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Best Machu Picchu Guided Tours All Machu Picchu Trips
Top Trip Memories
  • Trekking the legendary Inca trail, an original trading road used by the Incan Empire itself and a rite of passage for travelers for well over a century.
  • Taking in the classic Machu Picchu vista for the first time at sunrise as mist slowly reveals dramatic cliffs, soaring mountains, and the ruins themselves.
  • Climbing up either Huayna Picchu or Montaña de Machu Picchu for a challenge that is rewarded by towering views over the ruins below.
  • Exploring Cusco, the former imperial capital of the Incans and today home to beautiful religious art and vibrant night life.
  • Dropping by some of the less visited but equally impressive sights of the Sacred Valley, such as the old salt mines of Maras or the other-worldy ancient circles of Moray.
  • Enjoying a rest in Ollantaytambo where you can experience a beautiful colonial square hemmed in by quaint alleys below and massive Incan ruins on every mountain top above.
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Tour Tips
  • Book your tour well in advance! Machu Picchu tickets sell out days, weeks, and even months ahead, especially for spots hiking the highly coveted Incan trail. Booking early can ensure that your trip will go smoothly and you will get to see everything you want to during this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
  • Take a tour to truly understand the history of some of the more incredible monuments, but also leave some time to explore the ruins for yourself and connect with the “apus” or spirits of the mountain.
  • Bring altitude medicine and don’t forget to acclimate. You may be at the highest altitudes of your life and a journey plagued by altitude sickness is not ideal.
  • Bring layers at all times, the Peruvian Andes can sometimes require a jacket and at other times you may simmer in tropical heat. 
  • Avoid the rainy season of January and February but also consider avoiding the high tourist months of June through August. Often, trips in April, May, September, and October lead to the best weather with fewer crowds

During your tour...

  • Arrive at Machu Picchu early. You will beat the tourist rush that hits between 10am and 3pm. Also, the sunrise over Machu Picchu is not to be missed.
  • Certain food is not allowed inside. Eat a big breakfast and take a lunch break outside of the ruins before returning for more exploration.
  • Don’t forget to take a photo of yourself in the “classic postcard view” to be found just beside the Guardian’s hut.
  • With all of the trekking, hiking, and sightseeing options, it is easy to try to take on too much -- keep in mind that even the best Switzerland tours don't tackle all of the Swiss Alps in one day. The altitude and weather will make your trip challenging enough. Try to relax and take the experience slowly. This will allow you to enjoy yourself as well as appreciate the mystical setting of Machu Picchu. 
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Machu Picchu Travel Reviews & Ratings
4.8 out of 5

100%

recommend

5,762 Reviews

Excellent 4,234 Great 1,323 Average 5 Disappointing 0 Terrible 1

Rating Details

Value
4.8 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals
4.8
Tour Reviews

Excellent Trek to one of the 7 wonders of the modern world!

The High Inca Trail

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes Truly an excellent 2 week holiday! 7 days spent in the Peruvian Andes- 4 days
trekking around Salcantay, 3 on the Inca trail, ending at the Sun Gate and
that picture postcard view of Machu Picchu. If you have entertained the
idea of doing this holiday, or a shorter version of the trek, I'd just book
it! You will certainly not be disappointed.
Difficult to choose just one but I would have to go with reaching the Sun
Gate and getting the first view of Machu Picchu. It really is an eye opener
and you definitely feel you have earned it after 7 days of quite challenging
trekking through the Andes.

As well as MP, the scenery in general, is truly magnificent. There are
plenty of times when you'll want to stop and simply take in and admire your
surroundings. If you are lucky and get clear skies during the evening, you
should see the Milky Way.


Bruce was excellent! Very professional, caring and made sure he understood
the capabilities of the group. He has a passion to share his knowledge
about his country and it's history and gave very detailed, interesting
explanations when we stopped at archeological sites. He made every member of
the group feel welcome and brought us all together as a 'family' for the two
weeks we were together.

