Getting to know Machu Picchu is the dream of many people. Are you planning your trip there and want to know how to get to the Historic Sanctuary? In this post we tell you all the ways to access. Check out!
The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the modern world and is located on a mountain in the Peruvian Andes. Due to the remote location, the ruins were only discovered in the early XNUMXth century, and accessing them is not so simple. With that in mind, we have prepared a complete guide on how to get to Machu Picchu to help you.
The discovery of the Lost City of the Incas was only officially documented in 1911, by explorer Hiram Bingham, although there are records of others who have accessed the area before. From then on, the fascination with old buildings began to attract more and more people interested in getting to know the place.
Today there are already means of transport to help travelers who want to go there, such as trains that make the way from Cusco to Machu Picchu Pueblo. But there are also alternatives to make the journey, such as the trails that take a few days to reach the mountains.
We have prepared a complete guide with all the ways to get to Machu Picchu. Do you prefer to go in the comfort of a train or take a risk on a trail through the mountains? Read on to discover the best alternative for your trip.
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- Where is Machu Picchu
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- Dykes of Machu Picchu
- What you NEED to know BEFORE going to Machu Picchu
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Machu Picchu is located on top of a mountain in the Andes Mountains of Peru, at a distance of 75 km from Cusco. The region where it is located is known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas or the Urubamba River Valley.
The Historic Sanctuary is located at an altitude of 2400 km, between two even higher mountains, called Machu Picchu (of the same name) and Huayna Picchu. The Urubamba River flows around the city, which is formed by old pre-Columbian buildings. It is believed to have been a resting place during the Inca Empire, but the exact function to this day remains a mystery.
The largest city close to the Inca ruins is Cusco, less than 100 km away. Although the distance is not very great, the way is long because there are many curves between the mountains. Other smaller towns in the Sacred Valley region, such as Ollantaytambo and Urubamba, are also departure points to Machu Picchu.
The whole way to go to Machu Picchu can be defined in stages: Lima – Cusco – Machu Picchu Pueblo (or Aguas Calientes) – Historic Sanctuary (Cidadela).
The first part of the journey is by plane to Peru. Departing from España, you will disembark in Lima, as there are no direct flights to Cusco. We recommend searching prices on Promo Tickets to find good deals. ?
In Lima, the next step is to go to Cusco, the closest city to Machu Picchu. For this you can go by plane or by land transport. The flight takes about an hour and is the easiest option.
Once in Cusco, the next phase of the trip is to go to Aguas Calientes – or Machu Picchu Pueblo, the last village before the archaeological site. There are many options for taking this route, including train trips and trails, which you will find more details on later in the text.
Finally, when you arrive at Machu Picchu Pueblo you will be just over 8 km away from the Historic Sanctuary. From there you can go either by bus or on foot.
Then you will finally have reached your dream destination: the famous Inca Ruins will be right in front of you. Ufa!
Lima, the Peruvian capital, is the starting point for many who go to Peru. Although it is common for travelers to arrive in the country there, the city is quite far from the ruins of Machu Picchu – there are more than 500 km between the two destinations.
Good deals on flights to Peru are always happening. It's worth checking out Promo Tickets to take advantage of the offers – often direct to Lima.
If you are going to go down there, how about taking the opportunity to take a 2 in 1 tour, visiting the capital and the Inca Ruins on the same trip?
Include in your itinerary the various options for what to do in Lima. The city is super versatile and rich in culture and gastronomy, with restaurants that are among the best in the world.
After discovering the main attractions in Lima, it's time to leave for Cusco. The ways of access are by plane, bus or car. The internal flight takes about an hour on the way. By bus, the trip takes more than 20 hours, as it takes a long tour around the Andean mountains.
We do not recommend renting a car in Peru because of the chaotic traffic and the roads, which are not easy to navigate. The option for the internal flight between the cities is the most practical, with prices that are worth it. But, if you have time and your intention is to visit other places along the way, bet on the bus.
