How to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu in 6 ways (including 1-day tours!)

Explore the many ways to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu with this guide. From budget transportation to luxury tours, there are many options to do this route.

Hola! Glad you decided to visit Machu Picchu from Cusco! If you are already in Cusco, you might be wondering how to plan your itinerary to the citadel.

I have done this trip 5 times in different budget tiers and ways so in this article, I will give you a detailed guide on how to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu.

Please keep in mind that there are no direct routes from Cusco to Machu Picchu so read these instructions carefully.

You will also find prices for each mode of transportation in this article, including a one-day tour itinerary for Machu Picchu. Just so you know what that looks like!

If you have any questions or want to book tours with us, feel free to leave a comment below and we will get back to you.

See also:

machu picchu
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✈️ How to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu

cusco to machu picchu

To get from Cusco to Machu Picchu, you need to get to the town of Aguas Calientes, which is the gateway of Machu Picchu.

It will take a day to get to Aguas Calientes so make sure to book a hotel in Aguas Calientes. The hike to Machu Picchu is the next day and it’s better to do it early in the morning.

For those who are pressed with time, there are many day trips from Cusco to Machu Picchu but I don’t recommend this since it’s tedious, expensive, and it’s going to be a long day!

If you plan to do at least 2 days, here are the best ways to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco.

🗺️ Cusco to Machu Picchu Map

cusco to machu picchu

Here’s a map of how to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu just so you’ll have a reference of the travel time distance, and places to stop/change modes of transport.

🚆 Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu

cusco to machu picchu

There is no direct train from Cusco to Machu Picchu. The train tracks that lead to Machu Picchu begin in the town of Ollantaytambo, which is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Cusco by bus.

To get to Aguas Calientes from Cusco by train, follow the following steps:

Step 1: Take a bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo

You will need to take a bus to Ollantaytambo and then board the train from there. There are several bus stations in Cusco where you can take the bus to Ollantaytambo.

The bus journey from Cusco to Ollantaytambo takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Check which bus station in Cusco is close to your hotel:

The price of a bus ticket from Cusco to Ollantaytambo varies depending on the bus company and the type of bus. Expect to pay between 35-50 soles (approximately $10-$15 USD) for a one-way ticket.

Step 2: Take the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes

cusco to machu picchu
You can also add a 2-hour tour of Ollantaytambo Ruins.

Once you arrive in Ollantaytambo, you can board the train to Aguas Calientes. There are two train companies that offer service on this route: PeruRail and Inca Rail.

The train journey takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes.

The train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. It is the most popular way to get to Machu Picchu, as it is the fastest and most scenic option.

There are three train classes available from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes: Expedition, Vistadome, and First Class.

The prices vary depending on the train class and the time of year, but here is a general overview:

Expedition ($60-$80 USD): The Expedition class is the most basic and affordable train class. The seats are comfortable, but there are no additional amenities such as panoramic windows or on-board entertainment.

Vistadome ($80-$100 USD): The Vistadome class is a good middle-ground option. The seats are comfortable and there are panoramic windows that offer stunning views of the Sacred Valley. There is also a light snack and beverage service available.

First Class ($200-$500 USD): The First Class class is the most luxurious and expensive train class. The seats are reclining and there are panoramic windows that offer stunning views of the Sacred Valley. There is also a full meal and beverage service available.

Once you arrive at Aguas Calientes, you need to find a hotel and spend the night there as the tours to Machu Picchu open at 5:30 AM. It’s also best to climb Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes at this time.

🚌 Bus from Cusco to Machu Picchu

cusco to machu picchu
omnibusworld

Another route to take and the cheaper option is to take the bus from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. Again, there are no bus routes straight from Cusco to Machu Picchu so you need to do the following:

Step 1: Take the bus from Cusco to Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is a town located in the Cusco Region of Peru, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is about 6-7 hours by bus from Cusco and 30 minutes by minibus from Hidroelectrica, the trailhead for the Machu Picchu Hike.

To take the bus from Cusco to Santa Teresa, go to the Cuzco at San Martin Bus Station.

These bus companies usually leave every hour from San Martin Station. The earliest bus leaves at 5:00 AM, and the last bus leaves at 9:00 PM. The bus ride usually takes around 6-7 hours.

You can book the tickets online or buy them in person at the San Martin station.

Expect to pay between 30-50 soles for the bus from Cusco to Santa Teresa (approximately $9-$15 USD) for a one-way ticket.

Step 2: Get to Hidroelectrica

Hidroelectrica is a small town in the Cusco Region of Peru, located at the foot of the Machu Picchu mountain. It is the starting point for the popular hike to Machu Picchu.

It has a few restaurants, hostels, and a train station. The train station is the starting point for the train ride to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu.

You can take a bus from Santa Teresa to Hidroelectrica but the easier option (and not so expensive) is to take a taxi from Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes.

The taxi ride takes about 2 hours and costs around 100 soles ($26 USD).

Step 3: Hike from Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes

The hike from Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes is a popular route for budget travelers, as it is much cheaper than taking the train. The hike is also relatively easy, making it a good option for people of all fitness levels.

The trail from Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes follows the railway tracks and the Urubamba River. The trail is well-maintained and well-marked, so it is easy to follow.

From Hidroeléctrica, follow the railway tracks and the Urubamba River. The trail will pass through several tunnels. Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp, as the tunnels can be dark.

