Last Updated: December 15, 2021

Best Time To Visit Machu Picchu

Want to visit the iconic Machu Picchu ruins in Peru? Then you need to know when the best time to visit Machu Picchu is! We’ll tell you that, as well as what to expect from your visit in all the different seasons!

You should know that the ideal time to visit Machu Picchu depends on what you want to do there. It’s one answer if you want to hike the nearby trails, but an entirely different one if you just want to avoid the crowds.

Read on to learn when you should visit Machu Picchu and how to plan your trip to the famous ruins!

Answer: The Dry Season (May-September)

Machu Picchu Sunny

The best time to visit Machu Picchu is between May and September.

Machu Picchu is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet at any time of the year. May through September is the dry season, and it’s considered the high tourist season. People flock in from all over to world to see the ruins, hike the different trails, and experience all the famous landmarks in the area.

The dry season is most popular with travelers because the weather is enjoyable, the hiking trails are in excellent condition, and the views are just spectacular no matter where you look. June and July are peak dry seasons because the precipitation is minimal and they’re also the busiest months for the ruins.

Also, June is generally the busiest month in the area, especially around the end of the month. The Inca Festival of the Sun is held on June 24th, and it sees a large influx of visitors in Cusco and other towns near the ruins. If you want to avoid huge crowds, try to skip the latter half of June.

Machu Picchu Ruins

On the other hand, it’s worth noting that this is technically the winter season in the southern hemisphere, meaning chilly nights. You’ll want to pack an extra jacket, especially if you’re planning to stay at the ruins until the last train departs.

June is the driest month of the year with just 0.8 inches of average rainfall. The temperatures are mild in June, with the average highs in the high 70s and lows in the 50s. July and August are even colder than June, with highs in the high 60s and lows in the 30s. You will need a warm jacket in the evening, especially since the last train from the ruins arrives in Cusco around 10 PM. Hikers should pack insulated sleeping bags, particularly if they’re planning to do the entire Inca Trail.  

May temperatures are similar to June temperatures but there is a bit more rainfall. September has the warmest weather of the dry season, with average highs almost in the 80s and lows in the 50s. On the other hand, September is also the rainiest month of the dry season. Trail conditions are impacted by the increased rainfall, but at least there aren’t as many people around.

Machu Picchu Tourists

The main upside of peak season visits is the nice weather and spectacular vistas. The major downside is the sheer amount of other travelers. There will be crowds on the trails and you can forget about nice vacation photos – there’s always going to be a bunch of strangers in the background, plus the occasional photobomb.

If you’re not thrilled by the idea of being surrounded by a horde of tourists, maybe the best time to visit Machu Picchu is not best for you. Read on to see what shoulder and rainy season visits have in store!  

Rainy Season (December – March)

Machu Picchu Clouds

The rainy season is from December to March and it’s considered a low tourist season. Peak rainfall is in January and February, so try to avoid a visit during those two months. You can still have fun at the ruins, but the constant rainfall is bound to dampen your mood. Plus the trails are much more dangerous and slippery when it rains often, and you might not be able to climb to the top of the mountain.

It’s worth noting that rain is rarely constant in the area. Usually, it’s just scattered showers throughout the day, with a few rays of sunshine in between. Umbrellas are not allowed at the ruins, so if you want to stay dry at Machu Picchu, you’ll need a waterproof jacket.

The crowds at Machu Picchu are minimal during the rainy season. Sure there are still other tourists around, but they’re scattered around the ruins. You can snap wonderful photos of almost empty ruins, which never happens during the dry season.

Machu Picchu Snow

December marks the official start of the rainy season, with an average of 16 rainy days in the month. Not a lot of people visit in the first few days of the month, so it’s a great time to go if you want to experience Machu Picchu without the hordes. There’s an influx of tourists during Christmas and New Year’s holidays, so keep that in mind.

January is one of the warmest months in the area, with average highs in the low 70s and lows in the 40s. It rains approximately 18 out of the 31 days and the rest are mostly sunny. However, neither January nor February are a good time to visit if you want to go hiking. The heavy rainfall makes the trails and stone steps slippery and dangerous, even with all the appropriate gear.

February and March both get about 8 inches of rainfall, snow at high altitudes, and even the same temperatures. The lows are in the mid-50s, while the highs are in the low 80s and high 70s. If you’re not planning to climb the mountains, a visit in the latter half of March could be a great idea.

Shoulder Seasons

Machu Picchu Peru

Shoulder seasons are the second-best option if you can’t make it to Machu Picchu during the dry season. April, October, and November offer the nice weather of the dry season, paired with minimal crowds characteristic for the rainy season. Also, it’s possible to go on guided hiking tours during the shoulder season.

