Trekking to Machu Picchu is a dream for many travelers—but there's more than one way to get there. The classic Inca Trail lets trekkers walk in the steps of the Incas, while the more remote Salkantay route offers solitude and wildlife. Compare your options for getting to Peru's most famous place on foot, from distance and cost to overnight options.
Peru Travel Advice
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Grab some popcorn! Your adventures in Peru will be even more fulfilling if you take the time to watch a film or two before you begin the trip. And these comedies, biopics, and documentaries aren't just educational—they're entertaining, too.
Cusco has been a bastion of Peruvian culture since its founding in the 12th century. Today, it's a sophisticated city filled with fabulous museums, galleries, restaurants, and bars. Here's how to make the most of your time if you only have 24 hours in town.
Lima offers history, world-class museums, an unbeatable foodie scene, and the second-largest cityscape in South America. Not sure where to start? To the rescue: a foolproof plan for a perfect day in the Peruvian capital.
Starting a new book is like opening the door to another world. Get in the mood for your trip to Peru by delving into one of these recommended titles: from fiction to history to poetry, they're great introductions to the country and its culture.
Machu Picchu draws well in excess of one million visitors annually, but hundreds of less-frequented Incan ruins lie scattered in the jungle and mountains around Cusco. Most are surrounded by equally spectacular scenery, and many are reachable via epic hikes. Here's a list of the most impressive Incan ruins to visit while evading the tourist crowds.
Peru's cuisine has been hitting the headlines in restaurants around the world for a while now, and rightly so: its colorful, spicy takes on meat, fish, and potato dishes are one-of-a-kind. This journey into Peru's fascinating gastronomy identifies the best of the must-try foods and the ideal places to sample them.
The Incan citadel of Machu Picchu is the most popular destination in Peru. But once you're there, it only takes a day or two to explore. What's next on your agenda? Visit a glacial lake, get your culinary fix in Lima, or bike the hills of the Sacred Valley—all within a short distance from Cusco and Aguas Calientes.
All aboard! Trains are a practical solution for traveling in Peru: they transport travelers between key destinations around the country, and they're also a wonderful way to take in the landscape and get a taste of old-world glamour. The following rail journeys are classic adventures you won't want to miss on your trip to South America.
Only a limited number of people are permitted to hike the Inca Trail each year. If you have your heart set on this classic trek to Machu Picchu, be sure to book your trek months in advance to get permits for your desired dates.
Sleep in a palace, take a ceviche class with a local chef, or indulge in a spa treatment incorporating ancient Inca ingredients. Peru offers countless luxurious experiences to choose from—here are a few favorites.
Exploring Inca ruins, watching Amazon wildlife, riding dune buggies, rafting on river rapids, petting alpaca, learning to make chocolate - Peru has so much that will captivate children and adults alike. So if you want to explore this fascinating country with your family, this guide will tell you all you need to know - from the best destinations and activities, to how to prepare for challenging terrain.
With its mysterious Inca ruins, quaint villages, beautiful sunsets and colorful Quechua culture, Peru makes for a fascinating and romantic honeymoon. The following list covers the best places to visit in Peru after you say “I do.”
Before the Incas, a long line of indigenous civilizations thrived in Peru—and today, visitors can see what they left behind, from mysterious geoglyphs in the desert to fortress-like ruins in the cloud forest to a massive adobe pyramid in one of Lima's hippest neighborhoods. Discover the remains of Peru's ancient cultures with these suggestions.
The Inca Trail gets most of the publicity, but there are also several hikes within the Machu Picchu complex itself, offering more fabulous mountain scenery and some unique perspectives on the ruins. These hikes, ranging from one to three hours in length, can be great ways of escaping the crowds and adding some color to your time in Machu Picchu.
When to visit Peru
Despite being one of the rainiest months in the Sacred Valley, January is a great time of year to visit Peru, with day hikes to a variety of ruins, fewer trekkers on the Inca Trail, unique urban festivals, and dry, sunny weather along the country's endless Pacific coast where surfing is a growing sport. Find out what to do and where to go in this monthly guide.
Though February tends to be the rainiest month in the Sacred Valley (the Inca Trail is completely closed), there's a slew of lively highland festivals, alternative treks, and fun beach vibes along the country's extensive Pacific coast. Find out what to do and where to go in this monthly guide.
March is a solid time to visit Peru as the rains start to diminish in the Sacred Valley. The Inca Trail reopens and there are plenty of peaceful treks to choose from before the high season begins. You'll also have dry, sunny weather along the Pacific coast with lowered rates and great swimming and surfing conditions. Find out what to do and where to go in this monthly guide.
