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Lima to Machu Picchu

Everything you need to know


Planning a trip from Lima to Machu Picchu can be an exciting yet daunting task, with numerous transportation options and routes to consider. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various ways of reaching the iconic Inca citadel, taking into account different budgets and travel styles.

We’ll compare flying from Lima to Cusco versus taking a scenic bus journey through Nazca. You’ll learn about airline choices and their COVID-19 protocols as well as the benefits of choosing Cruz del Sur for your bus ride. Additionally, we will discuss the unique Peru Hop experience that offers a hop-on-hop-off bus service along popular destinations en route to Machu Picchu.

Once in Cusco, we’ll dive into train services available for traveling between Cusco and Aguas Calientes – gateway town to Machu Picchu – or how you can opt for public buses instead. For adventure seekers who prefer trekking, we’ve got you covered with information on classic trails like The Inca Trail or alternatives such as Salkantay Trek and Lares Trek.

Last but not least, get ready for an adrenaline-pumping multi-activity adventure with our detailed guide on The Inca Jungle Trek. Let’s explore the amazing possibilities of traveling from Lima to Machu Picchu!

Traveling from Lima to Machu Picchu

Embarking on a journey from Lima to Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience, filled with stunning landscapes and rich cultural history. With various transportation options available, it’s essential to choose the best one for your budget and travel style while considering COVID-19 protocols in 2023. In this section, we’ll explore different ways of reaching the ancient Incan citadel, including planes, buses, treks, and trains.

Comparing Transportation Options

To make an informed decision about your trip from Lima to Machu Picchu, you should first compare the available transportation options:

  • Air Travel: Flying is the quickest way to reach Cusco – the gateway city for most travelers heading towards Machu Picchu. It takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes by plane.
  • Buses: Buses offer a more affordable option but take significantly longer (around 21 hours) as they travel through Nazca before arriving in Cusco.
  • Treks: For adventure seekers who prefer exploring on foot or want a unique experience en route to Machu Picchu, there are several trekking routes like Classic Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek that can be considered.
  • Hop-on Hop-off Buses: A flexible choice allowing you to visit multiple destinations between Lima and Cusco at your own pace with sightseeing opportunities along the way using services like Peru Hop Experience.

Considering Your Budget And Travel Style

Your preferred mode of transport will depend on factors such as time constraints, budget limitations, and personal preferences. For those with limited time and a willingness to spend more, flying is the most practical solution. On the other hand, bus travel might be better suited for budget-conscious travelers who want to take in Peru’s diverse landscapes along their journey.

Adventure enthusiasts may opt for a trekking route like Classic Inca Trail, while those seeking flexibility and convenience can choose hop-on hop-off buses like Peru Hop Experience.

When planning your trip from Lima to Machu Picchu in 2023, it’s essential to consider any COVID-19 protocols that may still be in place. Ensure you check with airlines or bus companies regarding their safety measures and requirements before booking your tickets.

In this blog post, we’ll delve deeper into each transportation option available for reaching Machu Picchu from Lima – discussing flight options between Lima and Cusco; exploring bus journeys through Nazca; learning about different treks leading up to the ancient ruins; understanding how hop-on-hop-off buses work; and finally examining train or public bus routes once you’ve reached Cusco. So buckle up as we embark on an exciting adventure.

Exploring the journey from Lima to Machu Picchu can be a thrilling and fulfilling experience for any explorer. Next, we will explore the options available when flying from Lima to Cusco.

Key Takeaway: 

Embarking on a journey from Lima to Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience, with various transportation options available such as flying, taking the bus or embarking on treks. Your preferred mode of transport will depend on factors such as time constraints, budget limitations and personal preferences.


Flying from Lima to Cusco

A quick and convenient way to get to Machu Picchu is by taking a flight from Lima to Cusco. This option allows you to save time and energy, so you can fully enjoy your visit to the ancient Incan citadel. In this section, we will discuss flight duration, frequency, airline choices, and their COVID-19 protocols.

