Machu Picchu is situated on a ridge in Peru, hidden for centuries by the rugged mountains around it. The citadel overlooks several valleys and it is often listed as being one of the most interesting places to visit in the world. Millions of tourists visit the ancient citadel every single year, which has led to changes in admission practices the past few years. You must plan ahead when buying tickets and go with a guide once you enter.
There are no roads that lead to this archaeological attraction. If you want to get to this area take the Cusco to Machu Picchu train.
If you haven’t made it there yet and you have this wonder of the world on your bucket list, here’s what to see when you get there.
The Sun Gate
The Sun Gate is quite possibly one of the most important features to experience when you visit Machu Picchu. The stairs leading up to the Sun Gate are said to have been a control port for those who choose to enter or exit the city. Now it’s how trekkers enter the city if they have hiked along the Inca Trail.
The site is very famous and you’ve likely seen the view from there in a thousand tourist photos. If you are able to see the sunrise from the area, you will soon see that the climb up (if you didn’t trek in) is worth it.
Climb Huayna Picchu
If you want to get a bird’s eye view of Machu Picchu then you really do need to climb Huayna Picchu. It’s located right behind the city and although the hike gets quite steep at the top, it’s just two hours up and back. You don’t need to have any technical ability and it’s great for those who want to go sightseeing. There are actually some improbable Inca stone walls and terraces near the top.
You will need to get a climbing permit however, purchased in advance with your entrance ticket, because if you don’t then you won’t be allowed up. There is a ticket limit and a designated hiking time.
The Inca Bridge
This bridge has quite a history. It was actually an entrance for the Incan army. The entrance is secret and the narrow path to get there is carved into the cliff face. It ends at a 20-foot gap, with a drop of 1,900 feet down the mountainside below it. The idea was that the Incas would bridge the gap with two long tree trunks, which could then be dropped after they crossed. This way anyone following them would be stuck.
When you enter the city, you will soon come across Watchman’s Hut. This really is the perfect place for you to go if you want to get a view of the whole city. This is a good place to get a panorama shot with your camera, though these days assume you’ll have hundreds of ant-sized fellow tourists in your shot.
If you go outside of the Watchman’s Hut then you will see a very strange rock. This is known as the Funerary Stone. Researchers are puzzled to this day as to what it could be used for, but a lot of people believe that it was used as a sacrificial altar.
Temple of the Sun
This is one of the iconic places to see when you visit Machu Picchu. It’s located right next to the main fountain and it features some of the finest stonework in the entire area. The temple was once used as an observatory and when you visit, you will soon see that there are plenty of places for offerings to be made. Of course, now it is more for tourists to go and see but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth the visit. In fact, the views there are well and truly spectacular. This is an included stop on every guided tour.
Where to stay? You can actually use a Sacred Valley luxury hotel as your base, then take the train in from Ollantaytambo. There are also two luxury hotels we would recommend at the Aguas Calientes town at the base, however: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo and Sumac Machu Picchu Hotel. The only property that’s near the ruins is Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, right outside the entrance.