If you’re one of the approximately one million people planning a trip to Machu Picchu this year, you’re probably wondering how to get to this secluded ancient Inca city.
There are a few ways to get to Machu Picchu:
- By train
- By bus
- Or a combination of the above
Below, I’ll detail my Machu Picchu itinerary, including how much my trip to Machu Picchu cost.
I hope this makes your trip planning easier!
**If you choose to purchase through my affiliate links below, I receive a commission (at no extra cost to you!).**
How Much Does a Trip to Machu Picchu Cost?
It depends. But below is a breakdown of how much it cost me. I visited Machu Picchu with my mom, but below I’ll detail the prices just for me.
January 2019 Update: I have updated the table below to reflect that the roundtrip bus ticket from Aguas Calientes has increased from $19 USD to $24 USD. As of 2019, the Machu Picchu entrance fee is still 152 Peruvian Nuevo Soles (about $45 USD).
|Private taxi from Cusco to Ollantaytambo||$23.21|
|PeruRail train tickets from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes: Expedition (lowest class) $56+PeruRail train tickets from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo: Vistadome (one step up from lowest class) $80||$136|
|Double room in Hospedaje Veronica in Aguas Calientes||$30|
|Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu||$45|
|Roundtrip bus ticket from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu site||$24|
|Two-day private tour guide||$140|
|Private taxi from Ollantaytambo to Cusco||$23.21|
Now, if you plan on hiking the Inca trail, you’re going to be adding significantly more costs. You also have to factor in plane tickets to Lima and Cusco from wherever you are in the world.
The nearest airport to Machu Picchu is Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ). If you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu from outside of Peru, you will almost certainly book a flight to Lima (LIM) and then another short flight (it’s about an hour) to CUZ.
For more details, read my post on how to get to Cusco from Lima.
How to Get to Machu Picchu from Cusco
To clear up any confusion: There is NO road that takes you directly from Cusco to Machu Picchu. To get to this ancient Inca citadel, you must take a combination of transportation methods. There are four main ways to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco: hiking, train, bus, or a combination. I will go into detail about those options below.
When people say they are “taking the train to Machu Picchu,” they actually mean they are going to Aguas Calientes, which is the closest town to Machu Picchu and sometimes called Machu Picchu Pueblo.
To make matters more confusing, a lot of guidebooks and websites lump Machu Picchu and Cusco into one place. That’s because Cusco is a region as well as a city, and yes, Machu Picchu is in the region of Cusco, but it is NOT in the city of Cusco.
Getting to Machu Picchu By Trail
There are several hiking options to get to Machu Picchu, the most popular being the Inca Trail.
The Inca Trail
Length: 26 miles. 4 days, 3 nights
Approximate cost: US$500-600/person
The Inca Trail takes four days, and you must have a licensed guide and a permit to hike the trail (there is a limit of 500 people per day). When you book your trek, be sure to ask what is included in the price. Usually it includes the Machu Picchu entrance ticket, Inca Trail permit, return transportation from Aguas Calientes to Cusco, porters, cooks, and tents. Any gear you will need can be rented in Cusco. High season is May to September, and permits tend to sell out months in advance, so if you have a date in mind, book the trek as soon as you can. Tour companies often recommend booking the Inca Trail three to six months ahead of time.
To check the availability of Inca Trail permits, visit the following website and click the “Availability” button: www.incatrailreservations.com/tour/inca-trail.
Length: 4 days, 3 nights or 5 days, 4 nights
Cost: Varies widely. I’ve seen it priced from US$230-600/person
Unlike the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek does not require a permit, so it is an alternative many travelers choose to take when the Inca Trail permits are sold out. The Salkantay Trek is an intense hike leading you up to extremely high elevations (15,200 feet at the highest) and ending at Machu Picchu.
Partial Inca Trail
You can opt to hike only part of the Inca trail; prices for this vary widely depending on how much of it you want to trek.
