Traveling to Machu Picchu by train is a spectacular journey through the Andean foothills. Unless you hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the only way to arrive to Machu Picchu is by train. There are two train companies, PeruRail and Inca Rail, that operate different a range of different service levels and train schedules, leaving several times a day. All train routes arrive at Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu.
The most luxurious way to visit Machu Picchu by train is on board Peru Rail’s luxury Hiram Bingham service, or privately chartering Inca Rail’s Presidential Class. The next most comfortable options with PeruRail are the Sacred Valley Train followed by Vistadome train, and with IncaRail the First Class train followed by Executive Class train. Aracari arranges train tickets to Machu Picchu as part of any tailormade trip to Peru, not as a standalone service.
Machu Picchu by Train: The Train Stations
There are two main train stations: Poroy (13km / 8 mi, 20 minutes outside of Cusco) and Ollantaytambo (86km / 54 mi, 1.5hrs from Cusco). Trains also leave from Urubamba station. All trains end in Machu Picchu Station in Aguas Calientes. If you leave from Poroy (or vice versa), you will take the train almost the entire way from Cusco. If you leave from Ollantaytambo (or vice versa), you will first drive to the Sacred Valley, before taking a train to Machu Picchu. The train station you should use will depend on the train service you wish to take and what you plan to do before or after Machu Picchu. Ollantaytambo’s train station is particularly convenient when combining a stay in the Sacred Valley. Contact us to speak to an expert travel planner for advice and to arrange a tailormade trip to Peru.
In addition, two luxury five hotels in the Sacred Valley, Belmond Rio Sagrado and Tambo del Inka, both also operate a small handful of limited daily departures from their hotel stations, that pause in Ollantaytambo en route to Machu Picchu.
- PeruRail operates its services from Poroy AND Ollantaytambo. IncaRail only operates from Ollantaytambo.
How long is the train ride to Machu Picchu?
Trains from Poroy, just outside Cusco, to Aguas Calientes, at Machu Picchu, take three and a half hours one-way. Trains from Ollantaytambo, in the Sacred valley, take one and a half hours one-way. It is therefore marginally quicker, in total, to drive from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and take the train to Machu Picchu, than to take the train all the way from Poroy (or vice versa).
How should I choose which train to take?
Choosing the best train depends on your travel style and budget. Luxury travelers will enjoy the Hiram Bingham or to privately charter Inca Rail’s Presidential Class, but there are other affordable options. It is also possible to combine services, for example taking the Vistadome service on the way, and the Hiram Bingham Service on the way back. There are many train times available with PeruRail and Inca Rail to fit the time you plan to visit Machu Picchu – keep in mind you need to be at the station half an hour before the schedule departure time.
Tips for travelling by train to Machu Picchu
All trains travel to, and end in, Aguas Calientes, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. As the train follows the river on the way, we prefer the views on the left hand side on the way to Aguas Calientes – keep a look at for Inca ruins during the journey – and on the right hand side on the return. Be conscious that you will not see the views once the sun sets! As tailormade travel planning experts, when designing your itinerary we will be sure that we pick the right train and timings to best suit your interests and comfort.
Contact us today for expert travel advice and to plan a private, tailormade trip.
The Train Companies: PeruRail and Inca Rail
Peru Rail: Belmond Hiram Bingham, Sacred Valley Train and Vistadome Train
The most luxurious train to Machu Picchu, the Belmond Hiram Bingham starts and ends in Poroy, 20 minutes outside of Cusco. It is also possible to disembark, or join, at Ollantaytambo, for a shorter train journey. Expect gourmet food and drinks.
With a dining car and observatory car, the PeruRail Sacred Valley Train to Machu Picchu is a premium experience. This service began operation in 2017.
Panoramic windows beside and above your seating are designed to maximize the views on board the vistadome train to Machu Picchu.
Inca Rail: Presidential Class, First Class, Machu Picchu Train, and Executive Class
For luxury travelers seeking first-class comfort, the Presidential Class fits a maximum of 8 passengers and is the only private charter train service to Machu Picchu. Enjoy the bar on board and tasting menu.
Comfortable and spacious, Inca Rail’s First Class service includes gourmet dishes paired with dine.
With panoramic windows and a glass observation car Inca Rail’s Machu Picchu Train service was built with the surrounding scenery in mind.
Inca Rail’s most afforable option, on the Executive Class hot and cold drinks are included.
One Day Inca Train and the Train to Machu Picchu
Certain, limited, train departures pause at Kilometer 104 en route to Machu Picchu, where it is possible to get off the train before reaching Aguas Calientes. This is necessary if you book a ticket to hike the one-day inca trail to Machu Picchu (sometimes referrered to as the two-day Inca trail, staying overnight in Aguas Calientes), which follows the last stretch of the multi-day camping route.
Other recommended train journeys in Peru
In addition to trains to Machu Picchu, Peru’s first luxury sleeper train, the Belmond Andean Explorer is a luxurious overnight train running from the city of Cusco to Puno on Lake Titicaca, and on to Arequipa. With one or two night itinerary options, the journey offers all-inclusive meals and drinks, as well as a few stops and activities along the route. Alternatively, there is a day train PeruRail Titicaca Train, which connects Cusco and Puno, offering a gourmet lunch and live entertainment along the way.
Contact us today for expert travel advice and to plan your private, tailormade trip to Peru.