Cusco Travel Guide: Things to Do in Cusco, Peru

Welcome to the vibrant city of Cusco, Peru! Nestled in the heart of the Andes Mountains, Cusco is a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. As the former capital of the Inca Empire, this enchanting city is steeped in ancient traditions and archaeological wonders.

Cusco serves as the gateway to the world-renowned Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a history enthusiast, or a culture lover, Cusco has something to offer for everyone.

This travel guide will provide you with essential information and insights to make the most of your visit to Cusco. From exploring the captivating ruins of Sacsayhuaman to strolling through the narrow cobblestone streets of the historic center, Cusco promises an unforgettable experience.

You’ll discover the must-see attractions and landmarks, such as the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, and the colorful San Pedro Market. Immerse yourself in the local culture by experiencing traditional festivals, sampling delicious Peruvian cuisine, and interacting with the warm and welcoming locals.

For adventure enthusiasts, Cusco offers a plethora of thrilling activities, including hiking the iconic Inca Trail, exploring the Sacred Valley, or embarking on a scenic train journey to Machu Picchu. Whether you choose to trek through breathtaking mountain landscapes or take a leisurely stroll through ancient ruins, the natural beauty surrounding Cusco is awe-inspiring.

In this guide, you’ll also find practical information on transportation, accommodation options, weather conditions, and safety tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit. Cusco’s high elevation requires acclimatization, so we’ll provide you with guidance on managing altitude sickness and staying healthy during your trip.

So, get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey as we unveil the wonders of Cusco. Whether you’re fascinated by history, captivated by natural beauty, or simply seeking an authentic cultural experience, Cusco will leave an indelible mark on your travel memories. Let’s explore the magical charm of Cusco together!

Cusco Travel Guide: Things to do in Cusco, Peru

Cusco City Guide: A Brief History Of Cusco, Peru

The history of Cusco is a fascinating tale that dates back thousands of years. As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Americas, Cusco holds immense historical and cultural significance. Here is an overview of the captivating history of Cusco, designed to enrich your travel experience:

  1. Inca Empire (13th to 16th Century): The story of Cusco begins with the rise of the Inca Empire. The Incas, led by their legendary ruler Pachacuti, established their capital in Cusco around the 13th century. Under Inca rule, Cusco flourished as a thriving city and the political, economic, and religious center of the empire.
  2. City Planning and Architecture: The Incas were renowned for their remarkable city planning and architectural prowess. Cusco was meticulously designed, with well-laid-out streets, grand plazas, and impressive stone structures. Many of these architectural marvels, such as the Temple of the Sun (Coricancha) and the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, still stand today as a testament to their ingenuity and craftsmanship.
  3. Conquest by the Spanish (16th Century): In 1533, the Spanish conquistadors, led by Francisco Pizarro, arrived in Cusco. After a fierce battle, they successfully overthrew the Inca Empire and established Spanish colonial rule. The Spanish influence is evident in the city’s architecture, as they often built their structures on top of Inca foundations.
  4. Spanish Colonial Era: During the colonial period, Cusco became an important administrative and religious center for the Spanish. The Spanish erected churches, monasteries, and mansions, blending European architectural styles with Inca foundations. The most prominent example is the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, built on the foundations of the Inca Temple of the Sun.
  5. Independence and Modern Era: Peru gained independence from Spain in 1821, marking a new chapter in Cusco’s history. Over time, Cusco developed into a vibrant city, preserving its rich cultural heritage while embracing modernity. Today, it remains a UNESCO World Heritage site and a major tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the globe.

Exploring the history of Cusco while visiting the city allows you to appreciate the remarkable legacy of the Incas and the influences of Spanish colonialism. Visit archaeological sites, museums, and historical landmarks to delve deeper into Cusco’s captivating past. Engage with local guides to gain deeper insights and immerse yourself in the stories and legends that have shaped this remarkable city.

Cusco Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Peru

Situated at a breathtaking 11,100 feet above sea level, Cusco is a city that once served as the headquarters for the Incan Empire. While many people think of this place as a base camp of sorts for those heading to Machu Picchu, there is so much more to explore in this city and in the surrounding area than just this one well-known attraction.

With a variety of ruins relating to the Incan people and other civilizations that came before them, as well as a variety of Spanish colonial buildings erected after Pizarro and his men succeeded in pacifying the incumbent civilization in the area, there is much to see and explore during your time in this lofty city.

While Cusco is well known for Machu Picchu, there are many other historical sites that chronicle the extensive cities and fortresses that the Inca used to inhabit. The first of these is Saksaywaman, which is situated on the northern outskirts of the city.

