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14 Ways to Get to Machu Picchu [2023] Entrance Fees, Rules + Routes

How to get to Machu Picchu in Peru_

Machu Picchu in Peru features high on many traveller’s bucket lists and rightfully so. One of the new seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu is hailed as an archaeologist’s dream.

Believed to be built in the 15th century by Peru’s Inca civilisation (by hand!) this South American icon is hard to miss although often mistakenly referred to as the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ (which is really Vilcabamba).

The gateway to this mesmerising abandoned city in the south-eastern city of Cusco/Cuzco and there are many ways to get to Machu Picchu from there.

So whether you are looking to go independently or via Machu Picchu tours, have ample time or are restricted, have holiday cash to burn or are on a tight budget; this guide will advise you how to get to Machu Picchu in 14 different ways.

Planning a trip to Machu Picchu just got easier! We’ll also discuss the new rules and Machu Picchu prices for 2023.

» You may also like: 2 weeks in Peru itinerary – transport, tips + tours

Machu Picchu Rules 2023

Due to the bizarre desire for tourists to get their chebs out and the mass demand to see this wonder, visiting Machu Picchu is now restricted by the Peruvian government. Changes will be implemented from 2017 and they are pretty strict.

Firstly, rules state you can not visit the Inca Citadel without an official guide but the goods news is that you can hire a guide at the gates.

Our friends did bypass having a guide so it is not impossible.

Please tell us what the situation is for you in the comments below.

Secondly, there will be increased set routes for you to follow.

Finally, time limits may be set at certain points to help with the flow of traffic which is probably a benefit to all.

There are also changes to the opening times which I will explain below. Your ticket will have your time on it.

From 2020, the number of entrants per day has been further cut to ensure the safety of visitors. You will also be asked to wear a mask and keep a safe distance from others.

2022 tickets are available through GetYourGuide, see table, for most options in 2023. Let’s take a look at the Machu Picchu prices.

Machu Picchu Entrance Fees 2023

The following Machu Picchu price list is the official fees for 2022. There are several options, some of which you can choose a time slot.

Machu Picchu (only) 6am-12pm: 152 soles/$45 USD – ADVANCE – BOOK NOW $65

Machu Picchu (only) 12-5:30 pm: 152 soles/$45 USD – ADVANCE – BOOK NOW $65

Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu hike 7-8 am (1G/G1): 200 soles/$59 USD – ADVANCE $85

Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu hike 10-11 am (2G/G2): 200 soles/$59 USD – ADVANCE $85

Machu Picchu + Montana 7-8 a.m (2G/G2): 200 soles/$59 USD – INSTANT  BOOK NOW $85

Machu Picchu + Montana 10-11 a.m: 200 soles/$59 USD – INSTANT BOOK NOW $85

Machupicchu + Horario Vespertino: 1-5pm for those with mountain hike ticket (doesn’t appear to be available on site)

*Warning: some online services advertise the advanced online ticket for cheaper but when you click through the ticket is for the Andean community nations, not foreigners.

How to get to Machu Picchu 

Inca Trail

The highlight of any backpacking trip across South America is the hike to Machu Picchu.

There are many ways to get to the site – rightly accounted as one of the most amazing archaeological sites in the world.

Most people opt for the classic way to Machu Picchu: train ride until Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo) and then an early morning bus all the way to the entrance.

Others, though, dream of actually walking along the sacred way of the Incas and thus seeing the sunrise over Machu Picchu.

The only way that guarantees this – regardless of the season and the sunrise time – is via the official Inca Trail.

All other hikes finish in Aguas Calientes, and then require to either walk or take the bus to the entrance of the site, which opens at 6:00, and – provided the sun hasn’t risen already – rush all the way to the Inti Punku sun gate. This is not necessary with the traditional Inca Trail trek.

However, the Inca Trail has to be booked well in advance so your visit to Machu Picchu has to be planned well.

The Peruvian government issues the passes/permits (only 180-200 persons per day are allowed on the trail) at the beginning of January and they are usually sold out for the year within a couple of weeks.

Hiking the Inca Trail is an incredible, exhilarating and exhausting experience.

During the hike, it is possible to visit some otherwise inaccessible sites. The trek’s landscape is breath-taking – and not just caused by the altitude (make sure you are properly insured, see below for what we mean by ‘properly’!)

The trekking consists of long hikes, cold temperatures during the night, rain during the day, and meals in the kitchen tent.

The companionship with the rest of the group, the disgusting toilets in the base camps, the fact that it is virtually impossible to shower for the 4 days of the hike all add to this unforgettable experience.

And then, the cherry on the cake: a 3:00 wake up call to start walking in the dark and reach the Inti Punku in time for sunrise.

At that stage of the night, there is still the uncertainty that the day’s weather will have mercy on you and that the sun shows up, but then it happens, it’s there; Machu Picchu in all its glory.

  • Walking Distance: 43km/26 miles
  • Duration:  4 days/3 nights
  • Highlights: Machu Picchu Inca Trail is the most famous Peruvian trail
  • Downside: : Pre-book 6 months in advance / restricted numbers / expense
  • Tip: The Inca Trail closes for the month of February
  • Recommendation: by Claudia from My Adventures Across the World

Machu Picchu llama lying down

One-Day Inca Trail / KM 104 Trail / Short Inca

Getting to Machu Picchu via the one-day Inca Trail consists for a beautiful train journey. To access the one-day Inca Trail hike, you take the Peru Rail Vistadome train (see below) from Cusco heading towards Aguas Calientes, the town that Machu Picchu is located in.

However, you will disembark the train around 30 minutes before Aguas Calientes at what will appear to be the middle of nowhere, the stop KM 104. 

The Vistadome train has windows that scale to the roof of the train, allowing you to fully absorb the beauty of it curving through the crevices of the Andes Mountains. Don’t get too lost in the beauty of the landscape as you’ll have to hop off of the train at this no man’s land, KM 104.

From KM 104, the hike will take you into the Andes Mountains and scale you up, down, and around this mind-blowing mountain range. It is an intermediate hike that can take anywhere from 5-8 hours. There are plenty of steep climbs and tight curves, but they are all worth the stunning views from the top of the world in Peru.

Make sure to take at least 2 litres of water per person for this hike and plenty of snacks. There will be a few overhangs and places to stop and enjoy a rest and refuel. Also, make sure to pack a poncho in case you encounter rain on the trail.

Once you’ve finished the hike and explored the magnificent Machu Picchu, you can take the bus down to Aguas Calientes town where you can spend the night or take the Peru Rail train back to Cusco.

  • Walking Distance: 15km / 9 miles
  • Duration: 1 or 2 days (2 days more realistic)
  • Train from Sacred Valley: 1.5 hours/Train from Cusco: 3 hours
  • Trek: 5-8 hours
  • Tip: 1-day hike – take the earliest train (before 9am) as the gates close at stages
  • Tip: The Inca Trail closes for the month of February
  • Highlights: Train views, quick
  • Downside: Inca Trail requires a pre-booked permit (6 months in advance)
  • Recommendation: by Scott & Collette from Roamaroo

Although the most sought after, do not stress if you cannot plan as far ahead as the Inca Trail dictates. There are other options.

Here’s How to Reach Machu Picchu Without the Inca Trail

Machu Picchu by Train

The easiest and quickest way to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of the Machu Picchu is by taking the Machu Picchu train.

There are three types of train services which reach Aguas Calientes; Expedition, Vistadom, and Belmond Hiram Bingham.

The journey takes about 3.5 hours and the price varies throughout the year for each option.

The Expedition train is for budget travellers.

As this is the most affordable option, you have to book way in advance. It sells out.

The Vistadom train, which is a more expensive panoramic train, offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. You can see birds flying above the train through the large windows on the ceiling.

This experience allows visitors to connect with nature.

It is an air-conditioned train with comfortable chairs. It costs only a bit more than the cheaper Expedition train ($105+ one way) and it is worth the money.

The Belmond Hiram Bingham is the most luxurious option (images below).

These trains are painted blue and inside they are decorated in the style of the 1920’s Pullman trains.

If you want to feel like you are on the Orient Express, try this transport option to the Machu Picchu.

This price includes dinner and a tour of Machu Picchu.

If you want to continue with luxury check out this review of Belmond Sanctuary Review.

  • Booking Information: Book via Perurail
  • Duration: 3.5-4 hours
  • Highlights: Budget-friendly option, quick, no hike, good views
  • Downside: No hike, lower-class train envy
  • Recommendation: by Barbara from Jet Settera
  • Images via Belmond Hiram Bingham

» » You can book a bus, train and guided tour of Machu Picchu before you go. Click here to find out more with GetYourGuide

Belmond Hiram Bingham Train | How to get to Machu Picchu by train

Lares Trek

The Inca Trail is closed but I want to hike to Machu Picchu!

Don’t panic!

The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu is a 4 day/3 night trek which involves camping for 2 nights and a hotel stay on the night before Machu Picchu. The Lares Trek starts with a bus journey then breakfast at Lares Hot Springs where you can take a dip in the warm waters.

The day 1 hike ends at Cuncani where hikers meet with local children before dining then an early bedtime.

Day 2 kicks off with a 5:00 wake up call, breakfast then a day of hiking.

