If you’re planning a trip to Peru, visiting the legendary Machu Picchu is undoubtedly on your itinerary. Situated high in the Andes Mountains, this ancient Inca citadel is a marvel that attracts thousands of visitors every year. In this guide, we will walk you through the various transportation options available for traveling from Cusco to Machu Picchu, including buses and trains, as well as provide insights into the distance between the two destinations.
Cusco to Machu Picchu by Train: The Scenic Route
One of the most popular ways to reach Machu Picchu from Cusco is by train. The journey takes you through breathtaking landscapes and offers stunning views of the Peruvian countryside. Two train companies operate routes from Cusco to Machu Picchu: PeruRail and Inca Rail.
Both PeruRail and Inca Rail offer different train services, ranging from luxurious and panoramic trains to more budget-friendly options. The trains typically depart from either Poroy Station, located about 20 minutes from Cusco, or Ollantaytambo Station, a town in the Sacred Valley.
The train ride from Cusco to Machu Picchu takes approximately 3 to 4 hours, depending on the type of train and the departure station. It is advisable to book your train tickets in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, as they can sell out quickly.
Cusco to Machu Picchu by Bus: A Budget-Friendly Option
If you prefer a more budget-friendly option or enjoy the adventure of a road trip, traveling from Cusco to Machu Picchu by bus is another viable choice. Buses operate from Cusco to the town of Ollantaytambo, where you can catch a train or continue the journey by bus to Machu Picchu Pueblo (also known as Aguas Calientes), the gateway to Machu Picchu.
The bus ride from Cusco to Ollantaytambo takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic conditions. From Ollantaytambo, you can either board a train to Machu Picchu Pueblo or take a direct bus. The bus journey from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Pueblo takes around 1.5 to 2 hours along a winding mountain road.
Distance from Cusco to Machu Picchu
The distance between Cusco and Machu Picchu is approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) in a straight line. However, due to the mountainous terrain and lack of direct roads, the actual travel distance is longer.
By train, the distance traveled from Cusco to Machu Picchu is around 112 kilometers (70 miles) via Poroy Station or approximately 144 kilometers (89 miles) via Ollantaytambo Station.
By bus, the distance from Cusco to Ollantaytambo is about 72 kilometers (45 miles), and from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Pueblo, it is around 30 kilometers (19 miles).
Visiting Machu Picchu from Cusco: A Day Trip or Overnight Stay?
When planning your visit to Machu Picchu from Cusco, you have the option of either taking a day trip or staying overnight near the site.
If you choose a day trip, you can depart from Cusco early in the morning, either by train or bus, and return in the evening. This allows you to explore Machu Picchu during the day and experience its grandeur without staying overnight in the vicinity.
However, many travelers opt for an overnight stay in Machu Picchu Pueblo to fully immerse themselves in the magical atmosphere of the site. This allows for more time to explore the ruins, hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, and witness the sunrise or sunset over the ancient citadel.
Traveling from Cusco to Machu Picchu is an adventure in itself, offering you a glimpse into the awe-inspiring beauty of the Peruvian Andes. Whether you choose to journey by train or bus, the experience of reaching Machu Picchu will be a memorable one. Consider your preferences, budget, and time constraints when deciding which transportation option suits you best. Prepare to be captivated by the enchanting wonder that awaits you in the heart of the Andes.