Deciding what to pack for Machu Picchu can be a real challenge. With quickly changing weather, even just deciding what to wear to Machu Picchu can be a challenge, let alone deciding what to bring along for the whole trip.
In this (tried and tested!) Machu Picchu packing list, we’re trying to hit that perfect middle between under-packing and over-packing and show your EXACTLY what you need to bring to Machu Picchu. We’re sharing what we brought to the Machu Picchu archeological site, and the things you’ll need in Aguas Calientes, Cusco, and beyond.
In this ultimate Machu Picchu packing list, we’re covering exactly what to bring to Machu Picchu – and what you won’t be allowed to enter the site if you have in your pack. Plus, check out our essential travel gear recommendations that have kept us healthy and save visiting dozens of countries.
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What to Pack for Machu Picchu
It’s the day of your trip to Machu Picchu. You’re headed to one of the wonders of the ancient world. How should you be dressed? What should be in your bag? This is exactly what you need with you when inside the Machu Picchu site!
Your passport is required to enter the Machu Picchu site – no digital copies or photocopies are allowed! Make sure you don’t leave this at your hotel in Cusco or Aguas Calientes!
The Peruvian government limits the number of daily visitors to Machu Picchu to 2,500 a day, so tickets are frequently sold out, especially in the high season (June through September). It’s imperative that you book tickets in advance!
You can pre-book tickets here:
- Standard Machu Picchu Ticket
- Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu Ticket
- Bus Ticket from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu
If you book a Machu Picchu tour, verify with the tour company that your entrance ticket to the site is included as a part of the tour. If not, pre-book your entrance ticket separately.
Small Bag – Daypack or Kavu Sling Bag
Machu Picchu does not allow visitors to enter the archeological site with large bags or luggage – only a small backpack or bag. Plus, it’s important to note that the trains to Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes) have weight restrictions on luggage as well – Peru Rail trains limit luggage to 11 pounds, while Inca Rail trains limit luggage weight to 17 lbs.
Hiking Boots or Sneakers
If you’re just visiting Machu Picchu for a day trip, hiking boots might be overkill unless you feel more comfortable in them.
Instead, bring comfortable and durable sneakers with good traction – I recommend the Loom waterproof travel sneakers, which are a good balance between standard sneakers and hiking boots (but extremely stylish). For hiking Huayna Picchu and the Inca Trail, hiking boots are a must!
Weather changes quickly in Machu Picchu. Wind can whip around the mountains, and a cloud moving in front of the sun can change the temperature considerably. Dress in light layers, including a merino wool base layer or leggings and a long-sleeve shirt, and bring along a sweater or even a packable, light down jacket for the colder months and chilly evenings.
Even in the dry season, I recommend bringing along a sturdy, breathable rain jacket. There is nowhere in Machu Picchu to take shelter from the rain, so exploring the site without a rain jacket would be quite miserable. We’ve had the same Columbia rain jackets for years and can highly recommend them!
Your standard smartphone takes such spectacular photos these days, but if you have a great camera, this is the place to bring it.
If you’re in the market for a good travel camera, we always recommend the Nikon Coolpix B500 digital point and shoot – our favorite for beginners – and the Nikon Z 50 Mirrorless camera for those looking for a little more control. This is Nikon’s smallest-frame DSLR camera, perfect for travel.
Extra Camera Battery
Bring along an extra, charged camera battery – this isn’t the place you want to run out of juice for your camera!
Extra Camera SD Card
This also isn’t the place you want to run out of space on your memory card to take more pictures! Bring along an extra SD card for your camera, even if you think you won’t need it.
You don’t want to worry about your camera or phone running out of battery while you’re trying to photograph one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. Bring along a good power bank to make sure you don’t get caught without enough juice.
Sunscreen is a MUST at such a high elevation, even on a cloudy day. It’s easy to burn quickly here without even realizing it, so make sure to lotion up before arriving, and bring some in your pack to reapply later.
