Any South American tours usually crown their end in Machu Picchu, “The icing on the cake”. Consequently, it receives more than 3 million visitant every year. For this reason, if you want to enjoy the magic and mysteries of Machu Picchu, avoiding crowds and bad seasons, it will be crucial to choose the right time to visit it. For that, the best time to visit Machu Picchu is from late March to May and from September to mid-December. But, if you want to know more, the Machu Travel Peru team prepared this small article specially for you!
All about the best time to visit the Inca citadel
- The best time to visit Machu Picchu
- Weather in Machu Picchu
- Best hours in the day to visit
- Most crowded dates
- Machu Picchu weather month by month
- Frequently questions
The best time to visit Machu Picchu
The perfect combination between a pleasant climate and a few people is the shoulder season (April, May, September, October, and November). As we mentioned before, from late March to May and from September to mid-December is the best time to visit Machu Picchu. In these months, you will have the possibility of finding clear and blue skies, few people, and perfect photos! All these combined with nice weather, warm days most of the time. However, Machu Picchu is located in a cloudy rainforest eyebrow, that’s means sudden squalls and cloud skies any time now. For this reason, dressing adequately will be the best form to face the Machu Picchu weather.
Weather in Machu Picchu
If we pay attention to a Machu Picchu map, we’ll realize that the Inca citadel is located over 8000 feet (2440 m.a.s.l), northwest of Cusco. A cloudy rainforest surrounds it because is in the jungle eyebrow of Cusco. In other words, Machu Picchu presents weather characteristics similar to a jungle area; warm and humid days, fresh nights, spontaneous cloudiness, and rain at any time of the day and year, With an average annual temperature of around 52 – 80ºF (12 – 27ºC) However, the Inca’s citadel weather can change in any moment of the day, so be prepared with adequate clothes will be important and this is the main objective of this article!
Machu Picchu and Peru are not governed by the well-known world seasons, spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Instead, they present 3 special seasons during the year, the rainy, the middle, and the dry seasons. In this form, while the Peruvian coasts receive cloudy and cold days (rainy season), the Sierra and Jungle present sunny and warm days with clear skies (dry season). Quite the opposite, while the Sierra and Jungle have torrential rains and cloudy days, the coastlands present sunny days, with fresh breezes y clear skies.
Yes, that’s how crazy the weather is in Peru and Machu Picchu.
1. The rainy season – Less crowded time
It coincides with the Summer in the rest of the world, from late November until late March. Machu Picchu is on the frontier of the jungle and Sierra. And it presents rain (most of them in the early mornings and late afternoons), cloudy skies all day with humidity, muddy roads, and warm nights. The months of more rain are February and March, with an average temperature of 47º – 72ºF (7-22ºC). However, you can be sure to find fewer visitors this time. And therefore, more offers of flights and hotels! For this reason, if you want to have a desolate citadel to take a walk by its streets and corridors, under rain and over slippery roads, this season can represent one of the best times to visit Machu Picchu for you!
2. Shoulder season – The best time
It goes through April, May, September, October, and November. You will find occasional light showers but not more than a rainy season because it is a transition period between the dry and rainy seasons. The advantage is fewer visitors than in the peak season and a temperate climate, not so cold or hot but with clearer days and blue skies. In other words, a perfect combination between weather and crowd. If you are a person who lets himself be surprised by nature, you can consider the Shoulder Season as the best time to visit Machu Picchu.
3. Dry Season – The busiest time
It coincides with the peak tourist season, with more visitants than any part of the year. The middle of April, May, June, July, August, and September, and the finals of October are the months of this season. Clear and blue skies, sunny days, and warm temperatures are its characteristics with an average temperature between 32ºF (at night) to 77ºF (at noon) or from 0º – 25ºC. Therefore, you can find less availability of Machu Picchu tickets in this period. For thus remember, as soon as you buy tickets, will be much better. Do you want perfect photos of Machu Picchu without important the crowd that comes out in it? So, this season is for you!
Best hours in the day to visit
Regardless of the season to visit, there are perfect hours in the day to get to Machu Picchu and enjoy all its beauty. Early mornings can be harnessed to capture beautiful sunrises with few people in the citadel, (In the dry and shoulders seasons of course) From 06:00 am to 10:00 am. Besides, Aguas Calientes, a town located on the Machu Picchu mountain slope, is a port of buses that depart every 5 minutes to Machu Picchu, the first one starts at 05:30 am, and the last one returns at 5:30 pm.
Another great moment to visit Machu Picchu is in the afternoon. The majority of people visit the Inca citadel until 2:00 pm, after this hour they begin to go down to Aguas Calientes to take lunch, which means fewer people in the Inca citadel from that hour. Therefore, visiting Machu Picchu from 2:00 pm until the Citadel closes at 5:30 pm is another great recommendation for you!
