Want to know how to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes? Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, is a small town located at the base of Machu Picchu and serves as the gateway for visitors traveling to the iconic, ancient Inca citadel.

In this article, I’ll go over all the ways to go to Aguas Calientes from Cusco, and at the end of the post I’ll add any useful tips that will aid you in a trip to Peru and the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.

How to Get to Cusco to Aguas Calientes

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👇 But first, are you in a hurry? The easiest way to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes is on the train. There are three different train companies to choose from: Inca RailPeru Rail, and the Belmond Hiram Bingham Train.

The Belmond Hiram Bingham Train is by far the most luxurious way to get to Aguas Calientes and ultimately Machu Picchu as this train service also comes with a private bus to the entrance of Machu Picchu. This also means that it’s the most expensive option.

Book a Belmond Bingham Experience →

Inca Rail and Peru Rail also offer comfortable passage to the town of Aguas Calientes. Whichever train you choose, book your tickets far in advance as trains sell out weeks in advance especially during peak season. This goes for your return trip as well.

Book a Train Ticket →

View of Cusco from Above at Santo Domingo

Distance from Cusco to Aguas Calientes

How long from Cusco to Aguas Calientes you ask? The distance from Cusco to Aguas Calientes is about 46 miles ‘as the crow flies’. Since the most common way to travel between Cusco and Aguas Calientes is by train, this route winds through the Sacred Valley along the Urubamba River before reaching Aguas Calientes.

The train journey time from Cusco to Aguas Calientes typically takes 3 to 4 hours, depending on the type of train service and any stops along the way.

The San Blas in Cusco, Peru
Joe in the street of Cusco

Ways to Get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes

🛵 Okay, let’s get into the details of the different ways to get to Aguas Calientes from Cusco via public transportation.

  • Train
  • Bus & Train combination
  • Hike
  • Private Transport
  • On a Tour

Everybody has different priorities when it comes to transportation options and traveling around a foreign country. My top priorities are to get somewhere safely, swiftly, and for a good price but style comes into play and sometimes trumps the budget.

Like in Peru, taking the train is a scenic, comfortable, and convenient way to travel around the country, opposed to Guatemala where I found myself taking the bus a lot.

Train through Aguas Calientes, Peru

Train Companies that go from Cusco to Aguas Calientes

Taking the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu Pueblo is the most popular and comfortable ways to travel to Machu Picchu. There are different types of train services available, including luxury trains with amenities such as panorama windows, gourmet dining, and entertainment, as well as more basic economy options.

The three rail companies that have service to Aguas Calientes are Inca Rail, Peru Rail, and the Belmond Hiram Bringham Train.

Belmond Hiram Bingham Train

If you are looking for a luxurious, unforgettable, and stylish way to reach Aguas Calientes, look no further than the Belmond Hiram Bingham Train. This luxury train is fancy features beautifully appointed carriages with plush armchairs, polished wood interiors, and brass accents, an observatory car, and bar car.

This train experience makes you reminiscent of the glamorous days of train travel. One of the highlights of the Belmond Hiram Bingham experience is its gourmet dining service, with white tablecloths, Andean inspired dishes, fine wines, and live music.

When you book a train trip with the Belmond Hiram Bingham, you get exclusive access to Machu Picchu. This includes a private bus ride to the entrance of Machu Picchu, priority entry, and a guided tour included in the price.

Book a Train Ticket to Aguas Calientes from Cusco →

On a train in Peru to Cusco

Peru Rail

Peru Rail is the main service provider that operates routes between Cusco (or Ollantaytambo) and Aguas Calientes. The most common route from Cusco to Aguas Calientes departs from Poroy train station and takes 3.5 – 4 hours.

Peru Rail offers different classes of services to cater to different travel styles and budgets.

  • Expedition Train: This is the standard service offering comfortable seating, large windows for enjoying the views of the outside world, and onboard refreshments available for purchase.
  • Vistadome: This service provides panoramic windows, entertainment and a glass roof.
  • Belmond Hiram Bingham: This is Peru Rail’s luxury service, offering an elegant experience with gourmet dining, live entertainment, and exclusive access to Machu Picchu.

Book your train tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist season (May to September), as trains fill up quickly going in and out of town.

Book a Peru Rail Train Ticket →

The train coming into Aguas Calientes, Peru

Inca Rail

Inca Rail is another prominent train service provider offering transportation between Ollantaytambo (or Poroy) and Aguas Calientes. Inca Rail trains offers different train options or classes of services.

