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How to Get to Machu Picchu from the US in Under 24 Hours (Epic)

As an airline Pilot, I can understand why you’d want to travel to Machu Picchu quickly. After all, it’s considered the highlight of Peru, if not all of Latin America, and not all of us have more than a weekend to travel.

But there’s good news – it is possible to get from almost anywhere in the continental US to Machu Picchu in under 24 hours. This means it’s even possible to see Machu Picchu from the US in just one weekend.

Here’s how.

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Step 1. Getting to Lima

Downtown Lima is a historic and gorgeous city to visit on your way to or from Machu Picchu.
The gorgeous Plaza de Armas in Lima, Peru.

To get to Machu Picchu in less than 24 hours, you’ll first need to fly into Lima, Peru (LIM) and arrive at the latest at 445AM, if not the evening prior. This is because the last morning flight you can take from Lima and arriving at Cusco in time departs at 610AM.

The ultimate (and risky) absolute last flight options you can take and make it to Macchu Picchu within 24 hours are LATAM departing Miami at 1150PM and arriving in Lima at 0435AM, as well as American departing Miami at 1156PM and arriving in Lima at 440AM. But these are tight, and any delays could ruin your plans.

For a more certain outcome, you should plan to arrive in Lima in the afternoon/evening and then fly from Lima to Cusco as late as 830PM same-day or as early as 5AM the following morning.

Here are some of the best flight options from the US to Lima:
  • New York: JFK (LATAM) 235PM-935PM
  • Newark: EWR (UAL) 230PM-925PM
  • Miami: MIA (LATAM, AA) 345PM-830PM, 530PM-940PM, 537PM-1025PM
  • Fort Lauderdale: FLL (jetBlue, Spirit) 515PM-1000PM, 551PM-1030PM
  • Houston: IAH (United) 425PM-11PM
  • Los Angeles: LAX (LATAM) 1250PM-1125PM

For these late arrivals, I recommend staying at the Wyndham Costa Del Sol Lima Airport located only a few steps from the terminal – it’s the most convenient. You should book the earliest flight to Cusco to maximize your time getting to Machu Picchu (5AM departure from LIM is optimal).

The Wyndham Costa del Sol Hotel at Lima International Airport is a great place to stay overnight.
The amazing view from the Wyndham Costa Del Sol at Lima International Airport.

You can also take connecting flights to Lima from anywhere in the world via:

  • Quito – UIO (Avianca, LATAM)
  • Mexico City – MEX (AeroMexico, LATAM)
  • Bogota – BOG (LATAM, Avianca)
  • Panama City – PTY (Copa) – this has the most connecting options

Step 2. Flying to Cusco

The gorgeous streets of Cusco, Peru.
Cusco is an incredibly cute city worth a visit – perhaps on your return from Machu Picchu!

The next step is flying into Cusco (CUZ), which has the nearest commercial airport to Machu Picchu.

You can find nearly hourly flights from Lima to Cuzco on LATAM and SKY Airlines, as well as ultra low cost jetSmart.

These flights depart Lima anywhere from 5AM to 830PM with a total flight time of approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes.

This means that the most optimal flight option is LATAM departing LIM at 500AM, arriving at CUZ at 620AM.

Theoretically, you should make it to Machu Picchu even if you take the 610AM flight that arrives at Cusco at 730AM, but it would be risky. In any case, I would advise you to not have any check-in bags.

Don’t worry – there are some awesome, expandable carry-on bags that can maximize what you bring without having to check anything in.

Step 3. Taking the train to Machu Picchu

You can ride the train from Poroy or Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu and make it in less than 24 hours.
The train ride across the Sacred Valley onwards to Machu Picchu features spectacular scenery.

The next step is to take a taxi to Ollantaytambo. The drive takes 1.5-2 hours and is quite affordable.

Assuming you take the 5AM flight from Lima (LIM), you should arrive at Cusco at 620AM. At the latest, you can make it to the Ollantaytambo train station by 850AM, in time for the PeruRail 915AM departure to Machu Picchu.

