Machu Picchu is one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world and on bucket lists around the world (for good reason!). Nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, the ancient Inca citadel offers a glimpse into the Inca empire’s incredible achievements. By walking these hallowed grounds, you can connect with people who lived centuries ago and uncover some long lost secrets of the Inca civilization. But when is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various factors that can influence your decision, including weather conditions, crowds, and the best way to get to Machu Picchu (hiking vs. riding).
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
First Off, Is Machu Picchu Open to Visitors?
Short answer: Yes.
Unfortunately, Peru has experienced recent political turmoil. While these issues have not been fully resolved, the government reopened Machu Picchu to visitors in February 2023. So, if you’re looking to buy Machu Picchu tickets, you can.
Just be sure to check the latest information from the Peruvian government or the official Machu Picchu website to confirm that the site is open during your planned visit.
The Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu
You’re sold on booking a Machu Picchu tour and seeing this incredible world heritage site. The next question you may ask yourself is: what’s the best time to visit Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is open year-round, making it accessible to visitors regardless of the season. However, the weather and crowd levels vary significantly throughout the year.
Determining the best time to visit Machu Picchu largely depends on your travel preferences and priorities. Each season offers a unique experience, so let’s explore your options and what to expect.
Visiting Machu Picchu During the Dry Season
May to October is considered the dry season in the region. This period offers sunny days, minimal rainfall, and comfortable temperatures, making it a great time to visit.
Unfortunately, this also means the dry season is the most popular time to visit Machu Picchu. If you decide to visit Machu Picchu during this time of the year, you can expect large crowds of fellow tourists.
But if you enjoy meeting fellow travelers from all over the world, this can be a huge plus!
The dry season’s incredible weather also makes it ideal for trekking the famous Inca Trail.
Visiting Machu Picchu During the Rainy Season
November to April is the rainy season in Machu Picchu.
While this period sees more rainfall, it also means that the lush landscapes surrounding the site are at their most vibrant.
Plus, this also means less people. Since most of us don’t like to get rained on during our vacations (especially the pricey ones), most people who visit Machu Picchu decide to avoid the rainy season. But if you’re cool with rocking some rain gear or getting your feet a little wet, this could be a great time for you to book!
The rain showers also allow you to experience the area’s stunning greenery, as the surrounding Peruvian wilderness is in full boom!
So don’t let the rain scare you – visiting during the rainy season can be a rewarding choice.
Visiting Machu Picchu During the Shoulder Season
The transition periods between the dry and wet seasons are called “shoulder seasons.” In Machu Picchu, these occur twice a year: late April-May and late September-October.
During these times, you can enjoy a compromise between the dry and rainy seasons. The weather is generally milder, and crowds are smaller compared to the peak months of June to August.
In my opinion (and many other seasoned travelers) this is the best time to visit Machu Picchu!
The weather won’t be as consistently “nice” as the dry season, but the shoulder seasons still offer great weather conditions and fewer rainy days than the wet season. And, since there’s lower demand, you can usually book your accommodations at a cheaper rate. Talk about a win-win!
Typical Machu Picchu Weather Conditions (Month-to-Month Breakdown)
No matter what season you decide to visit Machu Picchu, these are pretty broad ranges and the level of rain can vary considerably within them.
Fortunately, at Machu PIcchu, temperatures are consistently in the high 50s Fahrenheit to low 60s Fahrenheit during the day, all year round. But, if you decide to hike the Inca Trail during Peru’s winter months, you might be in for some cold nights.
To help you plan your visit more effectively, let’s dive into the typical weather conditions you can expect at Machu Picchu during each month of the year.
January sits smack dab in the middle of the rainy season in Machu Picchu. So you can expect quite a bit of rainfall. On average, Machu Picchu gets 11 inches (279.4 mm) of rain in January.
Daytime temperatures usually sit in the 60s Farenheit, but can reach highs of 68°F (20°C). With the rain, this can be a little chilly, but not too bad! Especially since you’ll be on top of a mountain.
Due to the rain, January sees moderate crowds, making it a good option for those who prefer a quieter experience.
Just remember to bring appropriate rain gear.
In February, the rainy season continues, and you can expect similar weather conditions to January.
February also averages 11 in. of rain per month. But you can also expect 20+ days of rainfall.
Temperatures at Machu Picchu in February hover around 60°F during the day and dip to just below 50°F at night.
