Train to Machu Picchu: Everything You Need to Know

Embarking on a journey to Machu Picchu, one of the world’s most iconic archaeological sites, is a dream for many travelers. While there are several ways to reach this ancient Inca citadel, taking the train is one of the most popular and convenient options. Here’s everything you need to know about the train to Machu Picchu, from ticket options to what to expect during the journey.

1. Choosing the Right Train Route

There are several train routes to Machu Picchu, departing from different locations such as Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Urubamba. The most common starting point is Ollantaytambo, a town in the Sacred Valley, which offers frequent departures and a scenic journey through the Andean landscape.

2. Selecting the Train Service

Multiple train companies operate routes to Machu Picchu, each offering different levels of comfort, amenities, and ticket prices. The most popular options include PeruRail and Inca Rail, which offer a range of services from budget-friendly to luxury experiences. Be sure to research and book your tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, as trains can fill up quickly.

3. Ticket Options

Train tickets to Machu Picchu typically come in several classes, including Expedition (standard), Vistadome (mid-range with panoramic windows), and luxury options such as the Belmond Hiram Bingham train. Prices vary depending on the class of service and the departure point, so be sure to compare options and choose the one that best fits your budget and preferences.

Which Train to Choose

  • Peru Rail: Peru Rail is the larger of the two companies and offers a wider range of train services, from the basic Expedition train to the luxurious Hiram Bingham.
  • Inca Rail: Inca Rail is a more upscale company that offers a more personalized experience. Their trains are known for their comfortable seating, attentive service, and scenic views.

The best train for you will depend on your budget and preferences. If you’re looking for the most affordable option, the Expedition train is a good choice. If you’re looking for a more comfortable and scenic journey, then the Vistadome or Sacred Valley trains are good options. And if you’re looking for a truly luxurious experience, then the Hiram Bingham is the way to go.

How to Book Your Train Tickets

Train tickets to Machu Picchu can be booked online in advance or at the train station in Cusco. However, it is highly recommended to book your tickets online in advance, especially during peak season (June-August). Tickets can sell out quickly, and you don’t want to miss out on your chance to see Machu Picchu.

4. Boarding and Departure

On the day of your journey, arrive at the train station at least 30 minutes before departure to allow time for check-in and boarding. Be sure to have your ticket, passport, and any necessary identification or permits ready for inspection. Once on board, settle into your seat and prepare to enjoy the scenic ride through the Sacred Valley towards Machu Picchu.

5. The Journey

The train journey to Machu Picchu is an experience in itself, offering stunning views of the Andean mountains, rushing rivers, and verdant valleys. Along the way, you may have the opportunity to purchase snacks, beverages, and souvenirs from onboard vendors, or simply sit back and relax as you soak in the breathtaking scenery.

6. Arrival at Aguas Calientes

The train journey concludes in the town of Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, located at the base of the mountain where Machu Picchu is situated. Upon arrival, disembark from the train and make your way to the entrance of Machu Picchu, either by foot or via shuttle bus, depending on your preference and energy level.

7. Return Journey

After exploring Machu Picchu and soaking in its awe-inspiring beauty, you’ll return to Aguas Calientes to catch the train back to your starting point. Be sure to check the departure time of your return train and arrive at the station with ample time to board. The return journey offers another opportunity to relax and reflect on the incredible experience of visiting Machu Picchu.

8. Additional Tips

  • Book in Advance: Train tickets to Machu Picchu often sell out months in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, so it’s essential to book your tickets as early as possible.
  • Pack Light: Space on the train is limited, so be sure to pack only the essentials for your day trip to Machu Picchu.
  • Check Ticket Policies: Be aware of the cancellation and rescheduling policies of your chosen train service, as they may vary depending on the type of ticket you purchase.


The train journey to Machu Picchu is not only a convenient and comfortable way to reach this iconic archaeological site but also an unforgettable experience in its own right. From the scenic views of the Andean landscape to the excitement of exploring one of the world’s most famous ancient wonders, the train to Machu Picchu offers a seamless and memorable journey for travelers from around the globe.

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