Machu Picchu, the majestic Inca citadel perched high in the Peruvian Andes, attracts visitors from around the world with its astonishing architecture and stunning natural surroundings.
When planning your visit, it’s crucial to understand the available routes, the Machu Picchu circuit system, and the ticket acquisition process to make the most of your experience.
Currently, the government has mandated that the visit to the Inca city be carried out through specific routes, ensuring the preservation of spaces for the future.
Taking this into consideration, when visiting Machu Picchu, you’ll have access to a specific circuit based on the purchased ticket. In total, there are 5 circuits of Machu Picchu distributed throughout the Inca citadel.
Confused about which circuit to choose? Don’t worry! In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about each Machu Picchu circuit, the routes, and which one is the best. If you want to discover the alternatives offered by the Machu Picchu circuits, stay tuned and read until the end.
The journey through the citadel of Machu Picchu is one of the best opportunities to make the most of attending the circuits for a unique touring experience. Now, you might be wondering, which option is the best of all? Well, each one offers specific routes and charming scenic attractions.
So, below, we are going to describe the most relevant aspects of each circuit:
Among all the circuits of Machu Picchu, Circuit 1 Machu Picchu is one of the most requested by visitors to the citadel. The tour takes approximately two hours and will allow you to capture good photographs of the entire citadel.
The upper area offers truly unique landscapes for you to take pictures of Machu Picchu, so if you’re a photography enthusiast, this is the best circuit of all.
In Circuit 1 Machu Picchu, you can explore the lower platform and the upper platform, with stunning views. Additionally, you’ll discover the ingenious Dry Well and immerse yourself in the spirituality of the Temple of the Sun. The tour allows you to stroll through the Granite Chaos area and enjoy the serenity at the Set of Water Mirrors.
Finally, you can relax in the Pisonay Square before concluding in the Archaeological Reserve, where you will delve into the history and culture of this unique site.
If you decide to take the 2D/1N Machu Picchu Tour by train with Gurú Explorers, you have the opportunity to experience this circuit. This journey allows you to delve into the history, geography, and the most interesting archaeological sites, appreciating ancient Inca architecture.
Circuit 2 Machu Picchu is one of the most popular due to the interesting nature of the route. The complete route takes about three hours and is the best option if you want to explore the most interesting spaces of Machu Picchu. In the upper area, you will find ideal spaces to capture the best photographs of the landscape.
During the Circuit 2 Machu Picchu tour, you will have the opportunity to explore both the lower and upper platforms, as well as immerse yourself in the spirituality of the Temple of the Sun. You will enjoy the Plaza de los Templos and the majesty of the Intihuatana Pyramid, while marveling at the Sacred Rock and the Twelve Windows.
You will also get to know the Eastern Qolcas and relax in the Set of Water Mirrors. The experience will be further enriched by visiting the Temple of the Condor and the Pisonay Square before concluding your journey in the Archaeological Reserve.
The 1-day Machu Picchu Tour by train, offered by Gurú Explorers, allows you to choose this circuit where you can take a tour of the Temple of the Sun. Additionally, you will appreciate the most important Inca constructions of the citadel. This tour is one of the most interesting options for tourists who want to take home the best memories of Machu Picchu.
Circuit 3 Machu Picchu is one of the shortest, so you’ll only take 1.5 hours to complete it. The route of this circuit focuses on the lower part of the citadel, making it a quick mini-tour, as highlighted earlier. However, this does not mean that it’s a circuit with few things to see—quite the opposite! Like the other Machu Picchu circuits, this one offers interesting attractions.
Exploring Circuit 3 Machu Picchu, you will delve into the practical function and ingenious planning of the Incas. You will discover the Qolqas, structures used for storage, and explore the Agricultural Area to understand how the Incas managed their resources.
Additionally, you will observe the Water Channel and the Dry Well, key elements in the hydraulic infrastructure of the site. The journey continues towards the House of the Inka Complex, offering you a more intimate insight into the daily life of the Incan civilization.
The Water Fountains provide a refreshing pause before immersing yourself in the serene Set of Water Mirrors. The Pisonay Square offers a space for reflection before concluding your experience in the Archaeological Reserve, where you can deepen your understanding of the connection between practical functionality and the cultural richness of Machu Picchu.
One alternative from Gurú Explorers that takes you to Circuit 3 Machu Picchu is the Machu Picchu Tour with Machu Picchu Mountain. This excursion tests your endurance while introducing you to the most interesting places in the Machu Picchu citadel.
