Similar to obtaining your tickets to Machu Picchu there’s plenty of legwork involved in getting a ticket. And getting your Machu Picchu train tickets is only one of the small pieces involved.
Unfortunately, there is no real train from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Typically, it involves bimodal service including bus transportation to Ollantaytambo, your train ticket, and bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu. Therefore, we recommend you let a tour agency do all the work getting your bus tickets and train tickets. Below, we’ll outline all the train options available to you to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco.
Two train operators will take you to Aguas Calientes, which is the city, at the base of Machu Picchu. The first is PeruRail, which is the most commonly used train company to get to Machu Picchu. The second is the slightly lesser-known Inca Rail. Let’s break both these options down!
You’ve arrived in Cusco, possibly through one of our favorite bus transportation suppliers such as Peru Hop, and you’re ready to show up at the entrance right? Easy as that. Not quite. Sure, Cusco is your central hub on the way to Machu Picchu, but you’re still looking at approximately 4 hours of transportation to get to Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, the Gateway to Machu Picchu.
Poroy is the closest station to Cusco that runs trains departing to Aguas Calientes. Poroy is approximately 20 miles from Cusco, whereas Ollantaytambo is about 1.5 hours from Cusco. Leaving from Poroy is a convenience, but we recommend going from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu as this gives you the option to explore the Sacred Valley on the way to Machu Picchu. You should not miss the Sacred Valley.
PeruRail has three different train options:
- Economic: Expedition
- Comfier: Vistadome option
- High-end luxury: Belmond Hiram Bingham
Currently, PeruRail runs tours out of the Poroy and Ollantaytambo train stations. PeruRail has PLENTY of departure times for Aguas Calientes.
The budget Expedition option is the train that most of the backpackers take when returning from Machu Picchu after hiking the Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, or Lares Trek. At $100-140 round trip, this is going to be the cheapest option for PeruRail. Fortunately, there’s heat or air conditioning based on the weather after your trek. The Expedition option has comfy seats and tables to travel with your buddies. This train has juice, tea or water for sale.
The Vistadome option tends to be a little more upscale than the Expedition option. This train option costs anywhere between $150-200 round trip. This train has more comfy leather seats, large panoramic windows to view the landscape when traveling to Machu Picchu.
There’s a fun traditional Saqra dance show and Peruvian clothing fashion show, so make sure you save some coin if you choose to buy during the show (it’s expensive). In addition to the standard juice and tea options, they serve a sweet snack such as a brownie or cookie. There’s food options to buy including tomato and cheddar cheese sandwiches.
Belmond Hiram Bingham
As the extremely high-end luxury train option to Machu Picchu, the price lives up to high-end ($$$$)! The train is decked out in blue and gold, polished wood, an accentuated with shiny silverware and pristine glasses.
This train includes brunch, dinner, unlimited Peruvian cocktails, afternoon tea at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, entrance to Machu Picchu and tour guide while in Machu Picchu. A one-way ticket for this option is approximately $450-500 per ticket. The downfall is you are looking at $1000+ for a one day trip to Machu Picchu.
Inca Rail is the other train company that operates trains to Aguas Calientes. They have four train options including:
- Budget option: Voyager
- Middle-class option: The 360° Train
- High End: The First Class
- Ballin Hard Option: The Private
Like PeruRail, trains depart from Poroy or Ollantaytambo. However, for 2019, Inca Rail is not running trains out of Poroy. So this leaves Ollantaytambo as the only option. Inca Rail tends to be a slightly more economical option that PeruRail, however, there are not as many departures and arrival times compared to PeruRail.
The Voyager train option from Inca Rail is their version of the budget train. This train option is approximately $130 round trip. This train runs five times per day from Ollantaytambo. This budget train includes a snack and hot or cold beverages for sale.
The 360° Train
The 360° Train also runs departures from Ollantaytambo. At $150-180 round trip this is slightly more expensive than the Voyager. This train leaves three times per day. It has drinks such as teas made with Andean herbs and snacks made from produce cultivated in the Sacred Valley for sale. There’s a bar car with drinks for sale, including the classic pisco sour. As an upgrade from the Voyager train, there’s an outdoor carriage that you can take a seat outside and enjoy the fresh air on the way to Machu Picchu.
The First Class
The First Class is where the Inca Rail train options become just as much about the journey as the experience. The First Class Machu Picchu train runs two times per day and upon entering you’re welcomed to a complimentary cocktail. It includes a menu with organic Peruvian dishes including quinoa, trout, and South American fine wines for purchase.
Similar to The 360° Train there is a carriage with outdoor space; however, this time there is a balcony and live music to accompany the area. Finally, it includes your ticket for the bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu. Again you are looking at $$$$. You’re looking at a $360 round trip.
The Private is the highest class luxury train option that Inca Rail operates which operates three times per day. It’s is a private train option for you and 7 of your buddies. You receive a complimentary bottle of champagne once you board the train. It includes an outdoor balcony carriage with live music.
It includes various meal options, open bar, and South American wines. Finally, it comes with your bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, but this time similar to the train, you are in a private bus. Again $$$$$$$……… Brace yourself. $10,000 round trip!!!!
In conclusion, there’s plenty of options when taking the train to Machu Picchu. They run from budget to extremely high-class VIP. Each train option has many different amenities depending on your price point. However, the one thing that they all share in common? They all share a gorgeous view! We are fans of the PeruRail VistaDome train. It has plenty of departure times at a reasonable price, comfortable seats, and cleaner than the PeruRail Expedition train. Again, this is only ONE of the transportation pieces involved in getting you to Machu Picchu. Therefore, that’s why we recommend you let us take care of all the grunt work for you.
Train to Machu Picchu FAQs
How long is the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu?
The distance from Poroy station near Cusco to Aguas Calientes is 65.8 kilometers. The route travels across the gorgeous Sacred Valley of the Incas and takes approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes.
my quastion if i take a train/ bus from lima to machu pichu how do you get from the bottom of the mountain to top .. if you dont want to hike are there options donkey ride to top cable car ? or must take full day hike???
Hey Robert. To get to Machu Picchu you have to get to Cusco. I would recommend taking a plane rather than a train as it’s a VERY long drive. Once you make your way to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town), you can then either hike to the top or take a bus to the entrance. I highly recommend taking the bus as the hike is very difficult and not very scenic.
do i need to purchase tickets in advance and if so is there a waiting list ? how much? is the bus ride up to the top included?
We recommend purchasing tickets in advance because tickets typically do sell out ahead of time. Unfortunately, Peru does not utilize a waiting list. Any tickets that aren’t used are forfeited. If traveling with Cachi Life we include the cost of the bus ride to the top however, if traveling yourself, you will need to purchase tickets for the bus ride.