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The best time to visit Machu Picchu in South America is always up for debate. There are many, many factors that come into play when it comes to deciding when you should travel to Machu Picchu. Whether it is crowd level, cost, rain, or shine; each month has its own intricacies in considerations for a visit to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. To break this down, we pulled data from all over the web and broke it down right here so you have to look no further for the perfect times to visit Machu Picchu.
Ranked in order from worst to best month:
For starters, let’s talk about the one month you don’t want to go to Machu Picchu. The award for the crummiest month goes to none other than February! February has 28 (29 on a leap year) days in it and of those 28, on average 20 of them are spent with rain. For all those mathematicians out there, you’re correct, you have only 8 days of no rain which leaves you with a 28% chance it won’t rain on the glorious day you arrive at Machu Picchu. Jim Hopper has better odds making you melt with his dance moves.
It will more likely than not be raining in February. But that’s not the only reason to steer clear of Machu Picchu in February. It’s also the same month that the government shuts down the Inca Trail for trail maintenance. This doesn’t mean it’s the end-all for you and you can’t go to Machu Picchu but you can surely rule out the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. You’d be left doing an alternative hike like Salkantay Trek or Lares Trek. These two aren’t bad options — in fact, many say that the Salkantay Trek is more beautiful than the Inca Trail trek — but if your heart is set on the Classic Inca Trail, you’ll have to pass on it in February.
The only plus side of visiting Machu Picchu in February is that generally, it will have one of the lowest crowd sizes. During the month of February, there are only approximately 70,000 people who visit Machu Picchu. For those of you who are not math wizards, that’s only about 2,500 people per day. The low crowd turnout is a result of the famous Inca Trail being closed. 500 people per day are allowed on the trail per day. As a result, this significantly reduces the number of people visiting Machu Picchu for the month by 14,000 visitors.
Aquarius & Pisces, I’m sorry guys, your birth month just sorta sucks when it comes to visiting Machu Picchu. But that’s ok because now we’re on to the better months and a step up from the worst.
January & March
These two sad months also get hit with a bit of rain. It will rain on average 15 days in January and 13 days in March. Now, even though it’s not as many days as for February, the average rainfall is a bit higher with January coming in at 5.4″ and March being the wettest month at 5.9″. So, even though it doesn’t rain as many days, it does rain longer which can resort to things like landslides and floods. This can make the hiking trails, such as Inca Trail and Salkantay Trek very muddy. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time at Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu this time of year, you just had better bring a rain jacket and some rain boots because chances are, it will rain. On the plus side, this time of year has a lot fewer crowds and some hotels might be slightly cheaper due to the attendance being low also known as the low season.
January and March also have low-crowd attendance at Machu Picchu coming in at 87,000 people equally for each month. This is roughly right in line with the same per day crowd size of 2,800 people per day. The slight uptick in people compared to the other rainy season crowds is likely a result of those post-Christmas season travelers.
Protip: You do need a passport & a guide to enter Machu Picchu.
October – December
These next 3 months are where we ramp up to the rainy season and have a higher than normal chance of some rainfall. However, you take the good with the bad as December 31st in Cusco is absolute insanity on New Year’s Eve and it’s amazing! If you’re on the fence about being in Cusco for NYE, just tell your brain to shut up and do it. I can’t begin to explain how crazy it is — the square is jam-packed with people, fireworks exploding all over the place, everyone who is single and ready to mingle is rocking yellow (yellow represents luck and that if you wear it on NYE it shows you wanna get lucky).
Keep in mind, October is the start of the rainy season, averaging 3 inches of rain per month. In addition, October is the third busiest month when it comes to Machu Picchu. In October, 133,000 people travel to Machu Picchu. So this may be a month to avoid, however, the nightly temperatures are fairly moderate at an average low of 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
This one fits into its own category because it’s a gray area. I personally loved April and didn’t experience much rain at all, maybe two days, but to me, it was all part of the adventure. Rain only gets to me if it’s raining the entire trip. That said it will rain on average 9 days out of the month in April as this is the month that enters us into the dry season. We jumped down from that 5″ of rain to 2.4″ all the while maintaining an average high of 77°F and an average low of 54°F. It does get cold and it does get hot. This is where you better dress like an onion, many peelable layers that you can put on or take off. In addition, because April is in that gray zone, it is a good opportunity to have decent weather with good scenery. As it still has rainy days it can make the scenery that much more beautiful with all the green landscapes and the blooming orchids taking place. What’s great about April is that you still get 12 hours of daylight during this time, whereas that drops an up to an hour as we progress into June and July. Plus, if you’re looking for a sick tan, the average UV index is sitting at 12. Rock that sunblock if you wanna keep skin cancer and wrinkles at bay. April also falls on the lower end of crowds. April is the fourth-lowest crowd level at 105,000 people for the month.
