This site uses affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Nestled high in the Andes mountains of Peru, Machu Picchu is an ancient Incan citadel that draws travelers from around the globe with its enigmatic beauty and rich history.

As you embark on your journey to this awe-inspiring destination, you may be wondering what the top things to do at Machu Picchu are.

Well, look no further! In this blog post, I will be your guide as we explore the top things to do at Machu Picchu.

So, get ready to be captivated by the mystical charm of Machu Picchu as we uncover the must-see sights and unforgettable experiences that await you in this ancient wonderland. Let’s get started!

9 Top Things to Do at Machu Picchu the City of the Incas


Watch Sunrise at Machu Picchu

One of the most coveted and enchanting moments to witness at this ancient citadel is the sunrise.

As the first rays of the sun appear Machu Picchu comes alive with an otherworldly beauty. 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.

The early morning hours at Machu Picchu are less crowded and quieter compared to the rest of the day, adding to the magical ambiance of the sunrise experience. The peaceful stillness of the morning, the crisp mountain air, and the absence of crowds create a serene atmosphere that will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and grandeur of Machu Picchu.

The sight of the Intihuatana Stone or the Temple of the Sun glowing in the morning light is particularly awe-inspiring, evoking a sense of wonder at the Incan civilization’s mastery of astronomy and architecture.

The sun holds great significance in Incan culture. Inti, the sun god, was considered the most important deity in the Incan religion, and the alignment of the Incan temples and observatories with the sun’s movements during solstices and equinoxes is a testament to their advanced understanding of astronomy.

Watching the sunrise at Machu Picchu can be a very profound experience. The realization of being in a place that has been revered for centuries can stir deep emotions and create a sense of connection to the past, the present, and the natural world.

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.

Also, some advance planning is necessary to ensure that you arrive at Machu Picchu at least 30 minutes before sunrise!

I cover all the details of how to watch the sunrise at Machu Picchu in my post How to See SUNRISE at MACHU PICCHU. Check it out!

Sunrise at Machu Picchu

Sunrise at Machu Picchu / Things to Do at Machu Picchu

Sunrise at Machu Picchu

Sunrise at Machu Picchu / Things to Do at Machu Picchu


Explore the Ancient Ruins of the Machu Picchu Citadel

Exploring the terraces, temples, plazas, and residential areas of the Citadel of Machu Picchu is a journey back in time. It will leave you in awe of the Inca civilization’s impressive stone masonry skills and their remarkably intricate architectural achievements, as well as give you an insight into their culture and life.

Things to Do at Machu Picchu

Explore the Ancient Ruins of Machu Picchu / Things to Do at Machu Picchu

Things to Do at Machu Picchu

Explore the Ancient Ruins of Machu Picchu / Things to Do at Machu Picchu

Here are some top things to explore in Machu Picchu:

  • Temple of the Sun: This sacred temple is dedicated to Inti, the sun god, and is known for its intricate stonework and astronomical alignments. The temple is strategically positioned to capture the first rays of the rising sun during the winter solstice, creating a captivating display of light and shadow.
  • Temple of the Condor: This fascinating rock formation within Machu Picchu resembles a condor with outstretched wings, which holds significant cultural and spiritual significance for the Incas. Exploring the Temple of the Condor and learning about its symbolism is a must for those interested in Inca mythology and spirituality.
  • Agricultural Terraces: Machu Picchu’s terraces are not only a marvel of engineering but also an important aspect of Inca agricultural practices. Exploring these terraces and learning about the innovative methods used by the Incas to cultivate crops in the steep terrain is a fascinating experience that provides insights into their advanced agricultural techniques.
  • The Intihuatana Stone: This enigmatic stone pillar, often referred to as the “Hitching Post of the Sun,” is believed to have had astronomical and ceremonial significance for the Incas.

Take a look at my post: Ultimate Self-Guided Machu Picchu Tour (Exploring the Mystical Citadel) which covers in detail the top things to discover at the citadel.

The Intihuatana Stone

The Intihuatana Stone / Things to Do at Machu Picchu


Embark on a Spectacular Hike to Huayna Picchu (Waynapicchu)

Huayna Picchu is a famous peak towering over the iconic Machu Picchu citadel.

