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9 BEST Machu Picchu Tours from Cusco +Our Personal Reviews

9 BEST Machu Picchu Tours from Cusco +Our Personal Reviews

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It’s no secret that almost every person visiting Peru is trying to get to Machu Picchu – and I understand why – it’s incredible! Whether you’re squeezing in a day trip from Cusco or looking for a multi-day trek, Machu Picchu is worth a visit. 

To access Machu Picchu, I recommend staying in Cusco. Although this is the closest city and has loads of things to do, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s convenient. This is why we opted for a tour from Cusco to Machu Picchu.

There are some incredible tours out there, including everything from one-day adventures to 5-day hikes! 

Many of these tours take care of every detail of your trip, making planning super easy. To simplify your planning process even more, we rounded up the 9 best tours to Machu Picchu from Cusco. We also did some research and added our own expertise to create this list of 8 things you need to know before going! 

Quick Pick: Our Two Favorite Tours

If you’re ready to book and don’t have a ton of time to read all the recommendations, we’ve got you covered! We’ve selected the best 1-day tour as well as an epic multi-day hike that top our list and you can book right away.

Best day trip option: This 1-day Machu Picchu tour from Cusco is our pick because it’s so customizable and gives you the highlights of this incredible place. You’ll have transportation from Cusco and can even upgrade to a train with glass ceilings for panoramic mountain views! You’ll have a choice of which hiking trail to take along with a guided tour of the ruins. It’s a small group of only 8 travelers, so make sure to book a spot in advance here starting at $415 USD if this epic whirlwind experience is for you!

Best hiking tour: As far as multi-day hikes go, this 5-day tour of the Salkantay Trek tops them all. We hiked this route after a lot of research and loved it since it’s a less popular route meaning it’s cheaper and has fewer people on the trail, but still delivers on scenery. It’s a 74 km (46 mi) route that leads to Machu Picchu and is the path religious leaders took because the higher elevations brought them “closer to God.” The tour includes all you’ll need for the hike, bonus activities like visiting hot springs and a coffee farm all for only $695 USD when you book online here!

Why book a tour to Machu Picchu from Cusco?

The Intihuatana stone in Machu Picchu
The Intihuatana stone in Machu Picchu

Honestly – taking a tour to Machu Picchu will make your life so much easier!

If reading about how to get to Machu Picchu stresses you out, a tour can really take the load off. Tours take care of all of the technical details of your trip so you can just enjoy the experience.

Cusco is the closest major tourist city to the ruins, so many tours are conveniently based in the city. Most tours offer hotel pick-up and arrange transportation to the ruins. They also include a guide, which will make your time much more fulfilling. 

There are some really great tour operators based in Cusco, so you will learn a lot and have a fun, stress-free day. If you’re planning on doing a multi-day trip or some trekking, a tour is preferred. Guides are experts in the area and make it possible for you to see the vast landscape around Machu Picchu. 

What are the best tours to Machu Picchu from Cusco? (Non-Hiking Tours)

Machu Picchu Day Trip from Cusco

Small buildings and Huayna Picchu on a sunny day at Machu Picchu Inca site
A day trip from Cusco is a great tour for those short on time!

This day trip to Machu Picchu from Cusco is a relaxed day, great for first-time travelers or families! You’ll enjoy a full day of exploring the region’s mountains and ancient ruins. With a small group of only 10 travelers, everything feels a bit calmer, and you get more personalized attention.

We love that this tour simplifies your planning and keeps a slow pace. This means you won’t be exhausted halfway through the day!

This day tour begins by picking you up at your hotel in Cusco. Upon booking, you’ll have four different train options, and that will determine the station and time of departure (sometime between 4 am and 8 am). You will take the 3.5-hour train ride, winding through the mountains and taking in the views. This is just about as beautiful as Machu Picchu itself!

Once you arrive in Aguas Calientes, your guide will help you transfer to a bus where you will ride for 30 minutes up to Machu Picchu. We were so thankful for our guide throughout this process! There were so many people around, and knowing where to go can be confusing.

Soon enough, you’ll arrive at Machu Picchu! This is where a guide truly comes in handy as they lead you around the ancient streets. We really would have had no idea of the significance of some of these structures if it wasn’t for our guide. They showed us the town square and key structures and explained the mind-boggling engineering of this time.

