Machu Picchu is on top of a mountain and taking a train is the only way to get there. Then, you need to take the bus to the gate. It is a sizable site, plan 4-5 hours for it. Tips: 1.We took Peru Rail, and the experience was pretty good. They have windows on the top, so you can enjoy the scenery while riding the train. 2.There is a chance that all tickets will be sold out at the last minute, so book the train a few weeks in advance. Peru Rail has a robust online booking system, so it is pretty easy to purchase in advance. Also, they allow rescheduling and cancelation(a small fee) of your booking. Very flexible. 3. Ollantaytambo is a nice village that Peru rail stops by on the way. It is a good idea to take the train from there, and the taxi from Cusco to there is pretty cheap (10 soles to 15 soles from minibus or 4 people shared taxi). Just go to the pevito where the taxis/bus waits for passengers, then, enjoy your cheap trip. 4. It is a myth that you need to get up really early to avoid the long waiting line bus that takes you to the gate, unless you want to see the sun rise or have the first group ticket to Waynapicchu. Some people get there as early as 3:30 am...there's no way to beat them. So, why not take your time and get there around 10am. The waiting time should be less than half an hour. The early waiters normally need to wait 1 hour to get on the bus.... 5. So, how to avoid a crowd? Don't be an early bird, since there are many of those, unless you stay at the very expensive lodge at the gate. The most practical way is to stay late...most people are in day trip groups from Cusco, they normally leave after 2 pm. If you stay in Machu Picchu or Ollantaytambo, you will have time to enjoy the marvelous site with less crowds. 6. You may have already concluded that spending a night or two in Ollantaytambo or Machu Picchu would be a better option than taking a day tour from Cusco. I would suggest Ollyantaytambo over Machu Picchu for its cheaper lodging, pretty environment and because it is the only place with an Inca village in the Sacred Valley. It is only one hour and 40 minutes or so from Machu Picchu, via train. 7. Not many ATMs in Machu Picchu and Ollyantaytambo, so get enough cash before heading out of Cusco. Some places are noting credit cards or charge a fee for that. Of all the tips, here is the most important one: book your Machu Pichuu day ticket days in advance, book half year in advance if planing for the inca trail, a month in advance for a combo day ticket. Unfortunately, their online booking is very lousy, almost impossible to purchase using a foreign credit card. We asked our hotel to book for us.