from cusco to machu picchu

The Incas definitely wanted to build Machu Picchu as close as possible to the Empire capital, Cusco. But why does it take too long to get to the Inca citadel? The location, which is difficult to access, can be the answer.

Machu Picchu is on the Jungle eyebrow, at 2430 m.a.s.l. At 42 miles northwest of Cusco. Happily, there are 3 ways to go from Cusco to Machu Picchu: such as by train, by car, and by walking.

Each one specialized for the traditional, modern, and adventure traveler. Thus, with the help of the Machu Travel Peru team, we detailed 3 forms of access to the magical Inca citadel. So, getting to Machu Picchu from Cusco is very easy if you know these three options very well!

Everything you need to know to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu

By train

peru rail to machu picchu

The train to Machu Picchu is the oldest and most traditional way to get there. The journey assures a variety of beautiful landscapes in the Peruvian Andes and jungles. During the trip, you can also appreciate the impressive Peruvian flora and fauna of the zone.

Cusco has two different train companies that offer transport from Cusco with a tourist service level. These are Peru Rail and Inca Rail. Peru Rail’s carriages can depart from San Pedro, Poroy, or Ollantaytambo train stations.

Inca Rail’s wagons depart only from Ollantaytambo train station. But all wagons have only one destination: Aguas Calientes, the modern town of Machu Picchu. This town hosts the closest train station to Machu Picchu.

In addition, there is a service that combines transport in a bus up to a specific part, and from there, the train service continues. Bimodal is the name of this service, and both train companies offer it.

A. Peru Rail

peru rail train

Peru Rail is the oldest train company in Cusco. All its services are tourist-level, and its carriages can depart from the San Pedro train station in Cusco. From Poroy train station, 1 hour from Cusco. Or, from Ollantaytambo train station, 2 hours from Cusco.

The Peru Rail train tickets to Machu Picchu will depend on the train class that the visitor chooses. Its train services include Expedition, Vistadome, and luxury Hiram Bingham.

1. Expedition

expedition train

Depart Train Station
San Pedro train stationThe station is in Cusco city. The wagons depart early from there, taking 2 hours to Ollantaytambo or 4 hours to Aguas Caliente town.
Poroy train stationThe station is in Poroy town, one-hour northwest of Cusco. The train takes three hours to reach Aguas Calientes town.
Ollantaytambo train stationThe station is in Poroy town, one-hour northwest of Cusco. The train takes three hours to reach Aguas Calientes town.

This class of service is the most economical, but it is still of excellent quality. The carriages have a modern style.

These have comfortable, cushioned seats and long windows at the sides. These allow passengers to appreciate the beautiful landscapes better during the route.

In addition, the carriages have tables between seats, background music, and audio with tourist information. The cost of a round trip per person is approximately $120.00.

2. Vistadome

vistadome peru rail

The Vistadome trains depart from the same train stations as the Expeditions trains. In the same way, their carriages have the same services and characteristics as the Expeditions trains.

The difference is the addition of parades of alpaca garments and cultural representation of the live “Saqra” dance. Without mentioning snacks and all these onboard!

This train is also the only one that offers direct frequency from the same Cusco city to Aguas Calientes. Its trip duration is 04:30 hrs from San Pedro station. 03 hours from Poroy station. And 02 hours from Ollantaytambo station.

The cost of a round trip per person is approximately $170.00.

3. Luxury Hiram Bingham

Hiram Bingham train

Depart Train Station
Wanchaq train stationWanchaq station is in Cusco, and only buses depart there, heading to Poroy or Ollantaytambo stations. The bus trip lasts 1 hour and 2 hours, respectively. Passengers take their Hiram Bingham train at these stations, heading to Machu Picchu. Bimodal services are the name of these kinds of services.
Poroy train stationPoroy is a 01-hour drive from Cusco. The Hiram Bingham train trip from this station to Aguas Calientes lasts 03:00 hours.
Ollantaytambo train stationOllantaytambo is a 2-hour drive from Cusco to the Sacred Valley. From this station, the Hiram Bingham takes 2 hours to reach Aguas Calientes.

The luxury Hiram Bingham is the maximum expression of luxury, quality of service, and comfort onboard.

The carriages resemble the luxurious old British Pullman trains of the 1920s. The Hiram Bingham service welcomes its passengers with a cocktail party at the train station. Once on board, the service provides a gourmet brunch on the way out and a gourmet dinner on the way back.

In addition, the train offers a free open bar, a live Andean music band, food sales, and tour guides available. Without mentioning a small observatory car to enjoy Andean landscapes. The service includes a special bus for its passengers called the Hiram Bingham that travels to Machu Picchu.

It also provides entrance tickets to the Inca citadel. Even more, the exclusive train tour guides will guide passengers through the Inca marvel. At the end of the day, enjoy a tea party at a nearby 5-star hotel before returning to the train.

The cost of a round trip per person is $999.00 approx.

