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Visiting Machu Picchu: Travel Tips For Exploring The World Wonder


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Ryann Shilling



Welcome to the magical world of Machu Picchu, one of the most iconic and breath-taking archaeological sites on the planet. Nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, this ancient Incan citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage site and draws visitors from all corners of the globe.


Steeped in history and mystique, Machu Picchu offers a glimpse into the fascinating Incan civilization of the past. From its stunningly preserved stone structures to its awe-inspiring panoramic views, every aspect of this wonder of the world will leave you in awe.


Visiting Machu Picchu is an adventure of a lifetime, but it requires careful planning and preparation. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you make the most of your trip. From travel tips, to hiking options, to important considerations, we’ve got you covered.


Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply seeking a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Machu Picchu will not disappoint. So, let’s dive into the details and discover everything you need to know to make your visit to Machu Picchu a memorable one.


Planning your trip to Machu Picchu

Before embarking on your journey to Machu Picchu, it’s essential to have a well-thought-out plan. Here are some key factors to consider when planning your trip:


1. Decide on the duration of your visit: Determine how much time you want to spend exploring Machu Picchu. Most visitors allocate at least one full day to fully experience the site, but some also opt for multi-day treks like the famous Inca Trail.


2. Choose the right time of year: Machu Picchu’s weather can vary significantly depending on the time of year. The high season is from May to September when it tends to be drier, but also more crowded. If you prefer fewer crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of April or October.


3. Obtain necessary permits: In order to control the number of visitors and preserve the site, permits are required for certain activities, such as hiking the Inca Trail or visiting Huayna Picchu. It’s important to book these permits well in advance, as they can sell out quickly.


4. Decide on your mode of transportation: There are different options for getting to Machu Picchu. The most popular and convenient is to take a train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to the town of Aguas Calientes, which is the gateway to Machu Picchu. Alternatively, you can opt for a multi-day trek like the Salkantay or Lares Trek, which offer a more adventurous route.


5. Consider hiring a guide: While exploring Machu Picchu independently is possible, hiring a knowledgeable guide can greatly enhance your experience. They can provide insightful information about the history and culture of the site, as well as navigate you through the intricate network of trails.


6. Prepare for high altitude: Machu Picchu sits at an elevation of around 2,430 meters (7,970 feet), so it’s important to acclimatize yourself before your visit. Spend a few days in Cusco or other high-altitude locations in Peru to adjust to the thinner air and reduce the risk of altitude sickness.


By carefully planning your trip to Machu Picchu, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Take the time to research and make necessary arrangements in advance, and you’ll be ready to embark on your journey to this ancient wonder.


Getting to Machu Picchu

Getting to Machu Picchu is an adventure in itself, as it involves traversing scenic landscapes and navigating through remote areas. Here are the primary means of transportation to reach this magnificent site:


1. Train: The most popular and convenient option is to take a train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo. This picturesque train ride offers stunning views of the Andean countryside and is a comfortable and efficient way to reach the base of Machu Picchu. Multiple train companies operate along this route, providing different amenities and price ranges to suit your preferences.


2. Trekking: For those seeking a more adventurous and immersive experience, trekking to Machu Picchu is an excellent option. The famous Inca Trail is a four-day trek that takes you through spectacular landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and a series of Incan ruins before culminating at Machu Picchu. Additionally, there are alternative treks like the Salkantay Trek and the Lares Trek that offer different routes and scenery.


3. Bus: From Aguas Calientes, the final leg of the journey to Machu Picchu involves a short bus ride. These buses operate regularly and take visitors up the steep and winding road to the entrance of the archaeological site. The bus journey itself is an exciting and scenic experience, offering beautiful vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys.


4. Hiking: If you want to challenge yourself and fully immerse in the experience, you also have the option to hike up to Machu Picchu instead of taking the bus. The most popular hiking trail is the steep and challenging hike up Wayna Picchu, the iconic peak that overlooks the citadel. This hike offers spectacular views but requires a separate permit and is limited to a certain number of visitors per day.


It’s important to note that regardless of how you choose to get to Machu Picchu, you will need tickets to enter the site. These tickets can be purchased online in advance, and it’s recommended to secure them early, especially during the high season.


Overall, the journey to Machu Picchu is a thrilling and memorable experience, no matter which transportation mode you choose. Each option offers its own unique advantages, allowing you to appreciate the stunning beauty of the Andean landscapes as you make your way to this extraordinary archaeological wonder.


