The Best Routes to Machu Picchu

May 21, 2020
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Machu Picchu is one of the most iconic attractions in South America – and the world! and is a must-do if you’re heading to Peru. Located in the Cusco region, the mountain on which it stands is an impressive 2430m above sea level. These magnificent Incan ruins were built around 1450 as an estate for the Incan emperor Pachacuti. The site features more than 200 buildings arranged on wide parallel terraces around a vast central square. It is regarded as one of the world’s most famous man-made wonders.

The journey up to Machu Picchu is an experience in itself and there are a number of options available whether you are seeking an adventurous challenge or perhaps a more leisurely day just seeing the highlights. Here are some of the best routes to Machu Picchu…

Inca Trail

One of the most popular options for visiting Machu Picchu is the famous Inka Trail trek, which passes through the Andean mountains, cloud forest and past Incan ruins before arriving at the Sun Gate on Machu Picchu Mountain. It normally takes around four days to trek the entire Inca trail although a shorter two-day option is also available. It’s great for anyone who is happy with camping and looking to hike in the footsteps of the Incans who travelled to Machu Picchu. You will require a permit to trek the Inca Trail which books up fast so it’s worth planning well in advance of when you want to travel. Of course, there are other great treks available that vary in intensity and times.

Salkantay and Lares Trek

The Salkantay and Lares treks are also historic Incan trails that meander through the beautiful mountains in this region. Although they are not as famous, your reward should be a much quieter, “off the beaten track” experience. On the Salkantay trek, you have the option of camping or staying in Mountain Lodges which is perfect if you are looking for a little more luxury than the Inca Trail. Both treks finish with a visit to Machu Picchu which means you won’t miss out on visiting this amazing attraction.


For a more leisurely journey to Machu Picchu, take in the scenery on a train ride to the famous mountain. Trains run between Cusco and Machu Picchu Pueblo (formerly Aguas Calientes), the nearest town to Machu Picchu. There is also a stop at the Sacred Valley en-route. There are two companies that operate trains to Machu Picchu and a variety of services available but the most popular is Peru Rail and their three service levels called Expedition, Vistadome and the famous Hiram Bingham service. Expedition and Vistadome services are very comfortable, with panoramic windows, giving you the most beautiful views along the way. Vistadome has the additional benefit of some typical Peruvian entertainment on the return journey.

The Hiram Bingham service was named after the famous academic who re-discovered Machu Picchu and it offers the most luxurious journey to Machu Picchu. Onboard you can enjoy 5* service, elegant design, delicious food and great entertainment.

The journey to Machu Picchu is part of the whole experience and makes your first sights of the citadel even more special. Machu Picchu fully deserves its title as the most iconic sight in Peru and perhaps South America and your first visit here will be a highlight of your trip. Latin Routes can help find the best route for you to experience the wonders of Machu Picchu.

For holiday ideas to Machu Picchu, click here, or contact one of our Travel Specialists, for more information.

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