About Us
Site Map
Contact Us
CuscoPeru agencia de viajes en cusco
Portada / Useful information for travel to Peru / Data for traveler / Alternatives to get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Alternatives to get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes, also known as "Machu Picchu Pueblo," is the closest base to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. Here we discuss the various options you have for traveling from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.
Sign at the entrance to Aguas Calientes.

Aguas Calientes is a quaint town located on the banks of the Urubamba River and serves as the closest access point to the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu. The distance between the two is approximately 9 kilometers. Aguas Calientes is also known as "Machu Picchu Pueblo."

To reach Aguas Calientes, one can take a train from either Cusco or Ollantaytambo, with two companies operating these services. It is also possible to travel by bus or private vehicle to a nearby point.

Once in Aguas Calientes, there are essentially two options to get to Machu Picchu: by bus or on foot.

How to reach Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes by bus?

The bus is one option to travel from Aguas Calientes up the mountain to Machu Picchu.

The journey typically takes about 25 minutes for the ascent and 12 to 15 minutes for the descent. The service is operated by CONSETTUR, and managed by the residents of Machu Picchu Pueblo.

Where to buy bus tickets?

Tickets can be purchased in two ways:

  • Online through the CONSETTUR website, by filling out a form with your personal information and then making the payment with your credit or debit card.
  • In person, by presenting your national ID card (DNI) or passport at the following locations:
    • Aguas Calientes: Av. Hermanos Ayar S/N, before the Ruinas Bridge.
      • Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm
    • Cusco: Av. Infancia 370
      • Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 3:00 to 6:00 pm.

These tickets do not need to be reserved in advance and can be purchased on the day you plan to ascend to the citadel.

Where to board the bus to Machu Picchu?

The starting point of the journey from Aguas Calientes to the citadel of Machu Picchu is at the CONSETTUR offices, located at Av. Hermanos Ayar S/N. From here, buses depart every ten minutes to the Incan citadel, and similarly, the buses returning from Machu Picchu end their route at this station.

What is the cost of the bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu?

The cost of bus tickets to ascend to Machu Picchu varies depending on the passenger's nationality, age, and status. Here is a table with all the available prices:

FOREIGN ADULT S/. 12.00 S/. 24.00
FOREIGN CHILD S/. 7.00 S/. 12.00
NATIONAL ADULT S/. 8.00 S/. 15.00
NATIONAL STUDENT S/. 6.00 S/. 10.00
NATIONAL CHILD S/. 5.00 S/. 8.00
NATIONAL GUIDE S/. 6.00 S/. 12.00
CUSQUEÑO RESIDENT S/. 9.50 S/. 19.00
RESIDENT GUIDE S/. 4.00 S/. 8.00

What is the bus journey like from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu?

From the town of Aguas Calientes, the bus heads towards the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, located atop a lush, vegetated mountain. The route is characterized by a steep climb with numerous curves, and after about 25 minutes, the bus arrives at the entrance control station to the citadel.

The downhill trip is easier and only takes about 12 to 15 minutes to return to the station at Av. Hermanos Ayar in Aguas Calientes.

Buses to Machu Picchu. Source: CuscoPeru.com
Consettur buses heading to Machu Picchu

How to get to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes on foot?

The hike starts in Machu Picchu Pueblo, following the same road used by the buses to the bridge over the Urubamba River. At this point, you will encounter an INC (National Institute of Culture of Peru) control booth, where your Machu Picchu ticket will be required. Once you cross the bridge, you will see the bus route veering left and the start of the uphill stairway, which is your path.

What is the uphill trail like from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu on foot?

Generally, the ascent takes about one and a half to two hours and requires moderate physical fitness, as the combination of steep steps and subtropical heat can be quite exhausting.

The first part of the ascent runs alongside the road used by the buses, followed by steps that cut across the mountain slopes.

The climate is subtropical, meaning there is an abundance of lush green trees, flowers, orchids, vines, ants, and many other exotic and fascinating insects.

Along the way, you will also pass by the Machu Picchu site museum and the butterfly garden, both of which you can visit by purchasing tickets at their entrances.

Tour Machu Picchu y Montaña de 7 Colores Tour Machu Picchu y Montaña de 7 Colores

Is the hike from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu challenging?

The hike is classified as moderate to difficult. It is recommended for those in good physical condition accustomed to hiking.

While the path is demanding, it is not dangerous, as the entire trail is well-marked. However, it is crucial to stay alert, especially on sections where you may need to walk along the road shared with buses ascending to Machu Picchu.

The descent is considerably easier, but after a visit to the Inca citadel, you may be too tired, so consider purchasing a bus ticket for the downhill journey at the ticket booth located at the exit of Machu Picchu.

Recommendations for hiking to Machu Picchu on foot

Consider the following tips when deciding whether the hike to Machu Picchu on foot is right for you:

  • The uphill climb covers approximately 400 meters in elevation.
  • The terrain is moist and covered with vegetation in many places. The ascent is made on Inca stone steps, and the spaces between steps can be quite long.
  • The hike is free of charge; you only need to present your Machu Picchu ticket at the entry control.
  • It is not recommended to hike from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu if you plan to take alternative routes up the mountains of Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu, or Huchuy Picchu afterward, as you will need to be in good physical condition to climb these peaks.
  • The rainy season in this area runs from November to April, during which heavy rainfall is common.
  • Essential items to bring include a wide-brimmed hat or cap, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, a rain poncho, sunglasses, boots with rubber soles (not new), at least 2 liters of water per person, and plenty of enthusiasm and energy.
  • Entering Machu Picchu with bags over 10 kilograms, as well as bringing in food, animals, selfie sticks, and other items is prohibited.
View of the Hiram Bingham road from Huayna Picchu mountain. Source: CuscoPeru.com
View of the Hiram Bingham road from Huayna Picchu mountain.