The ancient Incan site, built in the 15th century and left abandoned and undiscovered until 1911, is situated on a mountain ridge right above the Sacred Valley and 2,430 metres above sea level. Many spend years dreaming of a trip to the iconic Machu Picchu, and as most will only get one chance to experience this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage site, we want to make sure you have the best experience possible.
Our specialists have compiled some expert tips to ensure you make the most out of this once in a lifetime journey.
Machu Picchu is a breathtaking site no matter when you visit
Expert tip #1 - Climb Huayna Picchu
Make time as part of your trip to Machu Picchu to climb Huayna Picchu, the mountain the forms the backbone of the archaeological site. It’s not for the faint-hearted and as space is limited it needs to be booked in advance, but the views from the top are well worth the effort.
The view from Huayna Picchu offers a stunning and unique perspective
Expert tip #2 - Don't let the mist fool you
If you arrive in the morning only to be greeted by clouds and mist – don’t fret. The morning mist almost always clears up, and you'll end up with a wonderful series of photos if you sit and wait for the clouds to lift.
Machu Picchu surrounded by mist is a common site in the early morning
Expert tip #3 - Stay locally
Stay in a nearby hotel - this will allow you to avoid some of the crowds and visit whenever you'd like during the day. The nearest town is Aguas Calientes, a 25-minute bus journey in the valley below Machu Picchu, and it has a good choice of hotels. If you can, give yourself two days in the area so you really get a chance to see all of Machu Picchu.
Check out some of our top Peru hotel recommendations below.
Expert tip #4 - Tour in the afternoon
If time allows, try to take your guided tour in the afternoon. In contrast to most tourist sites around the world, the afternoon at Machu Picchu is actually one of the quietest times, as all the hikers from the Inca Trial have long run out of energy and the crowds looking to see the sun rise in the morning have headed home.
Llamas are a common sighting at Machu Picchu
Expert tip #5 - Be prepared for weather
Be prepared for all types of weather. Bring a hat, as the sun can be extremely bright at the high elevation. The rainy season falls between November and April, but it can rain at any time during the year, so be sure to bring a poncho with you. At the high altitude, it can get chilly in the morning and evenings, so make sure to bring a sweater.
Machu Picchu can be sunny and rainy on any given day, so bring a sun hat and rain jacket
Expert tip #6 - Pack wisely
Be smart about packing. Pack light, as you won't want to have too much to lug around as you're exploring. If you're planning on hiking the Inca Trail or any surrounding trails, wear good hiking shoes and be prepared with plenty of water and a light backpack. Bring a good camera and cash, as not everywhere will take credit card.