Machu Picchu is a very seasonal place that features drastically different weather patterns and accessibility depending on the time of year, and while the historic Incan citadel is open to visitors year-round, trekking up the mountain side is not, meaning that you will need to consider what the overall goal of your trip is in order to plan your adventure.

Tourist volumes, weather and trail conditions, permit availability, and your own physical fitness will play a large role in determining what time of year you will be able to set out on your perfect Peruvian adventure. The window for trekking up to Machu Picchu is fairly small and there are a limited number of daily permits available, meaning you might need to look outside of peak season in order to complete your dream trek. While this might not sound like a big deal, heavy rains and month-long trail closures could derail your journey before it begins, making proper planning paramount to a successful expedition.

Below you will find a breakdown of the seasons at Machu Picchu, so that whether you are planning to train from Cusco or conquer the lengthy Inca Trail Trek, you can figure out when the best time of year is for your adventure. This comprehensive guide to seasonality at Machu Picchu was put together with the aim of helping you remove some of the guesswork of planning your journey, so that you can stop thinking and start exploring the most popular destination in Peru.

Ancient Machu Picchu ruins in the fog hiking trekking in Peru
Ancient Machu Picchu ruins in the fog hiking trekking in Peru

When the best time is to visit Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is open to visitors year-round; however, when the best time is to visit will depend largely upon the nature of your trip, as well as your tolerance for poor weather and high volumes of foot traffic. The most popular time for tourists to visit Peru is during the dry season, which runs from May to September.

The March-May and September-November windows are the most ideal, all-around times to visit Machu Picchu, as you will largely be out of the rainy season, but will also miss out on the insane volume of visitors present from June through August when the weather is the most favourable. It rains a lot at Machu Picchu from December to March, which makes visiting by train the only feasible option.

Incas machu picchu sunrise in the Peruvian mountains
Incas machu picchu sunrise in the Peruvian mountains

What the best day of the week is to visit Machu Picchu

In terms of weekdays, almost any day will be a great option to visit Machu Picchu, except for Sunday. On Sunday locals are allowed to visit the site for free, which drastically increases the number of visitors and can turn it into a hectic place. This should be avoided if at all possible.

Hiking through the fog along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru
Hiking through the fog along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru

When the best time is to trek to Machu Picchu

While the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu can be visited year-round, trekking up to this mountain top world wonder is subject to seasonality. High volumes of rainfall during Peru’s rainy season will render the trails unsafe and nearly unusable from December through February, as landslides along the steep mountain slopes and river flooding will be real hazards. Additionally, the popular Inca Trail is closed during the month of February, in order to allow officials to work on infrastructure heading into the busy season ahead.

Many different factors such as visitor numbers, weather conditions, and trail permit availability can play a role in determining when the best time is to trek to Machu Picchu. While the shoulder seasons (March-May and September-November) are certainly good options if you don’t mind getting wet and are looking to avoid the crowds, the peak trekking season for Machu Picchu runs from June through August. During this time, you will experience the most favourable weather conditions for trekking that feature almost no rainfall, low humidity, warm daytime temperatures, but also colder nighttime temperatures. Additionally, trail conditions will also be at their best during this period; however, the one real downside to trekking at this time is the large volumes of visitors and the scarce availability of permits. Luckily, there are a number of different Machu Picchu treks and tours that can be sought out to reach this amazing destination.

Hiking Lares Trek Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru
Hiking Lares Trek Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru

Best time to do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail is the most iconic and popular trekking route to reach Machu Picchu, resulting in a need to book it very early in order to secure a permit. There are 500 permits that can be issued per day during the peak season and many are secured by guides leading people up the mountain, meaning competition for them is high. If you are looking for the overall best time to do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, then you should attempt to book the route for May or October. During these months permits won’t sell out as quickly, there will be less people on the trails, and the weather will still be dry and warm.

Best time to do the Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay Trek is another amazing route for people looking to reach the summit of Machu Picchu, and while it is less popular than the famous Inca Trail, it is just as beautiful and slightly easier to secure a permit; however, just because it is less popular than the Inca Trail doesn’t mean that it won’t be busy. If you would like to avoid the crowds and still enjoy some decent weather, then the best time to do the Salkantay Trek is during the shoulder seasons of April-May and October-November.