Here’s a 2-day Inca Trail tour for $540
Insider’s Tip: Don’t book treks and tours online if you can help it. The cheapest prices can be found once you are in Cusco and can contact tour companies in person. It is widely known that businesses in Cusco advertise higher prices online. The huge exception here is the Inca Trail; since high-season dates must be booked months in advance, you will likely need to book this trek online before arriving in Peru.
Taking the Train from Cusco to Machu Picchu
There are two train companies that bring foreigners to Aguas Calientes. I’ve taken both, and I prefer PeruRail.
There are three levels of service: Expedition (formerly known as the Backpacker train), Vistadome, and Hiram Bingham.
Headed to Machu Picchu? Check out these tours!
There are four levels of service: Economic, Executive, First Class, and Presidential (by request only).
There is a separate train for the locals that is less expensive—but you are not allowed to use it. If you try to purchase tickets for this train, they will check your ID.
Important notes about taking the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu:
- From January through April, the train to Machu Picchu does NOT start in Cusco. If you book tickets through PeruRail during this time period, you first must board a bus at Wanchaq Station in Cusco, which will then take you to Ollantaytambo. From there, the train will take you to Aguas Calientes train station (the closest train station to Machu Picchu). This is known as a “bimodal service” with PeruRail.
- For the rest of the year, the train to Machu Picchu begins at Poroy Station in Cusco.
- A any time of the year, you can choose to book your own bus or taxi from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, and then purchase a train ticket from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu), which is what I did.
If you want details on what it’s like to take the train to Machu Picchu, check out my review of PeruRail vs. IncaRail.
Getting to Machu Picchu By Bus to the Hidroeléctrica
This is a lesser-known Machu Picchu transportation option. It is cheaper—but many say the roads are dangerous. If you are afraid of heights or prone to motion sickness, this is definitely not the route to take. It also takes several hours longer than the train, so it’s not ideal if you’re pressed for time. Two advantages of this option: It allows you to see some amazing scenery, and it is a very affordable way to get to Machu Picchu.
To begin, you must first take a bus from El Terminal Santiago in Cusco to the town of Santa Maria. This road is winding, often unpaved, and hugging a cliff the majority of the time. From Santa Maria to Santa Teresa, the road narrows to one lane; avoid this road in the rainy season, as there are landslides. When you arrive in Santa Teresa, you must switch to a taxi or combi/colectivo to the hidroeléctrica. The ride takes about 15 minutes. From the hidroeléctrica, you must walk a little over nine miles along the train tracks to the town of Aguas Calientes, which takes about three hours.
Want to combine all three modes of transportation?
You can take a taxi or colectivo to Ollantaytambo, and from there, a train to Aguas Calientes. From Aguas Calientes, instead of taking the bus, you can hike your way up to the Machu Picchu entrance, which will take about one and a half hours. When you’re done exploring Machu Picchu, you can take the bus down the hill (about a 15-minute ride).
My Machu Picchu Itinerary
Note: I flew into Lima, then took a flight to Cusco and stayed in Cusco city for 7 nights before heading to Machu Picchu.
A Note About Altitude Sickness in Cusco and Machu Picchu
Part of the reason my mom and I stayed in Cusco for so long was to acclimate to the high altitude (11,152 feet) so that we would feel well enough to hike around Machu Picchu. Now, there are many different opinions about this.
Since Machu Picchu is located at a lower altitude (7,972 feet), some argue that you should go to Machu Picchu first, so you can gradually acclimate by working your way up to Cusco. It’s really up to you.
For me, it took a full four days before I felt “normal.” I didn’t get altitude sickness that badly, but I did have a throbbing headache, fast heart rate, low blood oxygen level, and dizziness, but I was fine by the time I got to Machu Picchu. To monitor my heart rate and blood oxygen levels (to ensure they didn’t go into “emergency” ranges), I brought a finger pulse oximeter like this one with me. On my second trip to Cusco, I also brought chlorophyll drops like these, which are said to help prevent altitude sickness.
