Best Things To Do In Machu Picchu, Peru

No trip to Peru would be complete without a visit to the ‘lost city’ of Machu Picchu, and there are quite a few wonderful hikes and other things to do in Machu Picchu if you have the time.

This 15th century citadel of the Inca Empire is as fascinating as it is photogenic, and it’s still hard to believe people once lived in such an amazing place.

After snapping some photos at the iconic viewpoint, it’s well worth your time to tour the ancient ruins, meet the friendly llamas, and hike some of the spectacular mountain trails surrounding the Machu Picchu citadel.

Without further ado, here’s our list of the top 10 best things to do in Machu Picchu Peru!

1. See the iconic viewpoint

Top 10 Best Things To Do In Machu Picchu Peru

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When you arrive at the entrance to Machu Picchu, the first order of business is to see the iconic viewpoint at the Guardian’s House!

This is the first and best view anywhere in the Machu Picchu complex, and it’s where all of the amazing postcard photos are taken. From the edge of the terrace, you have a perfect panoramic view of the Machu Picchu ruins and the mountains in the background.

It’s almost impossible to take a bad picture of Machu Picchu here. If there happens to be fog or rain when you arrive, just wait awhile, because this is common early in the day and it usually clears up later in the morning.

Naturally this spot gets very crowded with tourists throughout the day, but there’s a lot of standing room on the terrace, so you usually won’t have to wait for photos. By afternoon, most of the tourist herds have thinned out.

2. Explore the ruins

Top 10 Best Things To Do In Machu Picchu Peru

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After you’ve seen the Machu Picchu ruins from above at the famous viewpoint, it’s time to start exploring them up close!

One of the first sights you’ll pass is the main gate of the city, which happens to be another popular photo spot since it beautifully frames the peak of Huayna Picchu mountain in the distance.

This was apparently an intentional design feature by the Incas.

There are many interesting things to see in the Machu Picchu ruins, and if you really want to understand them it’s highly recommended to hire a guide to show you through the ruins and explain everything for you as you go.
You can easily hire a guide at the main entrance of Machu Picchu if you’d like, and the prices seem reasonable.

3. Meet the llamas

Baby Llama Llamas

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Almost two dozen llamas currently live at Machu Picchu and walk the citadel grounds freely during the daytime, chomping on grass as they go.

These animals are furry, friendly, and will usually let you take pictures of them. Sometimes you’ll see little baby llamas hanging out with their parents too.

If you’re lucky, one of the llamas might even photobomb your pictures of Machu Picchu by posing in the foreground, giving you a truly epic photo opportunity!

Llamas were domesticated by the Native American people for thousands of years. Their poop made good fertilizer, and the wool was used for clothing.

4. Hike Huayna Picchu

Huayna Picchu Hike Machu Picchu Stairs Of Death Peru Wayna Picchu Mountain

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The Huayna Picchu hike is a bucket list adventure that takes you to the top of Wayna Picchu (the iconic mountain behind Machu Picchu), and at the summit you get to see original Inca buildings and epic panoramic views.

Don’t be too scared by the nickname — even though these have been dubbed the Machu Picchu Stairs of Death (for their steepness and narrowness), there have been very few accidents over the years, and overall it’s quite safe as long as you don’t goof off.

In spite of its difficulty, this trail is in high demand and it’s limited to only 400 hikers per day, so you often have to book several months in advance to get a spot.

If you only do one hike in Peru, it should be this one. The Huayna Picchu hike is undoubtedly one of the top 10 best things to do in Machu Picchu!

5. Hike Machu Picchu Mountain

The Differences Between Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu | Travel  Information

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If you want a challenge, try climbing ‘Machu Picchu Mountain.’ This is the highest peak in the area, and it’s the toughest to climb. The summit elevation is 3,082 meters (10,111 feet).

The hike takes about 3 hours total, and there’s quite a bit of elevation gain (around 550 meters or 1,800 feet), so it’s a tough uphill slog all the way. It’s challenging, but not dangerous.

This mountain is not as sought after as Huayna Picchu, but it’s a great hike nonetheless, with stunning views of the whole Machu Picchu area from high above.

6. Hike Huchuy Picchu

Huchuy Picchu Hike Mountain Climb

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The Huchuy Picchu mountain trek is a nice option for people wanting a short, easy hike in Peru that gives you great views of Machu Picchu from above.

It’s a new trail that was just opened in 2021, and it takes you along a 15th century Inca stone staircase to the top of a peak called Huchuy Picchu (which means ‘little mountain’ in the Quechua language).

This hike may not be as esteemed as the one at Huayna Picchu mountain, but it’s quite a bit easier, and the views from this mountain summit are similarly wonderful.

Entrance tickets are required for this hike, so you’ll need to grab these in advance by reserving them online.

7. See the Sun Gate

Sun Gate Machu Picchu

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Also known as Inti Punku, this is a moderate hike to a scenic viewpoint at an Incan gate, which originally served as the main entrance to Machu Picchu. Because of its location on the ridge, it’s also believed that the rising sun would pass through this gate at certain times of the year.

Hiking to this sun gate from the Machu Picchu citadel takes about 2 hours round trip, and there’s a decent elevation gain of 290 meters (950 feet). However, the trail is quite a bit easier than Machu Picchu Mountain, and overall it’s one of the more tame hikes in the area.

At the top is a nice viewpoint where you can see Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains and valleys. The view here is similar to what you see at the summit of Machu Picchu Mountain, although it’s not quite as high, at 2,720 meters (8,924 feet).

For hikers arriving from the Inca Trail, this gate is one of the last stops on the trail, and it’s the first place where you can see the citadel of Machu Picchu.

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