… Peru – Beautiful natural landscape with the largest biodiversity systems in the world. 

Best Time to Go to Machu Picchu

October through April is the official rainy season, but that does not prevent many travelers from visiting the UNESCO site. Machu Picchu is open year-round, and peak season is July and August; you should always expect crowds during this period. Sundays can be the most crowded because that’s when people who live in the Cusco province are allowed into the site for free, in addition to the daily quota of 5,200 paying visitors. We went in the month of November, and it was perfectly all right for us.

train trip to Aguas Calientes
A View from the Train on our train trip to Aguas Calientes, Peru

How to Get There 

When Hiram Brigham discovered Machu Picchu in 1811, it was not easily accessible. Over the years, certainly, situations improved. But still, you need to spend a considerable amount of time just to get there. First, you have to get to Lima (the Capital of Peru), then Cusco (an important city of Peru), then a little over 3 hours of a train journey to Aguas Calientes, a small town close to Machu Picchu ruins, and finally another 20 minutes by minibus to the stunning UNESCO site.

If you are already in Peru or another city other than Lima or Cusco, you must be in Cusco first since Machu Picchu is connected to Cusco only.machu-picchu

Few companies are operating domestic flights between Lima and Cusco. However, they have multiple flights on the same day, so you can enjoy flexibility in choosing flights. A list of airlines worth trying such as LATAM AirlinesStarPeruAviancaLCPeruand Peruvian Airlines. Overnight Cruz Del Sur Bus service is also available if you are interested; note that it’s about 22 hour trip between Lima and Cusco.

Once you are in Cusco, reaching Machu Picchu by train in around three and a half hours is easy. The train leaves from Cusco every morning and returns in the evening the same day. Peru Rail is the only company that operates trains in Peru. They provide three different types of trains to Machu Picchu. You can choose Backpackers, Vistadome, or Hiram Bingham express.

The distance of Machu Picchu from other Cities

From CityDistance to CuscoDistance between Cusco – Machu PicchuTotal Distance
Lima 1165 km (725 miles) 112 km (70 miles)1277 km (795 miles)
Arequipa 625 km (390 miles) 112 km (70 miles) 637 km (395 miles)
Puno390 km (240 miles) 112 km (70 miles) 502 km (311 miles)

My Travel Itinerary

Flight from Lima –> Cusco by StarPeru, Cusco –> Aguas Calientes by Peru Rail, Aguas Calientes Train station –>Machu Picchu by minibus. Returned from Aguas Calientes –> Ollantaytambo by Peru Rail, Ollantaytambo –> Cusco by Bus, and finally returned –> Lima from Cusco by StarPeru flight.

My Trip to Machu Picchu From Cusco

At 5:15 am, anxiously waiting for the Taxi in front of the hotel Terra Andina, I need to catch the 6:10 train to Machu Picchu from Poroy station, which is about 14 km away from Cusco. Early in the morning, I could no longer bear the pain of a headache and nausea (the effect of high altitude at about 11000 ft); when Coca leaf or tea gave up on me, I stopped being brave and took the tablets called Diamox.

Finally, our ride arrived at 5:20 am, and we were off to the train station. It was not as close as previously assumed; it took us about 30 minutes to get there. The station was packed with tourists heading in the same direction, leaving no room to move around for pictures.

Poroy Train station
6:00 AM Train to Machu Picchu from Poroy station

Peru Rail provides three different types of trains to Machu Picchu. We had the option to choose Backpackers or Hiram Bingham express. Still, We took Vistadome, which provides large side windows and overhead skylights that give the best possible views of this incredible journey through the Sacred Valley, and the cloud forest that is home to the ancient Inca ruins.

Vistadome Train
Inside Vistadome train heading to Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes station)

Once the train started moving, we were treated with breakfast which was cool.

Breakfast in the train
Healthy breakfast served right after the train started moving towards Machu Picchu

The view throughout the three and half hours journey was incredible, especially when the railway track runs right along the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley, with dramatic canyon walls on either side.

Urubamba River
The railway track runs right along the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley

Beautiful view of the mountain range from the town of Poroy.

Peruvian village
A typical Peruvian village through the window!

At one point, the train had to go through zig-zag tracks that allowed it to descend the steep grade into the river valley, where spectacled bears roam the banks and orchids carpet the trees.

Valley in Ollantaytambo
The Sacred Valley in Ollantaytambo (halfway to Machu Picchu from Cusco)

Aguas Calientes (the town located a few miles from the site). It was a scenic 3.5-hour trip; the railway track runs right along the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley, with dramatic canyon walls on either side.

Aguas Calientes
Just arrived at Aguas Calientes Train Station (the town located a few miles from Machu Picchu site)

Once we reached the destination, we took a bus. Yes, the trains will not take you directly to Machu Picchu. Actually, the train will take you to Aguas Calientes town only. From this city, Machu Picchu ruins are only 8-9 kilometers.