You will have a few hours at Machu Picchu with your guide and some time to explore independently. We felt it was the perfect balance. It gave us enough time to soak it all in – and snap some awesome photos.

The tour will conclude by taking a bus and train back to Cusco, followed by hotel dropoff. It’s certainly a full day, but totally worth it! This tour includes all of your transportation fees (including hotel pickup and dropoff), entrance to Machu Picchu, and your wonderful guide. It does not include lunch or water, so be sure to bring extra cash for food and souvenirs. 

It is essential to bring your passport as you need it to enter Machu Picchu! Prices vary for this tour depending on what train you choose and range from $349 to $369 USD.

Full-day Machu Picchu by Train (our personal favorite day tour!)

The Peru Rail train travels through valley to Machu Picchu
This is one train journey not to miss!

Here we have another busy day of seeing Machu Picchu! This full-day tour is similar to the one above, covering door-to-door transportation and knowledgeable tour guides. What we really love about this tour, however, is that it has way more options. You can customize it to fit your budget and schedule and see exactly what you want at Machu Picchu. 

Each option includes pickup and drop-off from your hotel in Cusco. You’ll take the Expedition Train (which is comfortable but not glamorous) for 3.5 hours to Aguas Calientes and then the 30-minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu. This is where the options come in!

I suggest you research the different sites at Machu Picchu so you can decide exactly what you want to see. Machu Picchu is divided into circuits or routes, and you can find maps of each on the official Machu Picchu website. You can also get more info about visiting Machu Picchu here.

The Classic Route of Machu Picchu will take you around Circuits 1 or 2. This guided tour will take you through the upper and lower sanctuary. The upper sanctuary is more of the suburban area of the city, and the lower sanctuary is the agricultural side. Both show you a unique look at the ancient ruins.

That option is $369 USD. If you prefer to upgrade, you can take the Vistadome Train with a private tour starting at $514 USD. The Vistadome Train has panoramic views (and even glass ceilings!), so you can really immerse yourself in the landscape.

The final option is to explore Route 3 or 4! This includes a tour of qolqas, the water channel, the water mirrors, the Temple of the Sun, and the Inca House. They’re both similar, but Route 3 takes you to the agricultural area while Route 4 visits the Sacred Rock. This route is $415 USD.

All tours will end by returning to Cusco by bus and train and eventually dropping you off at your hotel. This tour includes so much, such as transportation fees, entrance fees, and your guide, but does not include lunch. This tour only accommodates 8 travelers, so it is definitely more personalized and gives you the opportunity to ask lots of questions! 

2-Day Tour: Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu by Train

Stunning shot of Machu Picchu from a viewpoint above the Inca site
Machu Picchu!
Statue of an Inca King in the Sacred Valley, Peru
Statue of an Inca King in the Sacred Valley, Peru

If you want to experience more of the Cusco Region in addition to Machu Picchu – this is the tour for you! This 2-day tour will take you all around the Sacred Valley to see some of the most beautiful places in Peru. You’ll visit important historic and cultural areas. Plus, you’ll stay overnight in Aguas Calientes so you can witness Machu Picchu at sunrise!

Day one starts out with a hotel pickup in Cusco. You’ll spend the first half of the day slowly making your way to Ollantaytambo (where your train departs from). But the journey is fun since you’ll make stops at some unique small towns along the way.

These stops will let you see scenic overlooks of the region and a local market for some unique souvenirs! One of my favorite stops of the day is at Awana Kancha. Here, you can learn about their iconic textile-making process and take photos with some of the local animals, like alpacas and llamas.

Your last stop on this drive is at an archeological park. You get to see an ancient Incan Citadel and learn about this amazing culture. 

Around 4 pm, you will catch a train to Aguas Calientes. When booking, you can select your preferred level of comfort for the train ride, and that will affect the overall price of the tour. Once you get to Aguas Calientes, you will find your hotel (included in the cost of the tour) and relax for the evening! Please note that meals are not included for this day but can be purchased along the way.

