There are a number of different ways to get to Machu Picchu, depending on whether or not you want to hike, or would rather reach the summit as fast as possible.
Machu Picchu is not actually in Cusco, in fact it is about a three hour drive away. The mountain and archaeological site are actually more closely located to the town of Aguas Calientes. Many tourists like to spend a night or two in Aguas Calientes prior to climbing Machu Picchu, so that they can rest and be ready for the climb. Aguas Calientes is also a beautiful town, and definitely worth exploring if you have the time.
By bus or car:
You can still access Machu Picchu from Cusco, in a single day. There is a train that runs from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, which is an option that many people choose. The train ride is about three and a half hours long, and you can spend your time taking in the scenery, or squeezing in a last minute nap before the hike. There are a couple of different train companies you can choose from, but it is important to book as early as possible, because the tickets can sell out fast.
By bus or car:
Buses and cars are also options to get to the ancient ruins, and out of all of the ways to get there, they are the cheapest. You can bus or walk to Hidroelectrica, which is about six hours away from Cusco. This is the last town before Aguas Calientes, but this is where the road ends. From here you must either buy a train ticket the rest of the way to Aguas Calientes, or walk along the train tracks. Although this sounds dangerous, there are a number of people that do it, and there are even a selection of little stalls along the three hour walk if you get hungry!
For some people, the journey is just as important, if not more so, than the destination. There are a number of different hikes that can be taken, that will take you to Machu Picchu directly, or will take you to Aguas Calientes, which is close enough for the detour.
The most famous of these hikes is the Inca Trail. This was the path that the Incans used to get to Machu Picchu, and many people dream of walking in their footsteps. It is a sacred path, and the Peruvian government limits the amount of people who can be on the trail each day, in order to preserve it as much as possible. You usually need to book this trek a long time in advance due to high demand, but it is worth it. The trek is usually four days long, and culminates in a sunrise viewing over Machu Picchu.
An alternative hike is the Salkantay trek. This hike is slightly harder than the Inca Trail, but is still considered to be one of the greatest treks in the world. This trail is not limited in terms of how many people can take it, and will provide you with a number of different scenic wonders on your way to Machu Picchu. You will be dropped in Aguas Calientes, but from there it is not difficult to get to the archaeological site, and if you book a tour, most will include the price of admission to Machu Picchu.
For some people, it can be difficult to choose which option is right for them, and the logistics can be difficult, especially for those who do not speak Spanish. Booking through a travel agency such as Peru & U ensures that you are taken care of at every step of the way. Their expert travel advisors will work with you to choose an option that fits you perfectly, and make sure that you will reach Machu Picchu. They can offer you luxury services, and continue to help you even once you have arrived.