Hiking to the summit of Huayna Picchu is a challenging but rewarding adventure that provides unparalleled vistas of the entire site and its stunning surroundings.

Conquering this majestic mountain, also known as Wayna Picchu, requires perseverance, as the ascent can be challenging and steep. If you are an avid hiker and adventure seeker, this trek is for you!

It is important to note that accessing Huayna Picchu requires a separate permit in addition to the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu, and these permits need to be obtained in advance, as they can sell out quickly.

The number of hikers is limited to 400 per day, so make sure to buy your tickets way in advance. The first group enters between 7 am and 8 am. The second group enters between 10 am and 11 am.

The trail to Huayna Picchu starts at the entrance of Huayna Picchu, which is located within Machu Picchu. It is about a 20-minute walk from the main gate of Machu Picchu to the trailhead.

When you reach the trailhead, you will have an option to either take the short trail or the long trail.

The short trail takes about 45 minutes to an hour and is a steep and challenging climb. The long trail takes about 3.5 hours and continues around the base of the mountain to the Great Cavern and The Temple of the Moon before heading up.

I have not done the long trail, so this post is about taking the short trail. This is what you need to know. As you ascend, you will be surrounded by lush vegetation, including orchids, ferns, and bromeliads.

One of the highlights of the trail is the famous “Death Stairs,” a steep section with narrow stone steps carved into the mountain’s side.

As you near the summit, the trail becomes steeper and narrower, with exposed sections that may require the use of hands for balance.

Once you reach the summit, you will be treated to awe-inspiring panoramic views of Machu Picchu, the Urubamba River valley, and the surrounding Andean peaks.

Things to Do at Machu Picchu

View of Machu Picchu from Huayna Picchu / Things to Do at Machu Picchu

View from Huayna Picchu

View of Machu Picchu from Huayna Picchu / Things to Do at Machu Picchu


Hike to Majestic Machu Picchu Mountain

Machu Picchu Mountain, also known as Montaña Machu Picchu, is another majestic peak that towers above the famous Machu Picchu citadel in Peru.

The number of hikers to Machu Picchu Mountian is limited to 800 per day. The entry to the mountain is timed. The first group is allowed to start hiking between 7 am and 8 am and the second group may enter between 9 am and 10 am.

Needless to say, buy your tickets way in advance, because they will be gone fast.

Machu Picchu Mountain is 7,874ft/2,400 m high.

The trail leading to the top of the mountain is moderate to slightly challenging hike. it is definitely an easier hike compared to Waynapicchu. First of all, the trail is wider, second, it is better marked.

All in all, it takes about 3 hours to complete the hike and you will be rewarded with the most amazing vistas of the Machu Picchu City of the Incas with the iconic Waynapicchu in the background.

Things to Do at Machu Picchu

View from Machu Picchu Mountain / Things to Do at Machu Picchu

View from Machu Picchu Mountain

View from Machu Picchu Mountain / Things to Do at Machu Picchu


Take a Short Trek to Inca Bridge (Machu Picchu Hidden Gem)

While the ancient Incan citadel itself is the main attraction, there are lesser-known wonders to explore within its vicinity, and one such gem is the Inca Bridge.

The Inca Bridge is a remarkable feat of engineering and an important part of the Incan road system. Walking the ancient path to the Inca Bridge offers an extraordinary glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the Incas and its remarkable engineering achievements.

The trail to the Inca Bridge starts from the Machu Picchu citadel itself.

The round-trip hike to the Inca Bridge is about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) in total, and it typically takes around 1-2 hours to complete, depending on your pace and stops along the way.

The trail to the Inca Bridge is well-maintained but it is narrow and steep at times, with stone steps and uneven surfaces.

The hike offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and the Urubamba River below.

You will appreciate how precisely the stone path is laid out. Trails like these are throughout the Andean mountains and they helped the Incas navigate through the peaks and troughs.

In addition, just looking at the bridge and the trail, you can imagine how inaccessible Machu Picchu Inca city was.

Inca Bridge at Machu Picchu

Inca Bridge at Machu Picchu / Things to Do at Machu Picchu

Inca Bridge at Machu Picchu

Inca Bridge at Machu Picchu / Things to Do at Machu Picchu


Climb to the Guardhouse for Best Views

The Guardhouse, also known as the Caretaker’s Hut is a notable feature at Machu Picchu.

