Two ways to see Machu Picchu by train! This is a great way to see a little bit of the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu for those who are short of time.
Option A – Adventure! If you know you want to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, or if visiting Machu Picchu at dawn would be your dream-come-true, this option is for you! You’ll begin your tour by travelling through the Sacred Valley, stopping to visit the quaint weaving village of Chinchero and the ruins of Ollantaytambo on your way to the train station.
From here, travel by train through gorgeous, changing vistas until reaching Aguas Calientes where you’ll spend the night. The next morning, wake up early in order to visit Machu Picchu by the early morning light, with the option to do a Machu Picchu hike. Then, take an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo, arriving in Cusco by private transport in the early evening.
The downside to this option is that you’ll be sharing your Machu Picchu by train tour with a thousand other people…
Option B – Taking it slow. This Machu Picchu by train itinerary goes against the grain as we take you on a circuit that runs opposite to what most agencies do – meaning you get to avoid the largest crowds and enjoy more quality time visiting the iconic highlights of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
We travel by car to Ollantaytambo to catch an early train to Aguas Calientes, arriving in time for lunch. We enter Machu Picchu in the afternoon, when the majority of the crowds have dispersed giving us the chance to enjoy this impressive site in relative quiet.
After an overnight in Aguas Calientes, we head back to Ollantaytambo for a late morning visit to the ruins above this quaint city. On our way back to Cusco from there, we stop in the renowned weaving village of Chinchero.
The downside to this option is that you cannot do either of the Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain hikes, as these are only available in the morning.
Why visit Machu Picchu by train?
Machu Picchu, that famous Inca citadel located in the heart of the Peruvian Andes, is one of the world’s most well known archaeological sites. “Machu Picchu” is a compound Quechua word that means “old peak” or “old mountain”. The famous mountain that faces Machu Picchu, the one that appears in most of the classic views of the site, is Huayna Picchu, which means “young peak”.
Remember that scans of the children’s passports need to accompany the bookingin order to be eligible for the discount.
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After getting picked up at your Cusco hotel around 8am, we head to the Sacred Valley. Our first stop is Chinchero, a small village famous for its ancient weaving tradition. After a short visit, we continue to Ollantaytambo where we can have a tour of its interesting ruins followed by some free time to explore this lovely living Inca village, with its cobblestone streets and stone buildings. Do a little shopping, wander or enjoy coffee and a treat at one of the town’s cute cafes. We recommend Hearts Café, a social enterprise run by the NGO Living Hearts. Proceeds from the café support children in the villages surrounding Ollantaytambo. Lunch is on your own today.
In the afternoon we will take the train to Aguas Calientes, a stunning 1.5h journey through the magnificent Vilcanota Canyon. Arriving at Aguas Calientes, we will check into our accommodations. Time permitting, you can explore this village to do some souvenir shopping or check out the town’s namesake hot springs! We will have dinner together before tucking in for an early night, in preparation for tomorrow’s pre-dawn start!
Rise and shine! After our pre-dawn wake-up call we take one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu in order to appreciate this World Heritage Site and one of the Modern Wonders of the World in the early morning light. Your 4h visit to Machu Picchu can be spent exploring some of the alternative routes, like the Inca Bridge, after which your guide will give you a 2-3h walking tour of the historic citadel.
If you’re feeling adventurous you may wish to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, but take note: this requires an extra permit, and they can sell out well in advance! Be sure to tell us at booking if you would like to add one of these hikes. For more tips on what to see, check out our Visiting Machu Picchu page.
After visiting Machu Picchu, you can take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes (or walk down!). From there, we return to Cusco in the afternoon by the Expedition (tourist class) train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, where we will be met by our driver who will transfer you directly back to your hotel in Cusco. Total travel time is about 4 hours from Aguas Calientes to Cusco.
If you’d like to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain , let us know at the time of booking as it requires a separate permit.
We start our journey early, driving from Cusco to Ollantaytambo in time to catch a morning train to Aguas Calientes. After lunch, we will head up to Machu Picchu by bus in order to appreciate this World Heritage Site and one of the Modern Wonders of the World in the relative quiet of the afternoon. With the largest crowds gone, you will have an exclusive chance to tour Machu Picchu with your guide in a more relaxed atmosphere. Your 4h visit to Machu Picchu can be spent exploring some of the alternative routes, like the Inca Bridge, after which your guide will give you a 2-3h walking tour of the historic citadel.
After visiting Machu Picchu, you can take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes (or walk down!). We’ll have dinner together before spending the night in our Standard hotel.
Leaving Aguas Calientes early, we arrive in Ollantaytambo in the late morning. This is the best time of day to visit the ruins that overlook this quaint living Incan town. You may have some free time to explore this lovely village, with its cobblestone streets and stone buildings. Do a little shopping, wander or enjoy coffee and a treat at one of the town’s cute cafes. We recommend Hearts Café, a social enterprise run by the NGO Living Hearts. Proceeds from the café support children in the villages surrounding Ollantaytambo. Lunch is on your own today.
From here, we continue on to Chinchero, a small village famous for its ancient weaving tradition. After a chance to explore Chinchero’s beautiful church and one of its many weaving centres, we continue our journey back to Cusco where you will be dropped off at your hotel.