Andean Explorer train from Cusco to Puno  

Cusco to Puno by train.  Courtesy


Taking the train in Peru...

Peru has several train services of interest to visitors, including the famous train to Machu Picchu where a confusing array of trains from several different operators compete to take you to the Inca ruins - this page will help explain the options. 

There are in fact two separate networks in Peru, the southern network which includes Cusco to Machu Picchu & Cusco to Puno on Lake Titicaca and the northern network which links Lima with Huancayo.

  Cusco to Machu Picchu for the famous Inca ruins.

  Cusco to Puno & Lake Titicaca

  Lima to Huancayao & Huancavelica

Useful country information

Train operators in Peru: (Cusco to Machu Picchu, Cusco to Puno (Lake Titicaca) (alternative trains to Machu Picchu) (Lima-Huancayo).



Time zone:

GMT-5 (there is no daylight saving time in Peru).

Dialling code:




1 = 4.50 Nuevos Soles, $1 = 3.30.     Currency converter

Tourist information:   Tripadvisor Peru page



Hotel search for Peru



Cheapest flights to Peru


UK citizens do not need a visa for Peru for tourist visits of up to 90 days.

Page last updated:

2 January 2017

The train to Machu Picchu

  The ruined Inca citadel at Machu Picchu  

Take the train to Machu Picchu...  Regular train slink Cusco and Ollantaytambo with the famous Inca city of Machu Picchu...  Photo courtesy  of Tim Roberts


Unless you hike there up the Sacred Valley on foot along the Inca Trail, you'll need to take a train to reach the famous Inca ruins at Machu Picchu.  However, there are three possible starting points, namely Poroy, which is 13 km (8 miles) from Cusco, Ollantaytambo which is in the Sacred Valley itself, 89 km (56 miles) from Cusco, and there's also one train a day from Urubamba.  There are two competing train companies, PeruRail is the main one, Inca Rail the smaller one.  PeruRail operates a range of different train classes to suit different budgets from the cheap and cheerful Expedition through the mid-range Vistadome to the super-deluxe Hiram Bingham.  This page will guide you through the options for an unforgettable visit to Machu Picchu.

Option 1:  Cusco to Machu Picchu with

The nicest option is to catch the train to Machu Picchu all the way from Cusco, the big city where most visitors arrive.  Sadly, trains no longer depart from the historic main station in Cusco itself.  As from 1 April 2009 all the tourist trains leave from Poroy station, a local halt situated 13 kilometres (8 miles) west of Cuzco.  This means you miss out on the scenic but slow zig-zag train ride up Picchu Hill between Cuzco & Poroy, but you take the train almost all the way from Cusco to Machu Picchu. 

How do you get to Poroy?  You'll need to take a bus or taxi from downtown Cusco to Poroy.  A 3-seat taxi from Cusco to Poroy costs around 20-30 soles (4-6 or $6-$9) per taxi, and takes around 20 minutes.  There's a local bus for 6 soles per person.

(Note that in the off-season January to April PeruRail now operate a 'bimodal' service by bus from Cusco to Pachar station to pick up the train there, the trains don't start at Poroy during this period.  So more bus, less train...)

Which train company to choose?  The trains from Poroy to Machu Picchu are all run by, which is part of the Venice Simplon Orient Express group.  PeruRail took over operation of this network from the Peruvian railway company ENAFER in 1999. If you can't get a seat on the three daily direct trains from Poroy, there are additional shuttle trains from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu, run by a choice of three different companies, see here.

Which train to choose?  How much does it cost?  PeruRail run four different trains from Poroy to Machu Picchu every day, aimed at different budgets:

 Cusco ► Machu Picchu




Hiram Bingham

 Cusco depart:

(by taxi)

(by taxi)

(by taxi)

 Poroy (13km west of Cusco) depart:




 Ollantaytambo arrive/depart:




 Machu Picchu arrive:




 Machu Picchu ► Cusco




Hiram Bingham

 Machu Picchu depart:




 Ollantaytambo arrive/depart:




 Poroy (13km west of Cusco) arrive:




 Cusco arrive:

(by taxi)

(by taxi)

(by taxi)

Poroy to Machu Picchu is 86 km (54 miles). Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu is 38 km (24 miles).  Poroy is 3486 metres above sea level, Ollantaytambo 2600m, Machu Picchu 2350m.

Option 2:  Shuttle trains from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu with one of two companies: or

If you can't get a ticket for one of the PeruRail trains starting direct from Cusco (or rather, from Poroy just 8 miles away), don't worry, there are additional shuttle trains from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu, run by a choice of two different companies.  Ollantaytambo is 89 km (56 miles) from Cusco, 1 hour 40 minutes by taxi, so a longer bus or taxi ride, shorter train ride.  There's also one train a day from Urubamba.

