Train To Machu Picchu: Step-By-Step Guide Navigation

You might be asking, 'Why should I visit Machu Picchu?' Embarking on a train to Machu Picchu is the start of an unforgettable Peru adventure.
Let’s provide you with our best train travel Machu Picchu tips about this iconic journey. From ticket prices to onboard experiences, we’ve got you covered.
train in machu picchu town

Why Take the Train to Machu Picchu?

So, you’re planning your dream trip to Machu Picchu and wondering, “Why should I take the train?”
First off, taking the train is incredibly convenient. Imagine bypassing the strenuous Machu Picchu hike and long bus rides and sitting back in a comfy seat as you glide through the scenic Peruvian landscape. 
It’s a stress-free way to travel and one of many great things to do near Machu Picchu. It allows you to save your energy for exploring the awe-inspiring ruins at the Sacred Valley Cusco.
Safety is another big plus. The train routes are well-maintained and operated by reputable companies, ensuring a secure journey. 
You won’t have to worry about navigating unfamiliar roads or dealing with potential Machu Picchu Mountain hazards that come with other forms of travel. It’s no wonder that about 80% of tourists opt for the train when visiting this world wonder.
Peru Rail train

Train Companies: Peru Rail vs. Inca Rail

When taking a train to Machu Picchu, you’ve got two main players in the game: Peru Rail and Inca Rail. Both companies offer various services, but some key differences could sway your decision.

Peru Rail

Peru Rail is the more established of the two, offering multiple service options and departure schedules. They operate several routes, but their main one for our adventure is from Poroy (near Cusco) to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo). 
They offer four train services for foreign tourists: Expeditions, Vistadome, Hiring Bingham, and Sacred Valley. Each service varies in terms of amenities and price, so there’s something for every budget and preference.

Inca Rail

Inca Rail is the newer kid on the block but has quickly gained a reputation for quality service. They also operate from Cusco to Aguas Calientes but offer more streamlined options.
One unique feature is their transfer service, where they pick you up from your hotel and take you to the Ollantaytambo station in a private vehicle.
Regarding departure schedules, both companies offer multiple options throughout the day. However, Peru Rail tends to have more frequent departures, especially during the high season. So, if flexibility is a priority, Peru Rail might be your better choice.
Cusco, Peru

Booking Your Machu Picchu Train Tickets

So, you’ve decided to take the train to Machu Picchu—great choice! But before you start packing your bags, there’s one crucial step you can’t overlook: booking your train tickets. 
Trust us, you don’t want to leave this to the last minute, especially if you plan to visit during the high season (May to August).
Because this is often considered the best time to climb Machu Picchu, tickets can sell out months in advance, leaving you with fewer options or, worse, no options at all.
But if you leave it in our hands at Skyhook, we can make the process easier by taking care of the arrangements for you!

Where to Book

The most straightforward way to secure your tickets is through the official websites of the train companies.
For instance, Peru Rail offers an easy-to-navigate platform where you can check schedules, compare prices, and make your booking. It’s a one-stop shop for all your train travel needs.

Pro Tips When Booking

  • Early Bird Gets the Worm: The earlier you book, the more choices you’ll have regarding departure times and train services.

  • Package Deals: Some companies offer package deals that include train tickets, bus transfers, and even guided tours. Keep an eye out for these if you’re looking for a more comprehensive experience.

  • Double-Check Details: Before confirming your purchase, ensure all the details are correct, including travel dates and departure stations. Mistakes can be costly and stressful to fix later on.

Cusco-Machu Picchu train

Types of Machu Picchu Train Services

The train ride is an adventure; you have options to suit every taste and budget. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you choose the perfect ride, whether travelling with Peru Rail or Inca Rail.

Peru Rail: From Budget to Luxury

Whether pinching pennies or living it up, Peru Rail offers services to match your travel style and budget.

Expedition Train: The Budget-Friendly Choice

If you’re watching your pennies but still crave an unforgettable journey, Peru Rail’s Expedition Train is your best bet. With panoramic windows, you won’t miss any of the awe-inspiring Andean scenery. It’s a comfortable yet economical way to reach Machu Picchu.

Vistadome Train: A Feast for the Senses

Ready to elevate your travel experience? The Vistadome Train offers panoramic windows on the roof and sides, immersing you in the stunning landscape. Plus, enjoy a delightful onboard snack service featuring local Andean flavours.

Hiram Bingham Train: The Ultimate Luxury Experience

If you want to splurge for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, look no further than the Hiram Bingham train. Named after the explorer who put Machu Picchu on the map, this train offers gourmet dining, live music, and a guided tour of the iconic site.
Railway bridge in Peru

Inca Rail: A Range of Unique Experiences

From cultural immersion to exclusive luxury, Inca Rail provides a variety of unique train experiences that cater to every adventurer’s needs.

The Voyager Train: Comfort Meets Culture

Inca Rail’s Voyager Train offers a cosy ride with comfortable seats and folding tables. Enjoy Latin American music and savour sandwiches and drinks made from Andean fruits and herbs.

