The Different Trains to Machu Picchu

The Different Trains to Machu Picchu

Although the trains to Machu Picchu are not the cheapest, they offer you an unforgettable experience passing small Andean villages, beautiful valleys and impressive mountains.

Depending on how much you’re willing to spend and what kind of comfort you expect, there are different trains to choose from. This is what we’ll focus on in the article below.

Table of contents:

Important Points About the Train Ride

Before we turn to this question and look at the different train options to Machu Picchu, 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 by yourself for around 1.5 hours – which is rather unspectacular and what we don’t recommend.

 

2.) Peru Rail and Inca Rail are the only train companies offering the train journey to Aguas Calientes

The two train companies provide different levels of comfort and conveniences when it comes to their services to Machu Picchu. Both Peru Rail and Inca Rail provide economy, premium and luxury service classes.

 

3.) Different departure points and train duration

Travel time and departure places are both relevant when thinking about the train ride to Machu Picchu. Trains typically leave from Ollantaytambo, a smaller town closer to Machu Picchu, or Cusco. The train ride takes between two to four hours each way, depending on the starting point and service type chosen.

 

The Different Trains to Machu Picchu and Service Details

Peru Rail and Inca Rail provide a range of train options. Explore the choices below to discover a service that suits your needs. Contact us to arrange your train journey and Machu Picchu tour, tailored to your preferences.

 

Peru Rail Trains

Peru Rail is the bigger company of the two and also operates the majority of trains to Machu Picchu. Let’s have a look at the different options below.

 

1. Expedition Train

expedition train with half panoramic windows

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 glass of water for free. For more info watch the following video about the Expedition Train.

 

2. Vistadome Train

travelers sitting in the train with panoramic windows and are enjoying the onboard show

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 made of 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 info check the following video about the Vistadome Train.

 

3. Vistadome Observatory Train

compartment with beautiful views of the panoramic windows

With the Vistadome Observatory train, you have an even better chance to explore the Andean landscape. Panoramic windows and a unique 360-degree Observatory car offer picturesque views of the Sacred Valley and its flowing river.

You can relax in spacious seats while indulging in local snacks and herbal teas. Authentic Andean art and crafts adorn the carriage, enhancing the cultural immersion.

 

4. Belmond Hiram Bingham Train

luxurious train compartment with panoramic windows

The most expensive of the three train options is the Belmond Hiram Bingham Train, which was named after the discoverer of the Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham. This is one of the luxury train journeys in Peru.

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.

 

Inca Rail Trains

Inca Rail operates a variety of trains and they also range in class from affordable to luxurious. This train offers the best time slots if you do the Sacred Valley tour and then continue with your journey to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town) on the same day.

 

1. Voyager Train

train with half-panoramic windows and white comfortable leather seats

For an affordable price, this budget-friendly train provides a comfortable journey to Machu Picchu. The modern train offers comfortable seats and breathtaking views. A small meal or snack is provided on certain schedules.

 

2. 360* Train

family is sitting and enjoying the view out of the panoramic windows while drinking a beverage

This middle-class train has high, wide panoramic windows that provide amazing views for those who ride it. You will receive non-alcoholic beverages and a boxed meal while background music plays.

The only Inca Rail option with WiFi and an entertainment system onboard is the 360° Train.

 

3. First-Class Train

comfortable leather seats and table with white tablecloth

The First-Class Train provides an excellent experience. Throughout the journey, you can order drinks from the open bar, eat a gourmet meal and listen to regional live music.

There is plenty of legroom and luxurious leather seats inside the train. There’s also an observatory lounge with a balcony outside.

 

4. Private Train

luxurious train compartment with half panoramic windows

The Private Machu Picchu Train is a reserved vehicle for a small group of travelers. It includes a welcome glass of champagne, an open bar and a three-course gourmet meal. The train car is decorated in a modern style with traditional Andean elements. 

Below is a list of the service details that are specific to Inca Rail and Peru Rail. To sum up, both businesses are really good choices. All trains to Machu Picchu provide comfortable amenities and first-rate service. The most important thing to consider is that the train times match your itinerary. Based on this, you’ll be able to find the most suitable option for you.

 

Peru Rail vs. Inca Rail

 

Details of Peru Rail Services

  • Peru Rail has the greatest number of daily departures. More options for scheduling provide greater planning flexibility for itineraries.
  • Peru Rail provides its train services from Urubamba, whereas Inca Rail doesn’t.

They also run other train routes in Peru, for example the Titicaca Train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca which includes a variety of top-notch services on board. Additionally, there is the opulent, multi-day Andean Explorer train trip that travels between Arequipa, Cusco and Lake Titicaca.

 

Details of Inca Rail Services

  • The only company providing charter service to Machu Picchu is Inca Rail. The Private train provides a meal, drink and entertainment service that is all-inclusive.
  • Travelers on Inca Rail are permitted to check larger bags. Inca Rail allows up to 17 pounds (7 kg). Peru Rail, on the other hand, only permits 11 pounds (5 kg) per carry-on.

