Machu Picchu with kids

How to Visit Machu Picchu with Kids

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Are you planning a trip to Peru with kids? Then you must also add Machu Picchu to your itinerary! A trip to Peru wouldn’t be complete without visiting this New World Wonder. We recently visited Machu Picchu with our 12 year old and it was one of our favorite family trips. Our Peru trip started with exploring Lima with kids before heading up to Cusco and Machu Picchu. Here are some tips for visiting Machu Picchu and the surrounding area with kids.

And if you want to see more detailed videos of things to do in Peru with kids, be sure to follow our family travel Instagram account!

Machu Picchu with kids

Tips for visiting Machu Picchu with kids

  • Buy your bus tickets ahead of time so you aren’t standing in a ticket line in the morning.
  • Use the bathroom before entering the site. There are no bathrooms inside of Machu Picchu but there is one just before you enter. The cost is 2 soles, so bring some change with you.
  • Bring lots of water. There is nowhere to purchase anything once you enter and since you will be hiking for a few hours, be sure to carry water since you’ll need it! Snacks and food are not permitted inside.

What is the best age to take a child to Machu Picchu?

While people take children of all ages, including infants and toddlers, to Machu Picchu, I personally think they should be at least 7 to fully enjoy the experience and be able to keep up on the long hikes. It’s quite the adventure getting here with long train rides, uphill hikes and altitude changes. Younger kids may not do as well and most likely won’t understand the significance of the site. I highly recommend reading Where is Machu Picchu before going so your kids have some understanding of the history behind this ancient site.

Younger kids and especially babies/toddlers might also be more affected by the altitude. While many are ok with putting young babies through that, I personally never would so we waited until our daughter was older and can take precautions to minimize the effects of possible altitude sickness. I’m all for taking your kids around the world and at this point, we’ve taken our daughter to nearly 40 countries however some destinations we waited until she was an appropriate age (Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands come to mind). And now that I think of it, there were 0 children under the age of I’d say 12 on our train up (full train) and in Machu Picchu. Lots of teens though!

Where should my Machu Picchu journey begin?

Since many people who visit Machu Picchu are coming from Lima, most will fly to Cusco from Lima. We spent 3 days exploring Lima with kids and it’s one of our favorite cities! The flight is just an hour long and there are many throughout the day.

Many will say to skip Cusco because of the high elevation (over 11,000 feet) and head to a lower elevation to get acclimated. But we didn’t do that, we flew from Lima straight to Cusco and had zero issues with the altitude. We spent our first night in Cusco and walked around without any issue. The difference? We prepared before coming to this elevation.

I purchased these altitude hydration packets on Amazon and they were a game changer. None of us had any symptoms of altitude sickness. Most who are sick here are not hydrated enough and drinking just water isn’t enough. 3 days before flying to Cusco, my husband and I drank 2 packets and our daughter 1. Then we increased to 3/2 for the next 2 days. And it seems to have worked because unlike others we encountered who were complaining of headaches and vomiting, we had none of that and it was like we were at a normal elevation. We were able to walk around Cusco coming straight off the plane from Lima. Hydrate before coming here, you won’t regret it!

Cusco is a great city to visit with kids, with some beautiful sites and markets to explore. The San Pedro market is a must visit, it’s massive and a great combination of locals and tourists. Much of the market is grocery supplies for locals. prepared food, an entire aisle dedicated to fresh juices and then a small section for souvenirs.

Cusco with kids
Siete Borreguitos in Cusco.
Cusco with kids
Be sure to visit the San Pedro market in Cusco! For less than $2, they’ll make you any fresh juice without added sugar.

I also have to give a huge shout out to Restaurant Sumaqcha in Cusco. This family owned restaurant is tucked away on a quiet street near Plaza Mayor. The owner is so friendly and really makes the dining experience so much better. The food is great too and we highly recommend dining here and supporting a local family with young kids.

Everything was so delicious!

How to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco

If you are staying in Cusco before heading up to Aguas Calientes, there’s a good chance you will be taking the train. There are two companies to choose from-PeruRail and Inca Rail. We chose PeruRail mostly because the timing worked for us. The train ride took almost 5 hours (even though it said 4 when we booked) but it was a comfortable ride with some nice scenery on the way. Be sure to purchase tickets ahead of time, especially when visiting during high season since tickets do sell out.

Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu with kids
View from the train

Alternatively, you can head to Ollantaytambo, a village in the Sacred Valley, straight after landing in Cusco (especially if you’re worried about the high elevation) and then take the 1.5 hour train ride to Aguas Calientes.

Best time to visit Machu Picchu

The best time to visit Machu Picchu is going to be during the dry season, which is April to October. We came in May and the weather was perfect. Crisp mornings and evenings and around 70 during the day. We had a very clear view of Machu Picchu and have seen some photos from the rainy season where you couldn’t even tell the site was there.

The rainy season is from November to March and while crowds will be lower, you may not see much and the railway between Cusco and Ollantaytambo closes from January to April due to the risk of landslides. Which means you’ll have to take a combination of bus/train to get to Machu Picchu.

Where to stay when visiting Machu Picchu with kids

There are many family friendly hotels on your way to Machu Picchu. Since we started and ended our trip in Cusco, we stayed at the Katari Apart Hotel right in the middle of the city. The location was great and we were able to walk all over from here. We also left our luggage with them when we went to Machu Picchu since we were coming back after and there are strict luggage restrictions on the trains.

In Aguas Calientes, we stayed at another family friendly property, the Inti Punku Machupicchu Hotel & Suites. This hotel was just a 2 minute walk from the train station and less than 5 to catch the bus to Machu Picchu in the morning. Our room had 3 beds and free breakfast that started at 5am, which was perfect since most staying there were heading to Machu Picchu early in the morning.

Aguas Calientes is a super cute little town and so easy to explore the entire city on foot. Definitely set aside a few hours to walk around!

Machu Picchu with kids
Machu Picchu with kids

How to get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Getting to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes is relatively straightforward. There’s a bus service that takes you up the mountain in around 30 minutes that costs $24 round trip for ages 12 and up, younger kids are half price. When you arrive in Aguas Calientes, head to the bus ticket office (the town is small, just follow the bus ticket signs) to purchase your tickets ahead of time. They are not timed and it will save you time in the morning. Remember to bring your passport, you can’t purchase without them.

Machu Picchu with kids
Bus to Machu Picchu

In the morning, or whenever you are planning to visit Machu Picchu, you will see a long line of people by the bus stop. The line moves very quickly since there are many buses going up and down the mountain all day long. It’s a steep ride up and if heights aren’t your thing, don’t sit near the window. Much of the ride is literally on the edge of a cliff!

I personally preferred the morning time slot, even though the bus line is longer. It’s much cooler (it got hot by the afternoon!) and the crowds weren’t bad at all once we got up to the site, everyone went their own way and many used a group tour guide (don’t recommend) so there were big groups in spots while those of us with private guides moved right past them.

Alternatively, you can do a 2 hour uphill hike to the site, but that isn’t recommended since you’ll use up all of your energy before you even get to the site.

Which Machu Picchu ticket should I purchase?

Another important consideration is purchasing your tickets to Machu Picchu ahead of time. They do sell out and if you show up without one, there’s a good chance you aren’t going in. Be sure to purchase from the Machu Picchu official site and not a third party. You will notice that when purchasing tickets, you are asked to select which circuit you want to purchase.

Machu Picchu with kids

Tourists who want that classic photo of Machu Picchu are going to want to select Circuit 1 or 2. This is the most popular ticket option and the one we chose. We first hiked up to get the classic view of Machu Picchu. Then, we walked down and inside the city to explore. Pro tip: Get a guide at the entrance to Machu Picchu. They are significantly cheaper than the ones who approached us in Aguas Calientes and our guide was awesome at telling us the history of the site and knew exactly where to go. Another plus? He was our photographer for the day.

Machu Picchu with kids

You can also book a Machu Picchu guide ahead of time, which I recommend if you are traveling during the busy season as there may not be available guides at the entrance.

Machu Picchu with kids

If you want to do more hiking, then Circuit 3 or 4 might be a better option for you but know that much of the hiking is uphill and it’s much hotter up there than in Aguas Calientes, so plan accordingly especially when visiting Machu Picchu with kids.

Machu Picchu with kids

As you can see, Peru and Machu Picchu is an excellent place for your next family trip. Peru has quickly become one of our favorite countries we have visited as a family. We loved the food, the culture and all the sites. Are you planning to visit Machu Picchu with your kids in the near future? Pin one of the images below to read later.

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