How to Travel from Lima to Cusco: Transportation Options, Tours, and Costs [2023]

Looking for the best way to travel from Lima to Cusco? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of transportation options for getting from Lima, Peru’s capital city and largest metropolis, to Cusco, the historic Inca Empire capital.

Peru is an incredible country that has a lot to offer. Among the many cities, there is Cusco! Although it might seem small, Cusco is the 7th largest city in Peru. If you are visiting Peru, a great stop for an amazing adventure is the city of Cusco.

Known for its colorful and impressive culture, ancient ruins, and rugged mountains. This city is incredible and it has soo much to see.

Nestled high in the Peruvian Andes, Cusco is an ancient city with a long and storied history.

Once the capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco is now a major tourist destination for travelers from all over, and your Peru Itinerary is not completed without Cusco in it.

View of brown buildings and brown cathedrals under the blue sky
Plaza de Armas – Photo from Canva

Table of Contents

How do I get from Lima to Cusco?

There are various ways that travelers can get from Lima to Cusco, depending on budget and type of transportation. Let’s dive into each of them. 

1. Lima to Cusco by Bus

Taking a bus is an excellent way to get from Lima to Cusco. It’s also the most economical option, with tickets costing as little as $30 USD one-way.

The journey time can range from 16-25 hours, depending on the route and traffic. Here are a few route options you can take:

👉🏻 Routes

Lima > Nazca > Arequipa > Cusco (23 hours)

The bus journey from Lima to Nazca, Arequipa, and Cusco is incredible and offers stunning views of the Peruvian countryside.

The route takes travelers through the breathtaking mountain ranges and includes stops at some of Peru’s most charming towns and cities along the way,

Lima > Nazca > Abancay > Cusco (18 hours)

The bus journey from Lima to Nazca, Abancay, and Cusco is incredibly scenic and takes travelers through the beautiful, rugged terrain of the Peruvian Andes.

It also offers glimpses of some of Peru’s most picturesque towns and cities. This route is a lot shorter than the previously mentioned one.

This is the fastest bus route that you can take to Cusco!

A road in between two mountains in Peru
Road to Cusco from Abancay – Photo from Canva

🚌 Bus Companies

Taking a bus is a great way to get from Lima to Cusco. While it does offer a longer ride, you will be able to explore parts of Peru that you will not be able to see if you flew.

Many companies offer this service. Some have nicer options that offer great amenities, here are some of the most popular choices:

✔️ Peru Hop Bus

The Peru Hop Bus is a great option for getting from Lima to Cusco, offering travelers a comfortable and convenient way to get to their destination.

The company provides several different routes that offer travelers an amazing journey through the Peruvian Andes, taking in sights such as Nazca Lines, Colca Canyon, and Machu Picchu.

✔️ Cruz del Sur

The Cruz del Sur bus is another great option for getting from Lima to Cusco.

They offer several routes with different estimated journey times and costs, so travelers can choose the best one according to their budget and time restrictions.

The buses are well-maintained and comfortable! ensuring a safe and enjoyable journey from Lima to Cusco.

Closeup view of Rainbow Mountain with its magnificent colors under the blue sky
Vinicunca, Rainbow Mountain – Photo from Canva
✔️ Tepsa

Tepsa is a popular and highly reputable bus company that offers direct service from Lima to Cusco.

The journey time between the two cities is approximately 17 hours, with buses departing twice daily.

All buses are modern and comfortable, with air conditioning and access to onboard entertainment such as movies and music.

✔️ Oltursa

Oltursa is one of the best bus companies for traveling from Lima to Cusco.

With modern, comfortable buses and great customer service, Oltursa is an ideal choice for your Peru travels.

Their routes offer a safe and convenient journey through the Peruvian Andes. This is one of the top companies that you can use for travel.

🚌 Amenities on the Lima-Cusco Buses

travelers can expect modern amenities on the Lima-Cusco buses.

Most buses come equipped with air conditioning, comfortable reclining seats, and plenty of legroom for a comfortable ride.

There is also entertainment such as movies and music available on most buses via personal screens in each seat.

Some companies even provide food and beverages on select buses.

💰 Cost

The cost of taking a bus from Lima to Cusco can range from as little as $30 USD one-way. However, depending on the route you choose, it may be more expensive.

For example, taking the Peru Hop Bus could cost around $50 USD for a one-way ticket.