It is strategically positioned to oversee the access point to the citadel. It was likely used by Inca guards to control entry and exit, monitor activities, and provide security for the citadel.

The Guardhouse is constructed with large, precisely cut stones that were carefully fitted together without the use of mortar, a hallmark of Inca architecture.

Interestingly, it is a three-sided building, with one of its long sides opening onto the Terrace of the Ceremonial Rock. The three-sided style of Inca architecture is known as the wayrona style.

The exterior of the Guardhouse is adorned with intricate stonework, including niches and decorative elements, showcasing the impressive craftsmanship of the Inca civilization.

It is a popular spot for taking photographs offering spectacular views of the Machu Picchu City of the Incas.

Guardhouse at Machu Picchu

Inca Bridge at Machu Picchu / Things to Do at Machu Picchu


Hike to Inti Punku (Sun Gate) - Original Entrance to Machu Picchu

Inti Punku (Sun Gate) is the entrance to Machu Picchu for those arriving from the Inca Trail.

It served as a ceremonial gateway and it. is believed that the Incas used this vantage point to observe the sunrise over Machu Picchu during special ceremonies.

The trailhead for Inti Punku is located near the Caretaker’s Hut, just outside the main entrance of Machu Picchu. Look for the sign that indicates the direction towards the Sun Gate.

The trail to Inti Punku is well-marked and follows a well-defined path. The trail is a gradual uphill hike, mostly made up of stone steps and Inca terraces. The distance is approximately 2.7 miles (4.3 kilometers) one way, with an elevation gain of about 1,200 feet (366 meters). The estimated hiking time is around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on your pace and fitness level.

As you hike up to Inti Punku, you will be treated to stunning views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains. Keep your camera handy to capture the breathtaking scenery along the way, including terraced fields, lush vegetation, and glimpses of the citadel from different angles.

Once you reach Inti Punku, take your time to soak in the panoramic views of Machu Picchu below. You will have a bird’s-eye view of the citadel, with Huayna Picchu and the surrounding mountains in the background. It is a great spot for photos and a well-deserved rest after the hike.

View of Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail

View of Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail / Things to Do at Machu Picchu


Take Commemorative Pictures with Llamas

Llamas are known for their ability to thrive in harsh environments with thin air, steep slopes, and rugged terrains, which makes them well-suited for the Andean mountainous regions where Machu Picchu is located.

Llamas have played an important role in the culture and history of the Andean peoples for thousands of years. They have been used as pack animals for the transportation of goods and as a source of meat, milk, and fiber for clothing.

Llamas are social animals that typically live in herds, which can range from a few individuals to larger groups. They have a unique communication system that involves various vocalizations, body postures, and facial expressions to communicate with each other. Llamas are also known for their strong bond with their human handlers, and they can be trained to be gentle and obedient.

Llamas are considered to be gentle grazers, and their grazing habits can help manage the vegetation in their natural habitats, including around Machu Picchu. Their selective grazing can help prevent the overgrowth of certain plant species and promote a healthy balance in the ecosystem.

Taking pictures with llamas can be a fun and memorable experience. However, respect their space. Llamas are animals and can be easily stressed or startled. It’s important to approach them calmly and to keep a safe distance.

Llamas are known for their unique poses, expressions, and behavior. To capture interesting and eye-catching perspectives, consider getting down to the llama’s eye level. This can create a more intimate and engaging connection with the animals in your photos.

Make sure to focus on details. Llamas have unique features such as their long necks, expressive eyes, and soft woolly coats. Experiment with different angles and focal lengths to capture the details that make llamas special.

Things to Do at Machu Picchu

Take Commemorative Pictures with LLamas  / Things to Do at Machu Picchu

Things to Do at Machu Picchu

Take Commemorative Pictures with LLamas  / Things to Do at Machu Picchu


Capture Magical Moments of Machu Picchu (Photo Tips)

Machu Picchu is a photographer’s paradise!

Take your time to capture the magical moments of your visit, from the misty morning views of Machu Picchu to the intricate stone details.