This is the hardest day as the trek involves a climb to 4650m (15255ft) above sea level at Condor’s Pass.

Day 3 is relatively easy, hiking to Pumahuacuanca for lunch, a bus ride to Ollantaytambo then the train to Machu Picchu Pueblo (also called Aguas Calientes).

Dinner is in a restaurant tonight and hikers have the chance to shower and sleep in a hotel bed.

Day 4 is another early rise for Machu Picchu day, remember your passport or you will not gain entry.

Buses leave from Aguas Calientes all day (see below for more details), the earlier you can take the bus the better to avoid the crowds at Machu Picchu.

Be warned, there are hidden costs of trekking to Machu Picchu – the tips.

This will differ depending on who is in the trek team but averages out at around 65 soles (£14) per person.

We trekked to Machu Picchu with Alpaca Expeditions which is regarded as the best Machu Picchu company online and by word of mouth, hence the expense of the trip.

They promote ethical working conditions for their staff which is an important factor of sustainable travel (many companies say they do this but do not). Choose your company wisely.

  • Walking Distance: 33 km/20.5miles
  • Duration: 4 days/3 nights
  • Highlights: Hike, meet locals, camp + hotel, no 6-month pre-booking required
  • Downside: Early rises, camping, very high altitude
  • Recommendation: by us, Gemma and Craig from Two Scots Abroad
  • More details: Lares Trek to Machu Picchu

» Check competitive prices and reviews of Lares Trek here «

Lares Trail Peru

Inca Jungle Trek

From all of the possible ways to get to Machu Picchu in Peru, the most adventurous option is the Inca Jungle Trek, which includes a big variety of different adrenaline-filled activities.

The most usual form of the Inca Jungle Trek has a 4 day/3 night itinerary, but it is also possible to do so in this shorter version, which takes only 3 days/2 nights.

During these 4 days, travellers have the chance to test themselves in downhill mountain biking, river rafting, and even zip-lining.

Hostels are the main form of accommodation used during the Inca Jungle Trek but like the Lares Trek, the last night before the visit to Machu Picchu you stay in a hotel in Aguas Calientes.

On day 1 the trek starts with a 3-hour drive to Abra Malaga Pass at 4,316 m altitude from where you will descend by bicycle to 1,196m in less than 60 km.

The downhill is very steep at certain points, so you have to be careful. In the afternoon there is optional rafting in Santa Maria (grade 3 and 4). On day 2 it is time for hiking in the jungle from Santa Maria to Santa Teresa.

The trek takes around 7 hours and you will have the chance to enjoy the beauties of the jungle in the Cusco region.

On day 3, those who are not tired of adventure can try the tallest zip-lining in South America, and the day is finished with a 3-hour trek from “Hidroelectrica” to Aguas Calientes. Day 4 is fully dedicated to visiting Machu Picchu.

  • Duration: 3 days/2 nights or 4 days/3 nights
  • Highlights: Adrenaline rush/hostels, no 6-month pre-booking required
  • Downside: Not for the faint-hearted or unfit
  • Recommendation: by Rachele and Gábor from Surfing the Planet

» » Check availability for Jungle Treks by clicking here

Salkantay Trek

Trek for 3, 4, or 5 days through remote mountain passes and verdant tropical Andean forest.

Optional activities along the Salkantay Trek include hot springs (pack mosquito repellent), zip-lining, a train ride, and horseback riding up to the steepest point of the trek. On the final day, you visit Machu Picchu. The amazing Salkantay Trek is a lifetime experience.

  • Walking Distance: 60km/37 miles
  • Duration: 5 days
  • Highlights: No six-month pre-booking required, excellent scenery
  • Downside: Altitude, long hike
  • Recommendation: by Jessica from Longest Bus Ride

» » Check availability and rates of Salkantay here

Choquequirao Trek

The Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu is an adventure in the truest sense. While the end goal of this 8-9 day trek may be Machu Picchu, the true highlight is hiking in solitude and passing through the expansive-yet-vacant Choquequirao ruins along the way.

The Incan complex of Choquequirao may very well be the next Machu Picchu sprawling more than 18km. Now is really the chance to go before they build a teleferico lift.

The Choquequirao Trek begins from just outside of Cachora. Days 1-2 are tough, as hikers make a steep descent into the Apurimac Canyon and an even sharper ascent up the other side.

The difficult dip is worth all the effort as the Choquequirao ruins soon come into view! Days 3-5 are spent passing over high altitude ridges, retired Inca Trails, and challenging switchbacks in near isolation.

Finally, on day 6-8, hikers will join up with the better travelled Salkantay Trail and finish on their way to Hydroelectrica.

From there, it’s just a train ride to Aguas Calientes and a bus up to the ruins of Machu Picchu.

 The Choquequirao trek is rugged and tough at times, but truly worth the experience.

  • Distance:  64 km / 40 miles
  • Duration: 8-9 days
  • Highlights: Choquequirao ruins, satisfaction
  • Downside: Intense hike, high altitude
  • Recommendation: by Taylor and Daniel from Travel Outlandish

Lares Trek Machu Picchu Peru I Three Weeks in Peru Itinerary

Lesser-Known Treks to Machu Picchu

Vilcabamba Trail/Trek

Vilcabamba Trail/Trek is very much one of the lesser-known hikes to Machu Picchu. It is common for hikers not to see any other tourists until they reach Santa Theresa. The route takes you along the royal roads that the Incas used and past snow-capped mountains. It is very remote.

  • Distance: 48 km/30 miles
  • Duration: 5 days/4 nights (8-hour bus journey to start)
  • Highlights: Remote
  • Downside: Physically hard / not available December to March

The Lodge Trek

Hey, flashpackers! The Lodge Trek to Machu Picchu is for you. Like some high-class monkey swinging from tree to tree, you bounce from hotel to hotel each night taking in the highlights of the journey to Machu Picchu, including a trip to the Sacred Valley (below), without having to touch a sleeping bag. The Lodge Trek does include short hikes (3-4 hours) but often ends the day at the Jacuzzi!

  • Duration: 9 days/8 nights (Cusco included)
  • Highlights: Luxury
  • Downside: Expensive / Length

The Chaski (or Cachicata) Trail

One of the newest treks to hit the Peru scene is the Chaski Trail which is also known as the Cachicata Trail. It is less demanding than other treks so an ideal trail for less experienced trekkers.

The bus from Cusco takes you through the Sacred Valley to the town of Socma (near Ollantaytambo, below) where you hike past waterfalls and meet with the local community to learn about traditional Andean life. The second day is the longest hike which lasts around four hours and ends at Cachicata.

Day 3 the group makes their way to Ollantaytambo to take the Machu Picchu train to Aguas Calientes. Like the Lares Trek, day four is spent at Machu Picchu.

  • Walking Distance: 25 km / 15.5 miles
  • Duration: 4 days/3 nights
  • Highlights: Perfect for new hikers
  • Downside: Fewer companies offer this new trek

Huchuy Qosqo (Small/Little Cusco) Trek

The shortest of all the treks, Huchuy Qosqo Trek is a mere 3 day/2 night trip which involves camping for one night and a stay at a hotel in Aguas Calientes (below) the night before visiting Machu Picchu.

The hike, which can be completed without a tour of Machu Picchu too, starts just 15 minutes outside of Cusco which keeps costs down.

  • Walking Distance: 18km/11 miles
  • Duration:  2 days/1 night or 3 days/2 night (with Machu Picchu extension)
  • Highlights: Budget-friendly / starts close to Cusco
  • Downside: Fewer companies offer this trek

How to see Machu Picchu on the Cheap

Warning, these two options are not for everyone and may involve skill to avoid walking into the train guards around Ollantaytambo (at the start follow the tracks but not on the tracks) and/or lying (say you have lost your hiking group) to execute. Intrigued? You should be…

DIY Machu Picchu Trek

If you want to spend less but get the same experience, you don’t have to sign up with a tour agency to get to Machu Picchu.

Here’s how you can do-it-yourself.

From Cusco, take a shared Colectivo found at Plaza de Armas to Ollantaytambo.

You will also have the opportunity to stay in this town for a while, take some pictures and enjoy the view.

From Ollantaytambo, hop in another shared taxi/van ride to KM 82.

Nope, you are not going to take the $80 train ride but you will be walking its tracks to go up.

Depending on your speed, the 28km walk duration is 7-8 hours.

I was with a group of Argentines who walked really fast so we did it for 5 hours but I was dead by the time we reached Aguas Calientes!

It was so hard to keep up with a fast group so make sure you are physically fit if you are to do this.

You will probably have to spend the night in Aguas Calientes to prepare for the hike the following day.

There are numerous hostels in this town but please do not expect for a super good one as this is a ‘come and go’ area where people only sleep and carry on the hike.

The next day, start the hike up around 3:30 to see the sunrise.

If you do not want to wake up early or are too tired to hike up, you can buy a bus ticket for $9.50/£7.65 that will take you all the way up to Machu Picchu.