The trail will also cross several bridges. Be careful when crossing the bridges, as they can be slippery. After about 2 hours, you will reach Aguas Calientes.

🚏 Getting to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

There are two ways to get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes: by bus or on foot.

Bus to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

The bus is the most popular way to get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. The bus ride takes about 20 minutes and costs around $12 USD (one-way).

You can purchase bus tickets at the bus station in Aguas Calientes. Purchase this as soon as you arrive in Aguas Calientes. Make sure to fall in line at 5:30 AM the next day to board the bus.

Hike to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

The walk to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes is a popular option for budget travelers and hikers. The walk takes about 1.5-2 hours and is relatively easy.

However, it is important to note that the walk is uphill, so be prepared for a bit of a workout. To walk to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, simply follow the signs from the town center.

The trail is well-maintained and well-marked. You won’t get lost and this is FREE!

🧭 Tours from Cusco to Machu Picchu

Tours are probably the easiest way to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu. This way, everything is already arranged for you and you won’t have to do many transfers.

Not only that the transportation from Cusco to Machu Picchu is included but it also includes the entrance tickets to Machu Picchu. Some packages even include hotels.

You can even go to Machu Picchu for a day from Cusco if you are pressed with time. We can customize and arrange this tour according to your budget, travel time, and physical ability. Just get in touch with us!

🚞 Cusco to Machu Picchu for 1 day

I understand that some of you don’t have the time to stay long so here’s a background on how to visit Machu Picchu for 1 day.

The easiest way is to sign up for a tour so the itinerary below is with transportation:

Your tour company will pick you up from your hotel in Cusco at 4:30 AM. From there, you will go to Ollantaytambo for about 1.5 hours drive to take the train.

From there, you will board the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. This takes about 3.5 hours.

At approximately 8:30 AM, you will arrive in Aguas Calientes and board the bus to Machu Picchu. The bus ride takes about 30 minutes.

Then you will proceed to visiting the Machu Picchu ruins which will be about 4 hours. At the end of the tour, you will have lunch in Aguas Calientes.

After lunch, you will board the train back to Ollantaytambo and make the same trip back. This one day Cusco to Machu Picchu tour costs around $300 USD (all-included).

Get in touch with us if you want to book this tour!

⛺ Multi-day treks from Cusco to Machu Picchu

Now for those who are not in a hurry and are planning to do Machu Picchu multi-day treks, there are many options to do this from Cusco.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

inca trail trek
Photo: Nicole Wilkins

The Inca Trail is the most popular trek to Machu Picchu, and for good reason. It is a beautiful and challenging trek that passes through some of the most stunning scenery in the Andes Mountains.

The trail is well-maintained and well-marked, but it is important to be in good physical condition before attempting the trek.

  • Distance: 43 kilometers (26.7 miles)
  • Elevation gain: 3,100 meters (10,170 feet)
  • Elevation loss: 1,600 meters (5,250 feet)
  • Time: 4 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
  • Price: $800-$1,200 USD

Lares Trek to Machu Picchu

lares trek
The Lares trek to Machu Picchu passes through several traditional Andean communities, some of which speak Quechua more fluently than Spanish.

The Lares Trek is a good option for travelers who are looking for a less crowded and more affordable alternative to the Inca Trail.

The trek passes through traditional villages and offers stunning views of the Vilcabamba mountain range. Lares is relatively easy, but it is important to be acclimatized to the altitude before attempting it.

  • Distance: 33 kilometers (20.5 miles)
  • Elevation gain: 2,500 meters (8,200 feet)
  • Elevation loss: 1,500 meters (4,920 feet)
  • Time: 3 days
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Price: $400-$600 USD

Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

salkantay trek vs inca trail

The Salkantay Trek is a challenging trek that passes through the Salkantay Pass, one of the highest passes in the Peruvian Andes.

The trek offers stunning views of the Salkantay Glacier and the surrounding mountains. Salkantay is relatively challenging, but it is a great option for travelers who are looking for a rewarding experience.

  • Distance: 50 kilometers (31.1 miles)
  • Elevation gain: 3,500 meters (11,480 feet)
  • Elevation loss: 3,000 meters (9,840 feet)
  • Time: 4 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
  • Price: $600-$800 USD

👉🏽 See also: Salkantay Trek vs Inca trail

The Choquequirao Trek to Machu Picchu

Choquequirao Trek
It’s believed that Choquequirao was built by the Incan emperor, Tupac Yupanqui. | Photo: Mark Rowland

The Choquequirao Trek is a challenging trek that passes through the Choquequirao ruins, a lesser-known Inca city located in the Apurimac Canyon.

The trek offers stunning views of the canyon and the surrounding mountains. Choquequirao is relatively remote, so it is important to be well-prepared before attempting it.

  • Distance: 33 kilometers (20.5 miles)
  • Elevation gain: 2,500 meters (8,200 feet)
  • Elevation loss: 2,500 meters (8,200 feet)
  • Time: 4 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
  • Price: $600-$800 USD

These are just a few of the many multi-day treks from Cusco to Machu Picchu. There are treks to suit all fitness levels and budgets. When choosing a trek, be sure to consider your interests and physical abilities.

Trisha Velarmino (43)

Trisha Velarmino is the Global Editor-in-Chief of the Insider Media Group operating in Europe, Asia, and North America. She lived in Peru for 1.5 years and has helped thousands of expats, digital nomads, and solo travelers easily visit Peru. Trisha has traveled Peru extensively from North to South.

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