How to get to Machupicchu?

Machu Picchu is one of the most visited destinations in the world. It is located in the Andean region in Cusco in Peru. Getting there depends on the country where you are. Lima airport (capital of the country) has direct connections with some cities in Europe, the United States and all of South America. Then a short trip to Cusco must be made. This city was the capital of the Inca empire. From there to Machupicchu you must make a trip of almost 4 hours by train and bus.

Tourists in Machu Picchu
How to get to Machu Picchu


The location of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is located in the eastern part of the Andes Mountains, in Cusco – Peru. The closest city is Cusco, the capital of the Inca empire, which is divided from the Inca city by approximately 100 kilometers.

The first step to get to Machu Picchu is to arrive at the Alejandro Velasco Astete airport in the city of Cusco. From there you must choose some of the only three routes: a) the classic train trip from the town of Ollantaytambo, b) the Inca Trail of 4 days on foot o c) the alternative route by bus and on foot through Hidroeléctrica.


How to get there from anywhere in the world?

To get to Cusco from anywhere in the world you must make a flight (direct or by stopover to the city of Lima, the capital of Peru. The cost of the flight depends on the country from where you depart.

These are some of the cities with direct flights to Lima:


How to get there from Lima?

The first step to visit Machu Picchu is to arrive at the Jorge Chávez International Airport in the city of Lima, which is separated approximately a thousand kilometers from the city of Cusco. To do this section you can take a flight (1 hour 20 minutes of travel) or ground transportation (20 hours of travel).

The capital of Peru has approximately 8.5 million inhabitants (2020). Before traveling to Cusco, you can spend a few days there to see some of its main attractions such as: the Miraflores neighborhood, the Barranco neighborhood, the Historic Center of Lima, the Pachacamac ruins, the Caral archaeological site, among others.


How to get there from Cusco?

Once in Cusco you will be close to Machu Picchu. The Alejandro Velasco Astete airport in Cusco is approximately 100 kilometers from the Inca wonder. To go you must choose one of these three routes:

a) Route by train

In Cusco there are 3 train stations at the following points a) Poroy station, b) Urubamba station and c) Ollantaytambo station.

The most used by tourists is the Ollantaytambo station since there are more daily departures. To take this train, you must depart by land transport from the city of Cusco to Ollantaytambo (trip of approximately 1 hour 40 minutes).

The train trip from Ollantaytambo takes approximately 1 hour 40 minutes and ends in Machu Picchu town. This famous town is only 10 kilometers from the archaeological site of Machupicchu. To get there you can walk (2 hours) or take a bus (30 minutes).

Machu Picchu Train
Train route to Machu Picchu

b) Inca Trail:

The Incas built a network of roads that connected the main citadels and temples with the city of Cusco. One section of this route is the famous ‘Inca Trail’, which runs for several kilometers until it reaches Machupicchu through the entrance to the Intipunku (Puerta del Sol).

The Inca Trail can only be done through an all-inclusive tour of 4 days and 3 nights. Includes: transportation to the starting point, camping, meals with cooks, porters’ equipment, utensils, tour guide, entrance to Machupicchu and return to Cusco by train.

Tours to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu must be purchased through an online tourism agency 5 or 6 months in advance. For many, it is the best way to get to know the Inca wonder.

Inca Trail Route
Inca Trail Route

c) Route by Hydroelectric:

The route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric is the least known way to go. To carry out this route, you must start from the city of Cusco to the Hydroelectric station in the jungle of the region (approximately 6 hours trip). In Cusco there are tourist transports by minivan that carry out this route directly (round trip).

Once at the Hydroelectric station, you must walk about 10 kilometers until you arrive at the town of Aguas Calientes (2-hour walk). Another option is to take the train (a somewhat expensive trip of 30 minutes). However, most tourists prefer to go on foot. From there you take a bus (30 minutes) to Machu Picchu.

The Hydroelectric route is the cheapest way to get to Machupicchu. It can cost only $ 30 to get there. However, this route is long as it takes approximately 7 hours to get there. It is not recommended during the rainy season (January, February and March) due to the constant landslides at that time of year.

Ruta Hidroeléctrica
Hydroelectric Route

How to get there from the Sacred Valley of the Incas?

When arriving in Cusco, some tourists prefer to stay in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where there are some good quality hotels (especially in the town of Urubamba). This town is approximately 50 kilometers from Machupicchu.

