Services and activities in Cusco before traveling to Machu Picchu

Visiting Machu Picchu is easy to do as long as you have all the necessary information. Start by pointing out that Machu Picchu is located in Cusco in the south of Peruvian territory. However, to get to the archaeological site considered a wonder of the modern world, you must make a prior trip from Cusco. Here we tell you about the services you can purchase and also some activities that will enrich your stay in Cusco before taking the Machu Picchu trip.

The classic service to get to Machu Picchu is by traveling by train

The trip to Machu Picchu always begins in Cusco

Knowing Machu Picchu is one of the goals that most people consider. In this sense, it is important to have adequate information on the details necessary to achieve this trip. From now on, comment that the trip is one of the safest and easiest to take. If you are a foreign visitor, you will have to plan your trip from Lima. Luckily for everyone, the trip from Lima to Cusco only requires boarding a plane or, failing that, a bus. Of course, there is the possibility of making the trip through stops, but it can complicate your plans.

Once in Cusco, the first thing that can happen is that altitude sickness appears. It is normal to feel some discomfort such as a headache and some discouragement. This is due to the low presence of oxygen in Cusco, typical of geography at more than 3000 meters of altitude. Cusco is located 3,390 meters above sea level, so it has a completely different geography than Lima and many other places in the world. The difference is that the oxygen is lower at the molecular level. This does not mean that it poses a risk to the lives of visitors, but simply that they will need adequate acclimatization.

Until the date this blog is published, the way to get to Machu Picchu is starting from Cusco. This is because from this place you can find different services and tourism agencies that can accompany or guide you during your trip. Also because from Cusco, if you travel freely, you will find all the routes available, therefore, it is essential to get to Cusco. The distance between Cusco and Machu Picchu is approximately 100 kilometers, so a classic train trip can take more than 4 hours. The other ways to get to Machu Picchu include a walking tour. The number of days and hours of walking will depend on the choice you make.

Regarding entrance tickets to Machu Picchu, it is not necessary nor advisable to wait until you arrive in Cusco to make a reservation in person. For many years, the safest and most immediate way to make a reservation is through online sales. This is quite simple and will only require an internet connection and a debit or credit card to pay for the reservation. Likewise, it is important to have the appropriate date set to visit Machu Picchu. Many recommend making a reservation from March to October as it is the dry season, however, during the rest of the months the rains offer a different experience and with fewer people. Get ready to see many rainbows.

Services necessary to get to Machu Picchu

An excellent option is to visit the Popular Art Museum very close to the historic center

The ways to get to Machu Picchu can be divided into two. The first of them will be taking the train trip, while the second option will be taking a hiking route. The time or days of walking will depend on the route chosen, the longest being the route through Choquequirao and the shortest being the route through Hidroeléctrica. There are different train services and also two transport companies. The most popular and well-known is probably PeruRail, while the new one is Inca Rail. The services of these trains are similar. Both have services that start from a standard category and continue until they are exclusive or first-class services.

Likewise, hiking routes can be purchased with less advance notice. However, in the case of the Inca Trail route, availability is limited and it sells out daily. When purchasing services to take a hiking route from a travel agency, make sure they offer you the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. Some only offer camping services and help from porters. Regarding these services, it is necessary to ask about everything that is included in the tourist package that is being reserved. If you decide to do a hiking route, you will have to keep in mind that you can also purchase more services such as improving the camp, having the support of more porters, and also a personal guide.

There is a possibility that you can make the trip on your own. Here you need to keep in mind that there are several services that you can purchase long before traveling to Machu Picchu depending on the previous or subsequent activities you have. In Cusco, you can find hotels, restaurants, and several banks that will make your stay easier. Likewise, if you prefer to take a more intimate or family trip, there is the option of renting vehicles or hiring a private transportation service and there is also the adventure, to expect surprises during the trip. However, the latter is not recommended if you have little time and little experience on hiking routes.

Regarding vehicle rental, you will have to take care of driving the car. While private transportation will include the service of a driver to the destinations you want to reach. These transports can help you get to Ollantaytambo or any other destination where you can start the walk or simply walk with your partner. Another important factor is that the train service offers to include bimodal service. This consists of making the trip from Cusco by bus to the train station. From the train station, board the train and begin the journey to Machu Picchu Pueblo.

Finally, you can’t make such a long trip just to see Machu Picchu. That is, we know that it is one of the wonders of the modern world, but you can do many more things in Cusco that, of course, include Machu Picchu. For example, you can purchase tours that include more destinations, you will visit Cusco and probably other routes. Like those that we will detail in the following section. Likewise, you can continue your trip in Peru and visit the northern beaches, and other cities such as Arequipa, Puno, and Lima. All of Peru is beautiful and we are sure that you will be able to have unforgettable experiences in Machu Picchu.

