The Peruvian government has introduced new rules for visiting the famous Inca ruins. Henceforth Machu Picchu tickets are only valid for 4 hours.
On May 26th the Decentralized Culture Directorate of Cusco (DDC) made a very important announcement that changed everything about your visit to Machu Picchu. Starting from July 2017 you could either buy a Machu Picchu morning ticket (6:00 am to 12:00 am) or an afternoon ticket (12:00 am to 5:30 pm).
In 2019 this rule has changed further. Visitors now have to pick an exact time slot when they want to enter, starting from 6:00 am until 2:00 pm. Tickets will be then valid for 4 hours!
Naturally, you are now wondering which time is the best. Worry not, I got you covered. Here is everything you need to know about the new Machu Picchu tickets:
Note: I earn a small commission for purchases made through links in this article.
First of all, you really should read my ultimate guide to Machu Picchu, which basically covers everything you ever need to know about the ancient Inca ruin (4.200 words!). You might also want to read my Machu Picchu packing list. After that, come back to this article, so you got a good basis to decide which ticket you will need.
The new ticket system was implemented, to protect Machu Picchu. After all, the UNESCO previously put it on the list of endangered World Heritage sites (but revoked the status in Feburary 2016). Important as the lost citadel of the Incas is for the Peruvian tourist industry, the authorities are obviously quite interested in preserving the sacred site the way it is.
Critics might want to add, that it also enables them to bank on the ever-increasing tourist hordes even more. Currently, there are also plans set into motion to build a cable car, and a permanent road into Aguas Calientes, which is currently only accessible via train or on foot.
Still, previously, most tourists were visiting in the morning, but leavening Machu Picchu a bit afternoon. That sort of rush hour obviously put a huge strain on the ruins. In 2015 alone, there were more than 1.4 million tourists, while thirty years ago it was barely 100.000.
The DDCC concluded that with the new ticket system, more tourists can see the ruins & help to alleviate the perils crowded pathways pose for the quite fragile ruins. With that being said, let’s see which one you should pick.
Machu Picchu morning ticket
Admission between: 6:00 am – 10:00 am
Cost: 152 soles (46 US-Dollar)
Do you want to experience the Inca citadel in the morning? Then you have to pick a Machu Picchu morning ticket that gains you access to the Inca ruins between 6:00 am and 10:00 am. This was previously the busiest time of the day in the ruins. It’s hard to say if the new ticket system will help to fight the morning crowds, but as of August 2019, the early morning slots sell out the fastest!
If you want to see the sunrise (~6:30 am) above Machu Picchu, you really have to get the 6:00 am ticket. There’s only one hotel at the gates of Machu Picchu (read my review here) and this is your most comfortable option to be inside Machu Picchu in time to see the first light of the day. For many, a magical, even spiritual moment.
You should, however, know that the sun actually rises behind a massive mountain range and won’t be visible to the eye before 8 to 9 am (depending on the season). So, you might as well stay in a standard hotel down in Aguas Calientes. If you are happy with that, check out my list with the best hotels near Machu Picchu.
Actually often there is very low visibility in Machu Picchu before 8 am, so getting those very early tickets might actually be a bad idea, as there is a chance you are sitting idly around for 2 hours waiting for the fog to rise!
Who should buy tickets for the morning shift in Machu Picchu
- Anyone who plans to stay a night in Aguas Calientes
- Anyone who wants to see the sunrise in Machu Picchu
If you don’t stay a night in Machu Picchu, you won’t be able to arrive in ruins before a realistic 11 am. So, you really can’t pick a slot in the morning.
Machu Picchu afternoon ticket
Admission between: 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Cost: 152 soles (46 US-Dollar)
The afternoon tickets for Machu Picchu have been available ever since 2017 and it was quite a success. It is now quite possible to see Machu Picchu on a day trip from Cusco. It will be a busy day, but still possible. If you take the first train from Cusco to Machu Picchu in the morning, you will be able to enjoy an early lunch in Aguas Calientes (or just stroll through the city) and then pick a bus up to Machu Picchu around noon & leave with the last train in the evening.
For people staying a night in Aguas Calientes, it actually gives them the unique opportunity to see the ruins twice. You could buy an afternoon ticket and then a morning ticket for the following day.
Who should buy tickets for the evening shift in Machu Picchu
- The best light to take pictures of Machu Picchu is around 4 pm
- There is usually less of a crowd in the afternoon
- Anyone visiting Machu Picchu on a day trip
Machu Picchu only with tour guides
The Resolucion Ministerial N° 070-2017-MC states, that henceforth you will only be able to enter Machu Picchu with a guide and a maximum group size of 16. Previously you were allowed to walk around the ruins freely. From now on there are 3 predefined circuits you can take.
To be quite truthful with you, it is (writing these lines on July 5th) still unclear how this will be handled. Will you get a guide to accompany up to Huayna Picchu or Machu Mountain as well? Currently, it seems that you are able to get a private (but officially licensed guide) to show you around. I’ll keep you updated.
Full day ticket Machu Picchu ticket
Previously it was possible to get a full day ticket. Starting from January 2018 this options is no longer available. You could, however, get both tickets and stay longer. During my last visits, I usually stayed for two days and had tickets for both. So, it stands to reason that this is still possible – at least I have not found any contradictory evidence so far.
Who should get the full day ticket for Machu Picchu?
- Anyone who wants to spend as much time in the Inca ruins as possible and see all the attractions
- Anyone who wants to hike up either to Huayna Picchu or Machu Mountain (extra ticket needed for both), as you won’t have enough time to tour the ruins without the full day.
Who shouldn’t stay a full day in Machu Picchu
If you are not as sure-footed, you will only be able to do the (still amazing!) standard circuit of Machu Picchu. 4 hours (either in the morning or the afternoon) are more than plenty to see it all.
Where to buy tickets for Machu Picchu?
There are a couple of internet websites offering tickets for Machu Picchu. They are basically exploiting the fact that the official website is more or less a crappy monstrosity barely available in English. Still, it works perfectly well and offers you the best prices without an intermediate travel agent. Here’s the link to the official website.
You can also use GetYourGuide as a safe alternative: You can book the new tickets here
Further things to consider
Machu Picchu is quite huge. There are the ruins itself, the two mountains Huayna Picchu and Machu Mountain, the Inca bridge, the Intipunk / Sun Gate and the temple of the moon. All of these sights are marvelous in their own right. Personally speaking, I really recommend you visit Machu Picchu on two consecutive days. The Inca ruins are just so unbelievably beautiful and truly deliver on their promise.
If time is pressing, then the Machu Picchu afternoon ticket (so 2 pm) is, generally speaking, your best option. There is less of a crowd, the light is better for photography, and the weather is usually better in the afternoon as well. Plus, it’s the only feasible option to see Machu Picchu on a day trip.