How Long Is the Climb to Machu Picchu?

There are a multitude of ways to get to the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu from completely relaxing and not strenuous at all to full-on fitness challenge. The first thing you need to know for your adventure to Machu Picchu is that entry tickets to the archeological site itself follow a strict schedule, so you want to plan to get to the entrance at the top of the mountain at your assigned time. Each person gets an hour-long window for entry, so there’s a bit of leeway.

Generally, there are 3 different ways to get to the entrance of the Machu Picchu archeological site, two of which involve hiking.

  1. The No-Hike Option (No Climbing): Take a 25-minute bus from Aguas Calientes (the closest town) to the entrance of Machu Picchu.
  2. The All-Uphill Hike Option (0.75-2 Hours): Hike stone steps entirely uphill from Aguas Calientes, which can take 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your fitness level. This is completely free and can be planned into any nearly any of the typical Machu Picchu tours.
  3. Inca Trail Hike Option (4 Days): On the 4-Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, your multi-day trek will culminate with a visit to the Machu Picchu archeological site on the final day after a 4-day camping journey. This is the closest thing to a hike from Cusco to Machu Picchu, although you’ll start the trek from just outside of the city of Cusco on Day 1.

It’s worth mentioning that the majority of travelers, foreign and local alike, who visit Machu Picchu choose the first option, which involves no hiking and no climbing at all. No shame in not climbing if that’s what you’re going for!

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