No matter which route you took after descending in Peru, you will need to pass through Cusco to visit Machu Picchu. From there, there are two ways to get to Machu Picchu Pueblo: by train or trails (on foot or by bicycle).
Leaving there, to reach Machu Picchu Pueblo by train, the trip takes just over four hours. There are two companies – Inca Rail and Peru Rail. Some stations depart from the center of Cusco, others depart from cities in the Sacred Valley – Poroy, Ollantaytambo or Urubamba.
Another alternative for the more adventurous to go to the Historic Sanctuary are the trails. The Classic Inca and Salkantay trails are the best known among adventure tourism. There are other paths, such as the Choquequirao trail, and, in addition to walking, you can also do the bike trail.
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Here we will help you plan your trip to Machu Picchu and detail everything. What is the best way to get to the Inca Ruins, where to buy tickets and tickets and much more. Check out!
As we have already said, there are two main ways to get to Machu Picchu: by train or by trails. The final access to the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu can be done by bus, which departs from Machu Picchu Pueblo, or by walking.
The most comfortable and favorite of most is going to Machu Picchu by train. The more adventurous will enjoy climbing the mountains by trail. The most popular ways are the Inca Trail and Salkantay Trail.
Going by train to Machu Picchu is the most comfortable and fastest way to reach the dream destination. There are two train companies that operate in the region, Inca Rail and Peru Rail.
There are several categories of trains, from the simplest to the super exclusive ones with luxury service. But even the most popular coaches have high prices, so it's important to plan your expenses well before you go.
The way to get cheaper tickets is to take the train at Ollantaytambo station. From there, the one-way ticket on Inca Rail's “The Voyager” class, which is the cheapest, costs around 60 dollars per person.
#Tip: An important point of trains is that seats are limited and can sell out, so buying in advance is essential. In addition, by planning your trip early, you can pay attention to possible promotions in the price of tickets.
A IncaRail is one of the companies that operates trains to Machu Picchu Pueblo. We traveled with her in August 2019 and we highly recommend the service. It is the best option to go comfortably and quickly to the village. It has newer vehicles and has been in operation since 2009.
For those who do not want to venture out on the trail, the Inca Rail train is the most suitable. In transport, the journey takes about four hours. It is a way to travel peacefully and without getting tired, saving energy to explore the Inca ruins.
The company offers trips in four categories: The Voyager, The 360º, First Class and Private Wagon.
The Voyager is the simplest. The 360º is a fun experience, with open carriages to observe the landscape. First Class has a more sophisticated service. And, finally, the private wagon is exclusive for those who request to travel in this modality – super chic.
Trains depart from three stations (Cusco, Poroy Ollantaytambo) bound for Aguas Calientes (or Machu Picchu Pueblo). In Ollantaytambo, one of the cities in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, tickets are cheaper.
>> Check out our full review with all the tips and where to buy tickets in our post IncaRail
There is another company operating wagons that go to Machu Picchu Pueblo – Peru Rail. It is older and also offers four types of wagons. Expedition, the cheapest, Vistadome, with bigger windows, Sacred Valley, more luxurious, and Belmond Hiram Bingham, super exclusive and partner of the hotel that gives it its name.
Peru Rail has stations departing from Cusco, from Ollantaytambo, and, unlike Inca Rail, there is a train departing from the city of Urubamba, which is also in the Sacred Valley. Prices are competitive, quite similar to the other company. The offer of schedules to choose from, however, is greater.
The final step to reach the Inca Ruins of Machu Picchu is by bus departing from the village of Machu Picchu Pueblo (or Aguas Calientes).
The bus ticket is bought in the center of the village, with a company called Consettur. Buses run every 10 minutes and cost $24 per person round trip.
Once you've purchased your ticket, head to the queue and wait your turn to board. It is worth remembering that the bus ticket to the citadel does not guarantee tickets to Machu Picchu, which are sold separately.
In order to catch the first bus of the day, you will have to get in line very early – but really early, around 3:5 am to board the 30:XNUMX am bus. This time is the most popular, because most people spend the night in Machu Picchu Pueblo to see the sunrise at the Historic Sanctuary.
