The trip from Cuzco to Aquas Calientes is perfect for getting to Machu Picchu
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You have several options for traveling to Machu Picchu. Obviously, you can go by foot, hiking the Inca Trail, but you can also take the train from Cuzco. Or combine the two.
The train is a good way to travel in Peru. The ride to Aquas Calientes gives you a good idea of the rugged environment. And this town lies at the foot of the world-famous ruins of Machu Picchu.
It is possible to make a return trip one day, but that means you’ll to visit the archaeological site in the middle of the day, the hottest and busiest time of day at Machu Picchu. It is better to visit Machu Picchu in the early morning, but you’ll have to arrive the day before and stay in Aquas Calientes. There are plenty of accommodations in all price ranges in the town.
Officially, Aquas Calientes is only accessible from Cuzco by train as there is no road to this town. You can get close to the town by taxi bus, but then you need to walk the last miles along the rail tracks. This is a popular activity amongst backpackers as a train ticket to Aquas Calientes is relatively expensive.
Book your spot on the train in advance to avoid disappointment. The best view is on the left side on the route to Machu Picchu. On the way back it is best to sit on the right.
You can take a train directly to Aquas Calientes (or to Cuzco), but you can also make a stop at Ollantaytambo.
This old Inca city in The Sacred Valley is also the starting point for the Inca Trail. From the village you can do day tours to different archaeological Inca sites.
There are several type of trains. Besides a standard train you can take the extremely luxurious Bingham train. This train is named after Hiram Bingham, the (re)discoverer of Machu Picchu.
The route is exactly the same for both trains. But the Bingham train is known to be one of the most beautiful train rides in the world due to the combination of beautifully decorated carriages, gourmet dining and the scenery of the rugged Andes. The train also has a special observation carriage with large cushioned seats and a lot of windows to enjoy the passing landscapes.