Best time to visit Machu Picchu

Choosing the right time to visit Machu Picchu is crucial for ensuring an enjoyable and comfortable experience. Here are some factors to consider when deciding on the best time to visit:


1. Weather: The weather in Machu Picchu can vary significantly throughout the year. The dry season, which runs from May to September, is generally considered the best time to visit. During these months, you can expect clear skies and minimal rainfall, allowing for optimal visibility and comfortable temperatures during the day. However, it’s worth noting that the nights can get quite cold, especially at higher altitudes.


2. Crowds: Machu Picchu is popular among tourists, so it’s important to consider the level of crowds when planning your visit. The high season, which coincides with the dry season from May to September, tends to attract larger numbers of visitors. If you prefer a quieter experience, it’s best to visit during the shoulder seasons of April or October when there are fewer crowds but still favorable weather conditions.


3. Festivals and events: Peru is known for its vibrant festivals and cultural celebrations, and attending one during your visit to Machu Picchu can add an extra layer of excitement to your trip. The most famous festival in the region is Inti Raymi, the Incan Festival of the Sun, which takes place in Cusco in June. If witnessing colorful parades and traditional ceremonies appeals to you, planning your visit around one of these events can make your experience even more memorable.


4. Hiking conditions: If you plan to embark on one of the trekking routes to Machu Picchu, such as the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek, it’s important to consider the hiking conditions during each season. The dry season provides better trail conditions with less rainfall and muddiness, making the trekking experience more enjoyable. However, it’s worth noting that the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance during the month of February every year.


Ultimately, the best time to visit Machu Picchu depends on your preferences and priorities. Consider the weather, crowds, and any specific events or activities you wish to partake in. Regardless of the time of year you choose to visit, Machu Picchu’s mesmerizing beauty and rich history will leave you in awe no matter when you go.


Exploring Machu Picchu

Once you’ve arrived at Machu Picchu, get ready to immerse yourself in the fascinating world of this ancient Incan citadel. Here are some key areas and activities to explore during your visit:


1. Main Plaza: Start your exploration by making your way to the Main Plaza, also known as the Sacred Plaza. This central square is surrounded by impressive Incan structures and offers a perfect vantage point to take in the magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and terraces.


2. Temple of the Sun: One of the most remarkable structures in Machu Picchu is the Temple of the Sun. This semicircular building showcases the Incas’ advanced architectural skills and offers insights into their religious beliefs and practices.


3. Intihuatana Stone: Don’t miss the Intihuatana Stone, an intricately carved granite pillar that served as an astronomical device for the Incas. It is thought to have been used for religious rituals and as a way to track the movement of the sun.


4. Temple of the Three Windows: Another impressive structure within Machu Picchu is the Temple of the Three Windows. Its three large windows perfectly frame the stunning mountain panoramas and provide a glimpse into the Incan civilization’s ability to align their structures with the natural landscape.


5. Inca Bridge: Take a leisurely hike to the Inca Bridge, a fascinating engineering feat that allowed access to Machu Picchu while providing a natural defense mechanism. The bridge hangs precariously on a cliffside, offering breathtaking views and a thrilling experience.


6. Guardhouse: The Guardhouse, also known as the House of the Guardians, stands prominently at the entrance of Machu Picchu. It served as a lookout point and housed the guards responsible for protecting the citadel. From this vantage point, you can marvel at the magnificence of Machu Picchu below.


7. Agricultural Terraces: The agricultural terraces are an impressive display of the Incas’ knowledge of farming techniques and their ability to sustain agriculture in the rugged mountainous terrain. These terraces are a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of the ancient civilization.


As you explore Machu Picchu, take the time to absorb the atmosphere and appreciate the intricate stonework, stunning panoramas, and profound history that surrounds you. Whether you choose to wander independently or hire a guide, be prepared to be awe-struck by the beauty and mystery of this ancient wonder of the world.


Hiking options in Machu Picchu

For those seeking a more adventurous and immersive experience, Machu Picchu offers several hiking options that allow you to explore the surrounding natural landscapes and archaeological sites. Here are some popular hiking routes in Machu Picchu:


1. The Inca Trail: This iconic trek is a bucket-list adventure for many. Spanning approximately 43 kilometers (26 miles) over four days, the Inca Trail takes you through diverse ecosystems, breathtaking mountain scenery, and a series of ancient Incan ruins before culminating at Machu Picchu. The trail requires a permit and is limited to a certain number of visitors per day, so it’s essential to book in advance.


2. Salkantay Trek: A popular alternative to the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek offers a challenging and rewarding journey through beautiful landscapes. This multi-day trek takes you through snow-capped mountains, lush forests, and remote Andean villages before reaching Machu Picchu. With its varied terrain and stunning views, the Salkantay Trek is a favorite among adventure enthusiasts.


