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Machu Picchu picture in Cusco
Michael Lawenko Dela Paz / Getty Images

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Details

  • Hiking, Sightseeing Type
  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.6
Overall
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  • Value
    4.0
  • Facilities
    3.5
  • Atmosphere
    5.0

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

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.

You'll need to buy your ticket in advance, many recommend doing so months ahead of time, as there is a limit of 2,500 people per day allowed at the site. You can obtain a ticket from the Instituto Nacional de Cultura website or the office in Cusco (this is where student and tickets for minors are available). If you’re going with a group, check if your tour operator includes the price of admission in your fee.

There are two ways to reach the great lost city: either by hiking the Inca Trail or snagging a seat on one of the tourist trains. Trains embark from Estación Poroy station (about 8 miles west of 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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#1 Plaza de Armas The history of the Plaza de Armas stretches back all the way to the Inca Empire when it was called Huacaypata or Aucaypata. The massive square (originally twice its current ... Read more » mckaysavage / Flickr

#2 Machu Picchu 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 ... Read more » Michael Lawenko Dela Paz / Getty Images

#3 La Catedral Amid the many splendors found in the Plaza de Armas, the sky-high La Catedral is one of Cusco's finest architectural displays. Constructed in the 1550s with stones stolen ... Read more » Claude LeTein / Getty Images

#4 Sacsayhuaman Sacsayhuamán is often overshadowed by Machu Picchu, but this towering ancient Incan fortress – filled with exquisite stone masonry and dramatic vistas – is worth a visit. Much of the massive ... Read more » Kelly Cheng Travel Photography / Getty Images

#5 Qorikancha For a glimpse of the Inca's former grandeur, look no further than Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun), also known as "Court of Gold." In its heyday, Inca's ... Read more » DC_Colombia / Getty Images

#6 Planetarium Cusco Located next to Sacsayhuamán, the Cusco Planetarium offers travelers a unique experience in the hills surrounding the city. While it may not be much to look at (the small ... Read more » roman makhmutov / Getty Images

#7 Museo de Arte Precolombino While Qorikancha and Machu Picchu draw more visitors, the Museo de Arte Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Art Museum) possesses a world-class Peruvian collection that cannot be matched. This 12-room exhibition ... Read more » Museo Larco Lima – Perú

#8 Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Winding through Peru's verdant landscape toward Machu Picchu, this famous four-day hike is not for the faint of heart. That said, recent travelers say the laborious trek pays off ... Read more » R. Tyler Gross / Getty Images

#9 Museo Inka Located in a beautiful 16th-century colonial mansion that was once home to Spanish Admiral Francisco Alderete Maldonado, the Museo Inka (Inca Museum) boasts an eclectic assortment of Incan artifacts. Read more » Kelly Cheng Travel Photography / Getty Images

Plaza de Armas picture in Cusco
Machu Picchu picture in Cusco
La Catedral picture in Cusco
Sacsayhuamán picture in Cusco
Qoricancha picture in Cusco
Planetarium picture in Cusco
Museo de Arte Precolombino picture in Cusco
Inca Trail picture in Cusco
Inca Museum picture in Cusco
Plaza de Armas picture in Cusco
Machu Picchu picture in Cusco
La Catedral picture in Cusco
Sacsayhuamán picture in Cusco
Qoricancha picture in Cusco
Planetarium picture in Cusco
Museo de Arte Precolombino picture in Cusco
Inca Trail picture in Cusco
Inca Museum picture in Cusco

Eye-catching dancers in traditional Peruvian costumes fill the Plaza de Armas during colorful annual Andean fiestas. mckaysavage / Flickr

Michael Lawenko Dela Paz / Getty Images

This opulent cathedral showcases the clash of Andean and Spanish architecture. Claude LeTein / Getty Images

Sacsayhuamán was once a massive Incan fortress, before much of the structure was used as building materials for the Spanish conquistadors.  Kelly Cheng Travel Photography / Getty Images

Translated as Temple of the Sun, the walls of Qoricancha were once plated with gold.  DC_Colombia / Getty Images

roman makhmutov / Getty Images

The Museo de Arte Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Art Museum) features artifacts that date between 1250 B.C. and 1532 A.D.  Museo Larco Lima – Perú

The three-night, four-day hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is moderately difficult, but well worth it to many travelers.  R. Tyler Gross / Getty Images

Kelly Cheng Travel Photography / Getty Images

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