what to do in machu picchu
Best Things to do in Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, an ancient citadel, often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas,” continues to captivate and mystify visitors from around the world. As you embark on a journey to this iconic site, prepare to be enchanted by its breathtaking beauty, rich history, and awe-inspiring landscapes. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the best things to do in Machu Picchu, ensuring you make the most of your visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu

The best time to visit Machu Picchu largely depends on your preferences and the kind of experience you’re seeking. Peru’s climate varies throughout the year, and different seasons offer distinct advantages and drawbacks for visiting this iconic site.

1. Dry Season (May to September):

Peak Tourist Season: This is the most popular time to visit Machu Picchu. The weather is generally dry and mild, making it ideal for outdoor activities and photography.

Clear Skies: The dry season offers clearer skies, which enhances visibility and provides better opportunities for taking breathtaking photos of the citadel.

High Demand: However, this popularity comes with a price – crowds. Machu Picchu can be quite crowded during this time, and popular accommodations and tour options may fill up quickly. It’s advisable to book well in advance.

Colder Nights: Despite warm daytime temperatures, nights can be quite chilly, especially at higher altitudes.

2. Shoulder Seasons (April and October):

Less Crowded: The shoulder seasons are characterized by fewer tourists compared to the peak dry season. This means you can enjoy a more relaxed experience at Machu Picchu and other attractions.

Variable Weather: April and October are transitional months, so you might experience a mix of both rainy and dry days. Be prepared for fluctuating weather conditions.

Landscape: April is especially known for lush landscapes and blooming flowers, while October offers beautiful foliage as the rainy season approaches.

3. Rainy Season (November to March):

Fewer Tourists: The rainy season is considered the off-peak period. You’ll encounter fewer tourists, making it a more tranquil and serene experience.

Rainfall: However, as the name suggests, this season brings frequent rainfall. Trails can become muddy and slippery, and some areas might be affected by landslides. Machu Picchu itself is open year-round, but heavy rains can impact visibility and accessibility.

Lush Greenery: Despite the rain, the surrounding landscape becomes incredibly lush and vibrant during this time, creating a picturesque backdrop for your visit.

Limited Inca Trail Access: If you’re planning to hike the Inca Trail, note that it’s closed for maintenance in February.

Places to eat in Machu Picchu

When visiting Machu Picchu, you’ll find a variety of dining options to satisfy your culinary cravings. Whether you’re looking for traditional Peruvian dishes, international cuisine, or quick bites to fuel your exploration, there are several places to eat in and around Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes). Here are some recommendations:

1. Tinkuy Buffet Restaurant (Belmond Sanctuary Lodge):

Located within the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, Tinkuy offers a buffet-style dining experience with a range of Peruvian and international dishes. This is a convenient option for those staying at the lodge or visiting Machu Picchu for the day.

2. El Mapi Restaurant:

This restaurant, part of the Inkaterra El Mapi Hotel, offers a diverse menu with both Peruvian and international flavors. It’s a popular choice for travelers looking for a comfortable dining experience in Aguas Calientes.

3. Indio Feliz:

For a unique dining experience, head to Indio Feliz. Generally this restaurant offers a fusion of Peruvian and French cuisine, creating a delightful blend of flavors. 

4. Mapacho Craft Beer & Restaurant:

If you’re a fan of craft beer, Mapacho is a great spot to enjoy local brews along with a diverse menu of Peruvian and international dishes. It’s a casual and relaxed place to unwind after a day of exploring.

5. Café Inkaterra:

Situated within the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Café Inkaterra offers a range of dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. The menu features Peruvian and international cuisine in a tranquil garden setting.

6. Tree House:

For a unique and offbeat experience, check out Tree House. This cozy café offers coffee, sandwiches, and pastries in a rustic treehouse setting. It’s a great place to grab a quick bite before or after your visit to Machu Picchu.

7. Local Street Food Stalls:

As you explore Aguas Calientes, you’ll find various street food stalls offering Peruvian snacks and quick bites. Don’t miss the chance to try local favorites like empanadas, tamales, and churros.

8. Picnic at Machu Picchu:

Consider bringing a packed lunch or arranging for a picnic to enjoy amidst the stunning landscapes of Machu Picchu. Just be sure to follow the site’s rules and guidelines regarding food and waste disposal.

9. Markets and Shops:

Aguas Calientes has markets and shops where you can buy fresh fruits, snacks, and drinks to carry with you during your Machu Picchu visit.

Keep in mind that dining options can vary, and it’s always a good idea to inquire about opening hours and availability, especially during peak tourist seasons. Whether you’re looking for a gourmet experience, local flavors, or a quick bite, you’re sure to find something that satisfies your appetite during your Machu Picchu adventure.

