There are many reasons why people want to visit Machu Picchu. The site draws 5,000 people daily in high season and is deemed one of the new world wonders. It’s been the subject of fascination for over 100 years after being rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. From the intricate Inca stonework to its jaw-dropping surroundings and its unique spiritual energy, this Inca city is truly a sight to behold. For most adventurers, to plan a trip to Machu Picchu is to fulfill a childhood dream.
A Machu Picchu trip in Peru makes the top of many people’s bucket lists, and once they reach the Inca ruins, they want to know how many days they need to get the most out of the experience. For most travelers, one day at Machu Picchu, with a 2-3 hour guided tour, is enough to see all the important archaeological features, take in the beautiful vistas and bask in the mystical vibe of this incredible place. It might even be enough time to check out Aguas Calientes, too.
Opting for an all-inclusive tour instantly removes the stress of planning your Machu Picchu trip. This is also perfect for those prone to a little last-minute planning! Machu Picchu tickets sell out fast as there are limited entrance tickets daily, and only 2500 people are permitted access to the UNESCO world heritage site daily. Booking via a local tour operator such as Valencia Travel is one way of getting around these restrictions, as we have priority over the daily quota of tickets before they are released to the public. It is, however, still advisable to book at least a few weeks in advance, as even these tickets sell out during busy seasons (May-September).
As one of the best day trips from Cusco, Machu Picchu will highlight your Peru adventure. So if you don’t have time to fit in a full trek to the Inca citadel, a day-trip option is going to be perfect for you. The first thing to consider is that the Machu Picchu full day is an early morning tour. You must get up early to be picked up, around 03 to 04 am. This is for the time it takes to get to the Inca citadel (around 04 hours covering a distance of 75 km or 47 miles). The transportation will transfer you from your hotel to the Ollantaytambo train station or Poroy train station (both located outside of Cusco).
Usually, from these stations, the train takes around 2- 3 hours to reach its destination of Aguas Calientes. If you enjoy train trips, we recommend taking the trains from these stations to enjoy the amazing views and landscapes of the Andes and the Peruvian cloud forest. The Expedition Train is the most popular tourist class service, and The Vistadome service offers impressive panoramic views of the surrounding Andean countryside. The luxury Hiram Bingham service is for those looking for a taste of luxury along the way, with exquisite furnishings and onboard meals to enjoy. (ask us for more information about the train services). Train tickets have seat numbers assigned to them, so there will be no worries about finding seats together.
The Machu Picchu in one trip has priority boarding and return shuttle bus fare from Aguas Calientes to the Machu Picchu entrance. This is arguably the most convenient part of the entire tour! When you arrive at Aguas Calientes train station, a mass of people try to find buses up to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Often the wait for the buses to the entrance can be well over an hour - but not on this tour! The tour includes a professional tour guide and entrance tickets to Machu Picchu. To visit Machu Picchu ruins, you must be on a guided tour. This is non-optional and is enforced to protect the ecosystem of Machu Picchu as much as possible. The guided tour section of Machu Picchu takes roughly 2.5 hours and is the perfect introduction to the famous ruins; the tour guide provided plenty of time to take photos while also navigating you through the history, fables, and stories of this amazing Inca site. After the tour, you will have plenty of time to explore and wander around the site independently. You can revisit all of the areas you saw on tour or choose to explore newer areas that weren’t seen on the original guided tour.
Depending on how much time you will have spent wandering around the Machu Picchu site independently after your tour, you will still have time to see the town of Aguas Calientes. Your bus ticket from earlier on in the day will allow you to take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes from the entrance to Machu Picchu. Aguas Calientes is a very touristy town (the prices often reflect this), but it is still full of charm and character. Wander around the markets or choose to sit in one of the many cafes/restaurants and relax after what will have been a hectic and tiring day. Next is the return train to Ollantaytambo or Poroy train station. Then a private car will be waiting for you at the station. The driver will take you directly back to your Cusco accommodation.
Significantly cheaper than a multi-day trek to Machu Picchu
Good for limited-time schedules
Still plenty of time to see the archaeological site and explore
No fitness level is required, and suitable for all mobility levels
Experience winding through lush green forests and narrow gorges on the train to Aguas Calientes.
An all-weather, friendly option …… no one wants to trek in the Peruvian rainy season!
A handier option for last-minute booking
You won’t be making the Inca Trail
It will be a LONG day (4 am-9 pm approx)
If you want to explore Huayna Picchu Mountain or Machu Picchu Mountain also, it might feel rushed. We recommend our 2-day tour for this option.
You are a little more restricted when you arrive at Machu Picchu.
Find out more about our Machu Picchu Tours here!