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


Sacred Valley

Inca Trail


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.

Machu Picchu Tour Reviews - Summary
99% Recommend

4.8 out of 5
Excellent 1,048 Great 272 Average 21 Disappointing 6 Terrible 1
4.8 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals



now this gets personal.... December 2017


Southern Peru Journey- 13 Days/ 12 Nights

FSJourneys offers a travel experience like no other. The focus is personal growth and reflection. Small groups make traveling intimate, and connecting with others easy. I traveled by myself on this trip and met others who did the same. Kristie works hard to bring people together, yet allows for the personal space we all may also need when engaging in a meditative yoga retreat. There are opportunities to enjoy things in such an intimate setting. I even had a private driver for a hike others opted out of. The value for the price is very high, and you don't realize this until you get there. We stayed in a variety of places, each accomodation offering something unique. Sometimes luxury, sometimes home stay or lack of heat. We ate so healthy, I lost 10#s without even trying. Healthy foods and walking in the Andes is the perfect way to feel in shape and like you are doing something good for your body.
One must be flexible when traveling in Peru, and there were some activities which were changed or canceled due to circumstances both inside the group, and out, but it's part of the experience when traveling to areas that are more remote. Don't get upset if the wifi doesn't really work. ;-) It's okay.... there is so much beauty all around, you will want to keep your attention at 100% in the present moment!
PachaMama is Mother Earth. You will learn much about local customs, and participate in amazing ceremonies in an intimate setting. After this trip, I imagine other tours "small group" settings may feel overwhelming.
Kristie connects to her clients, and in my experience... it became a tour of traveling friends.... what a great experience.
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Operator Flowing Spirit Journeys



Great experience January 2017


Enchanting Peru

The guides were all excellent and very friendly, funny. I just wish we could have spent longer at Peru.

Operator SmarTours



Enchanted Peru December 2016


Enchanting Peru

We just returned from our Tour in Peru, unfortunately it was riddled with strikes by the Transportation Department. HOWEVER!!! we must say that Smartours went beyond what was normal. We were treated like Royalty, additional nights at the hotel, flight upgrades. We were able to see everything we came for. Some other Tour Groups we shared our hotel with were not that lucky and they ended up stranded. Also I like to say that our Tour Guide in Peru (Enrique) was funny, very knowledgeable and just overall a super nice person, we never felt like that we were a burden or "just a job". Too bad he wasn't able to come to Lima, we really missed him there. Overall our group was amazing and fun, we had a wonderful time. This was one of our many trips with Smartours and I am looking to see where we will go next. Thank you for all your effort. I will email some pictures ;-) Read more

Operator SmarTours



Peru trip was great November 2016


Enchanting Peru

This was our second guided vacation with Smart Tours. Outstanding trip and memorable due to the main guide, Enrique Virto. Rosario Rojas who we spent two days with was also excellent. Enrique's knowledge and passion for explaining the art, history and culture of the country were evident to everyone on the trip. Many of the other members of the group commented that Enrique was the one of the best guides they ever had in their world travels. I hope your company continues to hire Enrique as he is a real asset to Smart Tours. Read more

Operator SmarTours



Enchanting Peru November 2016


Enchanting Peru

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our trip. Our guide, Enrique Virto, was exceptional and made a fantastic trip a memorable one! Highly recommend this tour. This was our second trip with Smartours and both were amazing! Read more

Operator SmarTours

See all reviews for Machu Picchu Top Operators & Trips
Top Machu Picchu Travel Companies Ajax Loader...

The top tour operators to Machu Picchu cover an extremely wide range, both in physical requirements and age range. Some will be heavily focused on trekking the Inca trail and other routes, while others offer softer walking or even luxury transportation to Machu Picchu.

Most include local guides who will highlight the area from a modern cultural perspective as well as give travelers insights into the ancient history surrounding the mysterious Incas and Machu Picchu’s creation.

Additionally, several Machu Picchu tour operators offer itineraries that cover wider Peru, and also may include the Galapagos as well.

Things To Know Before You Go

Useful Links

Visa Information

  Visa Needed? Link
US N (< 183 days) Visas to Peru for United States Citizens
UK N (< 183 days) Visas to Peru for United Kingdom Citizens
CA N (< 90 days) Visas to Peru for Canadian Citizens
AU N (< 183 days) Visas to Peru for Australian Citizens
NZ N (< 183 days) Visas to Peru for New Zealand Citizens
IN Y Visas to Peru for Indian Citizens

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