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Machu Picchu, nestled high in the Andes mountains of Peru, is a world-famous archaeological wonder that has captivated travelers for centuries. Known for its stunning Incan ruins, breathtaking mountain vistas, and rich cultural heritage, Machu Picchu offers a plethora of awe-inspiring experiences.

One of the most coveted and enchanting moments to witness at this ancient citadel is the sunrise. As the first rays of the sun illuminate the stone structures and the surrounding mist dissipates, Machu Picchu comes alive with an otherworldly beauty that is truly mesmerizing.

In this blog post, I will delve into the allure of watching the sunrise at Machu Picchu, the significance of the sun in Incan culture, how to plan and experience this magical moment, the best spots for sunrise viewing, what to expect, and practical tips for a memorable sunrise experience.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Machu Picchu, be sure to read on and discover how to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the sunrise at this ancient wonder of the world.

Sunrise at Machu Picchu

How to See the Mesmerizing Sunrise at Machu Picchu (5 Tips to Witnessing the Magic)


Plan Your Trip During the Dry Season

To see the sunrise at Machu Picchu, you need to go during the best time of the year which is during the dry season.

The dry season in Machu Picchu and the surrounding region runs from May to October. During this time, the weather is generally mild and dry, with very little rainfall. This makes it the best time to visit Machu Picchu, as the clear skies and dry weather provide excellent visibility and comfortable hiking conditions.

During the dry season, temperatures during the day can range from 20-25°C (68-77°F), and at night, temperatures can drop to 5-10°C (41-50°F), so it is important to pack warm layers for the early morning and evening.

Just a word of caution: even during the dry season, be prepared for some heavy mists or fog (usually just during the early morning hours) that can obscure the views. However, I need to say, you might see the most incredible sight even when the site is shrouded in a cloud. The cloud and fog might start to slowly burn out and disappear and reveal the outlines of Machu Picchu. It is pretty cool!

If you are a risk-taker and decide to go before late May or after early October, be prepared for right-down downpours with the heaviest rainfall typically occurring in January and February. During the rainy season, the area experiences high humidity, frequent rain showers, and even occasional flooding, which can make it difficult to explore the ruins and nearby trails.

How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

Classic View of Machu Picchu / How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

Agricultural Terraces at Machu Picchu / How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu


Book Your Entrance Tickets to Machu Picchu Well in Advance

Booking tickets to Machu Picchu in advance is highly recommended, especially during the high season from May to September. This is because the Peruvian government has set a limit on the number of visitors allowed to enter Machu Picchu each day to protect the site’s delicate ecosystem and preserve its historical significance.

You can buy the tickets online through the official website of the Ministry of Culture of Peru up to six months in advance. It is important to note that tickets are date and time specific. So to see the sunrise at Machu Picchu you need to book the earliest time slot available which is 6 am. Once you have selected your time slot, you cannot change it, so plan your visit accordingly.


Reserve Your Train Tickets in Advance

One of the most convenient ways to reach Machu Picchu without hiking is by taking the train and then a bus.

There are two train companies available: the PeruRail and the Inca Rail.

The train journey takes you through breathtaking landscapes of the Andes Mountains and lush valleys, providing a scenic and comfortable ride to Machu Picchu.

The train ride itself is an adventure, with large windows that allow you to soak in the panoramic views while enjoying onboard amenities.

Be prepared to book your train tickets at least 6-4 months in advance to secure the best departure and arrival times, as well as be able to select the train class that is the best for your budget.


Arrive at Aguas Calientes the Day Before

Incidentally, to make it for the sunrise or the sight of the first sun rays at Machu Picchu, you will need to arrive at Aguas Calientes the day before and spend the night there.

Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, is a small town located in the Urubamba River Valley in Peru, near the famous ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. It serves as a base for tourists visiting Machu Picchu.

Where should you stay in Aguas Calientes? Here are my top choices:

  • Tierra Viva Machu Picchu Hotel

My first choice is Tierra Viva Machu Picchu Hotel. First of all, the location is great. It is close to the train station and right by the bus stop that leaves for Machu Picchu.

The rooms are nice, the beds are comfy and the shower has hot water. Breakfast. is included and it offers a variety of fruits, bread, and yogurts. They have an on-site restaurant which is very convenient.

Also, there is always coca tea available at the reception or they will take it up to our room as well. They provide towels for free to be used at the thermal pools.

What is really lovely, is that they will meet you at the station when you arrive and take care of your luggage, then store it when you go to Machu Picchu and deliver it to the train station when you are ready to board the trail.

When you book, get a room with a river view.

  • Casa del Sol Machupicchu

Casa del Sol Machupicchu is another good one in Aguas Calientes. The location is perfect! The rooms are a good size with comfortable beds. You will like their breakfast with lots of choices.

Make sure to book a room with a river view.

Once you arrive at Aguas Calientes and check into your hotel, you might have a few hours to kill before you hit the bed. Make sure to read my post: 7 Fun and Cool Things to Do in Aguas Calientes.

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru

Aguas Calientes / How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes / How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu


Buy Bus Tickets As Soon As You Arrive in Aguas Calientes

First of all, it is really important that you purchase your bus ticket the day before your bus ride to Machu Picchu. Actually, right after you disembark from the train, head directly to the bus ticket booth and purchase the bus tickets.

The bus ticket booth is right next to the train station. You will not miss it. There will be a long line of people waiting to get their bus tickets.

Second, the next day, you are going to have to get up practically in the middle of the night, because the line for the buses leaving for Machu Picchu starts forming at around 3:30 am! So, you want to be the first in line to be able to board the bus and head to Machu Picchu.

Hire a Guide (Optional)

Once you get to Aguas Calientes, you will be asked numerous times if you need a guide. Hiring a guide is optional but it offers many benefits.

A guide can provide you with a more comprehensive understanding of Machu Picchu’s history, culture, and significance. They can also help you navigate the site more efficiently and provide insights into lesser-known areas that may be of interest to you.

There are different types of guides available for hire, ranging from licensed tour guides to local guides who may offer their services outside the entrance.

Hiring a guide can be an additional expense, but it’s typically worth it for the added value they bring to your experience. Prices can vary depending on the length of the tour and the type of guide you hire, so it’s advisable to research and compare prices before making a decision.

If you have a language preference, it’s important to ensure that your guide is fluent in the language you prefer. Many licensed guides at Machu Picchu are bilingual and can provide tours in several languages.

Check out this Private Full-Day Tour to Machu Picchu.


Wake Up in the Middle of the Night

The buses start leaving for Machu Picchu at 5:30 am. However, the line for the buses starts forming at around 3:30 am. You need to be in that line no later than 4 am.

So make sure to have all your stuff ready the night before. Set the alarm for 3 am. Have a bite to eat and some coffee to help you wake up and head to reserve your spot in the line.

The early morning hours can be chilly, so it is advisable to bring warm clothing, such as a jacket or sweater. Temperatures at Machu Picchu can rise quickly during the day, so dress in layers. Make sure to have plenty of water and bring some snacks to keep your energy level up.

The Machu Picchu Site opens at 6 am. And, you need to be at the entrance right when it opens.

However, the truth is that you are not going to see a “true” sunrise at Machu Picchu. What I mean here, is that there is no horizon with the sun rising above it. So, what you are going to see are the sun rays gradually lighting up Machu Picchu Inca ruins as the sun moves up in the sky.

So, to be clear, for example, the actual sunrise times at Aguas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu) differ by an hour depending on the time of year. The earliest sunrise is at 5:13 am in November, and the latest sunrise is at 6:13 am in July.

Now, it is about an hour after the actual sunrise until the sun rises above the mountains and the sun rays reach and shine upon Machu Picchu Inca ruins.


Hike or Take a Bus to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

To get to Machu Picchu for sunrise from Aguas Calientes, you have two choices: you can either hike or you can take a bus.

The majority of the tourists take the bus. It is about a 20-minute bus ride along a bumpy, dusty switchback road. Expect lots of twists and turns. The bus drivers drive at high speeds. If you suffer from motion sickness, take all necessary precautions. Dry crackers and mineral water work for me.

How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

View of Huyana Picchu and the road that the buses take / How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

If you are interested in hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, in order to catch the sunrise or the first sun rays, you will be hiking in total darkness.

Consequently, you will need a headlamp or a flashlight. Notwithstanding, I have seen many hikers on this trail with headlamps and flashlights, so it can be done, no problem!

Machu Picchu is approximately 5 miles (8 km) from Aguas Calientes.  The elevation difference between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu is 1,279 feet (389 meters). The distance is quite manageable, however, it is the elevation change that is something you need to think about and make sure you are in good physical condition to do this hike.

