Machu Picchu Citadel: Updated Information 2023

Camino Inca a machu picchu

Where is the citadel of machu picchu located?

Cusco is the main access point to reach the citadel of Machu Picchu. From the city of Cusco, it is necessary to get to Aguas Calientes, the town located at the foot of the mountain that houses the Inca wonder. Aguas Calientes can be reached in different ways, such as through a train ride, walking, or a combination of bus and hiking. Once in Aguas Calientes, you will find Machu Picchu at the top of the mountain above the small town.

How to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes?

You can choose between 3 options:

  • Trekking from Cusco to Aguas Calientes.
  • Travel by train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes.
  • Take a bus from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (Not recommended).

How to get from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu?

Walk up the steep hill (about 2 hours, it is not that complicated but it can be very tiring).
Take a bus (if you have the budget, approximately $24, it is the most comfortable way to get to the citadel, this way you will save the energy to enjoy your guided tour through the citadel).

Note: If you book a tour to Machu Picchu (via trek or train), most companies will have a local guide to help you get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and then to Machu Picchu.

Important: To access Machu Picchu, you must have a ticket purchased in advance… You will not be able to purchase it at the entrance to Machu Picchu. Tickets are usually included as part of any tour or trek to Machu Picchu. Tickets are limited, so it is recommended to book a tour or hike at least one month in advance.

It is not advisable to buy your own ticket and make your own way to Machu Picchu, as it will probably end up costing you more money and being a big hassle. You cannot enter Machu Picchu without hiring a local guide, which you can purchase at the door, so it is always advisable to book your visit or hike through a travel agency.

We recommend the following formal companies that have years of experience and good opinions from our 250,000 clients:

Trekking inside Machu Picchu citadel

Once inside, you have the option of climbing Huayna Picchu (the famous peak seen in photos of the citadel) or Machu Picchu mountain. Below we provide you with some specific features that will help you to better choose your tour through these peaks.

Huayna Picchu

  • This is the highest peak within the citadel of Machu Picchu.
  • There are Inca structures on the summit.
  • It can reach a maximum altitude of about 2,720 meters.
  • The duration of the hike is 50 minutes to the top of the mountain.
  • This hike is considered a difficult level – a good level of fitness is required to reach the top.

Machu Picchu Mountain (Cerro Machu Picchu)

  • Located at the southwest end of the citadel of Machu Picchu.
  • This is a longer hike than Huayna Picchu: about 1 hour and a half to the top.
  • This option is less steep and less crowded than the alternatives because of its somewhat complicated sections.
  • It offers magnificent views of Machu Picchu and its surroundings throughout the hike, but the real reward is at the top.
Machu Picchu Mountain - Huayna Picchu Mountain


2-day train

  • You will arrive in Aguas Calientes on the first day and will have to spend the night there.
  • Walk or take the bus to Machu Picchu early in the morning.
  • Prices range from $200-$350.

1 day train

  • Leave Cusco between 3/4 in the morning and take the first train to Aguas Calientes.
  • Take the bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.
  • Explore the citadel and return to Cusco a few hours later.
  • Prices start at $300.
how to get to Machu Picchu


2 Days Bus/Hike

  • Take the bus from Cusco to Hidroeléctrica (the last stop) through the village of Santa Maria.
  • Walk for 3 hours following the route of the train tracks to Aguas Calientes.
  • You will have to spend the night in Aguas Calientes and the next morning go up to the citadel walking or by bus.
  • Return on foot to Hidroeléctrica and return to Cuzco by car.
  • It can be dangerous due to the quality of the roads during times of high rainfall.
  • Prices range between $150 and $200.