The citadel that was started by the Killke Empire before the Incas took over in the 13th century, but the Incan civilization added to the work that the prior civilization had begun, forming a wall of heavy stones that somehow held together without using mortar to fuse them. Forming a strong front that served to protect Cusco from invaders, it was the site of a pitched battle that became one of the last stands by the Inca against the Spanish juggernaut.

While a good portion of this fortress is in pieces due to the fact that the Spanish quarried the walls to use them to construct their version of city of Cusco, it is easy for visitors to see what a formidable challenge this fortification posed to invading armies, even one that was as technologically advanced as the Spanish back in the fifteenth century.

While the House of the Sun, or Qurikancha as it was once known to the Incan people, no longer exists in its intact form seeing how the Convent of Santo Domingo now stands in its place, the foundations upon which it was built remain.

When it did exist though, its walls were coated with gold from top to bottom, most of which were stripped bare in order to pay a ransom to the Spanish in return for the life of the ruler of Cusco following the conquest of the city.

The church that they built on the site has crumbled badly in several earthquakes that has occurred since then, but the foundation, built by the Incans using their infallible masonry technique has remained steadfast in every one of those tremors.

There are several other Incan ruins outside of the city of Cusco that are well worth your attention: the first is Moray, which features Terraces that many speculate that the Incans used to conduct agricultural research on the effects of various microclimates on crops; another of these sites is Tambomachay, which is a small ruin complex that was thought to have been a military outpost along the road to Cusco, or a spa resort for the elite rulers of the area; finally, Pikillaqta is the ruins of a Wari village, which was part of a civilization that existed before the Inca came to power in the area.

The last place mentioned is thought to have been a feasting site where members from various villages in the area gathered to celebrate special days in their religion.

As far as the Spanish contribution to the Cusco area goes, one of its most spectacular structures is unquestionably the Cusco Cathedral. Built in the Gothic Renaissance style, the Cusco Cathedral has a good number of artifacts that are well worth checking out.

Its silver cast altar, the Maria Angola Bell, paintings by Marcos Zapata, and a crucifix featuring a Christ that has been blackened by centuries of smoke that have wafted up from candles burnt within the church’s interior are just a few of the things you can expect to find within the Cusco Cathedral.

When it comes to doing cultural activities in the Cusco area, the one thing that you will likely be doing during your time in the area is hiking the Inca Trail, or if you are running low on time, taking the train directly to Aguas Caliente, which is located a stone’s throw from the lost city of Machu Picchu.

Hiking in via the trail requires you to plan ahead, as trips in the high season are often booked up weeks or even months in advance. That said, be sure to go with tour providers that respect the environment, treat their porters well, and display a good deal of confidence when it comes to expressing their passion for the history and culture of the region.

For those wondering, Machu Picchu is a lost city that had been long forgotten about after the Spanish conquest of Peru, yet it had the remarkable fortune of never being visited by the conquistadors, as the sacred temples within were not defaced by Spanish forces in the same manner that other temples had suffered.

As a result of local people keeping their mouths shut about the location of this remarkable ruin complex, it remained intact until an American visitor discovered it again in 1911. Shrouded in cloud in the early morning hours in a visually stunning fashion, it will be an iconic sight that you or your travel companion will never be able to forget.

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Cusco, Peru

When back in town, make sure to hit up Centro Historico De Cusco. Within the bounds of this part of the city, you can find many colonial buildings, churches, museums, and other attractions. When you are done exploring them, you can relax in many restaurants, bars, and shop in a variety of boutiques that specialize in authentic Peruvian and Incan crafts.

Those that are into artifacts that represent the artistic life of pre-Columbian Peru will enjoy a visit of a few hours within the walls of Museo de Arte Precolombino.

Sharing some exhibits with its sister museum in Lima (the Larco Museum), it contains a great deal of jewelry, pottery, sculptures and paintings that represent the flourishing of human civilization in a large part of South America, all while other major civilizations in Europe and Asia were none the wiser about what was going on in this yet to be discovered part of the globe.

Finally, heading to the Mercado Central de San Pedro is a great way to get a feel on local cuisine and social life of this part of Peru. From freshly squeezed juice to donkey heads, you can find a great variety of foodstuffs within the spacious halls of this market.

