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Lima to Machu Picchu

The Best Ways to Travel from Lima to Machu Picchu

Lima is a city filled with a vibrant nightlife, a culinary scene that will leave your taste buds dancing, a rich history and culture that are waiting for you to discover. As the heart of the ancient Inca Empire, Cusco is one of the most visited cities in Peru.It is also the start of many of the best treks in Peru. One of these includes the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Lima and Cusco are always on the itinerary for your visit to Peru, and the transportation between them is still dependable. If you find yourself traveling from Lima to Machu Picchu, check out some of the best options.

How to get from Lima to Machu Picchu ? 

To get from Lima to Machu Picchu, you’ll have the following options:

Option One: Flying from Lima to Cusco.

Flying is the easiest and fasted method. The downside is that it’s not scenic and you’ll miss out on a lot of adventure. 

  • You can arrive in Cusco in as little as one hour and ten minutes. You can fly via LATAM, Viva Air, Avianca, and SKY Airlines as they have daily departures to and from Cusco. Many flights depart in the morning with some as early as 5 am. There are fewer options after 11 am. Usually, you can find a flight fairly quickly at Jorge Chavez International Airport. It’s best to book in advance with either a travel agent, online, or through an airline’s website.
  • Prices: Round trip tickets can be found for as little as USE $50 for a weekend in the imperial city—the cost for a round trip ticket averages about USD $70-80. One-way tickets are less expensive and around USD $49. Usually, the price will be closer to USD $50-60. 
  • Travel Tip: If you can, try to get a seat on the left-hand side of the plane. You’ll get a stunning view of the Andes!

Option Two: Traveling from Lima to Cusco by Bus. 

  • Taking a bus in Peru is safe as long as you choose a reputable company. Any accidents that happen are often with less-than-reputable companies.  These are also the cheapest as well. Spend a little extra for some peace of mind and safe driving.
  • There are two routes to Cusco from Lima by bus:
    • Route A: Lima-Nazca-Cusco
    • Route B: Lima-Nazca-Arequipa-Cusco

Bus Travel Tip: While buses may offer some extra adventure, it may not be a good thing. At Machu Picchu Tours & Treks, we insist on looking out for your safety. Many will try and convince you that traveling by bus is entirely safe; it, unfortunately, isn’t even safe for the more reputable bus companies. We don’t recommend taking a bus due to the number of bus crashes and mortality rates associated with them and the potential for hijacking along these routes. We recommend you take a direct flight from Lima to Cusco. While hundreds of bus companies and travel agencies will recommend this method of travel, we feel it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Option Three: You can take a train from Lima to Cusco

  • If you’re a train enthusiast, you may be disappointed in the number of trains in operation while you visit South America. While a train trip is uncommon, you can take part in your journey by train. The only train to Cusco leaves from Puno. It is called the Andean Explorer and is a luxury tourist train. It’ll take around ten hours to get to Cusco during a scenic day trip. Fares can be quite expensive. A one-way trip will cost at least $220, so it’s quite a luxurious experience.

Travels Tips if You Just landed in Lima

In case you’re taking a connected flight from Lima to Cusco as you arrive in Peru, keep in mind that you’ll have to go through customs first. While the process isn’t efficient enough, it has improved dramatically over the years. Once there, you’ll have to fill out two forms:

  • Customs Declaration: This is meant for you to declare any items that you’re traveling with. If the total value of these items you carry is over USD $1000, you’ll have to pay taxes to bring them into the country.
  • Tarjeta Andina (TAM): This card is to give you more information concerning your trip. You’ll need to register the primary purpose of your travel.
  • If you’re staying as a tourist, then you can check “holiday.” If this is the case, then you won’t have to fill out the option “Amount Expended During Your Stay.”
  • Finally, write down the address where you’ll be staying. If you don’t know the exact address, write in, “Cusco.”

While at the airport, you’ll go through immigration and receive that much-need and exciting stamp on your passport. The agent there will keep half the TAM for their records. Don’t lose the other half. You’ll need it to exit the country. Here are some questions to expect:

  • Why are you traveling to Peru?
  • How long are you staying?
  • Where are you staying?

