Cities: Cusco, Aguas Calientes, Poroy // Category: Travel // Reading time: 8-10 min
Before you are on the way to your unforgettable adventure to the famous Machu Picchu, we would like to present you the different trains to Machu Picchu and what you should pay attention to. Although the trains to Machu Picchu are not the cheapest, they offer you some time to relax and to enjoy the beautiful nature of Cusco's Sacred Valley along the Urubamba River before arriving at the sanctuary of Machu Picchu. Apart from the beautiful scenery you will see typically dressed locals and small colorful villages. But the big question is what train options there are for Machu Picchu and which one to take.
Important points about the train ride
Before we turn to this question and look at the different train options, let's take a closer look at three important points:
1.) There is no train that stops "directly" at Machu Picchu. The last stop is Aguas Calientes, a small village below Machu Picchu. From here you can either pay for the bus (included in our Machu Picchu day tour) that takes about 20 minutes to the entrance or hike up yourself for around 1.5 hours.
2.) Peru Rail and Inca Rail are the only train companies offering the train journey to Aguas Calientes. We have already tried both of them and prefer PeruRail, because their train seemed newer and the service including snacks was better. Our ride on the Inca Rail train was so shaky that we thought our coffee would fly right through the train. The price differences of the two trains are usually very low and can rise slightly in the high season.
3.) Neither we as a tour operator nor you booking online can influence the seating choice. If you travel as a couple, however, it is almost always possible to arrange the seats so that you can to sit next to each other (the cabin crew will also help if the seats were not arranged next to each other in advance).
The different trains to Machu Picchu
When you are heading to Aguas Calientes, you will have the choice between three different train options that Peru Rail offers: Expedition, Vistadome and the luxury Hiram Bingham Train. Let's take a loot at the 3 different train options to get to Machu Picchu:
1. Expedition Train
The Expedition Train is the touristy standard version to get to Aguas Calientes and is equipped with a half-panorama window. On board you will get a little snack and a hot or cold beverage. For more infos watch the following video about the Expedition Train.
The price for a one-way trip is around US $50-63 each.
2. Vistadome Train
The Vistadome Train is the more luxurious option that has carriages with panoramic windows to the sides and on the ceiling so you can enjoy the landscape on comfortable leather seats. On board, you will be offered a snack elaborated with regional Andean products. On the way back, there will be a 20-minute show on board including a typical dance offered by the staff. For more infos check the following video to the Vistadome Train.
The price for a one-way trip is around US $70-86 each.
3. Belmond Hiram Bingham Train
The most expensive of the three train option is the Belmond Hiram Bingham Train, which was named after the discoverer of the Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham. The exclusive Belmond Hiram Bingham Train features an elegant dining car, a bar and unique views through the open-air roof of the wagon that makes the experience even more spectacular. The service is excellent and includes a welcome cocktail, a brunch and a delicious lunch. In addition to that, you can choose from an extensive wine selection. The wagons of the train were specially decorated in the Pullman style from the 1920s and are equipped with polished wood furniture and large, comfortable armchairs. In case you tend to the luxury Belmond Hiram Bingham Train, then check the list with all the services in detail.
In case you are not sure what the different train options include we invite you to check the detailed comparison of the three different trains to Machu Picchu.
Timetable of the Trains to Machu Picchu
As the trains of Peru Rail all have their own timetable, we will give you a quick overview so you can see which option suits you best. We highly recommend you to book the tickets at least 1 week in advance and in the high season even earlier if possible as the best options tend to sell out fast.
Timetable Expedition: Ollantaytambo → Machu Picchu
Timetable Expedition: Machu Picchu → Ollantaytambo
Please note that it is not possible to travel from Poroy to Machu Picchu with the Vistadome Train from the beginning of January until the end of April due to track maintenance. Therefore, the Vistadome Train departs only from Ollantaytambo during this period. The journey from Poroy to Aguas Calientes takes about 3.5 hours.
Timetable Vistadome Ollantaytambo → Machu Picchu
Timetable Vistadome Machu Picchu → Ollantaytambo
Hiram Bingham Train
If you choose the Belmond Hiram Bingham Train please consider that it does not operate on the last Sunday of each month. The train normally departs from Poroy, but there is an exception during track maintenance between January and April. During this time, you will be transferred from Peru Rail by bus to the Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado in the Sacred Valley, where you will begin your train journey. On the way back you will be taken from there to your hotel in Cusco (as long as it is in the city center).
Hiram Bingham: Poroy → Machu Picchu
Hiram Bingham: Machu Picchu → Poroy
If you are planning to do the Machu Picchu day tour, we recommend spending the night before the tour in Aguas Calientes so you can sleep a bit longer and start the tour more comfortably. In other words, take the train from Ollantaytambo or Poroy the night before to Aguas Calientes. Thus, you can avoid the tourist crowds in the morning and enjoy most of the first rays of sunshine on the Machu Picchu. If you are not sure yet if you would like to do a Machu Picchu day tour, a 2-day tour with the Sacred Valley - or a multi-day tour including Machu Picchu feel free to contact us and we will gladly help you.
The tour to Machu Picchu is an absolute must when traveling through Peru. Which train option is right for you depends on how much you want to spend and on how comfortable you want to travel. Basically, the Expedition Train is absolutely sufficient, as the ride is only 1.5 hours and really not too long. But for those who prefer a better view, more comfort and on-board entertainment, the Vistadome Train is the right choice. When it’s all about making the tour an unforgettable experience from beginning to end, and when the costs don’t matter all too much, the exclusive Hiram Bingham Train is the perfect train option to Machu Picchu for you. We hope that this blog post could help you and allows you to have a great time at Machu Picchu.
Have you already done the tour to Machu Picchu by train? Which train option did you choose and how was it? We look forward to your answers in the comments :-).
Photo credits: Peru Rail