Planning your trip to Peru will not only be rewarding as you learn about the Incas but will maximize your visit to the famous Inca’s sacred city. Getting to Machu Picchu can be done by train or hiking the Inca Trail. Below you will find a step-by-step process for planning your adventure. To help you in the process we have also crafted several itineraries that will maximize your travel experience and exposure to the best Peru has to offer. Visit our selected Peru tours or just give us a call to help you customize any of your packages.
International arrival time
- Typically, most flights arrive in the evening in Lima, requiring spending one night in Peru’s capital.
- You can fly to Cusco (about 1 hour and 20 minutes) the next day or enjoy a full day exploring Lima.
- If your flight arrives in the early am, it is best to connect right away for a morning flight to Cusco.
Once in Cusco
- We strongly recommend staying at least one night in Cusco. The city is over 11,000 above sea level and it’s amazingly rich in culture and Inca history.
- You will have time to tour the city and nearby ruins during the afternoon if your flight arrives before 11:00 am.
Getting to Machu Picchu from Cusco
- You can get to Machu Picchu by train or hiking the Inca Trail.
- If by train, we recommend taking an early one in order to get to the ruins before 11:00 am. The train ride is about 3.5 hours each way.
- Once you get to Machu Picchu town, if part of a tour group, your guide will be waiting for you at the Aguas Calientes train station.
- A minibus will take you up to the entrance to the sanctuary (about 20 minutes ride). After the guided tour (if booked), you can spend the rest of the day exploring the ruins.
- If you are returning to Cusco the same day (not recommended), plan on taking the mini-bus down at least 1.5 hours before your train departure.
- If spending the night, make sure your tour package includes passes to climb Huayna Picchu the next day (strongly recommended).
Getting to Machu Picchu by Hiking the Inca Trail
- In order to hike the Inca Trail, you MUST book a guided tour with an authorized Inca Trail trekking company (like our team).
- Inca Trail passes sold by the government are limited to 500 people per day of which about 200 are tourists and 300 porters.
- Passes sell out about 7 months in advance. Make sure to book your Inca Trail tour way in advance.
- Similarly to the times if you are taking the train to Machu Picchu, pick-up at your hotel will be very early in the morning.
- You will be transferred to kilometer 82 (if doing the 4-day hike) by train or car (typically by train). Note: If doing the 1 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu hike, you will disembark the train at kilometer 104.
- After meeting our porters, you will begin your Inca Trail hike, getting to Machu Picchu 4 days later.
- On the 4th day plan on arriving at Sun Gate, the Inca Trail entrance to Machu Picchu. Must groups arrive in the very early morning and tour Machu Picchu before noon. Still, if the trail is fully booked, you might be in a group that arrives at the ruins around mid-day.
- You can return to Cusco later that day or spend the night at Machu Picchu town and climb Huayna Picchu the next day.
- Returning to Cusco will be by train, probably arriving sometime in the early evening.