Choose The Right Train To Machu Picchu: A Complete Guide

Choose The Right Train To Machu Picchu: A Complete Guide

It comes down to this: you can take a delightful train to Machu Picchu or you can hike. Unsurprisingly, most travelers opt for the train.

But which train should you take?

Here is everything you need to know, from the different carriage services, train tickets and railroad stations between Cusco and Machu Picchu to the luggage restrictions and train schedules.

By the end of this article, you will have all the information you need to make an informed decision about which train journey to Machu Picchu best suits your preferences and budget.

Departing from stations in Cusco, the train traverses a narrow gorge before descending from the Sacred Valley into the high Andean jungle.

Many passengers board the train at Ollantaytambo, where the journey truly begins. As the train follows the meandering path alongside the banks of the Urubamba River, the scenery undergoes a dramatic transformation. The towering peaks of the Andes recede, giving way to the verdant splendor of the cloud forest.

The final destination of the Machu Picchu train is Aguas Calientes, the gateway town to the ancient citadel. From Aguas Calientes (also known as Machupicchu Pueblo) visitors embark on a memorable twenty-five-minute bus ride, ascending the mountain to the UNESCO Historic Sanctuary. The bus stop in town is conveniently located just a short five-minute walk from the train.

A collage image contrasting IncaRail 905 Train juxtaposed with PeruRail 223 Train. Both rail companies offer excellent services to and from Machu Picchu.

All of the trains to Machu Picchu allow you to soak in the stunning scenery. All provide comfortable seating. But you have a choice of carriage types and classes with different onboard amenities while making your way to the ancient Inca citadel.

Peru Rail vs Inca Rail

Expedition Voyager
The Peru Rail Expedition offers spacious train wagons with comfortable, cushioned seats. The large windows on the sides provide excellent views. Passengers can enjoy meals at diner tables and find snacks and other services available, including delicious Peruvian food. The train ticket costs around $65, depending on travel dates and demand. The Inca Rail Voyager is equipped with comfortable seating, foldable tables, large side windows, and Andean music to enhance your journey. Onboard, you can also enjoy a range of Peruvian herbal drinks and excellent service. The round trip ticket costs approximately $63, depending on travel dates and demand.
Vistadome 360º
For a panoramic experience, the Peru Rail Vistadome is similar to the Expedition. But it has the added feature of panoramic windows that cover the sides and roof of the carriages, offering a 180º grade of view. Additionally, during the journey, passengers can enjoy a fashion catwalk in the middle aisle. Snacks and refreshments are also included. The one-way ticket price range from $62 to $90 depending on the dates of travel and demand. The Inca Rail 360º offers similar services to the Vistadome, with the added feature of panoramic windows. Passengers can also indulge in hot and cold Peruvian drinks made from native herbs and even purchase Andean handicrafts during the trip. The one-way ticket price range from $70 to $90 depending on the dates of travel and demand.
Vistadome ObervatoryFirst Class
The Vistadome Observatory train service has two carriages, each accommodating up to 48 passengers, plus a panoramic observation car. Admire the stunning vistas through the characteristic huge windows, as well as the observatory car’s large windows and rear balcony. The expansive views showcase the route’s natural beauty and the journey also includes a traditional Saqra dance show, as well as snacks and refreshments. Opt for the early arrival at Machu Picchu for a full day exploring the magnificent citadel. Experience the archaeological site at its best. Later, return to Cusco on the return train service, departing in the late afternoon and arriving back in Cusco in time for a late dinner. The one-way ticket price range from $62 to $90 depending on the dates of travel and demand. Experience a comparable level of luxury with Inca Rail’s First Class service. The carriages are adorned with natural flowers, and the tables are covered with elegant tablecloths. Passengers can enjoy a gourmet dinner or lunch, depending on whether they are taking a round trip or one-way journey. Upon boarding, the train personnel will greet you with a cocktail, sparkling wine or beverage of your choice. Please note that this service is only available during the tourism high season (from March to November) and on special dates. Tickets cost upwards of $180 each way depending on the dates of travel and demand.
Hiram Bingham Private Train
The Peru Rail Hiram Bingham is a luxurious experience that has been recognized as the best luxury train journey in South America by the Condé Nast Travel Magazine. It consists of four carriages – Observatory, dinner, bar, and kitchen. Passengers can indulge in an open bar, brunch, and dinner (for round trip tickets). The train also features a landscape’s observatory carriage, a tour guide, and various onboard services. Furthermore, the train ticket includes the entrance to Machu Picchu and bus transportation to reach it once in Machupicchu Pueblo. The one-way fare for the Hiram Bingham train is upwards of $480, with the round trip costing close to $1000. Please note that these prices are approximate and vary based on travel dates and demand.For an exclusive and intimate journey, choose the Inca Rail Private Train, also known as “La Princesa Inca” (The Inca Princess). With a maximum capacity of only 8 passengers, this charter train offers personalized attention from the dedicated train personnel and chefs. The train’s interior is beautifully decorated, and you can savor à la carte meals and drinks from the open bar. The price of the ticket is on par with PeruRail’s Hiram Bingham service.
Prices are referential. For an exact quote, contact Fertur Peru Travel: or visit the PeruRail or IncaRail web sites.