The Cruz del Sur buses tend to be a bit more expensive, but they offer more amenities such as onboard entertainment and snacks.

Overall, taking the bus from Lima to Cusco is an incredibly convenient and cost-effective way when getting around Peru.

With several different routes available, travelers can choose the best one based on their budget and time restrictions.

Qorincacha Temple in Cusco displays amazing architecture
Qoricancha Temple, Cusco – Photo from Canva
🎫 How to buy bus tickets in Peru?

Buying bus tickets for a journey from Lima to Cusco is easy and can be done in several ways.

For those who prefer to buy their tickets online, there are many websites available that offer this service.

These websites usually have secure payment systems, so travelers can rest assured that their booking will be secure.

Another option is to buy tickets directly from bus companies in Peru. Most companies have offices located at the terminals and can help travelers with their purchases.

It is best to arrive early if you plan on buying your ticket in person, the lines tend to be very long during peak season.

2. Lima to Cusco by Plane

Taking a plane from Lima to Cusco is the best option if you are short on time and don’t mind spending a bit of extra money.

There are multiple daily flights available, with most airlines offering direct flights, taking around 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Prices can vary depending on the season but typically range from $60 to $120 USD.

The flight is a great way to quickly get to Cusco, avoiding the long bus journey and saving time.

Pro Tip: The Cusco airport is really small and getting transportation can be challenging. If you are flying to Cusco, I recommend trying to book your transportation ahead of time.

👉🏻 Routes

If you are looking to reduce the travel time on your trip, this is truly the best option.

There is only one nonstop flight available and it takes a little bit over 1 hour, significantly shorter than the 17-hour bus journey! 

🛫 Airlines

✔️ What airlines fly direct from Lima to Cusco?

Multiple airlines offer a direct flight from Lima to Cusco. You will see the most common are: Peruvian Airlines, Latam, and Star Peru.

These three airlines offer direct flights from Lima to Cusco. All three carriers offer a convenient and quick flight, with departures throughout the day!

Sacred Valley in Peru
Sacred Valley – Photo from Canva
✔️ How many flights are there between Lima and Cusco?

There is only one direct flight from Lima to Cusco! this is a great and easy way to travel as you will reach your destination in less than two hours.

💰 Cost

The cost of flights from Lima to Cusco will depend on the season and the airline you choose.

Generally, flights with Latam, Peruvian Airlines, and Star Peru cost around $60-$120 USD round trip.

However, prices can be lower during off-peak times and you can find really great affordable options.

👍🏼 Is it safe to fly from Lima to Cusco?

The best way to travel from Lima to Cusco is by plane. Flying is the fastest and most convenient way to get there, taking only about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

It is also a safe method of transportation as all airlines that operate this route have good safety standards, ensuring the best possible experience for passengers.

3. Lima to Cusco by Car

Driving from Lima to Cusco is not always the preferred method as the roads can be challenging to drive, for travelers looking to explore more of Peru and take in stunning sights along the way.

The entire journey takes around 17-18 hours, depending on traffic and other conditions.

This can be done in one go or split up into two days with overnight stops along the way.

Ruins in Sacred Valley
Sacred Valley Ruins – Photo from Canva

👉🏻 Routes

You can take different routes to visit Cusco, most commonly travelers drive through Abancay and Arequipa.

Travel time via Abancay

The best route for driving from Lima to Cusco via Abancay is the best option for travelers who want to explore more of Peru, The entire journey takes around 17-18 hours

Travel time via Arequipa

It takes roughly 17-18 hours of driving time, depending on traffic and other conditions.

There are some great places you can also stop along the way! Including Nazca and Puno. 

💰 Cost

Depending on gas prices and car rentals, the journey can take you around $170 – $300 USD.

This option is one of the most expensive but if you are traveling with friends it will be a lot cheaper when splitting the costs.

🚗 Self-Drive or Private Driver?

Taking a private driver from Lima to Cusco is an option, but will be a lot more pricey. This is great for those who don’t have the time or want to drive themselves.

Multiple companies offer this service with varying rates and levels of comfort.

The journey takes around 17-18 hours, depending on traffic and other conditions

Machu Picchu filled with tourists
Machu Picchu – Photo from Canva

4. Lima to Cusco by Train

No train runs directly from Lima to Cusco.

You would need to get a bus that takes you to Arequipa and then hop on the train station from there until you reach Cusco. 