First, buy your entry tickets to Machu Picchu Inca ruins at

These can be bought in advance online at or in Cusco at the National Culture Institute (INC) at Avenida La Cultura 238, Condominio Huascar (in front of the Universitario Stadium).  Since July 2011, visitor numbers have been limited to 2,500 per day, about the expected number on a normal day in a busy month such as June, but less than the numbers previously visiting in the busiest peak months of July and August, so book ahead at  If you book in advance at (recommended) you can now print your own ticket.  For lunch at Machu Picchu, you can eat lunch at The Sanctuary, at around US$33 it's expensive but saves you an hour travelling to Aguas Calientes and back for lunch in the town.

Then buy your train tickets online at

You can buy tickets for all three tourist trains from Poroy to Machu Picchu online at  Train tickets can also be bought from Perurail offices at Lima Airport on level 2 between gates 13 & 14, or in Cusco at Portal de Carnes 214, Plaza de Armas, Cusco, call (084) 260809 or (084) 260792.  Tickets for the alternative MachuPicchuTrain service from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu can be bought at, and for the Inca Rail trains at

Where is the station at Machu Picchu?  How do you get to the Inca ruins?

The station referred to as 'Machu Picchu' is in fact located in the local town of Aguas Calientes, approximately 8 km (5 miles) from the ruined Inca city of Machu Picchu.  A bus link runs every 30 minutes from the station to the ruins costing US$24 return, payable in either US$ or local Peruvian currency.  To find out more about the Inca ruins, see or

What's the journey like?

The Vistadome & Expedition trains (the latter previously known as the Backpacker) used to leave from Cusco's main San Pedro station on the Avenida Sol and spent half an hour climbing a series of Switchbacks or zig-zags up the mountainside to gain height.  Unfortunately, all trains now start from Poroy (the Hiram Bingham always started here), and so miss this interesting section.  After Poroy the train descends into the Sacred Valley and the Andean foothills, along the Urubamba river.  You'll pass colourful villages and herds of llamas.  Cusco to Machu Picchu is 107 km (67 miles), Poroy to Machu Picchu is 86km (54 miles).  The best views are on the left hand side of the train going up to Machu Picchu and on the right hand side returning, as the train follows the river and this is the side which the river is on, with the odd Inca ruin or terrace visible as the train runs along the Sacred Valley.  PeruRail won't assign seats on a particular side, but you can easily move over if there are empty seats after departure.

On the train to Machu Picchu, beyond Ollantaytambo   Mountains viewed through the roof windows of the Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu shuttle train

On the train to Machu Picchu...  This is a PeruRail shuttle train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu. Courtesy of Tim Roberts


Viewing the mountain tops through the roof windows!  Photo courtesy of Tim Roberts

The train from Cusco to Machu Picchu in Peru   The tourist train to Machu Picchu in Peru

Above:  The Expedition train from Cusco to Machu Picchu running alongside the Urubamba River... Photo courtesy of Dennis Nichol


Above:  The Expedition train from Cusco approaches Machu Picchu.  Courtesy of 's'.

The PeruRail Vistadome train...

This is the mid-range option, a good choice.  The price includes complimentary snacks & non-alcoholic drinks served at your seat.

The Vistadome train to Machu Picchu at Aguas Calientes station   Inside the Vistadome train

The Vistadome train at Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu).  Photo courtesy of  Nicola Herbert


Inside the Vistadome train.  Photo courtesy of


The deluxe Hiram Bingham train...

This is the luxury option, the most expensive of the trains to Machu Picchu and one in a category all by itself.  This luxurious train ride includes a gourmet brunch on the outward trip and dinner on the way back, a selection of Peruvian wine, cocktails, entertainment, bus connections, Machu Picchu entrance fee and a guided tour.

The Hirham Bingham train to Machu Picchu   Hirham Bingham dining car

The Hiram Bingham, showing the open-air observation car at the rear. Photo courtesy of


Hiram Bingham restaurant. Photo

Dinner on the Hirham Bingham train   The train to Machu Picchu alongside the Urubamba River

An elegant dinner is served on the way back. Photo courtesy of


The Hiram Bingham train on its way to Machu Picchu. Photo courtesy of

Cusco to Puno (Lake Titicaca)

The Andean Explorer:  Better than the train to Machu Picchu?

PeruRail also run an excellent train called the Andean Explorer from Cusco to Puno on Lake Titicaca.  It runs 3 times a week and covers 385 km in a 10-hour scenic daytime journey from $220 per person, three-course lunch and afternoon tea included.  This luxurious train has a dining-car, lounge and open-air observation car at the rear.  It gets great reviews from travellers, a superb journey that knocks the spots off a flight or bus journey, it's well worth the extra cost to take the train.

TRAIN DISCONTINUED IN APRIL 2017  Unfortunately, Belmond are discontinuing this wonderful and relatively affordable/accessible train journey from 28 April 2017.  It's being replaced with a $2,000 deluxe journey taking two nights to do the same trip.