PeruRail’s service options

PeruRail offers three options for travelers heading to Machu Picchu: the Expedition, Vistadome and Hiram Bingham trains. Each provides a distinct experience, catering to different preferences and budgets. (Note: The “local train” is reserved Peruvians and permanent residents of Peru.)

Let’s take a closer look at the train services offered by PeruRail:

Expedition Train

If you are traveling on a budget, the Expedition train is an excellent choice. Despite its affordability, this train doesn’t compromise on comfort. With professional staff onboard, you can enjoy a range of food and drink options while admiring the beautiful scenery along the way.

Vistadome Train

For those seeking panoramic views of the Sacred Valley, the Vistadome is the perfect option. With windows on all sides and the roof, this train ensures you won’t miss a single moment of the breathtaking landscapes. The journey to Machu Picchu is accompanied by informative commentary, local snacks, and the opportunity to purchase unique souvenirs.

Hiram Bingham (A Belmond Train)

For the ultimate luxury experience, the Hiram Bingham is unparalleled. Designed to resemble Pullman cars from the 1920s, this train offers personalized service and an enchanting atmosphere. Indulge in a gourmet lunch or dinner, sip on cocktails, and enjoy live traditional and international music as you revel in the beauty of the surrounding scenery.

The Hiram Bingham currently operates five days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday)

Current PeruRail Train Schedules (2024)

Belmond Hiram Bingham Train at Machupicchu Pueblo Station
Bimodal (Bus & Train)
Bimodal (Bus & Train) Schedule
Cusco - Machu Picchu - Cusco
Cusco - Machu Picchu - Cusco Schedule
Sacred Valley - Machu Picchu
Sacred Valley - Machu Picchu Schedule
Machu Picchu - Sacred Valley
Machu Picchu - Sacred Valley Schedule
Belmond Hiram Bingham Train
Belmond Hiram Bingham Train Schedule

IncaRail: A Journey of Comfort and Elegance

Inca Rail, another renowned train company, provides four distinct trains to Machu Picchu, each offering a unique experience. Let’s explore the train services offered by Inca Rail:

Voyager Train

The Voyager train is perfect for travelers seeking an economical option without compromising comfort. With giant windows and spacious seating, you can enjoy the passing landscapes while savoring a variety of drinks made from exotic Andean ingredients.

The 360° Machu Picchu Train

Considered one of the most popular services offered by Inca Rail, the 360° Machu Picchu train provides passengers with an all-round view of the stunning Sacred Valley. With large windows covering all sides and the roof, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the landscape. Traveling in the afternoon also allows you to enjoy a gourmet snack and local beverages.

First Class Train

For a more exclusive experience, the First Class train offers a limited capacity, ensuring personalized attention and comfort. Upon boarding, you will be welcomed with a delicious pisco sour and a refreshing towel. Indulge in a selection of Peruvian gourmet dishes made with local ingredients, accompanied by fine wine. The First Class train guarantees a magical journey with stunning views.

Presidential Train

If you’re looking for a luxury rail experience, the Presidential Train is the epitome of elegance and comfort. Designed for private use, this exclusive carriage can be rented out for a maximum of eight passengers. Along with a bar serving delicious drinks and exquisite food, you can enjoy the incredible views in privacy and style.

Current Inca Rail Train Schedule (2024)

IncaRail Machu Picchu Train
Bimodal (Bus & Train) Cusco - Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu
Bimodal (Bus & Train) Cusco - Ollantaytambo - Machu Picchu Schedule
Bimodal (Train & Bus) Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo - Cusco
Bimodal (Train & Bus) Machu Picchu - Ollantaytambo - Cusco Schedule

Where to Board the Train to Machu Picchu?

As you can see from the schedules, Peru Rail offers multiple stations where you can board the train to Machu Picchu. Inca Rail’s trains operate between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu Pueblo. The distance and the scenery vary depending on the departure station. Here are the main stations to consider:

  • Poroy Station (Cusco): If you have enough time, boarding the train from Poroy allows you to enjoy the Peruvian countryside and parts of the Sacred Valley that are inaccessible by car.
  • Urubamba Station (Sacred Valley): Boarding the train from Urubamba provides a shorter journey to Machu Picchu. This station is located in the heart of the Sacred Valley, offering convenient access, but it is exclusively for guests of Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado.
  • Ollantaytambo Station (Sacred Valley): Ollantaytambo is the closest station to Machupicchu Pueblo, the gateway town to Machu Picchu. Many tours depart from this station, making it a popular choice for travelers.
  • Machupicchu PuebloStation: When returning to the Sacred Valley or Cusco, all trains depart from Machupicchu Pueblo Station.
Map of the train ride from Cusco to Machu Picchu.

