How to Get to Machu Picchu

Two Methods:Getting There by Train and BusGetting There by Foot

If the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru is your destination, you'll have to navigate through the mountainous terrain by train or on foot. How much money and time you want to spend are the key factors affecting which route you choose to get to Machu Picchu. However, the time of year and your fitness level should also be taken into consideration.

Method 1
Getting There by Train and Bus

  1. 1
    Take a train to Aguas Calientes, a small, touristy town at the base of Machu Picchu.
    • Catch a train in Cusco. This is a four-hour train ride. There are three train options operated by PeruRail:
      Image titled Get to Machu Picchu Step 1
      • The Hiram Bingham is a luxury train with four passenger cars that can accommodate 84 people, two dining cars, a kitchen car, and an observation car with lounge. The ticket includes brunch during the outbound ride, bus transport and entrance to Machu Picchu, a guided tour and dinner on the return trip.
      • The Vistadome is a less expensive option that offers windows in the domed roof. Passengers remain seated in leather seats, but receive breakfast in the morning and tea in the afternoon.
      • The Expedition is the least expensive train from Cusco. It has windows in a domed roof and cloth seats. A snack and beverage is served during the trip.
    • Depart on a train from Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo has its own ruins to explore. From here you can reach Aguas Calientes in 3 hours or less. In addition, to the Vistadome and Expedition, you can take the more economical backpacker train from Ollantaytambo. It features cloth seats and offers refreshments for an additional fee.
      Image titled Get to Machu Picchu Step 2
      • Get a seat at the river side for better views. Choose the left side of the train on the way to Aguas Calientes, and vice versa.
  2. 2
    Take the bus from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu. A 20- to 30-minute bus ride takes you the remaining 4 miles (6.4 km) up the cliffs to Machu Picchu.

Method 2
Getting There by Foot

  1. Image titled Get to Machu Picchu Step 3
    Head up the Inca Trail on a 4-day hike and camping experience. The 28-mile route takes you through the Sacred Valley. During the trek, you will travel through jungle, past villages and enjoy spectacular views from elevations of around 10,000 feet (3,048.0 m). A decent fitness level is required to endure the long ascents and 6 or more hours of hiking each day. Most tours include a guide, a cook, meals, camping gear and porters to carry it. See the Things You'll Need section for items to bring.
    • This needs to be scheduled well in advance.
  2. Image titled Get to Machu Picchu Step 4
    Combine a train ride with a 2-day hike on the Inca Trail. You will take a train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to the Inca ruins at Chachabamba. The 6-hour hike includes a 4-hour ascent near WiƱay Wayna. A bus takes you to Aguas Calientes, where you stay the night in a hotel. You spend the next day exploring Machu Picchu, and then catch the Backpacker train to Cusco.
  3. 3
    Hike up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calienties.
  4. 4
    Consider the Salkantay Trek if you are an experienced backpacker.
    • Permit regulations are more relaxed with this option.
  5. 5
    Take a bus from Ollantaytambo to Santa Maria. Spend the night there and walk to Machu Picchu through Hydroelectrica.


  • An overnight stay in Aguas Calientes allows you to arrive early at Machu Picchu and witness the sunrise over the ruins.
  • The earlier you get to the ruins, the better, in terms of avoiding crowds of tourists.
  • Consider hiking up to Huayna Picchu.


  • Get acclimated to the altitude before visiting Machu Picchu.
  • December to April is the rainy season in Peru. You should bring rain gear and suitable footwear, especially if hiking to get to Machu Picchu.
  • You cannot bring food or drinks in the Machu Picchu ruins, but you can store a backpack with these items outside the ruins. (The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge has a restaurant, but it's quite expensive.)

Things You'll Need

  • Backpack
  • Sleeping bag
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen, sun hat and sunglasses
  • Warm jacket and hat
  • Rain gear
  • T-shirts, shorts and long pants
  • Hiking boots and sneakers
  • Water bottle
  • Water purification tablets
  • Towel
  • Toilet paper
  • Flashlight

Article Info

Categories: South America