The chance of rain is much higher than during the dry season, but again it’s just scattered showers here and there, nothing too scary. An April visit can be particularly beautiful – it’s just after the rainy season, so everything around you extra green. October and November are less colorful since the months follow a season with virtually no precipitation.

Machu Picchu Green

April even has pretty warm weather with highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s. It might not be the most appropriate time to visit if you’re planning to hike, but with the right gear and some patience, you won’t have any issues hiking the different trails of Machu Picchu. April sees about 4.5 inches of rain, so the chances of visiting on a nice sunny day are much higher than in March.

What about October and November? October is very similar to April in terms of temperature and rainfall, but it’s just much browner. November, on the other hand, is right before the start of the rainy season so it’s not very popular with tourists. This can be a good thing if you want to avoid crowds, but it also makes hiking in the area much more dangerous than it should be.

October and November even have similar temperatures with highs in the high 70s and lows in the mid-50s. They’re the warmest months in the area and you could enjoy a shoulder season visit if you don’t mind a few drops of rain as long as you’re warm.

Best Time For Hiking?

Inca Trail

If you are interested in hiking Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, you’ll need to pay more attention to the weather. There are a lot of stone steps to climb to get to the top of Huayna Picchu, and they become outright deadly in rainy weather.

The dry season is the absolute best time to visit Machu Picchu for hikers. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a short hike or a multi-day trek from Cusco to the top of Huayna Picchu – the lack of rain makes the trail safer and more easily accessible.

Experienced hikers can plan their trip regardless of the weather but should remember the importance of proper hiking equipment. Also, it’s important to be prepared for all kinds of weather even during peak season, especially on the longer treks.

It’s in your best interest to avoid a rainy season visit if you just want to go hiking. Even guided tours don’t take place in January and February, and that’s a good indication of just how awful trail conditions are.  

Best Time Of Day To Visit?

Machu Picchu Fog

You’ve figured out which season works best for you, but how early in the day should you head to the ruins? Machu Picchu is open from 6 AM until 6 PM and the earliest train from Cusco arrives around 10 AM. It’s worth noting that most people arrive on the earliest and depart on the latest train – if that’s your plan as well, you will want to book tickets well in advance.

Witnessing the sunrise at Machu Picchu is both astonishing and incredibly rare. The sunrise occurs a little after 6 AM during the dry season, but there aren’t any trains that will take you there that early. On top of that, the sun is often obscured by clouds and fog so even if you manage to be there at the right time, there’s still no guarantee you’ll see the sunrise.

You can’t drive to Machu Picchu, so the only way to see the sunrise on the ruins is to hike. You could do the entire Inca Trail or just a small section from one of the camps on the way. Winay Wayna is the campsite closest to Machu Picchu – it’s about a 90-minute hike from the ruins and the best option if you’re dead set on experiencing an epic Machu Picchu sunrise.

It’s important to note that the train ride from Cusco to Machu Picchu is about three and a half hours. Because of that, it’s best to book the earliest train from Cusco and the last train from Machu Picchu, which departs just before 6 PM. This gives you plenty of time to explore the area and lets you make the most of your visit.  

What did we do when we went? We stayed the night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes below Machu Picchu and took the first bus up very early in the morning. That way we were one of the first in the site, and had the place almost to ourselves. Of course, people slowly arrived and it filled up. But by then we had done our 2 hour tour with our guide and went off to climb up Huayna Picchu at the end.

How To Get To Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu Train

Getting to Machu Picchu is an adventure in and of itself. There’s only one train that can get you there, and it departs from Cusco. It’s about three and a half hours to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu, and the train tickets sell out fast. It’s best to reserve tickets months in advance, not just because it guarantees you a spot on the train, but also because tickets get more expensive the closer you are to the date of departure.

The closest you can get to Machu Picchu without the train is Ollantaytambo village. You can choose to board the train there, or you can hike the Inca Trail. There aren’t any busses or arranged transport apart from the train, so keep that in mind if you’re trying to improvise your own schedule.


The Inca Trail is a famous 4-day hike, and pretty much the only way you can get a shot at experiencing a magical Machu Picchu sunrise. The 43-kilometer hike is absolutely inspiring and it’s a great option for adventurous travelers who aren’t afraid of taking on multi-day treks. The trail conditions depend on the weather though, which can change a lot due to microclimates along the trail. For the best experience on this 4-day hike, you should be prepared for all four seasons.

You can try to hike the trail on your own but it’s much better to do it with an experienced guide if you’re visiting the area for the first time. Alpaca Expeditions arranges both group and private hiking tours and they’re the best option if you don’t want to waste time looking at campsites, food options, trail routes, etc.

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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