>> Read more in our post Where to Stay in Machu Picchu – What is the Best Option?
If you're an adventurer, you'll love exploring the Andes Mountains in Peru on a trail to Machu Picchu. We recommend booking the tour with an agency, as these are hiking days (4 to 5 days) in a remote region and it would not be prudent to do everything alone.
The tours are not cheap, but the agencies organize everything in a way that is worthwhile for the traveler, who practically only has the duty to enjoy the tour and enjoy the view along the way.
Trail packages often include food, a cook, load-carrying animals, tents, campsites and a guide. Some services are included in the package, and others are paid separately.
There are several trails to choose from, among different modalities. You can choose to walk or cycle, and choose different paths, such as passing through Choquequirao or near Salkantay peak.
The options are diverse, but we are going to explore the most famous ones to reach the Lost City, which are the Classic Inca Trail and Salkantay Trail. If you are in doubt about which route to choose, read on to make your choice.
The Classic Inca Trail is the most famous trail route in South America. The path followed is the same as that taken by the ancient peoples who explored the region and reached the place where the Historic Sanctuary was built.
It is one of the most important trails in the world, due to its great historical relevance and the natural beauty of the way. For all these reasons, it is one of the most popular ways to get to Machu Picchu. To get a spot on this trail, you'll have to book months in advance.
The path starts alongside the Urubamba River, passing through several valleys with Andean landscapes full of alpacas. On the second day, the Abra de Warmihuañuska mountain is seen, where the famous Andean bear, or spectacled bear, lives.
On the third day, several archaeological sites are visited, such as the one located on the Abra de Runcurakay mountain, the Sayacmarca complex, and the Abra Phuyupamarca, one of the most complete and preserved on the route.
The fourth and last day of the trail is reserved for the arrival and tour of the Lost City of the Incas. For those who dream of visiting the ruins, arriving after long days walking should be even more exciting. Would you take this adventure?
Another famous way to get to Machu Picchu, the Salkantay trail is considered one of the most beautiful in Peru, full of stunning landscapes. It is not as popular as the Inca trail, so it is possible to book it a few days in advance.
However, we recommend that you book your trail with a tourist agency as soon as possible, so that you can prepare both physically and psychologically for the four days of hiking in the mountains.
The trail starts in the town of Challacancha, close to Cusco. From there, those who choose this path begin a journey towards the foot of Salkantay peak. The area where travelers reach is more than 4.600 km of altitude, at the foot of the snowy mountain. Arrival at this point is already on the second day.
The first two days are the most intense and cold. Afterwards, the path continues in a descent, between native vegetation, trees full of fruits, and breathtaking views. On this trail, unlike the others, there are no visits to archaeological sites along the way, but the landscapes make up for it.
It takes just under 70 km in four days, to reach the Historic Sanctuary on the fifth. Definitely worth it for adventure seekers.
One of the ways to save money on the trip to Machu Picchu is to take the train in the city of Ollantaytambo (or Ollanta, as it is also called). As the station is halfway between Cusco and the citadel, the ticket is also cheaper. Accommodation in the city is also very affordable, which can pay off in the end.
>> Find options where to stay in Ollanta with the best prices on Booking.com by clicking here.
To get to Ollanta, the cheapest way is to take a regular bus in Cusco. The trip takes about 2h30 and costs less than five soles (about R$6). Another option is to take a taxi or minivan, which are faster and the values can be divided between you and your travel group.
To save even more, arriving in Aguas Calientes you can choose to walk to the entrance of the Historic Sanctuary. There is a bus that takes just over 20 minutes on this route, at a cost of 24 dollars per adult. On foot, however, you pay nothing – you'll just have to walk an hour or two up the hill. LOL
As we said, the trails to Machu Picchu are even more expensive. Agencies offer everything you need, and that comes at a price – they start at $250 per person.
If you choose to go on your own, you will not pay this amount to the agencies, but you will need all the equipment, which is also expensive. In other words: it's not worth it, because you'll spend even more, and it can be dangerous and we don't recommend it.
