Which train to Machu Picchu is best?

Peru Rail

Peru Rail is a pioneer in tourist rail transportation in Peru. Starting its operations in 1999, it has positioned itself as a leader in the sector, facilitating the access of thousands of visitors to Peru’s favourite tourist destination, Machu Picchu. Peru Rail stands out for its variety of services and prices, adapting to the different needs and budgets of travellers.

History and Contributions:

  • Pioneer in the industry: First private company to offer rail transportation to Machu Picchu.
  • Development of the railroad network: It has played a crucial role in the development and maintenance of the railroad infrastructure on the routes to the south and southeast of Peru.
  • Variety of services: It offers a diverse range of travel options, from economic trains to luxury services, such as the famous Belmond Hiram Bingham.

Inca Rail

Inca Rail, meanwhile, began operating in 2007 and quickly carved out a niche in the market with its focus on quality of service and customer experience. A new entrant into the market, in contrast to Peru Rail, Inca Rail has established its reputation by offering a range of services from economy to premium options.

Innovations and Services:

  • Focus on customer experience: Dedicates special attention to traveller comfort and satisfaction.
  • Variety of services: From the ‘Voyager train’, offering excellent service and comfort at an affordable price. To ‘The Private’, an exclusive service that allows you to fully customize your travel experience.
  • Additional services: Not only limited to transportation; Inca Rail also offers tour packages that include guided tours and accommodation.

Both companies, Peru Rail and Inca Rail, offer unique experiences tailored to the needs of each traveler, making the trip to Machu Picchu not only a destination but also part of a memorable adventure.

Trains to Machu Picchu

There are only 2 companies that provide train services from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town). Both Inca Rail and Peru Rail offer different types of trains according to the needs of the visitor:

Peru Rail:

  • Expedition Train: Ideal for adventurous travellers, seeking comfort at a reasonable price.
  • Vistadome Train: The panoramic windows immerse its passengers into the Andean landscape.
  • Vistadome Observatory Train: With a balcony, 2 elegant observatory cars and a panoramic view car.
  • Belmond Hiram Bingham: A luxury service that offers an incomparable experience with gourmet meals and entertainment on board.

Inca Rail :

  • The Voyager: The panoramic windows and a snack bar, passengers can immerse themselves into the Andean landscape with little fuss and without breaking the bank
  • The 360°: Offers a glorious visual experience with larger windows and an open-air observatory car.
  • The First Class: Luxury with premium amenities, including gourmet menus & private cars for groups.
  • The Private: Luxury with premium amenities, including gourmet menus & private cars for groups.
  • Premium Lounge: Enjoy a comfortable lounge and outdoor balcony, as you gaze at the landscapes.

Standard Trains to Machu Picchu

Both Inca Rail and Peru Rail offer standard class services for those travelling on a budget.

Peru Rail : Expedition Train

The Expedition train is an attractive option for those seeking comfort and close contact with the breathtaking scenery on the way to Machu Picchu. Designed primarily for adventurers seeking comfort without excessive cost, the Expedition train offers an immersive experience with large panoramic windows that allow you to enjoy the majesty of the natural surroundings and the Urubamba River.

Main Characteristics:

  • Panoramic windows: Large windows designed to offer spectacular views of the landscape.
  • Andean decoration: Interior decor that reflects the local culture with handcrafted touches.
  • Onboard service: Includes a snacks and drinks trolley with treats inspired by Peruvian flavours.

Inca Rail : Voyager Train

Inca Rail’s Voyager train is another excellent option for travellers who want to combine comfort with memorable experiences. This train is equipped with comfortable seats and panoramic windows that ensure an uninterrupted view of the Andean landscapes and the beautiful jungle between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes.

Main Characteristics:

  • Panoramic windows: Designed for optimal visibility of the Andean landscape and Urubamba River.
  • Relaxing atmosphere: Elegant and comfortable interiors, ideal for relaxing throughout the journey.
  • Quality service: Offers a personalised service, with a selection of local drinks and snacks.