A special mention needs to go to Cesar, our second guide. Knowledgeable and
very likeable- along with Bruce he made sure all of our needs were catered
for and that we all finished the trek in one piece.

One final mention goes to the support team- cooks, wranglers and porters.
These guys are like machines! While you're struggling up and down the trail,
this team carries up to 25kg of equipment per person and make sure camp and
lunch spots are set up well before you arrive. Truly awesome.


Train for this trek and be prepared for the change in altitude, it really
does make a difference and you'll notice it when you reach the hotel in
Cusco.

As other reviewers have stated, pack for all seasons. At the highest camp
(4,200m), you will be very cold and temperatures will fall below zero. The
next day, you'll be in a valley and in temperatures above 20C. We were
fortunate not to get any rainfall but it is still a possibility.

Take a mixture of Peruvian Sols and US dollars, for use in Cusco.


Book it and enjoy it!


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Magical Machu Picchu

The High Inca Trail

5.0 July 2017 Exodus Travels Recommend: Yes Amazing hiking over the Salcantay pass to the magical Machu Picchu.
The anticipation of each turn the closer we got to the sun gate, and then the
first view of Machu Picchu was incredible


Wilmer, our leader was very knowledgable and relaxed with the group - good
fun


Take ear plugs! The frogs in camp 3 (might have been 4) are lovely but noisy,
and you may get need them for the hotel in Machu Picchu town (depends what
room you get)
Also allocate at least 50soles per meal (includes one drink and tips)
Food is amazing - there are great restaurants in Cusco, camp food -
incredible
Highly recommend green point in Cusco - it's vegan (I'm not) but they do a
very reasonable set menu (4 courses) for 15soles and food is amazing (5min
walk from hotel) - highly recommend


Last thing - hotel in Cusco - if you lose your phone charger, check the
bedside table drawers, mine was taken out of the wall and hidden away in
drawer for no reason at all- eventually found after emptying all bags, and
another guest over hearing complaint to reception (as same thing happened to
her)


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Planning the trip with the consultant at this travel agency went smoothly.

Inca Trail Trek

4.0 July 2017 Lost World Adventures Recommend: Yes " However, I think the our consultant needed to spend a little more time understanding our age/physical ability. He recommended 2 days touring Machu Picchu. However, we got there by 10 am the first day and had seen all we needed by the end of the day. Since we were not hikers, we were not going to hike to the Sun Gate, nor were we going to climb Huana Picchu. So, we spent a pleasant day relaxing in Aguas Caliente, but wasted the cost of admission for 2 for the second day.

All of the accommodations were fine and most of the local tour guides were excellent. Our guides in the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Cusco were excellent. Unfortunately I was very ill in Lake Titicaca and could not go on the tour, but the local tour guide helped us find a doctor, called my husband several times to make sure I was ok, and came to the hotel to check on me. She was very helpful in my time of need.

Our Lima tour guide was curt and not very good and the guide who rode with us for over 8 hours for the Nazca lines tour fell asleep most of the time and was NOT very informative.

Our consultant did not respond to an email when I had a medical emergency in Peru. However, the person monitoring the chat line was able to make our travel changes for a price that I believe is excessive. Changing 1 flight out of 3 on our return trip cost me $100 from the travel company for the change fee. I think considering the cost for the trip, they could have done that for free since I also had to pay the travel company and the tour company. Given my condition in the morning I was unable to leave the hotel room and travel for an hour to the airport. It took some time for the prescribed drugs to take effect so I had to leave later. The hotel was extremely helpful and accommodating, including allowing us to check out from our room very late."
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Their service was outstanding.

