Are you planning a trip to Lima, Peru? To find out about day trips from Lima to Machu Picchu read our guide for more facts and information…
There are not a lot of tour companies in Peru that offer one day trips to Machu Picchu. If one wants to visit Machu Picchu for just one day you will have to plan the details of the trip yourself, which is not necessarily a bad thing for those who do not have a large budget for their holiday in Peru.
Location of Machu Picchu
So as to plan a successful trip one has to be familiar with the geography of the region. The ancient ruins are very remote, and were inaccessible for a long time. The closest town to the ruins is in a valley a few kilometres down from where Machu Picchu is located. However, because of the terrain it takes a 20 minute bus ride to travel between the two. The town is called Aguas Calientes, and it is also very remote with no road links between it and other towns.
To get to this part of Peru one can take a train from Lima to Cusco. Then from Cusco one can take another train ride to Machu Picchu. May to September is the peak tourist season, and if planning to go at this time one should buy the train tickets well in advance as they sell out. The train company is called Peru Rail, it is the only train operator and so the ticket prices are relatively expensive. One can make reservations online on the official Peru Rail website and payments are accepted from Visa cards.
Cusco to Machu Picchu
The easiest way to get to Machu Picchu for a day trip is from the San Pedro train station in Cusco. Peru Rail provides two departures per day. Trains depart at 06:05 and arrive at 09:52 or 06:50 and arrive at 10:51. A premium ticket will cost you US$71, and the backpacker ticket will cost you US$48. These prices are for one-way tickets.
When making reservations online you will receive a voucher to print out. On your arrival at the train station you will have to exchange the voucher for a ticket before boarding the train.
From Cusco you can take a bus or taxi to Ollantaytambo and then another train from there to Aguas Calientes. The taxi ride takes just under 2 hours. The cost for this is around US$25. The bus ride takes longer, having to catch two buses from Cusco to Urubamba and from there to Ollantaytambo, but is much cheaper at just US$2 per person per bus ride.
From Ollantaytambo one has to catch another train at a cost of $60 for a premium ticket, $53 for a regular ticket and $43 for the economy ticket.
From Aguas Calientes one can then hike the trail to Machu Picchu. As you can see, it is quite an expedition to get to Machu Picchu from Lima, so it is recommended to take as much hassle out of it by making the train reservations well in advance to make sure to get the return tickets for the day on which you wish to go.