 

Train Route Map and Times

On a daily basis, trains head to and depart from Machu Picchu. As part of our customized Peru tours, our team will arrange your round-trip train tickets. It is possible to buy tickets for departures from one station and then go back to another.

Train CompanyTrain StationLocationTrain Duration to Machu PicchuWhat to expect
Inca Rail

Peru Rail

Ollantaytambo Station2h by car from CuscoApprox 2hSacred Valley landscapes, the Vilcanota River, and the geographic boundaries dividing the Andean and Peruvian jungles.
Peru RailSan Pedro StationCusco CityApprox 4hBeautiful streets in Cusco, colonial cathedrals, and breathtaking city surroundings.
Peru RailUrubamba Station1:45h by car from CuscoApprox 2.2hSacred Valley landscapes, the charming Urubamba village, the geographic boundaries separating the Andean and Peruvian jungles, and the Vilcanota River.
Peru RailPoroy Station1h by car from CuscoApprox 3hThe surrounding Cusco landscape, colonial towns in Huarocondo, Zurite) and in the Sacred Valley, and the geographical boundaries separating the Peruvian and Andean jungles.
Peru RailWanchaq StationCusco CityApprox 4.3hAmazing surrounding scenery of the city’s modern region.

 

Train Baggage and Policy

There isn’t much room for storage on Machu Picchu trains. PeruRail and Inca Rail are therefore required to restrict carry-on luggage to one piece per passenger.

Many travelers have to reduce the amount of things they bring in order to meet the weight limits for luggage. Thankfully, a lot of hotels provide free luggage storage for visitors. Extra items can be safely stored at hotels in the Sacred Valley and Cusco, and they can be picked-up after your visit to Machu Picchu. 

Besides that, make sure to learn more about the 10 things to know before visiting Machu Picchu.

 

Peru Rail Baggage Policy

The maximum weight for a bag or backpack that a passenger may bring on PeruRail is eleven pounds (5 kg). The height, length, and width of the luggage cannot be greater than 62 inches (157 cm).

 

Inca Rail Baggage Policy

Up to one piece of luggage, weighing no more than seventeen pounds (8 kg), may be carried on by each passenger. The maximum size of the bag in terms of height, length, and width is 46 inches (118 cm).

 

No Matter Which Train You Choose, You’ll Love Machu Picchu!

travelers receiving beverages from onboard personal

The tour to Machu Picchu is an absolute must when traveling in Peru. Which train option is right for you depends on how much you want to spend and on how comfortable you want to travel.

The Inca Rail Train is perfect for travelers looking to explore the Sacred Valley first and heading to Aguas Calientes in the afternoon in order to visit Machu Picchu the next day. For the return of your Peru highlight, we highly recommend boarding the Vistadome train, which offers a better view, more comfort and on-board entertainment.  

When it’s all about making the tour an unforgettable experience from beginning to end, and when the costs don’t matter, the exclusive Hiram Bingham Train is the perfect train to Machu Picchu for you.

Do you already know when to explore the New Wonder of the World? Make sure you’re informed about the Machu Picchu weather before visiting.

For more inspiration, have a look at our different Peru tours that include a visit to the beautiful Machu Picchu.

 

 

 

Photo credits: Peru Rail

8 Comments
  • 6 August, 2023 at 1:12 am

    I can’t wait for our vistadome experience. We have heard so many great things about this train journey and the views shoudl be amazig

    • 6 August, 2023 at 11:29 am

      Hello Valerie,
      thanks a lot for your comment. Great choice with the Vistadome train! You’ll enjoy the picturesque landscapes, cute Andean villages and it’s perfect to relax and prepare for your next adventure.

      Best,
      Konstantin

  • 27 July, 2023 at 10:18 am

    Thank you for this great overview, this was so helpful!! Can’t wait to visit Machu Pichu

    • 28 July, 2023 at 9:10 am

      Sure you are more than welcome! Let us know if you need any additional tips and otherwise learn more about our different Machu Picchu blogs.

      Best,
      Konsti

  • 17 July, 2023 at 8:25 am

    Muchas Gracias por toda esta información, Estamos empezando a planear nuestro viaje,podria preguntarle si es posible entonces tomar el tren Hiram Bighram de ida a Machupicchu y retornar en el Vista dome ?

    • 17 July, 2023 at 9:36 am

      Hola Ludy, cómo estás? Gracias por leer nuestro blog. 🙂 Si claro, puedes tomar Hiram Bingham solo de ida y retornar en el Vistadome, no hay problema. Si necesitas ayuda planeando tu viaje puedes escribirnos por correo a info@exploor.pe y con mucho gusto te ayudamos.

      Saludos y que tengas un buen día,
      Oliver

  • 28 December, 2022 at 8:37 am

    We are planning to visit Machu Picchu in April 2023! And the tips are super useful and we’ll take the Expedition train in the evening and return with the Vistadome. It’s the perfect combination. Thanks so much. Megan

    • 29 December, 2022 at 3:28 am

      Hi Megan,
      thanks for your feedback.

      That is absolutely correct and I am sure that you’ll have an amazing time.
      Here are some important tips that you should be aware of before entering Machu Picchu.

      Best,
      Konsti

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