Despite being the third largest country in South America, it’s quite easy to get into Peru and directly to Machu Picchu if you want to. The Peruvian capital city of Lima isn’t far at all from the city of Cusco that is home to Machu Picchu. Only 1,100 km (or 683 miles) separate these cities, and there are about a million and a half ways to move between the two of them. Those of you visiting Peru for Machu Picchu will find they aren’t that far from each other, and even though you must connect through Lima and Cusco before getting to Machu Picchu, it can be done on even the tightest of schedules.
Flying into Lima
If you’re flying into Peru just to head directly to Machu Picchu, the best way to get there is to fly directly into the low-cost flight capital city of Lima and head from there to Cusco, either by plane or bus.
Flying from Lima to Cusco
Those interested in flying from Lima to Cusco will find many options. Flights between Lima and Cusco only take 1 hour and 15 minutes, and over 35 planes fly the route every single day. High demand enables operators to run flights starting quite low around $80 round-trip.
Search for flights between Jorge Chavez International Airport in Callao (Lima) and Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco. Popular airlines include Peruvian Airlines, Star Peru, TAM Airlines and LAN Airlines.
By Land From Lima to Cusco
Those looking to travel by land also have many options, but the cheaper price comes with much longer travel time (due to the windy mountain roads).
The drive from Lima to Cusco is on the longer side, taking about 26 hours by bus. These buses start around $35 one way. You can book buses online in advance, or at the bus companies on the day of departure (but options will be limited). There is no central bus station in Lima, so search through reputable bus companies such as Cruz del Sur and Oltursa.
If you drive in a car, you will probably be able to reduce that time down to 15 hours, but this is perhaps the least ideal option unless you are already very familiar with the area or traveling with a local (or of course, being driven by a tour company).
From Cusco to Machu Picchu
Once you reach Cusco, you’re almost at Machu Picchu but have the last (and biggest) step of the way: You will need to decide how to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu. While Cusco is the “home” to this Wonder of the World, it’s still about 120 km (or 75 miles) away from the actual site. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), you cannot fly to Machu Picchu itself.
Once in Cusco, you will have the options to take the train or trek to Machu Picchu. Treks can take anywhere from 2-7 days to cover the distance (and from $100-1,000), whereas the train will get you there in under 4 hours (between $100 and $650). You can read more details for how to cover this distance on our post about Getting to Machu Picchu, with information on the different experiences, costs, and time required for each of these ways to get there.
However you go, one of the best things about Machu Picchu’s popularity is that it’s much easier to access than in the past! Travelers can get in, see it, and head out in just a few days if need be (but we think you’ll want to stay in Peru much longer than that!).