How do I get to Machu Picchu?How do I get to Machu Picchu?

How do I get to Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu, an archaeological wonder nestled in the heart of the Peruvian Andes, attracts millions of visitors every year, fascinated by its history and mystical beauty. Located in the eastern cordillera of southern Peru, close to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It lies in the Cusco region. 

The site is 75 kilometers northwest of Cusco as the crow flies, at an altitude of 2,430 meters. 

Its location is very special, set in the gorges of the Río Urubamba valley in a tropical climate.

Access is via the village of Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo.

Organizing a trip to this legendary site requires preparation well in advance, and involves choosing the right itinerary to suit your wishes and budget...

Before Machu-PIcchu, we recommend spending a few days in the Cusco region, visiting the city and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This will also allow you to acclimatize to the altitude.

The 3 possible routes to the Machu-Picchu archaeological site from Cusco.

The only way to get to Machu Picchu on foot: the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is the ancient access route used by the Incas to reach the sacred site.

This is the only trekking route to the archaeological site, without passing through the village of aguas calientes.

It must be booked well in advance, as there is a daily quota of places to preserve the path.

The best trek, which we recommend, is a 4-day walk.
See the trek here: The Inca Trail in 4 days

There's also a shorter route, lasting just two days (with a short train ride beforehand).
See the itinerary here: The Inca Trail in 2 days

All the answers to your questions about the Inca Trail here:
Frequently asked questions about the Inca Trail

There is no other way to reach the Machu-Picchu archaeological site without first passing through Aguas Calientes.

By train, the fastest and most comfortable way

There are a number of trains available to get you to Aguas Calientes.
Most depart from the village of Ollantaytambo, a 1h30 drive from Cusco.
We recommend that you take advantage of the journey between Cusco and Ollantaytambo to visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

This is what we offer on most of our tours.
See a sample tour here: Best of Peru

There are several categories of train, from the simplest to the most luxurious.
See our article on trains to Machu Picchu here: How to travel by train in Peru

The Amazon route, a combination of bus and walking: the longest and most economical way.

The last and most economical way to get to Machu Picchu is via the Amazon route.
There are buses from Cusco to Santa Terresa, located "at the back" of Aguas Calientes, on the Amazon side of the Urubamba valley.
The journey takes around 5 hours. The road is winding and vertiginous.
It's a 3-hour walk from hydroelectrica to Aguas Calientes. This is an easy walk along the railway line, amid lush vegetation.
There is also a train from the hydroelectrica station to Aguas Calientes.
We don't offer this option on our tours.

For the more adventurous among you, there are 3 or 4-day itineraries that combine mountain biking and walking.

Although this part of the Amazon, known as the high jungle, is very pretty, you'll need to devote some time to it, especially to visit the tea and coffee plantations.

That's why we only offer this route on our trips, with the added bonus of discovering the Quillabamba region. This solution is longer and more expensive, but so much more original.

How to get to Machu-Picchu from the village of agua-calientes (Machu-Picchu).

The village of Aguas Calientes does not have an access road. It is therefore only supplied by train. There are no vehicles inside the village (taxi or other). Everything is done on foot. The only road connects the village and the Machu Picchu site.
They are only two ways to get from the village of Aguas Calientes to the entrance to Machu Picchu:

By bus

This is the best solution, which we adopt for all our trips.

Buses leave from the bus station, which is close to the main square in Aguas Calientes. There is no fixed timetable, and buses leave as soon as they are full. The bus journey to Machu Picchu takes around 25-30 minutes. Bus tickets can be purchased directly from Aguas Calientes, as there is no limit to the number of seats available.

On foot

There is a path that cuts across the bus route. The trail is well-marked and takes around 1? to 2 hours, depending on your pace and physical condition. This hike offers a picturesque experience through the jungle. However, the gradient is high. We therefore recommend that you make the return journey on foot (downhill). This way, you'll save your strength for the rest of the visit.

What about the return journey from Aguas Calientes to Cusco?

Only the last two options, train or walking plus bus, are possible.

The nearest airport to Machu Picchu

The nearest airport to Machu Picchu is Cusco airport (Alejandro-Velasco-Astete International Airport). It is served mainly by Lima airport. There are also a few flights from other Peruvian cities and some South American capitals in the region.

Helicopter flights

In recent years, helicopter flights to Aguas Calientes have been suspended.

Whichever option you choose, you'll eventually arrive at the entrance to Machu Picchu, where you can begin your exploration of this archaeological wonder. 

Make sure you have your entrance tickets, and plan your visit around your entrance schedule.

To find out more: Entrances to Machu Picchu

In conclusion,

Access to Machu Picchu is by a combination of different means of transport, offering a variety of options to suit the requirements and desires of every visitor. Careful planning and consideration of the above recommendations guarantee a memorable journey to this exceptional archaeological site.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.

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