The airport is 3.5km from the town center. Taxis charge about S10. Flight times and airlines can change without warning, so check airline websites for the latest schedules. Daily flights to Lima are with LC Peru, with departures alternating between early morning and mid-afternoon depending on the day. There are morning and afternoon departures on Sundays.
Most buses (to long-distance north- and south-bound destinations, including Lima) arrive and depart from the grandiosely named Terrapuerto Libertadores de America bus terminal to the north of the city center, although you can still buy tickets at the downtown offices (it’s best to ask when buying your ticket where your bus departs from). A taxi to the terminal costs S8.
Transport connections with Lima are via the relatively fast and spectacular Hwy 24 that traverses the Andes via Rumichaca to Pisco. Night departures outnumber day departures, but day trips are naturally more interesting for the wild scenery en route. Choose your bus and company carefully. Ticket prices to/from Lima are wide-ranging – from S40 for a regular seat to S90 for a reclining armchair that you can sleep in. The trip takes around nine hours. Take warm clothing if traveling by night.
Heading north to Huancayo (S30 to S40, seven hours), the road is poor, featuring vertiginous drops with precious little protection: a heart-in-mouth, spectacular old-school Andean bus ride. The main service is with Expreso Molina. Change in Huancayo for onward services to Huánuco, Tingo María, Pucallpa and Satipo.
Heading southeast, the road to Andahuaylas (S30, five to six hours) and on to Cuzco (S50 to S60, 14 to 15 hours) is fully paved, but few companies thus far have the licenses to run the route, meaning there are limited choices. For Cuzco, buses run from Terrapuerto Libertadores de America, but for Andahuaylas the best option is to take a combi (minibus) from Pasaje Cáceres in central Ayacucho. These trips boast fantastic scenery, and are worth doing in daylight.
From Terminal Terrestre Zona Sur, which handles southbound regional departures, the main destinations of note to travelers are Vischongo and the ruins of Vilcashuamán. All manner of vehicles here will offer the route, with Vilcashuamán rates ranging from S20 in a combi to S30 in a coletivo (shared transportation). Departures are early in the morning: get here around 5am to stake your claim to a spot. A taxi to the terminal is S4.
Combis and colectivo taxis go to many local villages, including Quinua (S5, one hour), and to the Wari ruins (S5, 40 minutes), departing from northeast of the center on a yard on Pasaje Flores.
Northwest-bound colectivos to Julcamarca (2½ hours) from where you can also travel via Lircay (a further two hours) to Huancavelica (another three to four hours) leave from Terminal Terrestre Totora, 4km northeast of the center. With changeovers in Julcamarca and Lircay, likely travel time to Huancavelica is eight to nine hours and costs about S120 in total.
Cruz del Sur Top-notch, executive-style service to Lima, with comfortable seats and meals thrown in. Departs from its own terminal, with a bakery across the way to stock up on snacks. Prices vary depending on when and how you purchase the ticket, but start around the S70 mark.
Expreso Molina A good company to know about, with departures from its own terminal not too far from the center. Not tops for comfort, but serves Lima (two daily departures and no less than seven night departures), Huancayo (one daily, five night departures) and Huancavelica (nightly departures).
Expreso Turismo Los Chankas Currently one of the only through services to Cuzco (otherwise, you need to change in Andahuaylas) – departures are at 7:30am (Monday to Saturday) and 8:30pm (daily). Even though the road is now paved, breaking this long journey in Andahuaylas is a good idea.
Turismo Libertadores One of the best of the cheap options to Lima: the one daytime and four nightly departures cost S40 to S60.
Ayacucho has several interesting excursions in its vicinity, running the gamut of regional history from the pre-Inca to Peruvian independence. You can reach them via day tours with agencies in Ayacucho for about S60 per person.
The extensive Wari ruins, 20km above Ayacucho on the road to Quinua, are among the most significant surviving remains of the Wari culture, scattered among fields of bizarre opuntia cacti: a moody spot to contemplate this once-powerful civilization. Information is in Spanish only.
A further 17km beyond the Wari ruins is the pretty village of Quinua, with a museum, Casa de la Capitulación, with erratic hours. Next to that is the room where Spanish royalist troops signed their surrender after the War of Peruvian Independence, leading to the end of colonialism in Peru. A 40m-high white obelisk, intermittently visible for several kilometers as you approach Quinua, commemorates the Battle of Ayacucho, the decisive conflict in the war. It lies 15 minutes’ walk above town via Jirón Sucre The whole area is protected as the 300-hectare Santuario Histórico Pampas de Ayacucho.
The ruins of Vilcashuamán, a former Inca stronghold (considered the geographical center of the Inca empire), lie some 110km south of Ayacucho, near Vischongo. Little remains of the city’s early magnificence but an intact, five-tier pyramid called an usnu survives, topped by a huge stone-carved double throne.