Machu Picchu with Kids: 5 Tips for A Great Trip

Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world and is (or should be) on every traveler’s bucket list. But many families think this is trip to wait for – I can state with certainty you can plan to visit Machu Picchu with kids when they’re still kids.

We found Peru truly magical, and regardless of whether or not you are a spiritual person, you will absolutely feel the magical energy and spirituality when sitting at the top of this spectacular monument.

machu picchu aqua caliente peru

This quintessential city in the clouds is simply magnificent. We’ve all seen pictures on travel brochures and TV, but, as with so many wonders of the world, nothing quite prepares us for being there in person. 

And, watching my little ones attempt to spell Machu Picchu was a hoot. Between “Matchu Pitchu,” “Machu Pichu,” and “Machu Peekchoo,” I’m convinced we’ve discovered several other wonders of the world in their travel journals.

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 Here are 5 essential tips for visiting Machu Picchu with Kids

1. Allow Time to Acclimate to the Altitude

Spend at least two days in Cusco to acclimate to the altitude before heading up to Aqua Caliente to visit Machu Picchu with kids. When we arrived in Cusco at 11,152 feet, we ALL felt a bit light-headed for a good two days and one of us (who shall go unnamed) felt dreadful the first day. The local remedy is coca leaf tea. Not sure that works because the kids wouldn’t drink it, but the locals swore by it.

cusco peru

We moved very very slowly around the steep city, trying to hydrate with water and the adults sipped coca tea to try to acclimate to the altitude. The best option is to rest, hydrate, avoid alcohol, and eat lightly. This can be tricky with children in tow, but it can really make or break your holiday. Coca leaves are used to produce coca tea and are the most common way of consuming coca among tourists in Peru.

coca leaves peru coca tea

It’s completely legal (unlike cocaine) and is believed to help prevent altitude sickness.

2. Bring Small Gifts to Share When You Visit Machu Picchu with Kids

One of the most heartwarming parts of traveling the world is seeing our children interact with local children.

bring gifts when you visit machu picchu with kids
The boys shared their secret handshake with Rodriguez, their new friend.  They couldn’t speak each other’s language but managed to communicate and hang out for 2 hours…

peru kids cusco

Kids are easily able to overcome a language barrier, and of social class – for that moment it’s just a bunch of kids kicking a soccer ball, laughing at a joke, or sharing a lollipop.

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When we visited Peru, the ‘silly bandz’ craze was just hitting the US, and Julian filled his arm with silly bandz and slowly introduced them to Peru, one kid at a time. They were a huge hit!  Surf and skate stickers always travel with us to hand out to young kids who will love them also and are easy to pack!

3. Enjoy the Llamas (and Alpacas)

Llamas are synonymous with Peruvian culture and we found them everywhere.

baby llamas peru cusco machu piccu baby llamas peru cusco machu picchu

Llamas are social animals and have no problems mingling with humans, although they spit when they are agitated or afraid, so look out for that!

Hey! That's an alpaca - how did he get in here?
Alpacas are very furry, too

baby llamas peru cusco machu picchu

4. Take the Train to Machu Picchu

While hiking the Inca Trail is on the bucket list of many travelers (and ours for that matter), we needed to be realistic about our situation.

peru rail machu picchu cusco

The most popular treks are 4 days or 2 days, and we decided that even the two-day hike would be too strenuous for the boys, (even if Dad is a sherpa and carries one on his back)! We’ll just have to go back another time to hike the Inca Trail.  We took the Peru Rail train from Cusco to Agua Caliente and then took a bus to drive a hairpin bend road to the entrance of the magical Inca site.

5. Stay Longer and Soak In All The Views 

Take a deep breath, soak in this amazing wonder of the world, and try and etch this moment into your mind and soul forever.

machu picchu
Obligatory cheesy tourist shot!

machu Picchu peru

There are no words to describe the sights, smells, and sounds when you finally reach the peak of Machu Picchu. We were able to climb around all parts of the ruins, which surprised me. 

machu picchu peru wonder of the world machu picchu peru wonder of the world

We spent the night in Aqua Caliente, at the simply amazing Inketerra Hotel, and at 3 pm when most tour groups left to catch the train back to Cusco, we had the whole place to ourselves.

machu picchu peru

Is visiting Machu Picchu with kids on your travel list?

If so I’d suggest going sooner rather than later. The Peruvian government is worried about sustainability, and pressure from Unesco has prompted them to introduce restrictions. These include only allowing entry with an official tour guide, not allowing people to climb around the ruins, and limiting tourists to two entry periods during the day and enforcing the departure.

Have you visited Machu Picchu with kids?

What was your favorite memory?

Let me know in the comments below and Join me on Instagram and Twitter!

About The Author


I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

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