How and Where to Buy Machu Picchu Tickets as an Independent Traveler?

Is a visit to Machu Picchu on your bucket list for Peru? Do you want to know how to buy Machu Picchu tickets and where to get them? Check this guide on all the different ways to buy your Machu Picchu entrance tickets as an independent traveler!

There are different ways to buy Machu Picchu tickets as an independent traveler to Peru. Read the various options on where to get tickets to Machu Picchu in Cusco and Aguas Caliente. Read here how it works and how you can buy your Machu Picchu tickets too.

A visit to Machu Picchu was my dream and would be the highlight of my travels around South America. I visited Peru in May, so this could be considered the shoulder season.

My visit to Machu Picchu would be at the end of my trip so it was difficult to pinpoint my visit to the ancient Inca ruins to an exact date. A lot went wrong with my visit to Machu Picchu and I ended up buying tickets in several ways.

The good thing is: I can tell you exactly how to buy Machu Picchu tickets as an independent traveler to Peru.

This post is sponsored. However, all opinions are my own. There is a chance this post contains affiliate links. When you purchase something via one of my links, I will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

Buy Tickets to Machu Picchu as part of the Inca Trail

Many people hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and do not buy their Machu Picchu tickets themselves, but they book a tour with a company. They receive a permit to hike the Inca Trail, a guide and entrance tickets to Machu Picchu.

I did not hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu so I have no personal experience with this. Read more about Hiking the Inca Trail from Emily from Seehertravel or read Machu Picchu or Patagonia about long-distance hikes.

How to buy Machu Picchu tickets online

I researched the option to buy Machu Picchu tickets online. If you know when you’ll visit Machu Picchu and you want to make sure you’ll have a valid entrance ticket in high season, this is a good option.

There are different ways to buy Machu Picchu tickets as an independent traveller to Peru. I give you all the options from my personal experiences.
The website from the Peruvian Ministry of Culture where you can buy your ticket to Machu Picchu online

I looked at my itinerary and went to the website to buy my Machu Picchu tickets online. I almost finalized my purchase but decided to allow myself a bit more freedom while traveling. Here is how you can buy Machu Picchu tickets online:

  • Go to the website from the Ministry of Culture of Peru
  • Select the type of tickets. There are several options.
    1. Entrance to Machu Picchu (first turn (sold out quickly) or 2nd turn)
    2. Entrance to Machu Picchu and climb Huayna Picchu Mountain (2 time slots)
    3. Entrance to Machu Picchu and climb Machu Picchu Mountain. For more details on this hike, check 7continents1passort and their post about the Machu Picchu Mountain hike.
    4. Entrance to Machu Picchu in the afternoon (after 1 pm)
  • Select the date and how many tickets you want
  • Pay immediately
  • Print and take it with you! No smart Phone download tickets.

The website is known to be sketchy. If it takes too long or doesn’t display properly, try again at a different time. For the prices for 2020, check this page from the Ministery.

Buy Machu Picchu Tickets via a Tour Agent

When you travel to Peru as an independent traveler (aka not part of an organized tour) you can always book a tour to visit Machu Picchu. There are many tour agents in Cusco and the other cities of Peru. They are very eager to sell you tours and tickets to Machu Picchu. Find your tickets via a tour agency and buy them in advance here.

Read more: Train to Machu Picchu Peru– a non-hiking guide.

I looked around in Cusco and visited several tour offices and inquired after their tours and the trip to Machu Picchu. They all offered pretty much the same:

Transport to the train station, train tickets to Aguas Caliente, accommodation in Aguas Caliente, a tour guide, Machu Picchu entrance tickets and the return train journey.

There are different ways to buy Machu Picchu tickets as an independent traveller to Peru. I give you all the options from my personal experiences.
The train to Machu Picchu is quite expensive

I checked prices for over 6 offices and talked with many people. Finally, I settled for a tour to Machu Picchu with a certain agent. We agreed on prices and I would come back the next day to pay the rest of the fee and get more details. They would buy Machu Picchu tickets for me as well as arrange all the other things.

My tour to Machu Picchu

I intentionally say “would” because they didn’t.

They said they did but I ended up buying my own train tickets to Aguas Caliente. I arrived in Aguas Caliente without an entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. I’ll tell you more about this nightmare here.

I do think booking a tour to Machu Picchu is very easy and should be considered by all independent travelers.

My tip to you: make sure you have your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu before you’ll leave Cusco. I didn’t but it did give me personal experience with how to buy Machu Picchu tickets in all possible ways!

Buy Machu Picchu tickets in Aguas Caliente

So there I was, in Aguas Caliente and no ticket to Machu Picchu. What was I to do? I walked around town and was directed to the office of the Ministry of Culture at the town square. I waited in line and I asked if it was possible to buy tickets for Machu Picchu to visit the same day.

