Travelers heading from Cusco to enjoy a Machu Picchu tour have one of two options. You can either arrive at the mountain-top citadel by foot or by train.
The vast majority of travelers choose to take the train, and understandably so: this is one of the most impressive railway journeys in the world, passing the gloriously beautiful scenery of the Sacred Valley, the ancient town of Ollantaytambo and following the gushing Urubamba River as it snakes down from Cusco and towards the rainforest.
There are several services to choose between, depending on your budget and travel preferences. But with such a range of options, the question is which train should you catch to Machu Picchu?
The Hiram Bingham
By far the most lavish option is to catch the daily Hiram Bingham service from Cusco. This train is a 5-star hotel on wheels. The train is decorated with an opulent, 20s-era interior, has two dining carriages with full silver-service restaurant and bar, an onboard kitchen where expert Chefs prepare excellent meals, and an observation carriage from where travelers can admire the stunning scenery that they are traveling through.
For travelers who appreciate comfort but are looking for a more economical ride, the Vistadome is an ideal option. This train has been especially designed to give the best view of the dramatic landscapes outsides. The large windows and glazed ceiling panels offer panoramic scenes in all directions, making for an exciting and visually stimulating journey through the Sacred Valley.
Finally, budget travelers tend to prefer the Backpacker train. While still offering a high standard of quality and service, this train is the best rail option for shoestring travelers.
Unlike the Hiram Bingham and the Vistadome, the Backpacker service only departs from Ollantaytambo station – making it a popular choice for people who want to stay overnight in the Sacred Valley and arrive as early as possible at Machu Picchu.
Visiting the site this way can help travelers avoid an unnecessary night in Aguas Calientes, although for travelers who want to enter Machu Picchu at sunrise, a night in Aguas is required.