Lima to Machu Picchu 2024: A Traveller’s Guide

How to get from Lima to Machu Picchu in 2024? This is a question we get asked by readers of this blog and so we thought we might as well help travelers find the best way for them to get from Lima to Machu Picchu.

Lima is a city 100% worth spending a couple of days in, something we showed in another one of our posts and if flying from Lima, it is worth doing 1 or 2 day trips around the city to Paracas and Huacachina Desert Oasis (must be seen to be believed!)

From Lima, it is necessary to stop in Cusco before heading to Machu Picchu as there are no direct flights, trains or buses to Machu Picchu.

How To Peru Expert Tip: We strongly recommend you check out Yapa Explorers for tours and treks to Machu Picchu. They’re not the cheapest, but in our opinion offer the best quality in terms of safety, tour guides and reliability.

1. Lima to Cusco

There are really only two ways to get from Lima to Cusco which are plane and bus. Unfortunately, train is not an option because the only tourist train that leaves Lima goes to a city called Huancayo which is about one-third of the way to Machu Picchu and really not a viable option

By plane:

The flight time from Lima’s airport to Cusco is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. Ticket prices vary depending on the airline you choose but we recommend LATAM based on the quality of their planes and reliability. The downside of traveling by plane is that you will miss the sights and some of the different landscapes that Peru has to offer. Also, a flight over the Andes will take you from 0 to over 10,000ft above sea level. This is sudden change in altitude is the main reason why many tourists experience altitude sickness on their first days in Cusco.

By bus:

Apart from having the benefit of acclimatizing yourself to the altitude, you will get a chance to explore Peru when choosing to go by bus. A direct bus trip to Cusco can take from 22 hours to 27 hours. The reason for the long trip is the mountain chain known as… you guessed right! The Andes. Most roads are winding, curvy and steep. However, we recommend taking the route that passes through Arequipa as it is the safest option and the most popular among travelers. There are a bunch of places to see along the way.

map of full south to cusco - how to get from lima to machu picchu

2. Cusco to Machu Picchu

There are mainly 2 ways to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu: Trekking all the way to Machu Picchu or going by a combination of bus and train.

a) Trekking all the way to Machu Picchu:

Treks can last 3 to 5 days and you will usually have to book in advance, especially for the Official Inca Trail. Nevertheless, almost all treks will include the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. The most popular treks are Salkantay trek; great for the sightseeing lovers, Inca Jungle; a more action-packed option and the Official Inca trail; arrive to Machu Picchu just in time to watch the sunrise. To have a great trekking experience, avoid scammers by buying from a recommended and trusted tour agency. Make sure to check out, a search and comparison website for tours and treks around South America.

Recommended tour operators

Trekking girl - how to get from lima to machu picchu

b) Combination of bus and train:

Our recommendations to complete this part of the trip are:

  • Take the train from Poroy to Aguas Calientes, then a shuttle bus to Machu Picchu. Poroy is where the closest train station to Cusco is. It is a 20-minute drive from the city center. Trains are operated by PeruRail with 3 distinctive type of services for each traveler’s budget. It is worth mentioning that this station usually closes between January to April due to climate conditions and maintenance. The train trip takes about 3 and a half hours.

vapor coming out of moving train in the Andes - how to get from lima to machu picchu

  • Take a bus/mini-van from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, a train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, and a shuttle bus to Machu Picchu. Ollantaytambo station is near the Sacred Valley and it is open all year round. The bus trip from Cusco to Ollantaytambo is about 1 hour and 45 minutes while the train trip from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes is about 1hour and 10 minutes. Both PeruRail and IncaRail operate trains from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes with different prices according to the service provided.

map of trail path from aguas calientes to machu picchu - how to get from lima to machu picchu

Going to Machu Picchu is a once in a lifetime experience you surely do not want to miss. We will keep you updated if anything changes in the near future. So, keep checking our blog and take a look at our other articles too to gather all kinds of tips and information you need before embarking on journey to Peru!

ENTERTAINMENT TIP: If in Cusco looking for fun at night, or to watch sports during the day, or even a taste of home, visit the Wild Rover Hostel for great food, sports and beer! Entrance to the bars is free even for non-guests.