The Ultimate Machu Picchu Packing List [2024]

Apus Peru > Peru Hikes > The Ultimate Machu Picchu Packing List [2024]

Whether you’ll be following the well-trodden Inca Trail or are planning to access the Lost City of the Incas via another, lesser-known route – such as the Salkantay Trek – the most important part of trip preparation is to perfect your Machu Picchu packing list. Well, that and wearing in your hiking boots, of course.

Why is it so important to get your packing list for Machu Picchu right? While you can leave most other issues in the safe hands of the experts – such as the experienced Apus Peru team – what you take is personal to you. Most importantly, what you can take along with you is subject to very strict limits. Meaning you’ll have to consider very carefully indeed what to pack – and what you can afford to leave behind.

As Peru adventure travel experts, we’ve seen it all, and know exactly what you’ll need to take to Machu Picchu with you. Hence this post. We’re sharing our knowledge so that you can get things right. If you don’t want to be weighed down by luggage you won’t need, while making sure you have all the essentials with you, then this ultimate Machu Picchu packing list is an absolute must. Don’t leave home – or your Cusco hotel – without reading it first!

Outlined here is all you need to know about packing for the Machu Picchu adventure of a lifetime. Including exactly how much you can take along – and what you’ll need to leave behind in Cusco. Read on so you can personalise this Machu Picchu packing list, making it your own.

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we would earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

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What to Know Before Making Your Machu Picchu Packing List

First things first. Most of your Peru packing list will be left behind in your Cusco hotel, or at the office of your tour operator. This applies to people catching the train as well as trekking.

This is the norm for all Machu Picchu treks, including the Inca Trail. As most of your luggage gets left behind in the city, this means you really need to reduce your Machu Picchu list to the bare minimum.

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Taking the Train to Machu Picchu

If you’ll be taking a trip to Machu Picchu by train, strict limits apply. Both Peru Rail and Inca rail state that you can bring one backpack or bag as hand luggage.

So even if you are not trekking to Machu Picchu, you can’t bring your whole suitcase; it will be stored in your hotel in Cusco.

Peru Rail

Your daypack must weigh no more than 8 kilos, or 17.64 lb. It must also measure 62 linear inches, or 157 linear cm (calculated as height + length + width). If your bag doesn’t fit within these guidelines, then your departure can be blocked by law! So it’s pretty important.

These rules apply to the following train routes.

  • Hiram Bingham
  • PeruRail Expedition
  • PeruRail Vistadome and Vistadome Observatory

Inca Rail

Again, you’re limited to just one backpack, bag, or briefcase, and this should weigh no more than 8 kilos, or 17.64 lb. Despite the weight limit being the same, do note that with this train operator, the maximum dimensions are smaller. With Inca Rail, your bag must measure no more than 46 linear inches, or 118 linear cm ( calculated as height + length + width).

With Inca Rail, you can travel to Machu Picchu via the service between Ollantaytambo train station and Machu Picchu Pueblo train station. Connections are available from Cusco.

From Machu Picchu Pueblo train station, a Consettur bus will take you the rest of the way from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.

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Machu Picchu Bag Size Limits and Prohibited Items

The Peruvian Ministry of Culture provides a comprehensive list of prohibited items at Machu Picchu. So don’t take any of these in your daypack!

Size Limits

Before thinking about that, though, there’s the bag itself. For visitors to Machu Picchu, any bag, purse, or backpack must measure a maximum of 16 x 14 x 8 inches – or 40 x 35 x 20 cm. So whatever you do, don’t bring a daypack that exceeds this limit.

Prohibited Items

Here’s what not to pack inside your Machu Picchu day bag. This list is not exhaustive: a current and complete list can be seen here. Remember that this list applies to the site itself, not the journey to get there.

  • Food
  • Kitchenware
  • Knives or other weapons
  • Alcohol and illegal substances
  • Umbrellas
  • Walking sticks, hiking poles, and portable chairs
  • Tripods, monopods, or selfie sticks
  • Drones
  • Aerosols
  • Musical instruments or speakers
  • Hard-soled or heeled shoes
  • Advertising materials

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Bags for Machu Picchu

When you are trekking, you can take two bags to Machu Picchu. One will be supplied by your tour operator (usually called a duffel bag), and the other will be your own daypack. The former is carried by the trek porters, while you’re responsible for your daypack.