  • Walking Distance: 28km + 390 metres/1280 feet
  • Duration:  2 days
  • Highlights: Budget-friendly, cheapest way to Machu Picchu
  • Downside: Level of fitness required / safety / have to avoid train guards
  • Recommendation: by Trisha at P.S I’m On My Way

Warning, this following option is not for everyone and may involve skill to avoid walking into the train guards around Ollantaytambo (at the start follow the tracks but not on the tracks) and/or lying (say you have lost your hiking group) to execute. Intrigued? You should be…

Walking from Ollantaytambo

To travel to Machu Picchu on a tight budget, take a local bus (from Plaza de Armas) hitchhike from Cusco then take a minivan taxi to Ollantaytambo.

This should be a two-hour trip.

At Ollantaytambo, you can visit ruins and then the market which is a good place to buy some snacks for the trip.

From Ollantaytambo walk to Aguas Calientes by the railway path area (being mindful of the train guards).

The walk is 32km and well signposted.

It is very easy to navigate!

Locals and other tourists can be seen walking the railway path too.

This walk can be a little hardcore, 7 hours in total.

Part of the route is an amazing walk next to the river where you can hear the sounds of the river flowing, with a picturesque view.

Be aware of your surroundings; sometimes there is a need to move away from the noisy yet slow oncoming trains.

This walk is one of the cheapest ways to go to Machu Picchu and one of the best, especially for those who love trekking and hiking.

It is highly recommended to take food and water, a flashlight for when it starts to get dark and to wear decent trekking shoes. From here, hike to Machu Picchu (see above) or take the bus (see below).

This route can be hiked to Aguas Calientes and back to Ollantaytambo.

  • Walking Distance: 32km
  • Duration: 9-10 hours one-way
  • Highlights: Hike, meet locals, budget-friendly, cheapest way to Machu Picchu
  • Downside: Hitchhiking, intense hike, safety / have to avoid train guards
  • Recommendation: by Ruben from Gamin Travel

Machu Picchu Escorted Tours

There are many companies who will create tailor-made tours to Machu Picchu and of course that comes with a heftier price tag than organising a trip independently.

However, you have the satisfaction that all aspects of the trip to Machu Picchu will be covered from transports to entrance fees with the added bonus of knowledgeable tour guides who can discuss Machu Picchu history with you.

Hikes at Machu Picchu
Huayna Picchu/Wayna Picchu

Due to popularity, only 250 climbers per day allocated slot are allowed to climb Wayna Picchu ‘Young Mountain’ (Huayna Picchu).

The ascent takes around one hour and involves some scrambling using hands and feet.

The path may be wet to hike, carefully creating a good distance from the climbers in front is recommended.

The first gate opens at 7-8am but the morning fog usually lies until 10-11am.

The descent should take around 45 minutes. The second entrance time is 10-11am. Climbers should exit by 1pm.

  • Duration:  1 hour 45 mins (although some sites claim 3-4 hours)/ final ascent 2 hours before closing time
  • Highlights: Views of the Citadel
  • Downside: Steep but no technical ability required

» Read more: Where to stay in Cusco before/after your tour

Machu Picchu Mountain

Machu Picchu Mountain (Cerro Machu Picchu) Peru’s ‘Old Mountain’ is less touched by tourists so easier to buy tickets for.

The mountain trek is open from 7-8am and then 9-10am but an early start is advisable to avoid the midday heat.

This may mean that you are tackling the thousands of steps through the morning mist but appears to be worth it to watch the Machu Picchu ruins appear through the clouds. 

Climbers must exit by 3pm.

  • Duration: 1.5-2.5 hours (although some sites say the average is 4 hours)
  • Maximum 400 climbers per day
  • Highlights: Seeing Machu Picchu ruins from another angle
  • Downside: Often misty first thing

Overall Tips – Machu Picchu Information

Machu Picchu Tickets 2023

You must pre-pay for your tickets to Machu Picchu before you arrive and you must take your passport with you to Machu Picchu do not do as Craig did and leave it in the hotel!

Remember to collect your cool Machu Picchu stamp at the entrance.

Booking Machu Picchu tickets (and above hikes) can be done online at the official government website (price quoted in Peruvian Sol). It is not the most straightforward though so please read the next paragraph.

Machu Picchu Entrance Fees 2023

The following Machu Picchu price list is the official fees for 2022. There are several options, some of which you can choose a time slot.

Machu Picchu (only) 6am-12pm: 152 soles/$45 USD – ADVANCE – BOOK NOW $65

Machu Picchu (only) 12-5:30 pm: 152 soles/$45 USD – ADVANCE – BOOK NOW $65

Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu hike 7-8 am (1G/G1): 200 soles/$59 USD – ADVANCE $85

Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu hike 10-11 am (2G/G2): 200 soles/$59 USD – ADVANCE $85

Machu Picchu + Montana 7-8 a.m (2G/G2): 200 soles/$59 USD – INSTANT  BOOK NOW $85

Machu Picchu + Montana 10-11 a.m: 200 soles/$59 USD – INSTANT BOOK NOW $85

Machupicchu + Horario Vespertino: 1-5pm for those with mountain hike ticket (doesn’t appear to be available on-site)

*Warning: some online services advertise the advanced online ticket for cheaper but when you click through the ticket is for the Andean community nations, not foreigners.

Machu Picchu Opening Times

The new opening times for Machu Picchu come in two entrance slots.

The morning opening times are 6am-12pm then for an afternoon visit you have from 12-5:30pm

Aguas Caliente to Machu Picchu

Buses from Aguas Caliente start from 5am and run every 10-20 minutes until 15:30 (last entry for Machu Picchu is 16:00).

The bus takes around 30 minutes and can be purchased on the day or pre-booked in Aguas Caliente or in Cusco at the Consettur Machupicchu SAC office (Avenida Pardo) the day before.

We took the bus from Aguas Caliente then walked back after the morning at Machu Picchu. The well-signposted walk took around 1 hour and was relatively easy.

There are frequent buses from Machu Picchu to Aguas Caliente directly outside of the entrance.

Aguas Calientes Accommodation

Aguas Calientes Hotels

There are over 100 hotels in Aguas Calientes so you are not stumped for choice! All cater to visitors getting up early and/or arriving late. Hotels start at around $30-$2000.

The Belmond Luxury Lodge is the most sought-after luxury accommodation in Machu Picchu.

The lodge has stunning views of  Huayna Picchu Mountain and located in a serene setting. Rooms are fully equipped and some have private patios. The Tampu Restaurant boasts panoramic views of the jungle. Rooms start at £900 but sell out very fast.

» » Check the best deals on Machu Picchu hotels here

Aguas Calientes | Ways to Machu Picchu Peru

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is a thing and it can hit anyone hard.

You must acclimatise before setting off on your desired Machu Picchu hike or trip. Spend a couple of days in Cusco, especially if you are arriving straight from the capital, Lima.

Craig and I were both OK after spending 1.5 weeks travelling from Lima via the hop-on/off bus, Peru Hop experiencing many of Peru’s tourist attractions such as sandboarding at Huachachina and a boat ride at Isla Ballestas.

However, two members of our trek were hit badly by the altitude.

One rode by donkey for most the trek and the other required gas. It is also worth purchasing coca leaves before your trek.

This local energy boost remedy is placed inside the cheeks and sucked. Make sure you have acceptable travel insurance coverage. What do you mean by acceptable?

Check if your insurer covers you at high altitudes like ours, True Traveller, does.

I shopped around extensively and many do not cover you at this height.

Two members of our party were very sick, take your health seriously before you fly. Check out if True Traveller is right for you by clicking here.

North American readers should look into the most popular travel insurer, World Nomads.

Couple ponchos Peru hike

Best Time to visit Machu Picchu

May through to September, Peruvian winter (dry season) is the best time to visit Machu Picchu with May being held as the optimum month.

However, we hiked in April and were told that our weather (drizzle) was not ‘normal’ for that time of year with El Niño being blamed by locals in Cusco.

October to April is the wet season. February is the rainiest month and also when the Inca trail is closed so consider one of the other Machu Picchu tours (or Machu Picchu tour packages) during this month.

How to Get to Machu Picchu from Lima

So now that you have all of the Machu Picchu information that you need and you are buzzing about your trip to one of South America’s most popular tourist attractions you probably should work out how to get from Peru’s capital to Lima to the Cusco/Cuzco.

The most efficient yet expensive way is by internal flight.

There are several airlines such as Star Peru and Aviana, which make this trip and prices start around $157/£127 (return) for the 1.5-hour journey.

Lima to Machu Picchu is a common journey but please read or guidance on altitude sickness before you book the trip.

Many backpackers who are travelling around Peru use the safe and fun hop on/off bus service, Peru Hop.

This was how we backpacked around Peru, you can read our honest review of the tour.

We loved it so much we used the sister company, Bolivia Hop to get us out of Peru and over to La Paz.

The alternative is to use public buses from Lima to Cusco which is the cheapest option but is also a long at 20+ hour journey.

I’d recommend splitting up the journey by stopping at Arequipa or one of the other smaller towns mentioned above on the way.

Lares trek to Machu Picchu

Inca Trail Packing List (+ Other hikes)

Trekking to Machu Picchu can mean hiking in all four seasons. We experienced rain, shine, and even snow!

The number one priority for your Machu Picchu packing list must by footwear.

It is recommended that you have well-worn in trekking boots or shoes as well as a good raincoat or strong poncho (the latter often provided by the trekking company).

Your Machu Picchu trek company will most likely provide a small bag for you to store clothes and toiletries in which is carried by the porters and donkeys who trek with you (leaving your rucksack stored in your Cusco hostel, this is common).