April is a great time to visit Peru when rain levels dip significantly in the Sacred Valley. There are few crowds before the high season begins (with the exception of Holy Week). You'll also have sunny weather and lower rates along the 1,500 miles of Pacific coast. Find out what to do and where to go in this monthly guide.
In May, the rains come to an end in the Sacred Valley, making this a great time to visit Peru. Take advantage of the especially verdant scenery, light crowds, and numerous festivals before the high season kicks in. Find out what to do and where to go in this monthly guide.
June is an excellent time to visit Peru's interior. This month marks the start of the driest season of the year—the most ideal time to trek, especially if you're planning to visit Machu Picchu and the Cusco region. Find out what to do, where to go and how to skip the crowds in this monthly guide.
July sees the continuation of high-season tourism with warm, sunny days and chilly, crisp evenings. This time of year offers some of the best weather nationwide and lends itself to enjoying all the attractions Peru has to offer, from admiring Machu Picchu to adventures in Northern Peru or the less-rainy Amazon region. Beat the crowds and make the most of your July trip with this guide.
August is the busiest month of the year in the Sacred Valley. With warm, sunny days and crisp evenings, the ideal weather lends itself to enjoying all the attractions Peru has to offer, from admiring Machu Picchu to adventure sports in lesser-known areas of the country.
The start of Peru's shoulder season, September offers highland trekking without the crowds. The great weather still lends itself to enjoying Machu Picchu, Northern Peru, and the Amazon region—not to mention a 10-day culinary festival in Lima. Find out what to do and where to go in this monthly guide.
Visiting Peru at the height of its spring shoulder season means less-crowded Sacred Valley trails. October is also one of the best months for rainforest treks in the Amazon, where wildlife-watching is at its best. Meanwhile, Peru's coast starts to attract surfers picking up the early summer swells. Find out what to do and where to go with this monthly guide.
Though the dry season is coming to an end, November is still a good month to travel to Peru with pleasant conditions and uncrowded treks, lots of festivals, and waves returning, calling all surfers to the coast. There's also an abundance of birdlife and flora, particularly orchids, in the Amazon at this time. Get the best out of your November trip with this monthly guide.
December marks the official start of Peru's beach season, with warmer Pacific temperatures and great waves. As for the mountains, rains start falling on the trails, though you can still opt for Christmas treks that end in Machu Picchu for holiday cheer at the world's most famous Incan ruin.
Peace and quiet at Machu Picchu? Yes, it's possible—if you know when to go. Here's how to make the most of your time in Peru during the off-season, whether you're headed to Incan ruins, the rainforest, the mountains, or the beach.
For tourist-free views of Machu Picchu, visit in January. Peru's most popular attraction is much less crowded in the wet season. Rainy weather means a lot of mud—and far-from-ideal trekking conditions. But with the rain, flora flourishes. When the rains clear, as they often do, Machu Picchu appears spectacularly verdant.
The big heads-up for Machu Picchu-bound travelers this month is that the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance, but Machu Picchu itself remains open. The heaviest rain of the year and the trail closure keep crowds away, but you will never see the ruins so refreshingly empty of tourists. A few interesting festivals take place across the Cusco region too, notably carnival.
The Inca Trail reopens, the wet weather starts to subside and, should Easter fall this month, Semana Santa brings in the crowds to Machu Picchu at levels not seen since the end of last season's shoulder period. Read on for more advice on traveling to Peru's most beloved attraction in March.
The start of dry season in the Andes makes April perhaps the best time to visit South America's most famous historic site. Machu Picchu's weather is more often sunny and rain-free than not, carpets of flowers brighten almost every vista and the communities of the Sacred Valley have colorful Semana Santa celebrations, should Easter fall after the first week of April. Yet this is still shoulder season, with crowds far less than in June, July and August.
Interesting festivals start popping up across the Sacred Valley during May, as dry season continues and shoulder season approaches high season towards the end of the month. May is a great month to experience Machu Picchu in some of the year's best weather conditions without those high season crowds.
Hands down the most lively month to visit Machu Picchu and its surroundings, June is also the busiest month and the height of high season here. Plenty of sunshine combines with the most important celebration of the Andean calendar, Inti Raymi, to make for a very special and atmospheric (if busy) time to visit.
Sunny days with little rain and a series of great festivals ensure that July is a popular month for visiting the region. Expect festivities to be happening wherever you are staying as the aftermath of one festival or the build-up to another make this a lively and atmospheric time of high season.
It's the last month of high season in and around Machu Picchu this month. Visitor numbers overall remain very high, temperature highs are creeping up again and some ultra-traditional Andean festivals are celebrated.
If you want the same sunny weather as the high season without high season crowds, September is the month to visit Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. As this is officially shoulder season, expect to get better deals on hotels and tours this month too.
