Aguas Calientes is the jumping-off point for Machu Picchu, and so famous for being so that it is often known by the nickname 'Machu Picchu Pueblo' or 'Machu Picchu Town.' Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu are not connected to Peru's road network—train travel is your only option to get back to Cusco, either used exclusively or paired with private transfer or bus.

It is also worth noting that the Inca Trail (and alternative treks) are mostly only done on the way from Cusco to Machu Picchu, not on the return leg from Aguas Calientes—so hikers should also plan to take the train for this segment.

By Train

Duration: 3.5 hours

The most popular and convenient option is to travel from Aguas Calientes to Cusco by train direct. It can be nice to save this leisurely and luxury part of the journey for after you have experienced Machu Picchu (as the experience will almost certainly have left you tired!). Its popularity and convenience also means this is the most expensive means of travel.

Trains from Aguas Calientes to Cusco run with the same regularity as trains from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. The operators are PeruRail's Hiram Bingham (the most luxurious), Vistadome and Expedition trains and Inca Rail, and total several daily direct departures to Poroy train station near Cusco, from where it is a 30-minute taxi ride into central Cusco.

Direct services operate between May and December.

By Train and Private Transfer/Bus

Duration: 3.5-4 hours

Far more trains run from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo train station than they do from Aguas Calientes all the way through to Poroy station near Cusco. Not only that, but Aguas Calientes-Ollantaytambo trains also operate year-round. Because the second part of the journey from Ollantaytambo to Cusco is by road, this works out as a cheaper option than taking the train all the way—and Ollantaytambo is a pretty town in which to spend further time before returning to Cusco.

Operators from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo include PeruRail's Vistadome and Expedition trains, and Inca Rail. Inca Rail also run a service from Aguas Calientes to Urubamba, also in the Sacred Valley. From Ollantaytambo (110 minutes) or Urubamba (80 minutes), road transportation by private transfer or bus awaits to take you to Cusco.


Map of How to Get from Aguas Calientes to Cusco
Map of How to Get from Aguas Calientes to Cusco