Both trains are excellent options for travelers who wish to reach Machu Picchu while enjoying a comfortable and visually enriching journey. For the most part, many of our tourists opt for the standard service trains. The choice between the Expedition and Voyager usually depends on the level of comfort and additional services that the traveller prefers to enjoy during their journey to Machu Picchu town.

Inca Rail : The Premium & Lounge

Inca Rail’s “Premium & Lounge” service is a luxury train designed to offer an exclusive and comfortable travel experience to Machu Picchu. This service is renowned for its focus on maximum comfort and unparalleled attention to detail, making every moment of the journey part of a memorable experience.

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Panoramic Trains to Machu Picchu

Both Inca Rail and Peru Rail offer panoramic trains to Aguas Calientes.

Peru Rail : Vistadome Train

This train is characterised by its large windows that extend up to the roof, allowing passengers to observe the passing landscape from multiple angels. There is also a live Andean cultural show throughout the journey, hoping to entertain you through native garments and dancing. The onboard service offers a selection of drinks and snacks inspired by Peruvian flavours.

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Inca Rail : 360° Train

Inca Rail’s 360° train is one of the most innovative and attractive options to travel to Machu Picchu. It stands out through its offering of an unparalleled panoramic experience. This train is specially designed to maximize the view of the impressive landscape of the Sacred Valley through large windows and an open-air observatory car, making it a particular favourite of photography lovers

One of the unique attractions of the 360° train is its impressive open-air and cool carriage. This train also offers a festive atmosphere through live music and traditional dance. It also has an onboard snack bar.

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Luxury Trains to Machu Picchu

The luxury trains to Machu Picchu offer an unparalleled experience, combining exceptional comfort with first class service and spectacular views. Perfect for those who wish to enjoy the journey to this wonder of the world with a touch of exclusivity and elegance. Here are some of the most outstanding luxury trains:

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Peru Rail : Sacred Valley Train

The Sacred Valley Train connects together several key locations within the Sacred Valley. These include the city of Cusco, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo. Most of the services end their journey at the Machu Picchu station in Aguas Calientes. This unique service allows passengers to enjoy the journey to Machu Picchu from multiple different locations in the heart of the Sacred Valley.

Peru Rail : Belmond Hiram Bingham

Peru Rail’s world-famous Belmond Hiram Bingham train is arguably the most elegant way to travel to Machu Picchu. From the moment to cast your eyes on this train, you will appreciate its unapparelled elegance and grandeur. It is named after the explorer who rediscovered the ruins of Machu Picchu in 1911. The Belmond Hiram Bingham offers an experience reminiscent of the golden age of the railroad.

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Features :

  • All Inclusive Service: Includes a selection of gourmet meals, wines and freshly made cocktails.
  • Live Entertainment: Passengers will be treated to entertainment through Peruvian music and dance.
  • Epoque Decoration: Elegant interiors that evoke the style of the 1920s.
  • Observation and Dining Cars: Spacious and luxuriously decorated, perfect for admiring the scenery.
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Inca Rail : Private Train

Inca Rail’s Private train is an exclusive luxury option for those who desire a personalised, private travel experience to Machu Picchu. This service is defined by its privacy, exceptional comfort and meticulous attention to detail. The Private Train offers its passengers an unforgettable journey in an intimate and sophisticated environment. Families and small groups have the ability to reserve entire carriages, enjoying the comfort of exclusive attention from the staff, a private chef, and spacious and comfortable seating.

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Inca Rail : First Class Train

Inca Rail’s First Class service is another of its luxury train options that offers an enriching and comfortable experience to Machu Picchu. This service is designed to provide a high level of comfort and exclusivity, ensuring passengers enjoy every moment of their journey in an elegant and relaxing environment. The exclusive attention and first class amenities will guarantee passengers have an unforgettable journey.