  • Voyager: This is the standard service, offering comfortable seating, large windows, snacks and beverages available for purchase.
  • 360° Machu Picchu Train: This service provides epic panoramic views and skylights, allowing you to take in the scenery along the way. This ticket also offers larger, more comfortable seats and complimentary snacks and beverages.
  • First Class: This is the best train service, offering spacious seats with extra legroom, gourmet meals, and a selection of alcoholic beverages.

Book a Ticket on Inca Rail →

Machu Picchu Train Station
The town of Aguas Calientes

Train Stations

There are 7 stations around Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas: San Pedro Train Station (Cusco), Poroy (Cusco), Wanchaq Station (Cusco), Urubamba (Sacred Valley), Ollantaytambo (Sacred Valley), Hydroelectric (La Convention) and Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu).

Only three of those train stations run to Aguas Calientes, the Poroy Train Station, Ollantaytambo Train Station, and Hydroelectrica Train Station. Although there are three starting stations, there is only one arriving station at Machu Picchu station.

Cusco Station

There are three train stations in Cusco, San Pedro Station, Wanchaq Station, and Poroy Station. The most common route to Aguas Calientes on Peru Rail is from the Poroy station.

You can get to the nearby town of Poroy with a cheap taxi or better yet, take an uber. Give yourself at least an hour to get from central Cusco to the Poroy train station.

✈️ Travel Hack:  If you own the American Express Platinum Card, you get up to $15 dollars of cash credited towards your account each month when you use Uber. This goes a long way in Peru.

Ollantaytambo Station

From Ollantaytambo train station in the Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes Station travel time takes 2 hours. The Vista Dome train line by Peru Rail is one of the best options to get to Aguas Calientes in the comfort of an elegant train.

Book the Vista Dome to Aguas Calientes from Ollantaytambo →

Hydroelectrica Train Station

From Hydroelectrica it is about a 45 minute train ride to Machu Picchu and tickets must be booked in advance in person in Cusco or in Aguas Calientes.

Trust me this is the only way, you can not book a train ticket online or in person at the Hydroelectrica station. To make a long story short, I tried and ended up having to beg the train staff (in my broken Spanish) to let us on the train as it was a dire situation.

Don’t worry, this story has a happy ending and we were granted access to the train and we made a lifelong friend.

The best things to do in Aguas Calientes, Peru

Bus from Cusco to Aguas Calientes

Another option is to take a collectivo bus from Cusco to the Hydroelectrica station. From here, you can either ride the train to Aguas Calientes (tickets must be booked in advance) or hike along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes if you are on a tight budget.

This hike along the railroad tracks is the route you’d be taking on your last day of trekking the Salkantay Trek. It’s a doozy but offers a budget-friendly alternative to taking the train and allows travelers to experience the beautiful scenery of the Sacred Valley on foot.

You can also take a bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, followed by a train journey to Aguas Calienties. Better yet, stay a couple of days in Ollantaytambo before riding the Vista Dome to Aguas Calientes.

Book a Bus Ticket →

I'm Jess Traveling at Humantay Lake

Treks from Cusco to Aguas Calientes

For adventurous travelers, one of the most popular things to do in Peru is to hike a multi-day trek to Machu Picchu. You can do this by hiking the classic Inca Trail or one of the alternative treks, like the Salkantay Trail. All of these long distance trails end up in Aguas Calientes.

There a four different treks that you can embark on: the Inca Trek, the Salkantay Trek, the Lares Trek, or the Choquequirao Trek.

Machu Picchu Peru

Inca Trail

The most famous hiking route is the Inca Trail, a multi-day trek that covers about 26 miles and passes through stunning Andean landscapes, Inca ruins, and cloud forests before reaching Machu Picchu.

The Inca Trail follows the footsteps of the ancient Incas, who built the trail over 500 years ago as a pilgrimage route to Machu Picchu. Along the way, trekkers can marvel at the engineering marvels of the Incas, including stone staircases, terraced agricultural fields, and intricately carved stone temples.

Due to its popularity and to protect the fragile ecosystem of the trail, access to the Inca Trail is limited to a certain number of permits issued each day. It’s advisable to book your trek well in advance, especially during the peak tourist season (May to September), to secure a permit and avoid disappointment.

Book the Inca Trail →

The Salkantay Trek start of Day 2
Camping Huts along the Salkantay Trek

Salkantay Trek

The Salkantay Trek often referred to as the alternative route to Machu Picchu is a slightly longer and harder version of the Inca Trail. This trek to Machu Picchu offers a less crowded and more adventurous option.

I hiked the Salkantay Trek independently without a guide, tent, or reservations and it goes down to date as one of the hardest and most memorable experiences of my life.