The man behind the desk looked at me with a frown on his face. He pointed at a sign that said tickets for Huayna Picchu Mountain were sold out until August (it was May.)

I shook my head. I said I only wanted to buy entrance tickets to Machu Picchu. He nodded. He asked for my passport and printed out a ticket.

There are different ways to buy Machu Picchu tickets as an independent traveller to Peru. I give you all the options from my personal experiences.
Buzzing Aguas Caliente, aka Machu Picchu Village

As the ticket was for the same day, he gave me a discount (it was 2.30 pm, Machu Picchu closes at 5 pm) and handed me my ticket for Machu Picchu.

Before he would change his mind, I ran off to hop on the first shuttle bus to Machu Picchu so I could have 2 whole hours in Machu Picchu before it closes.

Note: I was very lucky to be able to buy a ticket on that short notice in Aguas Caliente. I do not recommend to rely on this in the high season. It is always better to have your Machu Picchu entrance ticket before you go to Aguas Caliente.

By the time I got back that evening, I still did not receive my entrance ticket to Machu Picchu from the tour agent for the next day. So the next morning, I had to go to the Aguas Caliente office again, to buy another ticket. I ended up going to Machu Picchu twice, so this worked out in the end.

There are different ways to buy Machu Picchu tickets as an independent traveller to Peru. I give you all the options from my personal experiences.
Sitting on top of the world!

The office in Aguas Caliente is located at Av. Pachacutec, this is right off the main plaza. They are open 7 days a week from, 5.00 am – 8.00 pm (please check, opening times can change with the season and the mood of the people who has the keys).

Buy Machu Picchu tickets in Cusco

When I returned to Cusco, I was happy with how my trip to Machu Picchu played out. But I was definitely not happy with the tour agent whom I paid to buy Machu Picchu tickets for me! I went back to the tour agent and complained about their services.

After a lot of arguments and discussions, we went to the office of the Ministry of Culture in Cusco together. We hoped to explain the situation and see if I could get my money back. This didn’t go so well and out of despair, the agent gave me back some of the money. As I didn’t want to waste any more valuable time, I let it go.

There are different ways to buy Machu Picchu tickets as an independent traveller to Peru. I give you all the options from my personal experiences.
The ticket to Machu Picchu

But, now I did know where the office was located and how things worked down there. I met another independent traveler to Peru and she wanted to buy her Machu Picchu ticket before she would go (probably because of my horror story).

We ended up going back to the office together and she was able to buy Machu Picchu tickets in Cusco.

The office in Cusco is located at Calle Garcilaso, it is open Monday to Saturday, from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm. (please check yourself as time may vary too)

Important note on buying Machu Picchu entrance tickets:

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you book your tickets to Machu Picchu as part of a trail, on the internet, with a tour agent or in Lima, Cusco or Aguas Caliente.

The most important thing is to bring your passport when you buy Machu Picchu tickets.

Also, bring enough money and have your ticket in hand before your journey to Machu Picchu begins. If you do not have your ticket, they will not let you inside Machu Picchu and it is not worth taking the bus up to Machu Picchu because you cannot see the sight.

As the train tickets to Aguas Caliente are very expensive and there is nothing else to do in Machu Picchu Pueblo, it will be a huge disappointment if you can’t visit Machu Picchu!

Once inside Machu Picchu, the fun can begin! I spend the whole day in Machu Picchu but other people only check the sights for 2 hours and are on their way again. To help understand the vastness of the whole Machu Picchu complex, below the infographic of Machu Picchu from Cachi Life with detailed information. Click for more information.

What would be your preferred way to buy tickets to Machu Picchu? How did you buy your Machu Picchu tickets? Did you find it easy to buy Machu Picchu tickets? Let me know your story of visiting this famous sight in Peru!

There are different ways to buy Machu Picchu tickets as an independent traveller to Peru. I give you all the options from my personal experiences.
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  1. Suhas

    The official website gives me the option of Machu Picchu 2nd Turno.

    Does this mean Machu Picchu afternoon slot of 12 to 5:30 pm?

    Also both 1st turno and 2nd turno show price at 152 soles. But I heard the afternoon slot is cheaper. Is that correct?

    1. the 2nd turno is indeed the afternoon time slot from 12 till 5.30 pm. According to official rules, the tickets are the same price. Maybe some tour agency offer higher prices for the morning tickets as they are in higher demand. I hope you’ll have a great time Suhas.

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  5. Dayna

    Thank you for your article. I am planning a trip middle of May 2017 and am having trouble buying train tickets or Hayna and Machu Pichu tickets through the websites. Are they even available this far in advance? And how do I know when they will become available so as to assure I get the date I want. I can’t seem to find any of this information online. Any advice would be helpful

  6. Thank you for sharing this information with us! I have always wanted to visit Machu Picchu (and Peru more generally!), so I will definitely pin this for later 😉 It seems like it would be easiest to book online, especially since I don’t really like organized tours.

