Transportation in Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is a very popular tourist destination and one of the busiest in Peru. Tourists come here from all over the world to explore one of the best-preserved ruins of the Inca civilization. Given its popularity, getting into Machu Picchu is quite easy. The easiet way to reach Machu Picchu is by train from Cusco, which is 112 km (70 miles) away, but the most exciting is by trekking either the Inca Trail or one of the other paths that lead to this ancient city.
If you have time to spare whilst at Machu Picchu explore the enchanting villages beyond the ruins to really connect with the Inca roots.
Our Machu Picchu Transportation Guide below tells you all the ins and outs of getting to and around these magical Incan ruins. Joining a Machu Picchu tour will help you get the most out of your Machu Picchu holiday and allow you to explore them like a local. More general information about getting around Peru can be found in our Peru Transportation Guide.
Getting to Machu Picchu
There is no airport at Machu Picchu. You can take a flight to Lima and then a connecting flight to Cusco. From Cusco, you can catch a train to Aguas Calientes and then take a bus right up to the citadel of Machu Picchu.
For transport from the airport to the city (or from the city to the airport), we recommend Green Path Transfers, who offer eco-friendly airport transfers in hundreds of destinations around the world.
Trains are a convenient and easy way to get to Machu Picchu. You can take a train up to Aguas Calientes and then a bus the rest of the way. It takes just 20 minutes to reach the Machu Picchu ruins after arriving in Aguas Calientes. In Cusco, you can choose from among three types of trains - backpacker train, VistaDome and Hiram Bingham. The VistaDome train has a glass top and you can look up and enjoy the amazing views. The backpacker train offers budget fares and stops at many stations; it is very comfortable too. All trains have several daily services between Cusco and Ollantaytambo. Tickets usually include a transfer to the train station.
There are no direct road connections between Cusco and Machu Picchu. You can take a bus from Aguas Calientes and within 20 minutes you will arrive at Machu Picchu. Some people choose to take a bus on the way up to Machu Picchu but walk down to Aguas Calientes. It takes about 45 minutes to complete the descent but it is a very enjoyable walk. You can then take a train to Cusco from here.
Hiking the Inca Trail is the most spectacular ways to reach Machu Picchu. Be prepared for a hike that will cover a distance of about 33 km and take around four days. The rewards, of course, are the stunning mountain views and contact with the local people.
If you choose to hike along the Inca Trail, equip yourself with some local knowledge. Get yourself a guidebook such as ‘The Inca Trail: Cusco & Machu Picchu' by Richard Danbury (Trailblazer Publications, 2005). It has all kinds of handy information such as shortcuts, scenic trekking routes, short interesting detours from the main trail, and other bits and pieces of relevant information. Before embarking on the trek, you will have to obtain a permit and a licensed operator to organize the trek for you.
Getting Around Machu Picchu
There are very few modes of transport in and around Machu Picchu. You can get to Machu Picchu either by train up to Aguas Calientes followed by a bus ride, or completely on foot following the Inca Trail. You can also walk from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu. This route will take you towards Puente Ruinas and once you cross the Rio Urubamba, you will have to make your way up the 2-km (1.5 miles) steep slope.
A great option for exploring the ruins is taking a tour of Machu Picchu. You can choose to take a half-day guided tour with a local guide. A ticket on the Hiram Bingham train entitles you to half a day of guided tour as well as an audio commentary on the train.
Most tourists take the train up to Aguas Calientes and then the bus up the mountain. The 8-km (5 miles) journey along a winding mountain road is pleasant and can be completed in about 15-20 minutes.
Office in Cusco: Av. Pachacutec
Tel: 51 84 581 414 - Fax: 51 84 222 114
Bus station in Aguas Calientes