PeruRail Luxury Train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca

by Sojourner

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The luxury train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca is one of the most iconic train rides in the world. While Peru may be known for Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain, many people don’t know of this train experience. And I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t miss it!

The Lake Titicaca train has been on my bucket list as an avid solo traveler. Though there are even more luxury options, such as the Andean Explorer, this ride was the most affordable for me. So, when it came time for my solo trip to Peru, I knew I had to fit it into my schedule.

Therefore, if you are headed to Peru solo or with a group, you must take advantage of this scenic train! And if you only have an extra day or two, squeeze it in. Here is everything you need to know about the train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca on PeruRail.

(FYI: This post may have affiliate links. If you buy something using my link, I get a small percentage for mentioning/recommending it. Lucky for you, it doesn’t change the price for you at all, and it’s a super easy and generous way to say thanks for all the work I put into writing this post!!)

FAQs about the Lake Titicaca train 

How long is the train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca?

The train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca is 10 hours long, one-way, and the schedule varies. If leaving from Cusco, you go to the Wanchaq Station, which departs at 7:10 am every Wednesday and 7:50 am every Friday and Sunday. The Lake Titicaca train arrives in Puno at 5:40 pm on Wednesdays and 6:20 pm on Fridays and Sundays.

However, you can also take the Lake Titicaca train in the opposite direction. On Thursdays, Saturdays, and Mondays, the train leaves Puno at 7:30 am and arrives in Cusco at 5:50 pm. I did not take this direction; thus, I am unsure how (or if) it differs from the Cusco to Puno route.

Is there a train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca?

Technically, there is not a direct train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca. The PeruRail Titicaca train ends in Puno, Peru, only 45 miles from Lake Titicaca. Puno is the closest city on the Peruvian side that provides easy access to Lake Titicaca.

How long do you need at Lake Titicaca?

Once you take the train to Lake Titicaca, the length of your trip is up to you. I only stayed a day due to having limited time on my solo trip. But you can do tours of the floating village and other excursions on Lake Titicaca. You can coordinate these with your hotel or Airbnb host.

When is the best time to take the train to Lake Titicaca?

The best time to take the Lake Titicaca train depends on what weather you like. I went in the middle/end of November, and the weather was a little cloudy but also sunny. In general, Peru’s dry season is from  April to October, which has the best weather. Their wet season is November to March, but regardless, the nights can get cold.

Is there an overnight option for the Lake Titicaca train?

Since the train to Lake Titicaca is only 10 hours, there is no overnight option. Thus, it is considered a luxury ride, not a sleeper car adventure. However, you can take the train and stay overnight in Puno, where the train ends or arrange transportation to Lake Titicaca (on the Peruvian side).

13 things to know before booking the luxury train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca

You only book it one-way

Generally speaking, the Lake Titicaca train is not a round-trip experience. For $275, you ride one-way from Cusco to Lake Titicaca or vice versa. While you could wait to take the train back to Cusco, many people arrange transportation to fly out of Juliaca (an hour away) to Lima. Others catch a bus if they want to continue to Bolivia or elsewhere.

Breakfast is not included in the ticket

One thing to know about the Lake Titicaca train is that breakfast is separate. Therefore, you can opt to eat before you get on the train. However, I waited to order breakfast on the train, and it was delicious. They have an à la carte menu, or you can buy an entire breakfast platter with eggs, meat, bread, and drinks like orange juice, water, and coffee.

The three-course lunch has vegetarian options

Yet, your ticket includes an extravagant three-course lunch. The gourmet lunch was one of the main reasons I booked the train ride: I had heard and read great things about it. And if you are vegetarian, they have meat and non-meat options for you to enjoy. Plus, you get a glass of wine with your meal!

You can relax in the bar car

One aspect of the luxury train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca that I loved was the bar car. Not only did the train have a bar, but there was also comfy seating available on single couches. If you want to move around the train, you can also sit here to embrace the calmness of the views.

There is entertainment and performances

Speaking of the bar car, you must attend the entertainment on the train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca! This was one of my favorite parts of the luxury train ride. The dancers and singers were talented, and we learned about Peruvian culture through it all. There’s even a pisco sour demonstration near the end of the ride, too.

Get fresh air on the outside terrace

Many people like access to windows and fresh air to avoid feeling cooped up while traveling. Lucky for you, the Lake Titicaca train has outdoor seating so that you can enjoy the fresh air! It can get crowded at certain parts, but the views are incredible regardless of whether you sit or stand.