The elevation at Machu Picchu generally means you won’t find mosquitos here, though biting midges can leave annoying and itchy bumps. Make sure to use some good insect repellent spray or insect repellant lotion before arriving, or bring a small amount with you in your backpack.
Water Bottle with Filter
Machu Picchu does not permit single-use plastic bottles of any kind inside the archeological site. Bring along your own reusable bottle with a water sanitization filter – Lifestraw is the best. Lifestraw bottles are perfect for Machu Picchu, but they’ll also help you save money by eliminating your need to purchase bottled water throughout the duration of your trip.
Small First Aid Kit
Bring along a small travel first aid kit in case you get a cut or scrap while exploring the site. You can make your own by throwing some bandaids, gauze, antibiotic ointment, and alcohol prep pads in a pouch, or purchase one before your trip – these are great for general travel purposes as well.
Hiking the Inca Trail?
We’ve got an Ultimate Inca Trail Packing List for you to check out. You’ll need some specific items for this trek, so jump to this article before packing!
What to Pack for Peru
Of course, a trip to Machu Picchu truly starts much earlier, when you leave home and land in Peru. Most visitors to Machu Picchu spend at least a few days in Peru prior to arriving to this wonder of the world.
You’re likely considering all the other things you’ll need before even stepping foot in Machu Picchu. What else should you bring for this trip?
In the rest of this guide, we’re breaking down some of the things you’ll need to travel to Machu Picchu, whether that includes staying in a luxury hotel in Cusco or as part of an epic South American backpacking route. These travel essentials will help you make the most of your time and your trip – read on!
Backpacks and Luggage for Machu Picchu
You won’t be able to bring much to Machu Picchu when you actually make it to the archeological site – just a small daypack or a sling bag, but what about what to pack to make it to Machu Picchu in the first place?
Remember, unless you’re hiking the Inca Trail, you’ll arrive to Aguas Calientes via train, and these trains have strict baggage limitations – Peru Rail trains limit luggage to 11 pounds, and Inca Rail trains limit luggage to 17 pounds.
You may want to bring along a small overnight bag if you’re staying in Aguas Calientes overnight, which you can keep packed in your backpack or luggage for the rest of your trip.
I’ve had the same North Face Recon Backpack for years, and it’s come with me to dozens of countries. This day pack, or a similar one, is the perfect bag both to bring into Machu Picchu, and to use as an overnight bag if you’re staying in Aguas Calientes.
You won’t be able to bring your large backpacking backpack all the way to Aguas Calientes, as it will exceed weight limits on the train. Leave it with your hostel or hotel in Cusco and just travel with a daypack or overnight bag.
Looking for a new backpacking backpack for your trip to Peru? We love the Osprey Men’s Rook and Osprey Women’s Renn 65L backpacks – they’re roomy enough for longer backpacking excursions and extremely well-made and comfortable. The Osprey lifetime warranty was huge for us, and you know when you purchase one of these bags you’ll never need to buy another one again.
Your luggage will definitely exceed weight limits on the trains to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu, so plan to leave it in Cusco and just travel with an overnight bag if you plan on staying in Aguas Calientes. It is standard practice in Cusco for hostels and hotels to store luggage for travelers headed to Machu Picchu.
Travel Essentials for Machu Picchu
A steripen is a game changer for international travel. This little pen-like UV light instantly sanitizes any water source, making it drinkable. This means no more purchasing endless amounts of bottled water while you travel, and less single-use plastic consumption.
Water Bottle with Filter
In addition to a steripen, I always travel with a water bottle with a filter – similarly, it instantly makes tap water drinkable no matter where you are. I’ve had a few over the years, and the Lifestraw filtering bottle is hands down the best.
White Noise Machine
I love to travel with a tiny, portable white noise machine. This is ideal for making sure you get enough sleep while you travel, no matter how much street noise you experience in your hotel or hostel.
Even if you don’t use an eye mask when sleeping at home, it’s a good idea to travel with one. I’ve woken up too early in a hotel or Airbnb with the sun shining directly into my eyes enough times that I learned to make this a standard part of my pack.