There is another cheap alternative to reach Machu Picchu. It is the famous path of the hydroelectric plant, which works like this: a transport leaves from Cusco to a nearby village. Once there, you must follow the train tracks on foot, for around two to three hours, depending on your pace.
This trail doesn't go through any tunnels, like others that are prohibited for safety reasons (if you go through one, it's because you made a mistake). Even so, at times it may happen that the train passes – then you have to make room and wait for it to leave. After the hike, you arrive in Aguas Calientes at the end of the day.
There are agencies that organize this tour, and we highly recommend it, as it is safer. The price is around 18 dollars, with transfer to the starting point of the walk to Aguas Calientes. The return is at the same location, in the early afternoon of the next day.
But this option has negative points: the van journey is long, it takes about 7 hours to drive. The road is terrible, with little space, besides the edge of a precipice. Not suitable for those who are afraid of heights. Other than that, it involves a good walk, and the time to get to know the ruins is short.
- Do not venture alone through the Peruvian Andes. If you are going to go on a trail or any tour through the Sacred Valley region, close the tour with an agency or guides
- Buy train tickets in advance as they can sell out (especially during high season, from June to August)
- Try not to go back and forth to Machu Picchu – the trip is long and tiring. Try to organize yourself to sleep one night in Machu Picchu Pueblo and leave to visit the ruins the next day
- If you want to save money, it's worth staying in Ollanta for a day, taking the train at the station in the city and visiting Machu Picchu there.
- Avoid going to Machu Picchu on Sundays. On that day, Peruvians do not pay the entrance fee to the park, so it is usually more crowded.
- Bring water and snacks in your backpack. In the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu there are no street vendors. And restrooms only exist outside
So, have you already decided how to get to Machu Picchu? Are you one of those who prefer the comfort of the train, or are you going to risk an adventure and set off on a trail?
Tell us which path you chose! And if you have any questions, let us know…
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO Machu Picchu
Are you full of things to think about and still have to plan your entire trip? Or you've seen it all, but you're feeling that familiar "Have I forgotten something?" So calm down, we'll help you with some items you can't forget before boarding. Come on?
Where to buy: PROMO TICKETS
Looking for a good deal and flight prices? When buying tickets to Peru, it is worth taking a look at the Passages Promo website. It is quite common to find cheaper and better flight options than on other sites. We always use and is it worth it?
Where to buy: BOOKING.COM
If you haven't booked your stay, the tip is to compare hotels, hostels and inns through Booking.com. This is the largest hotel booking platform in the world, ensuring a safe experience and great accommodation deals.
#StayHip: Keep an eye out for 'Smart Deals', which only last for one day. Some amazing hotels offer great discounts using this badge on the platform. If you find a good deal, is it worth closing?
Taking out travel insurance for Machu Picchu is an excellent way to ensure a smooth trip and avoid worries. Having the assistance of insurance gives you the peace you need to enjoy your destination and know that you have support if you need it. Also enjoy our Insurance Promo discount coupon. - SEE PRICES
Where to Buy: AMERICA CHIP
Did you know that it's getting easier – and cheaper – to have unlimited internet throughout your trip?
Just ask for an international cell phone chip through AMERICA CHIP. We always use and love it! They send a SIM card to your address in España, you insert it in your cell phone when you arrive at your destination and you have unlimited internet throughout the trip.
#StayHip: Save on car GPS rental and use GoogleMaps and Waze with your unlimited internet?
Where to rent: RENTCARS
We really like RentCars to find the cars we use on our travels. It is the only one in Spain that compares the best rental companies in the world, but lets you pay in reais, without IOF. In addition, it is also the only one that lets you pay in 12 interest-free installments. It is worth it!
#Here's a tip: Try to find cars with full car and third party insurance coverage. Thus, you avoid inopportune surprises when picking up the car.
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Inca Rail – How to Travel in Comfort to Machu Picchu
Where to stay in Lima – The Best Neighborhoods in the City
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All about the 4 days Trail to the lost city of Choquequirao