Your Machu Picchu day pack should include a poncho or raincoat, suntan lotion, money, water, a camera and of course your passport <— do not forget this!

Whether you decide to train, hike or bike there is an option for every type of traveller who wants to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu.

Nearly one million people see this Inca wonder, the big question so is how will you get there?!

Heading to Peru? Don’t miss our itinerary packed full of tips on where to go, what to see, and how to stay alive.

Oh and don’t forget that travel insurance for a tranquilo trip.

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Peru Travel Guides
What to pack for your Machu Picchu hike
» Backpacking in Peru advice
» Two weeks in Peru itinerary
» Colca Canyon hike – highly recommend
» Learn Spanish in Peru


6 Reasons You Should Not Bypass Paracas, Peru

Paracas Peru - Islas Ballestas

Paracas, Peru is a small town on the coast. It lies in the Ica region, 152 miles from Lima. Some miss out this coastal location, heading straight to the sandy dunes of Huacachina instead. However, there are so many things to do in Paracas and attractions close by, especially if you like marine life which can be spotted from a short boat trip to Islas Ballestas.

You may also like our guide how to plan two weeks in Peru.

Is Paracas, Peru Pointless?

Peru’s Paracas itself is small.

The streets of El Chaco (the main village) are lined with hotels and hostels and the shorefront has lots of restaurants.

There’s a beach called Playa de Paracas where you can relax or watch the fishermen and ridiculously large and noisy pelicans while waiting to take your trip to Islas Ballestas.

Warning – the Pisco Sours in Paracas are strong!

Things to do in Paracas

1. Islas Ballestas, Peru’s Gallapogas Island

The main reason that tourists flock to Paracas is to take the short boat ride out to Islas Ballestas to spot the sea life and it really is worth it.

Coined the poor man’s Gallapogas Island, visitors should get the chance to see (really noisy) sea lions, baby penguins and a variety of birds.

However, unlike the true Gallapogas Island, you cannot walk around on the island, the tour takes place from the speedboat and life jackets are provided.

Naturally, a visit to Islas Ballestas is cheaper than a trip to the Gallapogas.

Bonus points to us for seeing dolphins diving about the water too!

Isas Ballestas Peru boat trip

2. Take a Paracas Boat Tour to See Peru’s Sea Lions

It is advised to book your Islas Ballestas tour before you arrive in the town to avoid missing it.

It is the most popular thing to do in Paracas.

You can pre-book and gain fast past entry with just a flash on your mobile ticket.

The Paracas island tour is honestly worth every penny.

It lasts for two hours and covers three islands.

Isas Ballestas Peru sea lions sunbathing

You share a boat ride with other visitors while listening to the bilingual guide who points out the sea life.

During your Paracas sea tour, you will also get the chance to see one of Peru’s Nazca-like Lines called the Candelabra.

This geoglyphs are similar to those at Nazca but shaped like a cool cactus.

Just try not to fall asleep like I did which blame the motion for!

Paracas, Peru

Things to do Around Paracas

3. Paracas National Reserve

This place is striking! Peru’s Red Beach/Playa Roja boasts of blue waters and contrasting red beaches but Paracas National Reserve is spread over 827,450 acres so it’s best to book a tour.

Always on the hunt for something unusual?

Check out this ATV buggy self-drive tour of the National Reserve.

To pick up an ATV from the office in Paracas you must be over 18 and have personal travel insurance.

We use True Traveller insurance because they insure at high altitude for Peru hikes.

I had to claim in Canada, you can read about my positive experience here.

Red Beach Peru

4. Visit the Nazca Lines From a Platform or Helicopter Tour

Peru’s Nazca Lines is one of the most talked about mysteries in the world. How did these geoglyphs come to be?

You can see and learn for yourself from a bird’s eye view during the 30-minute flight tour with English speaking guide.

Participants get the chance to see the monkey, spider and hummingbird from the sky.

Paracas to Nazca takes just over 3 hours. 

If you are short on time but want to experience the Nazca Lines you can with this full-day all-inclusive tour to Nazca from Peru’s capital, Lima.

5. Ica Wine Tours

The Ica region is popular for two reasons – firstly, the vineyards for Peruvian red wine and the national brandy, Pisco.

Secondly for the epic sand dunes at Huacachina.

Vineyard tours start at Ica or Lima.

The journey from Paracas to Ica takes just over one hour.

If you just want to do a day trip from Lima to the vineyards, consider this tour which also includes a Huacachina, the oasis!

6. Dune Buggy Rides and Boarding in Huacachina

Hike and or ride the buggies on the sandy dunes of Peru and then board down it!

This is an unforgettable experience for adventure lovers in Peru.

If you really love winter sports, why not try sand-skiing too?

The day starts with a pick up at Ica or Huacachina before you jump in a 4×4 and ride the bumpy sand dunes surrounded the village and lake.

Then you board down the dunes but don’t worry, its suitable for all level.

It’s much more controlled that skiing or boarding on snow and is not as fast.

Don’t forget to apply suntan lotion and pack lots of water.

Sandboarding Peru | Ica

Getting Around Paracas

Paracas is a really small town which makes it easy to get around by foot.

There are taxis in the town for those who require extra assistance.

Getting to Paracas

Paracas from Lima can be reached by public transport (bus) using Cruz del Sur.

The journey takes just over three hours and costs around 39 Peruvian Soles.

Hiring a car is relatively easy in Peru and gives you the flexibility to choose your own itinerary not restricted by public transport.

Alternatively, use the safe hop on/off backpacker’s bus Peru Hop as we did.

This company helps create your itinerary, offers comfortable reclining seats and is a great way to meet friends while backpacking around Peru!

Peru Hop Bus Transport

Paracas Hotels

One of the most popular hotels in Paracas is the Hotel Hilton Paracas.

This modern and tastefully decorated hotel is located next to Paracas National Park and some rooms have balconies with swimming pool or sea views.

There’s an onsite restaurant and buffet breakfast for an extra fee.

The Inca Spa offers massages and body wraps so there’s really no reason to leave the DoubleTree by Hilton Resort if you are looking for a relaxing break after all of the sea life spotting! Room prices start at £127-280. This is luxury in Paracas.

A more economical hotel in Paracas is the new Hotel Riviera Inka Paracas.

One of the nicest features is the balcony and proximity to the beach and El Chaco Boardwalk.

Breakfast on the terrace is included and rooms start at £40.

Huacachina oasis Peru_

Paracas Hostels

There’s a variety of hostels in Paracas that don’t hurt the purse strings and the good news is there are options with swimming pools!

The cool kid Kokopelli Hostel Paracas is popular for its laidback vibes and proximity to the beach. I

t’s literally on it.

As always, never skimp on safety – watch your belongings.

We travelled around the Americas and Europe for 18-months without any issues and recommend investing in a PacSafe net US/UK for your passport and electronics.

You place your belongings in a day bag, then the net around the bag which is then secured to a bed or non-moveable item and close with a padlock like a TSA approved one.

Final Words

A highly recommended travel tip, always be flexible.

If we had stuck to our guns and not taken the advice to make the stop to Paracas we would have missed this wee gem of a find, Islas Ballestas, the poor man’s Galapagos.

» Read next: Things to do in Arequipa

Where to Stay in Lima + What to do in Each District

Where to stay in Lima - Miraflores

Peru’s capital Lima is usually the first port of call for visitors travelling into this South American country. Don’t be fooled by the size of the Larcomar area, this city is huge. Just over ten million people reside in the 43 districts, that’s double the population of Scotland! Three main areas boast the most hotels and hostels in Lima, the historic Central Lima, bustling Miraflores and the bohemian Barranco. If using Lima in transit and just staying for one night then Miraflores is your best option. If you are spending 2 days in Lima, we (Gemma and Craig) encourage you to venture out to the laidback Barranco. Here’s your guide on where to stay in Lima and what to do in each district.

Travelling around Peru? Click here to read our extensive itinerary

Where to stay in Lima

There is no shortage of accommodation in Lima. In fact, there are over 70 Lima hostels and 250 hotels with prices ranging from £5 to £500 per night so there really is something to suit every type of budget.

Miraflores accommodation

Miraflores is a built-up area of the city, a little grimy yet packed with backpackers. Here you will find the usual American embassies (McDonald’s, KFC) as well as Peruvian restaurants serving Ceviché (raw fish cooked in lemon acid, served with cold sweet potato, corn and coriander) and Pisco Sours.

There’s a restaurant/bar strip found close to the cat park (John F Kennedy) plating up Western menus as well as Peruvian meals. The most attractive area of Miraflores is the Larcomar (shopping centre) which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and boy those sunsets are wild.

Miraflores Lima Sunset Larcomar

Hostels in Miraflores

Miraflores hostels come in all shapes and sizes. You will find the typical chain hostels (you will stay in one of them at least once during your time in Peru!) such as the always effortlessly cool, Hostel Kokopelli (we stayed with them in Cusco).

Don’t be put off by its lively rooftop (with stonebaked pizzas), Kokopelli designs its rooms with the traveller in mind – hostel dorm beds have curtains for privacy (like the old fashioned trains, romantic!) and some private rooms have balconies. Free breakfast is also included as well as free city walking tours of Lima. Click here to check availability.

