Best Machu Picchu Tours to Experience Inca History

Machu Picchu, nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an iconic symbol of Inca civilization. For history buffs and adventure seekers alike, visiting this ancient archaeological wonder is a dream come true. To make the most of your Machu Picchu experience, it’s essential to choose the right tour. In this guide, we’ll explore the best Machu Picchu tours to experience this site’s amazing history, as well as essential considerations to keep in mind when booking your adventure.

Important Considerations When Booking a Machu Picchu Tour

Before diving into the best Machu Picchu tours, let’s discuss some crucial factors to consider when planning your trip.

What’s Your Budget?

Determining your budget is the first step in selecting the perfect Machu Picchu tour. The price range for tours can vary significantly, from budget-friendly options to luxurious experiences. Decide how much you’re willing to spend and factor in additional costs like flights, accommodations, and meals.

Any Time Constraints?

Consider how much time you can allocate to your Machu Picchu adventure. Some tours are single-day excursions, while others span several days. Keep in mind that a longer tour might allow for a deeper exploration of the surrounding areas and offer a more immersive experience.

Don’t Forget to Grab Machu Picchu Entrance Ticket!

Before booking a tour, secure your Machu Picchu entrance tickets. These tickets have limited availability, and it’s crucial to plan ahead, especially if you intend to visit during the peak tourist season. You can purchase tickets online through the official government website or opt for a tour package that includes ticket procurement.

5 Best Tour Operators to Experience Machu Picchu’s History

  1. Kantu Peru Tours
  2. Happy Gringo Tours
  3. TreXperience
  4. Machupicchu Latin America Journeys
  5. Runas Trip Peru

Best Single Day Machu Picchu Tours

Tourists on one of the best Mach Picchu Tours

If you’re short on time but still want to experience the magic of Machu Picchu, consider one of these best single-day tours.

Day Trip Tour to Machu Picchu from Cusco

Ideal for those with limited time, this Happy Gringo Tours operated tour starts in Cusco and takes you to Machu Picchu and back in a single day. You’ll have a guided tour of the citadel and ample time for exploration.

Key details: 

  • Operated by: Happy Gringo Tours
  • Average Rating: 4.5 Stars
  • Price: Starts at $399.00
  • Duration: 10-14 hours

Private Tour to Machu Picchu from Cusco with Lunch

With this tour, you can easily get from your hotel in Cusco. The cost of the tour covers the entry fees, lunch, and all your travel to and from Machu Picchu. 

You’ll have a private guide who’ll make the Incan history of Machu Picchu come alive, and after that, you’ll have plenty of free time to roam around on your own. 

Plus, you won’t have to stress about transportation because it’s a smooth round-trip journey from your Cusco hotel via train and car.

Key details: 

  • Operated by: Runas Trip Peru
  • Average Rating: 5 starts
  • Price: Starts at $347.00
  • Duration: 10 hours

1-Day Machu Picchu Tour by Vistadome Train

This one-day adventure is your ticket to experiencing Machu Picchu in style. You’ll hop on at Ollantaytambo and from the comfort of the Vistadome train you’ll be able soak up the 360° views as you roll your way to Aguas Calientes. 

When you reach Machu Picchu, your guided tour of this incredible fortress will commence! You’ll dive deep into the Inca Empire’s history and culture. Plus, you’ll get stunning views of the Peruvian Andes and countryside scenery. Plus, since it’s a small group, you’ll get more personal attention from your guide. 

On top of the incredible experience, you’ll have the convenience of round-trip transfers from your Cusco hotel.

Key details: 

  • Operated by: SAM Travel Peru
  • Average Rating: 5 starts
  • Price: Starts at $485.00
  • Duration: Full day

Best Multi-Day Machu Picchu Tours

Tourists walking around Machu Picchu on one of the best Machu Picchu tours

For a more immersive experience when visiting Machu Picchu, consider one of these multi-day tours.

2 Day Tour: Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu by Train

The Sacred Valley was once the heart of the Inca Empire. On this tour, you’ll get to experience all the history of the Sacred Valley as your guide takes you through visiting Pisac, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo, giving you the lowdown on all the archaeological gems these sites hold.

After that, you’ll crash at Aguas Calientes, the small village at the base of Machu Picchu Mountain. If you book this tour, just make sure to get a good night’s sleep because you’ll be up bright and early to catch the sunrise at Machu Picchu the next day. 