Inca Trail Trek

5.0 July 2017 Lost World Adventures Recommend: Yes "This Peru travel agency planned and booked a custom trip for me and my wife to Peru in October 2015. The trip included a short stay in Lima, and almost a week in the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Cusco. Their service was outstanding. The planning for the trip was perfect, and we relied entirely on them as we had not been to Peru before. They also went beyond the call of duty by getting a reservation at a good hotel in Lima even though there was a huge convention of the world bank in town at the time. They persisted until they found a cancellation. they even booked two good restaurants for us in Lima. The guides they provided were also excellent, including one who was truly outstanding.

I never would have located this company except through Zicasso. Two years ago we made a trip to Brazil and we looked and looked for a travel agency of this kind and never did find one. I would highly recommend using Zicasso to find the appropriate agency if you are traveling somewhere that you have not previously been to, or if you do not have an agency you are satisfied with."
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Our trip to Peru was planned perfectly, thanks to our travel agent! 

Peru by Land and Water

5.0 July 2017 Lost World Adventures Recommend: Yes Our trip to Peru was planned perfectly, thanks to our travel agent! He was quick to respond to all of my needs & was very flexible. The hotels and the guides he arranged were great! We couldn't have asked for or imagined a better experience in this magical country! Read more
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Classic Itineraries

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Perhaps the most classic Machu Picchu trip, walking the Inca Trail is a bucket list item for many. This is a challenging trip, but the reward is well worth the effort. Most Inca Trail treks take 4-5 days, though this varies.

Day 1-2, Cusco: Explore Cusco and get acclimated to the altitude. Visit cultural sites and museums to learn about the Inca before visiting Machu Picchu.

Day 3-8, Inca Trail: Embark upon the Inca trail.

Day 9-10, Machu Picchu: Arrive at the picturesque Sun Gate before the first wave of crowds. Take an in depth guided tour of the ruins, and spend free time exploring on your own. Climb the challenging Huayna Picchu for iconic pictures.

See All Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Tours

Historical Machu Picchu

One of the biggest draws of Machu Picchu is its historical significance. Most tours will touch on this, but some dive deeper than others into the archaeological history and cultural history of the incredible site.

Day 1-3, Cusco: Explore Cusco and get acclimated to the altitude. Visit cultural sites and museums to learn about the Inca before visiting Machu Picchu.

Day 4, Agua Calientes: Take the famous Scenic train ride to Agua Calientes. Spend the night and prepare to rise early to catch the dawn bus to Machu Picchu.

Day 5-6, Machu Picchu: Take an in depth guided tour of the ruins, and spend free time exploring on your own. Climb the challenging Huayna Picchu for iconic pictures.

Day 7, Ollantaytambo: On your way back to Cusco, stop in Ollantaytambo another historically significant Inca site.

Day 8, Lima: Depart from Lima

OR

Day 2-6, Official Treks: Strike out upon one of three treks, Lares, Salkantay, or Inca, on your way to the site.

Or see All Machu Picchu History Tours

Machu Picchu and the Galapagos

Many tour companies combine a trip to Machu Picchu with a tour of the Galapagos. Typically these tours range anywhere from two weeks to a full month.

Day 1-2, Cusco: Take time to adjust to the altitude. Visit Plaza de Armas, and explore the Old Inca Capital.

Day 2-3, Agua Calientes: Take the famous VistaDome scenic train ride to Agua Calientes. Along the way stop in Pisac to visit the market. Continue to Ollantaytambo for a tour of more Incan ruins before arriving in Agua Calientes. Spend the night and prepare to rise early to catch the dawn bus to Machu Picchu.

Day 4-5, Machu Picchu: Take an in depth guided tour of the ruins, and spend free time exploring on your own. Optional: climb the challenging Huayna Picchu for iconic pictures.

Day 6-7, Cusco to Lima: Return to Cusco and take a short flight to Lima - the jumping off point for your Galapagos cruise. Take a walking history tour of the city: San Francisco Church, Plaza de Armas, Government Palace.

Day 8, Quito: Leave Peru for Ecuador and head to Quito. Explore the city and see La Compania. Take a drive to the Equatorial Line Monument, where you can straddle the hemispheres.

