Machu Picchu guide

Visiting Machu Picchu: 7 Things You Need to Know

Machu Picchu is one of the most visited tourism destinations in the world, and is a must-visit for any traveller exploring South America. There’s some key tips ‘n’ tricks to know before going though, so follow our guide.

When it comes to bucket list experiences, this is up there with the very best, so here’s how to make the most out of your trip.

Things You Need to Know For Visiting Machu Picchu

1. Book Your Train and Machu Picchu Tickets in Advance

In High Season (July through September), train tickets running from Ollantaytambo and Urubamba to Machu Picchu can often sell out. The same goes for entrance tickets to Machu Picchu itself, so make sure you buy from the official website or through your hotel.

You can also buy tickets in-person from Cusco, Aguas Calientes or any city with a Banco de Nacion.

2. Carry Cash (Particularly Small Notes & Coins)

As well as needing cash for buying little souvenirs from locals, you’ll need you will need to pay one or two soles to use public bathrooms in Peru and the same goes for Machu Picchu. Bear in mind that once you pass the main entrance, there’s no bathrooms anywhere around the site!

3. How to Get to Machu Picchu

The best way to get here? Arrive to Machu Picchu in style on the 360° Train that will bring you through the Peruvian countryside to the ‘lost city’. The wide, panoramic windows are perfect for soaking up the view, plus they serve Pisco Sours on board. You can also get a walk 1-2 hours up the hill, but it’s steep and hard, or you can get a bus from Aguas Calientes.

The bus takes 20 minutes but be prepared to queue up at least three hours before your allocated entrance time, as the lines really are that long.

4. Ask Before Photographing Locals

In popular tourist areas such as Machu Picchu, you’ll see locals dressed in traditional clothing, usually posing with llamas for tourists. This is how they make their living, so unless you don’t mind paying for the privilege, don’t snap photos or you’ll have to pay. In smaller villages, it’s respectful to ask before snapping away.

5. Coca Tea Can Help With the Altitude

Okay yes, it’s the same plant as cocaine – but – and it’s a big but, the leaves contain less than 0.7% of the alkaloid cocaine. Coca leaves have been brewed as tea and chewed by locals in Peru for centuries and have heaps of benefits. It’s a popular remedy for altitude sickness and will perk you up on long hikes!

Image: audrey_sel/Flickr

6. Bring Your Passport With You to Get Stamped!

First of all, you WILL need your official passport to gain entrance into the site. Plus, you can get a fun souvenir stamp from a little office just inside the gate! What better way to commemorate your visit to this iconic destination?

Image: @notsobadgirlrhirhi/Instagram

7. What to Pack for Machu Pichuu:

Most importantly, know that any bags larger than 40 cm x 35 cm x 20 cm (15.7 inches x 13.7 inches x 7.9 inches) will have to be put in a storage locker. Also bring:

  • Bug spray (there’s heaps of sandflies and mosquitoes here!)
  • Sunblock
  • Rain jacket
  • Energy drinks and snacks
Sarah Clayton-Lea
Sarah Clayton-Lea

Co-founder and global head of content of Big 7 Travel, 26-year-old Sarah created the company through her passion for discovering the world's best food and travel experiences. Formerly based in Dublin, Ireland, she now travels the world sharing her finds with our readers - a community that loves travel just as much as we do.

Contact [email protected]

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Brad Erwin
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Thanks for mentioning that you should always ask locals for permission to photograph them when in Machu Picchu because they usually make a living off of tips from photos. My brother is looking to go to Peru in a couple of months to see cool sights and embrace the cultural differences. I will be sure to recommend he always ask permission to take photographs after he has found a good custom guided Machu Picchu tour so that he doesn’t get in trouble with anyone.