3. Lares Trek: The Lares Trek is another fantastic option for those looking to experience the Andean scenery and local culture. This trek takes you through traditional Andean villages, where you can interact with local communities and witness their way of life. Along the way, you’ll be surrounded by spectacular mountain vistas and breathtaking natural beauty before reaching Machu Picchu.


4. Huayna Picchu: Huayna Picchu is the iconic peak overlooking Machu Picchu. For those seeking a shorter but challenging hike, you can venture up to the summit of Huayna Picchu. The hike offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the ancient citadel below. It requires a separate permit and is limited to a specific number of visitors per day, so it’s essential to secure your spot in advance.


Each of these hiking options offers a unique perspective on the beauty of Machu

Picchu and the surrounding region. Whether you embark on the classic Inca Trail, the off-the-beaten-path Salkantay Trek, or choose to hike up to Huayna Picchu, you’ll be rewarded with stunning landscapes, a sense of adventure, and a deeper connection to the rich history and culture of the Incan civilization.


Important tips for visiting Machu Picchu

Visiting Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it’s important to be well-prepared to make the most of your trip. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:


1. Book your tickets and permits in advance: Machu Picchu has a daily visitor limit, and popular activities like hiking the Inca Trail and visiting Huayna Picchu require separate permits. It’s crucial to book these well in advance, especially during the high season, to secure your spot.


2. Start early to beat the crowds: Machu Picchu gets crowded, particularly during the peak months. To enjoy the site with fewer visitors and better photo opportunities, it’s recommended to arrive early in the morning when the gates open. You’ll also have a chance to experience the ethereal beauty of the site in the morning mist.


3. Stay hydrated and take it slow: Machu Picchu sits at a high altitude, which can have an impact on your body. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and take it slow to prevent altitude sickness. Take breaks, listen to your body, and allow time for acclimatization.


4. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear: Machu Picchu’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s best to dress in layers to accommodate temperature changes throughout the day. Wear comfortable walking shoes as you’ll be doing a fair amount of walking and climbing stairs. Additionally, don’t forget to bring a rain jacket or poncho as rain is common, especially during the wetter months.


5. Protect yourself from the sun: At high altitudes, the sun’s rays can be intense. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF, a hat, and sunglasses to protect yourself from sunburn and UV rays. Additionally, consider bringing a lightweight long-sleeved shirt for additional sun protection.


6. Pack essentials: It’s important to pack a few essential items for your Machu Picchu visit. These include insect repellent, a reusable water bottle, hand sanitizer, a small backpack, and snacks to keep you energized throughout the day.


7. Respect the rules and the site: Machu Picchu is a protected UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s crucial to respect the rules and regulations. Follow the designated trails, avoid touching the ruins, and be mindful of the natural surroundings. Help preserve this incredible site for future generations to enjoy.


By keeping these important tips in mind, you’ll ensure a safe, comfortable, and memorable visit to Machu Picchu. Pay attention to the details, embrace the beauty around you, and savor every moment of this incredible journey.


What to pack for Machu Picchu

When preparing for your trip to Machu Picchu, it’s essential to pack wisely to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here’s a checklist of items to consider packing:


1. Layered clothing: Machu Picchu’s weather can be unpredictable, with temperature changes throughout the day. Pack lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing that can be layered to accommodate varying temperatures. Include a warm jacket or fleece for cool mornings and evenings.


2. Comfortable walking shoes: Exploring Machu Picchu involves a fair amount of walking and climbing stairs. Choose sturdy, comfortable walking shoes with good grip to navigate the uneven terrain. It’s best to break in your shoes before your trip to avoid blisters.


3. Rain gear: Rain is common in the region, especially during the wetter months. Pack a lightweight rain jacket or poncho to keep you dry during unexpected showers. A waterproof cover for your backpack is also recommended to protect your belongings.


4. Sun protection: At high altitudes, the sun’s rays can be intense. Pack sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and neck, and sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sun. Consider a lightweight long-sleeved shirt for additional sun protection.


5. Insect repellent: Machu Picchu is surrounded by lush vegetation, so it’s wise to pack insect repellent to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other biting insects. Opt for a repellent with a high DEET concentration for maximum effectiveness.


6. Daypack: Bring a small backpack to carry your essentials, such as water, snacks, sunscreen, and a camera. Make sure it is comfortable and has enough space to hold what you need for the day. A backpack with a waist strap can help distribute the weight and ease the strain on your shoulders.