Getting to Machu Picchu from Cusco

Whether you chose to travel by bus or plane, you’ve finally made it from Lima to Cusco. The next stop is Machu Picchu, and to get there from Cusco is an 80 km northwest trek. It sounds close, but keep in mind that the Andes Mountains are blocking any sort of direct route. There are two main ways to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco:

  • Take a trek from Cusco (This is usually around 2-5 days depending on which trek you choose).
  • Bus and train combinations (This can be one long day or a 2-day and 1-night trip).

Trekking from Cusco to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is located at the top of the mountain and there are several types of hiking tours to Machu Picchu that you can choose from depending  on your preferences and physical conditions.These trails are differentiated by duration as well as the degree of difficulty in terms of the hiking and trekking behavior. Here are some of best trekking tours from Cusco to Machu Picchu.

Short Inca trail (Duration: 2 days / 1 night; Trail difficulty: Easy)

For those who are looking for an easy trail going to Machu Picchu, this short Inca trail is for you. You’ll still experience the classic Inca trail as you will still go directly through the impressive Inti Punku (the Sun gate) along with a number of shortcuts that make this trail shorter.

Huchuy Qosqo trek (Duration: 3 days / 2 nights; Trail difficulty: Easy)

Just north of the Cusco town of Cusco, this is the shortest and the fastest route to Machu Picchu. Aside from that it is also the easiest trail to the ancient structure  as it has minimal elevations that only require light trekking. Feel free to use if your are short of time in visiting this architectural ancient wonder.

Lares Trail (Duration: 4 days / 3 nights; Trail difficulty: Medium)

This is a great trek for people who want to see firsthand the great Peruvian culture as this trail will get you to various Peruvian communities where you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself and interact with them.

Salkantay trail (Duration: 5 days / 4 nights; Trail difficulty: Hard)

This trail is not intended for beginners and should only be used by seasoned hikers. That is the main drawback but those who do choose this path will be treated with fantastic views with a main highlight of seeing the Nevada Salkantay up close which peaks for about 6,000m along with its nearby peaks.

For more information about the trail or any other trail, please feel free to contact us any time at Machu Picchu Tours.

Getting to Machu Picchu quickly by bus and train

A one-day train tour is the fasted way to get to Machu Picchu. It involves a 2-hour bus ride to Ollantaytambo (through the mountains on winding roads), a 90-minute train to Aguas Calientes, a bus to the complex itself, and a guided tour of Machu Picchu. After that, it’s a bus down from the citadel and a train ride back so that you will arrive back in Cusco late in the evening.

Lima to Machu Picchu (FAQs)

What is the distance from Lima to Machu Picchu? 

While many people ask this question, it can be quite complicated as many factors need to be considered. All the international flights that land in Lima at the Jorge Chavez International Airport in Peru as it’s the only international airport. It’s located 10 km or 6 miles from Lima’s historical center in the district of Callao. Lima to Machu Picchu is approximately 503 km or 312.5 miles.

What is the fasted way to get from Lima to Machu Picchu? 

The fasted way to get to Machu Picchu from Lima is by flying into Cusco and then take a train to Machu Picchu. If you’re short on time and want to make your first steps into Machu Picchu, then the one-day train tour to Machu Picchu will be your best bet!

How long does it take to travel from Lima to Cusco

The flight from Lima to Cusco is usually an hour and twenty minutes. This does depend on the weather in Cusco. Lima sits on the coast while Cusco is higher in altitude at 3.399 m/11151.57 ft in the Andes. This makes the weather in Cusco unpredictable. Usually, the route is clear, and flight delays or cancelations are rare.

What is the best way to get from Lima to Cusco? 

The best way is by booking a direct flight with these companies: LATAM, Viva Air, Avianca, and SKY Airlines. The trip is short and around an hour and ten minutes. We do, however, do not recommend Peruvian Airlines. While they’re a Peruvian company, their planes are old and not safe, so its best to go with one of the others.

How do I get from Cusco to Machu Picchu? 

You can take one of three amazing journeys to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco. Take a trek (3-4 days), go by train (1-2 days), or public bus (2-3 days and not recommended). Feel free to ask you Machu Picchu Tours’ guide for more information about getting from Cusco to Machu Picchu.