⏱ How long is the train ride from Lima to Cusco?

The train ride from Lima to Cusco can take you approximately 30 hours long. Depending on the route you use to reach the train station.

This is not the most recommended method of transportation, as you will need to take a long bus ride to even reach the station and it will take you longer than the other options as there is no direct train. 

How far is Cusco from Lima?

The distance from Lima to Cusco is approximately 1,026 kilometers (637 miles), making it a long journey that would take experienced drivers around 17-18 hours to complete.

For those looking for a faster and more convenient way of getting to their destination, many airlines offer direct flights in just 1 hour and 10 minutes.

What is the cheapest way to get from Lima to Cusco?

The cheapest way to get from Lima to Cusco is by bus.

This can be a lengthy journey, taking up to 24 hours with several stops along the way!

But it offers a few amenities and comfort for each traveler. 

Small house in Machu Picchu with tourists with mountains in the background
Machu Picchu – Photo from Canva

What is the fastest way to get from Lima to Cusco?

The fastest way to get from Lima to Cusco is by plane. Airplane travel is the quickest and most convenient method of transportation!

If you want to reach your destination faster, this will be the best route to safe time. 

What is the most scenic route from Lima to Cusco?

The best and most scenic route to travel from Lima to Cusco is via the city of Arequipa.

This route takes around 17-18 hours, depending on traffic conditions.

Along the way, travelers will be able to take in stunning views of the Andes mountain range, as well as lush valleys and rivers.

When’s the best time to travel from Lima to Cusco?

The best time to travel from Lima to Cusco is during the dry season, which runs from May to September.

During this period, the roads are clear and the weather is mostly sunny. This is ideal for travelers who want to make the most of their journey and have a comfortable trip.

As Peru can experience heavy rains in other months, it is best to plan your trip during the dry season for a smooth journey.

A closeup aerial view of the Incan ruins in Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu – Photo from Canva

Is Cusco worth visiting?

Cusco is worth visiting, especially if you’re looking to explore the best of Peru.

From stunning Incan ruins and amazing sights, Cusco will offer a spectacular experience. You can check out my Cusco Itinerary for more info.

How many days should I spend in Cusco?

Given the stunning Incan ruins and centuries-old cultural heritage of Cusco, it is best to spend at least 3 days exploring.

If you are planning to visit other places like Machu Picchu or Rainbow Mountain, you will need to stay for at least 5 days.

View of green fields and mountains in the background in Cusco
Sacred Valley, Cusco – Photo from Canva

Tours from Lima to Cusco

Cusco has a lot to offer and it is also near the incredible world wonder, Machu Picchu. You will not want to miss visiting!

I recommend taking a tour from Lima to Cusco, this is a great way to explore the best of Peru while ensuring safety. Here are some great tours for you to enjoy:

👉🏻 7-Day Lima and Cusco Tour with Sunrise at Machu Picchu

⭐️ 4.5/5 (82 Reviews)

We went during the pandemic after it was safe enough to travel. Peru is beautiful, and this tour made all the difference. We experienced Lima, Cusco, Aguas Calientes, and Machu Picchu to the fullest. The guides were phenomenal, the sites were breath-taking, and the food was to die for. We can’t recommend this tour highly enough.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Elizabeth_E, Mar 2022

👉🏻 6-Day Private Tour from Lima: Cusco, Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu

⭐️ 5/5 (12 Reviews)

Great visit in Peru made possible by the staff at Cultural Immersions. From the pickup at the airport in Lima to the private tours to the final hotel and transfers to depart, everything was fantastic. The majority of the trip was spent with Fidel our guide and Carlos our driver. Both were knowledgable and funny. A joy to spend time with while learning about the region. The hotels which were provided were comfortable, local and staffed with the most helpful people ever. Everything was first class!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Kevin_K, Aug 2019

👉🏻 Machu Picchu Entrance Ticket

⭐️ 4.5/5 (23 Reviews)

It was easier to buy my ticket on TripAdvisor than on the Machu Picchu website. When I tried to buy it on their website in December for January it wasn’t available but I was able to buy here. Everything was seamless and I was able to get in with them scanning my ticket on my phone.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Tripadvisor Reviewer, Jan 2023

Best Things to Do in Cusco

Cusco is home to many incredible historic sites that you won’t want to miss. Here are some of the best things to do in Cusco.