Pool Paradise is the new kid on the block, freshly opened for 2018. It’s not just the paint that’s fresh, this Lima hostel has a swimming pool (with bar) which is perfect for the city.

Pool Paradise also offers free tours, cooking classes and breakfast. Dorm rooms come in at around £8-12 and private rooms for just over £30. Click here to check availability.

A more chilled alternative is the B&B Tradiciones in Miraflores, a home away from home hosted by Norma and Angelo. This B&B offers free breakfast and private rooms starting at around £30. Click here to check availability.

Miraflores Hotels

Hotels in Miraflores are surprisingly economical for a capital city. All hotel facilities include WiFi and breakfast unless stated otherwise.

One of the top picks in Lima is Apart Hotel Petit Palace Suites. Holidaymakers like the clean comfortable rooms, fruit and bread continental breakfast and professional staff. WiFi is excellent and flatscreen TV includes English movies.

A nice addon is the use of free bikes, I recommend riding along the Malecón! Standard rooms start around £50, prices go up to suites at £100 (5 people). Click to check availability.

For boutique hotels in Lima check out Ife Boutique Hotel. This uniquely decorated Miraflores hotel offers free toiletries.

Staff go above and beyond for their guests, mention if you are visiting for a special occasion for a nice surprise. Some of Ife’s rooms have a terrace and a spa bath to rest the muscle after a day of sightseeing or cycling.

Airport shuttle and free parking are available. Standard rooms start at just over £50 with suites coming in at around £65. Click to check availability.

The Luxury Inkari Hotel is something else! The heated swimming pool (hello views!) and a well-equipped gym with sauna make it a favourite for those looking to splurge during their trip to Lima.

Visitors like the restaurant and creative cocktails. An airport shuttle is also available. Click to check availability.

The 5-star Hilton Lima Miraflores boasts of a rooftop pool with the best views of the city. The super modern rooms are elegantly decorated, kitted with luxury linen and is a hit even with visitors who don’t normally choose chain hotels.

The restaurant is recommended, some guests even choose to dine in several times during their trip to Lima.

Deluxe rooms start at around £150 with Executive for four people capping at around £320. Click to check availability.

Things to do in Miraflores

Cat Park

One of the strangest Lima points of interest is Kennedy Park, officially known as Parque Kennedy but affectionately called the Cat Park. Sorry, JFK, feline friends are more popular than you in Miraflores – this park is home to triple figure furry kitties.

Jokes aside, it’s quite a sad story as this is the park is where cats are dumped by owners who can’t look after them. Locals, the church and the Feline Protection Volunteer Group take on the role of mum. Help the team feed residents of Cat Park by donating here.

Lover’s Park

A nicer park story and quite a funny one at that is the Park of Love/Parque del Amor in Lima found down by the Larcomar shopping centre.

This park features a huge sculpture of two lovers having a smooch.

El Beso by Peru’s famous sculpture, Víctor Delfín portrays him and his wife in an embrace and represents a local kissing competition apparently.

You will see young couples with tongues down each other’s throats at some point in your adventure around Peru, they are very open about affection.

Lovers Park Miraflores Lima


Nothing quite chases the Pisco Sours cobwebs away like a stroll along the Malecón seafront, the perfect location for people-watching and paragliding spotting in Lima.

This is also the place to be a sunset. If you are into shopping while holidaying check out the Larcomar.

Bike tours of Lima

Why not cover more ground and take a bike tour from Lima to Barranco?

Tours start at 09:45 to avoid the heat and if you are lucky you will get our tour guide, the enthusiastic Miraflorian, José.

During the bike tour, you will be treated to a historical account of natural disasters, the war between Chile and Peru, terrorism, corrupt governments, and stories of migration while you make your way by wheels to the ‘town within the city’ Barranco.

Lunch of sandwiches called Butifarras (ham or vegetarian cheese and olive) is served at a local cafe such as Piselli where you dine over great chat about life in Peru.

I always recommend taking a tour while travelling because you get to speak with a local, usually one that is tuned into politics and current affairs which is a particular interest of mine. I also like the local tips for cheaper eats and things to see!

Love adventure? You will love this guide to sandboarding in Peru

Miraflores Lima Tours

Barranco accommodation

Barranco is the coolest area of Lima. Its chilled out vibes completely contrast with the hustle of Miraflores and it’s easy to see why the area is named the Soho of Lima.

Barranco is an extremely green area of the city covered in colourful sweet-smelling plants.

The plants are not the only aesthetically pleasing thing about Barranco, the architecture is interesting and there are pockets of street art to see too.

Barranco Hostels

Barranco hostels are limited in numbers but they make up for it in variety.

Going against the grain of chilled vibes, The Point Lima is a popular party hostel in Barranco.

The Point bar closes at 1am but the party doesn’t stop, a guide takes you to a club in Barranco!

Meals are available onsite but it’s so close to the cute cafes in Barranco so you will want to dine out. Dorms available from around £8. Click here to check availability.

If you prefer low-key accommodation check out the family-run Casa Estrada which only has 6 bedrooms throughout the two-story 1945 building.

Free breakfast is included in the price and this hostel has a kitchen if you prefer to cook in. Dorms start at under £10. Click here to check availability.

Barranco Hotels

An economical option for hotels in Barranco is the colourful Lima Wari Hotel. Rooms vary in size accommodating 2-7 guests with a private bathroom or shared.

The hotel has a shared common area and use of a microwave. Airport shuttle available on request. Room rates start at £27-£55 – click here to check availability.

A little on the pricier side, Villa Barranco is a boutique hotel based in a 1920s building.

The hotel has a glorious garden and relaxing modern patio. Some rooms are bright and modern, others are rustic.

Rooms start at £152-£330, some have a standalone bath, wow factor. Click here to check availability.

Hotel B is the luxury boutique hotel in Barranco and is famous for its art and striking decor.

Breakfast and afternoon tea is included in the price, the gin bar gets a thumbs up from tourists too.

The patio is a great place to lose an hour or two. Rooms include a flatscreen TV, iPod dock and some have a standalone bath.

They start at around £275 to £500 and include air conditioning. Click here to check availability.

Things to do in Barranco

Craft Beer

Nothing beats a fresh beer, ok a fresh craft beer beats just any old fresh beer and this can be found at Barranco Beer, Lima’s craft beer brewery. Barranco beers serve every type from IPAs to Pilsners and also food such as pizzas while football is on the big screen.

Bridge of Sighs/Puente de Los Suspiros 

Walk the length of this wooden bridge whilst holding your breath then your love will last forever.

Now you can tell your sweetheart that they really do make you breathless!

Art Galleries

You won’t be surprised to hear that Barranco is where the artists live.

The famous photographer, Mario Testino who has captured everyone from the esteemed Kate Moss to the kid, Kendall Jenner and even the Royal Family, is from Barranco.

You can see his work at MATE – Museo Mario Testino. Modern art fans should also swing by the MAC.

Hit the Beach

Get a tan while watching the surfers attempt the wild waves of the Pacific Ocean. Stay to watch the electric sunset over the city.

Read our honest review of Peru Hop, the easiest way to get around Peru

Barranco Lima

Historic Centre of Lima

There’s no surprise that Ciudad de Los Reyes or the City of Kings is where you will find most of the historically important buildings in Lima such as the main square, Cathedral and Government Palace.

This area of Lima is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Historic Centre of Lima Accommodation

Accommodation in Lima’s historic centre really varies in quality so if you decided to make this area your base, choose wisely.

Lima Historic Centre Hotels

Kamana Hotel is centrally located, each room has a safety deposit box and en-suite shower.

Rooms vary – some are modern, others look slightly dated. Prices start at £37-£50. Click here for availability.

Gran Hotel Bolivar Lima is not just a hotel, it’s a national monument and the oldest hotel in Lima.

Since the 1920s royalty and celebrities have graced its floors! This grand, vintage hotel with its large spacious rooms is suitable for couples and families. Request a balcony room as rooms can get hot. Prices start at £42-£130, click here to check availability.

Things to do in Lima’s Historic Centre

Plaza Mayor

Check out the colonial buildings of the Government Palace and the Cathedral of Lima which surround the main square in Lima.

Lima Catacomb

One of the most interesting things to do is see in Lima is the catacomb at the Monastery of San Francisco.

Members of the public can view the skeletons of the brotherhood which have been strategically placed underneath the church.

Walking tours

Let a local guide you through the history of time on this 4-hour walking tour of the city.

This tour stops at the oldest buildings, Central Market to sample some Chicha de jora, Saint Francis Monastery and the Park of the Wall.

One of the best Lima city tours for culture and history. Click here to check availability.

Getting to Lima

Jorge Chávez International Airport is located 10km outside of the city centre. There are six licensed taxi firms which operate, including the Taxi Green firm which we used.

Flat fee rates start at around 50-60 soles and can take around 45 minutes to get to Miraflores, traffic depending. Uber operates in Lima!

Click here to find out more about this transport option, prices similar to taxis.  It is not advised to hail an unofficial taxi in the are of Callao.

Alternatively, there is the Lima Airport Express Bus which has onboard toilets, USB chargers and WiFi. Prices start at $8 single/$15 return and there are 7 stops in Miraflores.