After a good night’s sleep and breakfast at the hotel, you’ll be ready for a day of exploring Machu Picchu! Your 30-minute bus ride and entrance fees are included, and your guide will spend hours taking you around this ancient city. You’ll explore the temples, main street, city square, sprawling agricultural areas, and more. I love that you’ll have time to explore on your own so you can slow down and enjoy this world-renowned site. 

Finally, it will be time to head home. Your guide will lead you on the bus ride, train ride, and another bus ride back to Cusco. This 2-day experience includes all of your transportation, entrance fees, one night at the hotel, and your guide. It does not include meals and any extra expenses throughout the day. But it does promise an unforgettable experience exploring Machu Picchu and the beautiful Sacred Valley!

This tour includes transportation up to Machu Picchu, overnight accommodation, and an epic day exploring the ruins, and there are only 8 people on the tour! I honestly think this is the most bang for your buck as it really includes so much for a 2-day trip. 

Prices for this tour vary depending on what type of train and hotel room (single or double) you select. It also requires a minimum of two per booking. Prices range from $479 USD to $599 USD per adult, but it’s cheaper for children.

2 Days to Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu

Temple of the 3 windows at Machu Picchu, Peru
Temple of the 3 Windows at Machu Picchu, Peru
The stone pathway along the edge of the cliff that leads to the Inca Bridge at Machu Picchu
The path is literally built on a cliff with the use of no glue or bonding.

There are actually multiple mountains to explore in the official Machu Picchu area. So, if you love a good mountain peak and breathing in that fresh air, this 2-day excursion is for you. We love that this tour lets you explore the beautiful Huayna Picchu as well! 

Your first day is mostly just for getting to Aguas Calientes. The tour guide will pick you up from your hotel in Cusco and take you to the train in Ollantaytambo. Once you reach Aguas Calientes, you’ll have the evening to hang out and explore the town. You can even try some cuy – a local delicacy of spit-fired guinea pig – if you’re feeling brave.

Day two is when the real fun begins! You’ll get up early to hop on the bus and arrive at Machu Picchu before the crowds. The first two hours will be spent with your private guide getting an extensive tour of the ancient city. You will also have some time to explore on your own and get some Instagram-worthy photos! 

You’ll then get the chance to climb up Huayna Picchu! The trek to the mountain will be about 1 hour and is unguided, meaning travelers climb on their own. You’ll want to be sure you’re in moderately good shape and prepared for the high elevation if you’re planning on taking this tour.

But, once you reach Huayna Picchu, it will be all worth the effort. From the top, you get the most incredible views of the old Machu Picchu city below and can admire the vast landscape around. You’ll have about three hours to explore this area before heading back. 

The tour will conclude by escorting you back to Cusco via bus, train, and transport to your hotel. You will be provided with all transportation for two days, one night in the hotel, and your guide for just $514 USD per person. Lunch on day one and breakfast at the hotel are covered, but the rest of your food is not. Since there’s lots of hiking involved, make sure to stay hydrated and bring lots of water!

Related Read: Take in more of Peru’s stunning landscapes by visiting the Colca Canyon – another awesome destination for hiking!

Visit Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain in 1 Day

Bailey, Daniel and a friend take a photo on Machu Picchu Mountain
On Machu Picchu Mountain!

Are you ready for a jam-packed day of trekking up one of the world’s most beautiful sights? Well .. this tour delivers!

Our final day tour has an early start time, but it’s for a good reason! This is the only day trip that lets you ascend Machu Picchu Mountain. This tour is great for someone who wants to hike but is on a tight timeline that only allows for one day of exploring.

This tour starts by picking you up from your hotel at 3 am (don’t worry, they will have coffee on the train), and you will begin a 3.5-hour journey north. This tour follows the typical route of taking a bus to Ollantaytambo, followed by the train to Aguas Calientes. From there, you’ll catch a 30-minute bus to Machu Picchu. This early start time ensures you will arrive at the mountain by 8 am, giving you plenty of time to climb and explore. 

You’ll need a few hours to climb the Machu Picchu Mountain trail. This is definitely a difficult hike; it is very steep, and the high elevation makes it harder to breathe. The hike itself is about 3.8 km (2.4 miles) in total and will take 2-3 hours to complete. But it’s the coolest thing you can do on a day trip here, and is such a good way to experience the natural beauty of the entire area! 

