Comparative transport to Cusco
Cusco (or Cuzco) is a must in Peru not only for its beauty and great historical interest, but also because it is the gateway to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu.
The distances are quite large and the trips can be long, so it is important to learn about the subject to prepare your trip to Peru. To help you choose between bus, plane and train, here you will find details on the options to get to Cusco from Lima , Arequipa and Puno.
The bus or plane to Cusco: what is the best option?
There is no right answer, it depends on the budget and the time you have to devote to ride during your trip to Peru.
In short : the plane costs more than the bus, but is much faster.
Taking the bus to Cusco has some other advantages such as being able to enjoy the scenery or giving the body more time to acclimatize to the altitude because the climb is done gradually and thus it is easier to avoid the symptoms of harm. altitude.
You should know that buses in Peru are among the most comfortable on the continent, with large seats reclining at 120 or 160 degrees.
Getting to Cusco from Lima
The Lima-Cusco bus ride takes around 22h.
It’s a lot cheaper than flying, so if you have a tight budget and enough time in front of you, this is a good option.
The challenge of the bus ride, in addition to its very long duration is that it is dotted with curves because it crosses the mountains of the Andes and some passengers have nausea, for lack of habit.
Important : as it is a very long journey, you really need to make sure to take a serious bus company that practices strict rules of safety, that is to say who have 2 drivers who alternate to avoid s’ to fall asleep at the wheel and who drive safely on the road because no, it is not at all a standard in Peru.
The best bus company is undoubtedly Cruz del Sur, it is also the most expensive. You can also watch Moviltours , Tepsa , Ormeño and Civa. Prices vary between 100 and 220 soles depending on the companyand type of seat (but I really do not recommend saving on comfort for such a long trip, you may regret it!).
There are 2 bus terminals in Lima: Javier Prado in the center and Plaza Norte in the north of the city. Both are very far away, so be sure to buy your bus ticket from the terminal closest to where you are (Javier Prado is the nearest terminal to tourist areas ).
The flight Lima-Cusco lasts 1h15. This is the most popular route and that’s why there are departures every 30 min, offered by several companies: Peru LC , Peruvian Airlines , StarPeru , Latam (ex-Lan) and Avianca.
The prices vary depending on the airline and the date to but be aware that all companies are created equal. Thus, Latam is the most expensive but is always punctual and offers a good service. Conversely, Peruvian Airlines is cheaper but is known for its many delays and cancellations. Better to avoid it.
As it is a quick trip and in 1h30 you go from 0 to 3400m above sea level, I highly recommend you to take a little tea of coke when you arrive, that all hotels and inns offer, and even to take a small nap.
To find the best flight Lima Cusco or Cusco Lima you can use our flight comparison calculator !
Getting to Cusco from Arequipa
The bus Arequipa-Cusco takes about 10 hours. The road is safe and straight, so the ride is pretty quiet. There are departures all day until evening, and to save time, you can choose the night bus.
For safety, do not fall asleep leaving your valuables unattended because night journeys are ideal for pickpockets. Always have your camera and other valuables or documents near you (eg, bag attached to the arm or under the legs but inaccessible under the seat, etc.), but not in the upper storage compartment.
The serious bus companies that make the Arequipa-Cusco route are Cruz del Sur , Moviltours , Oltursa, Civa and Tepsa and the prices range from 30 soles to 110 soles.
The flight Arequipa-Cusco lasts 1 hour and the company that makes the direct flight is Latam.
Be careful, watch the duration of the trip because there are other companies like Avianca that offer Arequipa-Cusco, but with a stopover in Lima and for a total duration of 6 hours or more.
It must be recognized that the regions of Arequipa and Cusco are magnificent views from above, with their mountainous landscapes. Do not hesitate to take a seat on the porthole side!
Find the cheapest prices on flights from Arequipa to Cusco or Arequipa or use our flight searcher!
Luxury train Arequipa-Cusco
This is a new option launched a few months ago with the Belmond Andean Explorer luxury train. It’s a three-day, two-night trip that starts in Arequipa and goes to Cusco passing Lake Titicaca with all the meals, cocktails, tea time, Titicaca tour and Raqchi tour.
The program is called Andean Plains and Islands of Discovery, the outings are on Saturday nights and prices start at $ 2,450 USD
Go to Cusco from Puno
The bus Puno-Cusco takes 7h30-8h.
It is possible to take the tourist bus by day and enjoy the fantastic scenery between the region of Titicaca and Cusco, in addition to enjoying a few stops on the way, or take the night bus to Cusco if you prefer to save money. time.
There are several companies that make the trip, like Cruz del Sur , Inka Express , Turismo Mer , Wonder Peru Expedition. Prices vary depending on the company and what is included in the ticket (entries are still included, check well!).
The great advantage of the bus compared to the train and the plane, is the fact to be able to have access to some visits on the way, which make the trip an attraction in itself, in addition to being able to stretch the legs. Here are the stops on the road Puno-Cusco:
- Pukara Museum : it is a museum with anthropomorphic monoliths, sculptures representing animals, pottery, and other pre-Inca Pucara artifacts. It was rather well organized, with artisans, farmers, priests, officials, and developed in the north of the Titicaca between 500 BC and 200 AD.
- The Raya : at 4338m above sea level, it is the highest point of the route and offers a perfect place to take pictures. It is located between the valley that leads to Titicaca and the valley that leads to Cusco.