May – September
Visiting Machu Picchu in May through September is by far the best window. The average lows can dip to 48°F at night, but the days are spent in the ’70s. There is very little to no rain so the trails and stairs within Machu Picchu are great for adventure. However, the crowds can get very heavy during this time. The busiest time is the month of August, coming in at a mind-blowing 150,000 people visiting in the month. That is 4,800 people per day! 2,300 people per day more than February. Luckily if you’re an early riser you can most likely beat the number of people who arrive for the mid-morning rush by getting up early and hiking up or getting on the first bus to the mountain. The good news is, our guides are pretty good at being your personal alarm clock and have no shame in knocking on your door at 4 AM if that’s what it takes to get you that killer sunrise photo of Machu Picchu. Food and hotels tend to be approximately 17% more expensive in these months.
“The best time to travel to Machu Picchu is June!”
There are plenty of excellent months to visit Machu Picchu. Any month that you choose to travel to Machu Picchu you are going to have an amazing experience. Now, if you are the type of person that is looking for the cheapest month, but absolutely do not care about the weather, February is going to be your month. If you are looking for the absolute lowest crowds, so you can snap that solo pic without the worry of people crowding into your picture, you will want to take your trip in March. Finally, if you are most concerned about the weather, and want to make sure you experience a Machu Picchu sunrise, you will want to take your trip in June. June is the month that it is least likely to rain and will experience abundant sunshine.
For our runner-up in regards to second-best month to travel to Machu Picchu, you’re going to want to travel in April. This month tends to be in the middle to the lower end of rain at only nine days and is on the low end in regards to the crowd factor. Finally, April is in the shoulder season. As a result, hotel and restaurant pricing is going to be on the lower end.
However, from an overall perspective, here is where I think we reach the pinnacle of travel to Machu Picchu! June! This is hands down the best overall month to visit Machu Picchu. When it comes to the weather, there is on average 2 days of rain in June. In addition, it only gets on average, 0.7 inches of rain for the month. Talk about abundant sunshine! The crowd level in June is very moderate as well. It falls right at the median in the 6th busiest month; 111,000 people per month or 3,700 people per day. Not too shabby for getting that solo pic. If I were to return to Machu Picchu, June is the month I am taking my trip.
Hopefully, this layout helps you when deciding when to go to Machu Picchu. The good news is, if you have any questions, we’re super responsive so you can shoot us an email and we’ll get back to you really quick with some insight. We also can set up a time for a voice call to answer any questions you might have just because we care.
Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu FAQs
When is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?
The best time to visit for a tour of Machu Picchu varies depending on a few different factors: crowds, prices, and weather are the big three. We believe the best months to visit Machu Picchu is May through September. Despite the higher crowds, this gives the best overall time to enjoy abundant sunshine for your visit.
Hey guys, planning our honeymoon trip to Peru for 2020. Do you think May or mid September would be better for us? We want to spend a few days in Puerto Maldonado too. We’d like to avoid the crowds but still have good weather.
Both are excellent times to go for both Cusco and Puerto Maldonado. The difference will be that in May in Cusco there will be a slightly less chance of rain with a slightly warmer temperature compared to September. However, in Puerto Maldonado, the opposite holds true. In May there is a slightly higher chance of rain, with roughly the same temperature as September.
Now for crowd level. Looking specifically at Machu Picchu, in May on average there are about 500 people less per month than in September.
So if it was me, I’d probably go in May because the weather is going to be roughly equal between the two. But I’m with you, I like lesser crowds. Hope this helps.
Congratulations! I loved the post, one of the best about travels. All the recommendations are sensational… Thanks for the article, sucess!
Thanks so much, Norka! We really appreciate it.
I have a group of friends visiting Machu Picchu around Jan 20th and they invited us to join. I’m trying to decide if it makes sense for us to join (would like to) or do a separate trip later in the year.
I love the idea of lower crowds in January, but really want to hike the trail and have visibility of the ruins (no clouds covering them). I understand it rains about half the month in January, but am unsure if this is in small bursts or if clouds hang around all day obstructing views.
Are you able to speak to how cloudy things are throughout the day and what you would recommend?
We think January is a great time. We’ve been on the trails in January as well. Typically the rain is in small bursts.
Thanks. Is it cloudy most of the day or just when it rains?
Typically just when it rains.