7. Reusable water bottle: Staying hydrated is crucial when visiting Machu Picchu. Bring a refillable water bottle to minimize waste and keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. There are water refill stations available near the entrance and various sites within Machu Picchu.


8. Personal hygiene items: Pack essentials such as hand sanitizer, wet wipes, and toilet paper as restroom facilities may have limited supplies. These items will come in handy during your visit.


9. Personal medication: If you take any prescribed medication, make sure to pack an ample supply for the duration of your trip. It’s also wise to have a small personal first aid kit with band-aids, pain relievers, and any other specific medications you may require.


10. Travel documents: Don’t forget to bring your passport, tickets, permits, and any other necessary travel documents. Keep them in a waterproof pouch or organizer to keep them safe and easily accessible.


Remember to pack light and only bring what you need to minimize the weight you’ll be carrying during your visit to Machu Picchu. Focus on essential items that will enhance your comfort and ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience exploring this ancient wonder.


Where to stay near Machu Picchu

When visiting Machu Picchu, finding the right accommodation can greatly enhance your overall experience. Here are your options for where to stay near Machu Picchu:


1. Aguas Calientes: Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, is the closest town to Machu Picchu and the most common base for visitors. It offers a range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Staying in Aguas Calientes allows for easy access to the bus that takes you up to Machu Picchu, as well as to restaurants, shops, and amenities. It’s a convenient option if you want to be close to the site and have all the necessary facilities at your fingertips.


2. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel: This eco-luxury hotel is set amidst lush vegetation and beautiful gardens, offering a tranquil and immersive experience. With its comfortable rooms, excellent service, and amenities like a spa and restaurant, Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel provides a luxurious retreat after a day of exploring Machu Picchu.


3. Belmond Sanctuary Lodge: For those looking for ultimate convenience and luxury, the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge is the only hotel located right next to Machu Picchu. It offers breathtaking views of the citadel and exclusive access to the site before and after regular visiting hours. Staying at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge allows you to fully immerse yourself in the magic of Machu Picchu.


4. Ollantaytambo: If you prefer a quieter atmosphere and a taste of local culture, consider staying in the picturesque town of Ollantaytambo. This town is located in the Sacred Valley and is a common starting point for those trekking the Inca Trail. Ollantaytambo offers a range of accommodations, from cozy guesthouses to boutique hotels, and provides a glimpse into the daily lives of the local community.


5. Cusco: If you have more time to spare, staying in the historic city of Cusco can be a wonderful option. Cusco offers numerous accommodations for all budgets and provides a vibrant atmosphere with its colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and lively markets. From Cusco, you can take a train or bus to Aguas Calientes to visit Machu Picchu, making it a convenient and culturally rich base for your exploration.


When choosing where to stay near Machu Picchu, consider your preferences, budget, and desired level of comfort. Regardless of the option you choose, you’ll be surrounded by stunning landscapes and have easy access to the awe-inspiring wonder that is Machu Picchu.



Visiting Machu Picchu is an extraordinary experience that will leave you in awe of its beauty, history, and cultural significance. This ancient Incan citadel nestled in the Andes Mountains of Peru offers a glimpse into a fascinating civilization and showcases the breathtaking landscapes of the region.


By carefully planning your trip, you can make the most of your visit to Machu Picchu. Consider factors such as the best time to go, transportation options, and the duration of your stay. Whether you choose to trek along the Inca Trail, explore the various hiking routes, or take a train to Machu Picchu, each option offers its own unique adventure and perspective.


During your visit to Machu Picchu, take the time to explore the various archaeological sites within the citadel. Marvel at the ingenuity of the Incas’ stonework, wander through the Main Plaza, and immerse yourself in the history and mystique of this world wonder. Consider hiring a knowledgeable guide to enhance your understanding and appreciation of the site.


As you venture through Machu Picchu, be sure to adhere to the guidelines and show respect for the environment and the ancient ruins. Pack appropriately for the weather and altitude, stay hydrated, and protect yourself from the sun. And don’t forget your camera to capture the breathtaking views and special moments along the way.


Whether you choose to stay in Aguas Calientes, Ollantaytambo, or Cusco, there are various accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Choose a place that provides comfort and convenience, allowing you to relax and rejuvenate after exploring the wonders of Machu Picchu.


In conclusion, visiting Machu Picchu is a remarkable and unforgettable journey. The awe-inspiring beauty of the site, the rich and storied history, and the staggering natural landscapes all contribute to an experience of a lifetime. By taking the time to plan, prepare, and embrace the adventure, you’ll be rewarded with memories that will last forever.