 Cusco ► Puno



 Puno ► Cusco

 Andean Explorer  UNTIL APRIL 2017

Mon, Wed, Sat

 Andean Explorer UNTIL APRIL 2017

Mon, Wed, Sat

 Cusco (Wanchaq station) depart:


 Puno depart:


 La Raya arrive:


 La Raya arrive:


 La Raya depart:


 La Raya depart:


 Puno arrive:


 Cusco (Wanchaq station) arrive:


Cusco to Puno is 385 km (241 miles).

Fares:  From $301 per person including lunch and afternoon tea.

How to buy tickets: for times, fares and online booking.

More pictures:  See full-screen panorama photos of the Andean Explorer.

Andean Explorer train from Cusco to Puno   Andean Explorer lounge car

The Andean Explorer train from Cusco to Puno at La Raya. Photo courtesy of


The bar-lounge in the Andean Explorer's tail-end observation car. Photo courtesy of

Inside the Andean Explorer from Cusco to Puno in Peru   The Andean Explorer train en route to Puno

The pullman-style interior of the Andean Explorer.  Photo courtesy of Dennis Nichol


The Andean Explorer at La Raya, showing the observation car with open-air viewing deck.  Courtesy of

Scenery along the Cusco to Puno train line   Scenery along the Cusco to Puno train line

Scenery along the railway between Cusco and Puno.  Although these shots show the railway, they weren't taken from the train.  Photos courtesy of Tim Roberts

The Andean Explorer from Cusco to Puno stopped at La Raya for a photo opportunity   Lunch on the train from Cusco to Puno

The Andean Explorer , stopped at La Raya for a photo opportunity. Photo courtesy of Dennis Nichol


Ready for an elegant lunch... Photo courtesy of

Lima to Huancayo & Huancavelica

Lima to Huancayo...

The railway between Peru's capital Lima and Huancayo was once the highest railway in the world, until the Chinese built the line to Lhasa in Tibet.  The air-conditioned Tren de Sierra links Lima & Huancayo once or twice a month (outside the November-April rainy season, at least), with touristico (1st) class & clasico (2nd) class & bar car.  The Touristico fare is around 385 Soles ($125 or 80) and includes breakfast and complimentary tea, coffee, water and soft drinks.  Clasico fares start at 230 Soles ($75 or 50).  You can check departure dates & book tickets online at  In Lima, the train departs from Desamparados or Monserrate stations.  Bear in mind that the high altitude doesn't suit everyone!

Train from Lima to Huancayo, Peru   Tren de Sierra from Lima to Huancayo

The Tren de Sierra from Lima to Huancayo.  Photos courtesy of Lynne Quayle

On board the train from Lima to Huancayo   Huancayo station

The Tren de Sierra from Lima to Huancayo.  Photos courtesy of Lynne Quayle

Huancayo to Huancavelica...

Until some years ago, twice daily trains used to link Huancayo with Huancavelica.  The route then ceased for several years but it's reported that in 2015 this line is back in action. 

Traveller Thomas Gisler reports (September 2015): "The famous Huancayo - Huancavelica railway (the 'Macho Train') is back to service! It is scheduled three times a week, leaving Huancayo on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 06:30 and leaving Huancavelica on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 06:30. as well.  The duration of the trip is roughly six hours though it can easily last longer.  The journey can be done as a long day trip, taking local transport from Huancavelica back to Huancayo but an overnight stay in Huancavelica is much more convenient.

On the day of my visit there was a huge queue at the train station in Huancayo as early as 05.45.  There is no seat reservation or booking of tickets in advance in Huancayo, so be early at the train station to avoid disappointment!  Ticket prices are very cheap at 9 soles (less than $1) 2nd class and 13 soles in the buffet car, also referred to as "first class".  This is the last remaining 'non-tourist-train' in Peru, serving the locals and offering a unique train experience to the few tourists who make it there despite the lack of any information available online. The journey is very scenic as the train is following the valley and its river, passing through tiny little villages.  On arrival in Huancavelica it is possible to buy the ticket back to Huancayo for the following day, which is definitely a good idea.

Huancayo to Huancavelica train   Huancayo to Huancavelica train

The 2015 Huancayo to Huancavelica train.  Photos courtesy of Thomas Gisler.

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Recommended guidebooks

To get the most out of your trip to Peru, you'll need a decent guidebook.  For the serious independent traveller this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both guides have everything you need - plenty of background historical and cultural information, plus practical information.

Buy Lonely Planet Peru online at

Buy Rough Guide to South America online at




Hotels & accommodation in Peru


◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison. checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less! is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Overland travel by train around South America is an essential part of the experience, so once there, don't cheat and fly, stay on the ground!  But if a long-haul flight is unavoidable to reach it in the first place, try  Virgin Atlantic who now fly from the UK to India, a good choice for both price and service.

Or use the Skyscanner search tool to compare flight prices & routes worldwide across 600 airlines...

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Travel insurance & health card...



Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least 1m or preferably 5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see - 10% discount with code seat61.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!


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