Most crowded dates
Taking into consideration the dry season, from April to October (the high peak of tourism), there are some days that bring crowds and long lines to the Inca citadel.
- Holy Week: Usually the last week of March or the first days of April. Most of the Peruvian population is Roman Catholic, so they take advantage of Holy Week to visit Machu Picchu.
- Spring break: End of March and beginning of April. Season of vacation for many American students. They take advantage of this to come to Peru, and consequently, to Machu Picchu.
- Summer break: From the first half of May to the beginning of September. Most jobs in America and Europe establish vacations for their workers in the summer.
- Peruvian independence day: July 27, 28, 29, and 30. Really, July 28 is Peru’s independence day. But the government usually decrees holidays two days before and two days after that date. So, you can find a crowd of local visitants in the citadel.
- New Year’s Eve parties: We can include Christmas. From December 24 to January 2 of next year. There are plenty of reasons to visit Machu Picchu on these dates.
A. Don’t visit Machu Picchu on Sundays
During a common week, many trains arrive in Aguas Calientes town at different hours, starting at 06:00 am until 07:00 pm. However, on Sundays, the inflow of visitors increases drastically because of the national visitant. The Peruvian government decreed a law that allows free entrance to Machu Picchu for all Peru people. Please take note of this information if you want to enjoy the experience of Machu Picchu with a crowd of people. Believe us, a Machu Picchu virtual tour, will not make you feel the total experience that any real Machu Picchu tour can do. So, pay attention to the months, the hours of the day, and the day to plan your trip to the Incas citadel and avoid any crowds or any other inconvenience.
Machu Picchu weather month by month
This is the rainiest month of the year, with warm days but cloudy skies and humid winds. Sudden changes in itineraries, flight cancellations, delays of trains from/to Machu Picchu, and trails closure can be some of the characteristics of January. For this reason, if you want to know the answer to What is Machu Picchu? January is a bad month to figure it out. On the other hand, you can find good offers on hotels, flights, and tours for this month. The temperature average is between 45 to 71ºF. Regarding Inca Trail (Camino Inca) and alternative treks (Salkantay, Ausangate, Choquequirao) usually present landslides, mud, and blockages. Therefore, hiking or trekking is not recommendable this month.
Despite having less rain than in January, heavy downpours are expected throughout the day. Cloudy skies with thick clouds, extreme humidity, and a temperature average between 46 to 72ºF make February the worst month to visit Machu Picchu. Generally, the influx of tourists in the Inca citadel reaches its lowest point. Even, the risk of being trapped and isolated in Aguas Calientes (the modern town where the train station is located) is very high, since the town is surrounded by the Vilcanota River. If it increases in flow, it isolates the town, and the rails can be ripped off the ground for the strength of the river. Also, the Inca Trail (The hiking path additional to the train option to get to Machu Picchu) is closed to be refurbished. Definitely, we don’t recommend traveling to Machu Picchu this time, and less hiking trails through landslides and mud.
March presents more sunny days with less rain during the day. Usually, the mornings are cloudy but can clear up as time goes on. The temperature average is between 42 – 71ºF. Also, Machu Picchu and its surrounding areas present their maximum greenness! Regarding Inca Trail, this famous trail is reopened, and thus, many trekkers do the activity since the second fortnight of the month. However, little landslides and mud still can be present on the trails around Machu Picchu and Cusco.
April is the beginning of the shoulder season, with comfortable weather and fewer rainy days. The sun warms without burning. Also, the weather is warmer with fewer people and awesome views of the Incas citadel. Moreover, the advantage of this month is that visitors can begin to see a clear sunrise more frequently and for longer. The temperature average is between 39 -37ºF. Additional information, the Machu Picchu tours begin to sell out this month. The greenery around Machu Picchu begins to increase this month.
This month is known for the great affluent of visitants that begins to come to Machu Picchu, most of them from the United States and Europe. In general, these days are warmer with the sky blue and clear to get a great view of the citadel. The temperature average is between 42 – 86ºF. The advantage of this month is the Sun luminosity in the early hours of the day. In this sense, the Machu Picchu sunrises photos that you’ll get will be unique! On the other hand, trails like Inca Trail, Huayna Picchu Trail, and Machu Picchu Mountains trail will be crowded. In other words, May means a good time of the year to visit Machu Picchi hiking.
June is the beginning of the high season of tourism in Peru. Therefore, the long lines to board the CONSETTUR buses and to enter Machu Picchu are visible. Booking in advance your entrances to the citadel, besides bus and train tickets, will be crucial. Also, while the rest of the world, including the Peruvian coast, feels the Winter, Machu Picchu experiences fresh weather with warm days, occasional light rains, clear skies, and perfect views of mountains. Without mentioning the awesome views of the Milky Way at night. The temperature in June tends to drop and stays between 44 to 83ºF. However, it can drop up to 32ºF before the sunrises and after the sunsets, having the coldest nights of the year. Trails like the Inca Trail, or Salkantay among others, are even more crowded with tourists.