B. Inca Rail

inca rail from cusco to machu picchu

If you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu, you should pay attention to your time. Yes, it is possible to visit Machu Picchu from Cusco in just one day. The traveler must first take a 2-hour trip from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. They can choose to travel by car, van, minivan, or bus.

Once in Ollantaytambo, they can then take the train to Aguas Calientes. Fortunately, Inca Rail offers more modern trains than Peru Rail. However, all its trains depart from the Ollantaytambo station while maintaining the same quality.

The company also offers departures from Cusco in its Bimodal mode. This means that many buses leave their office in Cusco and go to Ollantaytambo. From there, travelers will switch to trains to get to Aguas Calientes.

1. The 360º

360 train inca rail

The Inca Rail represents its economy service in the 360º trains. The coaches are contemporary, featuring plush, spacious seating, tables interspersed, and expansive windows on both sides.

The train service offers refreshments onboard and USB outlets for charging mobile devices. Additionally, there is a viewing car where passengers can enjoy breathtaking views of the Andes and the Peruvian rainforest. The trains depart from and return from Ollantaytambo train station. The cost of a round trip per person is approximately $115.00.

2. The Voyager

voyager train

The Voyager trains have the same features as the 360º trains. They also have background music, snacks, and drinks for sale. Additionally, they feature a traditional Andean-themed play called Ollantay” performed onboard.

In the same way, trains depart from and arrive at Ollantaytambo (Sacred Valley). This service operates with “Bimodal” services, which include buses that depart from Cusco and take passengers to the Ollantaytambo station.

Where you can make a transfer by train to Aguas Calientes. The cost of a round trip per person is $130.00 approx.

3. The Premium & Lounge

the premium and lounge train

The Premium & Lounge of Inca Rail is an intermediate service between the Voyager and the First Class trains. The experience begins with a preference for embarking at the Ollantaytambo train station. The train consists of spacious dining cars plus a bar/lounge wagon.

During your journey, you can listen to live Andean music. You can also relax on charming balconies with stunning views of the Andean landscapes. Additionally, you can watch a performance of the Ollantay Inca theatrical drama. Totally amazing!

The service covers all snacks and drinks on board. In addition, you can order delicious meals from the menu. And if that was not enough, the wagon’s seats and windows are padded and large, respectively. Similar to the first-class service!

The price goes around $250.00 approx.

4. The First Class

luxury train cusco packages

This level of service is the maximum that you can find in any Inca Rail service. Elegant elements beautifully decorate the trains. You can relax in comfortable seating with tables and large windows.

Enjoy a delicious gourmet lunch while listening to traditional Andean music. The First Class also has a lounge bar where you can unwind. Don’t miss the theatrical performance based on the Ollantay Drama.

Besides, there is an exclusive bus that takes passengers to Machu Picchu. The cost of a round trip per person is approximately $950.00.

C. Bimodal service

bimodal service

The bimodal service is a new form of travel to Machu Picchu by train. The service consists of a trip by bus and a trip by train. In the case of Peru Rail, buses depart from Wanchaq Train Station. After a bus trip of 2 hours, the passengers make a transfer to the train at Ollantaytambo train station.

Or, after a 1-hour bus trip, you´ll be able to make a transfer to a train at the Poroy train station. Develop the same modality for the return.

In the case of Inca Rail, all its buses depart from its office on Sol Avenue 615, heading to Ollantaytambo. From this station, the passenger makes a transfer to the Inca Rail trains and heads to Machu Picchu.

By car

car to machu picchu

This is the newest way to get to Machu Picchu. You can travel from Cusco to Santa Teresa town, which is 204 kilometers away, by private car or public bus. The trip takes about 5 hours. Tourists need to take a 30-minute ride on land from Santa Teresa to reach the Hydroelectric train station.

From there, they can continue on to Aguas Calientes by local train, which is not a tourist service. The train trip lasts 45 minutes. Undoubtedly, this is the cheapest Machu Picchu trip cost, despite taking longer to get there.

The return is traditional, by train. A round trip per person costs approximately $120.00.

By walking

1. Inca Trail

inca trail to machu picchu

4 days and 3 nights. Imagine walking the same path that the Incas used centuries ago to reach Machu Picchu. Well, this journey assures you that you will have the same experience that the Inca explorers once had.

The Inca Trail allows only 500 visitors per day. To secure a spot, you must book through a local authorized travel agency at least 6 months in advance. The government doesn’t allow hiking the trail independently.

The route begins at 84 km, in the middle of the railway from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. To disembark, you must present special permission to the train staff (provided by the authorized travel agency).

Once you reach 84 km, you will begin your trek at an elevation of 4224 meters above sea level. The stunning Andean and jungle scenery will surround you.

Additionally, you will uncover enchanting Inca ruins near Machu Picchu. You will enjoy seeing the native plants and animals on your trip. And find the fascinating Inca ruins near Machu Picchu.