Feel fancy during the afternoon tea

The afternoon tea is one of the cutest aspects of the Lake Titicaca train. You are asked to return to your seat a few hours after lunch. When you do, they offer you tea, little sandwiches, and a mini dessert to enjoy before the train ride officially ends.

Solo travelers are seated at one-person tables

If you are a solo traveler considering taking this train ride, you will have the solitude you desire! Unlike other trains I’ve taken, I sat at a table for one. This meant I didn’t have to make any awkward small talk or forced conversations if I did not want to. I don’t mind chatting with people, but listening to the sounds and sights around me was refreshing.

The train is wifi-less

Your reliance on Wi-Fi is blocking your travel blessings! So do not dismiss this train right because there is no Internet. For the 10 hours on the train, there are many things you can do to avoid boredom. Reading a book, enjoying the views, and listening to music are a few options.

Sit back and enjoy the views

You booked the train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca mainly for the views. You will pass by the Andes, traditional Andean villages, rivers, and more. So, in your comfortable seat, sit back, relax, disconnect, and sightsee from the train.

The bathrooms aren’t bad

Travelers are always worried about the bathroom situation on trains. And after my train ride from Cusco to Lake Titicaca, I can confirm the bathrooms are decent. They are cleaner than airplane bathrooms but not anything out of the ordinary.

You arrive at night to Puno

One of my solo travel safety tips is to avoid arriving at places at night. However, depending on the time of year, you may arrive in Puno at night. I took this train ride at the end of November; it was dark when we arrived. Therefore, to ease any solo travel anxiety, you should coordinate your transportation so you don’t have to wait too long by yourself.

Arrange transportation from Puno to Lake Titicaca

Since the Lake Titicaca train ends in Puno, you must find transportation. I recommend working with your accommodations to see if they offer transport to and from your hotel or Airbnb. Uber is not an option in Puno.

Since I stayed in an Airbnb with one of the floating villages of the Uros people, I coordinated with my host, Vidal. He arranged a taxi from the train station to the port and a boat from the port to the lake. All of this was about 50 or 60 soles.

What to pack for the Cusco to Lake Titicaca train

Comfortable pants and shoes

Soft and comfy clothing is critical on this train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca! You will sit in a few spots for a long time and don’t want to be uncomfortable. Pack leggings, your comfiest jeans, slip-on shoes, or whatever makes you feel at home but on a train.

Camera

The luxury train ride from Cusco to Lake Titicaca must be captured! Thus you have to bring a camera on your trip to Peru. I got my iPhone 12 Pro Max and my Canon Rebel T6i to take videos and pictures. You don’t need a fancy camera, but whichever one you use, ensure it’s good quality.

Snacks

Even though food and an afternoon tea are included with your ticket, you still make it hungry! You can purchase additional food on the train if you choose, but if you want snacks, I recommend packing them.

Portable charger

A portable charger is one of my top train travel essentials. Though plugs are by your seat and a few in the bar car, you should pack a portable charger. This charger makes it easier to keep the battery on your devices full and ready.

Travel pack 

I love a good fanny pack to carry my most valuable items. And on a train where you’re going from car to car, you don’t want to take a large backpack. I use the BEIS Sport Pack as my fanny pack of choice. But there are many options you can find out there, too!

Downloaded music and podcasts

Download some entertainment to keep yourself busy between the meals and the views. I recommend having music, books on your Kindle and podcasts handy for your train ride from Cusco to Lake Titicaca. But I did see some people watching movies on their tablets and phones, too.

What it’s like being a Black solo female traveler on the Lake Titicaca train

Like many other train travel experiences, I had no issues as a Black solo female traveler. While I was the only Black person on this train, I did not feel out of place or experience racism. And for that, I am relieved, as it’s ridiculous to deal with anyway!

Everyone was friendly and accommodating, from the people who worked on the train to the passengers I met. Most people kept to themselves; other times, a few made small talk. Mostly, I sat back and relaxed alone, which I loved.

Final thoughts: Is the Cusco to Puno train worth it?

As someone who loves solo train travel, this has been one of my favorite luxury rides! The style of the train, the entertainment, the food, and the views made it a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you have time to add it to your Peruvian itinerary, I 100% recommend it. 

And compared to some of the other more expensive trains in Peru, at $275, I am happy with the experience. Go solo, with a partner, or bring a friend to enjoy it. But no matter what, book the train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca.

Want to know about more things to do in Peru? Check out this solo female travel guide!

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