Most visitors to Cusco arrive by plane from Lima (a 1-hr. trip). In high season, flights arrive by the dozens from Lima as well as Arequipa, Puerto Maldonado, and La Paz, Bolivia, at Aeropuerto Internacional Velasco Astete (tel. 084/222-611), located 5km (3 miles) southeast of the historic center of Cusco. All major Peruvian airlines fly into Cusco, including LAN (tel. 01/213-8200; www.lan.com) Taca (tel. 01/511-8222; www.taca.com); and a new airline, Peruvian Airlines (tel. 01/716-6000; www.peruvianairlines.pe), which recently began offering flights from Lima to Cusco. A number of tour operators have sales booths in the arrivals terminal, and there are also a tourist information booth, an ATM, and currency exchange.
Transportation from the airport to downtown Cusco, about 20 minutes away, is by taxi or private hotel car. (A less convenient combi, or small bus, passes outside the airport car park and goes to Plaza San Francisco; unless you have almost no baggage and your hotel is right on that square, it's not worth the few soles you'll save to take a combi.) Most hotels, even less expensive hostales, are happy to arrange airport pickup. If you take a taxi, note that the fare is likely to drop precipitously if you merely refuse the first offer you get (likely to be S/15-S/20). Taxi fare to Cusco is officially S/10 from the airport to the center, although if you really want to negotiate you can occasionally get one for as little as S/6.
When you exit with your luggage, you will be besieged with offers from taxi and tour-company representatives, many of whom will pretend to have your name on their "arrivals list," just to take you into town and try to score a commission from one of hundreds of tour operators. If you have arranged for your hotel to pick you up, be certain that you are dealing with someone authorized by the hotel and who possesses your exact arrival information.
The airport departure tax is S/18 for domestic flights and S/36 for international flights.
Making the Connection to Cusco -- Flights to Cusco are massively popular, so make your reservations as far in advance as possible if you are arriving from another Peruvian city. Flights are occasionally delayed by poor weather, and sometimes from Lima it is necessary to go through Arequipa if direct flights to Cusco are sold out. Although it is possible to arrive from North America on an overnight flight that theoretically will put you into Lima in time for an early morning flight to Cusco, the window is often quite tight, and a fair number of travelers miss their connecting flights. Also, be sure that your travel agent or airline hasn't inadvertently booked you on a charter, rather than regular, flight to Cusco.
Buses to Cusco arrive from Lima, Arequipa, Puno/Juliaca, and Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon basin. The journey from Lima to Cusco takes 26 hours by land; from Puno, 9 to 10 hours; and from Arequipa, 12 hours. There is no single, central bus terminal in Cusco. Most buses arrive at the Terminal Terrestre, Av. Vellejos Santoni, Cdra. 2, Santiago (tel. 084/224-471), several kilometers from the city center on the way to the airport. Buses to and from the Sacred Valley (Urubamba buses, which go through either Pisac or Chinchero) use small, makeshift terminals on Calle Puputi s/n, Cdra. 2, and Av. Grau s/n, Cdra. 1. For service from Lima, contact the major companies, including Ormeño (tel. 01/472-5000; www.grupo-ormeno.com.pe), Cruz del Sur (tel. 01/311-5050; www.cruzdelsur.com.pe), Oltursa (tel. 01/708-5000; www.oltursa.com.pe), and Transportes Civa (tel. 01/418-1111; www.civa.com.pe). From Puno, the following offer daily service to Cusco: Cruz del Sur , Inka Express (tel. 084/247-887; www.inkaexpress.com), and Imexso Tours (tel. 084/240-801; www.perucuzco.com/imexsotours). From Arequipa, your best bests are Civa and Cruz del Sur.
Cusco has two main PeruRail train stations. Trains from Puno arrive at Estación de Huanchaq (also spelled Wanchaq), Av. Pachacútec s/n (tel. 084/581-414; www.perurail.com), at the southeast end of Avenida El Sol. Trains from Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu arrive at Estación Poroy (tel. 084/581-414), on the outskirts of Cusco. Visitors should be particularly cautious at train stations, where thieves have been known to prey on distracted passengers.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.