Main Bag

The fact that strong, experienced porters will be carrying your bigger bag (duffel bag) does not mean you can pack whatever you feel like! In fact, the bag is provided for you before the trek, so you cannot choose the dimensions to fit in whatever you want.

Most tour operators will supply a small duffel bag, or something similar. As well as the size restriction, this is subject to a weight limit, too. In most cases, the weight limit will be between five and eight kilos.

So the first thing to do before finalising your packing list for Machu Picchu is to check the applicable limit with your trek operator!

Sleeping Bag

You should ask if this limit includes your sleeping bag, or not. Then you can decide whether to bring your own sleeping bag, or hire one from the tour operator. Whichever you do, find out how much it weighs, and detract this from your weight allowance before packing anything else!


The second thing to do is to think about how much you really can carry, all day long, while trekking uphill and at high altitudes. It might be a lot less than you think.

It’s well worth investing in a good quality, comfortable daypack for your Machu Picchu trek. This is a bucket list experience, so it’s really not worth skimping on something that could make so much difference to your enjoyment!

We recommend the ever-reliable Osprey range when choosing a good daypack. Don’t forget to pick one that fits within the permitted measurements, though!

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Your Daypack for Machu Picchu

So now you know how big (or small!) it needs to be, here’s some guidance on what to pack in your daypack for Machu Picchu.

  • A hydration reservoir or water bottle – drink more than you think you’ll need to prevent altitude sickness, as well as dehydration, and make sure a water reservoir is compatible with your daypack
  • High energy snacks – These are supplied, but you may need more. Note that you can’t take these to the site itself, but can carry them on the trek
  • Sunscreen – even when it’s cold, you can get sunburn at high altitudes
  • Lip balm – an SPF lip balm will soothe wind-chapped lips
  • Sunglasses – a pair of polarised, active sunglasses is essential
  • Hats – a thermal beanie when it’s cold, plus a protective sun hat for warmer weather
  • Packable waterproof jacket or reusable rain poncho
  • Your smartphone or camera
  • Passport – in a waterproof cover or ziploc bag, which will need to be shown as you commence your trail
  • Cash – in local currency (sol), small denominations, and enough for meals, tips, and souvenirs
  • Travel first aid kit – for fixing minor injuries on the go, such as blisters, though your tour leader will have first aid supplies

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Other Luggage for Machu Picchu

Here are some of the things you’ll also need to take to Machu Picchu with you – whether you’re carrying them in your daypack or main bag, or wearing them!

Sleeping Bag

If you’re bringing your own, Rab down sleeping bags are unbeatable when it comes to warmth in an ultra lightweight package.

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Hiking Boots

If you do buy new ones, do wear them in before leaving home. Don’t do as our co-founder’s brother did, and fail to do this! It made his trek much more challenging – not to mention painful – than it needed to be.

It can be rocky and slippery underfoot on the Inca Trail, so we do recommend boots rather than shoes. Waterproof ones can be much more comfortable when it’s wet. Good brands include Columbia, Keen, Merrell, The North Face, and Salomon.

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Clothing and Accessories

Layering is the way to go when tackling a trek to Machu Picchu. Though what you’ll need may vary by season, the following garments are among the best things to pack.

  • Thermal base layers – if it’s cold, you’ll want to start with a thermal base layer. They can also double up as nightwear.
  • Hiking pants – fast-drying active pants, such as the Columbia range, are ideal
  • Hiking shirts – active t-shirts and shirts are perfect for Peruvian treks
  • Hiking fleece – a fleece layer is ideal for chillier days and nights, whenever you need an extra layer
  • Headband – while not essential, we highly recommend wearing a broad headband when it’s cold, to protect your ears from chilly winds
  • Scarf – a long scarf can also protect you from cold winds, and provide a lot of additional warmth
  • Gloves – a pair of thermal gloves can also help to raise your body temperature while protecting your hands from the cold
  • Hiking socks – pack at least one spare pair of hiking socks, as well as the pair you’re wearing when you set off
  • Underwear – don’t forget clean undies!
  • Thermal nightwear – it can get very cold at night at high altitudes, so be prepared by packing a set of thermal nightwear – or a second base layer set to wear instead
  • Swimsuit – a soak in the hot springs at Aguas Calientes is not to be missed after a long, hard trek to Machu Picchu
  • Flip flops – something lightweight like a pair of Havaianas is perfect for the hot springs and walking around in your hotel, giving your feet a rest from walking boots