2. Salkantay Trek

salkantay trek to machu picchu

4 days and 3 nights. Among the new best things to do in Cusco surroundings, the Salkantay Trek should never be missing from your list. At least if you have already done the Inca Trail trek and want to experience something new. The trek begins in the Soraypampa camp zone, located 122 km northwest of Cusco in the Mollepata district.

You only need normal transportation (car, van, minivan, or bus) to get there and begin the adventure! You don’t need to sign up or register in advance to take this route. You can also go on the trek alone. However, we recommend that you contact a local tour operator or guide before starting the trek.

The path goes around the snowy Salkantay mountain at 6264 m.a.s.l, passing through Andean, jungle, and glacier landscapes. Visitors will walk on rocks, mud, grass, and snow all in one walk! You will see unique plants and animals in the different climates of the Andes, Jungle, and Glaciers. In addition, the route finishes in the same Machu Picchu citadel.

3. Inca Jungle Trek

inca trail jungle to machu-picchu

4 days and 3 nights. This route is reserved for travelers with adventurous souls. Guests can enjoy a variety of activities during this 4-day trip.

Visitors can enjoy cycling, hiking, white-water rafting, zip-lining, and relaxing in Santa Teresa’s thermal baths.

All begin in Abra Malaga, a high point of 4316 m.a.s.l. located 108 km northwest of Cusco. From this point, the descent by bicycle begins to the town of Santa Maria, where you can go rafting. The next day, you will start the trekking to Santa Teresa, where you can do canopying and bathe in hot springs.

The next day, trekking to Machu Picchu. The experience is exhausting but well worth it. Visitors don’t require tickets for the tour. However, owing to the logistics involved, it is always advisable to use a tour operator.

During the tour, you will experience extreme climate change from the Andes to the Peruvian jungle. In the same way, the trek finishes in the same Machu Picchu town. It was an unforgettable experience!

4. Lares Trek

lares trek to machu picchu

4 days and 3 nights. Lares is a little town located 198 kilometers northwest of Cusco; to get there, you only need common transportation.

This town has a lovely hot spring where you can relax before starting the hike. Along the way, you’ll also see icy lakes and stunning snowy mountains and glaciers.

The trekking route finishes in Ollantaytambo, where the visitor must take a train to Aguas Calientes. Four days of magical experiences on this route are well worth it. By the way, the route finishes at the Ollantaytambo train station. There, visitors will be able to take trains heading to Aguas Calientes and enjoy Machu Picchu!

From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu

aguas calientes to machu picchu

Just like Rome, all roads lead to this popular destination. In Cusco, all roads lead to Aguas Calientes, the modern town of Machu Picchu. This town is where you can find the closest train station to Machu Picchu.

No car or train route leads directly to Machu Picchu, so you will have to make a mandatory stop in this charming town. Of course, if you do the Inca trail, you can skip the town of Aguas Calientes and get directly to the world marvel.

Anyway, once you arrive at Aguas Calientes, you have two forms to get to the ancient citadel.


bus to machu picchu

CONSETTUR is the only bus company managed by Machu Picchu municipality. This offers transportation services to Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes. Buses leave every 5 minutes from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and back.

You can also buy your bus tickets at the station. Don’t worry about availability—the buses depart every 5 minutes! The bus trip lasts 45 minutes one way. It does not matter if there is the best time to visit Machu Picchu; the buses operate 365 days a year.

In addition, the cost of the bus ticket is $24.00.

2. Climb up to the citadel

climb up to machu picchu

Climbing the zig-zag route is a second option to getting to Machu Picchu: hiking to the Inca citadel. A Zig Zag footpath climbs the mountain until it reaches the same entrance of the archaeological park.

The hiking in one direction lasts approximately 01 hours and the same time in the return. Unfortunately, the route closes during the rainy season, from January to March. If you are in good physical condition, we recommend you make this climb.

Entrance fee to Machu Picchu

entrance ticket to machu picchu

Congratulations! Now, you have arrived at Machu Picchu, and you are ready to enter the Inca citadel. But Where is your entrance ticket?

It’s a good idea to buy tickets for Machu Picchu at least 6 months ahead of time. Make sure to buy them before anything else, before train or bus tickets. You can now buy tickets to Machu Picchu online through the official website

Please remember to bring your entrance tickets and original passport with you when you enter the Citadel. This is necessary to verify your information at the entrance checkpoint.


We hope to show you the different alternatives to getting to Machu Picchu from Cusco. There are many options available for purchasing tickets and reservations for your trip. Buy your bus or train tickets, entrance fees, and reservations from a local travel agency.

It is best to do this at least 6 months before your trip starts. Remember that Machu Picchu is one of the new seven wonders with a high demand for visitors per month. If you have questions or need help with a tourist package, the Machu Travel Peru team is ready to assist you.

You don’t have to worry about considering all the options. They will help you every step of the way. Come on, dare to visit the place of your dreams!