One of the main reasons the citadel of Machu Picchu was never found by the Spanish conquistadors is its isolation. On a mountaintop above a raging river, the way there from Cusco becomes a narrow valley not wide enough for a road. It was hard enough just laying down train tracks to reach this spot, so it’s still true that the only way to get there is by walking in (as on the Inca Trail like they did 500 years ago) or by rail.
This truly makes getting there half the fun, especially if you use the opportunity to take a special luxury train ride with Inca Rail instead of just whatever will get you from Point A to Point B.
Get a Panoramic Andes View From the Train in Peru
You have several class options to choose from, with the two best being the First Class carriage or the 360 Degree Machu Picchu Train. Here’s what it feels like on the latter:
The 360° Machu Picchu Train is equipped with panoramic windows and an observation outdoor carriage with a bar. On the way you’ll get a selection of cold and warm drinks, prepared using fruit juices and Andean herbs, and organic Peruvian food made with products from the Sacred Valley. If you want to learn more about the journey and the Inca civilization, there’s also a custom entertainment app for your phone with narration.
There are two trains a day from the Poroy station outside of Cusco, with the ride lasting around three hours. These depart at 5:55 a.m. and 9:28 a.m. If you’ve already been exploring the Sacred Valley and are staying in a hotel there, you can board at Ollantaytambo at 7:22 for a journey of an hour and a half. These are very comfortable seats with tables, with plenty of legroom for stretching out. See more information here.
Go First Class With Inca Rail
If you want to really make a bucket list journey to Machu Picchu that you’ll remember forever, book the first class train to Machu Picchu and back and really get pampered. With plush seating, a full meal, drinks, and live music, this top-end offering is for those who want to make every part of their travels something special. Instead of four seats across, these train cars only have three.
As with the 360° train, there’s an option from Poroy near Cusco or from Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. The first option leaves Poroy at 9:29 and arrives at Machu Picchu at 12:41. This is a good option if you want to avoid the morning crowds at the citadel or spend at least one night in Aguas Calientes. The first class Inca Rail train from Ollaytantambo leaves at 11:15 and also arrives at 12:41. See more information here.
Take Over the Train in Peru
If you have a group of people, how about your own luxury train carriage? Inca Rail offers that option too, with private, first class service for your party. This service includes welcome champagne, a tasting menu accompanied by fine wines, as well as an open bar for your group.
Besides getting personalized attention and all these amenities, you also get a private bus coach up to the Machu Picchu entrance from the town of Aguas Calientes. As far as we know, this is the only way you can get this kind of service: everyone else has to stand in line and board the bus everyone takes up to the site.
The private luxury train service from Inca Rail is available to be scheduled on any of the daily trips to Aguas Calientes and back. Your private car is along for the ride, but with an extra level of service.
See schedules and prices at the Inca Rail site and know that you can book any of these tickets ahead of time, with your credit card. You have to get Machu Picchu tickets in advance now anyway, so this way you’re all set when you get to Peru.