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. Because there is no true trip to Peru without first knowing the wonderful Inca citadel Machu Picchu (located in the Cusco region). In addition, being able to spend a few days in the ancient Inca city has its benefits. It will allow you to acclimatize to the altitude, know better the awesome Inca history, 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. 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 the ancient Inca city
- Getting from Lima to Cusco
- By bus
- By plane
- By private car
Getting 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 the Peruvian capital to Cusco. By plane, flying over 584 km in 01:45 hrs. Travel by bus, passing 117 km in 20 hrs approx. By 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.
An additional note: there is no train connection from Lima to the Imperial City. Consequently, no direct transportation from Lima to Machu Picchu, you will have to pass obligatory first by Cusco, taking a bus, private car, or plane. And then, take a train to Machu Picchu (located 111 km the railway from Cusco)
|Cheapest way||Fastest way||Most scenic route||Trip last||Price|
|Plane||X||01:20 Hrs||90 $|
|Bus||X||23 Hrs||40 $|
|Private car||X||19 Hrs||200 $|
Keep in mind that the prices and times are referential. These vary by provider and season.
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 (traveling by bus or private car). 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.
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 in 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, and 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 doesn’t 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. However, taking a bus from Lima to Cusco with the following bus companies is completely safe. It is due to their experience, modern units, and the professional capacity of their workers.
- Cruz del Sur
- Móvil Tours
These companies offer reliable services and use modern and comfortable buses. Also, most of these companies offer an online reservation service.
1. Via Nazca – Arequipa – Cusco (23 hours)
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 straight parallel to the Peruvian beaches, so you won’t have to worry. Ica is famous for its wineries that produce the famous Peru 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 Huacachina oasis in the Ica 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 which is all year, in this special case. The truth is that your trip from Lima to Cusco can be complemented by some other wonderful Peruvian destinations.
Ica – Nazca
During your trip heading 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 10 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 during the tour trip from Lima to Cusco, it is advisable to spend a few days here. The city has great weather and some lovely places to see, like Misti Vulcano, Colca Canyon, and the Santa Catalina Monastery.
The journey from Arequipa to Cusco is very scenic. You will pass the beautiful Andes mountain range, charming little towns, some majestic rivers, and ancient Inca sites along the way. You can arrive in Cusco in the late afternoon (around 14:00 pm) 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 or go directly to Machu Picchu.
2. Via Nazca – Abancay – Cusco (18 hours)
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 route 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 (the 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.
Expensive – Short duration – Aerial shots of the Andes
Before leaving for Cusco, you have to arrive in Lima. And in general, most tourists arrive in Peru by plane (compared to those who do it by bus, or cruise). And the Peruvian capital has the only international airport in Peru. 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. Fly from Lima is offered by several airlines with daily flights to get to Cusco, with a flight time of a little over an hour. Jorge Chávez Airport is located about 10 kilometers northwest of the Lima center. From there you can board your flight to Cusco.
The best-known airlines for this type of service are LATAM Peru, Sky Peru, and Jet Smart 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 airport. 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. We recommend using taxi apps like Uber, InDriver, or Cabify.
By the way, if you are asking about the possibility of travel from the Peru capital to Machu Picchu just in one day? This is possible, by taking a flight that arrives no later than 08:00 am to Cusco city. And then, taking the closest train to Machu Picchu. And enter the citadel at the last hour of 2:00 p.m.
Prices of flights
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 $90 and up. Bear in mind that the price does not usually exceed $120 for round-trip tickets. Besides, if you take advantage of the discounts offered and travel in times of low tourism, you can find round-trip tickets between $35 and $50. However, these sale seasons are rare and few.
Flight connection from Lima
Many of the travelers coming from abroad would wish to get directly from Lima to Machu Picchu. However, it is not possible because there is no direct transport between these two places. And the passengers have to choose a connecting flight to Cusco from Lima. This is generally the case with those travelers who have a loaded itinerary and a 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
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, and even Asia 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 about your transition from Lima to Cusco.
- 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 in cash, 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, and 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 the TAM Card because this one will be required to go out of Peru.
Helpful tips when flying
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 6 months 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. By the way, the cheapest month to fly is May.
- Flights during the dawning and night are much cheaper than those that depart during the day.
- If you are looking to save money, booking with Jet Smart Peru or Sky Airline may be a good idea. Both airlines are low-cost and offer nonstop flights from Lima to Cusco airport.
By private car
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 impressive landscapes.
Also, the private transfer is quite a popular option among groups looking to enjoy a more exclusive journey during their trip from Lima to Cusco. 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, and 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 that represent the Andean daily life. The second level represent the 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 like Raqchi, an ancient Wiracocha Inca deity temple. Or Tipón, an Inca ceremonial center dedicated to water.
“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 three 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!