Flight Duration and Frequency

Flights between Lima and Cusco typically take around 1 hour and 20 minutes. Several airlines operate daily flights on this route with varying schedules throughout the day. It is advisable to reserve tickets ahead of time, as flights may be fully booked during the busier periods such as June-August.

Airline Choices and Their COVID-19 Protocols

There are a few airlines that offer flights between Lima and Cusco; however, Latam Airlines stands out for its excellent service quality combined with updated safety measures amidst the ongoing pandemic situation.

  • Latam Airlines: As one of South America’s largest carriers, Latam offers multiple daily flights between Lima and Cusco. They have implemented strict COVID-19 protocols, including mandatory face masks for passengers aged six years or older while onboard their aircraft. Additionally, they provide hand sanitizer at boarding gates along with enhanced cleaning procedures before each flight.
  • Sky Airline Peru: Sky Airline also operates several daily flights on this route but has fewer options compared to Latam Airlines. The company adheres to COVID-19 safety measures such as mandatory face masks, temperature checks at boarding gates, and thorough aircraft disinfection.
  • Viva Air Peru: This low-cost airline offers a limited number of flights between Lima and Cusco. Their COVID-19 guidelines include the use of face masks for passengers aged six years or older, hand sanitizer availability on board, and enhanced cleaning procedures.

To ensure a safe journey amidst the ongoing pandemic situation in 2023, it’s crucial to stay updated with each airline’s COVID-19 protocols before booking your flight. Make sure to check their websites regularly for any changes in policies or additional requirements that may affect your travel plans.

Travel Tips When Flying from Lima to Cusco

  1. Pack Light: Since most airlines have strict baggage allowances for domestic flights within Peru, try packing light to avoid paying extra fees for overweight luggage.
  2. Airport Transfers: Plan ahead by arranging airport transfers in both Lima and Cusco. You can book private taxis or shared shuttles online prior to your arrival.
  3. Coca Tea Consumption: To help alleviate altitude sickness symptoms upon arriving in Cusco (elevation: 11,152 ft), consider drinking coca tea which is widely available at hotels and local cafes throughout the city.

Flying from Lima to Cusco is an efficient way of reaching Machu Picchu while ensuring comfort during your journey. With multiple airline options and adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols, you can confidently plan your trip in 2023. Visit Machu Picchu, one of the world wonders, and explore the Inca citadel and the Peruvian jungle eyebrow. You can also take the classic Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek to reach Cusco. If you prefer a more direct route, take the Inca Rail or the Poroy Train Station. You can also travel directly to Aguas Calientes and then take a bus to reach Machu Picchu. Don’t forget to visit Nazca and the Nazca Lines during your trip. Enjoy your day trip and make the most of your visit to this Inca wonder.

Flying from Lima to Cusco is a relatively easy and quick journey, with multiple airline choices offering various COVID-19 protocols. Moving on, let’s take a look at the bus options from Lima to Cusco via Nazca for those who prefer traveling by land.

Key Takeaway: 

Flying from Lima to Cusco is a quick and convenient way to get to Machu Picchu. Multiple airlines operate daily flights on this route with varying schedules throughout the day, but Latam Airlines stands out for its excellent service quality combined with updated safety measures amidst the ongoing pandemic situation. It’s crucial to stay updated with each airline’s COVID-19 protocols before booking your flight in 2023.


Bus Options from Lima to Cusco via Nazca

For a more economical and picturesque journey, opt for the bus from Lima to Cusco via Nazca. The journey will take you through the fascinating town of Nazca, famous for its mysterious lines etched into the desert landscape. In this section, we’ll discuss the duration of the bus journey and why Cruz del Sur is considered one of Peru’s top bus companies for this route.

Journey Duration by Bus

The total travel time between Lima and Cusco by bus varies depending on factors such as stops along the way, traffic conditions, and weather. On average, it takes around 21 hours to cover approximately 1,100 kilometers (684 miles) between these two cities. Most buses make a stop in Nazca before continuing towards Cusco; some even offer optional tours of nearby attractions like sandboarding or visiting ancient aqueducts.