Day 9-13, Galapagos Cruise: Enjoy a cruise of the Galapagos islands. Take in the history of Darwin’s time on the islands, which led to his groundbreaking evolution theories. Get up close and personal with wildlife as incredible and diverse as what you would see on a trip to Costa Rica, and learn about the delicate ecology on the islands from an expert.

See All Machu Picchu and Galapagos Tours

Machu Picchu Trips & Tour Advice

The ruins of Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, occupy one of the most dramatic sites of any archaeological find in the world. Dating from the 15th century and perched high up in the Peruvian Andes at the end of the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu features the ruins of stone-walled Inca temples, tombs and palaces in a jungle setting. Steep mountains form an unforgettable backdrop. You can take a guided trek to Machu Picchu along the Inca Trail or, for those on a less strenuous tour of Peru, get there by train.   

Your first moment of seeing Machu Picchu can easily be a highlight of a lifetime of travel. Taking in the perilous peaks and the beautiful silvery stones that make up the legendary lost Incan outpost high in the Andes merits few equals in any other destination experience. For many, Machu Picchu is a rite of passage.

However, getting to that moment is a process that can either be just as epic or stressful and exhausting. Let Stride guide you towards the best tour operators to ensure that your journey to one of the world’s most famous archaeological ruins is smooth and memorable.

Cusco, the Starting Point

The first port of call is Cusco. Cusco was the capital of the vast Incan empire and is replete with both ancient Incan temples and exquisite colonial churches. Boasting a dizzying mix of Catholic religious festivals, ancient Incan annual rituals, and popular music parades, Cusco’s calendar is always packed with exciting cultural experiences.

Cuzco also has its fair share of four-star hotels as well as budget accommodations, and is nestled in a beautiful landscape making it the perfect location in which to pass the time.

At 11k feet above sea level, (while Machu Picchu is at a mere 8K), Cusco is a crucial stop for adjusting to the altitude. The last thing you want is to suffer from altitude sickness during your journey to Machu Picchu! Take it easy, drink lots of water, and let your body get used to the thin Andean air.

Staying in Cusco is also helpful for providing an initial context to your journey and the characters involved. It’s the perfect introduction to Peru, and the many forces that contributed to the culture and diversity here. Including the food, language, architecture, and art - Cusco is the gateway to another time. The present day locals live concurrent with their ancestors, keeping many traditions and customs alive. Cusco is where you prepare to enter a different world.

During your free time in Cusco, be sure to pick up any last minute essentials for your journey. Depending on the time of year, it could be quite chilly, and even more so once you reach the ruins. The sun is often shrouded in mist and fog before 10am at Machu Picchu, and though you’ll be scrambling up and down ancient stairways as you explore, it will still be damp. Luckily Cusco is full of shops where you can purchase the famous alpaca wool hats, gloves, or ponchos.

On the outskirts of the city, Sacsayhuaman stands strong as the former fortress defending the Incan imperial capital and is the perfect destination for your first glimpse at the impressively large and exquisitely carved stones that make Incan architecture so famous. Returning to the city, one can appreciate some of the most beautiful colonial architecture in all of South America. Some churches, like Qoricancha, are built on top of and incorporated within Incan ruins. The cathedral, Santa Catalina monastery, San Blas, and countless other colonial gems complete the beauty of a town where religious art is so beautiful, it inspired an entire Cusquena artistic school and movement. 

Cusco even has a modern side. Going with a good tour operator can help ensure you see the most recent additions to Cusco’s ever-changing heritage: museums dedicate to chocolate and Pisco, resorts, spas, and even a vibrant nightlife.

There are many ways to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco. If you’re taking the train (of which there are three choices, of different budget levels) it leaves right from Poroy Station, about 20 minutes from downtown Cusco. This service is regular between May and December, but may be irregular during off season months when mudslides or heavy rain cause safety concerns.

