There are different kinds of tickets, depending on what you want to see and do at the site. You also need to choose a time slot for your entry, as there is a limit of visitors per day.
Machu Picchu Only: This is the basic ticket that allows you to visit the main part of the site, where you can see the most important buildings and terraces. You can choose from four circuits, or routes, that have different lengths and difficulty levels. You can walk any of the circuits with this ticket, but you have to follow the one-way system and you cannot go back to the previous sections. The circuits are:
There are several ways to visit Machu Picchu from Cusco, depending on your time, budget and preferences. I’ll give you a summary of the most common options:
Bimodal Service (bus + train) from Cusco to Aguas Calientes: This is the option you have to choose if you travel from January to April, when the direct train is not operational. It consists of taking a private bus from the Wanchaq Station (5 minutes from the center of Cusco) to the Ollantaytambo Station and from there taking the train to Aguas Calientes. The total travel time is about 5 hours and the price varies according to the category of the train. You can book this service on the pages of Peru Rail or Inca Rail or book your bus + train ticket here.
Hydroelectric Route, the cheapest way to visit Machu Picchu from Cusco: If you want to save money and like adventure, you can opt for this alternative route that combines bus, train and walk. First you have to take a bus from Cusco to the Hydroelectric of Santa Teresa, a journey of about 6 hours on a winding and dangerous road. Then you have to walk about 10 km along the train tracks until you reach Aguas Calientes, which can take you about 3 hours. The price of the bus is around 15 USD and the train is about 30 USD. This option does not require prior reservation, but it does require a lot of patience and caution.
Excursion to Machu Picchu from Cusco: If you prefer to leave everything organized and not worry about the details, you can hire an excursion to Machu Picchu from Cusco with a travel agency. There are many options available, from one-day tours to multi-day packages that include accommodation, transportation, tickets and guide. The prices vary according to the duration, the itinerary and the quality of the service. You can book your excursion to Machu Picchu from Cusco here.
Inca Trail, a very popular route: If you are a lover of hiking and want to live a unique experience, you can do the famous Inca Trail, a 4-day and 3-night route that follows the ancient paths that the Incas used to reach Machu Picchu. During the tour, you can enjoy spectacular landscapes, archaeological ruins and a great diversity of flora and fauna. The Inca Trail has a limited quota of 500 people per day, so you have to book several months in advance. The price is around 600 USD and includes transportation, accommodation, food, tickets and guide. You can book your Inca Trail here.
Salkantay Trail, an alternative trail to Machu Picchu: If the Inca Trail is full or you want a less crowded and more challenging route, you can do the Salkantay Trail, a 5-day and 4-night route that passes by the Salkantay snow-capped mountain, the highest in the region. The Salkantay Trail has no limit of quotas, but it does require a good physical condition and a suitable equipment. The price is around 400 USD and includes transportation, accommodation, food, tickets and guide. You can book your Salkantay Trail here.
Machu Picchu Has Circuit
Circuit 1: This is the longest and most complete circuit, lasting about 3 hours. It covers the main sectors of the citadel, such as the Temple of the Sun, the Intihuatana, the Sacred Plaza, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Sun Gate.
Circuit 2: This is the shortest and easiest circuit, lasting about 2 hours. It visits only the agricultural area and the Hanan sector, where the Temple of the Sun and the Intihuatana are located.
Circuit 3: This is the most physically demanding circuit, lasting about 4 hours. It allows you to climb the Machu Picchu Mountain, from where you have a panoramic view of the citadel and the valley. You can only do this circuit with the ticket that includes the Machu Picchu Mountain.
Circuit 4: This is the most popular and adventurous circuit, lasting about 4 hours. It allows you to climb the Waynapicchu or Huchuypicchu Mountains, which are the peaks that you see behind the citadel. From there you can appreciate the beauty of Machu Picchu and the Urubamba River. You can only do this circuit with the ticket that includes the Waynapicchu or Huchuypicchu Mountains.
The Advantages Of Your Visit With The Mountains.
Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu. This ticket allows you to visit the main part of the site (Circuit 4) and also climb the Huayna Picchu Mountain, which is the most famous and challenging hike at Machu Picchu. It takes about 2 hours to go up and down, and you have to choose between two groups: 7:00 am or 10:00 am. This ticket is very limited and sells out quickly, so you have to book it well in advance.
Machu Picchu + Machu Picchu Mountain: This ticket allows you to visit the main part of the site (Circuit 3) and also climb the Machu Picchu Mountain, which is the highest and less crowded hike at Machu Picchu. It takes about 3 hours to go up and down, and you have to choose between two groups: 7:00 am or 9:00 am. This ticket is also limited and sells out fast, so you have to book it well in advance.
Machu Picchu + Huchuypicchu: This ticket allows you to visit the main part of the site (Circuit 4) and also climb the Huchuypicchu Mountain, which is a smaller and easier hike than Huayna Picchu. It takes about 1 hour to go up and down, and you have to choose between two groups: 7:00 am or 10:00 am. This ticket is new and not very popular, so you may find availability even on the same day.
Machu Picchu + Inca Bridge: This ticket allows you to visit the main part of the site (Circuit 1 or 2) and also walk to the Inca Bridge, which is a wooden bridge that the Incas built over a cliff to protect the entrance to the citadel. It takes about 30 minutes to go and come back, and you can do it anytime between 7:00 am and 4:00 pm. This ticket is also new and not very popular, so you may find availability even on the same day.