Here are some tips on capturing magical moments at Machu Picchu:

  • Machu Picchu can have varying lighting conditions throughout the day, with the best lighting typically during the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. Avoid the harsh midday sun, which can result in harsh shadows and blown-out highlights. Be prepared to adjust your camera settings and composition accordingly to make the most of the available light.
  • Capture the Mystical Mist! Machu Picchu is often shrouded in mist and fog, especially during the early morning hours. Embrace this mystical atmosphere and use it to your advantage in your photos. The mist can create a sense of mystery and add an ethereal quality to your images. Experiment with different angles, perspectives, and focal lengths to capture the mist in creative and compelling ways.
  • Highlight the Inca Stonework! The intricate stone structures and terraces at Machu Picchu are iconic and make for great photographic subjects. Pay attention to the details of the stonework, such as the precision of the joints, the carvings, and the unique shapes of the stones. Use different lenses and perspectives to emphasize the craftsmanship and architectural marvels of the Incas.
  • Include People for Scale and Context: Including people in your photos can help convey the scale and grandeur of Machu Picchu. Capture fellow visitors exploring the site, local Quechua people in traditional attire, or even yourself in a self-portrait to provide context and a sense of scale to the immense ruins. People can also add a sense of storytelling and human element to your photos.
  • Machu Picchu has been photographed countless times, so strive to find unique perspectives that showcase your own creative vision. Experiment with different angles, vantage points, and compositions to create visually interesting and unique images. Consider climbing to higher vantage points, using a wide-angle lens for sweeping landscapes, or getting up close with a macro lens to capture intricate details.
  • Composition is key to creating visually compelling photos. Use the rule of thirds, leading lines, and framing techniques to create balanced and visually appealing compositions. Experiment with different focal lengths, depth of field, and perspectives to create depth and visual interest in your images.
  • Machu Picchu is filled with fascinating details, from the intricate carvings on the stone walls to the textures of the terraces and vegetation. Don’t overlook these smaller details, as they can add depth and character to your photos. Use a macro lens or get up close with your camera to capture these details in a unique and creative way.
  • The goal is not just to capture technically perfect photos, but to also immerse yourself in the experience of Machu Picchu and create meaningful and visually captivating images that tell a story and convey the awe-inspiring beauty and cultural significance of this ancient Inca citadel.

Intrepid Scout's Tips on Things to Do at Machu Picchu


  • Plan ahead: Machu Picchu is a popular tourist destination, so make sure to book your tickets well in advance. Also, be aware of the weather and peak seasons to ensure the best experience.
  • Acclimate to the altitude: Machu Picchu is located at a high altitude, so take some time to acclimate to the altitude in Cusco or other nearby towns before visiting to avoid altitude sickness.
  • Hire a knowledgeable guide: Hiring a guide will enhance your experience by providing you with insights into the history, culture, and significance of Machu Picchu.
  • Start early: Arrive at Machu Picchu early in the morning to beat the crowds and enjoy the site in a more serene setting.
  • Pack essentials: Bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, insect repellent, and plenty of water to stay hydrated. Dress in layers as the weather can change quickly.
  • Be respectful: Follow the rules and regulations of Machu Picchu, such as not touching or climbing on the ruins, and respecting the natural environment. Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage site and requires responsible tourism.
  • Take your time: Allow ample time to explore Machu Picchu at a relaxed pace, taking in the breathtaking views, unique architecture, and fascinating history of the site.
  • Capture the moment responsibly: Photography is allowed, but drones are prohibited. Be mindful of other visitors and do not disturb the environment or disrupt the experience of others while taking photos.

Read All Peru Posts in:

Peru Travel Guide 


Read All the Posts About South America in: 

South America Travel Guide

Did You Find This Useful?
Why Not Save Things to Do at Machu Picchu to Your Pinterest Board!
Things to Do at Machu Picchu
Things to Do at Machu Picchu
Now, It Is Your Turn, I Would Like to Hear Back from You!

Are you planning your trip to Machu Picchu?

Please let me know! Drop me a quick comment right below!

Click on any of the images below to get inspired and to help you with the planning process for your trip to Peru!

Leave an answer

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The company processes your data to facilitate the publication and management of comments. You can exercise your rights of access, rectification, deletion and objection, among others, according to our Privacy policy.