If you are ready to visit this Inca citadel and want to know how to get to Machu Picchu, this is the right website,
For starters, there are several ways to get there, from 4, 3, 2 day hikes and even going by train in a 1 day tour called full day. There is also the option of going on your own.
We will explain in a simple and detailed way how you can get to Machu Picchu from Cusco, which is visited by thousands of tourists day after day.
How to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco
The options we have to get to Machupicchu from Cusco are:
- By Train
- The Inca Trail
- By alternative routes
- By Car (Machu Picchu by Car)
Going to Machu Picchu by train is the most used option by travelers, it is because it has many advantages, the first thing is the time saving that you can use to perform other activities or tours in Cusco.
The one way trip takes about 4 hours to reach the town of Aguas Calientes, from where we can take a bus that takes about 20 minutes to reach the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
As we said at the beginning, there are several stations where you can take the train, one of them is Poroy, preferred by many for its proximity to the city of Cusco and the cost of the ticket.
A cab to get to this station can cost us between 30 to 50 soles, the approximate time it takes the race is 20 minutes.
Another option to board the train is in Ollantaytambo, which is located about 2 hours from the city of Cusco; to get to this station you can choose to take a bus (15 soles) or cab (150).
Remember to be 30 minutes before the departure of your train to Aguas Calientes, the only train station to return to the city of Cusco.
There are 2 railway companies that operate for the transfer of passengers to Machu Picchu, these are: Perurail and Incarail.
These two companies offer different types of services and trains to reach this wonder of the world.
This company is the oldest and the one that has the famous luxury train called Hiram Bingham, known worldwide.
The types of Perurail trains are: Expeditions, Vistadome and the Hiram Bingham.
Their popular train is the Expedition, this service is the most economical, and is highly recommended. You won’t need more than this. It is a great service. The price is around 150 USD round trip.
The Vistadome differs by having wider windows than the Expedition and the price is a little more. The service on board is the same.
You can buy your train tickets from the Perurail website without any problem, prices go up and down according to season and proximity of purchase.
This is the other company that operates to Machu Picchu, like Perurail, also has several options, among them are: The Private, The First Class, The 360º and The Voyager.
The prices are a little less than those of Peru Rail, but the schedules they have are not very suitable to visit Machu Picchu in one day.
By Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is the second most popular option.
Reaching Machu Picchu as in the old days, through the roads used by the Inca Empire.
In ancient times the roads allowed the Inca Empire to move from Cusco through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu.
Nowadays, for a tourist theme, the famous Inca Trail sold by agencies and authorized by the Peruvian government, starts at km 82, near Ollantaytambo. It takes about two hours to travel from Cusco by train.
Therefore, what we call the Inca Trail is only a part of those ancient trails.
The classic tour is the one that lasts 4 days and 3 nights. Day 4 is not part of the trail itself, it is the day you visit Machu Picchu.
There is another option, that instead of doing the Inca Trail in 4 days, you do it in 5 days.
Doing it in more time helps to reduce the physical demand.
Yes, demanding, because it is a path between mountains, reaching up to 4,200 meters above sea level, with lack of oxygen.
Definitely not for everyone. But you don’t have to prepare for a year.
Running two or three months before is enough. Besides, we will arrive a few days earlier in Cusco to acclimatize to the altitude.
Of course, the better prepared you are, the less difficult it will be and the more you will enjoy it.
The great advantage of the Inca Trail, although a bit folkloric, is that you access Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate, the original entrance to the citadel, and not the one currently used in the rest of the options, the tourist gate so to speak.
If you wish to book this adventure, you should do so several months in advance, about 6 months for the high season. Since the demand is high and only about 200 travelers are allowed per day.
The cost is high, it is on average 700 USD or more.
The alternative treks refer to the different routes that were created due to the limited amount of travelers that can make the Inca Trail.
