Machu Picchu is a top tourist destination that stays open 365 days a year. Travelers from all over the world trek up the Andes Mountains to catch a glimpse of the iconic Peruvian site.
You can visit Machu Picchu anytime you want, but ideally it’s worth considering factors such as the rainy season, landslides, etc.
If you pick the right time however, you’ll be rewarded with incredible postcard-worthy views and a tremendous sense of achievement!
If you’re wondering when is the best time to visit Machu Picchu, this travel guide will help you.
A 15th-century Inca citadel sitting atop a 7,970 ft mountain range in southern Peru’s Eastern Cordillera, Machu Picchu, aka the Lost City of the Incas, is an icon of the Inca Civilization.
It is believed that Machu Picchu citadel was built as an estate for Pachacuti – an Inca emperor.
In 1981, Machu Picchu was named a Peruvian Historic Sanctuary, and in 1983, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later in 2007, Machu Picchu earned the title of one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
In perfect conditions, the sun-kissed ancient city of Machu Picchu is framed by the Machu Picchu mountain & Huayna Picchu mountain and foggy cloud forest.
If you want to take gorgeous shots, the peak season (June to August) is the best time to visit Machu Picchu. It is also the peak trekking season.
If you want to witness sweeping greenery with gorgeous flora and fauna, the low season (December to March) is the best.
If you want fewer crowds and to avoid rainfall, the shoulder seasons (April-May and September to November) are the best time to visit.
If you want to enjoy the lowest prices and the least crowds, the low season (December to March) is your best bet.
There are only two seasons in Machu Picchu and they are:
- Rainy Season or Wet Season: November to March is the rainy season with February being the wettest month when the Inca Trail closes. The average daytime temperatures range between 19°C to 21°C and nights are cool.
- Dry Season: April to October is the dry season with June, July, and August being the driest months. The average daytime temperatures range between 17°C and 19°C. Nights are much cooler. In June and July, temperatures can drop to -2°C, making them the coldest months. However, you will enjoy sunny days.
From the tourism aspect, Machu Picchu’s climate is divided into:
- Peak Season – June to August: The average temperatures range between 20°C and 2°C. Precipitation ranges between 8 and 18 mm. The peak season is also the trekking season.
- Low Season – December to March: The average temperatures range between 19°C and 7°C. The average rainfall is between 109 and 154 mm. This is when you will see gorgeous scenery.
- Shoulder Seasons – April-May and September to November: Temperatures vary significantly with May having the greatest variations when the high temperature can be 24°C and the low can be 3°C. Precipitation ranges between 9 and 77 mm with May being the driest and November being the wettest month.
There is no gold standard for Machu Picchu travel tips. The best time to visit Machu Picchu will depend on what you want to do, your budget, and of course, the type of weather you prefer.
Here is a month-by-month breakdown of the best time to visit Machu Picchu:
January is the rainiest month. Make sure that you carry rain gear. It’s the best time for digital nomads and long-term travelers who want to enjoy the cheapest prices and almost no crowds.
However, trail closures, train delays, flight cancellations, and landslides are quite common. Make sure that you hire a knowledgeable local guide.
Machu Picchu and Inca Trail tours are both available but try to avoid Choquequirao Trek and Salkantay Trek. If you want to hike Machu Picchu, the Lares Trek is the best tour this month.
Though February has fewer rainy days, it is the wettest month because of heavy rainfall. Landslides, bad weather, and train cancellations are common.
You may be stuck at Aguas Calientes town (Machu Picchu Pueblo) because of landslides or the Urubamba River getting flooded.
Most trails are closed including the Inca Trail, Choquequirao Trek, and Salkantay Trek. However, Lares Trek to hike Machu Picchu is still a great option.
The prices reach rock bottom and there are almost no tourists, making February a great choice for budget travelers.
Weather improves with more sunny days. Daily rain is common but for fewer hours. The second half of the month is a preferred time to travel. Avoiding Salkantay Treks is still recommended because they are in the Amazon area where heavy rainfall continues.
Image Credit: The original uploader was Steve Pastor at English Wikipedia., CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
April is a shoulder month (though the dry season starts) with a slight increase in tourist crowds, but prices are still low. There are few rainy days and the weather is generally great with more sunshine.
Good weather creates ideal conditions for trekking the Inca Trail or embarking on alternative treks.
Machu Picchu is already in its dry season now, but do expect some rain and carry your rain gear. The Inca trail, Machu Picchu, and other trekking tours are quite busy. Clear skies and the sweeping views of the emerald mountains are the top attractions aside from the Machu Picchu citadel.
May is also a shoulder month with low prices and good weather, making it perfect for hikes like the Lares Trek and the Salkantay Trek.
June marks the beginning of the high season, which means that the peak tourist season starts now. Prices will rise and it will be very crowded due to summer vacations in the northern hemisphere.
You must book hiking tours well in advance. All hiking trails will be open now. Ensure that you carry your rain gear because there will be some rain.
June is also the time of many festivals including the Anniversary of Cusco and Winter Solstice, leading to heavy tourist inflow.
