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The Cheapest Way To Get To Machu Picchu (Updated 2019)


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Rose Fischer



Perched high in the magnificent Andes Mountains of Peru, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This ancient Incan citadel attracts millions of visitors each year, and it’s no surprise why. With its stunning architecture, breathtaking vistas, and rich historical significance, Machu Picchu is a must-visit destination for any traveler.


However, planning a trip to Machu Picchu can be daunting, especially when it comes to transportation options. From navigating through Cusco to deciding on the best method of transportation, there are a few things to consider in order to make your visit more affordable and convenient.


In this article, we will explore the cheapest way to get to Machu Picchu, taking into account updated information for the year 2019. Whether you’re a budget-conscious traveler or simply looking for the most efficient route, we’ll provide you with the insights and tips you need to plan your unforgettable journey to this ancient wonder.


Before we delve into the details, let’s take a closer look at Machu Picchu and why it continues to captivate the hearts of travelers from around the world.


Understanding Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas,” is believed to have been built in the 15th century by the Inca civilization. It remained hidden from the Spanish conquistadors and the outside world until its rediscovery in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, an American explorer. Since then, it has become one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world.


Situated at approximately 7,970 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level, Machu Picchu offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Andes Mountains and the Urubamba River valley. The site is comprised of impressive stone structures, terraces, and temples that showcase the advanced engineering skills of the Incas.


One of the main attractions within Machu Picchu is the Intihuatana Stone, which is believed to have served as an astronomical observatory. Additionally, the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Three Windows, and the Sacred Rock are significant architectural features that highlight the spiritual and religious importance of the site.


Visiting Machu Picchu not only provides a glimpse into the fascinating Inca civilization but also offers an opportunity to connect with nature. The surrounding cloud forest is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including orchids, hummingbirds, and spectacled bears.


It’s important to note that due to the site’s significance and vulnerability, it has been subject to conservation efforts and certain restrictions are in place to protect its integrity. This includes limiting the number of daily visitors, requiring official guides for certain areas, and implementing strict regulations to preserve the natural environment.


Now that we have a brief understanding of the historical and natural wonder that is Machu Picchu, let’s move on to the best time to visit and make the most of your experience.


Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu

Choosing the best time to visit Machu Picchu can greatly enhance your experience. The climate, weather conditions, and tourist crowds can all impact your visit. Here are some factors to consider when planning your trip:

  • Dry Season: The dry season in Machu Picchu runs from May to October, which is considered the best time to visit. During this period, you can expect sunny days and clear skies. The weather is generally mild during the day, with cool temperatures at night. It’s important to note that even during the dry season, weather conditions can vary, so it’s always a good idea to pack layers and be prepared for sudden changes.
  • Wet Season: The wet season in Machu Picchu occurs from November to April. While the weather can be unpredictable during this time, with frequent rain showers, it also brings lush green landscapes and fewer tourists. If you don’t mind some rain and want to avoid crowds, the wet season can be a good option. However, it’s important to keep in mind that heavy rain can result in landslides and trail closures, so it’s crucial to stay updated on weather conditions and be flexible with your plans.
  • Crowds: Machu Picchu is a popular tourist destination, and it can get crowded, especially during peak times. The months of June, July, and August tend to see the highest number of visitors, so if you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons in May or September. Additionally, planning your visit for early morning or late afternoon can help you avoid the largest crowds.

It’s important to note that visiting during the COVID-19 pandemic may require additional considerations and alternative planning. Make sure to check the latest travel advisories and guidelines before making any arrangements.


Now that you have an idea of the best time to visit Machu Picchu, let’s explore the different transportation options available to reach this stunning archaeological site.


Transportation Options to Machu Picchu

Getting to Machu Picchu requires some careful planning, as it involves traveling to the town of Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, which serves as the gateway to the ancient site. Here are the main transportation options available:

  • Train: Taking the train is one of the most popular transportation options for reaching Machu Picchu. There are several train companies that operate routes from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. The journey offers stunning views of the Andes and is a comfortable and scenic way to travel. However, it’s important to book your train tickets well in advance, especially during the high season, as they can sell out quickly.
  • Trekking: For those seeking a more adventurous and immersive experience, trekking to Machu Picchu is an excellent option. The most famous trek is the Inca Trail, which takes approximately four days to complete and requires a permit. Other popular treks include the Salkantay Trek and the Lares Trek. Trekking allows you to experience the beautiful landscapes and archaeological sites along the way, but it requires physical fitness and proper preparation.
  • Bus and Hike: If you prefer a more budget-friendly option, you can take a bus from Cusco to the hydroelectric plant, and from there, hike for about three hours to Aguas Calientes. This option allows you to save money on train tickets while still enjoying a scenic hike through the lush countryside. It’s important to note that this option involves a longer travel time and requires some physical stamina.

Once you reach Aguas Calientes, you can then take a shuttle bus up to the entrance of Machu Picchu. The bus ride takes approximately 30 minutes and provides breathtaking views along the way. Alternatively, if you’re feeling energetic, you can hike up to the site, which takes about 1-2 hours depending on your fitness level.