For more info, check out my detailed post on how I avoided altitude sickness in Cusco and Machu Picchu.
- Once we arrived in Cusco, my host took me to the PeruRail office, where my mom and I then purchased our train tickets. We had to pay in soles because their machine wouldn’t accept our credit card. There is an ATM nearby where you can withdraw soles or dollars.
Cost: $56 for one way via Expedition train (lowest class; includes small snack and drink) + $80 one way via Vistadome train (One step up from Expedition. Has huge windows, more leg room, plus a small meal)
*A Note on Purchasing Tickets from PeruRail*
I tried to buy tickets on perurail.com before leaving the U.S., but both of my credit cards were rejected several times. I emailed their customer support for help, but never received any assistance. This seems to be a common problem for travelers to Machu Picchu, which is why my mom and I ended up paying for our train tickets in person at the PeruRail office once we arrived in Cusco. Even then, we had problems with our credit card.The issue is PeruRail’s offices are located in England. Because we had alerted our bank that we were traveling in Peru, when the charge went through from England, our bank blocked it. To get around this, we withdrew dollars from the nearby ATM and paid in cash.**If you prefer convenience, you might be interested in this tour package which includes roundtrip PeruRail Vistadome train tickets, Machu Picchu entrance fee, roundtrip bus from Aguas Calientes, and a tour guide.**
- My host’s father is a tour guide, so we hired him for a two-day tour. This included having him ride with us in the taxi to Ollantaytambo, give us a tour of Ollantay, and then give us a tour of Machu Picchu the next day.
Machu Picchu Itinerary Day 1: Cusco to Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes
9 a.m. – Took a private taxi to Ollantaytambo Cost: $23.21 Length: 1.5 hours
- At around 9 a.m., we went to the bus station in Cusco, where Daniel, our tour guide, got us a private taxi to Ollantaytambo, where we would catch the train. The taxi ride took about 1.5 hours.
*Note about travel by roads in Cusco*
While the road from Cusco to Ollantaytambo is well-maintained, it is VERY curvy and it changes altitudes drastically. If you’re prone to car sickness, you might consider taking motion sickness pills or eating ginger candy. I got pretty nauseated during the ride.
- Once in Ollantaytambo, Daniel took us to the La Esquina Café for lunch, where I had the best breakfast meal of my life, the “el mauro.”
- After lunch, Daniel gave us a short tour of Ollantaytambo.
12:30 p.m. – Took a private taxi to the Ollantaytambo train station.
- We took a taxi to the Ollantaytambo train station, where we caught the 12:58 p.m. train to Aguas Calientes.
12:58 p.m. – Took the PeruRail Expedition train (cheapest class) to Aguas Calientes
Length: 2 hours
- At this point, Daniel split from us because he had to take the train for locals. It’s cheaper, but not as nice, and you can ride it only if you are a Peruvian citizen—no exceptions.
- When we got to Aguas Calientes, we went to the tourism office in the main square by the Pachacutec statue and bought our Machu Picchu entrance tickets. Note: You MUST present your passport to purchase tickets; no photocopies accepted.
Cost for one Machu Picchu entrance ticket: $46 (Must be paid in US dollars)*A Note on buying Machu Picchu Entrance tickets* There are three ways of purchasing your Machu Picchu entrance tickets
1) Online at http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe. If you purchase it online, it’s 152 Peruvian Soles, or about $46 USD.
2) In person at the tourism office in the main square of Aguas Calientes
3) Through a tour guide/tour company. If you want to save time and hassle, you can have a tour company buy Machu Picchu tickets for you. It does cost more, though, but it might be worth it to save the stress. Please check the official government website (http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe) to see how much tickets cost, and how many are available for the dates you’re planning to go. Also, if you want to hike Huayna Picchu, you need to book it weeks in advance–these tickets sell out fast.
- After that, we went to the bus station on the main road and bought our bus tickets for the next morning.