The train schedule on PeruRail from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu - with trains arriving early enough for a same-day visit.
From the PeruRail website, a sample train schedule between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu.

Another option is to take a 20-minute taxi to Poroy, where there are also PeruRail trains to Machu Picchu.

The train schedule from Poroy to Machu Picchu on PeruRail.
The train from Poroy is another great option to get to Machu Picchu quickly and efficiently.

This option is a little bit tighter as the station is busier, but it’s still doable.

In either case, even if you take the train arriving in Machu Picchu at 12:11PM, you still have time to make the 2PM entry slot into Machu Picchu – but I still recommend trying to take the earlier train.

It’s also a great idea to book a transfer ahead of time.

Step 4. Riding the bus from town into Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu offers entry slots at every hour from 6AM – 2PM. This means you need to select a time you know you can make – likely the 1PM or 2PM time slot. Also, you should reserve your slot! You can book refundable tickets here.

The bus station to Machu Picchu is only a 5 minute walk from the train station.

Buses from here to Machu Picchu depart every 10 minutes with the last departure at 2PM.

You can buy your ticket in the city at Av. Hermanos Ayar S / N, before Puente Ruinas, but it’s a better idea to buy tickets directly on the Consettur website beforehand.

Step 5. Enjoy the beauty of Machu Picchu – one of the world’s greatest wonders
Enjoying Machu Picchu in all of its splendor.
I enjoyed hours of Machu Picchu’s spectacular scenery, including Huayna Picchu in the background.

As one of the last time blocks visiting Machu Picchu, you’re far more likely to get a little extra time – and certainly less crowds and better privacy – to enjoy the shocking beauty that is showcased here. Plus, the weather tends to clear up in the afternoon, revealing the gorgeous Huayna Picchu (the mountain in the background).

Theoretically, you could take the bus back down, train back to Cusco, fly to Lima, then take a redeye back to the United States and go from Machu Picchu to the US in less than 24 hours.

That means you could visit Machu Picchu from the United States and return in less than 48 hours total – easily done in a weekend!

But trust me – there’s a lot more to see in Peru – and you won’t want to leave just yet.

Seeing More of Peru: 10 Places You Don’t Want to Miss

Rainbow mountain: an incredible hike at 17,000 feet of elevation.
Rainbow Valley, at over 17,000 feet, is well worth the visit on your next Peru trip!

After seeing the insane beauty of Peru’s undulating mountains, tropical forests, and unbelievable treasures of the sacred valley, you’re sure to want to see more.

A lot more.

So if you have more time, or just a desire to return, here are some of the highlights you won’t want to miss:

  1. Rainbow Mountain and the Red Valley
  2. The Amazon Rainforest
  3. Active volcanos
  4. The rest of the Sacred Valley (such as Ollantaytambo)
  5. Salcantay Mountain (over 20,000 feet!)
  6. Arequipa
  7. Massive desert dunes like Huacahina or Cerro Blanco (practically made for sandboarding)
  8. Nazca Lines
  9. Islas Ballestas
  10. Historic Lima & all its incredible food

Peru has it all.

If you’re wondering how easy it is to move around Peru, have no worries. It’s almost as easy as ever.

Taking a bus around is one way. PeruHop offers super convenient, multi-segment and super-safe bus rides all around Peru.

Or you can rent a car, through Lima is notorious for rough driving – so I’d avoid it unless you are very comfortable with crazy drivers. I personally rented a car from Lima to Huacachina, stopping at Islas Ballestas and the Nazca lines. Most of the highway in Peru is paved, smooth, and safe – only Lima is difficult due to heavy traffic.

Disclaimer: I’m an affiliate with Hotels.com and GetYourGuide,Inc. and as a result may receive commissions at zero cost to you. This is what enables me to keep this small website running at zero cost to you. Thanks for supporting!

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