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The Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu by Train

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 08-02-2023

The Sacred Valley of the Incas offers you a glorious start to your visit to Cusco and Machu Picchu. A sublime climate, overwhelmingly beautiful landscapes, colonial towns, ancient Inca settlements, and very friendly people, reflect why so many people travel thousands of kilometers to visit this valley. These colonial cities inhabited mostly by artisans, artists, farmers, and people fed up with the bustle of the city, are one of the best places to go not only in Peru but in South America. Learn more about the fascinating tour of The 2-day  Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu by Train as one of the best Machu Picchu tours out there!




Tour through the Sacred Valley 


The Sacred Valley Day Tour from Cusco will take you along the traditional route, you will meet Quechua-speaking residents, wearing traditional costumes, working your fields in the same way they have done so for generations. You will pass through Andean villages built during colonial times, ancient Inca settlements, and visit traditional markets, Inca temples, and city squares, in the middle of a valley that was sacred to the Incas. However, to visit the main archaeological remains of the Sacred Valley, you will need to buy the Cusco tourist ticket.  


Pisaq Archaeological Site




 We will leave Cusco bright and early to head to the market town of Pisaq, you’ll be given a guided tour of the ruins, passing through various structures that once served as homes, storage rooms and temples, and you’ll see Inca altars, carvings, tunnels, caves and the biggest cemetery from Incan times. Once we have finished exploring the ruins of Pisaq, we’ll head down to visit the colorful traditional market, where you can browse the array of local artisan work and other souvenirs. Alternatively, if you’d like to spend more time in the market in Pisaq instead of seeing the ruins, you can talk to your guide and arrange a time and a place to meet (optional).



Pisaq Terraces



Is the largest market town in the Sacred Valley and we will stop here for a traditional Sacred Valley lunch with fresh products from this fertile region.


Urubamba Valley




Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of the Inca emperor Pachacuti, who conquered the region and built the town and a ceremonial center. We’ll spend about an hour exploring these magnificent ruins, visiting the amazing Temple of the Sun, and seeing massive blocks of rock that were perfectly carved and polished by master Inca stonemasons.

Ollantaytambo is also a fine example of Inca agricultural construction and hydro-engineering, with a complex series of stone water fountains, channels, and agricultural terraces, the latter organized by elevation to create different microclimates for crop experimentation. We’ll see the extent of the water system when we return to the town, where fast-flowing water channels built by the Incas are still in use today. Walking to the town square, we’ll have great views of the ruins above us, as well as Inca granaries and storehouses built on the sides of the surrounding mountains. Here we can also watch the daily life of Ollantaytambo, where many of the locals still wear traditional dress.




The Train Journey

From Ollantaytambo, we take the train to Aguas Calientes

You can choose from 3 types of train:


The Expedition Train


 The Expedition train is the standard tourist version to get to Aguas Calientes and is equipped with a half-panorama window. Onboard you will receive a small snack and a hot or cold drink. Seats are allocated and this is the least expensive train to arrive at Machu Picchu.


The Vistadome Train

The Vistadome train is a more luxurious option that has carriages with panoramic windows on the sides and roof, so you can enjoy the scenery in comfortable leather seats. Onboard, you will be offered a snack made with regional Andean products. On the way back, there will be a 20-minute show on board including a typical dance offered by the staff. 

The Hiram Bingham Train


This is the luxury option of the three trains. The Belmond Hiram Bingham train is named after the discoverer of Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham. The exclusive Hiram Bingham train features an elegant dining car, a bar, and unique views through the open-air roof of the carriage that makes the experience even more spectacular. The service is excellent and includes a welcome cocktail, brunch, and a delicious lunch. In addition to that, you can choose from a wide selection of wines. The train cars were specially decorated in 1920s Pullman style and are equipped with polished wooden furniture and large, comfortable armchairs. 


Expedition Service


Machu Picchu


Machu Picchu is one of the most extraordinary places to visit on the planet. This cloud-haloed estate of the Incan emperors is unquestionably a must-visit for every traveler. It’ll have you gasping with awe at every hair-pinning switchback on its old, cobbled pathways and llama-strewn temple ruins. The Peruvian Ministry of Culture requires all travelers to get an official permit to visit Machu Picchu. It’s the latest in a long line of efforts to manage the booming visitor numbers at the site. Crowds are limited to 2,500 people each day and permits should be booked well in advance if you want to secure a place, not to mention a decent entry time. 


Machu Picchu


There was a time when you could simply wander to the Temple of the Sun and spend as long as you like exploring this iconic UNESCO site. However, all that changed back in 2019 when the Peruvian authorities brought in a series of strict measures to try to control the flow of visitors, which many say was risking the integrity and sustainability of the city in the clouds. These measures included a clear time schedule for all people scrambling through Machu Picchu. You now choose a set hour to enter and have a total of four hours to see everything you want to when you’re inside. Entry slots start at 6 AM (those are usually the most sought-after) and finish at 2 PM, so there’s no chance you can be up there for sunset. In addition, there are now one-way walking routes laid out across the archaeological site. You can’t simply hop from the Guardhouse to the Temple of the Sun whenever you please. Instead, you’ll have to follow a set way around from start to finish, and there’s no way to get back in unless you’ve got a second permit for re-entry.


Llama at Machu Picchu


Book The 2-day Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu Tour by train here!