Peru Machu Picchu window
Machu-Picchu-Peru.-Matthew-Barker-2009-48
Peru Machu Picchu shadows

If you're coming to Peru you'll almost certainly visit the ruins that have come to define the entire country. Despite now drawing millions of visitors a year, the crowds can't dent the ruins' sheer scale and undeniable magnificence.

6 days

Classic Peru & Machu Picchu

The classic route to Peru's most popular highlights
Lima (1 days) Cusco (2) Sacred Valley (1) Machu Picchu (1) Lima (1)
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9 days

Machu Picchu & Amazon cruise

Small-ship luxury cruise with Machu Picchu
Lima (1 days) Iquitos (3) Cusco (2) Sacred Valley (1) Machu Picchu (1) Lima (1)
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9 days

Machu Picchu & Amazon lodge

See Peru from rainforest eco-lodge to mountain empires
Lima (1 days) Puerto Maldonado (3) Cusco (2) Sacred Valley (1) Machu Picchu (1) Lima (1)
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12 days

Highlights of Peru

A grand tour of Peru's mountain civilisation
Lima (1 days) Arequipa (2) Colca Canyon (1) Lake Titicaca (2) Cusco (2) Sacred Valley (1) Machu Picchu (1) Lima (1)
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12 days

Qhapaq Ñan trek to Huanuco Pampa

Explore Peru's grand route of the Incas
Lima (1 days) Cusco (1) Sacred Valley (1) Machu Picchu (1) Cusco (1) Huaraz (5) Huaraz (1) Lima (1)
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8 days

Active Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu trek

Explore Peru's grand route of the Incas
Lima (1 days) Sacred Valley (1) Sacred Valley (1) Peru (1) Machu Picchu (1) Machu Picchu (1) Cusco (1) Lima (1)
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15 days

Iguazu Falls & Andean Highlights

A grand tour of Peru and Brazil
Lima (1 days) Puerto Maldonado (3) Sacred Valley (2) Machu Picchu (1) Cusco (2) Iguazu Falls (2) Rio de Janeiro (3)
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  • Lima

    Lima

    Peru's unfairly overlooked capital
    Peru's sprawling capital city is often overlooked by time-poor visitors en route to more photogenic locations, but dwell a while and you'll find a complex city with onionskin layers of history and excellent museums, a proud contemporary culture, genuinely diverse neighbourhoods, and a world-leading food scene...
  • Cusco

    Cusco

    Capital of the Inca
    Seat of the Inca Empire, Cusco is the epicentre for Peru's tourism industry, drawing millions of visitors en route to Machu Picchu and adventures in the Sacred Valley...
  • Sacred Valley

    Sacred Valley

    Peru's spiritual heartland
    As the Urubamba River descends from Cusco, eventually connecting with tributaries of the mighty Amazon, it has carved out a sweep of valley whose beauty defies imagination...
  • Arequipa

    Arequipa

    Peru's elegant White City
    Peru's second city is an elegant, refined counterweight to Lima's unbridled freneticism...
  • Colca Canyon

    Colca Canyon

    Flight of the condor
    Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon but a fraction of the width, the Colca Canyon cuts a dramatic scar across Peru's southern Andes...
  • Lake Titicaca

    Lake Titicaca

    Shimmering heart of the Andean universe
    A tranquil expanse of turquoise water seemingly at the roof of the world, Lake Titicaca was revered as the birthplace of Peru's original civilisations and the centre of the indigenous cosmos...
  • Puerto Maldonado

    Puerto Maldonado

    Accessible Amazonian adventures
    Puerto Maldonado, in Peru's southern Amazon, is the most accessible entrance to the jungle...
  • Iquitos

    Iquitos

    The jungle city
    Famous for being accessible only by air or boat, Iquitos lies in Peru's distant north-eastern Amazon with a distinct frontier vibe to match...
  • Manú National Park

    ...
  • Chavín de Huántar

    Chavín de Huántar

    "Birthplace of South American culture”
    If you have an interest in Andean civilisation, Chavín de Huántar is vastly more significant than the famed Machu Picchu, but with a fraction of the crowds...
  • Choquequirao

    Choquequirao

    Machu Picchu without the crowds (for now)
    Machu Picchu 2...
  • Trujillo

    Northern historical heartlands
    ...
  • Chiclayo

    ...
  • Huaraz

    ...
  • Arica

    ...

