Destination highlight: Travel to Machu Picchu on a long weekend
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is the subject of many an article. As such, it can be difficult to find new things to say about this incredible destination. However, despite anything you can read or any pictures you can see about this magical site, nothing rivals an actual visit. So we’d like to share some travel tips and show you how easy it can be to visit.
Day 1: Arrive to Peru & Fly to Cusco
Machu Picchu may seem like a far away, unreachable destination, but on the contrary, it’s very accessible. Even if you don’t have much time, you can easily organize your trip and check it off your travel list for 2012 in just a weekend! International flights arrive in the airport in Lima, the hectic and vibrant capital of Peru. From there, you can catch a connecting flight to Cusco. The flight is only a little over 1 hour to reach the magnificent former capital of the Inca Empire where you can spend the night and relax.
Day 2: Visit Cusco
In Cusco, you’ll revel in the myriad luxury hotels, delicious restaurants, and most of all, the impressive architecture. From the grandiose Cathedral and tall, resplendent church of La Compania de Jesus on the main square, to the marvelous Inca stonework of the Korikancha temple and 12 Stone Wall, Cusco is one of the highlights of any Peru vacation. It is best to spend at least one day in Cusco to get acclimatized to the altitude and visit its many wonders before you start on your Machu Picchu travel adventure.
Day 3: Machu Picchu & Overnight in the Sacred Valley
Rise early and catch the train to Machu Picchu for one of the most unforgettable travel experiences of your life! You can take the train around 5am in Cusco and reach Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu, in about 4.5 hours. From here, Machu Picchu is only a quick 20-minute bus ride away. The train and bus ride themselves make for an incredible journey through the beautiful highlands of Peru.
You’ll arrive in the morning at the ruins and have the entire day to explore the site. If you wish to learn more about the history of this majestic fortress and its former inhabitants, it’s best to hire a guide who will provide you with all details and insights you can ask for because there are no informational signs on display among the ruins. Tours generally last around 2 hours, leaving you time afterwards to explore the ruins on your own. Don’t forget to hike up to the Sun Gate, the highest point of the archeological site, for the most beautiful views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding Andean range.
Once you’ve had your fill of the ruins, just hop on a bus down to Aguas Calientes and catch a train back. For a full Machu Picchu holiday experience, stop in Ollantaytambo and spend the night in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, once the mighty empire’s agricultural breadbasket. You can also visit the impressive Inca fortress that still sits in this small village and relax in the beautiful Andean countryside before returning to Cusco.
Day 4: Return to Cusco & Fly to Lima
In the morning, you can take the train to Cusco and fly back to Lima to catch you flight back home. If you have some time to spare, make sure to hop into town and take a look at Lima’s modern Miraflores district for some shopping, or the historic district to admire the colonial architecture. International flights often depart at night so you may even have time to try some of the delicious restaurants in town. We recommend Astrid y Gaston for a full Peruvian gastronomic experience, or the restaurant at the Huaca Pucllana ruins.