Best Things to Do in Machu Picchu for a Cherished Experience

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Things to Do in Machu Picchu

A journey to Peru wouldn’t be complete sans a stop at the legendary ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu, offering an array of captivating hikes and activities if time permits.

This ancient Inca citadel, dating back to the 15th century, boasts both intrigue and picturesque allure, evoking disbelief at the notion of past inhabitants dwelling in such a remarkable setting.

Following picturesque captures from the renowned vantage point, immersing yourself in a tour of the historic remnants, mingling with the amiable llamas, and exploring the breathtaking mountain pathways enveloping the Machu Picchu citadel are highly recommended pursuits.

Here are 10 things to do in Machu Picchu to make your cross country trip unforgettable, listed in no specific order.

Top 10 Things To Do In Machu Picchu for an Unforgettable Tour

1. Visit the iconic viewpoint

Things To Do in Machu Picchu - Visit the iconic viewpoint

Arriving at Machu Picchu, your priority is the iconic viewpoint at the Guardian’s House. It offers the best panoramic view of the ruins and surrounding mountains, perfect for capturing postcard-worthy photos. Despite potential fog or rain, the weather typically clears up later in the morning.

While crowded, there’s ample standing room on the terrace and crowds thin out by the afternoon. The modest stone shack once served as a lookout post above the Inca citadel. To reach it, follow signs uphill for about 15 minutes upon entering Machu Picchu. After enjoying the view and snapping photos, continue exploring the ruins at your leisure.

2. Explore the ruins

After admiring Machu Picchu from its famed viewpoint, delve into the ruins for a closer exploration. Pass through the city’s main gate, a picturesque spot framing Huayna Picchu mountain, believed to be an intentional design by the Incas. To truly grasp the significance, hiring a guide is recommended; they offer insights as you navigate the ruins. Guides are readily available at the entrance, with reasonable prices.

3. Hike the Inca Trail

Things To Do in Machu Picchu - Hike the Inca Trail

Many tourists opt for the convenient route to Machu Picchu, taking the train and then the tourist bus up to the citadel. Yet, for a more majestic arrival, consider trekking the Inca Trail—a renowned multi-day hike spanning 1-7 days, culminating at Machu Picchu.

Much of the short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu traces ancient Inca roads, offering glimpses of ruins, alpine lakes, and majestic glaciers. This hiking road trip is an ideal opportunity to blend Machu Picchu with other local attractions while immersing yourself in Inca history.

4. Trek up to the Sun Gate

Inti Punku, also known as the Sun Gate, offers a moderate hike to a scenic viewpoint overlooking an Incan entrance, once the main gateway to Machu Picchu. Situated on a ridge, it’s believed the rising sun aligns with it during certain seasons.

The round trip from Machu Picchu citadel takes about 2 hours, with an elevation gain of 290 meters, making it easier than Machu Picchu Mountain.

The summit provides a picturesque view of Machu Picchu and surrounding landscapes, resembling the scenery from Machu Picchu Mountain but at a lower altitude. For Inca Trail hikers, it marks a significant waypoint before reaching the Machu Picchu citadel.

5. Climb up to Machu Picchu

Things To Do in Machu Picchu - Climb up to Machu Picchu

For those lodging at Aguas Calientes, an early rise and queuing for the bus is essential, especially for snagging Huayna Picchu tickets. Alternatively, for the energetic or crowd-averse, hiking up to Machu Picchu offers a more direct route, taking anywhere from one to three hours.

Catching the sunrise is a compelling reason for this hike, though achievable with the earliest bus too. Moreover, exploring the ruins sans tour groups adds allure.

If this sparks interest, consider tours tailored for witnessing Machu Picchu’s dawn. Make sure you wear lightweight, durable, and airy clothes for a hike up in summers.

6. Hike Huayna Picchu

Things To Do in Machu Picchu - Hike Huayna Picchu

Embark on the Huayna Picchu journey for an unforgettable adventure leading to the summit of Wayna Picchu, offering breathtaking views and glimpses of original Inca structures.

Despite its ominous nickname, the Machu Picchu Stairs of Death have a surprisingly low accident rate, ensuring a safe ascent if you maintain caution.

Due to its popularity, securing a spot on this limited 400-hiker trail requires booking months in advance. For an essential Peruvian hiking experience, prioritize the Huayna Picchu trek, undoubtedly among Machu Picchu’s top 10 attractions.

7. Visit The Temple of Three Windows

Visit The Temple of Three Windows

Nestled within the Royal district, the Temple of Three Windows stands as the initial installment of a trio forming what Hiram Bingham dubbed the ‘Sacred Plaza’. Composed of hefty stone blocks, some exceeding 3 tons, akin to other structures in the royal enclave.

Bingham speculated that the alignment of the three windows with the adjacent mountains symbolized the mythological caves of the Ayar brothers, the progeny of the sun deity, emerging onto the earthly realm.

8. Find Intihuatana

Find Intihuatana

This notable site in Machu Picchu served the Inca community as a sundial for solstice prediction. Other Incan sites feature analogous terraced areas with pillars, echoing its design. Interestingly, the pillar’s shape mirrors that of Huayna Picchu, positioned just behind it.

9. Go to The Inca Bridge

Things To Do in Machu Picchu - Go to The Inca Bridge
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You have the option to proceed from Caretaker’s Hut towards the Inca Drawbridge, a clandestine entry point to the citadel. Carved into the western cliff face, this bridge, originally intended for the Inca army, features a gap in the middle, creating a 20-foot drop, deterring intruders.

Logs once spanned this chasm, rendering passage feasible, but today it stands impassable, a lesser-known facet of Machu Picchu lore.

10. Visit the Agricultural Terraces

The Incas excelled in adapting the mountainous Andean landscape for farming, showcased by the terraces at Machu Picchu. Here, away from the bustling crowds, you can appreciate their agricultural ingenuity.

Whether you trek the Inca Trail or arrive by bus from Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu never fails to impress. Take in the breathtaking ruins before delving deeper into the architectural marvels. Don’t forget to snap the obligatory selfie amidst the ancient remnants.

Best Time To Visit Peru Machu Picchu

The optimal time for visiting Machu Picchu depends on your preferences:

The wet season spans from November to April. Although not ideal for hiking, it’s still manageable; people have trekked there in rainy seasons with mostly pleasant weather. Showers usually occur in the late afternoons or evenings, so it’s not overly disruptive, but packing a poncho is wise.

The dry season stretches from May to October, offering sunnier days and minimal rainfall, making it prime time for Machu Picchu hikes. However, it’s peak season with high visitor traffic, necessitating advanced bookings, especially for special hikes.

Remember, Machu Picchu resides in a tropical cloud forest, sometimes defying Peru’s national weather trends; brief showers can occur unexpectedly.

Bon voyage! Regardless of your chosen visit time, Machu Picchu promises breathtaking sights!

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Mujahid is a full-time travel blogger who thrives on exploring the world. With a passion for discovering new places, he shares his adventures through captivating stories, inviting others to join him on his journey.

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