Historical Peru

Alternatives to Machu Picchu

Mysterious archaeological sites, Amazonian cloud forests, desert coastlines and the world’s tallest tropical mountains — Peru is a complex and diverse place full of surprises.

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Seasons and climate

Peru’s climate varies depending on where you choose to go, with the country split into three distinct regions: Amazon rainforest, mountainous highlands and the coast. Each region has its own climate, with the rainforest typically hot and wet, the mountains dry and temperate with variations in temperature, and the coast sunny and dry.

While Peru’s seasons can be generally split into wet (October-April) and dry (May-September), the country’s geographical diversity means there’s always somewhere worth visiting no matter the time of year. Just be prepared for the temperature change in the highlands — days can be warm and sunny, but temperatures plummet at night.

Peru_Cusco_weather-chart

Month-by-month

January and February are two of the wettest months to visit Amazonian Peru, with the Inca Trail closing during February for maintenance and cleaning.

March and April see the rains continue across the highlands, but this can be a good time to book permits and treks as travellers wait for the drier summer months.

The summer months are the peak months for Peru’s historical ruins. Permits for the Inca Trail can book up months in advance as the rains recede in the highlands. Remember that temperatures can drop quickly at night, so pack appropriately.

By September, the crowds are beginning to disperse as the dry season comes to an end. Treks are less busy — at least until December, when the holiday season brings the crowds back to Peru.

Events and holidays

The wetter months at the start of the year means that celebrations are few and far between until February’s Candlemas, which is especially lively in the mountainous regions. Expect folkloric music and dance over a two-week period.

Peru’s carnival might not be as well-known as Brazil’s, but it is still wildly celebrated across the entire country. Held just before Lent each year, carnival is a riot of parades, costumes and plenty of dancing.

For a taste of an Inca celebration, visit Cusco during June for Inti Raymi (festival of the sun). Held to mark the winter solstice, the Inca festival attracted 25,000 revellers to Cusco. Today, visitors can watch the procession from Cusco to Sacsayhuaman, which culminates in the ritual sacrifice of a llama.

The high season also sees Peru mark its independence day on July 28th and 29th, with festivities in the southern cities beginning earlier than their northern neighbours.

November is Peru’s festival month, with the start of the month celebrating All Saints Day before the world-famous All Souls Day (Dia de Los Muertos on November 2nd). Families take offerings of food and flowers to family graves, with festive parades in Andean towns. Finally, Puno Week (starting November 5th) sees street parades celebrate the emergence of Manco Capac — the first Inca.

Things to do in Machu Picchu

Our recommended experiences and activities

Visit Peru’s other 'lost city'
Machu Picchu

Visit Peru’s other 'lost city'

While the crowds flock to Machu Picchu take a real adventure to the ruins of Kuélap, in the northern Andes. Predating Machu Picchu by some 900 years, Kuélap offers a glimpse of the diversity of Peru's Pre-Columbian civilisations.

Take a guided visit of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

Take a guided visit of Machu Picchu

Yes it’s famous and busy, but for a perfectly valid reason: Machu Picchu remains one of the world’s preeminent archaeological sites. In spite of the crowds, an expert guide will bring the place to life and help you make sense of the Inca’s incredible ingenuity. You’ll have the option of climbing the adjacent Huayna Picchu for spectacular views, and can return for a second day exploring if you wish.

See another side to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

See another side to Machu Picchu

For a different perspective of the ruins and a bird’s eye view of the surrounding mountains and valleys, try the moderate hike up adjacent Huayna Picchu. Additional permit is required, our recommended tour operators will be happy to assist.

