Jewel in the crown of the Inca empire, breath-taking from afar and up close, South America’s most iconic visitor attraction rarely disappoints. To even reach Machu Picchu in the first place is an experience in itself as – whether you choose to arrive on foot via the Inca Trail or by train and bus – it first appears impossible that such a vast Inca city could have been constructed here. Overlooked by towering, forest-clad mountains, the site was in fact so well-concealed that it took until 1911 for it to be discovered again, by the American explorer Hiram Bingham.
Whilst the access town to Machu Picchu (known as Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu Pueblo) is something of a tourist trap, it does benefit from a pleasant riverside location and a good range of hotels. From the town it is an easy 15 minute journey by bus up to the ruins themselves and these depart regularly throughout the day. Once you have arrived at Machu Picchu itself and had the chance to take in its seemingly impossible location, you can explore many areas of this vast citadel on foot, taking in different viewpoints and its myriad tombs and temples. This experience is always brought to life if you are accompanied by an authorised guide, as they will recount some of the fascinating theories about the city and what the different areas were used for, as well as taking you to the very best places for photographs.