A trip to the Peruvian Historical Sanctuary and declared UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu in Peru should not be seen as just a hiking adventure, but as a trip back in time to the Pre-Columbian Inca Site rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. By that time, the people that had founded and built this magnificent hidden city where they settled for a couple of centuries had long ago fled the site, apparently to save their own lives during the Spanish invasion.
Following the Inca trail -either on foot or by riding trains and buses- gives travellers a unique opportunity to soak in the stunning views of the Huayna Picchu mountain and visit landmarks such as the Funerary Stone, the Inca Bridge and the Temple of the Sun, all of them along a walk that will take them through the Andes range.
Visiting the Machu Picchu: trains from Cusco
If your main goal is to see the Inca Citadel and the Machu Picchu museum, you are advised to purchase tickets beforehand so that you are admitted into the site as soon as you arrive. Since it is located in the Cusco region of Peru, a large majority of its visitors opt for finding accommodation in Cusco for their trip.
The most popular means of transportation from Cusco to Machu Picchu are the trains operated by IncaRail and PeruRail, which offer different ticket categories and prices yet ensure every traveller enjoys the breathtaking panoramic views from their seat. Many train routes end in Aguas Calientes, where passengers must transfer to a bus –sometimes included in the price of their train ticket- so as to finally reach the Machu Picchu.
Nearest airports to Machu Picchu in Peru
If you are planning to fly to Peru from abroad, it is very likely that you will need to book flights to Lima airport (Jorge Chávez International) to catch your connecting flight to Cusco airport, Andahuaylas or Aerequipa once there. If you choose airlines like LATAM, Avianca, StarPerú, Peruvian Airlines, Sky Airline or Viva Air Peru, get one single plane ticket with layovers, which is always a more reliable and safer option in case of possible delays or cancellations.
However, if you are touring South America, you might want to know which the closest airports to Machu Picchu in Peru are in order to integrate the visit to Cusco into your itinerary. Continue reading for tips on how to organise your trip.
Closest airport to Machu Picchu: Cusco airport (Alejandro Velasco Astete), located 77 kilometres from the Inca Site in the Southeast of the region. You can fly direct to Cusco from Bogotá in Colombia (with Avianca), Santiago de Chile (LATAM), Arequipa in Peru (LATAM) and the capital city airport, Lima (with LATAM, Avianca, Peruvian Airlines, Star Perú and the low-cost carrier SKY Airline. Unless you are visiting these other cities in South America when you decide to fly to Cusco, you can use Lima as a layover airport when flying from Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Toronto, Madrid, Paris, Dallas, Miami, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Panama, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York City and London (on a seasonal basis), among some other cities.
The second nearest airport to Machu Picchu in Peru is Andahuaylas; it is situated 107 kilometres from the citadel, and handles the route from and to Lima airport as well as some chartered flights. As there are also bus routes available for travellers to go from Andahuaylas to Aguas Calientes and other stops along the Inca trail, this one could be considered as an alternative option during your itinerary planning.
Lastly, Arequipa airport or Rodríguez Ballón terminal is the third nearest airport to Machu Picchu in Peru and it lies 368 kilometres away from the site. Notwithstanding that, there are domestic flights connecting Arequipa to Cusco and Lima airports that are operated by LATAM, SKY airline, Viva Air Perú. It also handles an international route to Santiago de Chile with JetSmart.
Will you be flying to other airports in South America? If so, check out our recommendations for a layover in Sao Paulo – Guarulhos International airport.