Machu Picchu is the number one place people want to visit in South America, but it can be difficult to know where to begin with planning your trip to see this Wonder of the World. Sometimes the sheer volume of information you can find on it is actually more confusing than helpful, so to make planning your trip easier we have made a super simple guide, and from our experience it’s everything you need to know. If we forgot anything, please let us know in the comment section!

A beginners guide to machu picchu Final - the borderless project




There are many ways to get to Cusco from Lima, Bolivia, Chile and Brazil, if you take the bus within Peru, we recommend taking a look at these bus companies, they are among the best in the country and there for all prices, wifi, tv, etc. For us, Cruz del Sur is the best bus company so far, service and convenience, although it is the most expensive, but all buses here below are completely reliable, so far no complaints.


Cruz del Sur / Oltursa / CiVA / Hermanos Flores / TEPSA



If you’re coming from a country where you only get two weeks of vacation per year, you’re definitely going to want to fly so you can make the most of your time. In Peru there are two airlines that fly to Cusco and are totally affordable. Obviously more expensive than the very cheap buses, but it’ll save you a day of travel. Peruvian Airlines and Star Peru are the cheapest, we recommend them over LAN Peru (different prices for gringos) because they offer great deals for Peruvians and foreigners.


Peruvian Airlines / Start Peru / LAN Airlines



After transportation, book your hostel. In Peru you don’t have to pay in advance to make a hostel reservation, which gives you nice flexibility. You pay for everything at the end of your stay as well. The greatest part of hostels in Peru, and especially Cusco, is that they’re ome of the greatest hostels in the world, stocked with fun bars, restaurants, travel agencies, free breakfast…everything you need. The competition keeps them in top condition, really fun and very affordable. Keep in mind that in Cusco, basically every season is high season, so for the fun hostels you should book in advance (it’s not uncommon for them to fill up).



Here are some of our favorite hostels, so you can read reviews, compare prices and see what’s best for you!


Pariwana Hostels – Reviews: Pariwana on Tripadvisor

Loki Hostels – Reviews: Loki on Tripadvisor

Kokopelli Hostels – Reviews: Kokopelli on Tripadvisor

Wild Rover Hostels – Reviews: Wild Rover on Tripadvisor

Milhouse Hostels – Reviews: Milhouse on Tripadvisor

The Point Hostels – Reviews: The Point on Tripadvisor


Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town)

If you book a trek to Machu Picchu, your lodging in Aguas Calientes will come included, as well as with some car/van options. If you’re taking the train and figuring it out on your own, this hostel is a great option.


Supertramp Hostel – Reviews: Supertramp on Tripadvisor



Peru continues to be a backpacker friendly destination, so you will find that most everything is quite affordable (and a lot is incredibly cheap). However, sometimes things (such as treks) are sold as “everything included’, and “everything” comes with a little room for interpretation. Even when you think you don’t need money, have some Peruvian soles on you in small bills (it can always be a struggle to find change for the fifties and hundreds the ATM gives you, even somewhere like Starbucks may not accept bigger bills), and as a backup, you can change dollars in every city.

Once you leave Cusco though, it can be hard to find an ATM, many inconsistently take and refuse foreign cards, and people may stop accepting dollars. On a trek, you’re going to need cash even if they say you don’t, and I’d recommend bringing 75-100 soles to be safe. Not being able to buy water is a terrible situation to be in, and if we brought the amount of cash the tour company told us we would need, we would have been left with nothing to drink by day two.


Exchange Rate Here: Dolar / Euros / Pounds



Bring good snacks for trekking and the day at Machu Picchu, either from Cusco or a town on the trek. Prices jump in Aguas Calientes and the limited food options at Machu Picchu are, as you can expect, incredibly expensive. Also, bring a reusable water bottle if you can, some places won’t sell water but will fill it for cheap.


Weather & Seasons / Gear

If you’re going during rainy season, bring a poncho. For more intense treks, also bring waterproof pants. Make sure to have plastic bags to also cover your thins inside your backpack, the rain here is like miniature flashfloods.


Before You Go: Things You Need To Know About Cusco And Machu Picchu Weather


Machu Picchu Hacks

There are some unexpected things to bring or do that will make your experience much more enjoyable, we’ve put them togetheer here for you:


Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me: Cusco and Machu Picchu Tips


How To Get To Machu Picchu

For details on exactly how to get to Machu Picchu, read below:

How To Travel To Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu Tickets: Book Here!


Inca Trail & Alternatives

The Inca Trail is the most popular Trek to Machu Picchu, but there are several more affordable and bookable at the last minute options. Read below for more details:


How to Get to Machu Picchu


And for stories from our experience to give you a better idea of what’s ahead:


My Experience Trekking To Machu Picchu: DAY 1

My Experience Trekking To Machu Picchu: DAY 2

My Experience Trekking To Machu Picchu: DAY 3

My Experience Trekking To Machu Picchu: DAY 4 – Machu Picchu!

Booking And Information: Loki Travel


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