There are many Machu Picchu tours departing from Lima. However, the first step is to reach the city of Cusco. Next, you’ll have different options to visit the Inca citadel, from hiking a multi-day trek to boarding a luxurious train.
In this post, you’ll learn how to get to Machu Picchu from Lima and select the best option to discover the ancient Inca citadel with no hassles.
Getting from Lima to Cusco
As we mentioned above, once you arrive in Lima the next step is to head to the city of Cusco. Here you have 3 different ways to travel; by plane, by bus and even by train (partially). Keep in mind that Cusco lies at 3400 meters above sea level, so make sure to be fully acclimatized before doing any activity.
This is the fastest way to travel to Cusco. A regular flight will take about an hour. Different air companies offer direct flights from Lima to Cusco, here we mention the current companies operating in 2021.
- Latam Airlains
- Viva Air
Booking a flight from Lima to Cusco isn’t a difficult task. These companies operate daily departures and have different frequencies that you can choose from.
Some travelers often ask which company is the best. Having flown with these 3, I could say that you can expect not many differences. Nevertheless, in our experience, we would probably select Latam as it has plenty of frequencies that can eventually fit your needs.
In addition to that, we would like to provide you with some tips at the time you book/take your flight to Cusco.
- Read carefully the inclusions, especially the luggage policy.
- Arrive at the airport 2 hours before your flight departs.
- In 2021, wearing a double mask will be mandatory due to Covid-19.
Once you arrive at the Cusco airport, make sure to have booked a pick-up at your hotel. If you haven’t, you can contact us to arrange it for you. We have modern vans as well as English-speaking assistance permanently.
Peru is a fantastic country. It has a beautiful coastline, impressive peaks in the Andes, and an exotic rainforest. This geography has blessed us but also it has challenged us to connect our cities from one region to another.
In that sense, a bus trip can allow you to discover different landscapes in a long period of time.
Getting to Cusco from Lima by bus can take about 22 hrs on average (1117 Km). Not ideal for those who have limited time to spend in Peru, but a good option for travelers who seek to explore different attractions on their way to Cusco.
Regarding bus companies, we’d say that most sites and blogs agree that Cruz del Sur is the most reliable bus company to ride across Peru. However, you can also check other bus companies to Cusco:
- Movil Tours
- Peru hop
It means that you can explore many attractions before your before taking any Machu Picchu tours from Lima.
Although there are no direct trains from Lima to Cusco, you can combine a bus ride + a train ride. Some travelers decide to visit Lima, Paracas, Nazca, Arequipa, and Puno by Bus and then, make a journey from Puno to Cusco by train.
A popular train ride is operated by the Peru Rail Train Titicaca, a great scenic rail tour of 10 hours connecting Puno – Cusco, and vice-versa. The train departs every day except on Tuesdays.
Peru Rail also offers the luxurious train Andean Explorer as follows:
- Peruvian Highlands: 3 days / 2 nights, from Cusco to Arequipa.
- Andean Plains: 2 days / 2 nights, from Arequipa to Cusco.
- Spirit of Water: 1 day / 1 night, from Cusco to Puno.
- Spirit of the Andes: 1 day / 1 night, from Puno to Cusco.
To get more details, go to the Andean Explorer train site.
Getting from Cusco to Machu Picchu
Once in Cusco, you will likely want to explore the city and its surroundings. But, hold on your horses! Before jumping on the Andes, you should know that most visitors (especially those who arrive by plane) may experience some symptoms related to the altitude; nausea, headache, fatigue, etc. We recommend that you slow down, have a coca te (te made from coca leaves), rest in your hotel, avoid physical efforts, hydrate yourself, and eat slightly.
You’ll progressively get used to the altitude and feel better. Your body will be grateful to you.
Getting to Machu Picchu by hiking.
Getting to Machu Picchu by hiking is probably the most authentic way to reach the ancient Inca citadel. Cusco offers different trekkings, the most popular is undoubtedly the Inca Trail, considered as one the most beautiful trekking in the world. And so, the most demanded in South America.
Make sure to book your trek at least 6 months in advance in order to guarantee your spots.
However, if you’re not able to book the Inca Trail on time, there are other alternatives that you can consider:
- The Salkantay Trek
- The Lares Trek
- Trek Huchuy Qosqo
Most of the treks above don’t require to be booked quite in advance, however, you’ll need to be fully acclimatized and in good physical condition to successfully accomplish the hike.
Getting to Machu Picchu by train.
Getting to Machu Picchu by train is an amazing experience. It’s definitely the fastest way to visit Machu Picchu if you have limited time. There are 2 train companies (Peru Rail & Inca Rail) operating daily departures at different schedules.
To get more details about the trains to Machu Picchu, just check our post.
Most tours to Machu Picchu include train tickets as well as other services. However, if you’re planning to get your tickets directly, keep in mind the following recommendations:
- Book your tickets in advance, especially during the peak season (June-August).
- There are many train stations, make sure to choose the one closer to your hotel.
- Arrive 30 minutes before train departure.
- Wearing a mask and a face shield will be mandatory due to Covid-19.
- Passangers are allowed to take up to 5Kg (11 lb) as luggage.
Getting to Machu Picchu by Bus
Yes! You can also get to Machu Picchu by bus, but partially. It’s by far the cheapest way to visit Machu Picchu avoiding taking the train. But first, you need to know that this journey requires 2 days.
- On the first day, you depart from Cusco to Hidroelectrica (small village close to Machu Picchu). The bus ride takes 6-7 hrs. Next, you’ll hike for over 3 hours following the rail tracks to finally reach the town of Aguas Calientes.
- The following day, you’ll be able to visit the Inca citadel very early in the morning. At noon, you’ll have to be back to Hidroelectrica in order to take the car back to Cusco.
To have more details about this journey, look for the Machu Picchu Tour By Bus in 2 days. This is a good option for those having a small budget and who want to save some bucks.
Trips to Machu Picchu from Lima
Now that you know how to get to Machu Picchu from Lima, you can choose any of the Machu Picchu tours that fit better your schedule and budget. Here we give you some ideas:
- Machu Picchu Day Tour: This is the safest way to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco. Explore the Inca citadel at your own pace aboard a Panoramic train. Ideal for those who have limited time in Cusco and wish to discover one of the wonders of the world.
- Machu Picchu 2-Day Tour: This tour allows you to discover both the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. You’ll optimize your time exploring 2 highlights in Cusco. An experience that we highly recommend.
- Machu Picchu 5-Day Tour: If you want to have a complete experience, check out this tour that includes different highlights such as the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, the Rainbow Mountain, etc.
To have further details about all tours to Machu Picchu from Lima, we kindly invite you to contact us to book/personalize your experience.