This is the very end of dry season in the Andes, even though rain will get more frequent as the month wears on. Still, compared to the five months that follow it, October has little wet weather and is still shoulder season, with tourists taking advantage of the last decent month for trekking and many other outdoor activities until the following April comes around.
The two intriguing festivals of Día de Todos Santos (November 1) and Día de los Muertos (November 2) make this a very interesting month to visit Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Rainy season is here in earnest, however, and at Machu Picchu the cloud cover is often heavy. Trekking is harder in the rain this month, as is cycling, but rafting is more popular because of the higher water levels in the rivers.
December is a strange month in Cusco and the Sacred Valley: both quiet (at the beginning of the month) and hectic (over Christmas and New Year). Then again, the famous Christmas and New Year festivities in Cusco pull in a lot of Peruvian visitors as well as a fair few from overseas, and one of the biggest handicrafts fairs anywhere in the Andes takes place in Cusco too.
Despite rainy season being here in earnest, January can be a surprisingly good month to hike the Inca Trail. Once Christmas and New Year crowds have dispersed, there will be fewer hikers on the trail or sightseers in the Sacred Valley than at almost any other time of year. And the sun still comes out between the showers to capture the region in all its beauty, sometimes all the more dazzling for being part-covered in mist and cloud.
The Inca Trail is closed this month for maintenance, but the good news is that Machu Picchu is still open, as are some of the other classic Inca Trail alternative treks, such as the Salkantay trek. The year's heaviest rain this month makes hiking muddier and less appealing that at other times of the year: time, perhaps, to divert to some of the Sacred Valley's indoors attractions.
The Inca Trail reopens this month, seeing a surge of visitors to the hike and to Machu Picchu not seen since the previous October. This is still wet season in the Sacred Valley, but the rains are beginning to subside as the month wears on, bringing better hiking weather. If Easter falls this month, Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations bring even more visitors to the region.
It is hard to envisage a better time to hike the Inca Trail than April. Wet season is over by the middle of the month, and crowds are nowhere near the levels they will be in high season. Flora is thriving across the region after the rains, brightening almost every view, and communities of the Sacred Valley put on colorful Semana Santa celebrations (should Easter fall after the first week of April).
Shoulder season segues into high season as May goes on, which means higher numbers of trekkers on the Inca Trail. But trail conditions are improved dramatically: it is largely dry underfoot and generally sunny during the day, although camping out at night is colder than it has been in recent months. Overall May is one of the best months for hiking the trail, though, and interesting festivals throughout the Sacred Valley add to the color of the experience this month.
June is high season in every sense on the Inca Trail and in the Sacred valley surrounding it. Weather is at its best for hiking (sunny and dry, although chilly at night) and the daily trekkers on the trail are at their maximum levels. In addition to this, it is big party time as the Sacred Valley celebrates Inti Raymi, the ancient Incan festival of the sun.
You'll be hiking the Inca Trail in dry, sunny weather this month, and the Sacred Valley resounds with the color and clamor of near-constant festivities. No wonder July is such a popular time of year to visit the region—this is when the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu regularly meet their maximum visitor capacity. Read on for more about weather, crowds, and activities.
August is the final month of high season and a popular time for North American and European holiday-makers to converge on the Inca Trail (and all Sacred Valley sights, for that matter). The Inca Trail will still likely be at capacity for much of August. If you want to escape the crowds, there are plenty of hikes apart from the Inca Trail to enjoy the great weather and beautiful landscapes in solitude.
The end of the dry season is a great month for hiking: crowds in the Sacred Valley and on the Inca Trail are down, while bright, sunny weather predominates. Although the chances of rain are increasing, temperatures are sneaking up, too. Altogether, this is one of the best months for outdoor activities in the Sacred Valley before the rains commence in earnest next month.
October is still officially dry season, and sunny weather persists despite more frequent bursts of rain as the month wears on. Trekkers still descend on the region to make the most of the last spells of dry weather before the wet season kicks off at the end of the month. There are also, as always, important festivities in Cusco—read on for more on October events, weather, and more.
Wet season is here—but the rain does not stick around all day in the Sacred Valley. If you're one of the relatively few travelers coming to the region this month, you will enjoy sightseeing at the least-crowded time of year and probably still see the sun quite a bit. Trekking is wetter and muddier than usual, but flora is thriving and rising water levels increase the appeal of rafting. An activity that combines both, such as the Inca Jungle Trek, is ideal around now.
December is a mixed bag on the Inca Trail. The rain is coming down on an almost daily basis, but the flowers and plants are thriving, beautifying the trail views. Crowds can be very low (at the beginning of the month) or very high (over Christmas and New Year). A few memorable festivities take place this month to spice things up pre- and post-hike, too: read on for more about what to expect.