Best time to do the Lares Trek

As with the Salkantay Trek above, the Lares Trek is another authentic route that will provide a similar experience to the Inca Trail, in that it takes you through the mountains to Machu Picchu with a bit less of a fuss surrounding securing a permit. Once again, the best time to do the Lares Trek will be in the April-May and October-November windows in order to enjoy great weather and avoid the crowds.

Hiker sitting on ancient stone steps Machu Picchu in Peru
Hiker sitting on ancient stone steps Machu Picchu in Peru

Best time to visit Machu Picchu: Month by Month Breakdown

Machu Picchu in January

January at Machu Picchu is rainy and warm

January is a quiet time of year at Machu Picchu, due largely to the fact that it rains an average of 23 days out of the month. Trekking at this time is not advised, as the mountainous terrain is unstable and can experience landslides.

  • Average Temperature: High 20℃/Low 8℃
  • Average Rainfall: 154mm
  • Average Wind Speed: 3.1mi/h
  • Average Humidity: 66%

Machu Picchu in February

February at Machu Picchu is another wet and warm month

February is arguably the worst time of year to visit Machu Picchu, as high volumes of rain can flood the Urubamba River and cause landslides along the mountainous terrain. In addition to the possibility of being stranded in the area, the popular Inca Trail is also closed during February to allow authorities the time to clean and repair the infrastructure of the trail.

  • Average Temperature: High 20℃/Low 8℃
  • Average Rainfall: 119mm
  • Average Wind Speed: 3.7mi/h
  • Average Humidity: 66%
Hiking trekking backpacking to Machu Picchu in Peru
Hiking trekking backpacking to Machu Picchu in Peru

Machu Picchu in March

March at Machu Picchu is still wet, although weather will begin to improve

The last two weeks of March are a good time of year to book a trip to Machu Picchu if you are looking to avoid the crowds that will come later in the year. While it will still be fairly rainy, you will begin to experience some more clear days, making this a good time if you are looking to take the train in from Cusco. Trekking is also possible during this time, as the Inca Trail will be reopened from the previous month of restoration.

  • Average Temperature: High 16℃/Low 6℃
  • Average Rainfall: 109mm
  • Average Wind Speed: 3.1mi/h
  • Average Humidity: 66%

Machu Picchu in April

April at Machu Picchu features less rain and warmer temperatures

April just might be the best time of year to visit Machu Picchu, as the combination of fewer crowds, warm weather, and less rainfall will produce some amazing conditions for exploring the famous Incan city. These factors also make April one of the most optimal times to trek to Machu Picchu by means of the Inca Trail or any of the other trekking routes up the mountain. This is the last month before the crazy tourist season begins.

  • Average Temperature: High 21℃/Low 6℃
  • Average Rainfall: 41mm
  • Average Wind Speed: 3.1mi/h
  • Average Humidity: 63%
Lama in machu picchu
Lama in machu picchu

Machu Picchu in May

May at Machu Picchu is the beginning of the dry season

If you are looking to avoid the relentless rain, then May is a great time to experience Machu Picchu. This month marks the beginning of the dry season; however, it also marks the time of year when tourists begin to flock to the Incan citadel to experience the history, culture, and stunning views of the surrounding Andes. You will likely need to book very early to secure trekking permits for the Inca Trail in May, so alternate treks like the Lares or Salkantay might be a better option.

  • Average Temperature: High 21℃/Low 3℃
  • Average Rainfall: 9mm
  • Average Wind Speed: 2.5mi/h
  • Average Humidity: 56%

Machu Picchu in June

June at Machu Picchu is a hectic and busy time

June is arguably one of the busiest times to visit Machu Picchu and Peru in general, as the weather is dry and begins to cool off a bit. Additionally, several festivals happen during this time, including the Winter Solstice and Anniversary of Cusco, meaning that nearly every tourist attraction will be packed with thousands of people. If you are planning to complete one of the treks to Machu Picchu, you will need to book it very early, as permits can be hard to come by.

  • Average Temperature: High 20℃/Low 2℃
  • Average Rainfall: 18mm
  • Average Wind Speed: 2.5mi/h
  • Average Humidity: 54%
Machu picchu orchid flowers
Machu picchu orchid flowers

Machu Picchu in July

July at Machu Picchu will see winter and the trekking season in full swing

Similar to June, visiting Machu Picchu in July is a busy time where thousands of tourists flock to the mountaintop citadel in order to take advantage of the pleasant weather conditions and experience the stunningly clear view of the mountains. Temperatures during July are at their coldest and rainfall is considerably lower than at other times of the year. While all tourist sites and modes of travel will be extremely busy during July, they will be even more so over the holidays (July 27-28) that mark Peruvian Independence Day.

