Plan Your Trip: Best Time To Visit Machu Picchu, Peru

best time of year to visit machu picchu

Machu Picchu, Peru, is one of the places that every traveller should absolutely visit at least once in their lives. This UNESCO World Heritage site is also commonly known as the Lost City of the Incas. Built on a mountaintop and surrounded by temples, terraces and even water channels, Machu Picchu has been a famous archaeological site that calls travellers from every corner of the world. From hiking mountaintops to exploring the ruins and historic temples, there’s everything for every traveller to discover. If you’re unsure of when to visit Machu Picchu, we’ve rounded up a list of the best time to visit Machu Picchu!

1. Great weather - May to October

Macchu Picchu

While visiting one of the Seven Wonders of the World, you’ll definitely need great weather for those picture perfect memories. The dry season in Machu Picchu is between May to October. Do take note that even during the dry season, there will be days that consist of heavy mists. As Machu Picchu is situated on the edge of the rainforest, rain and fog are possibilities at any time of the year. Although during the dry season there is a chance to appreciate the beautiful views of ruins.

2. Inca Trail - March to October

Inca Trail
Source: Pixabay

The Inca Trail is a hiking trail in Peru that ends at Machu Picchu. It is one of the most famous treks in the world whereby hike enthusiasts travel from across the globe just to set foot on it. In the 43 km (26.7 mi) hike, you’ll be able to witness gorgeous mountain sceneries, lush cloud forest, subtropical jungle, and even the Inca paving stones and ruins. Trekkers usually take four to five days to complete the trail but a two-day trek from halfway on the trail is also possible. With 16 camping spots on the trail and toilets and showers available, the trail would be easy to camp. Do ensure that you are in the best of health before you go on the trip. It might be a challenging journey but it will definitely be an unforgettable trip worth making! The Inca Trail is closed for the whole of February but will reopen in March. The best times to hike the Inca Trail would be from May to October as the weather is warmer during this period with less rainfall.

3. Tourist season - June to August

023 Sun Gate Machu Picchu Peru 2280 (15139976956)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user bobistraveling used under CC BY 2.0

From June to August is the peak period in Machu Picchu but it is also the most appealing time to visit. It is advisable to bring sunglasses, sunblock and a hat during this period of time, as the weather can be hot during the day. Visit the Sun Gate, one of the most important sites of Machu Picchu whereby the stairs leading up to the Sun Gate were believed to have been used as a control port for people entering and exiting the city. Many travellers have enjoyed visiting the Sun Gate for its sunrise. Other tourist attractions to visit during these months include The Inca Bridge, The Funerary Stone, Watchman’s Hut, and Royal Tomb just to name a few.

4. Train ride from Cusco to Machu Picchu - March to November

Cusco to Machu Picchu train
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user The Rambling Man used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Travelling to Machu Picchu from Cusco on a train is the ideal and quickest way if you’re short on time during your trip. Although the torrential rains between December and January, and extending to February should be avoided. The departures to Machu Picchu are usually taken from two main stations, which are Poroy station, and Ollantaytambo station. Poroy is a village located on the outskirts of Cusco that has a main station with services travelling to Machu Picchu. The journey to Poroy is roughly 25 minutes by road. The duration of the train ride is 3 hours and 20 minutes and the train stops at Ollantaytambo Station before terminating at Aguas Calientes. From there, you can either choose to take the shuttle bus or hike up to Machu Picchu. If you’d like a shorter train journey, you can choose to take the train departing from Ollantaytambo Station. The train ride from Cusco is 1 hour and 50 minutes. We’d suggest starting your day early at 9 am so you can enjoy the landscapes during the train journey and arrive Machu Picchu during the day. Do take note that it is advisable to book the train and shuttle bus tickets in advance and separately.

5. Best time of the day - morning or afternoon

Machu Picchu
Source: Unsplash

Mornings tend to be very crowded as Machu Picchu National Park is open from 6 am to 5.30 pm. The earliest arrivals are normally those who are trekking the Inca Trail. Early mornings can be misty and foggy although it will be clearer by 11 am with clouds. Afternoons are the best time to explore if you’d like to avoid crowds. There are several evening trains if you are okay with travelling back to Cusco in the late evening.

6. Avoid the crowd - January to March

Solo in Machu Picchu
Source: Pixabay

While Machu Picchu might be seen as a place to hike and thoroughly explored by some, there are those who would rather slow down and enjoy this UNESCO World Heritage Site at their own pace. The best months to do that are between January to March. This is during the midst of the offseason as it’s the rainy season with Inca Trail closed during February for maintenance. There are plenty of sights to discover in Machu Picchu such as visiting archaeological sites and historic temples. If your idea of a dream Machu Picchu trip includes solo immersions in nature and peaceful explorations, then this season is the best for you.

7. Cheap hotels - February

Machu Picchu-IMG 7349
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user C T Johansson used under CC BY-SA 3.0

As the famous Inca Trail is closed during February, there are fewer tourists visiting at this period of time. Just like any other place in the world, Machu Picchu has its offseason where prices are much lower as compared to the peak season. Hotels are much cheaper as well which is great if you’re on a budget. Although it’s during the offseason, there are still plenty of things to discover in Machu Picchu.

8. Pleasant climate - April to May and September to October

Sunrise in Machu Picchu
Source: Photo by user thecsman used under CC BY 2.0

The climate from April to May and September to October is normally dry. The days are warm with an average temperate between 17 and 19 degree Celsius. However, the nights are cooler during the dry season so be sure to bring a jacket on your trip. The month of September will give you the opportunity to visit Machu Picchu during the spring season where landscapes are greener.

9. Taking photos - early mornings

Source: Unsplash

As most tourists arrive Machu Picchu around mid-morning, you’ll likely avoid the crowd if you’re on one of the first buses up the mountain or catching the sunrise at the Sun gate. At certain times of the year, the whole place is in cloud especially during early mornings, which means that you might not be able to witness the ruins from the Sun Gate. Make the most of the conditions; whether it’s sun or mist, embrace the unique weather Machu Picchu has to offer!

10. Salkantay Trek - year round

Peru - Salkantay Trek 022 - Nevado Salkantay (7154577677)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Salkantay Trek Mc... used under CC BY 2.0

Aside from the Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek is an alternative trek to Machu Picchu and also one of the world’s best hikes. It offers hikers a diverse hiking experience and is easy to access from Cusco. The Salkantay Trek boasts gorgeous landscapes where lowland jungles to glaciated mountains can be seen as well. The trek is usually done on five days four nights itinerary, however, it is also possible to complete it in four days or to combine the trek with the Inca Trail. The Salkantay trek is named after the mountain, Salkantay and is the highest peak in the Vilcabamba mountain range. If you’d like to hike off the beaten path as compared to the Inca Trail, the Salkantay trek is for you!

Your Machu Picchu adventure awaits

Machu Picchu can be a life-changing trip that will surprise you in so many ways. Do ensure you’re in the best shape before embarking on any hikes, pack the right essentials, and you’re ready to explore Machu Picchu!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Born and raised in the Lion City, a notebook hoarder, and (too much of) a coffee lover. Her travel goals include visiting Kashmir for the mountains, Iceland for Aurora Borealis and Great Barrier...Read more

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