Machu Picchu is on the top of everyone’s list when they are planning a trip to Peru. Known as the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. It is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in South America and a New Wonder of the World. The site is as impressive as the Great Wall of China and Pyramids of Egypt, hidden in the Andes, far from the nearest town or city. In order to make the most of your time at Machu Picchu, it is important to find out Machu Picchu opening times in advance.
Located deep in the Andes, 2,430m above sea level and close to the Urubamba River, it was constructed at the height of the Inca Empire, designed to be self-contained. Surviving the Spanish Conquests because of its hidden location, it was only in 1911 that the American explorer, Hiram Bingham, discovered the site.
But Machu Picchu is no longer as hidden away as it once was. Peru has been experiencing a boom in adventure travellers in recent years. According to official figures by Peru’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, a record 1.4 million visitors toured Machu Picchu in 2016. A figure that has been steadily increasing year on year. That’s nearly 4,000 visitors a day!
The Peruvian Ministry for Culture have decided that something needs to be done about this. Tourism is a huge industry for the growing country and with visitors expected to only continue to increase on an annual basis, the government have put in place new measures to protect the archeological site for generations to come.
From July 01 2017, there will be a new ticketing system for visitors to enter Machu Picchu. Instead of being issued a ticket for the whole day, you will now have the choice of a morning or afternoon viewing of the sacred site.
What are Machu Picchu Opening Times?
From July 01 2017 there will be two shifts for entering Machu Picchu, which you will have to adhere to. The morning shift runs between 5.30am and 12.30pm and the afternoon shift from 12.30pm to 6pm.
How do I make the most of the morning shift?
You know you’re making the most of every minute of your trip when you choose to be up before the crack of dawn to catch that morning sunrise. If you are not hiking the Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu, the only way to get to Machu Picchu as it opens is to spend the night before in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes and take one of the first buses up the mountain to the site. Alternatively, you can spend the night in the luxurious Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel next door to Machu Picchu.
How does the afternoon shift work?
Exploring Machu Picchu in the afternoon allows you a little lie in and gives you more options on where to stay the night before. Just like if you plan to get a morning ticket, you can still stay in Aguas Calientes or the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, enjoying a lie in and lengthy breakfast to prepare you for the day ahead. Or you can stay in Ollantaytambo or even Cusco, catching a morning train winding through the Urubamba Valley and arriving in Aguas Calientes an hour or two before the afternoon shift is due to start.
While you may not catch that morning sunrise, the afternoon shift promises less crowds and the enjoyment of that golden afternoon sunlight.
We offer a fantastic selection of tours that visit Machu Picchu. You can browse them all here.