If time is on your side and your budget is against you, check out the local airport bus which leaves around every 30 minutes.

Going to Machu Picchu? Here are 14 ways to get there

Airport accommodation

Lima airport hostels are situated in Los Olivos. Mama Backpackers is a bright, clean hostel suitable for layovers. Dorms start at around £7.50, privates from £19. Click here to check rates.

Lima Airport hotels are fewer in numbers but the Costa del Sol Wyndham Lima Airport is 20 yards from Jorge Chávez International Airport.

This very modern hotel has a restaurant, bar, swimming pool and fitness suite.

Rooms include large TVs with cable and suites have a hot tub. Double room starts £144, click here for availability.

Getting around Lima

We mainly moved around the city by foot or bike. Most tourists use taxis to get from Miraflores to the Historic Centre although microbuses do operate and welcome visitors.

You will hear the bus boys shouting out destinations before they pull over. Traffic is crazy, a member of our bike tour was hit by a taxi driver who mounted the pavement.

Thankfully she was safe and made it home to Portland, Oregan. I still recommend a bike tour of Lima, it was a freak accident and we’ve cycled in various cities since then.

Currency and ATMs in Lima

Peruvian Sol is the main form of currency accepted in Peru although some tours do advertise in USD $ and modern hostels, big hotels and restaurants will accept USD $.

ATMs are widely available and you can withdraw both Soles and USD from them. Credit cards are accepted in most larger restaurants, hotels and by tour companies.

Day trips from Lima

If you are spending 2 or 3 days in Lima you may want to consider taking time out of the city to catch some of Peru’s epic attractions.

One of my favourite days out was the Paracas based boat tour of Islas Ballestas. We nearly skipped this trip to save time but I’m so glad we didn’t because we saw sea lions and baby penguins and a Nazca Lines style design call the Candelabra.

This full day tour from Lima also stops at the stunning Paracas National Reserve (Peru’s Playa Roja/Red Beach) and sand dunes.

Don’t just see the sea lions, swim with them on this half-day tour from Lima to Palomino Islands.

The tour picks you up at your hotel and takes you to Callao Harbor where you board a luxury yacht.

You then sail around El Camotal, San Lorenzo and Palomino before taking a dip in the Pacific Ocean with the sea life (wetsuits and life jackets provided).

If you like wine, Pisco and adventure check out this tour of Ica and Huacachina. Ride the buggies, board down the dunes then sample Peru’s wine and brandy, Pisco. Lunch in Ica is included. Check availability here.

If you are short on time but want to experience the Nazca Lines you can still do so on this full-day all-inclusive tour to Nazca. See the bird’s eye views of Peru’s geoglyphs from the small plane.

Headsets during the journey are provided so you can hear your local English speaking guide.

Visiting Lima, Peru is not stressful. The city is relatively easy to get around by taxi, foot or bike, the locals are accustomed to tourism and there is lots to look at. Hotels/hostels/apartments accommodation exists for every budget and travelling style.

Why not pin to your Peru board?

Where to stay in Lima and things to do in Lima

Have you been to Lima?
Any questions, fire them below and I will get back to you.

What to pack for Machu Picchu: Inca, Lares, Salkantay + Jungle Trek

What to pack for Machu Picchu Peru

Thousands flock to Peru every year to hike to Machu Picchu. The most popular route is to hike the Inca Trail which requires planning as the dates for the trek fill up fast (hikers should book at least six months in advance). Although famous, the Inca Trail is not the only route, in fact – there are 14 ways to Machu Picchu. This ultimate guide on what to pack for Machu Picchu includes an Inca Trail packing list as well as essentials for the Lares Trek (which we, Gemma and Craig, completed), Salkantay Trek and the thrill-seeking Jungle Trek as well as what to wear on the big day! All Machu Picchu packing lists have been tried and tested by seasoned travellers, so you can trust their advice on what works, and what you can leave behind. Remember, you will be restricted by size and weight specifications and/or what you can realistically carry on your back. Feel free to use the ‘jump to’ section to select your hike of choice.

Know before you go

Most of hotels and hostels in Cusco offer storage for rucksacks and suitcases and the majority of Machu Picchu hike companies provide duffel bags (max weight 5-8kg) which are carried by porters and donkeys. It is advised to fill your own day bag with hiking essentials, first aid items, water and snacks, although most companies provide snacks too. Treks require camping and it gets cold at night so consider this when reviewing our packing lists.

You must wear in your hiking boots/shoes before trekking, there is no time for sore feet although you can hire a donkey if required. Altitude sickness is real! Acclimatise in Cusco before you set off on your multi-day hike to one of the new modern seven wonders of the world! Quick note, the most important item you must pack is your passport or you will not get access to Machu Picchu!

Naturally, we do not advise going away on any trip without travel insurance. I researched which provider to commit to for weeks (I am that annoying customer) and settled with True Traveller because they cover high altitude hiking (not all providers will). I had to use them while in Vancouver, I had one GP visit and two stints at a physio; True Traveller paid out quickly which was ideal as we were on a budget.

What to wear to Machu Picchu Peru

What to Pack for Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (also known as Camino Inca or Camino Inka) is the most popular hike in Peru. The 4-day day hike passes through forest, villages and Inca ruins but due to its popularity, the trail closes every February for cleaning. A maximum of 500 people are allowed to hike per day and this includes 300 porters and guides. Camping is required each night, baby wipes are essentials and there is a 3am wake-up call to hike to Inti Punku to catch the sunrise. So bearing all of this in mind, here’s your Inca Trail Packing List.

Inca Trail Packing List

By  Claudia Tavani | My Adventures Across The World 

Packing for the Inca Trail is easier said than done, and it requires a bit of planning. One essential thing to keep in mind is that walking it is harder than you may think, given the altitude and the almost daily rain. What you pack depends on whether you intend to hire a porter.

There’s a strict, no more than 7 kg of weight that an individual can give to a porter, and that also includes the weight of the sleeping bag.

If you decided to carry your own backpack you can obviously take on more weight, but I advise against it. In fact, my tops are to pack as light as possible, hire the services of a porter, and only take a small daypack with daily essentials along. I have seen various people refusing to hire a porter and giving in on day two of the trail.

Having said so here’s a strictly essential packing list for walking the Inca Trail

Clothes and gear

  • Hiking boots – don’t even consider wearing anything else. Running shoes may be lighter and more comfortable, but you really want all the extra ankle support. Check out Salomon Quest boots US / UK
  • Hiking pants/trousers – best if water-resistant
  • A good rain like Mountain Equipment Rupal jacket US / UK and windproof coat and an extra poncho to wear on top, if necessary. Keep in mind that if walking in the winter, it may get even colder than expected
  • A change of pants/trousers – preferably leggings which can also be worn as pyjamas
  • A thermal shirt – it does get tremendously cold at night
  • One or two extra t-shirts
  • A good sweater, best if a fleece
  • A hat and a scarf
  • A couple of changes of underwear
  • Hiking socks
  • Flipflops – for resting your feet at night
  • A refillable water bottle – read Gemma’s review here
  • A headlamp
  • Snacks – they are typically provided on the trail, but they are very basic (popcorn, some fruit) so if you think you’ll need the extra energy, carry a couple of energy bars and some trail mix
  • Cash – to tip the guides and the porters
  • Camera and/or phone
  • Power bank – there’s no way to change anything during the hike (Two Scots Abroad never travel without by Anker’s packs US / UK
  • Extra memory card

Toiletry/medical essentials

You won’t be able to shower at all during the Inca Trail, so spare yourself the weight and just take a small bar of soap and hand sanitizer, a pack of wet wipes, deodorant, travel toothbrush and toothpaste, dental floss, sunblock and a small moisturizer (take a sample), mosquito repellent, lip balm

  • A small towel
  • A roll of toilet paper
  • Prescription medications and common drugs – paracetamol, Imodium, etc

Lares Trek Packing List

The Lares Trek is one alternative to the Inca Trail and it covers four days/three nights (two nights camping and one in a hotel in Aguas Calientes).

Wake up calls are early, the nights are cold and the hardest part of the hike is reaching 4650m (15255ft) above sea level at the Condor’s Pass. The reward? A hot chocolate at the top, in the snow.

Like the Inca Trail, you can hire porters and donkeys to carry your larger bags (max weight 8kg, usually provided by company). This is the hike that Craig and I did, here’s our packing list for the Lares Trek.