Benefits of Choosing Cruz del Sur

  • Comfort: Known as one of Peru’s best bus companies, Cruz del Sur offers comfortable seating options with reclining seats that allow passengers to rest during long journeys. Their buses also come equipped with air conditioning and onboard toilets for added convenience.
  • Safety: With safety being their top priority, Cruz del Sur has implemented strict COVID-19 protocols such as mandatory face mask usage while boarding/disembarking their vehicles or when moving within them during trips; they also provide hand sanitizer stations throughout each vehicle’s interior area so travelers can maintain proper hygiene practices at all times.
  • Entertainment: To help pass the time during your journey, Cruz del Sur buses come equipped with individual entertainment systems offering a variety of movies, music, and games. Furthermore, travelers can stay connected on their journey with the complimentary Wi-Fi access provided.
  • Meals: Depending on the class of service you choose (Economy or VIP), meals may be included in your ticket price. Typically, these consist of simple but tasty options like sandwiches or snacks accompanied by beverages such as water or soft drinks.

In addition to Cruz del Sur’s top-notch services and amenities mentioned above, Cruz del Sur also offers an online booking system that makes it easy for travelers to secure their tickets in advance. You can find schedules and pricing information directly on their website; keep in mind that prices tend to increase closer towards departure dates so booking early is recommended.

If you’re looking for more flexibility when exploring multiple destinations en route between Lima and Machu Picchu without having fixed travel plans ahead-of-time, then consider trying out Peru Hop, which provides hop-on hop-off bus experiences allowing tourists greater freedom over how long they spend at each stop along this popular tourist trail. In our next section titled “Hop-on Hop-off Buses – The Peru Hop Experience”, we’ll delve deeper into what makes this unique transport option stand apart from traditional buses operating within Peru today.

Bus options from Lima to Cusco via Nazca provide a great way for travelers to explore Peru, with the journey duration being relatively short. For those looking for more flexibility and adventure, hop-on hop-off buses offer an exciting alternative that can be tailored to individual needs.

Key Takeaway: 

Travelers can take a budget-friendly and scenic bus ride from Lima to Cusco via Nazca, with Cruz del Sur being one of Peru’s top bus companies for this route. The journey takes around 21 hours, with stops in Nazca before continuing towards Cusco; passengers can enjoy comfortable seating options, safety protocols such as mandatory face mask usage and hand sanitizer stations, entertainment systems offering movies and music, complimentary Wi-Fi access provided on the buses along with meals depending on the class of service chosen.


Hop-on Hop-off Buses – The Peru Hop Experience

If you’re looking for a more flexible and immersive way to travel from Lima to Machu Picchu, consider the Peru Hop experience. This hop-on hop-off bus service allows travelers to explore multiple destinations en route between Lima and Cusco at their own pace while enjoying sightseeing opportunities along the way.

Stops Included in a Typical Itinerary

A typical Peru Hop itinerary includes stops at several fascinating locations, allowing you to get an authentic taste of Peruvian culture, history, and natural beauty:

  • Paracas: Visit the stunning Paracas National Reserve or take a boat tour around the Ballestas Islands, known as “the poor man’s Galapagos.”
  • Nazca: Marvel at the mysterious Nazca Lines by taking an optional flight over these ancient geoglyphs or visit Chauchilla Cemetery with its well-preserved mummies.
  • Arequipa: Explore this beautiful colonial city surrounded by volcanoes and home to Santa Catalina Monastery – one of South America’s most impressive religious sites.
  • Puno & Lake Titicaca: Discover Puno’s rich cultural heritage before embarking on a boat trip across Lake Titicaca – visiting Uros Floating Islands and Taquile Island where traditional weaving techniques are still practiced today.

COVID-related Updates for 2023

In response to COVID-19 concerns, Peru Hop has implemented strict health guidelines ensuring your safety during your journey. Some measures include mandatory face masks, regular bus disinfection, and temperature checks before boarding. For the latest updates on their COVID-19 protocols, visit Peru Hop’s dedicated page.

