from lima to cusco

After you have experienced some of the best restaurants in Lima and seen the different city sightseeing tours, you will be ready to leave the capital city and get to the Imperial city of the Incas. Traveling to Cusco to get to know the wonderful Inca Culture is usually mandatory for anyone looking to get to know Peru; since there is no true trip to Peru without first knowing the wonderful Inca citadel. In addition, being able to spend a few days in Cusco has its benefits. Enjoying a few days in the Imperial City will allow you to acclimatize to the altitude and enjoy the many things to do in Cusco. Now as for the ways to get from Lima to Cusco you will find many alternatives.

Here we are going to talk about them. Therefore, together with Machu Travel Peru, we want to tell you about the different ways to get to Cusco.

A complete guide on the trip from Lima to Cusco

Getting from Lima to Cusco

get from lima to cusco

After enjoying all the things to do in Lima, you will feel ready to leave for Cusco. There are three ways to travel from Lima to Cusco. By plane, flying over 584 km in 1:45 hrs. The other is by bus, passing 117 km in 20 hrs approx. And the last one is through a private car in 15 hrs, with the same bus distance. All these have their advantages and disadvantages, everything will depend on your available time and budget.

Keep in mind that the trip is not short, and it will take you many hours depending on the way you travel. So if you have time, it’s a good idea to go on an adventure of discovery. Among all the ways to travel, the bus or private car is a great way to see the countryside. In addition, you will be able to know landscapes that you would not experience when traveling by plane. Although air travel will indeed save you a lot of time, altitude sickness may affect you greatly.

Cheapest wayFastest wayMost scenic routeTrip lastPrice
PlaneX01:20 Hrs85 $
BusX23 Hrs40 $
Private carX19 Hrs200 $

Keep in mind that the prices and times are referential. These vary by provider and season.

Traveling by bus

tepsa bus from lima to cusco

Cheap – Large duration – Views of amazing landscapes

Keep in mind that traveling from Lima to Cusco by bus is an adventure not to be missed on your next vacation to Peru. Depending on the route you choose to take, you will have more availability and luxury or budget alternatives. In addition, note that some transportation companies may choose to make tourist stops on the principal Peruvian cities located on the route, while others may not. Some will only decide to take breaks of a few hours at each stop, and nothing more. Or, if you decide to travel together with a tourist agency, maybe you can enjoy these destinations in more depth. Get to know the countryside and the beautiful routes full of scenic landscapes that only a bus trip offers you because there is not the best time to visit Peru and get your dreams than now.

Taking the bus can be one of the best ways to travel around Peru. Numerous companies offer services from Lima to Cusco. Most companies have a minimum of two to three daily departures, most of them depart from the previous day noon to the next noon (So, the travelers will spend a night on board) The downside is that Lima does not have a central bus terminal. So each company operates from its own station. And this can get a bit confusing when it comes to choosing a reputable company. But the best alternatives include Cruz del Sur, Oltursa, Móvil Tours, Civa and Tepsa among others. These companies offer reliable services and use modern and comfortable buses. Also, most of these companies offer an online reservation service.

Please note that there are two main routes to go from Lima to Cusco. The shortest path but most vertiginous heads southeast to Nazca and then turns northeast and heads to Cusco. Not suitable for the faint of heart or those more prone to dizziness. The other route goes through Arequipa and then turns back to Cusco. It is a much less stressful route, but a bit longer than usual. Both routes can take 18-22 hours to fully traverse. Bus prices are quite affordable and range from the US $20 to the US $50 depending on the level of comfort and exclusivity you choose.

1. Via Nazca – Arequipa – Juliaca – Cusco (23 hours)

bus from lima to cusco

Lima – Ica

The ideal way to do the trip is to divide it into a few parts. On the way to Arequipa, you will pass through the town of Ica. This track until Ica can take up to three hours, depending on the company you choose to travel with. The road is pretty well most of the way, so you won’t have to worry. This town is famous for its wineries that produce the local drink called Pisco. It is a good idea to take the time to taste Pisco and spend an afternoon at the wineries.

Also, there, you will find one of the most known attractions of Peru, the oasis in the Huacachina desert. It is worth spending a day here; as you can swim, sandboard, take dune buggies and generally sunbathe. There are plenty of accommodation options to choose from to make your stay that much more enjoyable at the best time to visit Peru that is all year, in this special case. The truth is that your trip from Lima to Cusco can be complemented with some other wonderful Peruvian destinations.