Cost for one round-trip bus ticket between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu: $19, or 52.82 soles**Update January 2019** The round-trip bus ticket is now $24 USD (Must be paid in Peruvian soles)
- Then we checked in to our hotel, the Hospedaje Veronica, right next to the train station. Cost: $30
(You can find Cusco hotels here)
Stayed in Aguas Calientes for one night at the Hospedaje Veronica
Click here to find more hotels in the Cusco region
Machu Picchu Itinerary Day 2: Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo to Cusco
6 a.m. – Took one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu.
Length: 15 minutes
I had my heart set on watching the sunrise over Machu Picchu, so we set out extra early. The bus journey takes about 15 minutes.
6:30 a.m. – Went on a private guided tour for 2 hours.
Our tour guide’s name was Daniel, and I highly recommend him. He is the father the Airbnb host we stayed with, Manuel. To contact Daniel, send Manuel a message on his Airbnb listing here.
Otherwise, here’s another option. A GetYourGuide-certified full day tour of Machu Picchu that includes roundtrip train tickets from Cusco, roundtrip bus ticket from Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu entrance ticket, and a professional tour guide. I have not taken this tour so cannot personally vouch for it, but check the reviews.
8:30 a.m. – Explored the ruins on our own for about an hour and a half
11 a.m. – Took the bus back down to Aguas Calientes
3:30 p.m. – Walked to the Aguas Calientes train station and took the 3:48 p.m. PeruRail Vistadome train to Ollantaytambo
Length: 2 hours
5:30 p.m. – Took a private taxi back to Cusco
Length: 1.5 hours
Click here to check out Machu Picchu travel guides to make the most of your trip!
What would I do differently?
- I would hire a tour guide only for the two-hour tour of Machu Picchu, nothing more. **Update 2019** I’m not sure I agree with this statement anymore (I wrote it back in 2014). I visited Machu Picchu a second time 3 months after my visit with my mom. This time, I went with a friend, and we did a short group tour and then hiked to the Sun Gate. I don’t think the tour length matters so much as the tour guide. My group tour guide on my second trip was not very good; she told folklore about Machu Picchu that wasn’t based on facts.
- I would take a shared minivan/colectivo/combi from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, instead of a private taxi. It is much cheaper, about 10 soles in a shared minivan versus 65 soles in a taxi.
- I would stay one night in Ollantaytambo, which is on the way to Machu Picchu. It’s a beautiful town with many ruins to explore. I would’ve liked to have stayed longer than two hours.
- I would walk up to the Machu Picchu site from Aguas Calientes (about a 1-hour hike), instead of taking the bus. There’s just something more special when you’ve had to work to earn something. I’m not much of an outdoorsy hiker, but I think I would enjoy the one-hour trek up to the site.
- I would have researched more about the history of Machu Picchu BEFORE getting there. I’m terrible about things like this; I often find out the significance of a place only after I’ve visited it.
If you want to know who I stayed with in Cusco, his Airbnb listing is here. I highly recommend staying with Manuel and his family. His father, Daniel, was actually our tour guide to Machu Picchu! Click here to book your stay with Manuel in Cusco (tell him I said hello!).
Hey. After countless hours of combing the internet trying to find the best way to get our trip to MP dialed in, I stumbled across your post. I was going to just hire one of these tour companies but once I started pricing it all up it seemed a little on the expensive side. Anyway getting to the point, My wife, mother in law, baby, and I are going to Lima in mid Nov for about 10 days. My MIL is watching the baby while my wife and I sneak in a 2 day trip to MP. My first question is do you have any recommendations on air travel from Lima? LAN? Star Peru? Avianca? Second, lets say we don’t have a Daniel are tour guides readily available up in AC or did you notice? This article is greatly appreciated and any info you may have on my other Q’s would be as well. Thanks
Hi Anthony! Thanks for the comment. I hope you enjoy your trip to Peru!