Bimodal Service: A Seamless Travel Option

During the rainy season, from approximately January to April, the railway between Cusco and Ollantaytambo is temporarily closed due to the risk of landslides. However, fear not, as Inca Rail and PeruRail offer a bimodal service during these months, ensuring uninterrupted access to Machu Picchu. This unique combination of bus and train transport is available exclusively for passengers departing from or arriving in Cusco. Trains between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes (Machupicchu Pueblo) continue to operate year-round.

To ensure a seamless and hassle-free journey for our travelers during bimodal service months, our Travel Advisors can arrange a private transfer from their hotel in Cusco to the Sacred Valley. Our professional drivers will whisk you away to Ollantaytambo, where you can seamlessly connect with the train to Machu Picchu.

PeruRail Bimodal Service

  • PeruRail Expedition and PeruRail Vistadome trains: Passengers embark on a bus at the Wanchaq Station in Cusco, which transports them to the Ollantaytambo station. From there, the second leg of the journey continues by train to Aguas Calientes.
  • Hiram Bingham: This luxurious train also offers bimodal service starting from Cusco’s Wanchaq Station.

Train Route: Distances and Durations

Both PeruRail and Inca Rail provide regular train services throughout the day, allowing flexibility in planning your visit to Machu Picchu. Here are the approximate durations of the train trips from different stations:

  • From Poroy Station in Cusco: The train ride takes around 3 hours and 15 minutes, covering a distance of approximately 41 miles / 65.8 kilometers.
  • From Urubamba Station in the Sacred Valley: The journey takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes, covering a distance of approximately 30 miles / 47.6 kilometers.
  • From Ollantaytambo Station in the Sacred Valley: The train ride lasts a little less than 2 hours, covering a distance of approximately 19 miles / 30.5 kilometers.

It’s important to note that these durations are approximate and may vary depending on various factors.

Child discounts for train rides to and from Machu Picchu


  • Infants up to 3 years travel free if they sit on their parent’s lap (one infant per adult).
  • If an infant takes up a seat, they are charged at 50% of the adult fare.
  • Children aged 4 to 11 are eligible for a 50% discount on the adult fare.
  • A child traveling in the same seat as a parent travels free (limited to one child per parent).

Inca Rail:

  • Infants up to 3 years old travel free when seated on a parent’s lap (one infant per adult).
  • If an infant occupies a seat, the fare is 50% of the adult price.
  • Children aged 4 to 12 receive a 50% discount on the adult fare.

For both rail companies, all children, regardless of age, must be registered for travel. Parents are required to provide the child’s identification in advance.

Luggage allowance on the trains to Machu Picchu

When heading to Machu Picchu on PeruRail, you are allowed to carry one piece of hand luggage, such as a bag or backpack, weighing up to 11 lb / 5.0 kg, with dimensions of 62 linear inches / 157 cm (height + length + width). PeruRail also has a hold car to check in up to two (02) pieces of luggage per person, which together must not exceed 50.6 lb / 23 kg.

IncaRail allows each ticket holder to carry only one item of hand luggage, such as a backpack, handbag, or small suitcase, weighing a maximum of 17 lb / 8 kg, with dimensions not exceeding 46 linear inches / 118 linear cm (height + length + width). If you plan to stay in Machupicchu Pueblo for more than a day, please note that IncaRail will not accommodate larger suitcases. But they do offer a secure luggage storage option at their Ollantaytambo ticket office.

Planning Tips for Your Train Journey

To ensure a smooth and enjoyable rail adventure to Machu Picchu, here are some helpful tips:

  1. Book your tickets in advance: Train tickets to Machu Picchu can sell out quickly, especially during the peak tourist season from June through September. It is recommended to book your tickets as soon as you have finalized your travel plans.
  2. Choose the right train and class: Consider your preferences and budget when selecting the train and class. Whether you prioritize affordability, panoramic views, or luxury, there is a train option that suits your needs.
  3. Arrive early at the train station: Arriving early at the train station allows you to check-in, find your seat, and familiarize yourself with the train’s facilities. It’s better to have extra time than to rush and risk missing your train.
  4. Pack essentials: Pack essentials such as water, snacks, sunscreen, and comfortable clothing to ensure a comfortable journey. Additionally, don’t forget your passport or ID, as they will be required for boarding (not to mention for entry into Machu Picchu!).
  5. Enjoy the scenery: The train to Machu Picchu offers breathtaking views of the Sacred Valley and surrounding landscapes. Take the time to admire the beauty of your surroundings and capture memorable moments.
  6. Combine your journey with other activities: Consider combining your journey with other activities in the region, such as exploring the Sacred Valley or visiting nearby archaeological sites. This allows you to make the most of your time in the area.