Ica – Nazca

During your trip to Lima to Cusco, further south and inland you can find the small and quiet town of Nazca. Why should you stop there? You may wonder. But the truth is, you must stop there, (If you have time, of course) as this is home to the famous Nazca Lines. This destination is a recommendable stop where you can get to know one of the most iconic places in Peru. Drawn by an ancient civilization (Nazca pre-Inca culture) many years ago, the lines remain a mystery to this day. To get the best view of the lines, it is recommendable to take a flight over the site. For those of you who don’t like small plans, then it is possible to travel to the outskirts of the city to the observation tower, where you can see a few examples of these lines.

Nazca – Arequipa

From Nazca, it takes about ten hours to get to Arequipa. The White City, as it is commonly known (by the Sillar, a type of white stone, with which all its historic buildings were built) It is the second-largest city in Peru and its historic center is a mix of old and new architectural styles. If you have time, it is advisable to spend a few days here. The city has great weather and some lovely places to see.

Arequipa- Juliaca

From Arequipa, on your way to Cusco, you will pass the industrial city of Juliaca. The city is one of the most disorganized places in Peru. You don’t need to spend time here. The truth is that there is not much to see, the houses are not finished, the streets are mostly not paved and most of the people just pass on the way to Puno;  the south city over the coasts of Lake Titicaca.

Juliaca  – Cusco

The journey from Juliaca to Cusco is very scenic. You will pass beautiful snowy mountains, charming little towns, some majestic rivers, and ancient Inca sites along the way. You can arrive in Cusco in the late afternoon with enough time to enjoy the exciting nightlife that the city has to offer. And the next day, you can enjoy a Cusco city tour early in the morning.

2. Via Nazca – Abancay – Cusco (18 hours)

lima to cusco bus trip

The other way to travel by bus from Lima to Cusco is direct via the Nazca and Abancay route. This trip will take you about eighteen hours. Many bus companies offer this service and the level of service may vary. There are luxury buses with movies and meals that come with drinks included onboard. But for the not-so-fancy options, you will have to bring your own food and drink. These services are cheaper and less comfortable, but they are a great way to travel if you like buses. Buy online and see the range of prices and services they offer.

The route is divided into three parts: From Lima to Nazca (City that was described already). From Nazca to Abancay, a city with the least interest. And the last part, from Abancay to Cusco.

Be aware that this route can be quite curvy. Especially around Abancay where there can be some steep ascents and descents. So if you experience dizziness in the car, be sure to bring your recommended medications. Upon arrival in Cusco, remember to take it easy for the first few days, as the city is at a high altitude.

Traveling by plane

lan flight from lima to cusco

Expensive – Short duration – Aerial shots of the Andes

Before leaving for Cusco, you have to get to Lima. And in general, most tourists arrive in Peru by plane. So Lima will be one of your starting points. The truth is that there is no best time to visit Lima, but you can take advantage of the season in which you travel. Flying is by far the fastest and most efficient option to get from Lima to Cusco. Several airlines offer daily flights to get there, with a flight time of a little over an hour. Lima’s Jorge Chávez Airport is located about 10 kilometers northwest of the city center. From there you can board your flight from Lima to Cusco. Numerous airlines operate flights that go from Lima to Cusco daily.

The best-known airlines for this type of service are LAN Peru, Sky Peru, and Viva Air Peru. Please note that flights tend to depart from 5 AM until 20:30 PM. With these flight schedules, travelers will be able to plan their entire day with different adventures and activities. Once you arrive in Cusco, you will find yourself at the Alejandro Velasco Astete international airport in Cusco. This is located about 4 kilometers south of the center of the Cusco tourist map. From the airport, you can choose to take a bus or a taxi to your accommodation of choice.

Flight prices

getting from lima to cusco

The price varies a lot depending on the time you choose to travel and the schedule. If you take advantage of the available offers, the prices may not vary much from the bus trips. But in general, you can expect roundtrip prices between $80 and up. Bear in mind that the price does not usually exceed US $120 for round-trip tickets. Besides, if you take advantage of the discounts offers and travel in times of low tourism, you can find round-trip tickets between US $35 and US $40, however, these are rare and few.