With Peru Hop, you can choose from various ticket options depending on your travel preferences and time constraints. The most popular option is the “Full South to Cusco” pass that covers all stops mentioned above over a 6-day period. Alternatively, shorter passes are available for those with limited time or specific interests.

Besides offering flexibility in terms of itinerary planning, Peru Hop also provides valuable information about each destination – including recommended accommodations, activities, and local tips. Furthermore, knowledgeable guides accompany passengers throughout their journey ensuring an enriching experience every step of the way.

In summary:

  1. Hop-on hop-off buses like Peru Hop provide a flexible and convenient way to explore multiple destinations between Lima and Machu Picchu.
  2. A typical itinerary includes stops at Paracas National Reserve/Ballestas Islands (Paracas), Nazca Lines/Chauchilla Cemetery (Nazca), Santa Catalina Monastery (Arequipa), Puno & Lake Titicaca/Uros Floating Islands/Taquile Island (Puno).
  3. Strict health guidelines have been implemented in response to COVID-19 concerns ensuring passenger safety during their journey.

The Peru Hop Experience is a great way to explore the beautiful landscapes of Peru with ease and convenience. For those looking for an even more affordable option, taking a public bus from Cusco to Aguas Calientes is another viable alternative.

Key Takeaway: 

Peru Hop offers a flexible and immersive way to travel from Lima to Machu Picchu with hop-on hop-off buses. The itinerary includes stops at various destinations, such as Paracas National Reserve, Nazca Lines, Arequipa, Puno & Lake Titicaca. Strict health guidelines have been implemented in response to COVID-19 concerns ensuring passenger safety during their journey.

From Cusco to Aguas Calientes by Train or Bus

Once you’ve arrived in Cusco, your journey to Machu Picchu continues with the onward trip to Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo), the gateway town to the ancient Incan citadel. This small town serves as the gateway to the ancient Incan citadel and offers a range of accommodation options for travelers. There are two main ways to reach Aguas Calientes from Cusco: by train or by public bus.

Different Train Services Available

Traveling from Cusco to Aguas Calientes by train is a popular and picturesque route for many. There are several train services available that cater to different budgets and preferences:

  • Expedition: The Expedition service provides comfortable seating with large windows for enjoying panoramic views during your journey. The Expedition service is a great choice for those looking to travel without breaking the bank, yet still receive top-notch quality.
  • Vistadome: For those seeking a more luxurious experience, consider upgrading to Vistadome class which features glass ceilings, allowing passengers unobstructed views of the surrounding landscapes throughout their trip. Additionally, this service includes onboard entertainment such as traditional music performances and fashion shows featuring local textiles.

To book tickets for either train service, visit their respective websites (PeruRail Expedition, PeruRail Vistadome) well in advance since seats tend to fill up quickly during peak travel seasons.

How to Take a Public Bus from Cusco to Aguas Calientes

If you’re on a tight budget or prefer traveling by road, taking a public bus from Cusco to Aguas Calientes is another option. Unfortunately, there is no direct public bus route from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. Instead, you’ll need to take a combination of buses and taxis:

  1. First, catch a bus from Cusco’s main terminal (Terminal Terrestre de Cusco) heading towards Ollantaytambo. This journey takes approximately 2 hours and costs around $4 USD per person.
  2. Upon arrival in Ollantaytambo, hire a taxi for the short ride (around 20 minutes) down to the hydroelectric station near Machu Picchu Pueblo.
  3. From the hydroelectric station, board one of the regular shuttle buses which will transport you directly into Aguas Calientes town center within about an hour. The cost for this final leg ranges between $10-15 USD per person depending on demand and seasonality.

Taking this route requires more time and effort compared with train services but can save money if you’re willing to navigate multiple modes of transportation along your journey.

No matter which method of travel you choose – be it by train or public bus – arriving early in Aguas Calientes allows ample time for exploring its charming streets before embarking on your adventure up towards Machu Picchu itself.

Exploring the trekking routes to Aguas Calientes from Cusco can provide a thrilling alternative to traditional public transport.

