Almost 600 years ago, native Incas built a sacred citadel on a mountaintop deep in the Andes Mountains of eastern Peru known as Machu Picchu. During the Spanish conquest less than 100 years later, it was mysteriously abandoned. For the next 300 years, Machu Picchu remained an Incan secret until it was rediscovered by Harvard University professor Hiram Bingham on an archeological expedition to Peru in 1911. As the most special and sacred site in Inca history and one of the most important archeological findings of our time, Machu Picchu was listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Nobody truly knows why Machu Picchu was built atop a mountain hidden from view, what its main purpose was, or why exactly it was abandoned. However, we do know that this sacred citadel was built by some of the greatest architects in ancient history and that it was reserved for royal Incas who performed strange sacrificial rituals there.
Its combined beauty and mysticism have made Machu Picchu one of the most pictured places on Earth, but nothing compares to the magic of seeing its famous structures like the Temple of the Sun and Intihuatana Stone first-hand. To reach them, you first have to follow in the footsteps of the Inca Trail to the remote Andes and climb up a steep 400-meter-tall mountainside. While the hike is tough, it’s easily one of the most rewarding in the world. Or you can simply let the exclusive luxury Hiram Bingham train whisk you there. Our Machu Picchu destination experts, who specialize in luxury Machu Picchu tours, are on hand to help you find your ideal path to Machu Picchu.
The ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu sits atop a mountain peak almost 2,500 meters above sea level. While the view across the lush green mountaintops is a major part of its appeal, it can also be a drawback. Since the citadel soars to the sky, its visibility can be compromised on a rainy or cloudy day, reducing the chances of seeing its famous postcard picture views. Although temperatures remain at a steady 77 °F (25 °C) year-round, Machu Picchu is commanded by the wet season (November-April) and the dry season (May-October). This means that with careful thought and planning, you can easily increase your chances of enjoying the views if it’s important to you.
Just remember, better visibility means better views of Machu Picchu, but it doesn’t necessarily equate to a better experience. Its beauty and brilliance have the power to capture your heart regardless of the weather. If, however, you are set on catching sight of Machu Picchu’s most picturesque scenes, the best time to go is at the height of the dry season between June and August. Whereas the best time to see Machu Picchu on a budget is at the height of the rainy season between December and February.
- Machu Picchu In January & February
- Machu Picchu in March & April
- Machu Picchu in May & June
- Machu Picchu in July & August
- Machu Picchu in September & October
- Machu Picchu in November & December
Machu Picchu in January & February
Being at the height of the rainy season, Machu Picchu is likely to experience large amounts of rainfall during January and February. Since the citadel is perched atop a mountain peak in the Andes mountains, it is often shrouded by clouds too. Therefore, although it’s possible to get clear skies, those traveling to Machu Picchu during this time shouldn’t expect great visibility. For this reason, tour and hotel prices are much lower than average during these months, which makes this once-in-a-lifetime destination more accessible to budget travelers. Being low season, those who do choose to visit Machu Picchu during these months will not have pesky crowds to contend with when capturing your experience on camera!
Machu Picchu in March & April
The rainy season slows down in March and April, generally improving the odds of getting clear views of Machu Picchu. However, clear skies are still very hit-and-miss, so those traveling during this time still have a fair risk of poor visibility. Fortunately, Machu Picchu tour and hotel prices are still lower than average at this time, so if you don’t quite get the views you were hoping for, at least you won’t be out of pocket. While more people are making the journey to the citadel in the sky at this time of year, crowds are still fairly small and you will have plenty of time and space to make the most of your experience, regardless of visibility.
Machu Picchu in May & June
Weather forecasts in Machu Picchu really pick up in May and June and the chances of good visibility and even clear skies during your visit are quite high. Of course, the weather is sometimes unpredictable and there’s always a chance of clouds and even rain when you visit! While you can expect larger crowds at this time of year, you’ll find yourself so mesmerized by Machu Picchu that they have little impact on the enjoyment of your experience. On June 24th of each year, traditional Inca celebrations ensue across Peru for the Festival of the Sun (Inti Raymi). There’s nowhere better to see traditional Inca dance, costume, and rituals than on Machu Pichu, the Incas’ most sacred site.
Machu Picchu in July & August
July and August are the driest months of the season and the chances of getting clear skies and perfect visibility are quite high. Since prices also peak during these months, it is the ideal time of year to visit for those who would rather prioritize the quality of views over the price. With better weather comes bigger crowds so you can expect to wait a few minutes to get a picture or two at the best viewpoints. Even so, spirits in the citadel remain high. Those planning to visit Machu Picchu at sunrise are in for a chilly start in July and August because it gets colder at night at this time of year.
Machu Picchu in September & October
The dry season begins to come to a close between September and October and the chances of rain slowly increase once again. That said, you can expect plenty of sunny days because rainfall is still relatively low. Since many Machu Picchu tourists visit between May and August, September and October are the quietest months of the dry season. Between its relatively good weather and fewer crowds, it’s often considered one of the best times to visit Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu in November & December
Between November and December, the rainy season makes a comeback to Machu Picchu. Those that plan to go during these months should do so with expectations that they might experience rain and/or poor visibility during their visit. While this might mean your pictures won’t be as epic, it doesn’t mean your experience won’t be either. You’ll still get the chance to see all of the citadel’s highlights including the Sun Gate and Intihuatana Stone. And with a personal guide in tow to offer their insights and wisdom too, you’ll feel fully satisfied with your Machu Picchu experience.
Since the weather near Machu Picchu can only be predicted to a certain extent, there’s a chance it will be covered by cloud no matter what time of year you go. The question is: to what extent are you willing to take the risk? Although it’s never guaranteed, the chances of seeing Machu Picchu under clear skies are much higher between June and August. However, prices are higher and crowds are larger too. To decide what is the best time for you to visit Machu Picchu, you must first weigh up these factors:
- How important is it to see Machu Picchu under clear skies?
- Am I willing to pay more for a higher chance of good visibility?
- How much should I factor in crowd sizes?