Clothes and gear (male/female)

  • Quality raincoat (I love my Marmot US / UK as it is light and folds into its own pocket)
  • Leggings/walking trousers
  • Waterproof trousers, the packaway ones are fine 
  • Shorts (wore at Machu Picchu)
  • 3 vest tops (you will want a clean outfit for Machu Picchu)
  • A cardigan/fleece
  • Gloves (I bought wool ones from the market for 8 soles, Craig paid 11 soles on the road)
  • 4 x underwear
  • 1 x bra
  • 4 x socks
  • Scarf? (I found useful as a cover too)
  • Hat/headband/bandanna
  • Quality poncho (our company gave us this)
  • Sunglasses (for when you are lucky!)
  • Torch
  • Quality bag cover like Osprey US / UK
  • Walking sticks (you can hire for $15)
  • Camera/phone (cover-up in the rain, one of our team lost her camera to the rain Gods)
  • Money (limited opportunity to buy during trek but needed for tipping and Machu Picchu day as lunch is not included)
  • Passport (needed for Machu Picchu, we learned the hard way…)
  • Swimwear/towel for day one baths

Toiletries and medicine

  • Baby wipes
  • Deodorant (1 x stick / 1 x small spray)
  • Dry shampoo
  • Hair bobble and kirby grips/bobby pins
  • Suntan lotion (vital)
  • Insect repellent
  • Tissues (or steal some toilet roll)
  • Blister pads (you won’t find these in Cusco, invest in Leukotape US / UK before you go which I always tape up with before hikes)
  • Coca leaves/ash or coca sweets for altitude
  • Painkillers

Machu Picchu packing advice

Machu Picchu Shoes

Each packing list stresses the need to have decent walking boots! The second most important tip I can offer (number one is to remember your passport) is to break in your hiking shoes before you touchdown in Peru.

As mentioned above, trainers will not cut it. Multi-day hikes take their toll on your joints, you are already putting your body under tremendous stress by walking at high altitude so do your knees a favour and invest in a decent pair of walking boots or shoes.

I actually prefer trek trainers like walking shoes by Salomon because they are lighter for packing and I don’t like boots touching my ankles after previous Achilles trauma!

Also, pack one pair of flipflops to let your feet breathe at night and give them a rest. You won’t want to put your feet back into your boots once they are off and there’s no way you should be going to the toilet barefooted.

First Aid Kit

  • Painkillers (headaches with altitude)
  • Malaria tablets (if taking)
  • Coca leaves/sweets
  • Others had prescribed altitude sickness tablets – discuss with your doctor
  • Update: I never travel without these hydration tablets US / UK now (mostly as a hangover cure!)


  • Plastic bags for rubbish/wet clothes
  • Cereal bars (one box)
  • Bananas (green ones ripen in one day)
  • Tangerines
  • Water
  • Skittles/candy

Salkantay Trek Packing List

By Owen Ter | My Turn to Travel

Salkantay differs slightly to the Inca and Lares because the hike can last from three to five days and optional activities are offered along the way such as zip-lining, horseback riding and hot spring dips! The highest point is 4600m above sea level. Owen from My Turn to Travel went for the long haul and hiked for five days and four nights. Here’s his Machu Picchu hike packing list.


  • 1 day pack for essentials
  • 1 day pack/duffel bag carried by mules (depending on your agency, it might be provided and maximum weight is 5-7kg)

Clothes and gear

  • Towel (showers are available on the final day hotel at the Agua Calientes)
  • Bathing suit for Santa Teresa hot spring

Hiking t-shirts split into followings:

  • 1 or 2 t-shirts for high altitude trek (cold)
  • 1 for humid weather (cloud forest hike)
  • 1 for a hot (trek from Santa Teresa to Agua Calientes)
  • 1 for Machu Picchu outfit (photo opp!)

Hiking pants long and short for different climate at different sections of the trek

  • Wear long pants if doing ziplining. There are TONS of blood-sucking insects


  • Underwear for 5 days trekking
  • Thermals (USA / UK) for first night campsite at >3900m and second-night campsite 2900m
  • Fleece jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Insulated jacket (recommended to wear layers as internal heat generated keeps trekkers warm)
  • Gloves (it can get very cold at campsite and Salkantay pass)
  • Cap/hat
  • Beanie for cold weather
  • Sleeping bag/pad -10 degrees C (Available to rent from company)
  • Refillable water bottle (min 1L)
  • Trekking poles (optional, can hire from company)
  • Small locks for the duffel bag on the mules
  • Waterproof ziplock bags

Trekking shoes

  • Trekking shoes
  • Sandals
  • Socks for five days (two days cold, three days warmer) + extra socks in case of rain

Toiletries and medicine

  • First aid kit
  • Hangover remedy US / UK is recommended – cheap drinks at Santa Teresa’s campfire)
  • Insect repellent and itch cure
  • Wet wipes and hand sanitiser
  • Toilet Paper
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Headlamp
  • Passport for Machu Picchu
  • Camera
  • Charging cables for phones and camera (charge at Agua Calientes hotel)
  • Snacks

Money for

  • Fruits/additional food and drinks
  • Beer and drinks available at various campsites
  • Bus to hot spring (15 soles)
  • Hot spring entrance fee (10 soles)
  • Ziplining (100 soles)
  • Photos for ziplining
  • Exploring Aguas Calientes (food, drinks, souvenirs)

Do remember

  • Payment receipt – Important!
  • Train ticket/receipt if included
  • Huayna Picchu/Machu Picchu Mountain ticket if included
  • Passport!

Lastly, prop for Machu Picchu money shot… Check out Owen’s guide to the Salkantay Trek.

Salkantay Trek packing list

Inca Jungle Trek packing list

By Patrick Muntzinger | German Backpacker

The Inca Jungle Trek is a great way to reach Machu Picchu since it’s a nice mix of trekking and fun activities such as zip-lining, mountain biking and rafting. Your accommodation will be guest houses (no camping equipment needed) and your guide will also take care of all your meals.

An important note: don’t book the trek online in advance – you’ll pay most likely four times as much as people who book the trek directly in Cusco.

There’s always enough availability (even in high season), so walk around Cusco, compare different offers and make sure to get a good deal – 150$ for the four days, including all accommodation, activities, meals and entrance to Machu Picchu is a fair price.

After this is sorted, it’s time to pack your bag! Here’s the ultimate packing list for the Machu Picchu Jungle Trek

Clothes and gear

  • 1 x pair of long pants (especially in winter, it cools down in the night)
  • 2 x pair of shorts (good for hiking)
  • 1 x swimming trunks (you’ll go rafting)
  • 4 x t-shirts
  • 1 x sweater (for these cool evenings)
  • 1 x rain jacket (especially in the rainy season!)
  • 4 x underwear and socks
  • Hiking shoes (comfortable for a lot of walking)
  • Flipflops (for the guesthouses and rafting)
  • Passport and documents
  • Sunglasses
  • Headlamp or torch (you’ll start climbing up to Machu Picchu when it’s still dark)
  • Powerbank
  • Chargers and adapter
  • Camera and phone
  • Candy and snacks

Toiletries and medicine

  • Toiletries
  • Toilet paper (always good to have in South America)
  • Travel towel
  • Mosquito spray
  • Sunscreen

Generally, it’s recommended and possible to pack very lightly for the Inca Jungle Trek. Since you’ll have a guide with you, everything is basically organised. Make sure to take only a small daypack which is comfortable to carry on your back (remember there is biking), and you’ll be fine!

What to wear to Machu Picchu

It is likely that you will visit Machu Picchu early in the morning to miss the crowds so you will need a warm layer until the clouds lift. Thereafter, your outfit will really be weather dependent so pack a raincoat in your day bag and be conservative with your dress code.

You can wear shorts and vest tops but dresses may be questioned (check out Follow Me Away’s story). 2017 rules allow cameras but tripods and drones need to be left in Cusco. Suntan lotion is also recommended, even if it’s misty you can still get burnt.

Machu Picchu trek packing list overview

Personally, I feel we packed efficiently for our trek. We advise you to carry snacks, your first aid kit, sunglasses, camera, phone, hats, gloves and most importantly, your passport in your Machu Picchu daypack and remember to collect your stamp at the entrance!

Now, this might sound crazy but I am seriously considering a hammock for future hikes/camping trips.

Naturally, this would only be seriously considered in warmer climates with a low mosquito count, but every time I see someone with a hammock (even in the airport, genius!) I am super jealous. This cause also helps out homeless people – win-win!

Lares trek to Machu Picchu packing list
Warning – dressing in the dark causes funny mistakes.

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What to pack for Machu Picchu

Have we missed anything?
Please leave any comments or questions below.

» Read next: our international hiking packing list


21 Cool Things to do in Cusco for Every Budget

Things to do in Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru is not just the gateway to one of the seven new wonders of the world, Machu Picchu. This city is home to 3.5 thousand citizens, over 90 hostels and, wait for it… a 12 angled stone. Jokes aside, Cusco quickly becomes the hub for travellers who are heading to or returning from the variety of hikes and day trips around the city. We (Gemma and Craig) stayed in here for a fortnight; attending Spanish school and experiencing things to do in Cusco.

Things to do in Cusco

1. Plaza de Armas

Cusco’s main square is a grassy area with a fountain and is surrounded by shops and places of worship.

The heart of the historic centre bustles with locals meeting for lunch and walking tours gathering to begin their stroll through the city.

2. Get High in Cusco

One of my favourite things to do in every city to climb a viewing point and if there is a drink involved, I’m even more content. Head to Calle del Medio restaurant for views of Plaza de Arma, a hot chocolate and some people watching.

Calle del Medio what to see in Cusco

3. Cusco Cathedral

Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption is the red-stoned building which faces on to Plaza de Armas.

This Catholic church is worth a visit during the day and in the evening to see it lit up.

4. 12 Angled Stone

Five minutes walk from the main square you can’t miss the 12 angled stone on Hatunrumiyoc because there will be a local asking for soles to show you the sides! 

  • Address: Hatunrumiyoc 480

5. Calle Carmen Alto

Carmen Alto is one of my favourite streets in Cusco.