Once you complete the trek, you’ll have time to explore the Incan city of Machu Picchu, which sits below the mountain. The day starts to wind down, and you’ll take a bus to Aguas Calientes, explore the city for a bit, and then take the train back to Cusco. 

This day sounds exhausting but epic. It’s great if you’re on a time crunch and have the energy for a full day of adventure. I think the amazing views from the top of Machu Picchu Mountain are worth the effort!

This full-day tour drops you off in Cusco’s city center around 9:30 pm. The $418 USD price covers transportation fees and entrance to Machu Picchu. It does not include food or water, so be sure to bring some (or cash!).

This tour should be booked far in advance, as it fills up very quickly.

What are the best hiking tours to Machu Picchu from Cusco?

Machu Picchu is easily on the bucket lists of travelers around the world. There is something so magical about disconnecting for a few days and getting into the vast wilderness – especially in a place with so much history and natural beauty.

I know our trek in Machu Picchu was one of the most memorable hikes I’ve ever done! It’s definitely one of the best hikes in South America. And luckily, there are some great tour options from Cusco, making the planning process easy. Below are our top options for hiking tours from Cusco to Machu Picchu.

Inca Trail: 4-Day Hike to Machu Picchu

Scenic view along the Inca trail to Machu Picchu
The views on the Inca Trail are epic!

The Inca Trail is no doubt the most popular hike in Peru – honestly, maybe even the most popular hike in all of South America. It’s teeming with Incan history, and you’ll pass by 500-year-old ruins as well as gorgeous rolling hills.

Now, this hike is not for the faint of heart and is not suitable for novice hikers. This trek can only be done through a tour, and we have a great 4-day tour option to conquer the Inca Trail!

The tour of this famous trek takes you for a 42 km (26 mi) hike that reaches 4,215 m (13,828 ft) in elevation over the 4 days. You need to be in reasonably good shape; otherwise, this will certainly be a kick in the butt! While you’ll be carrying your own pack, the tour provides a ton of support and equipment.

There will be porters to help carry extra gear and guides to ensure you’re heading in the right direction. They’ll also tell you of the significance of the areas you pass by. Basically, you’ll be getting a 4-day guided tour of the whole region!

Some notable things you’ll see along this route are the Incan ruins called Llactapata, Dead Woman’s Pass (the highest point on the trail), a cloud forest, and more Incan ruins (they just keep coming!).

You’ll also camp in the most epic areas you’ll ever see! No need to worry about packing the gear either. Porters will be carrying your tent with a sleeping bag and pad. For $15 USD extra, you can even opt for an inflatable sleeping mattress for extra comfort.

Reaching Machu Picchu was the icing on the cake. Despite sore muscles, we’ve never felt better. We had that elated, peaceful feeling you get from spending a long time in nature. And looking out at all the views, you really get that sense of awe.

By the end of our Inca Trail trip, I felt like I got the most immersive exposure to Machu Picchu as a tourist could. Getting to spend four whole days in the beautiful wilderness, knowing this was once a popular route for the Incas, was such a fulfilling experience. 

This 4-day journey costs $880 USD, including all meals, camping equipment (tent, sleeping mat, cooking utensils, etc.), guides and porters, and entrance/a tour of Machu Picchu itself! You really just have to show up and be ready to hike. You will need to book this tour at least 2 weeks in advance, but earlier notice is preferable.

Related Read: For another awesome day trip from Cusco, consider visiting Rainbow Mountain!

2-Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Hiking up the original trail built by the Incas
Hiking up the original trail built by the Incas

We love this 2-Day Inca Trail Tour for many reasons. This part of the Inca Trail is accessible to nearly anyone, including families and those with a range of fitness levels. It also includes an overnight stay in a hostel. Then, it takes you to Machu Picchu for the sunrise – what an incredible experience!

We appreciate that this tour makes the Inca Trail possible on a 2-day trip. Don’t worry, you’re not busting out 42 km (26 mi) in one day! Instead, you’re just doing a smaller portion (but with plenty of the top highlights).

Hotel pickups start at 4:30 am, and then you’ll be transported by vehicle and train to Km. 104. This is where your group will disembark to begin the adventure. Along the hike, you’ll see incredible scenery and some of the ruins sites, like the Wiñayhuayna (which was the house of an Incan priest).

