Machu Picchu picture
Michael Lawenko Dela Paz/Getty Images

Key Info

Macchu Pichu Historic Sanctuary

Details

Hiking, Sightseeing Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.6

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

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 intact 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 or take a look at our list of tours and tips for visiting Machu Picchu.

See all Hotels in Cusco »

More Best Things To Do in Cusco

Plaza de Armas1 of 8
La Catedral 2 of 8
Type
Time to Spend
#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 size) was built as a venue for festivals and ceremonies in ancient times.

According to legend, this plaza once marked the exact center of the Inca Empire, earning Cusco the nickname "the navel of the world." After Spanish conquistadors conquered the city in the early 1500s, they erected two churches on the either sides of the square – Iglesia de La Compañía de Jesús and La Catedral – where the former Incan palace once stood.

Read more
mckaysavage/Flickr
See full list of Best Things To Do in Cusco »

Explore More of Cusco

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

14 Top Jigsaw Puzzles, Games and Books to Keep Travelers Entertained

Even though you're stuck at home, you can still indulge your wanderlust with these activities.

15 Top Cookbooks to Buy

Travel to far-flung destinations and enjoy international food without leaving home.

The 12 Best Language-Learning Apps, Programs and Online Courses

Now is the perfect time to learn a new skill.

The 13 Best Sedona Tours

Get lost in the magic of Sedona's red rocks on these top adventures.

What is an Ecolodge? 21 Top Eco Resorts and Eco Hotels Around the World

Luxury meets environmental welfare at these top-notch ecolodges.

The 12 Best Puerto Rico Tours

Experience island living at its best on one of these guided trips.

I Went On a Cruise During the Coronavirus Pandemic. This Is What Happened.

Coronavirus concerns, itinerary changes and uncertainty lead to an unusual vacation.

5 Travel-Themed Activities to Do at Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Use these suggestions to fill the travel void amid the pandemic.

Cancel For Any Reason Travel Insurance: What You Need to Know

If you are rescheduling a vacation or booking a future trip, consider purchasing an insurance policy with the CFAR benefit.

The 21 Best Costa Rica Tours

Dive into this natural paradise on these exceptional excursions.