Things to do in Peru

1. Sunrise at Inti Punku (Sun Gate): A Spectacular Start to Your Day

Begin your Machu Picchu adventure with a sunrise trek to Inti Punku, the Sun Gate. This vantage point offers a remarkable panoramic view of the entire citadel, shrouded in the soft hues of dawn. The trail itself is a journey through ancient stone pathways and lush landscapes, providing a glimpse into the Inca world. As the first rays of sunlight pierce through the mist, the sight of Machu Picchu emerging from the shadows is a moment of pure magic.

2. Exploring the Citadel: Temples, Plazas, and Residences

Once within the citadel, immerse yourself in its intriguing history. The Temple of the Sun, with its finely crafted stonework, pays homage to the Inca’s astronomical understanding. The Intihuatana Stone, believed to be a ritual device used for astronomical observations, is another highlight. Wander through the residential quarters, admiring the precision of Inca architecture that has withstood the test of time. The Main Plaza, flanked by sacred structures, offers a glimpse into the heart of Machu Picchu’s religious and ceremonial activities.

3. Huayna Picchu Hike: A Thrilling Adventure

For the adventurous souls, the hike to Huayna Picchu is a must. This towering peak overlooks Machu Picchu, providing an unparalleled view of the entire site. The trail is steep and challenging, but the rewards are well worth the effort. As you ascend through dense vegetation and intricate stone steps, the sense of accomplishment at the summit is exhilarating. Remember, permits for this hike are limited, so be sure to secure yours in advance.

4. Machu Picchu Mountain: A Different Perspective

If you’re seeking a less crowded alternative to Huayna Picchu, consider tackling Machu Picchu Mountain. This trek offers equally stunning vistas and a chance to connect with nature. The trail winds through diverse ecosystems, from cloud forests to alpine meadows. The higher vantage point allows you to appreciate the scale and grandeur of Machu Picchu from a unique angle.

5. Inca Bridge: A Glimpse into the Past

Step back in time as you venture along the narrow path to the Inca Bridge. This stone path clings to the cliffside, providing access to an ancient gateway. The Inca Bridge is a testament to the engineering marvels of the Inca civilization. It is believed that this path served as a secret entrance and a defensive point during the citadel’s heyday. Walking along this precipice is not for the faint of heart, but the experience is truly unforgettable.

6. Temple of the Condor: Nature and Mythology Unite

Marvel at the Temple of the Condor, an intricate rock formation that resembles the outstretched wings of a condor in flight. For the Inca, the condor held great symbolic significance, representing the connection between the earthly realm and the heavens. This temple is a testament to their reverence for the natural world and their intricate understanding of stone carving.

7. Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón: Unveiling the Past

Enhance your understanding of Machu Picchu’s history by visiting the Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón. This museum, located near the entrance, offers a comprehensive collection of artifacts, models, and informative exhibits. Delve into the daily lives of the Incas, their craftsmanship, and the mysteries surrounding the citadel’s purpose and abandonment.

8. Aguas Calientes: Gateway to Machu Picchu

Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu, serves as a convenient starting point for your journey. After a day of exploration, unwind in the soothing thermal baths from which the town derives its name. Indulge in local cuisine, shop for souvenirs, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the Andes.

9. Savoring Local Cuisine: A Gastronomic Adventure

No visit to Peru is complete without indulging in its rich culinary heritage. While in the vicinity of Machu Picchu, sample traditional dishes such as ceviche, quinoa-based delicacies, and roasted alpaca meat. Immerse yourself in the flavors of Peru, and perhaps even participate in a cooking class to learn the secrets behind these delectable creations.

10. Meditation and Contemplation: Connecting with the Ancients

Amidst the grandeur of Machu Picchu, find moments of tranquility and reflection. Choose a secluded spot to meditate, practice yoga, or simply absorb the energy of this ancient sanctuary. The spiritual essence that lingers in the air invites you to connect with the Inca’s reverence for the land, the cosmos, and the harmonious balance between humanity and nature.

In conclusion, A Timeless Journey into History and Wonder– Machu Picchu transcends mere tourism. It is a testament to human ingenuity, reverence for nature, and the unbreakable bond between culture and landscape. As you explore its nooks and crannies, hike its trails, and contemplate its mysteries, remember that you are treading the same paths that the Inca walked centuries ago. The best things to do in Machu Picchu are not just activities; they are invitations to step into a timeless narrative that continues to unravel its secrets and inspire awe in every visitor fortunate enough to stand in its presence.


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