Reusable silicone ear plugs are another travel must for good sleep, as it can be hard to know if your accommodations will be noisy. A must for hostel stays, I bring them along wherever I stay these days.
I recommend bringing a travel towel along if you plan on going to the beach, hiking, or doing any other adventure sports while traveling. These fold up so tiny and are easily packable.
I always travel with a travel blanket that folds up into a little pocket for packing. These are great for the airplane, on the beach, or for a picnic.
Silicone Stasher Bags
You might use these at home to store your food, but did you know these are the best for travel? I pack reusable silicone bags to pack my toiletries, keep my jewelry together, keep my documents safe, and more. Repurpose again for food storage once you’re home!
Clothing for Machu Picchu
Hiking Boots or Sneakers
Hiking boots are probably overkill for Machu Picchu if you’re just planning on visiting the archeological site, but if you’re planning to hike Huayna Picchu, or the Inca Trail, hiking boots are a must. For a standard visit to Machu Picchu, comfortable sneakers with good traction should be enough, unless you feel most comfortable in hiking boots!
These are the boots we’ve used for years, and can recommend if you’re looking for some new hiking boots:
Merino Wool Base Layer
If you’ve never used a base layer before, your trip to Peru might be the perfect time to get one. Merino wool is a magical material that keeps you perfectly cool even in summer, yet warm in cooler temperatures. It’s perfect for outdoor activities, like visiting Machu Picchu.
Here are our merino wool base layer recommendations:
- Women’s Merino Wool Base Layer Top
- Women’s Merino Base Layer Bottom
- Men’s Merino Wool Base Layer Top
- Men’s Merino Wool Base Layer Bottom
You can layer clothes like shorts, a t-shirt, and a rain jacket over the base layer and remove as needed.
Bring some good hiking socks with your hiking boots if you’re bringing them with you on this trip.
Long-Sleeve and Short-Sleeve T-Shirts
It can get hot in the sun, but cold with the wind or in the evening. Come prepared for both temperatures.
Sweater or Sweatshirt
At such high elevations, it can get quite chilly in the evening, especially in the dry season. Make sure you bring at least one sweater or sweatshirt with you!
I’m a big fan of leggings anytime and anywhere, but especially for outdoor activities, like hiking around Machu Picchu. Not necessary if you’ll be using a merino wool base layer, but a must otherwise!
Jeans or Pants
Long pants are the best choice for visiting Machu Picchu, as they’ll keep your legs covered and protected against sunburn and biting midges.
You’ll likely want both a sun hat (or baseball cap) and a warm beanie while you’re here, especially during the cooler months.
If you speak Spanish, this might be obvious to you, but Aguas Calientes – or, “warm waters” – is home to natural hot springs tucked back just over the hill from town. If you want to enjoy them, make sure you bring your bathing suit along with you.
No matter what time of year you plan to visit Machu Picchu, you’ll want to bring a rain jacket along just in case – though it’s a must for the rainy season (October to April). Look for something fairly breathable – we can definitely recommend Columbia rain jackets, which we’ve had for years now.
If you’re traveling to Machu Picchu during the rainy season (October to April), rain boots or other sturdy, waterproof shoes might be a great choice to bring along with you. Choose something like duck boots with a good grip, waterproof hiking boots, or even Loom sneakers – these favorite travel sneakers are completely waterproof, and I often wear them hiking.
Toiletries and Personal Care Items for Machu Picchu
Lotion and Lip Balm
It can get extremely dry during the dry season, and your skin will feel it. Make sure to bring along these products!
Pack your liquids in Go Toobs – these handy, reusable toiletry bottles are made of silicone, meaning you can squeeze out every last drop.
Aspirin / Ibuprofen
I always pack some basic painkillers with me when traveling in my homemade first aid kit. You can get some at pharmacies in Peru or just throw some in your bag as you pack.
You’ll want to make sure you have some Imodium or a similar product in case you have stomach issues while traveling. You can get some at pharmacies in Peru or just throw some in your bag as you pack.