It’s crucial to plan your transportation in advance and make the necessary reservations, especially during peak tourist seasons. Now that we have covered the different transportation options, let’s explore the cheapest way to get to Machu Picchu.


The Cheapest Way to Get to Machu Picchu

For budget-conscious travelers, finding the cheapest way to get to Machu Picchu is key. Here are some tips to help you save money on your journey:

  • Take a Bus and Hike: As mentioned earlier, taking a bus from Cusco to the hydroelectric plant and then hiking to Aguas Calientes is one of the most affordable options. This allows you to enjoy the stunning scenery while saving money on train tickets. However, keep in mind that this option requires more time and physical stamina.
  • Visit During the Low Season: Traveling during the low season, which typically occurs from November to April, can help you save money on transportation and accommodation. During this time, prices tend to be lower, and you may even find discounted tour packages. However, be prepared for potential rain showers and check for any trail closures due to landslides.
  • Book in Advance: Whether you choose to take the train or hike, booking your tickets and permits in advance is crucial to securing the best prices. Train tickets, especially, can sell out quickly during the high season, so make sure to plan your trip and make the necessary reservations well ahead of time.
  • Pack Your Meals and Snacks: Food and drinks inside Machu Picchu can be quite expensive. Save money by packing your own meals and snacks for the day. Just make sure to follow the site’s regulations regarding what is allowed inside the archaeological complex.
  • Explore on Your Own: While hiring a guide can provide valuable insights and historical context, it’s not mandatory to enjoy Machu Picchu. If you’re comfortable exploring on your own, you can save money by forgoing a guide. Alternatively, you can join a group tour, which tends to be more cost-effective than hiring a private guide.

By considering these tips and planning wisely, you can experience the wonder of Machu Picchu without blowing your budget. Now, let’s move on to the updated 2019 information that you need to know for your visit.


Updated 2019 Information

When planning your visit to Machu Picchu in 2019, there are a few important updates and considerations to keep in mind:

  • Entry Restrictions: In order to preserve the site and manage the number of visitors, the Peruvian government implemented entry restrictions for Machu Picchu. As of 2019, visitors have to choose a specific time slot for entry, either in the morning (6:00 AM – 12:00 PM) or in the afternoon (12:00 PM – 5:30 PM). It’s crucial to book your entry ticket in advance and plan your visit accordingly.
  • Trail Permits: If you’re considering hiking to Machu Picchu, whether it’s the Inca Trail or one of the alternative treks, you’ll need to secure a trail permit. These permits are limited and sell out quickly, especially during the high season. It’s recommended to book your permits several months in advance to secure your spot.
  • Stay in Aguas Calientes: Spending a night in Aguas Calientes, the town located at the base of Machu Picchu, is a convenient option for those looking to maximize their time at the site. There are budget-friendly accommodations available in Aguas Calientes, and being within close proximity to Machu Picchu allows you to start your visit early in the morning.
  • COVID-19 Protocols: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, additional health and safety protocols may be in place when visiting Machu Picchu. It’s important to stay updated on the latest travel advisories, guidelines, and requirements before booking your trip. Make sure to check for any testing or vaccination requirements, as well as any restrictions or limitations on visitor numbers.
  • Bring Proper Gear: Regardless of the season, it’s important to come prepared with the right gear for your visit to Machu Picchu. This includes comfortable walking shoes, layers of clothing, rain gear, sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, and a reusable water bottle. Being well-prepared will ensure a more enjoyable experience.

By staying informed about the latest updates and adhering to the regulations in place, you can make the most of your visit to Machu Picchu in 2019. Now, let’s conclude our discussion on this extraordinary destination.



Machu Picchu is a truly mesmerizing destination that offers a glimpse into the fascinating history and architectural marvels of the Inca civilization. By understanding the best time to visit, exploring transportation options, and considering budget-friendly tips, you can plan an unforgettable trip to this ancient wonder without breaking the bank.


Whether you choose to take a train, embark on a trek, or opt for a more budget-friendly bus and hike combination, each transportation option has its own unique advantages. The train offers comfort and stunning views, while trekking allows for a more adventurous and immersive experience. The bus and hike option, on the other hand, provides a more affordable alternative for those on a tight budget.


By visiting during the low season, booking in advance, and packing your own meals, you can further minimize costs and make your visit to Machu Picchu more budget-friendly. Don’t forget to check the updated 2019 information, including entry restrictions and trail permits, to ensure a smooth and well-planned trip.


Lastly, staying informed about the latest COVID-19 protocols and requirements is crucial for a safe and responsible visit to Machu Picchu. Make sure to check for any travel advisories and guidelines related to the pandemic, and follow all health and safety precautions while exploring the site.


In conclusion, Machu Picchu is an extraordinary destination that will leave you in awe of its ancient beauty and historical significance. With careful planning, a sense of adventure, and a desire to explore, you can embark on a memorable journey to this iconic Incan citadel and create lifelong memories.