The Salkantay Trek takes 4 to 6 days to complete and covers a distance of 46 miles up and over Salkantay Pass at 15,000 feet elevation, through lush valleys, cloud forests, and remote Andean villages.

This trek in Peru is known for its challenging terrain, with steep ascents, descents, and high altitude mountain passes. Let’s just say the Salkantay Trek isn’t for the faint of heart.

Book the Salkantay Trek →

Choquequirao Trek

If you like archeology, you could trek the Choquequirao trail through the steep Apurimac Canyon to investigate the Choquequirao archeological site. Then you would travel to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. Very few travelers make it to Choquequirao because it’s not as well known as Machu Picchu but it’s 3 times as big.

This trek is stunningly beautiful by extremely difficult. I haven’t personally trekked this one but after trekking in and out of the Colca Canyon in southern Peru, I can only imagine the level of difficulty.

Book the Choquequirao Trek →

Lares Trek

The Lares Trek will be the easiest of them all and takes 4 to 5 days. This trek to Machu Picchu takes you through small towns and Quechua communities before arriving in Aguas Calientes to explore the citadel.

Book the Lares Trek →

Inca Jungle Tour

If trekking isn’t totally your thing and you prefer to break it up with a little adventure, then you should definitely check out the Inca Jungle Tour. This route to Aguas Caleintes will include hiking, biking, rafting, and zip lining.

Bike downhill from Málaga pass, go rafting on the Urubamba river, soak in the hot springs of Santa Maria, and zip Line in Santa Teresa town. You’ll also explore some recently discovered archaeological remains.

Book a Inca Jungle Tour →

Private Transport to Aguas Calientes

For travelers seeking more flexibility and convenience, private transportation, such as taxis or private cars can be arranged from Cusco to Ollantaytambo or directly to the Hydroelectric train station. From there, you can continue your journey to Machu Picchu by train, bus, or on foot.

Book Private Transportation →

I'm Jess Traveling through Peru at Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, Peru

Visit Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu on a Tour

For travelers seeking more flexibility and convenience, private transportation, such as taxis or private cars can be arranged from Cusco to Ollantaytambo or directly to the Hydroelectric train station. From there, you can continue your journey to Machu Picchu by train, bus, or on foot.

Book Private Transportation →

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    Cusco to Aguas Calientes FAQs

    How to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes FAQ’s

    Now that you are armed with all the information on how to get to Aguas Calienties from Cusco, let’s cover some frequently asked questions.

    Can you Travel by Train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes Year Round?

    During the rainy season, it is impossible to take the train to Machu Picchu from Cusco the entire way. Peru Rail and Inca Rail have what they call a Bimodal Service.

    This means that a bus will pick you up in Cusco and drop you off at the Ollantaytambo train station, where you will ride the train the rest of the way to Machu Picchu town.

    The best time to travel to Aguas Calientes is in the dry season. Unfortunately this also coincides with the high season so make sure you book your tickets far in advance.

    How Long is the Train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes

    The train journey from Cusco to Aguas Calientes takes around 3.5 – 4 hours, depending on the which train service you choose to take. The train follows a scenic route through the Sacred Valley, passing through a scenic landscapes of mountains, valleys, and small Andean villages before reaching Aguas Calientes.

    How Much is the Train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes

    The cost of the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu town varies depending on the type of train service, the class of service, meals, entertainment, and the time of booking. Generally, train tickets can range from $60 to $500 USD or more per person for a one-way journey.

    How to get from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu

    Once you arrive in Aguas Calientes there are two ways to reach Machu Picchu. The most common way is by bus which takes about 45 minutes to reach the top.

    If you are staying the night in Aguas Calientes and plan on visiting Machu Picchu the next morning, then you can book your bus ticket to Machu Picchu in person when you arrive in town.

    The ticket office at Av. Hermanos Ayar S/N, before the Puente Ruinas, is open from Monday to Sunday from 5 am to 9 pm. You can also purchase tickets at Banco Interbank from 9 am – 6 pm. Your hotel will be able to point you in the right direction.

    During peak season (June, July and August) the ticket line to buy bus tickets to Machu Picchu can be long, so you may want to pre-book a ticket in advance to save yourself some waiting. Fair warning, booking online will cost slightly more.

    Book a Bus Ticket →

    Alternatively you hike up to Machu Picchu. This requires a strenuous 1.5-2 hour hike up a steep mountain to reach the entrance. This was my original plan when I was planning our Salkantay Trek but we were so beat after this enduring trek that we were happy to catch the bus to and from Machu Picchu.