- Raqchi : This is one of the largest Inca sites discovered. It is a sacred complex that unites several buildings, the most important of which is the temple built in honor of the Inca god creator Wiracocha.
- Church of San Pedro de Andahuaylillas : built in the 17th century by the Jesuits, it is a true jewel of Baroque architecture. It may not look outward, but it contains beautiful sculptures and paintings, and is richly decorated inside, which earned it the nickname ” Sistine Chapel of America.”
Flights from Puno to Cusco
The flight Puno-Cusco takes 45 minutes. If several companies make the journey, the only one to do it in direct flight is Latam, the others are with a long stopover in Lima.
Unlike the bus and the train, it is not a scenic drive, but it is by far the fastest option and a good investment to save time !
Puno does not have an airport, it is in Juliaca that you have to go, 1 hour drive. To get to Juliaca Airport, you can take a taxi, a colectivo ($ 5) or arrange private transportation (usually around $ 20 per person, minimum 2 people).
To check prices update the flight Cusco-Puno and Cusco-Puno, you can use our flight search! Once the research done, I advise you to check the final price on many of the proposed sites.
It is not only the train to Machu Picchu that offers a superb panorama! Traveling by train between Puno and Cusco is an experience to live in Peru, between comfort and the landscape.
The PeruRail Titicaca train ride, between Puno-Cusco, lasts 10h30. It operates only 3 days a week, which change according to the season. It costs $ 202 USD ( 50% discount for children between 3 and 11 years old) and includes dinner, a traditional music and dance show, and tea time.
The train is decorated in the style of the 1920s Pullman and the last car specially designed to allow travelers to admire the landscape and take good pictures!
The route is beautiful as the train crosses the Andes through small villages and fields, goes to La Raya (the highest point of the journey at 4338m altitude, Raqchi where we can see the remains of the Wiracocha temple, Sicuani, Urcos, Andahuaylillas church , Rumicolca archeological site of pre-Inca Wari culture, Huambutio Vilcanota river and the Oropesa community, known for the production of fresh bread, before to arrive in Cusco in the evening.
Puno-Cusco luxury train
Since May 2017, there is also the new luxury train Belmond Andean Explorer which makes the trip Puno-Cusco. It’s a 2-day, 1-night train ride called Spirit of the Andes and the ticket costs from $ 840 USD one way and includes meals and night in the cabin (4 choices of cabins) . Departure from Puno Wednesday at noon and arrival Thursday at 7:30 in Cusco.
Go to Cusco from Puerto Maldonado
The bus Puerto Maldonado -Cusco takes 10h-12h, on the Interoceanic Highway through the jungle and the Andes. Among the bus companies that operate it are Moviltours, Civa, Cruz del Sur, with day trips and some night trips.
The flight to Puerto Maldonado-Cusco takes 50 minutes, non-stop, with the companies Latam and Avianca.
Getting to Cusco from Ica
The bus ride Ica – Cusco is between 16h and 19h, and departures are in the afternoon. There are several bus companies that operate it: Cruz del Sur, Tepsa, Civa, Oltursa, Excluciva and tickets cost from 80 to 170 soles.
There is no plane Ica-Cusco, it will then return to Lima to fly to Cusco.
Go to Cusco: some tips
- Bus : It is very important to sleep on long journeys, especially those traveling to Cusco because the journey (altitude + curves) is nausea to many travelers. You should know that noise standards are different in Peru: the volume of films can be very strong and people are not always aware of their surroundings. I strongly recommend that you take earplugs ( earplugs ) to sleep safely.
- Bus : remember to bring warm clothes with you on board. If you leave the coast where it is relatively hot, you will go up in altitude and the temperature will drop several degrees.
- Bus : I want to repeat what I already said above, it is important to take a serious bus company to Peru. Accidents are rare, but can occur due to non-compliance with safety rules by low-cost airlines (careless driving, long hours driving the same driver leading to drowsiness).
- Plane : Some companies like Latam offer two different prices, for residents and non-residents of Peru. Make sure to buy the plane ticket at the price that suits you because otherwise you will have to pay a fine at the airport, at the time of check in, higher than the difference!
Where to stay in Cusco
- Feel at Home : Located in the historic center just a stone’s throw from Plaza de Armas, it’s a good budget hotel in Cusco. The rooms are very clean, the water is hot, the wifi works well and the breakfast is included. From only 8 € in dormitory or 20 euros per room!
- Hostal Inti Wasi Plaza de Armas : this is another good option if you are looking for a little more comfort, with excellent value for money! It is a renovated colonial building, located close to the Plaza de Armas, facing the pretty Plaza Regocijo, with a nice interior patio and comfortable rooms with balcony. Breakfast included. From only 48 euros per night!
- Antigua Casona San Blas : this is a small and intimate hotel in the heart of San Blas. The rooms are very comfortable, the modern and traditional decor offers a warm atmosphere, and the Piedra & Sal restaurant is one of the best in Cusco. Very good breakfast included. From 128 euros per night.
- Palacio del Inka Luxury Collection : one of the best luxury hotels in Cusco. It is a large colonial house facing the Coricancha and 5 minutes from the Plaza de Armas, which has retained its authentic character, with its large stone walls, interior patios and classic decoration. There is a swimming pool, an excellent restaurant, a chic bar, and the Andean Spirit Spa which offers traditional treatments. A rich breakfast is included. From 180 euros per night.
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