As far as air travel from Lima to Cusco, generally the cheapest flights will be on Star Peru, but LAN is known as the top-notch airline in that area. The price difference between the two companies will probably be about $40USD.
Yes, there are PLENTY of tour guides to be had anywhere in Peru, especially in Aguas Calientes–and even right at the gate as you enter Machu Picchu. Definitely check your guides out before you hire; make sure they speak your native language well enough for you to understand, and also ask them about their previous experience. Unfortunately, a lot of tour guides rely on folklore and myths when giving their tours, rather than sticking to the actual facts about the history of the place. So just a heads up!
I am also interested as to whether you made it to Lake Titicaca since that is part of my planned trip.
Enjoyed reading your detailed trip to MC. We.will be making our trip via train tomorrow. What taxi service did you use to return from Ollantay to Cuzco? Did you reserve ahead of time? We will be arriving in Ollantay in evening at 8 PM. Thanks for any tip.
Hi Wendy! Don’t worry about finding a taxi. As soon as you exit the train in Ollantay, you will find PLENTY of taxi drivers asking you if you want a ride to Cusco. Expect to pay about 90 soles. I did not reserve ahead of time, and got back to Cusco both times just fine. :) Enjoy Machu Picchu!
Hi Diana! No, I never went to Lake Titicaca. It’s not possible to do Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca in one day, as the trip from Cusco to Puno (near Lake Titicaca) is about 6 hours.
I enjoyed reading your trip blogs. I am planing my trip to MP at the end of Nov. I know it is very stressful! You seem like a MP expert now since you have been there a few times, so here goes my questions:
1. I have allocated 2 days to explore MP at the moment, planing to climb Huayna Picchu and walk around. Do you think 2 days are too much at MP (I plan to go up there twice!) or just one FULL day is enough?
2. Did you have a chance to explore Cusco and Sacred Valley? Is it worth spending an extra day in Cusco to do a tour in Sacred Valley, Maras, Chinchero, Moray, and Pisec?
3. If I cut down to one Full day at MP, I will have a free day, either in Cusco or Ollanta, what would you recommend on where I should visit.
Thanks a lot!
Hi Chonlawit! Thanks for the comment. I am far from an “MP expert,” but I have been there twice and hope I can help out! Here are my answers:
1. I actually think 2 days is good, and here’s why: 1st visit: You are so worried about getting good photos because it’s your first time, that the stress takes away from the experience 2nd visit: You’re more informed, you’ve gotten photos out of the way, and NOW you can peacefully enjoy the site. Having said that, if you do choose to go to MP for only one day like most people do, I think 6 hours is plenty of time. It takes about 2 hours to hike to the Sun Gate, and after that, you will be exhausted. So don’t fret if you can’t do 2 days.
2. Yes! I lived in Cusco for 5 months and visited the Sacred Valley a few times. Yes, I recommend a tour of the Sacred Valley. My favorite spot is Maras (the salt mines); it’s breathtaking beautiful! Plus, Pisac and Chinchero are great places to get souvenirs; Chinchero is widely regarded as having the finest handmade textiles like alpaca blankets and jackets.
3. In Cusco, hike up to Saksaywaman (above the city) and next to it, the Templo de la Luna (Temple of the Moon). Beautiful, peaceful sites with great views of Cusco below. Also, the Coricancha site is gorgeous and you can tour it. Ollanta is much, much smaller than Cusco and be explored in one day. There are Inca ruins right next to the town that you can visit. Then visit the beautiful neighborhood of San Blas. Of course you have to go to Plaza de Armas, the main square. If you go to Ollanta, eat at La Esquina Cafe; food is amazing! I had Banana Pancakes and El Mauro (breakfast dish), and I still crave both of those to this day…
Hope this helps!
Thanks for your detailed response! Your response is very helpful! I will be traveling to Peru in less than a week! I would like to update you on my plan.
