- Trains are the most popular mode of transport to Machu Picchu
- There are three stations that operate trains to Machu Picchu; Cusco, Poroy and Ollantaytambo
- Two train companies; PeruRail and Inca Rail offer train services to Machu Picchu
- Both companies have three different levels of train; Economy, Superior and Deluxe
- PeruRail (Poroy and Ollantaytambo); Expedition, Vistadome and Hiram Bingham Service
- Inca Rail (Cusco, Poroy and Ollantaytambo); Voyager, 360° and First Class Service
- Both companies offer multiple train departure times for both ways
Stations to Machu Picchu
Most people visit Machu Picchu by train as this is the quickest way to get to Machu Picchu. The train journey itself is spectacular and will give you the chance to fully enjoy the landscapes traveling through. Almost all trains are equipped with panoramic windows as well as rooftop windows giving you the best possible views. This being said, there are however several options you can choose from if you travel to Machu Picchu by train. First there is the train station you would like to depart from. There are three stations from where you can catch the train to Machu Picchu.
Ollantaytambo (Ollanta) Station is located in the Sacred Valley about 1.5 hours drive from Cusco.This is the last station before Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) and the most popular one. The train drive from Ollanta takes about 1.5 hours and is the most beautiful part of the journey as it shows you the transition between the highlands the lush cloud forests Machu Picchu is surrounded by. The popularity of this station is down to several reasons; the total travel time from Cusco is about 3 hours, which is the shortest of all options; it is the station with most departures and arrivals and its located in the Sacred Valley making it easier accessible for the travelers staying in the Sacred Valley upon arriving to Cusco. This is also the only station that operates all year round.
Poroy Station is the station located about 45 minutes drive from Cusco and for the Peru Rail Company the train station closest to Cusco. It has 2 morning departures and 2 evening arrivals from both train companies. The station is best known as the main departure station for the luxury PeruRail Hiram Bingham Train as well as the luxury First Class and Private Inca Rail Trains. The trains from Poroy Station also stop in Ollantaytambo Station and the total travel time is about 3 hours and 20 minutes. During the low season, December through March, trains do not operate from Poroy Station.
Cusco Station (San Pedro Station)
The Cusco Station is located in the city center next to San Pedro Market and used to be the most important station to get to Cusco till PeruRail stopped using the station in 2010. Since December 2019 however, Inca Rail started operating trains again from Cusco Station. For 2020 they will operate 3 morning departures as well as 3 afternoon and evening arrivals from Cusco Station. The total journey from Cusco to Machu Picchu by train takes approximately 4 hours and 20 minutes. The views one gets from Cusco on departure and especially arrival in the evening are quite spectacular it must be said. During the low season, December through March, trains do not operate from Cusco Station.
Once you figured out the station that suits your itinerary best, next you have to decide on the train company to use; PeruRail or Inca Rail. Both companies offer several different train levels as well as different departure and arrival times. Keep in mind that if you want to depart from Cusco station for the moment you can only take Inca Rail Trains; the other two stations are being served by both Machu Picchu Train Companies.
This is the longest standing company of the two and the ones that owns part of the concession. They therefore have more control over the train times giving them slightly more comfortable departure times from both stations. PeruRail no longer operates from Cusco Station so all their trains during April through November depart either from Poroy or Ollantaytambo Station. In the low season, December through March, PeruRail only operates their trains from Ollantaytambo Station. PeruRail offers three types of services for the trains to Machu Picchu; Expedition Trains, Vistadome Trains and the luxury Hiram Bingham Train.
PeruRail Expedition Train
This is the entry level train to Machu Picchu and provides well sized carriages and seats with a two by two distribution, some with tables. Expedition Trains also have large panoramic windows as well as rooftop windows for the best views. Restrooms are on board and catering is available at additional cost.
PeruRail Vistadome Train
The Vistadome is the superior level train to Machu Picchu and has less seats per wagon allowing for more legroom. Oversized and rooftop windows are the main feature of the train which also includes snacks and beverages as well as onboard entertainment (fashion & folkloric dance show).
PeruRail/Belmond Hiram Bingham Train
The Hiram Bingham Train is by far the most plush and luxurious way to travel to Machu Picchu. The train operates daily (except for Sunday’s) and departs from Poroy Station. About 2 hours into the journey it also stops in Ollantaytambo Station from where it is another 1.5 hours to get to Aguas Calientes. The Hiram Bingham service is all about the experience and includes a welcoming ceremony, and elaborated brunch on the train to Machu Picchu and a 4 course dinner on the return train. The train is also equipped with a bar and viewing wagon allowing its travelers to fully enjoy the journey in the most luxurious way. For more information about PeruRail and their trains, please have a look at their website; PeruRail
Inca Rail is a newer company that started operations back in 2008 and in the meantime has firmly placed itself as the company that puts the checks in place in order for PeruRail not to take the monopoly. In contrast to PeruRail, Inca Rail is somewhat more innovative and cheaper in price, all in an attempt to gain a larger portion of the market. Slowly and gradually their number of passengers are increasing and consequently their services and operations. The newest feature from Inca Rail is that they reinitiated the train service from Cusco (San Pedro) Station which was annulled by PeruRail some years back. This provides travelers with a direct connection between Cusco where flights arrive and Machu Picchu. It is not the quickest way as the drive takes almost 4.5 hours but is quite convenient not having to change vehicles. Inca Rail also operates three types of trains; the Voyager Train, the 360º Train and the First Class Train. Separate of these three they also have a luxury charter train for 10 people (this is the train Robert deNiro took some months back).
Inca Rail Voyager Train
The Voyager rain is the entry level train from Inca Rail and provides spacious wagons with large windows as well as rooftop windows and a 2x2 seating, some with tables. Snacks and beverages are also included.
Inca Rail 360º Train
The 360º Train is the superior option from Inca Rail and provides less seats per wagon and even larger panoramic and rooftop windows. The 360º Train also has an observatory wagon and provides a boxed lunch as well as beverages.
Inca Rail First Class Train
Equipped with the large panoramic and rooftop windows, this train also provides an observatory with balcony and bar for the travelers entertainment. A gourmet lunch or dinner is served and complimentary drinks are served while enjoying some live music.
For more information about Inca Rail and their trains, please have a look at their website; Inca Rail