Cusco, capital of the Inca Empire and UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must visit. But, how to get there from Lima? We break it down for you by prices and routes, whether you choose plane, bus or train.
Cusco receives millions of tourists every year. It’s the gateway to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley and holds its own as a must-visit destination. So, how do you get to Cusco from Lima, the only entryway if you’re flying into the country (for now)?
We have you covered. Here are the different ways to get from Lima to Cusco:
Flying from Lima to Cusco
There are two main ways to get to Cusco if you are in Lima. One is by flying, which is the easiest option, but not as scenic and adventurous as other alternatives.
This first option will allow you to arrive in Cusco in just 1 hour and 10 minutes. You can choose between LATAM, Viva Air, Avianca, SKY Airline, and Avianca. They have daily departures to and from Cusco.
Most flights depart in the morning, as early as 5am, and there are fewer options after 11am. You can usually find a flight right away at Jorge Chávez International Airport. But booking in advance (whether it is through a travel agent, online, or through the airline’s website) is recommended.
You can find round trip tickets for as low as USD $37 for a weekend in the imperial city. We found this price for a round trip ticket on LATAM from December 12 through Dec 18, 2019 via Google Flights. The cost for a round trip is usually around USD $60-70. You can find one-way tickets for as low as USD $23, but normally can cost between USD $30-40.
Choose a seat on the left side of the plane to get a better view of the Andes!
Tips if you just landed in Lima
If you are taking a connecting flight from Lima to Cusco as soon as you arrive to Peru, take into consideration that you have to go through customs first. But the process has improved tremendously over the years.
You will have to fill out two forms: Customs Declaration; and Tarjeta Andina (also known as landing card or TAM).
Your Customs Declaration is meant for you to declare the items you are traveling with. If the total value of the items you carry that are not included on this list exceeds USD $1000 you will have to pay taxes in order to bring them into the country.
The TAM card is for you to give further information about your trip. You need to register your main purpose of travel: If you’re staying for a while as a tourist, check “holiday.” If this is the case, it won’t be necessary for you to fill out the option “Amount Expended During Your Stay.” Finally, write down the address you will be staying in. If you don’t know it, you can just write “Cusco.”
At the airport you will go through immigrations and receive a stamp on your passport. The agent will keep half of the TAM for their records. Don’t lose the other half since you will need it to exit the country.
Some of the questions you could get asked by immigrations: Why are you traveling to Peru? How long are you staying? Where are you staying?
Traveling to Cusco from Lima by bus
If you have more time on your hands then you can try for an adventurous experience with a trip from Lima to Cusco by bus.
This option can be time-consuming but it will be scenic and comfortable. The prices are around the same as flights. The best bus companies are Cruz del Sur and Ormeño. Cruz del Sur states you can find one way tickets for as low as USD $24. For dates in December 2019, the price for one way was USD $56.
With these companies, you can choose from two different routes:
This is the quickest route and it takes between 18-21 hours. However, this route does have a reputation for bus hijackings and robberies. You should avoid it if possible.
This is the longer route, from 24-27 hours but it’s safer and smoother than the other option.
Your bus trip can also be broken up into stages so you don’t have to do the entire trip at once. This will also allow you to do some sightseeing in the Nazca Lines or stop in Arequipa where you can travel to Lake Titicaca and Puno.
Hop on and off the bus
If you do want to take advantage of visiting different touristic destinations on your way to Cusco, you can choose Peru Hop, a company that specializes in travel routes around Peru by bus. There are various itineraries to choose from, here’s the itinerary for you to see the best of southern Peru:
Lima – Paracas – Huacachina – Nazca – Arequipa – Puno – Cusco.
Take a train from Lima to Cusco
Unfortunately, there are no trains that will take you from Lima to Cusco but you can get a bus to Arequipa and then to Puno where you can hop on a train to Cusco.
The Belmond Andean Explorer railway will take you from Puno all the way to Cusco’s Huanchac Train Station and the trip takes about 8-9 hours to complete.
If you are visiting Machu Picchu once you have arrived in Cusco, then don’t forget to read our post about the best ways to get to the Inca citadel. One option includes the 360° Machu Picchu Train with panoramic views.
Cover photo: Lima Tours
The original author of this article was Ermelinda Maglione and it has been updated with current prices and information.