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Machu Picchu Train Schedules and Routes

In the Cusco region there are several train stations where trains depart to Machu Picchu. Choosing the right station is crucial to optimize your itinerary, considering both the train schedule and the duration of the trip to Aguas Calientes, the closest town to the citadel of Machu Picchu.

  • Wanchaq train station
  • San Pedro Station
  • Poroy station
  • Ollantaytambo train station
  • The Sacred Valley Station
  • Aguas Calientes train station

Trains from San Pedro to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) :

At the San Pedro station in Cusco the only company providing service is PeruRail. These trains run a longer route to Machu Picchu and operate on two specific schedules. Please be aware that these trains only operate during the dry season, which runs from late April to late December.

The station is located next to the San Pedro Market, just a 10-minute walk from Cusco’s main square, the ‘Plaza de Armas’. The train journey offers enchanting views as you leave Cusco, as the train winds through the province of Anta and the Huarocondo canyon, before entering the Sacred Valley. It then follows the course of the Urubamba River to the town of Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. The journey takes 5 hours in total, ideal for travellers who want to be more involved in the beautiful scenery.

TrainDeparts San Pedro:Arrives in Aguas Calientes:
PeruRail Expedition 3106:40 hrs09:54 hrs
PeruRail Vistadome 3106:40 hrs09:54 hrs
PeruRail Expedition 20307:30 hrs12:11 hrs
PeruRail Vistadome 20307:30 hrs12:11 hrs

Trains from Poroy station to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) :

Poroy is a small town located on the outskirts of Cusco 16km from the city center. The station is the closet place after Cusco for departures for those who do not wish to venture into the Sacred Valley. If you would like to take the train from Poroy, you’ll need to take a car for 40 minutes to board the train at the station.

Train Departs Poroy:Arrives in Aguas Calientes:
PeruRail Expedition 3306:40 hrs09:54 hrs
PeruRail Expedition 3306:40 hrs09:54 hrs
PeruRail Expedition 3107:35 hrs10:52 hrs
PeruRail Vistadome 20307:35 hrs10:52 hrs
PeruRail Expedition 20308:25 hrs12:11 hrs
PeruRail Vistadome 20308:35 hrs12:11 hrs
Belmond Hiram Bingham 1109:05 hrs12:24 hrs

Trains from Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu) to San Pedro (Cusco) :

This train has very late schedules as well as this route is considered the longest.

TrainDeparts Aguas Calientes:Arrives in Cusco:
PeruRail Vistadome 3216:4321:23
PeruRail Expedition 3216:4321:23
PeruRail Vistadome 60417:2321:52
PeruRail Expedition 60417:2321:52

Trains Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) to Poroy station :
Hiram Bingham Train :

If you are embarking on a full day tour to Machu Picchu, departing and returning to the city of Cusco in one day, then you can choose to take the 4-hour train from Aguas Calientes to Poroy station. If you would like to take the train to Poroy, you’ll then need to take a car for 40 minutes back to the city of Cusco.

TrainDeparts Aguas Calientes:Arrives in Poroy:
PeruRail Expedition 3415:2019:05 
PeruRail Vistadome 3415:2019:05
PeruRail Vistadome 3216:4320:23
PeruRail Expedition 3216:4320:23
PeruRail Vistadome 60417:2320:52
PeruRail Expedition 60417:2320:52
Belmond Hiram Bingham 1217:5021:16

Most popular trains for travelling to Machu Picchu

The most popular tourist route to Aguas Calientes is from the town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. To reach Ollantaytambo, you need to take a car from the city of Cusco for 2 hours through the Sacred Valley. Alternatively, visitors can book a space on a full day tour of the Sacred Valley, which terminates in Ollantaytambo. The onward train journey to Aguas Calientes from there is 1 hour 45 minutes.

