How to get to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu? 

For many centuries, Machu Picchu was hidden from humanity. The abundant vegetation covered their stone constructions until in 1911; the American explorer Hiram Bingham unveiled the Inca Citadel for the world. Why was this unique place so long hidden? Due to its location between several mountains, the Inca site remained stopped in time. Today, it is one of the Wonder of the World, but it remains a place of difficult access. How to get? Currently, there are only 3 ways to reach the Inca llaqta. Which are? We explain it in the following article.

Where is Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu (2,430 meters above sea level) is located on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains of Peru. The mountainous formation to which the Inca enclosure forms part is called the Batolito de Vilcabamba. Around the Machu Picchu Mountain is the Vilcanota River, the Putucusi Mountain, the Huayna Picchu Mountain and the abundant vegetation typical of this area of Peru. Currently, it belongs to the district of Aguas Calientes, in the province of Urubamba, 74 kilometers from the city of Cusco.

Due to its hidden location between mountains, currently there are only 3 ways to get to Machu Picchu. The first is by an ancient Inca road that made the inhabitants of Tahuantinsuyo to the Inca City and that currently takes 4 days. The second, through a train trip parallel to the Urubamba River, which is the most used by visitors. The third, and less known, is the trip by bus and then on foot, known as the route by Hydroelectric. Which is the best option? Next we explain each of the indicated routes.

Mountain Phutuq K'usi
Mountain Phutuq K’usi.

Inca Trail

It is the most incredible way to the Inca Citadel. It is a 4-day trekking route through the ancient Inca roads and that, in the past, was the way in which the inhabitants of Tahuantinsuyo arrived at the Inca site. It is considered the best walk in South America and one of the most amazing in the world. Walk incredible places such as high Andean snow, landscapes typical of the jungle brow and archaeological sites to reach the Puerta del Sol or Intipunku, former gateway to Machu Picchu.

Tour Inca Trail
Tour Inca Trail.

To make this fabulous hiking route it is mandatory to hire the services of an authorized tourism agency. These include tourist guides, carriers, food, implements, first aid and transportation to the start point in Patallacta. Entry quotas must be reserved for a long time in advance, especially during the peak tourism season (April to October). In total, the Inca trail covers 39 kilometers.

Route by train to Machu Picchu

Currently, the most widespread and used by tourists who visit the Wonder of the World. It is a journey in parallel to the Urubamba River to the town of Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu town. The most usual route begins in the town of Ollantaytambo and takes an average of 1 hour and 45 minutes. However, there are also more luxurious services that start in Cusco and Urubamba, which take around 3 hours. Once in Aguas Calientes, the visitor should only take a bus that takes 30 minutes to the entrance door to the Inca Citadel.

Today, there are only 2 companies that offer the train service to Aguas Calientes: Peru Rail and Inca Rail. These offer different types of services from the economic to luxury travel. Tickets must be reserved in advance due to the high demand for tickets, especially during the peak tourism season (April to October). The train journey is considered one of the most amazing short train journeys in the world due to the spectacular nature of the landscapes it traverses.

Route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric

It is the least common way to get to Machu Picchu. It is a bus route and then on foot (or train) to the town of Aguas Calientes. In total, it takes between 6 or 7 hours. The trip begins by taking a bus from the city of Cusco to the town of Santa María (4 hours). From there, a taxi or bus to the town of Santa Teresa (1 hour). Finally, another trip to the hydroelectric power station (30 minutes), train stop to Aguas Calientes. Once there, the tourist decides whether to take the train (30 minutes) or walk along the train tracks (2 hours) through landscapes of abundant vegetation next to the Vilcanota River.

This alternative route can be done on an organized tour or on your own. Private bus services are offered around the Plaza de Armas. To do it on your own, you have to take the buses that are on Antonio Lorena Street. There are hiking trails that, after days of hiking, reach Aguas Calientes through the hydroelectric power station. Unlike the classic train route, it is more economical and adventurous.


  • If you want to get to Machu Picchu through the train route, it is necessary to make the reservation in advance. The advisable thing is to do it after acquiring the Ticket Machu Picchu in advance.
  • The Inca Trail is one of the most popular attractions that Cusco offers. It is necessary to book it up to 6 months in advance.
  • If 4 days of walking seem too much, there is a new version of the Inca Trail of only 2 days to Machu Picchu. The reservation must also be months in advance.
  • If you want to make the alternative route by Hydroelectric, take the opportunity to visit the thermal baths of Cocalmayo in Santa Teresa. It is one of the most popular attractions near Aguas Calientes.
  • After completing the train or hydroelectric route, the visitor can choose to go to the entrance to Machu Picchu by bus or on foot. The first option takes around 30 minutes. The second, 2 hours.

By iMachu Picchu Ticket

Whichever way you want to reach the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, book in advance your Ticket Machu Picchu and ensure your entry to the Wonder of the World. Do it now!
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