In my opinion, hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes is a strenuous endeavor. The hike is steep and pretty much up the hill the entire time. If you. are up to it, then make sure to check out my post to know what to expect.

Whether you take a bus or hike, once you arrive at the gate to Machu Picchu be prepared to brave the crowds.

Above all, have your ticket and passport ready.

How to Get to Machu Picchu by Train

Once you arrive by bus or reach Machu Picchu on foot, be prepared to brave the crowds / How to See Machu Picchu at Sunrise


Head to the Best Viewpoint to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

When it comes to witnessing the sunrise at Machu Picchu, choosing the right spot can make all the difference in experiencing the magic of this moment.

Here are some of the best spots within Machu Picchu for sunrise viewing:

  • Intihuatana Stone: The Intihuatana Stone, also known as the “Hitching Post of the Sun,” is a granite pillar that served as a solar observatory for the Incas. Located on a platform at the highest point of Machu Picchu, this spot offers a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. During sunrise, the sun casts a golden light on the stone, creating a mesmerizing spectacle.
  • Temple of the Sun: This semi-circular temple is dedicated to the sun god Inti and is located at the northern end of Machu Picchu. It features intricately carved stones and windows that align with the rising sun during the solstices and equinoxes. Watching the sunrise from behind the Temple of the Sun is a truly mystical experience.
  • Sun Gate (Inti Punku): The Sun Gate, also known as Inti Punku, is the original entrance to Machu Picchu and is located on the Inca Trail. This spot offers a panoramic view of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains, with the sun rising from behind the citadel. It’s a popular spot for trekkers who complete the Inca Trail, as it’s the first glimpse they get of Machu Picchu.
  • Machu Picchu Mountain: For those seeking a more challenging adventure, hiking up Machu Picchu Mountain can reward you with stunning sunrise views. Located at the southeastern end of Machu Picchu, this steep mountain offers a bird’s eye view of the entire citadel, with the rising sun casting a warm glow on the ruins below.

Each of these spots offers a unique perspective and atmosphere for witnessing the sunrise at Machu Picchu. I tested some of them and came to the conclusion that the best spot is Guardhouse.

Here is how to get there:

So once you are inside, take the path that leads to Machu Picchu Inca ruins. It is the only path and it gets crowded. So, take it slow. There will be people pushing and running. It is ok! Take your time.

Once you get to the junction, turn left and continue climbing. You want to gain as much altitude as possible. If you can make it to Puerta de la Ciudad, that is great. If you can hike a bit more to Casa del Guardian, which is the Guardhouse, that is where you want to be for the sunrise at Machu Picchu.

Check out the map right below to give you an idea of where to go.

How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu - Complete Guide

Map of the best viewpoints to see the sunrise at Machu Picchu / How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

The sight of Machu Picchu bathed in the warm, golden light of the rising sun is simply breathtaking. The play of light and shadow on the ancient stone structures, the mist swirling around the mountains, and the panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and peaks create a surreal visual spectacle that is mesmerizing.

First, you will see the first sunrays reveal just the outline of Huayna Picchu.

Needless to say, sunrise or sun rays, whatever we want to call them, once they shine upon Machu Picchu and gradually light up the entire place, the sight will just take your breath away.

Before the sun’s rays start gradually appearing, the entire site is hidden in deep shadows. Above all, it gets very quiet. I think everyone holds their breath in anticipation of the first sunray.

How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

Before the sun’s rays start gradually appearing, the entire site is hidden in deep shadows. Above all, it gets very quiet / Sunrise at Machu Picchu

How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

Soon you will see the first rays of the sun touch Huayna Picchu / Sunrise at Machu Picchu

As the seconds tick away, more Huayna Picchu gets bathed in sunlight.

Pretty soon the entire Huayna Picchu is revealed.

Sunrise at Machu Picchu

Sunrise at Machu Picchu 

Gradually, the sun starts revealing the details of the Machu Picchu ruins. And, finally, the entire site is bathed in sunlight.

How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

Gradually, section by section, Huayna Picchu gets revealed all beautifully lit up by the rising sun / How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu 

Gradually, the sun starts revealing the details of the Machu Picchu ruins. And, finally, the entire site is bathed in sunlight.

Intrepid Scout's Tips on How to See Sunrise at Machu Picchu

As far as I am concerned, it was all worth it for me. It is a magical moment watching as the first sunray touched the top of Huayna Picchu and then gradually the entire place was bathed in glorious light. It was a sight that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Machu Picchu is a special place, and watching the sunrise can be a transformative experience. Be open to the energy and spirituality of the site, and take the time to reflect on what you experienced.

