Why go to Machu Picchu Before Going to Cusco? How to get
from Cusco to Machu Picchu?
Cusco is an amazing city with plenty of history. You have to stop here if planning on going to Machu Picchu. The 11,115 feet altitude was a little much for us. It is best to travel to Cusco and immediately leave to Aguas Calientes (8, 000 feet) which is slightly lower and easier to get acclimated. We used Expedia to book a flight and earn points from Lima to Cusco. We took one of the first flights early in the am. There are many more things to explore in Cusco compared to Machu Picchu. Read below to find out why.
Cusco to Aguas Calientes:
When we arrived in Cusco we took a taxi to our hotel to leave our bigger luggage before taking the train to Aguas Calientes. On the train you are only allowed one carry on baggage per person of 5 kg (11 lbs). You do not need a lot because you will only be spending 1-2 days in Aguas Calientes. There are a few options on how to get to Aguas Calientes: We took a taxi from our hotel to Plaza de Armas where the "colectivo stop" is. Colectivo are minivans that leave once they are full to Ollantaytambo. We took the minivan to Ollantaytambo which was about an hour and 45 minute commute as wanted to have a "local" experince.
You can also take a taxi which will be more expensive (but won't break the bank). In Ollantaytambo you can walk or take a rickshaw (tuck tuck) to the Ollantaytambo station where you will take the train to Aguas Calientes. It's a few steps but worked well for us.
The other option is to arrive at Cusco and take a taxi (30 - 60 min) to Poroy and then take the train to Aguas Calientes.
Train Options: Inca Rail, Peru Rail and Belmond Hiram Bingham (fancier and more expensive option). We chose Peru rail and had a great experience. Within Peru Rail you have several upgrade options as well. Click here to check out their train accommodations.
The other option is to hike the Classic Inca Trail from Cusco to Machu Piccu. This needs to be booked in advance as only 500 trekkers are allowed per day.