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Machu Picchu

Macchu Pichu Historic Sanctuary, | Aguas Calientes, Peru
Machu Picchu Photo info
Bruce Tuten/Flickr
  • Type: Hiking, Sightseeing
  • Time to Spend: Half Day to Full Day
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Overall Rating: 4.5 (4.6)
Value: 4.0 (4.0)
Facilities: 3.5 (3.5)
Atmosphere: 5.0 (5.0)
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It's hard to believe this iconic "lost city of the Incas" was untouched during the Spanish conquest. The Incas cleverly obscured these 12 acres of temples, aqueducts, and gardens from the Spaniards, keeping their sacred city untouched for hundreds of years.

It's difficult to know where to start. First things first: Pick up a booklet and a map as signage at the site is minimal. Then, start your journey at the House of the Terrace Caretaker and Funeral Rock, a 20-minute walk from Machu Picchu's entrance. From there, head to the Temple of the Sun to admire the exquisite Incan masonry and a granite stone that may have served as the Inca's calendar. Continue on to the Temple of Three Windows, where you'll marvel at the views from the building's trapezoidal lookouts. Finally, visit the Temple of the Condor, which, as its name suggests, forms the shape of a condor—the symbol of heaven in the Inca cosmos.

To access Machu Picchu, you'll need to pick up a ticket from the Instituto Nacional de Cultural office in Cusco or Aguas Calientes. Tickets reportedly cost around $42 USD. Visitors are welcome every day between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. with peak crowds between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. From Cusco, you'll need to gear up for the 24-mile trek along the Inca Trail or snag a seat on one of PeruRail's trains. Trains embark from Estación Poroy station (15 minutes from downtown Cusco) to Aguas Calientes, a station sitting at the base of the mountain on which Machu Picchu perches. For more information, consult our guide to Getting Around Cusco.

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