Toiletries and First Aid

As well as carrying sunscreen and lip balm in your daypack, there are other toiletries you might need while trekking. Whether to carry these around with you or pack them in your main bag is down to you. But don’t forget about the following before finalising your list.

  • Prescribed medication – do not leave home without this, if applicable!
  • Antibiotics – if you want to take these along just in case, you will need a prescription
  • Insect repellent – a powerful DEET formula is ideal, and travel sizes are available
  • After sun – after sun lotion or aloe vera gel can soothe sunburned skin, and could also double up as hand cream or moisturiser
  • Water purification system – a Steripen, LifeStraw or water purification tablets
  • Toilet paper – packs of travel toilet paper are available, which can lighten your load
  • Ziploc bags – please pack used toilet paper into ziploc bags, keeping the trail clean
  • Blister treatment – moleskin, 2nd skin, or plasters or band-aids for blisters
  • Paracetamol – in case pain threatens to spoil your trek, paracetamol provides gentle, all-round pain relief
  • Altitude sickness meds – unless you’re very used to high altitudes, don’t leave without altitude sickness medication
  • Anti-diarrheal meds – if case you get a funny tummy on the trail, which is no fun at all, do pack some anti-diarrheal pills
  • Feminine hygiene products – a pack of ultra thin pads or non-applicator tampons will be more compact and lightweight
  • Deodorant – showers are few and far between on the trek to Machu Picchu, so taking a 48-hour deodorant can make you feel fresher!
  • Wet wipes – when you cannot shower, a quick wipe-down with wet wipes can help keep you cleaner
  • Hand sanitiser – the same applies to washing your hands, so packing travel hand sanitiser can make you feel fresher, too, as well as helping with general hygiene

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Other Useful Items

Other items that can be worth their weight in gold, for many travellers taking on the trek, include the following.

  • Torch – a head lamp or travel LED flashlight is perfect for seeing your way in the dark, if you tend to need the toilet during the night
  • Safety whistle – carrying a safety whistle can give you peace of mind, especially for those solo toilet trips
  • GoPro – if you want to capture better pictures of Machu Picchu, a GoPro is ideal
  • Memory card/s – you’re likely to take a lot of pictures, and camera cards take up so little space
  • Power bank – a portable power bank is necessary if you want to stay connected 24/7
  • Travel towel – a small towel can have many uses, and travel towels are both compact and fast-drying
  • Trekking poles – a pair of lightweight hiking poles can be really useful, but bear in mind that you cannot take them to the sacred site itself
  • Binoculars – while not essential as such, a lightweight pair of binoculars will allow you to see much more into the distance
  • Travel journal – a travel journal is a must for those who like to commit their trips to pen and paper
  • Ziploc bags – Ziploc bags have so many uses, from protecting your ID or documents and for carrying soiled toilet paper to separating wet and dry clothing or even helping you to organise your luggage
  • Travel pillow – an inflatable travel pillow can help you get enough rest, making you feel far more able to tackle the trek and enjoy Machu Picchu, as these aren’t supplied…
  • Pillowcase – alternatively, pack a natural bamboo pillowcase, so you can make a cosy pillow out of spare, rolled up clothing or a jacket
  • Sleeping bag liner – you really might want to use a liner if you’re hiring a sleeping bag, or for an extra layer of warmth anyway. Silk sleeping bag liners are the best, not least because they are thermo-regulating, hypoallergenic and very lightweight
  • Ear plugs – in case a tent-mate who snores stops you from sleeping!
  • Spare outfit – if you want to feel fresher for your photos, and have space, perhaps pack a lightweight spare shirt or travel dress
  • Waterproof over pants – while waterproof over pants aren’t strictly necessary, they can make life more comfortable when it’s wet, if you do have space for them, especially during the wet season in Peru (December to March).