Peru Rail Trains from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) :

TrainDeparts Ollantaytambo:Arrives in Aguas Calientes:
Expedition 7105:0506:37
Expedition 8106:1007:40
Vistadome 30107:0508:27
Expedition 8307:4509:15
Observatory 8307:4509:15
Vistadome 60108:0009:25
Expedition 3308:2909:54
Vistadome 3308:2909:54
Vistadome 50108:5310:29
Vistadome 3109:1510:52
Expedition 3109:1510:52
Vistadome 20310:3212:11
Expedition 20310:3212:11
Belmond Hiram Bingham 1110:5312:24
Expedition 9111:5213:34
Expedition 7312:5514:25
Vistadome 7312:5514:25
Vistadome Observatory 30313:2714:50
Vistadome 60315:3717:02
Expedition 7519:0420:45
Vistadome 7519:0420:45
Expedition 5121:0022:45

Inca Rail Trains from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) :

TrainDeparts Ollantaytambo:Arrives in Aguas Calientes:
The Voyager 4106:4008:01
The Voyager 6107:2208:48
360° Train 6107:2208:48
The Voyager 4311:1512:41
Premium Lounge 4311:1512:41
The Voyager 6512:3614:00
The Voyager 4516:3618:09
The Voyager 6719:2721:09

PeruRail Trains from Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) to Ollantaytambo :

TrainDeparts Aguas Calientes:Arrives in Ollantaytambo:
Expedition 5005:3507:44
Expedition 7208:5310:52
Vistadome Observatory 30210:5512:32
Vistadome 60212:4614:19
Vistadome 20413:3715:04
Expedition 7414:5516:31
Vistadome 7414:5516:31
Expedition 3415:2017:08
Vistadome 3415:2017:08
Vistadome 30415:4817:29
Expedition 50416:2218:10
Vistadome Observatory 50416:2218:10
Vistadome 3216:4318:31
Expedition 3216:4318:31
Vistadome 60417:2319:02
Expedition 604 17:2319:02
Vistadome 60618:1019:51
Expedition 8418:2020:05
Vistadome 8418:2020:05
Expedition 8620:5022:20
Expedition 7621:5023:37
Vistadome 7621:5023:37

Inca Rail Trains from Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) to Ollantaytambo :

TrainDeparts Aguas Calientes:Arrives in Ollantaytambo:
The Voyager 4208:3010:10
The Voyager 6210:3212:12
360° Train 6210:3212:12
The Voyager 4414:3016:04
The Voyager 6416:1217:50
360° Train 6416:1217:50
The Voyager 4619:0020:41
Premium Lounge 4619:0020:41
The Voyager 6620:2021:59
The Voyager 6821:3022:54

Which is the best train to Machu Picchu?

Choosing the best train to travel to Machu Picchu depends on your personal preferences, budget and the experience you want to have. Peru Rail and Inca Rail are the two main companies that offer train services from Cusco and the Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes, the closest town to Machu Picchu.

Frequently asked questions: trains to Machu Picchu

Is it possible to visit Machu Picchu without taking a train?

The route, known as ‘Machu Picchu by Car’, is less frequented owing to its 2-day duration. It includes a combination of bus journeys and trekking. Most of the trail sections can be strenuous and, in the rainy season, the route presents certain risks that make it inadvisable. On this basis, we don’t recommend undertaking this route during the months of heavy rainfall. Hence the more popular route by train.

How long is the train ride?

The duration of the trip by train is dependent on the station of departure. The longest journey is the direct train from Cusco (San Pedro) to Aguas Calientes. This route takes a total of 4 hours and 20 minutes. The shortest route is from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, which has a duration of 1 hour 45 minutes.

Where do the trains to Machu Picchu depart from?

Most of the trains depart within the city of Cusco and outside.

  • Wanchaq train station
  • San Pedro Station
  • Poroy station
  • Ollantaytambo train station
  • The Sacred Valley Station
  • Aguas Calientes train station