The 360º Train: A Panoramic Adventure

Like the Expedition Train by Peru Rail, the 360º Train features large panoramic windows and an onboard entertainment system. You can also shop for handcrafted products during your journey.

The First Class Train: Seasonal Luxury

Available only during the high tourism season, the First Class Train offers a welcome cocktail, gourmet meals, and an outdoor observatory car. It’s a lavish way to experience the journey to Machu Picchu.

The Private Train: Exclusive Elegance

Known as the “Inca Princess,” this presidential-class car is available only upon request. It epitomises exclusivity and luxury, with a gourmet menu, complimentary bar, and live music.
Machu Picchu Facts

What to Expect Onboard a Train to Machu Pichu

So, you’ve booked your tickets and are all set for your train journey to Machu Picchu. But what can you expect once you’re onboard? Let’s break it down, shall we?

Snacks and Drinks

You won’t have to add a lunch box to your Inca trail packing list. Most trains offer some form of onboard snack service. For example, the Vistadome Train by Peru Rail provides a delightful snack made from local Andean ingredients. 
You’ll also have a choice of hot and cold drinks to refresh you throughout the journey. It’s a small but significant touch that adds to the overall experience.

Panoramic Views

One of the standout features of trains like the Expedition and Vistadome is their panoramic windows. These aren’t your average train windows; they stretch from the sides to the roof, offering unparalleled views of the stunning Andean landscape. Trust us, you’ll want to have your camera ready!


Some trains go the extra mile to keep you entertained. The Vistadome Train, for instance, offers a fashion show featuring authentic baby alpaca wool collections. You can even purchase these exclusive items onboard. It’s a unique way to pass the time and maybe even get some shopping done!
machu picchu train tracks

The Machu Picchu Train Journey: Step-by-Step

We’re about to take you through the entire journey to Machu Picchu, step by step. Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a first-timer, this guide will ensure you know what to do at each stage of the trip.

Step 1: From Cusco to Ollantaytambo

Your journey starts in Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu. From here, you’ll need to get to Ollantaytambo, the town where most trains to Machu Picchu depart. You have two main options:
  • By Bus: Several bus companies operate this route. The trip takes about 1.5 to 2 hours and costs around $10. Buses depart frequently throughout the day.

  • By Cab: A cab might be your best bet if you prefer a more comfortable and quicker journey. The ride takes about 1.5 hours and can cost between $50 to $70, depending on your bargaining skills.

Step 2: Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes

Once you arrive in Ollantaytambo, head to the train station. Here, you’ll board your chosen train to Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo. The journey takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. Make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before departure to allow time for boarding.

Step 3: Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu

You’ve made it to Aguas Calientes! Now, you’re just a short distance away from the main event. Again, you have two options:
  • By Bus: Buses run from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu every 10-15 minutes starting at 5:30 a.m. The ride takes about 30 minutes and costs around $12 for a one-way ticket.

  • On Foot: If you’re up for a bit of a hike, you can walk from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu. This Machu Picchu circuit takes about 1.5 hours to trek and is steep, so ensure you’re prepared.

inca trail sign

Machu Picchu Train Ticket Costs and Discounts

While the journey to Machu Picchu is priceless in terms of experience, actual costs are involved. So, how much should you budget for this adventure?

Average Ticket Prices

  • Expedition or Voyager Train: Prices start at around $70 for a one-way ticket.

  • Vistadome Train: Expect to pay about $80 to $100 for a one-way ticket.

  • Hiram Bingham Train: If you’re going for the luxury experience, tickets can cost upwards of $400 for a one-way journey.

Pro tip: Always check the costs on the train operator’s website, as prices may change without notice.

Discounts and Packages

Great news, savvy adventurers! Whether booking early or travelling with family, there are several ways to get more bang for your buck.

Early-Bird Specials

Many train companies offer early booking discounts. Keep an eye on their websites for promotions—you could snag a deal!

Discounts for Students and Seniors

If you’re a student or a senior, you’re in luck! Just make sure to carry a valid ID for special discounted rates.

Bundle Up with Package Deals

Look out for package deals that roll train tickets, bus transfers, and sometimes even guided tours into one convenient bundle. It’s a one-stop shop for savings!

Family-Friendly Offers

  • Peru Rail: Kids under 3 ride free, as long as they sit on a parent’s lap. Plus, children under 12 get a 50% discount.

  • Inca Rail: Similar to Peru Rail, children from 0 to 2 years can ride free in a parent’s or guardian’s lap. They also offer a 50% discount for kids aged 3 to 12.

Prices can vary based on season and availability, so booking as early as possible is always smart.
Train to Machu Picchu


Whether you’re a budget traveller or seeking luxury, taking the train to Machu Picchu is essential to any Peru adventure.
With options from Peru Rail and Inca Rail, you can tailor your journey with us at Skyhook Adventure to fit your style and needs.

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