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Lima to Machu Picchu

Everything you need to know

You are reading this piece because you have been looking for the best way to get to Machu Picchu from Lima. 

The answer to this is pretty straightforward.

You can fly into Cusco, go overland by bus or through a bus and train combination depending on which route you take.

No matter which option you take, each one of them will depend on how many days you have to spend in Peru.

Here is the thing.

The average time that an American traveler spends in Peru is eight to ten days. 

If you fall in this category, you might want to spend most of your time in the Cusco area close to Machu Picchu.  

In this case, flying to Cusco, straight from Lima, will make a lot of sense to maximize your time there and get the most out of your trip to Peru. 

Conversely, if you are amongst those privileged people who can travel for at least two weeks, then going overland from Lima to Machu Picchu can become an adventure that will take you to some of the most exciting attractions of Peru.

Flying to Cusco and Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu does not have an airport; One needs to fly to Cusco to get to Machu Picchu.

The distance between Lima and Cusco flying is roughly 580 Km or 326 miles. 

Most international airlines will take you to Peru’s number one airport, Lima, before you can catch a flight to Cusco. 

In this case, it is best to book a flight that will have a quick connection to Cusco. 

This might be slightly more expensive but will save you a lot of time in the long run.

In case you want to fly straight to Cusco, then only AVIANCA has direct flights from the US via Bogota, Colombia.

Travel overland to Cusco via Nazca or Arequipa.

The overland distance between Lima and Cusco via nazca and Puquio is 680 miles / 1095Km while the distance from Lima to Cusco via Arequipa is 1605 Km / 997 miles.

To cover these distances by bus, one needs between one and two days of traveling depending on which route one takes. 

For instance, the bus trip via Nazca and Puquio takes an average of 20 hours non-stop, while the one via Arequipa takes 32 hours non-stop.

Most foreign travelers choose to travel to Cusco via Arequipa, taking many stops on the route that allows them to visit some of the many impressive natural and archaeological attractions along the way.

Some of them do it independently, booking different bus companies for each leg of their trips, while others choose some other tourist companies that provide these services in one ticket.

The most important attractions to visit along the way  of the Lima to Cusco route are:

  • The Paracas National Reserve, which is also known as the “poor man’s Galapagos.”
  • The Huacachina Oasis
  • The Nazca Lines
  • Cahuachi archaeological Sanctuary
  • Arequipa City
  • Colca Canyon

Traveling from Cusco to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is located only 70 miles / 112 Km away from Cusco.

However, making your way to Machu Picchu will depend on the type of activities you choose to do. 

For instance, some people choose to take a multi-day trek to Machu Picchu via the Inca trail or some alternative hikes to Machu Picchu, while some others prefer to catch a train, a  bus, or hire a full-day tour.

Notes of interest.

Acclimatizing to the altitude in Cusco

Cusco’s altitude is 10,500ft / 3400 meters above sea level. 

Acclimatizing to the altitude is imperative to have a pleasurable experience.

Drinking water, coca tea and taking short walks, and chewing coca leaves are some good ways to speed up the acclimatization process.

If you plan to take a multi-day hike to Machu Picchu, we strongly advise that you have to arrive in Cusco at least three days before your tour.

Day tours and multi-day hikes to Machu Picchu

The City tour of Cusco, including a visit to the Saqsaywaman and Qenqo archaeological sites, is something you should not miss out on while in Cusco.  A tour of these places will prepare you for what you will see at Machu  Picchu.

The Sacred Valley tour provides you with an excellent opportunity to acclimatize to the Andean mountains’ altitude. This incredible excursion will take you on a ride to this location’s most beautiful points of interest. You will have a chance to visit the Pisaq Archaeological site and picturesque Pisaq Market, the impressive Salt mines at Maras, the impressive Inca fortress of Ollantaytambo, and Moray’s mysterious circular terraces. 

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the number one destination for those people who want to arrive in Machu  Picchu by means of hiking. 

The Inca trail is a stretch of an ancient incan road build by the Inca in the XV century. 

Travelers take between two and four days to hike along some of the most magical landscapes and ecosystems of the Machu  Picchu  National Sanctuary.  

Permits for this fabulous trekking destination must be made at least six months in advance. 

Evolution Treks Peru is the number one ethical travel destination of Peru and your best option to take you to the Inca Trail.

If you weren’t able to get an Inca trail permit, then perhaps you should consider hiking on one of the many multi-day alternative hikes to Machu Picchu.

The best options are the Lares and Salkantay Trek, respectively. 

 At Evolution Treks Peru, you can hike any of these tours and connect with the Short Inca Trail. 

Also, there are plenty of other alternative hikes to Machu Picchu, such as the  Ancasocha trek or the Choquequirao trek.

Make sure you are in good shape if you want to hike to these places.

The Rainbow mountain tour is the second most visited attraction of Peru after Machu Picchu. 
Despite the almost 17K ft of altitude, travelers compete with each other to be able to watch its impressive mind-blowing colorful lines.

Lima to Machu Picchu