Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world is known to some as The Lost City of Incas. Machu Picchu is on every traveler’s bucket list. Though the icon of Incan civilisation can be visited on a guided tour, this is a complete guide on getting to Machu Picchu by yourself.

To get to Machu Picchu, you would need to reach the town Aguas Calientes, the closest access point atleast a day before your trip. Here are some options on reaching Aguas Calientes from Cusco and going onward to Machu Picchu.

Cusco-Hidro Electrica (Public Transport):

Cusco-Santa Maria-Santa Teresa-Hidro Electrica-Aguas Calientes-Machu Picchu.

Cusco – Santa Maria

Busses to Quillabamba leaves from Cusco’s Santiago bus depot, a small terminal mainly used by locals. A taxi from the centre should cost not more than PEN 5. The bus passes through Ollantaytambo, Urubumba and Santa Maria. It takes 07 hours and costs PEN 20. Alternatively, you can take a mini bus which departs regularly from the stop next to the bus station, it takes 4 hours and costs PEN 30

Santa Maria – Santa Teresa

Once in Santa Maria, you would have to take a bus to Santa Teresa. It takes 1.5 hours to get to Santa Teresa and costs PEN 6.

Santa Teresa – Hidro Electrica

From Santa Teresa you have two options to get to Hidroelectrica, you can either take a bus for PEN 5 or walk for 2 hours.

Cost: 36 Soles | Journey Time: 9 Hours |

Cusco to Hidro Electrica (Private vehicle):

Cusco-Hidro Electrica-Aguas Calientes-Machu Picchu.

Streets of Cusco are flanked by travel agencies selling different types of tours to Machu Picchu. You can walk-in to one of those and book a transport straight to Hidroelectrica. Most agencies operates a mini van on this route. It takes 6-7 hours to get to Hidroelectrica from Cusco and costs between PEN 65-70.

From Hidro Electrica – Aguas Calientes:

From Hidroelectrica you can walk to Aguas Calientes or go by train.

By Walk:

The van terminates at the station next to the only restaurant in Hidroelectrica. From the terminal, just cross the bridge and turn left and continue until you see the railway track. Walk along the railway track for 2 hours and you would get to Aguas Calientes train station.

By Train:

Trains are operated by Peru Rail. If you don’t have a ticket booked in advance,  it is possible to buy one across the counter at the train station in Hidroelectrica. It costs USD 10.

From Cusco to Aguas Calientes (by train):

There are regular train services from Ollantaytambo, a town known for its ruins. Ollantaytambo is located 1hr 45 mins drive away from Cusco. There are collectivos leaving from Calle Pavitos in Cusco every 30 minutes. From Ollantaytambo train station there are regular departures to Aguas Calientes and the price would vary somewhere between 55-85 USD one way each person.

You can also take the train from Cusco. This option would be more expensive than the former. The pictursque journey through the Sacred Valled takes about and hour and 45 minutes too.

It’s recommended to buy tickets well in advance through Peru Rail’s website or from the office near the main square plaza de armas in Cusco.

Cusco Machu Picchu

Aguas Calientes:

Aguas Calientes is a small town and the only access point to Machu Picchu. The town survives on tourism hence everything is exorbitantly priced.

Where to stay in Aguas Calientes:

Pirwa Machu Picchu Hostel offers shared dorms and private rooms. Prices normally includes continental breakfast,Wi-Fi, hot water, luggage storage.

Hostel Amaru has a coffee and a  bar, a billiard table and internet access downstairs, the staff are very friendly and helpful, this hostel is great if you’re on a budget and is located just meters from the hot springs.

Camping Municipal is ideal if you carry a tent. Its located next to the bridge on the road to Machu Picchu and costs PEN 15 per tent.

Where to Eat in Aguas Calientes:

There are plenty of pizzerias in town. Menu del dia Almuerzo (Menu of the day – Lunch) is a set menu which is costs PEN 10. However, you can find budget options in the town’s Central Market located just a block away from the main square. Lunch menu’s are priced from PEN 8 and there are plenty of juice stalls as well.

Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu:

To get to Machu Picchu from Aguas calientes there are two options.

By Bus:

There are busses leaving from the bus station next to the main square every 10 minutes from 5:00 in the morning. It is better to buy the ticket across the counter in advance by presenting your passport and Machu Picchu’s entrance ticket. The queue builds up quite early in the morning. There are coffee stalls and fast food stalls open during this hour so you can pick up some snacks whilst in queue.

One way ticket costs USD 10, it takes 25 minutes to get to the main entrance of Machu Picchu.


You can also go hiking to Machu Picchu from Aguas calientes. The gate to the bridge that links Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu opens at 05:00 AM. The bridge is 10-15 minutes walk away from the town’s main square. The trail is quite steep, ensure to carry enough water and a flash light.

At Machu Picchu:

Ticket to Machu Picchu would let you go in and out thrice during your visit on the same day as there are no toilets or restaurants inside the park. Food and beverages are much more expensive than Aguas Calientes.

At the entrance of the park every visitor gets frisked and the passport is verified against the ticket. It is prohibited to carry food inside the park however you can carry some snacks and protein bars to keep you going whilst exploring the wonder of the world.

Getting Back to Cusco:

If you are planning on returning to Cusco from Hidroelectrica by bus then be there before 02:30 PM as busses leave by 03:00 PM.

Recommended Tour Companies:

  1. Machu Picchu Tours
  2. Encuentros Peru Adventure
  3. Happy Gringo Tours
  4. Machu Picchu Amazon Peru
  5. Machu Picchu Peru Cusco
  6. SAMEX Tours Peru

13 comments on “Ways To Get To Machu Picchu from Cusco

  1. I stumbled upon your post while looking for the cheapest option to get to Machu Picchu. It is very helpful. I followed your tips and I had a fantastic experience. Totally worth.

    • Dear Fredy,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am glad that you found my tips helpful. Thank you for your kind words. Keep Exploring!

  2. Awesome story! What did or do you advise as equipment (bags, clothes etc)? Currently I am living for half a year in Santiago, Chile (+100L luggage), but want to visit Machu.

    • Hi Jeroen,

      Travel agencies in Cusco normally allow upto 5-6 Kgs to carry. Although most hostels/hotels in Cusco will let you store your luggage for free while you are away.

  3. I recently met a well travelled friend who told me she had tears in her eyes when she went to Machu Pichu. It was an overwhelming experience to her. I would like to go there. The guide you made is of great help!

  4. A very well written detailed post covering all the details for reaching to Machu Picchu. Before your post I was always under the impression that one can do only guided tours here but thanks for breaking that myth. The Machu Picchu is on my bucket list and your guide is going to be super helpful to us.

  5. This is a perfect info guide for those who are on a budget. And even if you are not, it does help you DYI this trip. So far I have heard of only guided tours. Good to be able to do this on your own.

  6. The post is packed with lots of useful information. Machu Picchu. This is one place we would definitely like to head out to. This information is going to be very invaluable for us at that stage..

  7. I thought it was impossible to get done with Machu Picchu without a guided tour. Thanks for penning this extremely detailed guide, this is surely going to help lots of people. I wish to visit someday.

  8. Thanks for this very informative post about getting to Machu Picchu. It’s good to know there are ways too get there without having to hike that vertical climb. I don’t think I’d make it!

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