The best time to visit Machu Picchu is during the peak season of July and August, but you’ll find the weather can be great and rains can be light in May, June and September. Plus, if you visit during the last three months listed, you’ll beat the peak season crowds and may even get a chance to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain!
When I decided that visiting Machu Picchu on a long holiday weekend in May was in the cards — and within a reasonable budget — I knew I had to go. I had long dreamed of visiting Machu Picchu since first seeing a picture of an alpaca smiling for the camera amongst a backdrop of an empire in the clouds that was built hundreds of years ago with tanned, hand-laid stones — mountains anchored thousands of feet above and below, protruding toward the sky and peaking well above the clouds.
Even though I went during one of the best times of year to visit Machu Picchu, the clouds gave way to rain in the afternoon of the second day, leaving me drenched by rain as I waited for a bus ride down to Aguas Calientes and left me in desperate need of food and water at the peak of the 10,000-foot Machu Picchu Mountain with my 15-pound backpack strapped to my back.
But if you follow this guide about the best time to visit Machu Picchu and heed the advice, your trip to see the 15th-century stone walls, green flora growing lusciously through the cracks of pathways, and light-brown alpacas roaming the pathways will be spectacular!
Is Machu Picchu Open All Year Round?
Yes, Machu Picchu is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. every single day of the year, so you can take advantage of visiting Machu Picchu whenever you choose! But I recommend buying your tickets sooner rather than later and seeing this iconic destination as soon as you can!
Best Time of Year to Visit Machu Picchu
The ancient ruins are open year-round, but there is a certain best time of year to visit Machu Picchu when get better weather and won’t have to battle with as many tourists. So, depending on which is more important to your overall trip — and budget — you’ll have to choose what time of year you want to go.
1. July to August (Peak Season)
For weather conditions, the best time of year to visit Machu Picchu is during July and August. If you want to see a ton of tourists, very little rain and more clear blue skies than any other time of the year, then this is the time you should visit Machu Picchu.
You also better be prepared to buy your tickets (especially if you plan to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain), book your accommodation and secure your transport to and from Cusco a few months prior to your trip. If you don’t, you run the risk of everything being booked up and sold out.
2. October to April (Rainy Season)
The best time of year to visit Machu Picchu for the cheapest price is during the rainy season of October to April. Rainy season may be equally unpredictable as the off-peak season, but you’ll want to take a raincoat either way.
You’ll more than likely visit Machu Picchu during a day that’s full of rains and has fewer tourists walking around the ruins. Transportation and accommodation will also run you a slightly cheaper rate and you’re more likely to secure a combo ticket to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain on shorter notice.
3. September & May to June (Unpredictable Weather)
The best time of year to visit Machu Picchu for better weather, less tourists and a decently priced trip is before and after peak season in May, June and September. These three months can be the best time of the year for visiting Machu Picchu, but it all depends on Mother Nature and how many other people are trying to take advantage of good weather and lesser-packed ruins.
You could either see rains or clear skies, but you’ll probably still see a fair amount of tourists. I visited Machu Picchu the last weekend of May and it wasn’t too bad. It rained for a little while at the end of the first day, so I picked up a rain jacket from one of the vendors for a few Soles. It wasn’t all that bad afterward.
The second day was pretty much full of clouds and the ruins were pretty packed. It was also a Sunday, which is a free-entry day for people who live in the Cusco province.
How Long Do You Need to Visit Machu Picchu?
Realistically, you can visit Machu Picchu in a single day. You could take a train from Cusco in the early morning hours, hop on a bus from Aguas Calientes to the Machu Picchu entrance, walk around Machu Picchu for a few hours, ride the bus back to Aguas Calientes, and return to Cusco late at night on another train.
That would be an extremely long day, but people do it all the time. Personally speaking, I think it’s worth spending at least one night in Aguas Calientes. That way you can take your time, potentially hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain and return to Cusco at a leisurely pace.
Whether you stick to visiting only the ruins of Machu Picchu or channel your adventurous side on Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu, you’re bound to have a blast!
How Many People Visit Machu Picchu a Day?
Only 2,500 people are allowed to visit Machu Picchu each day. The number used to be 5,000 per day, but the Peruvian government decided to cut that number in half a few years ago to prevent overtourism to the ancient ruins.