Plus, you won’t go hungry with breakfast and hotel digs included, and you’ll travel in comfort via bus and train.

Key details: 

  • Operated by: SAM Travel Peru
  • Average Rating: 5 stars
  • Price: Starts at $479.00
  • Duration: Two days, one night

Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 2D/1N

The Short Inca Trail tour is for travelers who are short on time but eager to enjoy a full day of hiking on the renowned Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. 

Participants hike with skilled indigenous guides through the lively rainforest, exploring ancient Inca archaeological sites like Wiñay Wayna en route to the Sun Gate entrance of Machu Picchu. 

The journey kicks off at KM104 on the Inca Trail, with nighttime lodging at Aguas Calientes. Day two features a guided tour of Machu Picchu led by an expert guide.

You’ll benefit from the expertise of local indigenous guides, who breathe life into Inca culture, and they have the unique opportunity to walk directly into Machu Picchu’s citadel via the mystical Sun Gate (Intipunku). 

The tour operates in small groups, offering personalized service, with optional hotel upgrades. As a bonus, this 100% local, indigenous company actively contributes to local communities by providing jobs, training, education, healthcare, and reforestation projects.

Key details: 

  • Operated by: Alpaca Expeditions
  • Average Rating: 5 stars
  • Price: Starts at $545.00
  • Duration: Two days, one night

Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu 2-Day Tour

If you’re looking for a hassle-free tour to explore the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, then this fantastic two-day tour is for you. 

You’ll visit the Moray ruins, Ollantaytambo, and Aguas Claientes before embarking on a full-day adventure at Machu Picchu. 

Your guide will be there to give you the lowdown on these famous ruins, providing you with a local perspective and insight. 

This two-day tour covers all the essential sights in the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu with a single booking. Best of all, you won’t have to worry about transportation or accommodation – it’s all taken care of for you.

Key details: 

  • Operated by: SAM Travel Peru
  • Average Rating: 5 stars
  • Price: Starts at $670.00
  • Duration: Two days

Best Private Machu Picchu Tours

Tourists with private tour guide on one of the best Machu Picchu tours

If you prefer a more personalized experience when you visit Machu Picchu, consider a private tour. 

2-Day Private Tour to Machu Picchu from Cusco

Ready to have a laid-back overnight getaway to the famous Inca city of Machu Picchu from Cusco? This Machu Picchu tour lets you score morning access to this iconic archaeological site. 

You’ll ride the train through the stunning river valley to Aguas Calientes, where you can kick back, explore the town, and then get cozy for the night. 

The next morning, you’ll be up early for a sunrise visit to Machu Picchu, complete with a two-hour guided tour and plenty of time to wander this incredible ancient wonder solo. 

This package hooks you up with round-trip train tickets, a bus ride to Machu Picchu, a night’s stay at a three-star hotel, breakfast, and the entrance fee to the site.

Key details: 

  • Operated by: Valencia Travel Agency S.a.c.
  • Average Rating: 5 stars
  • Price: Starts at $480.00

2 Day – All Inclusive – The Sacred Valley And Machu Picchu – Private Tour

This fantastic two-day adventure through Peru’s Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu gives you the opportunity to explore sites key to everyday Inca life on your way to Machu Picchu. 

On the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu tour a private guide will show you around and help you dive deep into Incan life, checking out cool spots like Chinchero, the Moray terraces, and the Maras salt mines.

Day two is all about the legendary Machu Picchu. Your private guide will be your buddy as you explore and you’ve got free time to roam too. You’ll have plenty of time to soak up loads of Inca history and culture, and if you want the primo views, there’s an option to level up to the Vistadome train. 

And don’t sweat the details – they’ve got you covered with a comfy overnight stay and most of your meals. Plus, with a private tour, it’s all about you and your personalized experience.

Key details: 

  • Operated by: Inti Peru Adventures
  • Average Rating: 5 stars
  • Price: Starts at $530.00

Private Full-Day Tour To Machu Picchu with Lunch

On this fantastic Machu Picchu tour, travelers can effortlessly make their way from their Cusco hotel to the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu. Your package covers all the essentials, including entrance fees, a scrumptious lunch, and all necessary tickets.