Aguas Calientes town
We need to take one of those buses to cover 9 km climbing uphill to the Machu Picchu entrance

It takes around twenty minutes to reach Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes. But this short journey is really enjoyable as the buses pass through the zigzag and winding way through the mountain. On the way, the scenic beauty is great to enjoy. I was so happy to capture a few shots like the one posted below.

Machu Picchu
Fantastic view from the bus while going uphill to Machu Picchu
Peru Rail, Machu Picchu
A of Peru Rail heading to Machu Picchu

Things to Do in Aguas Calientes

Hot Springs: Aguas Calientes was named after the hot springs in town. They’re open to the public from 5:00 am to 8:00 pm (entrance is 20 soles/$6). They sound so peaceful and relaxing until you catch up with a local and they tell you otherwise. Unfortunately, as a typical tourist attraction, the hot springs are often overcrowded with guests and can quickly become filthy.

Take a hike: The mini mountain trek of Putucusi is a bit intense. If you still want to go ahead and take up the challenge, then just keep walking west along the railway tracks until they hit a set of stairs. From there, the journey should be well-marked. If you are an enthusiastic photo person, this is it; after all the hard work of hiking, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of Machu Picchu from the back side.

Manuel Chavez Ballon Museum: This little-visited gem is a thirty-minute walk from the town of Aguas Calientes and is one of the must-see attractions in Machu Picchu. Learn about the discovery and history of Machu Picchu and see interesting artifacts like the original edition of 1913 National Geographic magazine that published and announced Hiram Brigham’s discovery of Machu Picchu to the world. There is also a nice botanical garden next to the museum where you can see many local plants and trees.

Aguas Calientes
Aguas Calientes, Peru
Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu, Peru

Where to Stay in Aguas Calientes

Inkaterra Macchu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

The best place to stay in Aguas Calientes is the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. A 4-minute walk from Machu Picchu train station, this posh, village-style hotel is set in 5 hectares of gardens, 4 km from the Temple of the Moon and 9 km from Machu Picchu. The price includes a full breakfast buffet and a choice of several on-property excursions with the resort’s naturalists.

Hotel Pachakuteq

Pachakuteq is a more affordable hotel in Aguas Calientes, with an early morning breakfast, comfortable rooms, and a great location. However, there could be some challenges to getting hot water when time to time.

Aguas Calientes
Town of Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu

Where to Eat in Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes isn’t exactly on the cutting edge of Peruvian cuisine. But walk down Av. Pachacutec, and you’ll find several decent, quaint restaurants, some serving a selection of Peru’s growing crop of craft beers. You can also eat at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, even if you’re not a guest. There are two restaurants at the hotel, including a more casual option located by the train tracks, which provides dramatic entertainment when a train enters the station during your meal.


Some Train Tips:

  1. Cusco train station is actually in the nearby town of Poroy. The taxi ride is cheap, but give yourself at least an hour to get from central Cusco to the train station. Traffic in Cusco can be brutal, and seemingly never-ending road work makes things even more congested.
  2. Book your train tickets as far in advance as possible. Tickets sell out weeks ahead in some months.
  3. If train tickets from Cusco are sold out, not to worry. Try to buy a ticket to Aguas Calientes that departs from the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, or vice versa. Taxis and minivans between Ollantaytambo and Cusco (just over an hour each way) are plentiful. If you have the time, plan an overnight in Ollantaytambo to check out the town, which still features many Incan-built streets and buildings, as well as the archaeological site of the same name. Arrive as early as possible at the site to enjoy the sunrise light and beat the tour buses.
  4. If you do stay in Ollantaytambo, the Aranwa hotel is highly recommended. It’s not luxurious, but the most charming hotel in Ollantaytambo is El Albergue. This petite B&B has Incan terraces right on the property, located right at the train station.

Where to stay in Machu Picchu, Peru

Tierra Viva Machu Picchu Hotel

Tierra Viva Cusco Machu Picchu is a 20-minute walk from the surrounding hills and offers impressive views of the surrounding hills. It has comfortable and quiet rooms with air conditioning, and the bus station is a 5-minute walk away. At the hotel, guests can relax at the hotel’s panoramic sun terrace or enjoy free Wi-Fi access, which is available throughout. Rooms are very quiet and equipped with private cable TV and mini-bars. All of them feature private bathrooms with showers. Cusco’s train station is a 10-minute walk from Tierra Viva Cusco Machu Picchu.

Jaya Suite Machupicchu

Jaya Suite Machupicchu offers rooms in Machu Picchu, located within 1,950 feet of Machu Picchu Hot Spring and 1.6 mi of Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary. Popular points of interest around the property include Craft Market and Stadium. The accommodations feature a 24-hour front desk and organizing tours for guests. At the accommodations, all rooms include air conditioning and a flat-screen TV. The hotel offers a buffet or à la carte breakfast. Popular points of interest near the hotel include Bus Stop, Wiñaywayna Park, and Manuel Chavez Ballon Museum. The nearest airport is Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport, 47 mi from Jaya Machupicchu.

My Opinion and Last Word

Have you been to Machu Picchu, Peru? Any cool tips to share?

loved being in Machu Picchu, Peru, and want to go back again. I hope my story has motivated you to visit Peru.

Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge. 

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