I will be staying in MP for one night and one full day for the ruins. I will have 3 full days in Cusco that I think I will do some tours to Sacred Valley and take it easy exploring the city. Now I have a question. Is Arequipa worth a visit for a day? I mean fly in in the morning and leave late in the day or it’s pretty much similar to Cusco. I am just curios just in case I get bored of Cusco :)
Are you in Cusco right now? I don’t think flying to Arequipa for a day would be worth it, as that’s such a short visit. And don’t worry–I doubt you’ll get bored of Cusco! Email me if you have any other questions.
thank you for your detailed report of your trip – I noticed that you waited until the day you arrived in MP to buy your entrance tickets. ( I am worried that I might not find a ticket that day and there goes my “trip of a lifetime”) Is it generally easy to find a ticket on the day you arrive?
I have planned to stay in Ollante before going up and am pleased to see you would have done that too. thanks for any input
Bonnie, thank you for your comment! You brought up a good question and I added a note to my blog post to help people out.
To answer your question, yes, I did buy my tickets in Aguas Calientes the day before I actually visited Machu Picchu. This made me nervous! However, I had checked the website (http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe) a few days before and there were hundreds of MP tickets available, so I knew it wouldn’t sell out.
Since I assume you have limited time, I recommend purchasing your tickets further in advance. Just check the MP website and see how many tickets are available. Generally speaking, the regular MP tickets are usually plentiful. It’s the MP + Huayna Picchu ones that sell out weeks and months in advance, so keep this in mind if you want to hike up Huayna Picchu.
Enjoy Ollanta and Machu Picchu!
To get from Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes) back to Cusco, take the train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo you can take a shared bus or a taxi back to Cusco. There are PeruRail tickets that have a bus transport from Ollantaytambo to Cusco, but I didn’t try that. The shared buses, which you can catch at the train station, are very inexpensive. Maybe 10-15 soles if I remember correctly.
To acclimate upon arrival, would you recommend staying the first day at a lower place in the sacred valley? If so, which town? Best way to get there?
Larry, good question! I did not go to the Sacred Valley to acclimate, and it took me about 5 days in Cusco to feel completely “normal,” but I did not suffer any really bad effects; mostly just a slight headache. If you are concerned about how you might be affected, you could head to Ollantaytambo, which has ancient ruins and things to see (you’ll stop in this town on the way to Machu Picchu too). Or if you want a more peaceful place, try Urubamba. There’s not much to do within the town, but you could visit the Salineras (salt mines) and Moray from there. To get to the Sacred Valley, hail a taxi, or go to Avenida Grau and take a combi/colectivo (shared van); these will be much cheaper.
Your post is really thorough and helpful!
You said Private taxi from Cusco to Ollantaytambo is $23. So total cost for 2 people is US $46?
Bus ticket from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu site – $19. Is that one person, one trip/way?
The private taxi for $23 was one way and was the flat fee for 2 people.
The bus ticket from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu site was $19 round-trip per person.
Wow, $23 is cheap. Isn’t standard taxis 60-70 soles now? When was yr trip, and did you just catch one right outside airport?
Your blog is EXTREMELY HELPFUL while planning my trip to MP. Thanks again for posting prices and photos! One question, from Cuzco to the “collecticos” where do I ask the taxi driver to take me as I’m trying to go right from Cuzco airport to Ollayantambo in a quick manner. Thanks!
Just got home from Machu Picchu. Before we went I read your article which was very helpful.
FYI – the bus tickets from Agua Calientes to Machu Picchu are now $24 apiece. A couple of other things: at Machu Picchu there are lockers – either 3 sols or 5 sols depending on the location. We got one of the first buses there so there was a minimal line. However, there was a much longer line when we returned – around 2pm. Also – once at Machu Picchu you need 1 sol to use the bathroom. Not a big expense but needed! You mentioned walking the trail instead of the bus. We took the bus, but from what we saw of those who didn’t, bug spray is sorely needed. Additionally, a hat and sunblock.