Flight connection from Lima

airplane from lima to cusco

Many of the travelers coming from abroad would wish to get directly from Lima to Machu Picchu. However, it is not possible, and they choose to take a connecting flight to Cusco from Lima. They do it directly after arriving in Peru and landing in Lima. This is generally the case with those travelers who have a loaded itinerary and few days available in the country. If this is the case, keep in mind that you must go through customs before your connecting flight. It is also recommended to book your Machu Picchu and train tickets in advance. Whether you do it through a travel agency, online, or on the airline’s website itself.

To pass the immigration control

inmigration control to flight from lima to cusco

Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport is one of the most important hubs in all Latin America, many international flights that come from North America, Europa, even Asia to South America have Lima as their point of connection. Therefore, It’s not surprising that the migration zone of Lima airport will be one of the most strict in the world. However, If you meet these two standards, you don’t have to worry.

  • Custom Declaration: It is a form in which you have to declare the monetary value of all things that you carry in your luggage, backpack etc. After a routine review, if the security officer finds things “not declared” and these exceed $1,000, you will have to pay taxes to enter Peru.
  • Andean Card (Tarjeta Andina) TAM: This is a registration card to enter additional information about your trip, a destination of travel, travel reason, a destination address, inter alia. The security personnel will unbundle a part of the card for government use and the other part will give to you. It is important to save and not lose this part of TAM Card because this one will be required to go out of Peru.

Helpful tips when flying

tips to travel from lima to cusco

Among our Cusco travel tips, we can recommend the following tips to make your trip by plane a much more enjoyable one. In general, these are also applicable if you are looking to enjoy another Peruvian destination.

  • If you are looking for a cheap flight, it is advisable to book at least 4 weeks in advance. This way you will get a flight with a price below the average.
  • If you fly during the high season (September, October, and November) you may get flights at a higher price. The cheapest month to fly is May.
  • Flights during the dawning and nights are much cheaper than those that depart during the day.
  • If you are looking to save money, booking with Viva Air Peru or Sky Airline may be a good idea. Both airlines are low-cost and offer nonstop flights from Lima to Cusco.

Traveling by private car

private car from lima to cusco

Most expensive – Large duration – Views of amazing landscapes – You have the control

Although the bus and the plane are the main ways to get there, it does not mean that they are the only ones. You can also travel in a private car along the Central Highlands route. This option is not usually that popular and is only chosen by those adventurers looking to enjoy the impressive landscapes.

This is one of the less popular ways to do the trip. But the private transfer is quite a popular option among groups looking to enjoy a more exclusive trip. This route usually crosses the heart of the Peruvian Andes and will give you an idea of ​​the life and traditions that mark Peru. 

  • Lima – Huancayo: The first section of the trip directs you to Huancayo and can last between six and eight hours. Huancayo is the most developed city in the central region of Peru, with quaint squares, buildings, commercial centers, inter alia.
  • Huancayo – Ayacucho: This second section heads towards Ayacucho and also lasts between six and eight hours. Ayacucho is popular for its handicrafts production and the famous “Retablo Ayacuchano” (a kind of two-tiered atrium, in the first level there are little human sculptures which represent the Andean daily life. The second level represent the to figures and images of the Catholic religion)
  • Ayacucho – Andahuaylillas: The third section goes to Andahuaylas and lasts about five hours. It is there where it normally changes for the section to Cusco. Andahuaylillas is just a passing city where you can make a stop for lunch or rest for a few hours.
  • Andahuaylillas – Cusco: This track has a duration of about seven to nine hours. The main objective of this route is to know some popular destinations in the Peruvian highlands.

“YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND A CITY WITHOUT USING ITS PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM”

We hope together with the travel experts of Machu Travel Peru to have been of help. As you can see, there are two main ways to travel from Lima to Cusco. Although there are other less traditional ways of traveling. But no matter which way of travel you choose, what you will experience in both Lima and Cusco will leave you in awe. These two destinations are some of the most important when traveling in Peru. Not only will you be able to know a large part of our history, but also to enjoy the different Machu Picchu tours. If you want to know more about our different routes, you can consult with our qualified team of advisers. They will be happy to help you fulfill the trip of your dreams!

Peru has so much to offer, it can be hard to know where to start. With many years of experience in the tourism sector, Machu Travel Peru is happy to help with anything regarding your trip to Machu Picchu and any tours around it. Make your Machu Picchu experience an unforgettable one!