How to Book Your Train Tickets

Booking train tickets to Machu Picchu can be done in several ways:

  1. Online booking: Visit the official websites of PeruRail and Inca Rail to book your tickets online. This option allows you to secure your tickets ahead of time and choose your preferred train and class.
  2. In-person booking: If you prefer a more personal approach, you can visit the offices of PeruRail or Inca Rail in Cusco to book your tickets in person. The staff at the offices will assist you in choosing the best options based on your preferences.
  3. Through Fertur Peru Travel agency: We offer comprehensive packages that include train tickets to Machu Picchu. Booking through Fertur can save you time and effort, as we handle all the arrangements for you.

End of the Track

Traveling by train to Machu Picchu is not only a convenient and comfortable option but also an incredible experience in itself. Both Peru Rail and Inca Rail offer a range of trains and services to suit different preferences and budgets. Whether you choose the panoramic views of the Vistadome, the luxurious elegance of the Hiram Bingham train, or any other option, you can be sure that your journey to Machu Picchu will be filled with awe-inspiring landscapes and unforgettable memories. Plan your trip, book your tickets, and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime as you embark on the train to Machu Picchu.

Additional Information: Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It is located at an elevation of approximately 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) in the Andes Mountains of Peru. The ancient Inca citadel is renowned for its remarkable architecture, stunning terraces, and breathtaking views. Visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the fascinating history and culture of the Inca civilization. It is recommended to hire a licensed guide to enhance your visit and gain deeper insights into the significance of the site.

Choosing the Perfect Machu Picchu Tour

With countless options available, selecting the ideal Machu Picchu tour can be a daunting task. To assist you in curating your unforgettable expedition, we present two enticing options.

1. Cusco & Machu Picchu: A Journey Through Time

Immerse yourself in the captivating history and breathtaking beauty of Machu Picchu, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley with our meticulously crafted 4-day tour. This comprehensive experience allows you to delve into the mysteries of the ancient Inca civilization while relishing the comforts and personalized service that our team provides. From exploring the enigmatic ruins of Machu Picchu to strolling through the cobblestone streets of Cusco, this tour promises an unforgettable adventure.

2. Explore the Path of the Inca: An Epic 4-Day Trek

For the intrepid explorers seeking a more immersive and physically challenging experience, our 4-day Inca Trail tour is the perfect choice. Embark on an exhilarating journey along the iconic Inca Trail, tracing the footsteps of the ancient Incas. As you conquer rugged terrains and traverse breathtaking landscapes, you will be rewarded with awe-inspiring vistas and a deep sense of accomplishment. The grand finale awaits at Machu Picchu, where you can bask in the glory of this ancient wonder.

Unleash Your Wanderlust: Plan Your Machu Picchu Adventure

Embarking on a journey to Machu Picchu by train is an experience that transcends mere transportation. It is a gateway to a world of wonder, where ancient history converges with breathtaking natural beauty. To ensure a seamless and unforgettable adventure, here are some essential planning tips:

  1. Book in Advance: Machu Picchu is a highly sought-after destination, so it is advisable to book your train tickets and tour package well in advance to secure your preferred dates and accommodations.
  2. Pack Light: As you embark on your train trip, remember to pack light and bring only the essentials. This will make your travel experience more comfortable and convenient.
  3. Stay Hydrated: The train ride can be quite exhilarating, so be sure to stay hydrated throughout the journey. Bring a refillable water bottle to quench your thirst and keep you energized.
  4. Dress in Layers: The weather in the Andean region can be unpredictable, with temperature fluctuations throughout the day. Dressing in layers allows you to adjust your clothing accordingly and stay comfortable.
  5. Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture: Take the time to learn about the rich history and vibrant culture of the Andean region. Engage with the locals, savor the traditional cuisine, and embrace the enchanting traditions that make this destination truly unique.

Embark on a remarkable adventure to Machu Picchu, where ancient wonders and natural beauty converge. Let the train transport you to a realm of mystery and awe, where you can create memories that will last a lifetime. Allow us to guide you on this extraordinary journey, ensuring every detail is tailored to your preferences and desires. Let the magic of Machu Picchu unfold before your eyes as you embark on an unforgettable expedition.

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Authored by: PeruTravelTrends

A Peru Tour Operator and Travel Agency: Since 1994 creating wonderful vacation experiences for adventure travelers and holidaymakers in Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Lake Titicaca, and all around the Andean region.

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