  7. Fantastic detailed tips! Machu Pichu is high on my list. We started planning to go last year, but switched gears at the last minute. We think we’ll get there when the kids are a bit older and altitude is less of an issue. Did you have any altitude issues?

    1. I am not sure if altitude issues occur more with small children than with older ones. It is all about adjusting to the height. By the time I got to Machu Picchu, I had been in South America for 4 weeks already and already travelled to much higher altitudes. The steps are very uneven thought and you have to watch you’re footing. It is not very stroller friendly but I saw plenty of young children at the ruins Natalie.

  8. Tickets sold out in advance for months just proves how Machu Picchu is a sought after travel destination. I guess no one would argue with that. I learned a lot from this post, thank you for sharing the tips and tricks. At first I don’t have any idea about it but now I’m getting a clearer picture on how things are done. 🙂

  9. The best thing about travel bloggers is we are here to make the mistakes for everyone else and save the day. I’m so luck you were able to make it in to see the sight you had dreamed of seeing. I am definitely saving this post as I am working on an epic S. America trip and Andes hiking tour. Thanks for the info!

  10. Wow, that’s great advice there.. Usually with that kind of stuff I make sure I have tickets – which is why for me buying online would be the option to go. That’s mainly because Machu Picchu is on the top of my bucket list and when I go to Peru (not planned yet, but I’m on it) that would be the most important thing – I wouldn’t want to miss out because of sold out tickets or dodgy tour agents. you got so lucky though, so it all worked out in the end! Thanks for the post.

  11. Soraya

    This is fantastic information, and so important to know. Machu Picchu is high on bucket list. I am not sure if I would do the Inca Trail or not. I think I might end up doing the train ride instead and would probably buy the ticket in advance online.

  12. Awesome tips, Naomi! I have had some bad experiences booking tours through agents as well, so I am usually weary of going that route. I would probably just buy my ticket online in advance. By the way, do you know how far in advance I would need to book my ticket online? Thanks for all the helpful info! 🙂

    1. It depends a bit on when you’re going Diana. If you want to hike the Inca Trail, you need to book as far in advance as possible. You can book from January onwards for the same year. If you know when you’re going to Machu Picchu I’d just say: book it. Online is very well possible and then it is secured.

  13. I actually didn’t even know that you had to buy Macchu Picchu tickets in advance. I visited so long ago with my family and don’t remember how we bought them. However, I’d love to return and visit the ruins as part of the Inca Trail! Good tip on bringing a passport!

    1. Maybe before the entrance was free Erika? The climb up the gate towards the entrance of Machu Picchu is pretty ordatious and the busride is expensive so I guess that is why they don’t have a ticket booth at the entrance. As there are only a fixed number of people allowed per day, things can be sold out.

  14. Nice, I did not know there were so many options and instructions to follow through! the place is, of course, worth all the hassle. I’ve never been but its on my bucket list, being a world wonder and all! thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. I don’t know Noemi. They kept saying they did buy my ticket but couldn’t find me in Aguas Caliente, although they had my hotel, roomnumber and phonenumber. I called them at all 5 available phonenumbers and non was existing. I was running around town frantically to find some sort of lead but nobody even heard of the company. When I got back, they couldn’t present me with the reservation number for my ticket, so this had me believe they never bought it in the end.

  15. Wow. What an ordeal. You sound super lucky to have gotten to see that! I definitely would look into getting everything booked in advance. Wouldn’t want to get all the way there and have someone say it’s booked until August and you can’t go at all. -_-

  16. This is really great advice on how to correctly buy the tickets without all the hassle. I would be most comfortable with buying them online. If you speak Spanish, could you bargain and make ticket prices lower?

    1. The tickets are a fixed price Gina. Maybe I was lucky with speaking Spanish because I got a ticket for another day because tickets for that day were already sold out but I could get in with my ticket. Or you can maybe bargain for the half-day rate when it is still early on the day.

  17. I’m curious to know why you need to bring your passport with you when buying Machu Picchu tickets. Is it because locals aren’t allowed to go? Would you save a lot by buying the ticket independently vs through an agent? Sometimes an agent can remove the hassle.

    1. You need to bring your passport when you buy Machu Picchu tickets because there are a limited amount of tickets per day. The Peruvian gouvernement wants to prevent that large companies buy up all the slots and re-sell the tickets for higher prices Christina. At the entrance, your ticket is checked against your passport and you need to present both. If they don’t match, you’ll have a problem. Locals get to visit Machu Picchu but are eligable for a (huge) discount which is only fair.

  18. This is such a great guide for travelers who are making the journey to Machu Picchu. It would be such a disappointment to buy that expensive train ride or to take that bus ride and not be able to see Machu Picchu. I’m hoping one day I can make the trip to Peru to see this beautiful site.

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