Top Machu Picchu Experiences

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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Top Machu Picchu Attractions

Cusco

Sacred Valley

Inca Trail

Ollantaytambo

Amazon Rainforest

The Galapagos (often combined with Machu Picchu tours)

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Must See Machu Picchu Attractions

1. Inca Trail

Inca trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail remains one of the most popular ways to access Machu Picchu. The trail is challenging but accessible for most travelers, provided you are relatively physically fit - or if not you are willing to put up with some mild discomfort as you hike. The hike takes about 4 days.

In recent years the popularity of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu have begun to threaten the natural landscape and fragile ruins. For this reason a maximum number of hikers, porters, and guides on the trail is strictly enforced. Be sure to book your Inca Trail hike early!

Along the Inca Trail, you’ll pass many other ruins, and learn of the Inca history in the surrounding area. When you reach Machu Picchu, nothing can beat the feeling of accomplishment and awe as you explore these ancient ruins.

2. Lares Trek

If the Inca Trail is a bit “been there done that” for you, consider taking one of the lesser known treks to access Machu Picchu. There are less restrictions on these paths, and you can enjoy a bit more solitude along the way - rather than passing several hiking groups and sharing large camp grounds. Lares is 21 miles long and fairly moderate.

3. Salkantay Trek

Salkantay is another Inca Trail alternative, and ideal for hikers seeking a much more physically challenging hike than Inca or Lares treks. Salkantay is not recommended for novice hikers. At 37 miles, it takes 5-6 days to complete.

4. Sun Gate

When you arrive at Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail, you enter the ancient Inca city through the Sun Gate. Famed for the photo ops, the Sun Gate doesn’t always live up to its name. If arrive in the early morning, there is often very heavy cloud cover at Machu Picchu, usually clearing around 10 or 11am.

You can hike back up to the Sun Gate for a more picturesque view, however this viewing spot will be very crowded with travelers eager for their own Instagram worthy sefie at the famous site.

5. Aguas Calientes

Peru Rail trail to Aguas Calientes Machu Picchu

The small town of Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu is a classic overnight stop on tours to Machu Picchu. Visitors who take the train will often stay in the town for a nights rest before rising bright and early to catch the first bus to Machu Picchu in the morning.

Aguas Calientes literally translated means “hot water”, and there are natural hot springs nearby - a very popular activity for tourists eager for some calm and rejuvenation after the high energy (and high altitude!) of Machu Picchu exploring.

6. Huayna Picchu

The mountain in the background of so many Machu Picchu photos is called Huayna Picchu - an activity in its own right! You can buy tickets to climb the mountain for some truly incredible views of the Lost City ruins.

But beware! If you climb too early - or if it’s just a stubbornly cloudy day - you may exert a lot of energy and burn your calves for nothing. You’ll definitely still feel accomplished - the climb to the summit is immensely challenging (imagine a stair lift set to the highest incline for 30 minutes non stop) - but the promised views are subject to Peru’s often unpredictable weather conditions.

There are actually a few different hiking options around Huayna Picchu of varying degrees of difficulty. You’ll encounter the Moon Temple, and see a more secluded view of the mountains as you wind your way through the classic Peruvian landscape.

7. Archaeology Tour

Archaeology at Machu Picchu

Guided tours to see Machu Picchu will highlight the unique archaeological history of the site. Archaeologists and historians are still puzzled as to the exact purpose Machu Picchu held for the Inca people.

The years of research have provided many ideas and speculations. Your tour guide will expand on these as you walk through the ruins, learning about the fascinating rituals we believe took place, and point out the many signs of technically advanced building practices.

8. Sunrise at Machu Picchu

Seeing the sunrise at Machu Picchu is a much sought after experience. Often Inca Trail hikes are designed to reach the site just at sunrise. Again, this is a hit or miss experience given the very heavy and dense cloud cover Machu Picchu experiences in the early morning. If catching the sunrise at Machu Picchu is on your bucket list, the best months to visit are April - October, during the dry season.

9. Temple of Three Windows

Temple of three windows at Machu Picchu

Another major draw of the Machu Picchu ruins is the “Temple of Three Windows”. One of the oldest structures at Machu Picchu, the windows are famous for being built just so that they align with the sunrise. There actually used to be five windows - today only these three remain, and it is a very popular stop along Machu Picchu archaeology tours.

10. Sacred Plaza

Machu Picchu’s “Sacred Plaza” is the main central area from which several other ruins, temples, and structures span out. You will spend most of your tour exploring around the Sacred Plaza, where historians predict many ceremonies and rituals took place.

1,399
Machu Picchu Tour Reviews - Summary
99% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
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Value
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4.7 Activities
4.7 Lodging
4.7 Transportation
4.7 Meals
4.7

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