  • In Quechua, the language spoken by the Incas, Machu Picchu means old mountain. Huayna Picchu, on the other hand, means young mountain.
  • At the entrance of Machu Picchu you can stamp your passport for S/.1 to have an original souvenir.
  • The construction technique for which the Incas are so famous is called ashlar masonry. The stones are cut in such a way that they fit perfectly together so there is no need to put any adhesive between them.
  • Machu Picchu also served as an astronomical observatory. The sacred stone Intihuatana indicates the two equinoxes and, twice a year, the sun is placed directly over the stone without creating any shadow.
  • Due to erosion, only 500 people a day are allowed on the Inca Trail and, in February, the trail is closed for maintenance.


  • Your passport, you will not be able to access the citadel without it!
  • Your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu / Huayna Picchu Mountain.
  • You must bring coins if you want to stamp your passport and use the bathroom located outside the archaeological complex, if you wish you can enjoy a lunch that has a somewhat high value on the outskirts of the citadel.
  • A camera (and maybe a selfie-stick).
  • Good walking shoes.
  • Water.
  • Snacks and small snacks to provide energy for your hike.
  • Sunscreen and/or small folding umbrella depending on the weather and time of year you visit.
  • Insect repellent.


  • Tripods are not allowed in the historic site. You may leave yours in the outside lockers to pick them up on your way out.
  • Professional cameras are not allowed. Permits for professional cameras cost over $300, so avoid bringing a professional looking camera to save some money.
  • You cannot come to Machu Picchu with your backpack. Only smaller models are allowed, so leave your backpack in Aguas Calientes if you have no choice. You can pay a small fee to a hotel to take care of it.
  • Walking sticks are not allowed unless the person needs them and they have rubber coatings on the tips.
  • Only small folding umbrellas are allowed, so avoid carrying a large umbrella with spikes.


If you travel to Machu Picchu on your own, you will probably go by minibus or cab (at least part of the way). Drivers often drive dangerously on narrow roads on steep cliffs with sharp curves. Accidents happen often, so avoid traveling this way, or at least be sure not to travel these roads after sunset or during the rainy season.

Tour operators need two certificates, one from the city and one from the tourist office. Make sure they have both in their offices.

As in all tourist sites, keep an eye on your valuables.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where is Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is located 80 km from the city of Cusco, Peru, on the continent of South America. The nearest town is Aguas Calientes which can be reached by train or walking.

What is Machu Picchu?

It is the most impressive Inca archaeological ruin in South America, named a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site in 1983, and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. Machu Picchu is a city of stone, built around the Vilcabamba River, without the use or aid of wheels or iron tools. Most of the citadel’s structures remain intact today, which is why many consider it the perfect example of brilliant Inca engineering that was not looted and destroyed during the Spanish conquest.

How to get to Machu Picchu?

You can reach Machu Picchu by bus, train or walking. Traveling from Lima to Cusco by bus is the best way to discover Peru, acclimatize to the climate and avoid altitude sickness.

Once in Cusco, you should go by train or bus to the town of Aguas Calientes, where you can finally take a public bus to the Citadel.

You can also do the Classic Inca Trail, the Inca Jungle Trek or other famous treks that will offer you other equally pleasant experiences to get to know the Inca wonder.

How high is Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is 2,430 meters above sea level. Cusco, on the other hand, has an elevation of 3,400 meters. If you are coming from Lima, we recommend you to take the buses to acclimatize progressively to the altitude, on the contrary, a plane trip will generate a significant impact if your body does not adapt easily to the altitude.

How to get Machu Picchu tickets?

You must buy your Machu Picchu tickets at least 6 months in advance of your trip. Tickets are sold on the official government website, can be paid with credit or debit cards and are NOT sold at the entrance gate.

When is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?

Consider visiting Machu Picchu from April to May and September to October. The high tourist season months are June, July and August, when there is no rain.

When was Machu Picchu discovered?

Machu Picchu was not exactly “discovered” because the local population has always known of its existence. In 1911, the American explorer Hiram Bingham made his findings public and called it – erroneously – “The Lost City of the Incas”.

Nine years before Bingham’s arrival, the Peruvian Agustín Lizárraga had found the ruins and left his signature on one of the walls of the Temple of the Three Windows of the Citadel.

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