Getting Around, Machu Picchu Travel, Transport and Car Rental

(Machu Picchu, Peru)

View of Aguas Calientes trainThere really are very few transport options available around Machu Picchu, and unless you are planning to arrive via the Inca Trail, you will probably travel into the adjacent town of Aguas Calientes by train. From Aguas Calientes, it is possible to travel to Machu Picchu on foot, heading to the Puente Ruinas, crossing the Rio Urubamba and then finally trekking a steep 2-km / 1.5-mile slope.

However, most tourists arriving in Aguas Calientes prefer to travel to Machu Picchu using convenient bus transport. Hourly buses travel to Machu Picchu, which is around 8 km / 5 miles away and reached along a winding mountain road, with a journey time of approximately 15 minutes.

Image of nearby Cusco Airport

Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) / Arriving by Air

If you are intending to fly into the Machu Picchu area, then the closest airport of any significance is the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport, which is located on the southerly outskirts of Cusco. Daily flights arrive here from many domestic Peruvian cities, such as Arequipa, Juliaca, Lima and others, while there are also services to Bolivia. The main airlines are Aerosur, LAN, TACA and Star Peru. Worth noting, flights at Alejandro Velasco Astete Airport are frequently overbooked, and so it would be sensible to confirm your seat three days before flying, and then again the day before, with an early check-in being advisable.

Image of Aguas Calientes town centre

Car Rental

Renting a car around Machu Picchu is not really an option, unless you are basing yourself in Cusco. If you really do want the convenience of having your very own set of wheels for a day or two to head off to Ollantaytambo or elsewhere, then consider hiring a taxi for the day from Aguas Calientes or Cusco, complete with your own personal driver. This luxury is actually very affordable and becoming increasingly popular in Peru, especially if you are able to share the cost.

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Picture of local bus

Buses and Coaches

Buses run from as early as 05:30, allowing early birds to enjoy a spectacular view of the ruins, illuminated by the sunrise, and return when they are full with passengers. Extra buses are laid on at midday, to cope with the influx of tourists arriving at Aguas Calientes by train, with the latest buses returning down the mountain at around 17:30 or thereabouts. Buses depart from a prominent local ticket office, which is located on the main road.

Further photo showing train in Aguas Calientes


Most people choose to travel into Aguas Calientes by train, arriving from Cusco, Ollantaytambo and other locations. The Puente Ruinas train station forms the end of the line and lies on the easterly side of Aguas Calientes, close to the handicrafts market, the northern banks of the Rio Urubamba and the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. Tickets can be purchased at the Puente Ruinas station, although during the high season, advance reservations will likely be needed. Trains from Cusco travel to Aguas Calientes in around four hours, while from Ollantaytambo, the journey time is just one and a half hours. Basic backpacker train transport between Cusco and Aguas Calientes takes a little longer, although it is considerably cheaper.