Views 07 Ene Trains! Trains! Trains to Machu Picchu!
 |  Category: Tips & Testimonials

If you don’t fancy hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu for several days and unless you want to take 4 mini-buses with crying babies and local produce, a small train overall taking about 10 hours, you better take the direct train to Aguas Calientes from Cusco. Unfortunately this process has been made overly complicated and quite expensive, due to it being the main route to see Machu Picchu, the jewel of the Inca Empire and the most important Peruvian tourism site in the country.

In order to decipher everything surrounding these direct trains, here is a guide to help you make a more informed decision about your excursion to Machu Picchu:

1. Train Stations
Cusco is not served directly by a train from Aguas Calientes. Due to the altitude difference (Cusco at 3,400masl and Aguas Calientes at 2,000masl) the trains won’t go straight to Cusco; the time it would take to do this would add hours onto any journey.

Therefore, on a train from Aguas Calientes you reach Ollantaytambo, where 90% of trains stop, or Poroy, around 20 minutes away from Cusco city. Of course, a train all the way to Poroy is much more comfortable, with less hassle, but there is only a limited time schedule and they are often more expensive.

Trains take approximately 90 minutes to reach Ollantaytambo from Aguas Calientes, or 3½ hours to Poroy. At both stations, a minibus or taxi will get you back to Cusco.

Aguas Calientes

2. Train Companies
Again, here there are two different options. Perurail and Incarail are the only companies that operate the route. Price depends on the time of day and class of travel. A roundtrip to Machu Picchu will always be more economical, as one-way prices tend to be very high.

Perurail used to be owned by the state, until Orient Express bought it. Since then, a group of disgruntled employees have broken-away to form Incarail. Now they have just 4 services a day, illustrating the dominance Perurail experiences in the market.

3. Classes
Probably the easiest part of the journey to get your head around. There are 3 classes available to choose from, which go by different names depending on the company.

The most basic tourist class available, named the Expedition or Backpacker train is by no means uncomfortable. A snack and soft drink is provided, and the carriages have small rooftop windows allowing passengers to marvel at the surrounding scenery, which is undeniably impressive.

The second-class Vistadome trains have larger panoramic windows, a more substantial snack, reclining chairs and sometimes a fashion show displaying the latest fashionable alpaca wear. This is simply a more comfortable service, but it is up to you to decide whether it is worth the extra cost for possibly a 90-minute journey.

First class in the executive Hiram Bingham train is far superior to both options above. It is a white-linen, all-inclusive service, offering a gourmet meal and excellent selection of wines each way. Bus transportation to-and-from Machu Picchu is provided, as is afternoon tea in the Sanctuary Lodge just outside the entrance to Machu Picchu, and also an exclusive guide around the ancient site for every 14 passengers.

tren to machu picchu

Therefore, with all these variables and choices it is far easier to state your class preference, along with the time of day you would like to travel, and we, Dos Manos travel agency in Cusco, will make sure you don’t have to worry about anything else while we also take care of all the other reservation details for you. Almost everyone arranges their Machu Picchu tour through an established and trustworthy travel agency with the benefit of having only one contact point.

After all, there is a whole lot more coming into play for your tour to Machu Picchu besides just train reservations. You want to be sure that you have a qualified and bilingual guide, bus reservations, entry tickets, possible accommodation and very importantly: having one of our transport representatives waiting for you at the train station so you will never be lost or stuck. In addition we offer our passengers a travel guarantee of first class service, and special prices you simply don’t get when you book directly.

Contact us with your preferences and let us take care of the organizing hassle so you only need to focus on enjoying the truly astonishing experience of visiting Machu Picchu. For more information visit our itinerary page here!

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11 Responses

  1. 1

    Wow this is good, this helps a lot. I didn’t know it actually only takes 90 minutes from Ollantaytambo de Aguas Calientes, I thought it was much longer. Too bad, haha!

  2. 2

    What would you recommend for my parents? they are experience travelers but a bit older now .. how much is the Hiram BIngham train, do you know ?

  3. 3
    Martin Torres 

    Fantastic, thank you so much for this. With all the Inca/Perurail companies and options I was getting confused… but no longer!

  4. 4

    This is a really nice blog! I actually wondered if there is an alternative to Perurail, and now I found the answer! Thanks very much for this. And who know, maybe I will book with you guys!

  5. 5

    thanks very much for all information!

    it really helped me to know the easiest way to get to machu Picchu, I’m not a really walk kind of person, and to know that you can take a train is absolutely outstanding!!

  6. 6

    I am so pleased that I found this blog! I am more of a trekking guy but my parents are definately the train tour type. Would it be possible to arrange for them to arrive to Machu Picchu on the same date that I arrive after the Inca Trail trek so that we can enjoy the guided tour together as a family?

  7. 7
    South America Travel Blog 

    Hi Oliver!
    Thanks for your message! If you get in contact with one of our travel specialists at Dos Manos they will be happy to help you with arranging the tour together when you both arrive to Machu Picchu. Sounds like a great way to please both your parents and yourself and to share it together!

  8. 8
    South America Travel Blog 

    Hi John! The Hiram Bingham train is an excellent choice for your parents if they are into a bit of luxury for their trip to Machu Picchu. We would recommend contacting our travel specialist at Dos Manos to ask for the different packages and prices. The luxury train is on the expensive side of budgets but we think it is worth every penny!

  9. 9

    Thank you so much for this information! I am planning a trip and missed out clear information about all the options. Muchas gracias!

  10. 10

    This is a great post, I think many people only think about the hikes as an option to visit Machu Picchu, but this is great for people who are not so sportive (as me 😉
    Thanks, I am considering visiting Peru in the fall, I wil contact you for sure when my plans are more definite!

  11. 11

    Thanks for these tips! I know a lot of people who have visited Machu Picchu and they all said that the luxury train was definitely worth every penny. The photos of the Sanctuary Lodge was just beautiful too.

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