To travel from Urubamba to Machu Picchu you can take a train from the train station located in this town. Because there are few daily train departures, the second option is to travel to Ollantaytambo (located only 19 kilometers away) and take the train from there.

Before traveling to Machu Picchu you can enjoy some of the many tourist attractions of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, such as: the archaeological sites of Pisac and Chinchero as well as the circular platforms of Moray or the Salineras de Maras.


How to go on foot?

There are several hiking trails to Machu Picchu. The most famous of all is the 4-day Inca Trail. The others go through mountains until taking the route through the Hydroelectric station or the classic train route from Ollantaytambo.

Trek Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu on foot

a) Salkantay trek of 5 days

This hiking route covers 70 kilometers through mountains, Andean towns and even the Salkantay mountain pass (4,650 meters above sea level). On the fourth day, the section from Hidroeléctrica to Aguas Calientes is carried out where the night is spent in a hotel. On the fifth and last day we visit Machu Picchu and return by train to Cusco. It is considered one of the most difficult routes. It can be done on your own, although it is best to hire an all-inclusive tour.

b) Lares Trek 4 days

This hiking route is one of the simplest since it only covers approximately 33 kilometers on foot, from the town of Lares to the town of Ollantaytambo (from there by train to Machu Picchu town). This route is known as a cultural experience since on the way it visits several Andean towns full of tradition and customs. Although it is possible to do the route without a tour, it is best to hire a tourism agency that includes everything you need: guide, porters on horseback, cooks, tickets, train tickets, tickets to Machupicchu and more.

c) Huchuy Qosqo Trek 3 days

This hiking trail is easy to do. Actually the walk is only 10 kilometers long and it takes place on the first day with the section: Cusco – Huchuy Qosqo. This Inca archaeological site is not very visited so camping there the first night is an incredible experience. Then, on the second day, you travel by bus and train from Ollantaytambo to the town of Aguas Calientes. Finally, the last day is dedicated to knowing Machu Picchu and returning by train to Cusco. It is recommended to do this route with an all-inclusive tour. The adventure is recommended even for children.

d) Inca Jungle Trek of 4 days

The Inca Jungle is the name by which an adventure tour from Cusco to Machu Picchu is known. In the 4 days that the crossing lasts, tourists practice different sports such as cycling, trekking, boating (optional) and zip-lining (optional). The section covered includes the walk from the Hydroelectric station to the town of Aguas Calientes. This adventure can only be done with an all-inclusive tour. It is recommended mainly for young people or people with a young spirit.


Conclusions

To visit Machu Picchu the first thing is to travel to the city of Lima, the capital of Peru. Afterwards, you must take another flight to the city of Cusco. Once in Cusco, you can choose 3 ways to go to Machupicchu: a) by the train route, b) by the Inca Trail, c) by the alternative Hydroelectric route.

Most tourists choose to go on the train route because it is the fastest and most comfortable. Few do the Inca Trail since you need to buy the tour online 5 or 6 months before. The Hydroelectric route is a somewhat tiring option (it lasts approximately 8 hours) but it is the cheapest.

If you like adventures, you can choose a hiking route to Machu Picchu: a) the Salkantay trek, b) the Lares trek and c) the Huchuy Qosqo trek. These treks last several days and take the train route or the Hydroelectric route to reach the Inca wonder.

 

By Machupicchu Terra – Last updated, July 19, 2021


More guides that can help you

Discounts for university students on the trip to Peru

Peru’s main tourist attractions offer discounts for university students. They must complete current undergraduate studies and have a legible university card, either the one issued by their university or the international ISIC card. Library cards or registration receipts are not allowed. Among the main destinations with entry for university students are: Machu Picchu, the Colca canyon and the historical sanctuary of Pachacamac.

Discounts for university students on the trip to Peru

Huayna Picchu and Machupicchu mountain: comparison!

Machu Picchu has more than 150 buildings that were part of an ancient Inca citadel. Most are located in the center of the place. Up high, in the two mountains that surround the archaeological site, there are more constructions that very few people know about. These are the platforms and enclosures located on the Huayna Picchu mountain and the Machupicchu mountain. Very few tourists dare to walk the difficult roads to its peaks. Learn a little more about both peaks, their similarities and differences.

Huayna Picchu and Machupicchu mountain: comparison!