We often get asked how to travel to Machu Picchu – truthfully, there’s no direct path and no one way to get there. In order of difficulty from the least amount of walking to the most challenging trek, these are the multitude of possible ways you can make it up to visit Machu Picchu.
Difficulty Level: 4
The reason I have the 2-Day Machu Picchu tour at the top of the list, rating it easier than the 1-Day Machu Picchu tour, is because the schedule is spread out and isn’t as demanding. You leave Cusco at the relatively normal morning hour of 7:30am instead of 3:00am and you stay overnight at Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town) before seeing Machu Picchu on the second day after a good night’s rest. Minimal walking is involved other than the 3-hour tour of the Machu Picchu ruins, which is relatively flat.
Difficulty Level: 4
This is the best option if you’re short on time – a quick round-trip between Cusco and Machu Picchu within one day. The only downside is that you need to wake up super early and be ready to leave your hotel by 3am in order to make it to the Machu Picchu ruins for a morning tour, then catch the afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo, so we can get you back to Cusco by nighttime.
Difficulty Level: 4-5
The Sacred Valley tour and Machu Picchu tour are individual tours that can be booked separately or together like in this 2-Day tour option. This combined tour takes you through key tourist sites in the Sacred Valley north of Cusco on the first day on the way to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town) where you’ll spend the night, so you’re well rested and ready to see Machu Picchu in all its glory early on the second day. It’s only slightly more difficult than the Machu Picchu 1-Day and 2-Day tours because you’ll be walking a bit more through the Sacred Valley tourist sites on day one.
Difficulty Level: 5-6
For those looking to hike, the 2-Day Inca Trail is the easiest Machu Picchu hike and a decent taste of the many Peru treks that are available. You’ll get a taste of the famous Inca Trail on day one with a short hike up to the Sun Gate, thought to be a fortress of Machu Picchu. Instead of entering Machu Picchu that day, you’ll get a good night’s rest so that we can take you on the Machu Picchu tour early the next morning.
Difficulty Level: 7-8
The Lares Trek is known to be easiest of the multi-day hikes, though it’s still challenging in its own right. What I love about this hike is that you often feel like it’s just you and the Andes mountains from the grassy version with llamas grazing to the rocky and snowy versions reminding you of the high altitude. An extra selling point is the chance to dip in the healing thermal baths in the town of Lares before you start your trek.
Difficulty Level: 8-9
Consistently among the top treks in the world, spending 4 full days on the Inca Trail gives you a real taste of what the people in the time of the Incas went through walking these same paths. This is also the only trek where you hike all the way to Machu Picchu on the final day right into the guided tour of the Incan citadel.