I like walking along and looking at the stone buildings and craft shops tucked inside them.

We stayed around the corner from Carmen Alto at Thomas Grill and Garden which is ideal for couples and those looking to avoid the party hostels.

Carmen Alto Cusco

6. Eat Crepes!

Guilty! One of the main reasons I love this calle is because of the French creperie, La B’oM. I was as surprised as you are to hear of pancakes draped in Nutella in Peru. I may have visited more than once… La B’oM has a cool hostel too, check out rates and availability here.

  • Address: Carmen Alto

7. Jack’s Cafe

While we are on the topic of Western food, you may want to check out Jack’s Cafe. You can’t miss the crowds lining up to get in for burgers, milkshakes and French toast.

  • Address:  Choquechaka 509

8. Cook up a Storm

Love food? Check out a
Peruvian cooking class. Create meals using Andean recipes, hear about the history of the meals from Cuco’s top chefs and then gorge on them.

  • Check availability and rates here

9. San Blas

The San Blas area oozes with laid-back vibes where musicians play and artists sell crafts around Plaza San Blas. Accommodation in this area tends to be a little cheaper than the chain types which you will see pop up at all stops.

  • Note: the walk from Plaza de Armas to San Blas is steep

San Blas Cusco

10. Sabino Huamán

If you hear sweet sounds coming from a shopfront in the San Blas area it’s most likely the melodic tunes from Sabino Huamán’s guitar. 

Huamán is only one of two luthiers in Peru and he makes his own guitars; the process takes 50 days. Its mesmerising, go check him out.

  • Address: Calle Tandapata 370

Sabino Huaman Cusco

11. Vegan, Vegetarian Food + Plant Museum

Have you heard about ayahuasca in Peru? This brew made from vines can be consumed with the support of a spiritual local and sends the consumer into a hallucinogenic experience (not for the faint-hearted).

You can find out more about the plant and others like it at Cusco’s Natural Factory, which also sells vegan and vegetarian food.

  • Address: Pumacurco 433

Cusco vegetarian food - Natural Factory

12. Go Back to School!

As you travel through South America you will become more aware of how disadvantaged you are when you can’t speak Spanish.

Sure you will be able to navigate your way around the gringo trail but where’s the fun in that?

Break up your journey and learn a new skill at San Blas Spanish School. Classes take place in the morning with the offer of social events in the afternoon/evening. Read about our five days learning Español.

13. Do a Homestay

Travel is about leaving your comfort zone right?

It doesn’t get more challenging than swapping the safe haven of hostels with WiFi for a week staying with a Peruvian granny.

We shacked up with a lovely wee woman called Doris who lived a ten-minute walk from the centre.

Not only do you get to try your morning efforts from Spanish school on the homestay family but they also feed you, you can benefit from real Peruvian local prices in shops and you get to see what true Cusco culture is like.

14. Planetarium Cusco

A visit to Cusco Planetarium is just about looking at the stars. One of the best things to do in Cusco at night, this family-run tour is an educational lesson as well as star gazing.

Cusco is the spiritual home of the Inca civilisation. A thoroughly impressive culture, almost 10 million strong. Keeping this amount of people fed in the modern day is no easy feat but these guys managed it in the middle of the Andean mountains, at 4000m above sea level on rough/uneven terrain! The secret of this success was down to their deep connection to Pachamama (Mother Earth) in a way only comparable to natives on Pandora from the movie Avatar. This race had no written language but was still able to monitor seasons (only summer & winter in this part of Peru) and predict weather patterns including the El Niño phenomenon. All of this was made possible by monitoring Earth’s position in the solar system. We were lucky to see Jupiter with four moons and a Binary System (a cluster of rotating stars) before the clouds rudely interrupted our viewing pleasure.

  • Meeting point: Plaza Regocijo
  • Times: Monday-Saturday 17:40-19:40
  • Tip: wrap up, it gets cold 

15. Korma Sutra

While in the area why not grab a curry at one of Craig’s favourite curry houses, in the world – Cusco’s Korma Sutra. Try the tandoori guinea pig (cuy) for a traditional Peruvian twist.

  • Address:  Calle Teatro 382

16. Walking Tours in Cusco

One of the top things to do in Cusco when you first arrive is to take a walking tour of the city. I try to do this on day one of trips to help me find my bearings and to tap into local tips. Tours are offered in Spanish and English and if you choose right, you might end up with a free Peruvian Pisco sours!

  • Meeting point: Plaza de Armas
  • Note: free tours aren’t actually free, payments are collected via tips at the end
  • Tip: one of the nice things to do in Cusco on your own if you want to make friends – we dined with a couple who met on the tour

Plaza del Armas Things to do in Cusco, Peru

17. Museo del Chocolate Cusco

One of the best things to do in Cusco of the sweet tooth amongst us is to visit the Chocolate museum. Chocolatiers show you how they make chocolate. You can buy some too! Book a tour to find out about chocolate from the Peruvian jungle (two hours, starts at 4pm).

  • Address: Calle Garcilaso 210

Museo del Chocolate Cusco

18. San Pedro Market

It’s a travellers rite of passage to buy a llama sweatshirt from San Pedro Market in Cusco! It’s also a great spot if you are about to do one of the many hikes in Peru as you can pick up headbands and scarfs, it gets chilly up high remember! Fruit, snacks, bags and flags are also available.

  • Address: Cascaparo

19. Cusco Viewing Points

I have a secret to share, the best Cusco viewing point was actually from our room at Thomas Grill and Garden! However, you can also see the sites of Cusco for free from Mirador Chawarna Qosqo. Other travellers rave about Cusco’s View Point hotel – what to see in Cusco? The city panoramic views!

What to do in Cusco - viewing points

20. Party in Cusco

You would expect cities to have a vibrant nightlife and Cusco’s party scene won’t let you down. I distinctly remember drinking in Loki then heading out to a club where I danced on the bar with a box shaped like a robot on my head.

Cannot tell you the name of the club, unfortunately – answers on a postcard! We also partied at Mythology which played 90s RnB music which always makes me happy. Paddy’s Irish Bar screens the football if you need to catch a game.

  • Tip: partying in high altitude calls for horrendous hangovers. Pack hydration tablets, see our list below.

21. Day trips from Cusco

Cusco really is the gateway to history and hikes. The most famous hike is the Inca Trail but did you know that there are 14 ways to get to Machu Picchu?

They don’t all include hiking either which is great for those on a tight schedule, budget or don’t want to walk. One thing I am really disappointed that I missed out on is a trip to Rainbow Mountain.

This colourful Peruvian landmark can be hiked in one day too! Click here for more details and don’t miss out as we did.

A great way to learn about the Inca civilisation is through a day trip to the Sacred Valley.

This bus/group tour picks you up from your accommodation in Cusco on to the Sacred Valley, Pisac market to see local patterned textiles and Inca artefacts.

Buffet lunch is included close to Ollantaytambo where visitors discover the stone terraces, fortress and Sun Temple.

How to get to Machu Picchu in Peru_

Altitude in Cusco

Cusco’s height above sea level comes in at 3,399 metres so it is advised that visitors spend time in the city to adjust before heading off on hikes to Machu Picchu.

We travelled from Lima to Arequipa then Cusco (with stops along the way) and never felt the impact, apart from after a few too many cervazas!

Jokes aside, acclimatise – two members of our Machu Picchu team fell sick, one from the beginning the other half-way through. Luckily donkeys and trained guides were on hand.

How to Get to Cusco

Cusco can be reached by bus or plane. Flights from Peru’s capital, Lima to Cusco take just over one hour and Arequipa to Cusco takes one hour. Airport transfers can be booked here.

There are no direct bus routes from Lima, the most efficient is around 22 hours (brutal!) There are so many stops along the way that you wouldn’t want to miss so avoid this option.

The bus from Arequipa to Cusco is under ten hours. We used Peru Hop, the safe hop on/off bus service, from Lima all the way to Puno then joined the Bolivia Hop bus to La Paz. Next stop Puno? This direct bus leaves at 08:30 and gets into Puno at 3:30pm.

Many travellers enter Peru from Bolivia, Puno to Cusco takes around seven hours by public bus. Don’t forget to check out the Taquile Island, the less tacky trip near Uros Floating Islands (see below for our full Peru guide).

Another option is to head from Cusco to the Amazon by flight (then boat) or bus. Cusco to Manu National Park by bus takes around eight hours.

Cusco Packing List

  • A waterproof coat like this Marmot Precip US / UK or Mountain Equipment Rupal US / UK
  • Comfortable walking shoes and hiking boots – I swear by Salomon Ellipse trek shoes US / UK
  • Camera and battery
  • Battery pack for your phone – I vouch for Anker’s range US / UK
  • Waterproof Osprey bag cover US / UK
  • Filter and purifying water bottle like Water To Go [quote TSA15 at checkout for 15% off]
  • Zero-waste Bamboo cutlery set US / UK
  • Skross universal travel adaptor with USB slots US / UK
  • Pacsafe safety net US / UK – especially if staying in communal hostels
  • Hydration tablets US / UK – for partying remedies

Peru really is something for everyone and the city of Cusco is a microcosm of the country itself – hikes, history, gastronomy and llamas!

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21 Things to do in Cusco Peru

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