This month is the heart of the high season of tourism in Peru. In general, the temperature of the Peruvian highlands often drops below the freezing point. It is due to where is Machu Picchu located. In July, Machu Picchu presents the weather coldest, with a temperature average of 44º – 82ºF. The temperature at night can drop below freezing and reach 70ºF at noon. An extreme contrast on the same day! Therefore, the visitor has to be prepared with warm clothes and waterproof. The queues to board the CONSETTUR buses and enter Machu Picchu reach their maximum length. Also, the cost of any tourist services increases their value. In other words, you will see a great affluent of tourists in almost all Peruvian attractions this month.
August can be considered a similar month to July. The high affluence of tourists and the cold weather remain. An average temperature of 42 to 78ºF. In the same way, the temperature can also drop to below freezing point. And in the middle of the day, temperatures reach up to 70º F. August also sees long lines and tourists at nearly every attraction in Cusco, aside from Machu Picchu.
In September, the rains are back and these can occur suddenly during the day. However, the fresh weather replaces the cold, and Machu Picchu presents a temperature of around 44 to 73ºF. That means the weather is pleasant, not too cold, not too hot, and it is perfect if you are planning to do the tour of Machu Picchu with the kids. Also, the lines to take the CONSETTUR buses to the citadel and to enter Machu Picchu are shortened. Regarding the paths in surrounding areas like Inca Trail, the Choquequirao Trail among others begin to receive fewer tourists. If you don’t like crowds, visiting Machu Picchu and its surrounding footpaths this time of the year may be ideal for you!
October is the last month of the dry season. Therefore, it is considered a transition month between the dry and rainy seasons. It has fewer showers of rain and more sunny days because it is closer to the summer. The temperature is around 41 – 72ºF, which means cooler and nicer days. Also, October has more availability and fewer visits to the Incas citadel. Therefore, you’ll perceive silence and solitude, as perfect to have a honeymoon in Machu Picchu. Moreover, it is an ideal month to hike the Inca trail or other paths surrounding Cusco.
Technically, November begins the rainy season. But, don’t worry, there are scattered showers throughout the week, which means that there are days without rain. Also, the sun continues prevailing in the month. The weather continues to be pleasant, with temperatures around 45 – 78ºF. The flow of tourists continues to decrease, and you will find fewer crowds in Machu Picchu and on the surrounding trails, such as Huayna Picchu, and Huchuy Picchu among others. Therefore, November is the last month in which a tourist can enjoy perfect weather and fewer crowds in the world’s wonder.
The frequency of rain increases in December. The month presents sunny mornings and rainy afternoons. However, the weather is unpredictable and factors can be interchanged. The temperature is around 44 – 71ºF. But, despite the rains, the flow of visitors increases from the second fortnight of the month for the year-end holidays (Christmas and New Year). However, the Inca Trail and other paths like the Choquequirao trek, Huayna Picchu path, and Huchuy Picchu among others present their lowest level of visitors due to the rains and the risk of landslides and mud along the way.
1. What time does the archaeological park of Machu Picchu open and close?
The Archaeological Park of Machu Picchu is open from 06:00 am until 17:30 pm.
2. Is Machu Picchu closed during the year?
Among the Machu Picchu facts, one of the most important is that it is open all days of the year. Except in exceptional cases such as protests or social mobilizations or natural disasters.
3. When is the busiest time in Machu Picchu?
The Winter in the Peruvian highlands matches the Summer in the Northern Hemisphere (mid-year vacation for Americans, Canadians, and Europeans). Therefore, June, July, and August are the busiest months of the year in Machu Picchu. Despite having clear skies and a radiant sun, you’ll find cold weather and a crowd in the Machu Picchu citadel and surrounding areas.
4. When is it cheaper to travel to Machu Picchu?
Definitely, during the rainy season, from late November until late March, the rains are present, but you’ll get offers on hotels, trains, flights, and tours, to travel during these months.
5. When is the coldest month to travel to Machu Picchu?
In the same way, during June, July, and August, the nights are coldest. At noon, you’ll feel the fresh weather. In this sense, we can consider these months the coldest of the year.
6. When are there holidays in Machu Picchu?
The main festivity in Aguas Calientes town (the Machu Picchu local town) is July 7, when the citadel was declared one of the seven wonders of the world. On this day, you’ll assure to find dances, festivals, and live music on the streets.
“BETTER TO SEE SOMETHING ONCE THAN TO HEAR ABOUT IT A THOUSAND TIMES”
We hope this complete article about the best time to visit Machu Pìcchu has been helpful. Take your time touring the different sacred constructions and enjoy this rich ancestral culture. Machu Travel Peru wishes you an incredible time experiencing the Wonder of the World and the team is ready to help if you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu, Cusco, or the Andean country of Peru.