You’ll stroll through Machu Picchu with your very own private guide, who’s a treasure trove of knowledge when it comes to Incan history. Plus, you’ll have plenty of free time to wander around and soak in the magic at your own pace.

And here’s the kicker: your journey back and forth from your Cusco hotel is a breeze, thanks to hassle-free arrangements involving both trains and cars. So, no stress, just pure Machu Picchu delight.

Key details: 

  • Operated by: Kantu Peru Tours
  • Average Rating: 5 stars
  • Price: Starts at $369.00

Best Machu Picchu Tours From Cusco

Bird's eye view of Cusco, Peru

Cusco serves as the gateway to Machu Picchu, and there are several tour options departing from this historic city. 

2-Day Tour: Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu from Cusco

In just two days, you’ll go from Cusco to Machu Picchu, with your entrance ticket guaranteed as part of the tour package. This adventure is all about making your journey as smooth as possible, ensuring you have a stress-free and memorable experience.

You’ll be in for a comfy ride, complete with a guided tour of Machu Picchu and ample free time for your personal exploration.

The package covers all the bases: entrance fees, transportation, and even a cozy overnight stay in an Aguas Calientes hotel. It’s the perfect choice for Machu Picchu tour rookies and families, and you won’t have to worry about getting to and from your Cusco hotel — it’s all part of the deal.

Key details: 

  • Operated by: Machu Picchu Viajes Peru
  • Average Rating: 5 stars
  • Price: Starts at $598.00

2-Day Private Tour to Machu Picchu from Cusco

This adventure grants early entry to the Machu Picchu archaeological site. You’ll ride a train along a picturesque river valley, making your way to Aguas Calientes, a charming town where you can unwind and meander about before settling in for the night.

The following day, you’ll rise with the sun for an early tour of Machu Picchu. Your itinerary includes a two-hour guided tour and ample time to explore this incredible ancient wonder at your own pace.

Plus, your travel package covers all the essentials: round-trip train tickets, a hassle-free bus transfer to Machu Picchu, a cozy night’s stay in a three-star hotel, a hearty breakfast, and the entrance fee to the site. It’s an ideal introduction and orientation to this UNESCO world heritage site, making it a fantastic choice for a multi-day adventure.

Key details:

  • Operated by: Valencia Travel Agency S.a.c.
  • Average Rating: 5 stars
  • Price: Starts at $480.00

Best Machu Picchu Tours from Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes, Peru

Aguas Calientes is the closest town to Machu Picchu, and it offers a range of tour options.

Machu Picchu Private Guided Tour from Aguas Calientes

For those seeking the ultimate Machu Picchu experience, going on a private tour from Aguas Calientes is the way to go. 

With this option, you’ll get the full attention of a personal guide who can unveil the captivating history of the ancient ruins, terraced hills, and sacred sites. You’ll also have great opportunities to snap postcard-worthy shots from the finest vantage points, get up close with the local llamas, and take in breathtaking views of the Sacred Valley from your lofty perch.

This package even includes convenient round-trip bus transfers from Aguas Calientes. It’s the ideal way to visit Machu Picchu, offering a personalized journey through history.

Key details: 

  • Operated by: VIPAC Travel
  • Average Rating: 5 stars
  • Price: Starts at $169.00

Private Guided Tour to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

This tour allows you to visit Machu Picchu with one-on-one guidance from a dedicated guide. You’ll immerse yourself in the rich history of ancient temples, tiered landscapes, and historic ceremonial sites.

This adventure promises a unique and intimate journey through the heart of Machu Picchu, offering history, incredible photo opportunities, and even a chance to meet the iconic resident llamas.

This private tour also offers convenience, with bus tickets to and from Machu Picchu plus entrance tickets included.

Key details: 

  • Operated by: FLY CUSCO Perú Travel Agency
  • Average Rating: 5 stars
  • Price: Starts at $160.00

Historic Sites You Need to See When Visiting Machu Picchu

Now, let’s dive into the historic sites within and around Machu Picchu that you absolutely must see during your visit.

Sun Gate

People taking in the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu while on a Machu Picchu tour

The Sun Gate, known as “Inti Punku” in Quechua, is a significant and symbolic entrance point to Machu Picchu, citadel of the Incan Empire. Situated at an elevation of 9,005 feet (2,745 meters) above sea level, the Sun Gate offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu complex and its surrounding majestic peaks.

