Machu Picchu tours

Best tours in Machu Picchu

One of the wonders of the world, the ancient Incan citadel of Machu Picchu is filled with temples, remnants and fortresses of a time long gone – all built at the top of a mountain. This UNESCO-listed cultural heritage site is well worth visiting on any trip to Peru, if not South America. There are a range of Machu Picchu tours to choose from, whether you want to arrive in comfort by a scenic train journey, take a multi-day hike or tread over less-visited ground on horseback. Guided tours will tell you everything you need to know, from its gruelling construction to modern-day safety measures.

  1. Take the train to Machu Picchu with Inca Rail
  2. Take an overnight stay covering the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu
  3. Take the ultimate trek through Salkantay to Machu Picchu
  4. Day trip to Machu Picchu
  5. Horseback ride

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Rough Guides

1. Take the train to Machu Picchu with Inca Rail

The Machu Picchu Train offers panoramic views from its glass windows and ceilings; there’s also an observatory wagon. Travelling by train is a great way to approach the famed Machu Picchu citadel, with scenic views in every direction. On board are interactive maps and audio guides so you can learn as much about Machu Picchu before you arrive at the site. There are four departure points to choose from, and comes with an excellent onboard service of breakfast, snacks and drinks. Note that you’ll still have to buy a ticket to enter and/or tour the site, but it’s one of the most comfortable Machu Picchu tours to take.

Best for: Rail travel

Top tip: There are four services to choose from, depending on your priority and budget.

2. Take an overnight stay covering the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

This overnight tour is a great way to scratch beneath the surface of a two-day trip. It mixes the right amount of guided touring with your own free time. The first full day starts early, leaving from your hotel in Cusco to the Sacred Valley, a quieter area with alluring markets and sacred temples. The afternoon will see you travel onto Ollantaytambo, where traditional life continues, before jumping on the train to Aguas Calientes for the evening. The next day, the tour continues to its final stop, the citadel of Machu Picchu, which you’ll have a two-hour guided tour around the most important sites. After your own free time to explore as you wish, you’ll hop on the bus and train and make your way back to Cusco.

Best for: Introduction to Machu Picchu and around.

Top tip: Only breakfast is provided, so suss out where you’ll stop for lunch and dinner, or bring your own.

3. Take the ultimate trek through Salkantay to Machu Picchu

If you’re an avid outdoor enthusiast, then this Machu Picchu tour is for you. This guided tour gives you the chance to hike through Salkantay, one of the best routes in all of Peru, where an organised tour removes the fiddly parts and doubles the fun. This exhilarating five-day excursion will see you take in the likes of Humantay Lake, Wayracmachay, Llactapata and Aguas Calienetes (hot springs), while you can appreciate the superlative views of mountaintops and thick forests. Staying at designated campsites during the trip, on the fifth and final day you’ll reach Machu Picchu, where you’ll enjoy a three-hour guided tour of the site before having your own free time.

Best for: Avid hikers.

Top tip: Remember to listen to the safety brief before you depart!

4. Day trip to Machu Picchu

Haven’t got much time to spare? Then a full-day trip to Machu Picchu will be an ideal option for you. Granted, it’s a very early start, but there’s a lot worth packing in. Your first stop is to Aguas Calientes, the thermal spa town, before continuing onto Machu Picchu. The guided tour of the ancient citadel lasts just under three hours, where you’ll be shown around sacred and significant monuments and remnants, from the Solar Clock to the Inca Cemetery, and plenty more in between. Afterwards, it’s back to Aguas Calientes for some free time to wind down, before you board the train back to Ollantaytambo and onwards to your hotel in Cusco.

Best for: A day of Machu Picchu highlights.

Top tip: Try to be as flexible as possible with your booking – if the weather’s bad, you can rebook.

5. Horseback ride

If you’re browsing Machu Picchu holiday packages, make sure that you add a horse ride to the itinerary. This unforgettable excursion will see you take in the natural landscape around Cusco, away from the busier city to embrace nature – and ancient Inca sites. The tour covers a trail to the Balcony of the Devil, a looming rock overlooking the river beneath. The park is one of the most photographed parts of Machu Picchu, so be sure to bring a camera with you. You then continue onto the Cusco Moon Temple, an ancient Incan site steeped in mystery and intrigue.

Best for: This horseback half-day tour (four hours) is a brilliant way to discover the rich Incan history without the crowds.

Top tip: Wear long trousers, closed shoes and remove any jewellery before saddling up.

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