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Looking at flights to Machu Picchu, the UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 16th century is on the bucket list of many people. Unfortunately, there’s no easy path to Machu Picchu. If you plan to travel to Peru and visit Machu Picchu, there is only one way to fly to get to Machu Picchu.
What is the Closest Airport to Machu Picchu?
Presently, the closest airport to Machu Picchu in Peru is Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco and is the only airport in Cusco. It is currently the second busiest airport in Peru and transports over 2,500,000 passengers per year. Getting to and from the airport is about a 20-minute drive and is 3.5 miles from the Plaza de Armas or the city center.
At this time there are only domestic flights and some short flights from Bolivia and Columbia in and out of this small Cusco airport. Typically, flying to Cusco means a trip to Lima for most people. Five companies provide domestic flights to from Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima to Cusco. It is approximately a 1 hour and 20 minutes, so you won’t be in the air for long if you’re afraid of flying.
Typically, these are very cheap flights as prices for these airlines are anywhere from approximately 270 to 469 soles.
How Far is Machu Picchu from the Closest Airport?
As we have stated before, the path to Machu Picchu from the closest airport, which is in Cusco, involves transportation by bus or taxi, and then train to Aguas Calientes. This can be via a day or multi-day trips. If you are planning to take the bus to Machu Picchu, you’re looking at about an 8 hours ride to Machu Picchu. However, if you go by taxi, it will take about 2 hours to get to Ollantaytambo. After that, you will be making a 2-3 hour train ride to Machu Picchu via Inca Rail or PeruRail.
Another option if you are the adventurous type, you can take the Inca Trail, provided you secured permits well ahead of time which also starts near Ollantaytambo.
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General Tips for the Machu Picchu Airport in Cusco
In general, it can be tricky to get to the Cusco airport. There is no public transportation to or from the airport. Therefore, you’ll need to take a taxi or minibus, also known as a combi in Peru, to get to your hotel in Cusco. Prices private minivans going to the city center run approximately $20 per passenger.
Flying in and Out of the Cusco Airport Near Machu Picchu
The airport in Machu Picchu is a challenging airport for pilots to fly in and out. We recommend taking a flight in and out of the airport in Cusco during the morning. Often flights that are in the afternoon can get extremely delayed or even canceled because the airline pilots require visibility to land at this airport. This is because if cloud cover at the airport in Cusco is 3,800 feet or less, they cannot fly, compared to the requirement of 2,000 feet or less in Lima. Additionally, as the airport is at the high elevation of over 11,000 feet, the winds can pick up in Cusco. Therefore planes can only take off from the east and land from the west.
Cusco Airport Amenities
The airport to Cusco in Machu Picchu is tiny. Therefore there are little to no amenities at this airport. There is no wifi at the airport. As the airport is small, there are a minimal number of restaurants for food.
What is the Future of Peru Airports Near Machu Picchu?
The future of Peru airports near Machu Picchu is auspicious. The Cusco airport is so small, at maximum capacity, and services many people per year. It is currently not meeting the demands for all the flights to get to Machu Picchu. In 2012, Peru signed into law the construction of a brand new international airport worth over $460 million.
As of this writing, the airport is on pace to open in 2021. The airport will be called Chinchero International Airport and will be approximately 30 km from Cusco in Chinchero, located in the Sacred Valley. As a result, the trip to Machu Picchu will be shorter and possibly increase the importance of doing a Sacred Valley tour before arriving at Machu Picchu.