Machu Picchu boasts of some of the most phenomenal ruins in Peru. The area retains as much of its enchanting aura of mystery as when the structures were built here by the Incas. The ruins are usually covered in mist and impossible to see from below which adds to their mystique.
Most visitors come to the ruins on a day trip from Cuzco, but there is a charming hotel just outside the grounds for those who wish to stay longer. There is also good accommodation in Aguas Calientes located nearby.
At the ruins, you can get a good view of the Caretaker’s Hut and Funerary Rock which overlooks the rest of Machu Picchu. One of the most famous Inca structures at the ruins is the Temple of the Sun (also called the Torreón). Below it, in a cave carved from the rock is a section traditionally called the Royal Tomb. Also of interest are: the Royal Sector, a still-functioning water canal and series of interconnected fountains; the Temple of the Three Windows; the Principal Temple; and the House of the Priest.
The well-known Inca Trail is a footpath through the Andes leading directly to the gates of Machu Picchu. It offers the most scenic way to visit Machu Picchu but can be arduous, taking up to four days. It is part of the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary and is a UNESCO World Heritage natural and cultural site – and is the most important and most popular hiking trail in South America. While on the trail, you can take a detour to Choquequirao which is another Inca city that was more recently unearthed.
The base town, Aguas Calientes is small but offers some cheap accommodation, food and beer. The Plaza de Armas lies in the center and the nicely paved malecón riverfront area is good for a stroll in the evening. There are plenty of small and friendly restaurants in Aguas Calientes. At the ruins, you can enjoy a pricey buffet lunch at Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge.