some other structures whose construction is still a huge mystery. This is the heart of the Incan city and gives you a fantastic insight into the lives of its inhabitants. Some paths may have some rocky sections, with uneven ground, however the citadel is very accessible and presents few physical challenges.
Huayna Picchu is one of the mountain peaks that surround Machu Picchu. It is probably the most famous as it towers over Machu Picchu in the background in many photos. The ascent takes place on a narrow and extremely steep path and takes around 45 – 60 minutes, depending on the pace. Once at the summit, a fantastic view of the whole of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains awaits. Since the path is very narrow and exposed in some places, we recommend this hike for experienced and sure-footed hikers. We highly recommend sturdy shoes.
For athletic and adventurous travellers you may also wish to visit the Temple of the Moon on the back side of Huayna Picchu. It is a challenging hike, taking around 4 hours roundtrip from the Huayna Picchu control point.
Huchuy Picchu is something like the little brother of Wayna Picchu. Until 2020 this optional visit was included in the entrance fee for Wayna Picchu, but since 2021 there are separate tickets for this hike.
Huchuy Picchu is right next to the checkpoint at the Sacred Rock and can be reached on a hike of around 15 minutes. Compared to the other options, this hike is significantly easier and shorter and therefore also possible for less experienced travelers.
Machu Picchu Mountain
Machu Picchu Mountain, which is also the Apu (sacred mountain) for the complex, is located south of the citadel, opposite Wayna Picchu. The hike partly leads through dense vegetation, but always rewards you with great views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding area. It takes about 90 minutes to get to the top of Machu Picchu Mountain, depending on your pace. The path leads over a lot of stairs. We recommend having a good physical condition and sturdy shoes for this route.
Access to Machu Picchu Mountain is directly via the first part of Routes 1/2 to the control point. After the descent, however, it is not possible to continue along these routes and you have to leave Machu Picchu along the same path (as do the guests who reach Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail from the Sun Gate). For this reason, a ticket including Machu Picchu Mountain allows you to re-enter the citadel complex after your hike to complete Circuit number 3.
|Ticket Type||Circuit Options||Max visit time||Entry Times||Re-entry allowed?||Climb Duration|
|Machu Picchu Only||1 – 4*||4 hours||9 groups: |
6am, 7am, 8am, 9am,10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm
|Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu||4||6 hours||4 groups: |
7am, 8am 9am,10am
|No||2 hours round trip|
|Machu Picchu + Mountain||3||7 hours||2 groups:|
|Yes||4 hours round trip|
|Machu Picchu + Huchuy Picchu||4||6 hours||8 groups: |
7am, 8am, 9am, 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm
|No||45 minutes round trip|
*If you are visiting Machu Picchu with a shared tour, the guide will select which circuit you will take for the tour.
If you are doing a private tour, your circuit choice will be decided between you and your guide.
If you wish to see more than one circuit during your visit you must purchase a second entry ticket.
The Circuit Options
Circuit 1 (High Short tour, red):
This route leads from the entrance through the upper sector, over agricultural terraces, past the guard’s house, through the main entrance to the urban sector, to the sun temple, and from there over the water mirrors in the lower sector back to the exit.
Circuit 2 (High Long tour, dark blue):
This is the most comprehensive route and is the most complete exploration of the citadel. The route leads from the entrance through the upper sector, over agricultural terraces, past the guard’s house, through the main entrance into the urban sector, to the temple of the sun. From there it continues over the temple square and the Intiwatana Pyramid in the upper sector to the sacred rock in the rearmost part of the citadel, and then through the lower sector past the condor temple to the exit.
For travelers with reduced mobility, you can walk along the route to the guard house where you can decide, together with your guide, if you wish to continue along the circuit, go to the lower part of Route 2 or end the visit and go to the exit.
Circuit 3 (Low Short tour, yellow):
This is the shortest of all routes and includes only a small, limited part of the citadel. The route leads over agricultural terraces directly into the lower sector, past the Temple of the Sun, to the house of the Inca, and from there over the water mirrors in the lower sector back to the exit.
This route only requires you to navigate a few stairs and is particularly suitable for people with reduced mobility.
Circuit 4 (Low Long tour, turquoise):
This route also only includes the lower sector, but leads to the rear area of the citadel. The route leads over agricultural terraces directly into the lower sector, past the Temple of the Sun, to the house of the Inca, and on to the sacred rock, and from there to the lower sector past the Condor Temple and back to the exit.
If you are still unsure of which ticket best suits you and your needs, please speak to you Travel Designer, who will help you decide.