If you are planning to reach Machu Picchu on one of the three main treks, you’ll take a bus or shuttle from Cusco to your starting point. On your way, you’ll pass through the Sacred Valley, location of Ollantaytambo, where you might stop for a night depending on your tour itinerary.

Getting to Machu Picchu is Half the Experience

Machu Picchu is much more than just Machu Picchu. A journey to the sacred Incan fortress is reached by first traveling through the Sacred Valley. On the way to Machu Picchu, you will pass Pisaq, where Incan terraces cascade gracefully down from the ancient trading post. Later, you will find yourself passing the fascinating, and beautiful, salt mines of Maras or entering the sacred, but eerie, endless concentric circles of Moray.

Finally, a Sacred Valley tour is not complete without visiting Ollantaytambo, a beautiful town in its own right, with a beautiful colonial core and a dramatic fortress climbing up on every mountain above the quaint alleys below.

There are many ways you can get to Machu Picchu. One of the most popular routes is still the Inca Trail, which, while difficult, is manageable for most able bodied and relatively fit travelers. The trail takes 4 to 5 days to complete and you’ll be surrounded by spectacular scenery and history, brought to life by your guide the entire way.

If you’re planning to hike the Inca Trail, be sure you purchase your permit into the park well ahead of time. They sell out extremely fast, and a limited number of people (500) are permitted on the trail per day. This includes porters and guides. Six months in advance is a good bet to ensure yourself a spot. It is also worth noting that you cannot hike the trail without a guide. Most large tour companies offer a Machu Picchu trek, so you have a lot of choice. Use Stride’s filtering tools to find the right tour size for you.

However, travelers are beginning to discover the other ways you can hike to Machu Picchu, which include the Lares Trek and Salkantay Trek. The Lares Treks is comparable, difficulty wise to the Inca Trail, but Salkantay is quite a bit more challenging, both in length and type.  

If you’re not hiking, you will take one of three rail journeys from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. There are different price points, but if you’re willing to splurge, the Belmond Hiram Bingham train is well worth the price. Drift through the Sacred Valley in luxury, while gazing out at the historic landscape through large viewing windows.

Aguas Calientes is the main hub for travelers going to Machu Picchu, about 15 minutes away from the site by bus. It is a good idea to stay in Aguas Calientes for a few days. Let yourself relax and not worry about seeing all of Machu Picchu in one fell swoop.

Use one day to catch the first bus after waiting in line at 4am to see the sunrise, but use your second day to go later. If you have time, don’t pass up a visit to the hot springs (Aguas Calientes literally translates to “hot water”).

Arriving at Machu Picchu

Unless you took the Incan trail the whole way there, you will have your chance to warm up in the hot springs of Agua Calientes in preparation for your exciting day, or days, in Machu Picchu.

Arriving early, you can catch the ancient mist disappearing to reveal the beautiful stones that make up one of the world’s most dramatic set of ruins. With your tour guide, you will learn about many of the secrets in those stones: an ancient sun dial, a temple designed to resemble a condor, and the temple of the sun, which boasts perhaps the most impressive ancient stonework in the Western Hemisphere.

After your guided tour, you may opt to go for a hike. Popular options include the sun gate, which is actually the end point of the Incan trail, or climbing up Huayna Picchu, a tough climb that is rewarded with its own set of ruins that tower over Machu Picchu and provide new captivating angles to photograph the fortress below.

For those desiring to focus on the ruins themselves, simply meandering its ancient streets will provide hours of captivating discoveries and mysterious wonders found in the meticulously cut stones that surround you.

More Than Just a Destination

A trip to Machu Picchu is never just a trip to Machu Picchu. Rather, it is a journey that can and should include colonial towns, religious art, ancient ruins, Andean treks, and breathtaking vistas. Traveling along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the more daunting but rewarding experiences in all of travel, so it is best to plan well to ensure a fulfilling trip. See our comprehensive guide of Machu Picchu planning tips article for help getting started! 

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