    Train at Aguas Calientes

    Where to Stay in Aguas Calientes

    There are so lots of places to stay in Aguas Calientes and for every budget. We stayed at Gringo Bills and were very happy with our accommodations.

    Here are more Aguas Calientes hotel recommendations when planning your visit to Machu Picchu.

    • Supertramp Hostel – $ The only real hostel in town. This budget accommodation Includes a kitchen when your budget is in charge.
    • Gringo Bills – $$ Located close to the train station. Rooms are spacious, showers are hot and each room comes with a balcony.
    • Hotel Wiracocha Inn – $$ Bright rooms, mountain views and a buffet breakfast.
    • Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel – $$$ Luxuriant, tropical gardens, free breakfast, and on site spa.
    • El Mapi – $$$ Located in prime location in the middle of town, this hotel is sleek and modern.
    Hiking Huayna Picchu in Peru

    How to Get Tickets to Machu Picchu

    You can buy your tickets to Machu Picchu once you arrive in Cusco but with the limited number of tickets that are now offered daily, I’d book tickets to Machu Picchu far in advance. When you book online, you will be able to see exactly how many tickets are available for that day.

    Book a Ticket to Machu Picchu →

    And if you plan on hiking Huayna Picchu (the mountain that overlooks Machu Picchu), book those tickets farther in advance. To climb Huayna Picchu you’ll need to purchase a ticket for Circuit 4 + Wayna Picchu Mountain.

    You’ll have the choice of starting your climb between 7 am and 10 am. Go at 7 am to avoid the crowds (this is what I did and we were the first ones at the top). Go at 10 am for a better chance of the clouds being lifted. I personally had the clearest day on my 7 am hike up Huayna Picchu.

    Book a Ticket to Huayna Picchu →

    You can also ascend to the top of Machu Picchu, although doing so also needs strong knees and an additional ticket – Macchupicchu Mountain + Circuit 3. Nearly whole of the trail consists of stairs and you can start your climb between 7 am and 9 am.

    Book a Ticket to Climb Machu Picchu Mountain →

    Alpacas and Quechuan women on the streets while traveling Cusco, Peru

    Aguas Calientes and Cusco Travel Guides

    I spent almost a month roaming around Cusco’s cobblestone streets going on epic adventures, eating amazing food, and petting llamas. I haven’t traveled to every country in South America yet, but for now, Cusco is by far one of my favorite cities in South America.

    There are many reasons to love this town but between the amazing hikes and the delicious food, I promise you will love your visit to Cusco. Check out the guides below to help plan your trip to this charming destination.

    Best Things to do in Aguas Calientes – There’s more to do in this town than just Machu Picchu.

    Best Things to do in Cusco – This is the big guide on all the best things to do in Cusco.

    Where to Stay in Cusco – This guide lists the best areas to stay in Cusco and the top hotels in Cusco for all budgets.

    Best Restaurants in Cusco – 12 Must eat restaurants in Cusco.

    17 Things to Know Before Traveling to Cusco – 17 Useful Things to Know Before you Go.

    How to Trek the Salkantay Trail Independently – By far my biggest adventure in Peru was trekking 5 days on the alternative route to Machu Picchu. And we did this without a guide, tent, or reservations. This guide explains exactly how to do it.

    Hiking Humantay Lake without a Tour – This is one of the most popular day trips from Cusco.

    How to Get from Cusco to Lake Titicaca – There are 4 different ways to get from Cusco to Puno.

    Peru Travel Vlogs 

    Joe and I filmed a lot of travel vlogs as we explored Peru. If you’d like to see for yourself what it’s like to travel around Peru, check out the video above or click below to watch the whole series.

    And please subscribe or give us a thumbs up. It doesn’t cost you anything and really helps us be able to continue creating free content for you to enjoy 🙂.

    🎥 Watch our Peru Series on YouTube

    Final Thoughts on How to Get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes

    Those are the best ways to get from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. Whether you’re visiting Machu Picchu on a day trip or on a multi-day trekking adventure, your sure to have a memorable travel experience. If you found this article useful, let fellow travelers know in the comments below 👇.

    Peru Travel Guides ↓

    📍 If you are planning your trip to Peru, I spent 2 months traveling around this beautiful country, and the only reason I left was because my visa was running out. Check out the travel guides below for more inspiration in planning your travels to Peru.

    The Ultimate Guide to Peru

    Best Things to do in Miraflores

    2 Week Peru Itinerary

    14 Remarkable Things to do in Peru

    15 Incredible Places to Visit in Peru

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