Front of a white building with blue windows - Chocolate Museum - one of the things you wish to see on your travel from Lima to Cusco
Chocolate Museum, Cusco – Photo from Canva

👉🏻 Hike to the top of Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca or Palccoyo):

Rainbow Mountain is a stunning and unique anomaly located in the Andes. this experience will take a whole day and I recommend using a few tours to facilitate your journey.

👉🏻 Explore the San Blas District:

The San Blas District is located in the historic center. is one of the oldest districts in Cusco and has many interesting historical sites to explore. You will also see a variety of shops, stores, and restaurants.

👉🏻 Visit the Qoricancha Temple:

Qoricancha Temple is a historical attraction located in the heart of Cusco. It was once the most beautiful temple of the Incan Empire. Now, it has been transformed into a museum with many interesting artifacts to explore.

👉🏻 Discover the preserved Inca architecture in Sacred Valle:

The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Cusco. From its preserved architecture to the stunning scenery, it offers an unforgettable experience that will stay with you long after your trip ends.

👉🏻 Tour the Chocolate Museum:

The Chocolate Museum in Cusco is a must-visit for any chocolate lover. Located in the heart of the city, it offers a tour of the history of chocolate and its production process.

View of the Cusco Cathedral under a blue sky
Cusco Cathedral – Photo from Canva


Is Machu Picchu close to Lima or Cusco?

Machu Picchu is actually closer to Cusco than Lima. It is about a 3-4 hour train ride from Cusco to Machu Picchu, whereas it would be a 9-10 hour drive from Lima.

Should I spend more time in Lima or Cusco?

The best way to decide whether you should spend more time in Lima or Cusco comes down to the type of experience you are looking for.

Lima is a big city and it is best known for its urban delights such as its colonial architecture, bustling nightlife, and expansive food scene.

If you’re looking to explore Peru’s best cultural and heritage sites then Cusco is the best place to spend more time.

Cusco is home to many incredible historic sites that you won’t want to miss including Qoricancha Temple, Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca), and of course Machu Picchu.

How many days in Lima is enough?

If you are looking to take in the best of Lima’s colonial architecture and vibrant nightlife, then two or three days would be enough to get a taste of the city.

However, if you also plan on exploring surrounding attractions, then I would recommend at least 5 days.

Here is more information on an incredible 2-day Itinerary to Lima.

What is the best month to visit Lima?

The best time to visit Lima is during the dry season (May-October) as this is when you can expect the best weather. During this period, temperatures are mild and sunny with clear skies. This makes Lima an ideal destination for sightseeing, outdoor activities, and beach trips. The days are long, and sunny and the humidity levels are low.

Is Cusco cheaper than Lima?

Cusco is generally considered to be cheaper than Lima, although the difference in prices isn’t huge. Hotels and restaurants tend to be at least 20% cheaper in Cusco and transportation costs such as taxis are slightly lower.

Can you get to Machu Picchu from Lima?

Yes, you can get to Machu Picchu from Lima although it is not the most direct route. The best way to travel from Lima to Cusco is by taking a flight. From Cusco, there are two main ways to get to Machu Picchu: by train or by hiking the Inca Trail.

View of Machu Picchu with mountains in the background
Machu Pichu, Cusco – Photo from Canva

Final Thoughts on Traveling from Lima to Cusco

Traveling from Lima to Cusco is an incredible journey that offers something for everyone.

There are plenty of ways you can get to Cusco! Either by bus, car, or flying.

I recommend flying if you are trying to save time and get to your destination quickly.

Although if you have more time on your hands then taking a bus or even driving can be an amazing adventure as well.

No matter how you decide to make this trip, it will surely be one full of memories that last a lifetime!

If you are visiting Cusco, it is a great opportunity to visit some of its incredible sites like Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, etc.

Seeing a world wonder is a bucket list and I highly recommend at least seeing Machu Picchu.

For more information on visiting another unique sight in Cusco, you can read all about the spectacular Rainbow Mountain.

Overall, traveling from Lima to Cusco is an amazing journey full of unique experiences.

By following these tips for the best way to get from Lima to Cusco, you can reach your destination as smoothly as possible! 

About the Author

This post was a contribution from Paola from Corporate millennial. Paola is a passionate travel and lifestyle blogger who loves to share her experiences and knowledge about navigating life. Whether it be through travel, budgeting, balancing a corporate job, and much more!