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Best time to visit Machu Picchu

Visitors come from all over the world to marvel at the stunning ruins and experience the astounding natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes. But when is the best time to visit Machu Picchu? Let’s take a look at the different seasons and weather patterns to help you plan the perfect trip to this amazing destination.

Machu Picchu is one of the most iconic and breathtaking destinations in the world. Nestled high in the Peruvian Andes, this ancient Incan citadel is a testament to the mind-blowing achievements of the Inca Empire.

First, it’s important to note that Machu Picchu is open year-round, and that you should take any opportunity you can to experience this bucket list destination for yourself. Also, please bear in mind that temperatures vary greatly from hour to hour (depending on whether the sun is out) so layering and sunblock are always important.

The best time to visit depends on your personal preferences and what you hope to see and experience during your trip. There are pros and cons to visiting at different times of the year, so let’s break it down by season.

The dry season (May to September)

The dry season is the most popular time to visit Machu Picchu, and for good reason. The weather during this time is dry and sunny, making it the perfect time to explore the ruins and hike in the surrounding mountains. The dry season runs from May to September, with the peak months being June, July, and August. Inti Raymi (the Inca Festival of the Sun) on June 24 is an especially busy (but also fascinating) time to visit.

Inti Raymi solstice festival in Sacsayhuaman, Cusco, Peru
Inti Raymi at Sacsayhuaman. Actors and dancers wear colorful Incan costumes adorned with gold and silver elements. (Photo: McKay Savage, Peru - Cusco 122 - Inti Raymi solstice festival, CC BY 2.0)

During the dry season, you can expect warm, sunny days and cool nights. Temperatures during the day typically range from 65°F to 75°F, with nighttime temperatures dropping into the 40s. This is a great time to hike the Inca Trail or other nearby trails, as the paths will be dry and the views will be stunning. There are also fewer mosquitoes and other insects during this time.

One thing to keep in mind is that the dry season is also the busiest time of year for Machu Picchu. If you’re hoping to avoid crowds, you may want to consider visiting during the shoulder months of May or September. However, even during these months, Machu Picchu can be quite crowded, so it’s important to plan ahead and book your tickets and accommodations well in advance.

The rainy season (October to April)

Terraces nearby Pisac in the Sacred Valley, Peru
Beautiful green terraces nearby Pisac in the Sacred Valley.

The rainy season in Machu Picchu runs from October to April, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in December and January. While the rainy season does have its challenges, there are some benefits to visiting during this time.

First and foremost, the rain brings lush, green vegetation and blooming flowers, which can make for some truly stunning photo opportunities. What’s more, the rainy season is a bit quieter than the dry season, so you may be able to enjoy the ruins and trails with fewer crowds. The one exception to this is over Christmas and New Year when many local tourists visit the area.

All the rain can make life more difficult, however. Apart from the challenge of staying dry, the paths and trails can become muddy and slippery, making hiking more difficult.

The shoulder seasons (May and September)

As we mentioned earlier, the shoulder seasons of May and September can be a great time to visit Machu Picchu if you’re looking to avoid crowds. During these months, you can expect moderate temperatures and generally dry weather, although there may be some occasional rain.

May is a particularly good time to visit, as the weather is typically dry and sunny, and the crowds haven’t yet arrived. September can also be a good option, as the crowds begin to thin out and the weather remains pleasant.

Panoramic view of Machu Picchu, Peru

Keen to see Machu Picchu for yourself? Check out our Machu Picchu & Peru itineraries here or speak to one of our  Destination Experts  about crafting the bespoke Peruvian adventure of your dreams.

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