Had better luck than you for Perurail. After a couple of tries and waiting a day in between, managed to book our tickets online. We went from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes by train and Aguas Calientes to Cusco also by train. At Machu Picchu, we did the Montana walk, which I had bought online in advance. It’s projected to take about one and a half hours. With lots of rest stops, it took my husband and I about 2 hours one way. Warning, this is a very rigorous hike! It’s never-ending steps which go practically straight up. The steps are high and really take it out of you both ways. My thighs are still hurting 3 days later. However, I would rather do this hike than the jungle. Despite it’s difficulty, from pictures I’ve seen of the other hike, Huayna Picchu, it appeared less frightening and the views were wonderful.
We stayed the first night in Ollantaytambo, arriving there around noon in a private taxi from Cuzco. In our case our hotel arranged a driver to pick us up at our hotel at a rate of $55 US for the two of us. There were cheaper options but our driver was prudent, spoke English, and stopped for pictures along the way. Ollantaytambo is a very charming, historical city and I would highly recommend staying there. We stayed at a small guesthouse, Iskay, with a patio from our room 5 with splendid views of the ruins. We were only about 20 minutes from the train station, where we ate a wonderful dinner at the Albergue Inn Restaurant. A local Peruvian sang and played an instrument similar to a harp which was a very nice touch. The restaurant and the Inn are connected to an organic farm which is worth strolling in. The grounds for the Inn are lovely.
We took the first train out of Ollantaytambo at 6:10 am and managed to avoid the crowds upon arrival. It was an PeruRail Expedition and cost $65/person. We did our hike and visited the site and took the 4:43 pm train to Cusco. This was also a PeruRail Expedition and cost $101/person.
Final note. Although PeruRail refers to the Poroy station as Cusco, you are actually around 8 winding miles from the center of Cusco, which is where most of the lodging and action is. We got off the train at around 8:20 pm and were overwhelmed by taxis. We negotiated a rate of about 20 sols to our Hotel, the amazing JW Marriott – a hotel which incorporated Inca and Spanish ruins. Happily our driver, Lucio, was a safe and skilled driver. (We saw a horrid road accident on the way from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and the tourist police were involved.)
All in all, a very satisfying visit.
After searching several websites from several hours I was was lucky enough to arrive to your site which had every little detail I needed. Your post which included costs as well had been extremely useful for the preparation of my visit and all your insights made my travel to Machu Picchu smoother especially that I did it in only 2 days including flying from Lima and back there. I left my luggage at the Lima airport and only took a backpack.
I travelled in early October, the weather was still OK. I prebooked my two nights of stay at booking.com (1 in Ollantay, 1 in Machu Picchu Pueblo). I even took most of your advice from the ‘What would I do differently?’ part and cut some costs.
In order to avoid altitude sickness, after arriving to the airport in Cusco in the afternoon I immediately took a taxi from the airport to the place from where the collectivos go from (10 minutes, 10 soles). The collectivo took me to Ollantaytambo in 2 hours and while getting there I could see the sunset and the beautiful mountains (another 10 soles). I spent a night and the next morning there, but did not pay for the entrance of the official sites, rather chose the other side of the town and climbed up the mountain from where there’s a nice view to the town and the surrounding peaks (altogether 2 hours). I left the town at around 1 pm by train and in other 2 hours I was in Machu Picchu Pueblo where I collected my prebooked ticket to the MP.
Next morning I got up very early and hiked up to MP at 7 pm (took an hour and 20 minutes up and 40 miuntes down – pretty tiring but was definitely worth it), after which I wasn’t sad at all that I could not get a ticket to Huayna Pichu. On my way back in the early afternoon I chose the same route: MP Pueblo-Ollantay by train, Ollantay-Cusco by taxi with 3 other people, and to the airport with the same taxi for some extra cash.
What would _I_ do differently? I would definitely take some more days off and visit other cities.
Once again, this really helped a lot, thank you.