Q. Visiting Machu Picchu is number one on my bucket list. So can you tell me the best time of year to go, where to stay and how many days I should budget for at this amazing site?
A. Peru (the country in which Machu Picchu is located) has two main seasons – the wet season and the dry season. The dry season is the best time of year to visit, and runs between May and September. I would suggest avoiding a visit during July and August, as this is the peak of the tourist season, with up to 2500 people visiting Machu Picchu every day. To avoid the crowds, consider visiting in May or June, or even early October if you don’t mind slightly cooler weather.
Due to government limitations on the number of visitors to Machu Picchu, it is now essential that you purchase your ticket in advance. We suggest booking at least two weeks beforehand to avoid disappointment.
You cannot stay in Machu Picchu itself, as security guards sweep the area at night to ensure there are no overnight visitors. There are, however, a number of accommodation options within a few kilometres of the historic site. The B&B Margarita’s House is a great low-budget option, or if you want to spend a little more on comfort the Hotel La Cabana MachuPicchu, Aguas Calientes is still affordable, but offers a friendly atmosphere and nicer rooms.
Machu Picchu itself can be a daytrip, or, for maximum enjoyment two days, to allow a visit at sunrise or sunset. However, it would be sad to visit the region and not see some of the surrounding area. Most people who visit Machu Picchu travel from nearby Cusco and also visit the Sacred Valley, which are both very beautiful in their own right. You could do all three sites in a minimum of six days, but why not give yourself at least ten to really relax and enjoy an unforgettable Peruvian experience.