  • Average Temperature: High 20℃/Low 1℃
  • Average Rainfall: 8mm
  • Average Wind Speed: 3.1mi/h
  • Average Humidity: 52%

Machu Picchu in August

August at Machu Picchu is cold and still busy

Trekking to Machu Picchu in August is a popular holiday for tourists coming from the Northern Hemisphere, and as such, the trails and tourist sites will still be packed. As with many of the winter months, you might have better luck trying to book either the Salkantay or Lares Treks, as permits for the Inca Trail will still be sold out early. In terms of weather, temperatures will be very cold overnight, while daytime temperatures will be moderately warm.

  • Average Temperature: High 20℃/Low 3℃
  • Average Rainfall: 10mm
  • Average Wind Speed: 3.7mi/h
  • Average Humidity: 52%
Machu picchu urubamba river
Machu picchu urubamba river

Machu Picchu in September

September marks the beginning of spring and the end of the peak season

September is a great time to visit Machu Picchu, as the volume of tourists will begin to die down a bit as the peak trekking season wanes. Although there will be less visitors at Machu Picchu, trail permits can still be tricky to come by. During September, you will still be able to take advantage of the cooler, drier weather; however, some of the first rainfalls will occur throughout the month.

  • Average Temperature: High 21℃/Low 5℃
  • Average Rainfall: 14mm
  • Average Wind Speed: 3.7mi/h
  • Average Humidity: 53%

Machu Picchu in October

October at Machu Picchu will see a decline in tourist numbers

While the end of October will usually see the return of larger volumes of rainfall, the majority of the month is one of the absolute best times to visit Machu Picchu. Whether you plan on trekking up the mountain or visiting by transit, you will find that the number of tourists has decreased drastically, allowing for the chance to enjoy this magical place in solitude. Temperatures throughout the month are ideal for hiking, making this one of the best times to experience the Inca Trail.

  • Average Temperature: High 22℃/Low 7℃
  • Average Rainfall: 47mm
  • Average Wind Speed: 4.3mi/h
  • Average Humidity: 56%
Salkantay Trail mule donkey packing backpacking to Machu Picchu Peru
Salkantay Trail mule donkey packing backpacking to Machu Picchu Peru

Machu Picchu in November

November at Machu Picchu will mark the beginning of the rainy season

If you don’t mind a bit of rain, then visiting Machu Picchu in November is the perfect time of year to escape the crowds. During this time, you will find that tourist sites will be far less populated, allowing you to experience the breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains at your own pace. Trail conditions along the major routes will still be good; however, you can expect to get a bit wet on your journey up the mountain. Temperatures will also be a fair bit warmer during November.

  • Average Temperature: High 22℃/Low 7℃
  • Average Rainfall: 77mm
  • Average Wind Speed: 4.3mi/h
  • Average Humidity: 57%

Machu Picchu in December

December at Machu Picchu will be hit or miss

Visiting Machu Picchu in December is one of the least popular times of year for tourists, mainly due to the increase in rainfall and the fact that you will experience few clear and sunny days during the month. The conditions are really not all that good for trekking; however, it still may be worthwhile to visit the Incan city by train from Cusco if you are able to get some half-decent weather.

  • Average Temperature: High 19℃/Low 7℃
  • Average Rainfall: 110mm
  • Average Wind Speed: 3.7mi/h
  • Average Humidity: 62%
Salkantay Inca history Incan architecture machu picchu
Salkantay Inca history Incan architecture machu picchu

Planning the Rest of Your Machu Picchu Adventure

As with any major trip or holiday, planning a visit to Machu Picchu is a spectacular adventure that can take on many shapes and forms. While there are many different factors such as seasonal weather, trail conditions, permit availability, and tourist volumes that will come into play, hopefully the above information will guide you in planning the right time of year to set out on your grand Peruvian journey.

If you are itching to learn more about planning a trip to Machu Picchu, be sure to check out some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about Machu Picchu, or if you already have your trek booked and aren’t sure what gear to bring, we’ve put together this amazing guide on What to Pack When Visiting Machu Picchu. No matter how you decide to explore this fascinating mountaintop world wonder, at least you’ll have all of the information at your fingertips to plan out the most unforgettable experience.