About trains
The train stations that can be boarded are not only in Cusco. The most popular is the one found in the Ollantaytambo district. It is probably followed by the Poroy train station. After these, we can mention the Wanchaq station and the San Pedro station in Cusco, both very close to the historic center. Finally, the Urubamba station is not very popular, but allows departures of the Hiram Bingham train on some dates.

Activities in Cusco before traveling to Machu Picchu

The temples in Cusco are really beautiful, an example, the Church of Andahuaylillas

The experience of visiting Machu Picchu will be more enriched if you decide to have or do more activities in Cusco. Before traveling to Machu Picchu you can learn about the capital of the Inca empire, Cusco, and even natural destinations along with adventure sports. This city still houses large stone walls that are still used for modern buildings. In Cusco, you can do different activities. Among them, the city tour will stand out with the best-known tour, the City Tour Cusco. It is also possible to take tours on your own to the different museums, restaurants, cafes and more.

The museums of Cusco are not only characterized by exhibits of pieces and ceramics from past cultures but also by exhibits of contemporary art. Likewise, you can see some craft centers where small presentations are made about how the products they offer to the public are obtained. These activities are only the beginning of the activities that can be done in Cusco and are probably the easiest to do since they only require the help of Google Maps or similar. Likewise, it is possible to appreciate live dance shows such as the one offered and quite popular at the Qosqo Native Art Center, and also visit restaurants that offer these shows.

Before making the trip and Machu Picchu, you can visit other destinations such as archaeological sites, all of them coming from the Inca culture. Among these places, Sacsayhuamán stands out, which is located just 15 minutes from Cusco. Other destinations already include long trips, such as Pisac, Tipón, Ollantaytambo, and Chinchero, to mention the most popular. Among other activities, we can mention the natural destinations, among which the natural destinations of Vinicunca, Palcoyo, and the Humantay Lagoon will stand out. Finally, in Cusco, you can do activities related to extreme sports, such as Zip-Line and riding bicycles through the mountains of Cusco. Likewise, it is possible to find routes that allow you to drive ATVs or ATVs through the Sacred Valley and the South Valley.

Other recommendations

You can have free tours through the streets of Cusco and observe these beautiful walls

Everyone can design their trip as they wish, but it is always necessary to receive some advice even if we already know them all. Here we leave you a few tips and recommendations that we hope will help you have a perfect trip to Machu Picchu.

  • It is essential to reserve tickets to Machu Picchu in advance.
  • Remember to have your identification documents at all times.
  • When you make trips to communities, always carry cash.
  • If you will be hiking, wear appropriate footwear.
  • If you are in Cusco from November to March, always have a waterproof poncho on hand.
  • Don’t be discouraged if you arrive during the rainy season. You will appreciate landscapes crowned with rainbows and fresh rain.
  • Remember that you can also reserve hotel rooms, even before arriving in Cusco.
  • It is likely that you will need to acquire the ideal BTC or Cusco Tourist Ticket to enter the main attractions of Cusco.
  • There are more tickets, you can purchase them at the entrance door of the venues you want to visit.
  • Check the status of your reservations with the agency you have booked.
  • You can have a first day to properly acclimatize and have a great trip.
  • If you go hiking, make sure you only take what you need.
  • Try to generate little environmental impact on your trip.
  • Buy a souvenir and encourage your friends to visit Peru, especially Machu Picchu.
  • Bring mosquito repellent on your trip to Machu Picchu.


By Imachupicchu – Last updated, February 15, 2024

Enjoy the trip to Machu Picchu with the best services

Choose one of the 5 types of tickets

The entrance to Machu Picchu offers discounts for university students, those under 18 years of age and citizens of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia. Children under 3 years enter free! Get your entry to 'mapi' here.

We take you wherever you want in Cusco

The private transportation service takes you to any tourist destination in Cusco. Travel with total security in a private service for you, your partner, your friends or family. Includes pick up service from the airport or transfer to Machu Picchu train station, book here!

An unforgettable train trip to Machu Picchu

In total there are four tourist train services to Machu Picchu: Expedition, Vistadome, Vistadome Observatory and the Hiram Bingham luxury train. They all belong to the prestigious Peru Rail company. Buy the tickets here! Take advantage of the discounts!

Get on the final bus to Machu Picchu

The train trip will leave you in the town of Aguas Calientes, 10 kilometers from Machu Picchu. For this last section you must get the bus to Machu Picchu, a comfortable service that takes care of the environment of the wonder of the world. Buy your bus ticket here!

Tour Machu Picchu with a professional guide

In Machu Picchu the tour guide service is not mandatory. However, most tourists decide to go accompanied by a guide. This way they will be able to fully understand the history and importance of the wonder of the Incas.

Machupicchu all inclusive 1 day

If you do not want to buy each ticket to Machu Picchu separately, it is best to hire an all-inclusive tour. Includes: transfer to the station, train ticket, tour guide, entrance fee and lunch option at the best ‘mapi’ restaurant. Book the tour here!