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Machu Picchu Packing List FAQs

What should you pack for Machu Picchu?

The most important thing to know is that what you can take to Machu Picchu is restricted in several ways. Firstly, your main bag, which will be carried by porters employed by your tour operator, will have size and weight restrictions, and the bag itself will probably be provided by them.

If you travel via Peru Rail or Inca Rail trains, each of those also set their own luggage limits. These vary slightly from one another. The Ministry of Culture for Peru also restricts the size of the bag or backpack that you can take to Machu Picchu itself.

In short, you’ll typically be able to take around 5 to 8 kilos in your main bag. Your daypack will need to measure 16 x 14 x 8 inches – or 40 x 35 x 20 cm – or less to enter the Machu Picchu site itself.

Essentials to pack for Machu Picchu include your passport, cash in local currency, a water bottle or hydration reservoir, sunscreen, bug repellent, lip balm, sunglasses, a hat, a rain jacket or poncho, extra accessories and layers for warmth, a sleeping bag, a first aid kit, basic toiletries including toilet paper, and of course any prescribed medication you’ll need.

You’ll also need to wear comfortable, robust, worn-in hiking boots.

What is not allowed at Machu Picchu?

The list of items you cannot take to the Lost City of the Incas is fairly long and comprehensive, to protect this historic site. This list is drawn up by the Ministry of Culture in Peru.

Items that travellers may have with them, but are not permitted at Machu Picchu, include food, hiking poles, high-heeled shoes, and camera equipment such as tripods, monopods, or selfie sticks. Also not allowed are kitchenware, knives, alcohol, umbrellas, walking sticks, portable chairs, drones, aerosols, speakers or advertising materials.

To enter the site, your daypack must measure 16 x 14 x 8 inches – or 40 x 35 x 20 cm – or less.

Can I wear sneakers to Machu Picchu?

Hiking boots are recommended for Machu Picchu, rather than sneakers or trainers. This is because the trail can be rough, rocky, and wet underfoot. Proper hiking boots will help to protect your feet, and your ankles, from injury if you slip.

That said, you’re likely to see the porters wearing all kinds of footwear, but don’t forget that they do this every day!

Make sure your hiking boots are fully worn-in before setting out on your trek to Machu Picchu. You should also wear good hiking socks, and carry some sort of blister plasters or band-aids with you too.

Can I wear shorts to Machu Picchu?

Long pants, rather than shorts, are the best choice for Machu Picchu. This will help to prevent insect bites and sunburn. It will also help to protect your legs if you fall on rocky ground.

Quick-drying hiking pants are the best choice, as heavier pants can really weigh you down when it rains. Especially if you trek during the wet season!

Do I need bug spray for Machu Picchu?

Even in the absence of mosquitoes, bugs can be a really annoying part of trekking to Machu Picchu. If you want to avoid both bites and being annoyed, an insect repellent containing DEET should see you right.

Do you need altitude sickness tablets for Machu Picchu?

Taking altitude sickness meds is recommended for anyone tackling the trek to Machu Picchu. Altitude sickness could really spoil your trip, making this preventative measure well worth it.

Other ways to beat altitude sickness include drinking lots of water, avoiding alcohol, and having small, frequent meals. You should also take time to pace yourself and acclimatise gradually. Try to avoid perspiring as much as you can, too, as this will lower your energy levels. Wearing cool, loose fitting clothing, and layers you can remove, may help.

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Your Packing List for Machu Picchu

We hope this post has helped to inspire your Machu Picchu packing list. Though what to pack is personal to you, clearly there are certain items that you simply cannot do without!

Remember – before packing a single thing, you must check a few facts. Firstly, the weight limit applied by your tour operator, or the train company, and whether or not this includes a sleeping bag. Secondly, that you have a daypack that’s actually small enough to enter the Machu Picchu site with.

And never, ever set off without your passport, or you won’t be granted entry at all!

If you’re taking on the classic route, don’t miss this post on packing for the Inca Trail. It’s packed with extra tips and advice about planning – and packing for – this particular Machu Picchu trek.



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