Due to the ongoing rainfall, February remains a less crowded month, providing you with the opportunity to explore Machu Picchu with more solitude and tranquility (and a poncho).
March still falls within the rainy season, but as the month progresses, the rain begins to taper off. A typical March in Machu Picchu sees 10 in. of rainfall and around 15 rainy days per month.
The temperature in March is comparable to January and February (around 60°F during the day).
If you visit in March, you’ll experience the stunning transition from lush green landscapes to clearer skies.
March can be an excellent time to visit for those who want to avoid larger crowds but still enjoy relatively comfortable weather.
April marks the beginning of a shoulder season.
While you might encounter some rainfall early in the month, the weather becomes more favorable as April progresses.
Machu Picchu’s average rainfall in April is 6.6 in. That’s 40% less than February!
The temperature is also quite nice this time of year, with an average of 61°F during the day.
Late April is a great time to witness the landscape’s transformation as it transitions from rainy season greenery to drier conditions.
May is when the dry season officially begins. In May, average rainfall dips to just 3.4 in.
This makes May one of the best months to visit Machu Picchu due to the combination of pleasant weather and smaller crowds compared to the peak tourist season of June to August.
You can expect clear skies, warm days, and cool nights. Average temperatures at Machu Picchu in May are 60°F during the day and 42°F at night.
This is an excellent time for exploring Machu Picchu and even trekking the Inca Trail without the intense heat of the later dry season months.
June is one of the most popular months to visit Machu Picchu.
The dry season is in full swing, with sunny days, clear blue skies, and minimal rainfall.
However, popularity comes at a cost, as June is one of the busiest months at Machu Picchu and sees larger crowds and higher prices.
It’s essential to book accommodations, entry tickets, and any Machu Picchu tours you want to take part in well in advance if you plan to visit during this peak season.
July continues the dry season, offering similar weather conditions to June.
With school vacations in many countries, it’s one of the busiest months at Machu Picchu.
If you don’t mind the crowds and want to experience the site in the best possible weather, July might be the month for you.
It’s important to note, though, that since Peru is in the southern hemisphere, July is in the middle of Peruvian winter.
Average daytime temperatures at Machu Picchu in July are 59°F, while it gets down to 40°F at night.
So if, like me, you’re prone to getting chilly, pack a light jacket.
August is another prime month for visiting Machu Picchu.
The dry weather persists, making it an excellent time for outdoor activities and exploration.
However, like July, you should expect significant crowds and higher costs during this peak tourist season.
The average temperature is similar to July, with a high of 59°F and low of 39°F.
September is the beginning of the transition from the dry season to the rainy season.
While the weather remains pleasant, there is a slight increase in rainfall compared to the previous months. On average, Machu Picchu received 4.2 in. of rain in September.
The temperatures also remain quite nice, averaging highs of 60°F and lows of 41°F.
Crowds also start to thin out after the peak summer season, making it a good choice for those seeking a balance between weather and crowd levels.
October falls firmly within the shoulder season, and it’s an excellent time to visit if you prefer fewer crowds but still want favorable weather.
Machu Picchu averages 6.5 in. of rain in October. While this is slightly more than in September, it’s considerably better than the wet season!
While there might be occasional rain showers, the overall climate is pleasant, with an average temperature of 61°F during the day and 44°F at night.
Plus, that little bit of extra rain means the landscapes surrounding the great Inca citadel are lush.
November marks the start of the rainy season, with increased rainfall compared to October.
On average, you can expect about 8 inches of rain in November with a nice daytime temperature of 61°F.
Despite the rain, it’s a quieter time to visit Machu Picchu, and you can experience the site without the crowds that flock during the dry season. Be prepared for wet conditions, though, and plan accordingly.
December is when the rainy season really starts to kick into gear. You can expect Machu Picchu to receive around 10 in. of rain each December.
Despite the increase in rainfall, temperatures at Machu Picchu stay around 61°F during the day and 46°F at night.
Final Thoughts on the Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu
The best time to visit Machu Picchu depends on your preferences for weather, crowds, and overall experience.
Whether you choose to visit during the dry season for clear skies and trekking adventures or during the rainy season for lush landscapes, the desire to experience Machu Picchu remains alluring throughout the year.
Plan your trip accordingly, and you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable journey to the wondrous Inca citadel.