The spectacular collection of temples, terraced hills and plazas was the mountain-top citadel of the Inca under Pachacutec and Tupac Yupanqui, until the coming of the Europeans with Pizarro.
It may have the most familiar name, but Machu Picchu has refused to reveal many of its mysteries, including the secrets of its construction, function and demise. The overgrown ruins were discovered by US historian Hiram Bingham in 1911, and the quality of the stonework hints that it was an extremely important ceremonial site.
The remains are thought to date from around 1450, built at the height of the Inca Empire, and as they escaped being plundered by the Spanish they include semi-intact icons and shrines that were defaced or removed at other sites.
Entering the site, a set of steps leads to the ruined Temple of the Sun and a series of altars and niches. Highlights include the remains of ceremonial baths, the Sacred Plaza with its tremendous view across the Urubamba River valley, a rare shrine to the sun, and a labyrinth of passageways and cells.
One of the best ways to visit Machu Picchu is on an all-inclusive Day Trip from Cusco, with scenic rail transport, entry and informative guide included.
Buses leave Aguas Calientes every 10 or so minutes from 5:20am, and the last bus back to Aguas Calientes leaves at 5:30pm. Remember to buy your entry ticket to Machu Picchu before you head off - tickets aren’t sold at the site, only at the Machu Picchu Cultural Center in Aguas Calientes.
Machu Picchu can also be reached by the legendary four-day Inca Trail, following a majestic route across mountains and valleys. A scenic alternative to the Inca Trail would be the Salkantay trek.
Tours & Tickets
Hike for four days on the Salkantay Trek, a scenic alternative to the more traditional Inca Trail, and visit the amazing ruins of Machu Picchu – a UNESCO World ... Read more
Duration: 5 days (approx.)
Discover the very best of both Lima and Cusco on a 7-day tour of Peru. Visit the famous landmarks and government buildings of Lima before heading south to ... Read more
Duration: 7 days (approx.)
Retrace the steps of Peru's ancient civilization on an exclusive six-night journey along the Inca Quarry Trail to legendary Machu Picchu. Following an ... Read more
Duration: 7 days (approx.)
Embark on the trip of a lifetime with a 14-night journey from Peru to Bolivia, including Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Travel from the coastal ... Read more
Duration: 15 days (approx.)
Discover the mysteries of Machu Picchu on a seven-night tour through Peru! Retrace the steps of the Inca Empire from Lima to Cuzco, including the Sacred Valley ... Read more
Duration: 8 days (approx.)