You are in the middle of the dry season, which is also winter. Expect early morning and late night temperatures to drop below the freezing point, so carry warm clothes. But days are certainly comfortably warm.
Tourist crowds are everywhere and prices are already high. Expect long lines to get on trains and buses.
Great weather makes August the perfect time to experience Machu Picchu. August falls in the peak tourist season and sees the highest number of visitors. People from the northern hemisphere start flocking for summer vacations!
Prices are very high, making it not so suitable for budget travelers, digital nomads, and long-term travelers.
You need to wait in long queues to get on buses and trains, and there will be overcrowding on the hiking trails. I strongly recommend the Salkantay trek this time of year!
Nathalie Marquis | Unsplash
Rain starts picking up again in September. The dry season comes to an end, but the wet season is yet to arrive. You will experience relatively warmer temperatures in the early morning and late night.
Crowds start thinning and long queues are gone, making September a perfect shoulder month for hiking.
October is a transition month between the rainy and dry seasons, making it a perfect time to experience Machu Picchu.
Expect more rain in October (about 75 mm) before the shoulder season ends and the wet season officially starts in November.
High availability, low crowds, and cheap prices are the highlights of the month, which in my opinion, is the best time to visit Machu Picchu.
The rainy season officially starts in November, which means you will have fewer travelers arriving at the historical Incan city.
However, early November will still have plenty of sunshine, clear blue skies, and pleasant weather conditions, with fewer tourists, and cheaper prices.
Hiking tours will still be available and fewer people means you can enjoy Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail, and other treks with less commotion.
Beatriz Ramos | Unsplash
You will experience heavy rain in December and most visitors have left. There are only a few tourists visiting Machu Picchu, which means lower prices and easy availability.
However, there will be a brief rush period as tourists begin to show up for end-of-year festivities, but things will slow down again in January.
The best time to visit Machu Picchu for hiking is during June, July, and August because they have very little rainfall. The shoulder seasons (April-May and September to November) are also preferred because all trails will be open despite moderate rainfall.
The low season (December to March) will allow hiking but there will be an increased risk of landslides and route closures. If Inca Trail is your target, avoid February because the trail will be closed.
Digital Nomads and long-term travelers are usually budget travelers. So the best time to visit Machu Picchu will be the shoulder seasons (April-May and September to November) or the low season (December to March).
Both the shoulder seasons and the low season have high availability, but the low season offers the best and cheapest deals while the shoulder seasons have slightly higher prices, but are still cheaper than the peak or high season.
The overall best time to visit Machu Picchu depends on several factors like your budget, planned activities, weather preferences, etc.
For example, if you are traveling with kids, you will probably want to avoid the rainy season and visit during the dry season when there is the least rainfall and no risk of landslides and floods.
If you are a solo traveler or you are traveling with friends, shoulder seasons (April-May and September to November) and the low season (December to March) are perfect to avoid crowds and enjoy low prices.
One day is enough to explore Machu Picchu deeply. However, if you want to experience different trekking tours or the entire Machu Picchu region, l recommend a one – two-week stay at Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu town.
The rainy season in Machu Picchu starts in November and ends in March. However, November is considered a shoulder month (in between rain and shine).
However, do remember that you will experience rain throughout the year with April to November having little to moderate rain. June, July, and August are the driest months.
Machu Picchu is accessible throughout the year. However, the Inca Trail for Machu Picchu remains closed in February not only for management and conservation but also because of harsh weather conditions.
The steep mountain that you see directly behind Machu Picchu in every postal picture is Huayna Picchu Mountain. It takes an hour to reach the top and another hour to climb down the same route. You must book in advance and the permit costs $75 per person.
On the opposite side of Huayna Picchu is Machu Picchu Mountain, which is more suitable for people traveling with kids because the trails are wider. Scaling Machu Picchu Mountain requires a permit that must be booked in advance and also costs $75 per person.
Image Credit: Mx._Granger, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Sun Gate or Inti Punku (5 km from Machu Picchu), the Inca Bridge (opposite to Sun Gate), the Machu Picchu Local Museum (20 mins from Aguas Calientes), Mandor Gardens (a one-hike from Aguas Calientes), and Hot Springs (in the upper part of Aguas Calientes) are the major attractions.
There is a Butterfly Station (on the road to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes) which is another attraction.
The perfect time to visit Machu Picchu depends on your personal preferences. Peak or high season (June, July & August) is great if you want plenty of sunlight and don’t mind the crowds. However it is winter at this time of year, so expect sub-zero temperatures in the early morning and late at night.
If you don’t want freezing temperatures and you don’t mind heavy rainfall, the rainy season (November to March) is great. The shoulder seasons (April-May and September to November) are perfect if you want moderate rain, plenty of sunshine, fewer crowds, and of course, cheaper prices.
No matter what’s on your mind, Machu Picchu is a beautiful place to visit. I hope this article on the best time to visit Machu Picchu has helped with your travel plans.
Have an amazing trip. 🙂