Circuit 4 Machu Picchu takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete. In this case, you’ll be able to explore the entire lower level of Machu Picchu and it’s one of the best recommendations to discover 14 attractions of the Inca citadel. One of the main areas to visit is the Inca Store Houses, built in a rather unusual manner, making them an interesting zone for tourists.
From the functional Qolqas and the Agricultural Area, where meticulous planning is evident, to the ingenious water management through the Canal and the Dry Well, each step reveals the skill of this ancient civilization. Attention shifts to the imposing Temple of the Sun Complex and the welcoming House of the Inka Complex, providing you with a tangible insight into daily routines and ritual practices.
The Water Fountains offer a respite before immersing yourself in the majesty of the Sacred Rock and the unique perspective of the Twelve Windows, highlighting Inca architectural expertise. The Eastern Qolcas and the evocative Set of Water Mirrors add layers of meaning, followed by the contemplative Pisonay Square ending in the Archaeological Reserve.
If you’re up for the 5-day Inca Trail Tour offered by Gurú Explorers, you can undertake Circuit 4 Machu Picchu or choose two Machu Picchu circuits tailored to your needs and preferences. Undoubtedly, this circuit allows you to observe the best landscapes and archaeological spaces of the lower level of the citadel.
Circuit 5 Machu Picchu is the last one you can choose in this tour of the Inca citadel with an approximate duration of 1 hour and 30 minutes. To enter this circuit, you must come from a previous Inca Trail tour. As highlighted before, the route of this circuit is quite short.
In the course of Circuit 5 Machu Picchu, your exploration focuses on discovering the practical aspects and architectural mastery of the Incas. From the Qolqas and the Agricultural Area, where utility and detailed planning become evident, to the ingenious water management through the Canal and the Dry Well, each point highlights the skill of this ancient civilization.
Heading to the impressive Temple of the Sun Complex and the welcoming House of the Inka Complex, you’ll have a close-up view of the daily life and customs of the Incas. The Water Fountains offer a moment of peace before discovering the intriguing Game of 3 Covers, adding a special touch to your experience. In the Pisonay Square, you can reflect, and the Archaeological Reserve will immerse you in the historical richness of the place.
The 4-day Inca Trail Tour by Gurú Explorers is a perfect option where you can undertake this circuit. This hike is one of the most popular in the world and allows you to discover extraordinary landscapes until you reach the impressive Machu Picchu.
The purpose of establishing circuits in Machu Picchu is to preserve these historical and natural spaces. Machu Picchu is one of the most culturally significant places and is also a «World Wonder.»
For this reason, measures have been implemented to ensure its preservation. By guiding visitors through designated routes, the flow of people can be managed, reducing congestion in critical areas. This strategy helps minimize wear and tear caused by overcrowding and ensures the preservation of structures and the natural environment.
Setting time limits for visits prevents the excessive accumulation of visitors, allowing all tourists the opportunity to fully enjoy the experience. This measure contributes to maintaining high levels of visitor satisfaction by avoiding crowds and long waits.
The choice of the best circuit in Machu Picchu may depend on your preferences and time constraints. If you’re looking for a comprehensive tour, we recommend circuits 1, 2, or 4. However, if you have limited time, circuit 3 or circuit 5 would be beneficial.
Children can undertake any of the circuits, so you don’t have to worry if you’re traveling with minors.
For older adults in good physical condition, circuit 2 Machu Picchu is the best option. If that’s not possible, we recommend circuit 1. Regardless of the circuit you choose, it’s important to follow the guides’ instructions and respect the regulations to preserve this historic and cultural site.
Machu Picchu circuits are designed as one-way itineraries. Once a specific circuit has been started, it is not allowed to backtrack or switch to another route during the visit. This arrangement is implemented to efficiently manage the flow of visitors, ensuring an organized experience and preserving the integrity of the site.
By adopting this one-way structure, the goal is to optimize the circulation of people, minimize congestion in sensitive areas, and guarantee that all visitors have the opportunity to fully enjoy various points of interest. Additionally, this measure contributes to maintaining safety and respect for the environment by allowing more effective control of tourist influx in each area of the citadel.
For the best classic photograph of Machu Picchu, you can achieve this in either circuit 1 or circuit 2. In these two routes, the panoramic view of the citadel is ideal for capturing the perfect photo.
If you want to embark on the journey of a lifetime, don’t waste time and book one of our Tours to Machu Picchu. At Gurú Explorers, we have everything you need to make it the best experience of your life. Contact us, and we’ll help you choose your next adventure!