The trail will also take you through an Andean cloud forest, which is just as it sounds! This area consists of layers of clouds blanketing the Andes and full of lush greenery. You’ll also see the Urubamba River before ending the day in Aguas Calientes. 

After a solid night’s sleep at a local hostel, you’ll wake up early to head to Machu Picchu. The early morning is worth it because you’ll arrive in time for the sunrise! This is a truly unique experience and is only offered on this tour.

The rest of the morning will be spent exploring the ruins with your guide. But don’t worry, you’ll also have time to enjoy it on your own – and soak up all the views peacefully. Around noon, your group will head back to Aguas Calientes, where you can grab some lunch (at your own expense). Afterward, you’ll hop on the train and will end the tour in Cusco’s Historic Center.

This tour is totally unique because it offers the best of the normal day tours and the normal hiking tours. The $600 USD price includes the transportation mentioned, entrance fees, an overnight stay at the hostel, the guide, and most meals (bring some extra cash in case you need snacks).

This is a popular tour, so we recommend booking this one well in advance!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

Salkantay Trek: 5 Days (our personal favorite hiking tour!)

Bailey takes a photo overlooking a valley on the Salkantay Trek, Peru
The Salkantay is a beautiful hike too!

The Salkantay Trek is another amazing hiking option. It’s less popular than the Inca Trail, but honestly a better trekking option, in my opinion! I actually wrote a whole review on hiking the Salkantay Trek. Overall, because it’s less popular, it’s cheaper, has fewer people, and you can really get off the grid on this 5-day trek

The Salkantay Trail is 74 km (46 mi) and reaches an elevation of 4,600 m (15,100 ft). You really go a long way on this trail and get to see a variety of landscapes, natural wonders, and of course, impressive Incan ruins.

Some of my favorite stops along this route were Humantay Lake, with its turquoise water, and the top of the Salkantay Pass (we were so high you could see for what felt like forever below). I also loved our visit to a coffee farm for a tour and some caffeine!

The trek ends with visiting Machu Picchu, which makes reaching this destination extra rewarding as you just spent the last four days working to get there. But the real cherry on top is a visit to the hot springs in Aguas Calientes. This was just what my sore muscles needed after days of climbing mountains!

Honestly, out of all the tours listed, I think this one is my favorite! The Salkantay Trek is so unbelievably beautiful and has a variety of scenery, wildlife, and history along the trail.

This epic 5-day excursion includes all transportation during the trek (except walking; you have to do that on your own), guides, porters, cooks, and entrance to all other activities (the coffee farm, Machu Picchu, hot springs, etc.). It also includes all of your meals and one night at a hotel in Aguas Calientes – that’s a lot included for $695 USD! You can also rent gear from them including sleeping bags and air mattresses if you need it!

Related Read: Are you an avid hiker? Then you should also read all about Huaraz, Peru – a city surrounded by stunning mountains, incredible hiking, and so much more.

Lares Trek: 4 days with Panoramic Train

Llamas on the The Lares Trek ith views of the mountains
Llamas on The Lares Trek with views of the mountains

The Lares Trek is the third major trek around Machu Picchu. This one isn’t as popular as the Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek. However, it’s absolutely beautiful and has more of a focus on the cultural experience rather than epic views.

This Lares Trek tour will take you through local farms, where you will learn how they care for the region’s llamas and alpacas. This tour also stops in small mountain villages and schools to give you a look at traditional Andean culture.

Just like the other two treks, you’ll want to have some sort of base level of fitness to complete this multi-day mountain climb. The trail is 39 km (24 mi) and gets to 4,600 m (15,100 ft) in elevation! 

You really see some cool stuff on this tour. On the first day, you’ll be picked up around 4:30 am to start your fun-filled day – which involves thermal-medicinal baths (like hot springs) and a hike to a gorgeous waterfall. You’ll also hike to a remote village without any modern technology and get to hear their indigenous language, Quechua.

This route will take you through Ollantaytambo, where you’ll have an afternoon to explore this historically rich city. Most tours just pass through Ollantaytambo, so it’s cool that you’ll have some time to get to know the city. 

