After getting to Machu Picchu, what is there to do at the ruins?
Once you reach Machu Picchu by train or the Inca Trail, you will finally be able to explore and photograph the city built by the Incas more than five hundred years ago as they expanded their influence from Cusco and the Sacred Valley into the forested mountains that form the transition zone between the Andes and the Amazon basin. And so, what is there to do when you tour Machu Picchu? Below, our own Peru travel experts offer their advice for visiting Machu Picchu.
The first thing to remember, before you get to Machu Picchu, is that you must buy your Machu Picchu entrance ticket as far in advance as possible. Machu Picchu tickets are not available at the entrance to the ruins. They are sold on the official government-run website. Also, if you are planning to climb Huayna Picchu mountain, the iconic peak seen in all the classic Machu Picchu photos, you will need to buy that separate ticket well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Because Machu Picchu has become one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world, stricter rules and regulations have been introduced in recent years to limit visitor numbers and conserve this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since January 2019, several new rules apply to Machu Picchu visits.
Under the new rules, all visitors must hire a guide when touring the ruins. Also, you will have to follow a designated route as part of your tour. You will also have a designated time for entry to the ruins. At the time of booking, you will be required to select an entry time, and you will have a set number of hours to explore the site, along your designated route. You can choose to buy a “Machu Picchu ruins only” ticket, or a “Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu” ticket, which will entitle you to climb the mountain behind the main ruins, for a fabulous panoramic view of the whole site.
Because tickets for Huayna Picchu mountain are popular and availability is limited, another option is the “Machu Picchu ruins and Machu Picchu mountain” ticket. Machu Picchu mountain is well worth the time. It offers an easier climb than the summit of Huayna Picchu, rewarded by great views of the ruins and the surrounding landscape.
Some visitors to Machu Picchu who haven’t had time to hike the Inca Trail choose to walk up to the ruins from the town of Aguas Calientes. It takes most people around 90 minutes to complete the route up the mountain from the town to the entrance to Machu Picchu. To find the trail, follow the route taken by the Machu Picchu shuttle buses as far as the point where the road takes a sharp left turn at a small bridge. After the bridge, turn right along a narrow dirt road until you reach the signposted trailhead.