I´m sure you will arrive to Peru, to visit the incredible citadel of Machu Picchu. Now, how to get Machu Picchu?. First, you need arrive to Cuzco City, or Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley of the Incas train station, and then go by train to Machu Picchu, or hiking through the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu begins in the kilometer 82 of the railroad Cuzco to Machu Picchu.
The amazing and worldwide famous Machu Picchu citadel is located just atop Aguas Calientes in the Cusco region, just at 2,430 m.above sea level. Thousands of travelers and locals alike flock one of the New Seven Wonders of the World daily to witness scenery like none other. And for that reason, there are different ways to get to Machu Picchu to suit the likes of everyone, from multiple treks to taking the train.
Arrive to Machu Picchu, from Lima (via Cusco)
Most people start their journey to Machu Picchu, but first arrive to Lima, where the international flights arrives. There are really only two ways of getting from Lima to Cusco, and onwards to Machu Picchu which are by air, or by land.
To get from Lima to Machu Picchu only traveling by train is not possible, it is required to take public buses and transport until you get to the closest train station in Puno or Cusco to continue your journey to Machu Picchu. It´s not really an option we can consider. So, which are my options to reach Machu Picchu?
Flying to Cusco from Lima
Flying from Lima airport to Cusco airport is the best option in terms of distance. Of course, can be expensive to fly during some high seasons. If you were to be short on time or just prefer flying over bus travel, we recommend using LATAM airlines. They have flights daily and they offer a great service.
Arrive to Cusco by bus service
Traveling from Lima to Cusco by bus is by far the most popular way of reach Machu Picchu from the capital city. Although traveling this way takes longer than flying, it can be an unforgettable experience with breathtaking sites along the route.
Now, once you arrived to Cusco, how to get Machu Picchu? Well, you have three options: by train, by van service, or trekking
Getting Machu Picchu by train
There are two main train operators offering services to Machu Picchu. There really is no big difference between the two as both get and basically offer the same service. The departures to Machu Picchu are principally taken from 2 main stations: Poroy station and Ollantaytambo station.
On the outskirts of Cusco in a small village called Poroy is a principal train station with services to Machu Picchu. Poroy is about 25 minutes by road from Cusco city and can be reached by local taxi. The journey time by train is 3 hours and 20 minutes, and the train stops just once at Ollantaytambo Station before ending at Aguas Calientes. Once in Aguas Calientes, you can take the shuttle bus or hike up to Machu Picchu.
Another option is: from Cusco, you will need to first travel by road to Ollantaytambo Train Station (Sacred Valley), a journey which takes about 2 hours. From Ollantaytambo, you can take either Peru Rail or lnka Rail train service to Aguas Calientes. The journey time by train from Ollantaytambo is 1 hour and 50 minutes, and trains operate from 6 am to 7 pm. On arrival to Aguas Calientes, a shuttle bus ride ora hike up will take you to Machu Picchu.
Trekking to Machu Picchu
Trekking to Machu Picchu is undoubtedly the most unforgettable way of reaching the Inca citadel. It´s the famous Inca Trail. Yes, the most famous trek in South America and the only one that allows you to hike directly into the citadel. With only 500 permits issued per day, you usually have to book a spot 6 months in advance far this 4-day trek, but it sure is worth it. The 26 mile (42 km) trail connects several lncan archeological sites tucked away peacefully in the Andes mountain. The trek is amazing!
Getting Machu Picchu by Van
You can arrive to Machu Picchu by van. It´s the cheapest way, but also the most dangerous due to the rough geography of the area.
Arrive to Machu Picchu from the Sacred Valley of the Incas
You can choose to arrive to Cusco and then stay in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The altitude is better to stay, because it´s under the altitude you have in Cusco, so it´s a good idea. For example, if you choose to stay in Urubamba Valley, you will first need to travel by road to the far western end of the Sacred Valley to the village of Ollantaytambo. The journey takes about 45 - 60 minutes and is easily done by taxi. Peru Rail and Inca Rail trains operate daily services from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, with a journey time of 1 hour and 50 minutes. From Aguas Calientes a 40 minutes ride aboard a shuttle bus will take you to Machu Picchu.
If you stay in Ollantaytambo, let me say that it´s the best option with the least amount of travel time needed. Essentially the same as noted for Urubamba, but you simply need to walk to the train station in Ollantaytambo, which is just a short 15 minutes' walk from most hotels in the village. It´s great
Bus service from Aguas Calientes to the citadel of Machu Picchu
This is the last portion to reach Machu Picchu. Yes, it´s necessary to take a short shuttle bus ride. There is just one road in Aguas Calientes, which leads from the village to Machu Picchu. The journey takes approximately 40 minutes in each direction.