Machu Picchu is located in the Andes mountains, just a short journey from the city of Cusco
Machu Picchu is a city built by the Incas as they extended their influence from the high Andes into the transition zone between the highlands and the lowland tropical forests of Peru. The city of Cusco is the main gateway to Machu Picchu. From Cusco, you will need to get to Aguas Calientes, a small town beneath the ruins. There are three ways of getting to Machu Picchu. 1) Hiking the Inca Trail (highly recommended); 2) Taking the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (highly recommended); 3) Traveling by road from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (not recommended).
Once you have arrived in the town of Aguas Calientes, where there are plenty of affordable places to stay and reasonably priced restaurants, you can choose how you get to the ruins. Machu Picchu is perched on a high mountain covered in dense forest above the town of Aguas Calientes.
Most people who visit Machu Picchu choose to take one of the shuttle buses to the ruins. These buses leave every few minutes from the town, and return every few minutes from Machu Picchu. The buses arrive at and leave from the main entrance to the archaeological site. The bus ride takes around 25 minutes each way.
Another option taken by fewer people is to walk up to the ruins from Aguas Calientes. A steep trail cuts through the zigzagging road used by the bus service, passing through the thick vegetation that covers the mountain. This is quite a tough uphill walk, and most travelers will need around two hours to complete the ascent from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu.
If you book a tour to Machu Picchu, most reputable Cusco travel agents will provide you with assistance from a local guide when getting to and from Machu Picchu, in addition to the guiding service you will need inside the ruins.
Remember that you must have an entrance ticket to visit Machu Picchu. Tickets must be purchased in advance. They are NOT sold at the entrance to the ruins. If you choose a tour or trek to Machu Picchu, your entrance ticket will be included. Be sure to book in advance, because access to the Inca Trail and to Machu Picchu ruins is limited. If you are looking for value for money and a hassle-free experience, you should probably book a tour or trek. Be sure to choose an official Inca Trail and Machu Picchu tour operator.
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