Where to go in Peru

Our recommended places

Lima

Lima

Peru's sprawling capital city is often overlooked by time-poor visitors en route to more photogenic locations, but dwell a while and you'll find a complex city with onionskin layers of history and excellent museums, a proud contemporary culture, genuinely diverse neighbourhoods, and a world-leading food scene.

Cusco

Cusco

Seat of the Inca Empire, Cusco is the epicentre for Peru's tourism industry, drawing millions of visitors en route to Machu Picchu and adventures in the Sacred Valley. With layers of archaeology built on top of each other (often literally), Cusco and its surroundings can keep you occupied for several days. Ignore the tourist traps and see Cusco for the living, breathing, contemporary city it is.

Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley

As the Urubamba River descends from Cusco, eventually connecting with tributaries of the mighty Amazon, it has carved out a sweep of valley whose beauty defies imagination. Little wonder then that the Inca chose this stunning and fertile location as their spiritual and agricultural heartland. Scattered with ruins, towns and villages where Quechua is still commonly heard, the Sacred Valley is much more than a mere stop-off before Machu Picchu. Spend some time here and get a real understanding for Peru's origin story.

Arequipa

Arequipa

Peru's second city is an elegant, refined counterweight to Lima's unbridled freneticism. A colonial-era city constructed from white volcanic stone, Arequipa is home to some outstanding architecture, fantastic cuisine, and a fiercely independent spirit. The year-round sunshine makes it very tempting to linger.

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon but a fraction of the width, the Colca Canyon cuts a dramatic scar across Peru's southern Andes. Well known as a habitat for the condor, indigenous settlements and remote trekking and whitewater rafting. Most visitors make a flying visit from Arequipa, but stay a while and get to know a different side of Peru's Andean civilisation.

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

A tranquil expanse of turquoise water seemingly at the roof of the world, Lake Titicaca was revered as the birthplace of Peru's original civilisations and the centre of the indigenous cosmos. Puno, on the lake's western shores, is a functional but pleasant enough city and makes a good springboard for the islands that dot the shimmering waters. Some of these islands are overdone tourist traps, but get further afield and explore the birthplace of an entire civilisation.

Puerto Maldonado

Puerto Maldonado

Puerto Maldonado, in Peru's southern Amazon, is the most accessible entrance to the jungle. The town itself is nothing to write home about, but it's the best way of reaching one of the many lodges found deeper in the interior. Some lodges are more luxurious than others but all include guided nature and bird-spotting excursions, delicious meals and the unforgettable experience of drifting asleep to the cacophonous sound of the jungle at night.

Iquitos

Iquitos

Famous for being accessible only by air or boat, Iquitos lies in Peru's distant north-eastern Amazon with a distinct frontier vibe to match. The city itself is a lot of fun to explore, particularly the floating markets and ramshackle neighbourhoods. But its main draw is as the departure point for trips to remote jungle lodges and luxurious river cruises on the mighty Amazon River .

Chavín de Huántar

Chavín de Huántar

If you have an interest in Andean civilisation, Chavín de Huántar is vastly more significant than the famed Machu Picchu, but with a fraction of the crowds. Situated in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, some 160 miles north of Lima and within easy reach of the trekking hub of Huaraz, the site was once the most important pilgrimage destination in the Andes. Due to their extreme age, with portions dating as far back as 1,000 BC, the ruins don't look like much from the outside. But get inside -- and underground -- and you'll discover an eerie world of subterranean passageways, sunken courtyards and carvings that help explain the origins and rituals of the original Andean civilisation.

Choquequirao

Choquequirao

Machu Picchu 2.0: so rave visitors to this mountaintop citadel in Peru’s rugged Vilcabamba region. And indeed, if any Inca ruin can give the more celebrated site a run for its money, it’s this one. Choquequirao is situated on a levelled hill saddle some 60 miles as the crow — or condor — flies from Cusco. The site occupies seven square miles, three times the size of Machu Picchu, with well-preserved walled terraces, plazas, and a variety of temples, halls and other buildings, all set against a backdrop of simply incredible views over the thundering Apurimac River below.

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