Here are the alternative ways to know how to get to Machu Picchu:
This is one of the main alternative ways to get to Machu Picchu, it became very popular thanks to the limited amount of access to the Inca Trail, some agencies offer it as an Inca Trail, but in reality it is not.
This route is not regulated by the Peruvian government, so there is no limit to the number of travelers.
The most popular and the most chosen tour is the 5 day tour, which includes the visit of one of the most beautiful lakes in Cusco, we are talking about the Humantay Lagoon.
One of the main advantages we see, is that it reaches a higher altitude than the Inca Trail, up to 4,500 meters above sea level and the snow-capped mountains you see are impressive.
The end of the trail is in Aguas Calientes, and not through the Sun Gate like the Inca Trail.
The Salkantay Trail ends in Santa Teresa, and from there you walk along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes.
The price ranges from 520 USD to 900 USD, depending on the number of people.
This route is known as the culture tour, since this route includes the visit of several families to see closely how was the life of the Incas, it is not exactly the same, but it gives us an idea of how the real Incas lived.
It ends in Ollantaytambo, where you take the train to go to Machu Picchu.
This tour is not for everyone, only for those who want to live the experience of an experiential tourism.
Choequequeirao is an Inca citadel similar to Machu Picchu that was discovered a few years ago.
And it is only now beginning to be exploited for tourism.
They are still in the stage of research, excavations and clearing the weeds.
Being a place still almost virgin, I think it is worth going, although we will not see all the fullness of the archaeological site.
But yes, this trail is not for everyone. It is the most difficult of all and in the trekking world it is classified with Difficult Level.
In other words, it requires a lot of physical demands, you have to prepare yourself very well.
The trek lasts 8 days and 7 nights. After visiting Choquequeirao, the trek to Machu Piccu begins.
At the end, you will arrive to Santa Teresa, and like Salkantay, Lares Trek and Inca Jungle.
Inca Jungle Trek
This is the most adventurous route of all the options of how to get to Machu Picchu.
It consists of a 4 day tour, where the first day is down hill or downhill biking to Santa Maria, that same day there is the option of rafting, the next day is hiking, the third day is for zip line and hiking to reach the town of Aguas Calientes to finally go on day 4 to Machu Picchu.
In our experience, if you like adventure sports, this route is highly recommended.
Machu Picchu by Car – Low budget
This is one of the newest and most economical options to reach Machu Picchu.
This option is for those who do not want to pay or spend a lot on train tickets, as prices can be high.
This route has a great similarity to the Inca Jungle, with the difference that the activities are not done by bicycle, rafting or zip line.
To get to Machu Picchu by car, you have to take a car to Santa Maria, which takes about 4 hours, then take another car that takes about 30 minutes to get to Santa Teresa, from here we can take another car to get to Hidroelectrica from where we will have to walk about 3 hours to get to Aguas Calientes or Machu Picchu town.
In Summary of How to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco
|Low-cost||Machu Picchu by Car|
|The fastest and most popular||By Train|
|Adventurous||Inca Jungle Trek|
|The Best one||By Train (Machu Picchu 2 Days Tour)|
|The most recommended||Inca Trail / Salkantay Trek|
Cities before arriving to Machu Picchu
Most flights are from Tu País to Lima, then to Cusco (Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport).
Lima is the capital of Peru, all international flights go to this city and then to Cusco, which takes about 1 hour by flight or 24 hours by bus.
Cusco is the main city from where all the ways to get to Machu Picchu start, either by train, trekking, or by car.
Olantaytambo is the town where the station of the same name is located, from where most tourists take the train, there are other stations such as: Poroy which is located about 20 minutes by car and San Pedro which is located within the city of Cusco.
Aguas Calientes o Machu Picchu Pueblo
This is the town in which almost all the routes end here, in this town we can find restaurants, hotels, lodging, tickets for Machu Picchu and all the basic services.
From this point we can reach the historic sanctuary of Machu Pichu on foot or by bus.