Your final day will take you to Machu Picchu for a guided tour of the historic grounds. After this guided exploration, you’ll have time to either climb Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu on your own. Both are challenging routes but offer spectacular views. If you want to do one of these extra hikes, let them know when you make your booking.

After Machu Picchu, you’ll head to Aguas Calientes for lunch (at your own expense). Then, you’ll board the Vistadome Train to return to Cusco. This train has panoramic views so you can take in all the sights one last time!

This 4-day expedition costs $698 USD, including all transportation necessary (with hotel pickup and dropoff), most of your meals, guides, porters, cooks, and entrance fees to all the activities. Most nights involve camping, but you’ll spend one night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes, which is included.

We love that this tour is a little off the beaten path of the normal trekking routes at Machu Picchu. It gives you a truly unique experience and is perfect for those who love delving into other cultures.

Do you need to book a tour to Machu Picchu from Cusco in advance?

A man walks towards the Inca Bridge at Machu Picchu, Peru
Walking to the Inca Bridge is a must but also scary!
The Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu, Peru
The Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu, Peru

Yes, you must book your tour in advance.

You’ll need to buy tickets to visit the ruins before arriving. Machu Picchu is one of the best places to visit in Peru – and it’s in high demand. Tickets to Machu Picchu sell out fast during the busy season (June to August) – as do tours!

All the tours we mentioned on this list include entry tickets to Machu Picchu – so booking a tour makes it that much easier. Still, the logistics of the tours and getting to Machu Picchu aren’t the simplest. As such, it’s best if you can give your tour operator enough time to get the tickets and arrange the activities.

If you’re planning on doing a trek, most tour operators need to know at least two weeks in advance to get everything prepared.

Many people miss out on the best time slots and tours because they wait to book tickets. Don’t be that person! This is also why we love Viator tours. You can book or reserve your tour well in advance. If plans change or you need to cancel entirely, Viator is easy to work with. 

How far is Machu Picchu from Cusco?

Bailey sits on a ledge while overlooking the main area of Machu Picchu Inca ruins in Peru
We spent around an hour with our lunch just enjoying the view!

Machu Picchu is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Cusco, and the best way to access it is by train and bus. A small town called Aguas Calientes is only 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) from the entrance. If you don’t arrange a tour, I highly recommend staying the night here. Otherwise, you’re in for a very long day to get back to Cusco!

The simplest way to get to Machu Picchu is to take the train to Aguas Calientes. The 3.5-hour train ride is most commonly taken through Inca Rail or Peru Rail. Both of these train companies provide comfortable and modern trains that have multiple departure times throughout the day.

The price varies on what comfort level you choose, whether you’re looking for a luxurious train ride through the mountains or you’re traveling on a budget! Between Cusco and Machu Picchu, the least expensive tickets are around $55 USD one way or $100 USD roundtrip.

If you can’t find a train that fits your schedule from Cusco, you can take an hour-long taxi or bus ride to Ollantaytambo, which generally has more train options. However, make sure to book your return ticket at the same time. You wouldn’t want to get stuck at Machu Picchu!

Once you reach Aguas Calientes, there is a Machu Picchu bus station right next to the train station. You can book a bus ticket to take a 30-minute ride to Machu Picchu. An important thing to note is that you must present your passport to book a bus ticket, so be sure to have it with you!

There is actually no road that accesses Aguas Calientes from Cusco, so taking a bus for the entire journey is not an option. The trains are your best bet! 

Related Read: Are you also visiting Lima and want to escape the city for a day? Check out the best day trips from Lima, Peru!

When is the best time to visit Machu Picchu? 

The view out the window of the train to Machu Picchu
The view out the window of the train to Machu Picchu

The Machu Picchu ruins are open from 6 am to 5 pm. When purchasing a ticket, you’ll need to choose a time slot. Personally, I think the best time to go is first thing in the morning. Not only will you beat the crowds, but you’ll get to see an incredible sunrise.

The ruins are busiest in the late morning and early afternoon. So I also recommend visiting in the late afternoon, around 2 pm. This gives you a few hours to take in all the sights before they close, and most tourists will have left already.

As far as the time of year is concerned, we suggest visiting during the dry season (April – October). With clear skies, you’ll be able to capture better views. Plus, hiking around this area is much easier without rain.

