If you’re considering a trip to Machu Picchu then one of the questions you probably have top of mind is “what is the best time of year to visit Machu Picchu”?
Well, wonder no more – Apus Peru is here to answer all your Peru travel questions! Including questions about visiting Machu Picchu. We are experts in Peru travel and can help you plan the trip of a lifetime to Peru.
So when is the best time to visit Machu Picchu? Let’s break it down.
Best Time of Year to Visit Machu Picchu
Most people will characterize the best time of year to visit Machu Picchu in terms of Peru’s wet and dry season. As you might expect, the dry season – approximately May through September – experiences less rain than the rest of the year. This is an ideal time for hiking, one of the main tourism draws in the Andes.
As a result, dry season = high season in Cusco!
It is by far the busiest time of the year for tourism in Peru. The Cusco hiking trails and main tourist attractions are packed with people. The dry season in Peru is also winter in the southern hemisphere. While sunny and fairly warm during the day, it can get very cold at night.
On the other hand, from about October to April tourism slows in Cusco as rainy season gets underway. The heaviest rains usually fall between January and March, though every year is different. Heavy rain makes trekking in the Andes difficult, and for many this is not the best time of year to visit Machu Picchu.
If you plan on combining a hike in Cusco with visiting Machu Picchu, then you may want to avoid the worst of wet season. At Apus Peru, we have special Wet Season Trekking policies, and recommend mainly the Lares trek or the Inca Trail for hiking in wet season.
Day Trips to Machu Picchu
But if you’re just going to visit Machu Picchu on its own, the wet season can actually be one of the best times of the year to visit Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail closes for annual maintenance in February. This dramatically cuts the number of people visiting Machu Picchu that month. It’s not exactly empty, but if you want to visit Machu Picchu in relative peace and quiet, February can be one of the best times to visit Machu Picchu.
Other than the number of people at Machu Picchu, another thing that makes rainy season the best time of year to visit Machu Picchu is the rain itself! Rain showers can be intense, but they are usually of short duration. On either side of the storm they can wrap Machu Picchu in clouds, transforming it into a mist-shrouded, other-worldly and magical place.
Best Time of Day to Visit Machu Picchu
Another factor to consider when figuring out when is the best time to visit Machu Picchu is time of day. Many people recommend getting to Machu Picchu as early as possible. Getting there early means being able to appreciate the site in the early morning light, perhaps catching a glimpse of the sunrise over Machu Picchu.
While this would surely be a magical sight, you’d most likely be sharing it with a thousand other people. Many people line up for an hour or more to catch one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.
The Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu? The Afternoon
On the other hand, statistics show that only about a third of the day’s visitors to Machu Picchu enter the site in the afternoon. That makes the afternoon the best time to visit Machu Picchu for some people. For the photographers out there, we find that the afternoon sun bathes Machu Picchu in a beautiful, soft light.
Whether you decide to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or add a day trip to Machu Picchu onto another alternative Peru trek, you’ll want to consider all your options before deciding when is the best time of year to visit Machu Picchu.
Hopefully our tips have been helpful for you to decide when to travel to Machu Picchu. Buen Viaje!
>>For more recommendations about how to visit Machu Picchu, check out our Machu Picchu resource page!