The glory of train travel is alive and well in Peru. Here, it’s a fantastic mode of transportation for getting up close and personal with all that the country has to offer. Make the most of your experience with this guide to the best train rides in Peru.
The Best Train Rides In Peru
Journey To Lake Titicaca
This route to Lake Titicaca is one of the most exciting train rides in Peru. Your train will travel from Cusco to Puno, a city on the shore of Lake Titicaca. You can take the PeruRail Titicaca Train in either direction, and the gorgeous route through the Andes mountains will take about ten hours. Lake Titicaca is a must-see while in Peru, but many travelers miss some of the magic of the experience by flying most of the distance between Cusco and the lake rather than hopping on the train.
As the Titicaca train travels through the Andes to the Altiplano (Peru’s high central plains), you’ll take in scenery worth writing home about. The train moves slowly enough to allow you to take as many photos as you please and extend the magic of the moment.
Along the journey, you’ll get a personalized feel for the variety of Peru’s natural landscape. You’ll pass by traditional villages, gaze out at happy grazing vicuña and alpaca, and get to know the Huatanay River Valley in a whole new light. Mid-route, the train will make a stop at La Raya Market, the highest point along the train route. At 4,300 m above sea level, the market provides panoramic views and a great opportunity to sfit in a refreshing walk between pictures.
The train itself is a delight, known for its beautiful Pullman-style decor, relaxing armchairs, gourmet lunch featuring Andean ingredients, and a stunning observation coach. You’ll even get to enjoy live music and traditional dancing on board!
You Can Upgrade Your Experience To An Overnight Adventure
If you’re looking for a luxury overnight experience on the way to Lake Titicaca, another way to get to Puno is aboard the Belmond Andean Explorer. This high-end sleeper features a hand-painted exterior and gorgeous decor inside with Peruvian accents. The train even has built-in oxygen for managing the high altitude, fine dining, and a spa car to stay relaxed en route.
The Andean explorer is a good option if you want to extend your time in the region, as you’ll have the option to continue on from Puno to the city of Arequipa. You can also take a detour to the gorgeous Colca Canyon before getting back on board, where you’ll explore traditional Peruvian villages, hiking, hot springs, horseback riding, and incredible scenery. If you’d like to join in on the adventure, take a look at our itinerary Luxury Peru by Rail.
Adventure From Lima To Huancayo
This lesser-known route from Lima to Huancayo offers pristine views of the region which few travelers ever see. The train traverses along the second highest railway on the globe in a 12-hour adventure through the Andes to the city of Huancayo. You’ll travel along the Rimac River, through the charming district of Chaclacayo, and past many other notable viewpoints.
The train’s high altitude will lend itself to breathtaking views that you won’t find the likes of anywhere else. The scenery is especially striking when the train reaches the Infiernillo Bridge, which crosses the historic Mantaro Valley at a whopping 3,300 m above sea level.
The train will stop in small towns along the way, like San Bartolomé, and Matucana, where you’ll have the opportunity to chat with local vendors and get a taste of the community. Onboard the train, you’ll enjoy an observation car, live performances of traditional dances, and delicious meals before arriving in Huancayo for more adventure.
Hop A Train From Cusco To Machu Picchu
The train from Cusco to Machu Picchu is among the most asked-about routes in Peru, and it’s easy to see why: the only other way to reach Machu Picchu besides a train is to hike there. Most trains to Machu Picchu begin their route at Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley or Poroy, just outside of Cusco. All trains finish their journey at Aguas Calientes, a lovely town at the base of Machu Picchu known for its thermal baths.
There is a wide variety to be had among the train experiences on offer, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity for a tailormade experience that matches your budget and preferences.
For a luxury journey on the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, you’ll want to choose the PeruRail Hiram Bingham or the Inca Rail Private Machu Picchu Train, two of the most coveted train rides in the region. Both provide gourmet meals, plenty of champagne, top-notch entertainment, and scenic viewing options. The main difference between the Hiram Bingham and the Private Machu Picchu train is that the latter is a private charter experience – the only one available on the Machu Picchu route. This means you’ll board a private car that can only accommodate up to eight guests.
No matter which experience you choose, there are a few universal pointers you’ll need to make the most of your journey from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. First off, be sure to look out the left hand side window, so you can catch glimpses of Incan ruins along the way. You’ll also want to be sure to book a train ride that journeys at least partially during daylight so you won’t miss out on the views outside your windows. Don’t forget to pack a camera!
Train rides in Peru are a unique, visceral experience that train travel in other parts of the world can’t quite match. So sit back, relax, and have your camera ready – it’s a journey you’ll remember forever.
For more information about train rides in Peru, contact us for further details!