The ideal time to visit is in April and May. The scenery is at its greenest after the end of the rainy season, but you’ll still get to enjoy the good weather. You’ll also avoid the peak season crowds of June, July, and August. 

The worst time to visit is February since it’s the rainiest month. The Inca Trail actually closes during this time, although Machu Picchu itself stays open. 

Related Read: Planning a trip to Lima as well? Check out our favorite tours of Lima, Peru.

Is visiting Machu Picchu from Cusco worth it?

Bailey poses for a photo with Machu Picchu, Peru
Yes!

Yes, absolutely. It really is one of the coolest places we have ever visited – and that’s saying something! It was also one of our top experiences in Peru.

Machu Picchu is super special and absolutely fascinating. It definitely lives up to the hype! Plus, if you’ve made it as far as Cusco, you really shouldn’t let this opportunity pass you up. Visiting is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we would recommend it to anyone and everyone. 

About Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu terrace
Machu Picchu terraces
Bailey walks through a stone doorway at Machu Picchu on a guided tour

Machu Picchu is an ancient Incan citadel, located in present-day Peru, that was built in the 15th Century. It’s situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley of the Incas and is surrounded by lush vegetation and stunning views. 

Machu Picchu is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is located in the Urubamba region of the Cusco Province. It was built on a saddle between two peaks: Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu. 

The ancient city of Machu Picchu is what you often see in photos and where you’ll find the ruins. It has an elevation of 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) and consists of more than 150 buildings, including temples, palaces, baths, storage rooms, and residential houses. It’s the most well-known and best-preserved example of Incan architecture in Peru. It’s no surprise it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Given its fascinating history and the fact that it’s located in a lush, green region of Peru, it’s really no surprise that visitors flock to Machu Picchu in droves. And in addition to tourists, you’ll also find llamas and alpacas roaming around the site, as they have done for centuries. 

Other Activities to do While You’re in Cusco

The Plaza del Armas in Cusco, Peru
Come down and see the locals go about their daily lives!

Cusco is a top travel destination for good reason! There are plenty of things to do in Cusco whether you are here for one day or a whole week. So, if you’ve already taken a tour of Machu Picchu, check out some other activities below.

  • Hangout in the Plaza de Armas The Plaza de Armas is one of our favorite places to people-watch and soak up the atmosphere. There are several benches, or you can post up at one of the restaurants. You might even see live music or dancing, or you can visit the Cusco Cathedral and the Church of the Society of Jesus.
  • Take a tour of Cusco – Guides can help you learn all about this ancient city. As you walk through the cobblestone streets, they’ll show you the top sights and even some hidden gems. If you’re on a budget, take this free Inkan Milky Way walking tour (reserve in advance!). But if you can afford it, this Cusco Sightseeing Tour is much more in-depth and the perfect intro to the city!
  • Take a cooking class – Peruvian food is insanely delicious, so if you want to make it upon your return, book this Peruvian cooking class. A local chef will take you to the San Pedro Market for all the ingredients before making local dishes with a modern twist! You’ll also taste pisco sours, try exotic fruits, and get to know the culture.
  • Go shopping – Cusco’s shopping is full of unique textiles and creative handmade goods. The San Blas area has excellent shopping and a weekend craft market. Avenida el Sol is an artisan hub with everything from paintings and jewelry to alpaca clothing. You can also buy all sorts of things at the San Pedro Market, including fresh juices, cheap meals, and many souvenirs. 

Related Read: If you’re traveling on a tighter budget, read our guide on the best hostels in Cusco.

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Bailey on the Salkantay Trek with views of Machu Picchu behind her
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Visiting Machu Picchu is one of those bucket-list experiences that you’ll never forget. However, it’s not the easiest destination to get to and requires advance planning. Luckily, if you’re heading to Cusco, there are several tours to Machu Picchu that make planning so much simpler. Whether you have just one day or want to enjoy a 5-day trek, we hope this list has helped!

If you found this guide useful, read our other blogs about Peru. We also write about several other destinations in South America. To give you a little sampling of what we cover, I’ve linked to a few articles below.

13 BEST Tours in Lima, Peru

26 EPIC Things to do in Bolivia

19 Amazing Things to do in Miraflores, Peru & Guide to Visiting