Remember to be present in the moment and enjoy the beauty of the place. Put down your camera for a bit and just watch the magic unfold in front of you.

Watching the sunrise at Machu Picchu can be an emotional experience. The sense of awe and wonder, the appreciation for the historical and cultural significance of the site, and the realization of being in a place that has been revered for centuries can stir deep emotions and create lasting memories. It is a moment that can be profound and deeply moving. It will leave you with a sense of connection to the past, the present, and the natural world.

Couple of Tips from Intrepid Scout:

  • I need to add, that many photographers argue that the best light is around 4 or 4:30 pm. With this being the case, If you decide to spend the day at Machu Picchu, make sure to pack some healthy snacks and hang out till the afternoon.
  • Another option worth considering is visiting the site over two days, once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. This will allow you to capture Machu Picchu in your photos in a different light as well.

Sunrise at Machu Picchu

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20 thoughts on “How to See the Mesmerizing SUNRISE at MACHU PICCHU (9 Steps to Witness the Magic)


Wow, Anna! This is incredible! I wish I had found your blog before my in laws went to Peru last year. My mother in law loves to travel every chance she gets though and I know she would love all of your amazing tips! I’ll be sharing this with her!


    Hey Leslie,
    Thank you for your comment!Please share the info with your mother in law and let me know if she needs any assistance with planning her adventures!


Thank you for sharing your experience.
Machu Picchu is definitely one of my next destinations.

If you are traveling thought Europe I would recommend that you visit Prague, Serbia or Greece.


    Thank you for your comment! I am glad you are planning on visiting MP.
    I have been to Prague… and Greece, however Serbia is still on my list of places to visit.

This post is super helpful! I’ve been wanting to go visit Machu Picchu for a long time now and this post will help me a lot when I finally make it there! I think it has to be amazing to see the sunrise there and experience the first sun rays in that unique spot. I’m saving this post so I can come back to it when I go there Thank you for sharing!!


    Thank you! MP should be on your bucket list.


incredible experience!


    Thank you! It was a very special time, almost magical.


That video was such a find! And you have made it so easy with these recommendatios and fine details. If only I could fly right away.


    It is definitely a bucket list experience. Thank you for your comment!


Oh thats another dreamdestination!
You are doing it girl, you’re living the life of a treu travelblogger. Congratulations! 😀


    Thank you so much!!!!

Kakush Muhavi

I absolutely love the way you get into detail with the guides. I would certainly not get lost in Machu Picchu if I decide to use this guide.


    Thank you, Kakush!
    I try to make it as detailed as possible.

Cristel C

Hi Anna, thank you very much. For the gorgeous photos you captured, I notice that Huayna Picchu is in the background. Does this mean that you went up Machu Picchu mountain? Can you get these views without going up either Huayna or MP mountain? Thank you!


    Hi Cristel!

    The views are from Machu Picchu. Specifically, they are from Warden’s Hut.
    I am not aware of any other places where you could capture these specific views.
    Let me know if you need any help. It could be confusing.


Hi Anna!
I love your site, it is so easy to navigate. I am going in July of 2021 but it looks like most of the mountain is shut down currently. I was curious if you know how I can see if Sun Gate will be open and accessible while I am visiting? I am also staying at the Belmond so I can spend 2 days at the mountain, when do you recommending touring the citadel if I am there from around 10am Thur until 6pm Fri in July?


    Hi Erin,
    Oh awesome! I would keep an eye on Machu Picchu website and buy the entrance tickets as soon as they open it up, because, I have a feeling these tickets will gone fast. Not sure if Sun Gate will be open. I would send them an email and find out the details.
    You should plan on being at the Citadel both days. Are you planning to hike to either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain (plan for Thursday)? Above all do not miss the sunrise, which could be planned for Friday morning.
    Good luck with your trip planning!


Thank youbso much for your great post.Loved the details! We are planning our trip for December and wanted to ask which circuito did you chose at MP?We were thinking No3 but cant see on the map the points you highlighted for “best view of the sunrise”
Thank you xxxx


    Hi Andrea,
    I did not follow any predesignated route. I went around the entire place several times.
    The best sunrise spots are indicated on the map that I included. If you follow my instructions, you will get to the right spots.
    Good luck with everything.

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