Key Takeaway: 

Travelers going from Lima to Machu Picchu can reach the gateway town of Aguas Calientes by either train or public bus. The Expedition and Vistadome are two popular train services available, while taking a combination of buses and taxis is an option for those on a tight budget.

Trekking Options to Machu Picchu

For those seeking an adventurous route towards the ancient Incan citadel, there are various trekking options available. From classic Inca Trail treks to alternative routes like Salkantay or Lares, you can find a trail that suits your preferences and fitness levels. Let’s delve into these exciting trekking possibilities.

The Classic Inca Trail

The Classic Inca Trail is the most famous trek leading to Machu Picchu. This 4-day, 26-mile (42 km) journey takes you through breathtaking Andean landscapes, cloud forests, and fascinating archaeological sites before culminating at the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu itself. Due to its popularity and limited permits issued by the Peruvian government each day (500 permits per day, including guides and porters), it’s essential to book this trek well in advance – often six months or more ahead of time.

Salkantay Trek

If you’re looking for a less crowded but equally stunning experience, consider embarking on the Salkantay Trek. This 5-day hike covers approximately 46 miles (74 km) and offers diverse landscapes such as snow-capped mountains, lush jungles, glacial lakes, and hot springs along with impressive views of Mount Salkantay – one of Peru’s highest peaks standing at over 20,000 feet (6 km). Unlike the Inca Trail, there are no permit restrictions for the Salkantay Trek, making it a more accessible option.

Lares Trek

For travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path experience with a focus on local culture and tradition, the Lares Trek is an excellent choice. This 4-day trek takes you through remote Andean villages where you can witness traditional weaving techniques and interact with local Quechua-speaking communities. The trail covers approximately 21 miles (34 km) and offers spectacular mountain scenery without requiring advanced hiking skills or permits.

In addition to these popular treks, there are several other lesser-known trails that lead to Machu Picchu such as Choquequirao Trek and Vilcabamba Traverse. Each of these routes has its unique appeal in terms of landscape diversity, cultural experiences, difficulty levels, and duration. To make your decision easier:

  • Research each trek’s highlights: Understand what makes each route special by reading about their daily itineraries online or consulting guidebooks.
  • Evaluate your fitness level: Some treks require higher physical endurance than others; be honest with yourself about how much you can handle before committing to a specific route.
  • Consider booking through reputable tour operators: Booking guided tours ensures safety measures are followed while providing knowledgeable insights into history, flora/fauna along the way – check out companies like G Adventures, Intrepid Travel, or Alpaca Expeditions for well-reviewed options.

Exploring the trekking options to Machu Picchu is an exciting way to explore Peru and its ancient culture. For those looking for a multi-activity adventure, The Inca Jungle Trek offers a unique experience with daily itinerary highlights that are sure to excite first-time participants.

Key Takeaway: 

There are various trekking options available for those seeking an adventurous route towards Machu Picchu, including the famous Classic Inca Trail, the less crowded Salkantay Trek with diverse landscapes and no permit restrictions, and the off-the-beaten-path Lares Trek that offers a focus on local culture and tradition. It’s important to research each trek’s highlights, evaluate your fitness level honestly before committing to a specific route, and consider booking through reputable tour operators like G Adventures or Intrepid Travel for safety measures and knowledgeable insights into history along the way.

The Inca Jungle Trek – A Multi-Activity Adventure

If you’re looking for an exciting and less demanding option to reach Machu Picchu, the Inca Jungle Trek is perfect for you. This multi-activity adventure combines biking, hiking, ziplining, and rafting on your way to the ancient Incan citadel. It’s an excellent choice for travelers who want a mix of adventure without extreme physical challenges.