Hikers on the Inca Trail typically arrive at the Sun Gate as their final destination after a challenging multi-day trek. The moment you pass through the stone archway of the Sun Gate is truly magical – it reveals Machu Picchu in all its grandeur, shrouded in mist during the early morning hours or bathed in golden sunlight later in the day. This viewpoint provides a sense of accomplishment and a deep connection to the history and culture of the Incas.

The Sun Gate is also believed to have held astronomical and ceremonial significance in Incan mythology, aligning with the sun’s path during the solstices. Today, it remains a must-visit spot for travelers who seek to experience the mystique and beauty of Machu Picchu from a unique perspective. Whether you arrive at sunrise or at any other time of day, the Sun Gate is an integral part of any Machu Picchu tour, offering an unforgettable encounter with Machu Picchu.

Huayna Picchu

Inca ruins at the top of Huayna Picchu Mountain

Huayna Picchu, often referred to as the “Young Peak” in Quechua, is the iconic mountain that looms in the background of most photographs of Machu Picchu. This dramatic peak stands at an elevation of 8,835 feet (2,693 meters) above sea level and provides one of the most sought-after experiences for visitors to Machu Picchu.

While exploring Machu Picchu, adventurous travelers have the option to hike Huayna Picchu Mountain for a more elevated perspective of the ancient citadel. The climb is a challenging endeavor, involving steep stone staircases and narrow paths that wind through the lush vegetation that blankets the mountain.

The reward for this effort is an awe-inspiring view of Machu Picchu from above, as well as a glimpse of the surrounding landscapes, including the Urubamba River below and the surrounding peaks of the Andes.

Huayna Picchu also features its own archaeological ruins, such as the Temple of the Moon, adding to the historical and cultural significance of the ascent.

It’s important to note that access to Huayna Picchu is limited, and permits are required, so it’s advisable to secure tickets well in advance. The climb is not for the faint of heart, but for those seeking an extra layer of adventure and a chance to connect with the magnificence of Machu Picchu in a unique way, Huayna Picchu is a must-visit destination.

Inca Trail

Woman taking in the view from the Inca Trail on one of the best Machu Picchu tours

The legendary Inca Trail is one of the most renowned and sought-after ways to experience Machu Picchu. This iconic trek is not just a journey; it’s an adventure through time, offering a profound connection to the ancient Incan civilization and the breathtaking Andean landscapes.

Stretching approximately 55 miles (88 kilometers), the Classic Inca Trail typically takes four days to complete. Along the way, trekkers are immersed in a captivating world of archaeological sites, lush cloud forests, and panoramic mountain vistas. Highlights include the mesmerizing ruins of Winay Wayna, the high-altitude pass of Warmiwañusca (Dead Woman’s Pass), and the Sun Gate (Inti Punku), where hikers are rewarded with their first breathtaking view of Machu Picchu.

To preserve the trail and maintain its sustainability, permits are limited and need to be secured well in advance. While it’s a challenging adventure, the Inca Trail is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those seeking to explore the mysteries and wonders of Machu Picchu in a truly immersive and authentic way.

Inca Bridge

View of the Inca Bridge.

The Inca Bridge, an enigmatic and lesser-known feature of Machu Picchu, is a testament to the remarkable engineering and architectural skills of the ancient Incan civilization. This intriguing site is located on the western side of the Machu Picchu citadel, overlooking a deep abyss and offering a unique glimpse into the practical and defensive strategies employed by the Incas.

The Inca Bridge is, in essence, a narrow, sturdy stone pathway built into a cliff face, suspended over a chasm. It served as a secret entrance and escape route, used by the Incas to protect the city from potential intruders or as an evacuation route during times of danger.

As you approach the bridge along a scenic path from the main Machu Picchu complex, you’ll be struck by the audacity of its construction. The bridge itself is not accessible, as it is barred to visitors to preserve its historical integrity and ensure safety. However, it offers a unique photo opportunity and a chance to reflect on the incredible ingenuity of the Incan people.

The Inca Bridge may not be the central attraction at Machu Picchu, but it’s a fascinating and integral part of the site’s history and a testament to the advanced engineering skills of this ancient civilization. When exploring the Machu Picchu ruins, take a short detour to observe the Inca Bridge to gain valuable insights into the multifaceted and awe-inspiring world of the Inca Empire.

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