Machu Picchu in the morning or afternoon?


The rules for visiting Machu Picchu changed on July 1st 2017, and below we tell you everything you need to know in order to make the most of your visit to the ruins.

Machu Picchu – Photo: Christelle Bittner

How do I get up there?

That hasn’t changed. You’ll need to take a minibus that leaves from Consettur. The price is US$24.00 return fare for foreign nationals. For Peruvians, the cost is US$15.00 return fare. It is also possible to walk up to Machu Picchu, along a dirt trail through the forest. You’ll find the trail on the way out of town, passing the Ruinas Bridge. You can take the same trail back to town; of course, walking downhill is easier. The ascent can be completed in around ninety minutes, while the descent should take you around 45 minutes.

Machu Picchu – Photo: Christelle Bittner

In the morning or afternoon?

The Inca city of Machu Picchu, also known as Llaqta Machu Picchu, is open from 6:00 am until 5:30 am, and entry is permitted between 6:00 am and 4:00 pm, with visitors allowed to spend a total of four hours at the ruins. That is the big change: you can only visit Machu Picchu for four hours from the time you enter the ruins. The normal entrance fee is S/152 Peruvian soles. For the time being, the late visitors’ rate (from 1:00 pm) remains S/100 soles.

To be honest, given the usual schedules of agencies and big groups, independent travelers are probably better off visiting the ruins in the afternoon. The myth of dawn at Machu Picchu is a little overrated. I have been four times and I’ve never seen a dawn with the bright sunshine I’d hoped for. Machu Picchu is capricious: the clouds come and go, and the late afternoon can be wonderful as the sun goes down. Whatever time you choose, the idea is to take full advantage of the maximum four hour visiting time to see the main ruins with a mandatory guide (read more below) and spend the rest of the time exploring independently. The Sun Gate, or Intipunku, offers a magical panoramic view of the ruins that can be enjoyed at no extra cost. I visited at 4:00 pm on April 14th and there was nobody there, not a soul at the top. I also have photographs of Machu Picchu completely empty just a few minutes before 5:30 pm. So now you know: if you don’t like waiting in line, choose the afternoon visiting schedule.

In the morning, from 6:00 am to 12:00 noon, a maximum of 3267 persons are allowed to visit the ruins, including those visiting the mountains of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu and arriving from the Network of Inca Trails and the Western Entrance. In the afternoon, from 12:00 noon to 5:30 pm, a maximum of 2673 visitors are permitted. It should be remembered that Machu Picchu is protected by UNESCO and visitors are expected to respect the regulations designed to protect this World Heritage Site.

Machu Picchu – Photo: Christelle Bittner

Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain?

The other option for getting away from tour groups is to buy a ticket for one of these two alternative routes. Both circuits are special, offering a different view of the ruins and making it possible to spend more time at the site.

Huayna Picchu is unbeatable, because the summit is narrow and the view towards the ruins is so immediate. The route requires visitors to be in good physical condition and it is not recommended for vertigo sufferers. The route takes around three hours, or four hours including a visit to the Great Cave. The first visiting schedule is from 7:00 am to 8:00 am, and the second schedule is from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. Only 200 people are allowed to visit during each scheduled visiting time. With the entrance to Huayna Picchu, visitors are allowed to remain at the ruins for up to six hours.

Machu Picchu Mountain is a steady climb but not as high as Huayna Picchu. It offers a panoramic view of the ruins as well as all the surrounding mountain chains, with peaks covered in tropical vegetation and the river painting rainbows far below. Entrance is during the first visiting schedule, from 7:00 am to 8:00 am, or during the second visiting schedule, from 8:00 am to 9:00 am. During each of these, a maximum of 400 visitors are permitted. With the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu Mountain, it is possible to remain at the ruins for a total of seven hours.

Machu Picchu – Photo: Christelle Bittner

With or without a guide?

This is the other big change. All visitors who enter the ruins must now have a tour guide, and the maximum group size is sixteen persons. There always used to be guides offering their services at the entrance, but now those services are mandatory and the costs have not yet been published. Visitors must decide which of the three circuits they would like to do. These circuits are similar, and they function as a way of spreading out visitor numbers. Each circuit takes three hours to complete. This leaves one hour to enjoy the ruins independently and walk around as much as you can.

Take note…

The new rules also state that it is no longer possible to leave the ruins and reenter (the restrooms are at the entrance). Also, no food, large backpacks, tripods and other equipment are allowed within the ruins.


  • Visiting times from 6:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; entrance until 4:00 p.m.
  • Mandatory guide
  • The Machu Picchu visit costs S/152 Peruvian soles for foreign nationals and S/64 soles for Peruvian nationals.
  • The maximum stay at the ruins is 4 hours
  • Machu Picchu Afternoon (from 1:00 p.m. onward) S/100 soles for foreign nationals.  The maximum stay at the ruins is 4 hours
  • Huayna Picchu, S/200 soles for foreign nationals and S/112 soles for Peruvian nationals.
  • The maximum stay at the ruins is 6 hours
  • Machu Picchu Mountain, S/200 for foreign nationals and S/112 soles for Peruvian nationals.
  • The maximum stay at the ruins is 7 hours