Electrolyte Rehydration Powder
For the same reason you’ll need Imodium, you’ll absolutely want electrolyte rehydration powder to add to water as you recover.
Altitude Sickness Pills
I recommend drinking coca tea or chewing coca leaves for help with adjusting to the altitude – even if you’re physically fit, you’ll need it! This is found everywhere in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. I’ve never used altitude sickness pills myself, but I’ve met other travelers throughout South America who swear by them.
Feminine Hygiene Products
I always recommend bringing your favorite products along with you when traveling, rather than crossing your fingers and hoping you won’t need them. I’ve never had the best luck (especially in South America) finding good feminine hygiene products similar to what I use from home.
Tech and Photography at Machu Picchu
A must for travel anywhere, a good Anker power bank will keep all your gadgets powered and ready to go.
Travel Adapter / Converter
You may need a voltage converter or plug adapter when traveling to Peru, depending on where you’re from. We always travel with our BESTEK travel electrical adapter and converter – it has multiple USB ports and plugs, so it also serves as a power strip when you don’t have enough outlets.
You wouldn’t forget your camera, would you? If you’re in the market for a new travel camera, we always recommend Whenever we’re asked about what travel cameras we recommend, we recommend either the Nikon Coolpix B500 digital point and shoot or the Nikon Z 50 Mirrorless.
Camera SD Card
Bring an extra memory card for your camera, and carry it with you at all times. Don’t get stuck without a memory card in one of the most photographable spots on Earth.
A GoPro is a great addition to your photography gear, especially in a place like Peru where you can get some great adventure shots. The GoPro Hero9 is a great model for everyone – excellent quality, and no need to get any more expensive models unless you’re a professional photographer.
Bringing a tablet along can be great for entertainment while traveling, on long car rides or bus rides. I’m not much of a tablet person myself, but Jose loves his Amazon Fire tablet.
I always bring headphones along when traveling, especially for noisy buses or planes. Someone gave me Beats a few years ago (I know – good friend!), and I’ll never look back.
Wired Headphones and Headphone Adapter
I try to bring “old school” wired headphones and the headphone adapter / headphone splitter along with me when I travel, just in case my standard headphones aren’t charged.
Reminder – you can not bring a drone, tripod, or even a selfie stick into Machu Picchu. These are permitted in Cusco, the rest of the Sacred Valley, and most other parts of Peru. Make sure to bring these along to Peru if you’d like to use them, but just make sure to leave them in your hotel when you actually visit Machu Picchu:
A drone is an excellent addition to your photography gear for the Sacred Valley. With a DJI drone or similar brand, you’ll get incredible shots of the mountains and valleys, and perspectives of the ruins you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. Remember, don’t bring this into Machu Picchu – just other parts of the Sacred Valley and Cusco!
A light travel tripod can be great throughout the Sacred Valley when getting special shots of ruins, or even for taking night photos in Cusco.
Don’t think about traveling without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, at home or abroad.
Travel Safety Gear for Machu Picchu
First Aid Kit
I always bring a little first aid kit when traveling with basic stuff like bandaids, antibiotic cream, aspirin, and throat lozenges. I make my own and restock when needed, but you can also order a cheap first aid kit on Amazon!
S-biner micro locks might be my favorite travel safety hack. Use these tiny carabiners to lock your zippers shut on your backpack or purse – it’s usually just enough deterrence to stop pickpocketing.
I always keep my suitcase or backpack locked with luggage locks with flexible chains, even when I leave them in my hotel. Maybe it’s overkill, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
A portable travel safe allows you to easily and conveniently keep your money, phone, credit cards, and travel documents safe when you’re outside of your hotel. I would even bring it to the beach to keep these things safe while you’re swimming.
I think solo female travelers (all travelers, really!) need to travel with a doorstop. Jam it under your door when you sleep, and your door can’t be forced open. This door stop with an alarm will scare off any intruder trying to force the door.
I’m not a big fan of the classic money belt or the like, but I love the “passport scarf.” This (actually cute) infinity scarf has secret pockets to hide your passport, money, or even your phone. You’d NEVER notice.
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.