Daily Itinerary Highlights

The Inca Jungle Trek typically takes four days to complete and offers a variety of activities each day:

  • Day 1: Start with a thrilling downhill mountain bike ride from Abra Malaga pass (4,350 meters) through lush cloud forests down to Santa Maria village (1,200 meters). Marvel at the spectacular sight of snow-covered mountains and lush valleys as you journey.
  • Day 2: Embark on a scenic hike along original Inca paths that lead through coffee plantations and fruit orchards before reaching Santa Teresa village. Optionally participate in white-water rafting at Urubamba River for some adrenaline-pumping fun.
  • Day 3: Experience exhilarating ziplining across treetops with panoramic views of the surrounding mountainscape before continuing your trek towards Aguas Calientes -the gateway town at the base of the famed Incan ruins themselves.
  • Day 4: Rise early and take the bus up to Machu Picchu for a guided tour of the ancient Inca citadel. Afterward, return to Aguas Calientes for lunch before taking the train back to Cusco.

Tips for First-Time Participants

Before embarking on the Inca Jungle Trek, consider these helpful tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience:

  1. Fitness Level: While this trek is less demanding than others like the Classic Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek, it still requires a moderate level of fitness. Be certain to be in good physical condition before beginning your trek.
  2. Packing Essentials: Bring appropriate clothing and gear for various activities such as biking helmets, hiking boots, rain jackets, and swimwear for rafting. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, insect repellent, water bottles, or hydration packs.
  3. Selecting a Tour Operator: Choose a reputable tour operator that provides experienced guides and adheres to safety standards during adventure activities. Check online reviews from fellow travelers or consult with local travel agencies in Cusco.

The Inca Jungle Trek offers an unforgettable multi-activity adventure en route to Machu Picchu without the extreme physical challenges typically associated with other treks. By following our tips above along with the daily itinerary highlights outlined earlier, you’ll be well-prepared to embark upon this unique journey through Peru’s stunning landscapes.

Key Takeaway: 

The Inca Jungle Trek is a multi-activity adventure that combines biking, hiking, ziplining, and rafting to reach Machu Picchu. It’s an excellent choice for travelers who want a mix of adventure without extreme physical challenges. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience, consider fitness level, packing essentials, and selecting a reputable tour operator.

FAQs in Relation to Lima to Machu Picchu

How long does it take to travel from Lima to Machu Picchu?

The duration of the journey from Lima to Machu Picchu depends on the mode of transportation and itinerary you choose. A flight from Lima to Cusco takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, followed by a train or bus ride to Aguas Calientes that takes 2-4 hours, and then a short bus trip up the mountain. In total, this can be done in two days, but it is recommended to add extra days for acclimatization and exploration.

Is it possible to do a day trip from Lima to Machu Picchu?

A day trip from Lima to Machu Picchu is not advisable due to the long travel distances involved. The quickest route would involve flying between cities and taking trains or buses, but it still requires significant transit time. It is best suited as part of a multi-day itinerary that includes stops at other Peruvian attractions like Cusco or Sacred Valley.

What should I know before hiking to Machu Picchu?

Before embarking on a hike to Machu Picchu, consider factors such as altitude sickness prevention measures, appropriate clothing layers for changing weather conditions, proper footwear with good traction for uneven terrain, staying hydrated throughout the trek, packing essential items like sunscreen and insect repellent while keeping luggage weight minimal. Also, research permits needed well in advance if planning on doing popular treks like the Classic Inca Trail.

What makes Machu Picchu in Peru so special?

Machu Picchu is special because of its unique location atop steep mountains amidst lush cloud forests providing stunning views. This ancient citadel showcases remarkable architectural achievements of the Incas, including advanced engineering, agricultural terraces, and intricate stonework. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site (source) and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.


In summary, a range of travel options exist for those journeying from Lima to Machu Picchu, offering travelers the opportunity to choose between direct routes and more adventurous treks. No matter what your journey style or budget, there’s something for everyone – from a direct route to an exciting trek. From flying to taking the bus via Nazca, each option has its benefits and drawbacks depending on your budget and travel style.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience exploring one of the world’s most iconic wonders, consider booking a tour with Evolution Treks Peru. Their ultimate guide provides all the information you need to know about tours, hiking maps, buildings, facts, and history related to Machu Picchu. Don’t miss out on discovering the secrets of this ancient Incan citadel!

Call-to-Action: Book your tour today with Evolution Treks Peru and embark on an adventure from Lima to Machu Picchu!

Lima to Machu Picchu