Additionally, you can find many souvenir stands where you can buy authentic handicrafts as gifts for your friends and family before heading home.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Top 33 Things To Do in Cusco, Peru For Visitors

Here are the top 33 things to do in Cusco:

  1. Visit the iconic Machu Picchu: Explore the awe-inspiring ruins of Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Take in the magnificent views, marvel at the precision of Inca stone masonry, and immerse yourself in the ancient Inca civilization.
  2. Hike the Inca Trail: Embark on a multi-day trek along the famous Inca Trail, a breathtaking journey that takes you through stunning landscapes, cloud forests, and Inca archaeological sites before reaching Machu Picchu.
  3. Explore Sacsayhuaman: Discover the archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman, an impressive complex with enormous stone walls. Marvel at the precision of the Inca stonework and enjoy panoramic views of Cusco from its hilltop location.
  4. Wander through the historic center of Cusco: Stroll through the cobblestone streets of Cusco’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Admire the colonial architecture, visit the Plaza de Armas, and explore the vibrant markets and shops.
  5. Visit the Temple of the Sun (Coricancha): Explore the ruins of the Temple of the Sun, also known as Coricancha, which was once the most important Inca temple in Cusco. Observe the blend of Inca and Spanish architecture within its walls.
  6. Experience San Pedro Market: Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavors of San Pedro Market. Sample local fruits, vegetables, and traditional Peruvian dishes, and browse through the handicrafts and textiles on display.
  7. Explore the charming San Blas neighborhood: Take a leisurely walk through the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, known for its narrow streets, art galleries, and workshops. Admire the beautiful colonial buildings and visit the San Blas Church.
  8. Visit the Cathedral of Santo Domingo: Admire the grandeur of the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, located on the Plaza de Armas. Explore its ornate interior, admire the colonial artwork, and learn about its historical significance.
  9. Discover the Qorikancha Museum: Explore the Qorikancha Museum, housed in the Convent of Santo Domingo. Learn about the history and significance of the Inca Temple of the Sun through a collection of artifacts and displays.
  10. Day trip to the Sacred Valley: Take a day trip to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, visiting sites like Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Explore Inca ruins, browse local handicraft markets, and soak in the natural beauty of the valley.
  11. Enjoy views from Mirador de San Cristobal: Climb up to Mirador de San Cristobal for panoramic views of Cusco. Admire the city’s red-tiled rooftops, the Plaza de Armas, and the surrounding mountains.
  12. Explore the bohemian district of San Blas: Wander through San Blas, known for its vibrant arts scene. Visit art studios, galleries, and workshops showcasing local craftsmanship, paintings, and jewelry.
  13. Attend a cultural show: Experience traditional Andean music and dance by attending a cultural show in Cusco. Enjoy colorful costumes, lively performances, and learn about Peru’s diverse cultural heritage.
  14. Visit the Inca Museum (Museo Inka): Discover the history of the Incas at the Inca Museum. Explore the extensive collection of artifacts, including pottery, textiles, and metalwork, providing insights into Inca civilization and daily life.
  1. Take a cooking class: Learn to prepare authentic Peruvian dishes through a cooking class. Engage with local chefs, visit local markets to select fresh ingredients, and master the art of cooking traditional Peruvian delicacies like ceviche, causa, or lomo saltado.
  2. Embark on a horseback riding adventure: Explore the stunning countryside surrounding Cusco on a horseback riding excursion. Ride through picturesque valleys, visit local communities, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Andean landscapes.
  3. Visit Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca): Take a day trip to Rainbow Mountain, known for its vibrant, multicolored slopes. Hike to the summit and witness the natural phenomenon created by the interplay of minerals, creating a breathtaking spectacle.
  4. Explore the ruins of Moray: Discover the unique circular terraces of Moray, an Inca archaeological site. Learn about its agricultural significance and speculate on its purpose as an experimental agricultural laboratory.
  5. Discover the Maras Salt Mines: Visit the salt mines of Maras, a series of thousands of terraced salt pools that have been used for salt extraction since Inca times. Take in the mesmerizing views and learn about the traditional salt production methods still in use today.
  6. Go white-water rafting: Experience an adrenaline rush by going white-water rafting on the Urubamba River. Navigate through thrilling rapids and enjoy the stunning natural scenery along the way.
  7. Explore the Q’eswachaka Inca Bridge: Visit the last remaining Inca rope bridge, Q’eswachaka, located in the countryside near Cusco. Witness the annual rebuilding ceremony, where locals come together to renew this ancient tradition.
  8. Venture into the Amazon Rainforest: Embark on a multi-day excursion to the Amazon Rainforest from Cusco. Explore the incredible biodiversity, spot exotic wildlife, and learn about the indigenous communities that call this vibrant ecosystem home.
  9. Trek to Humantay Lake: Take a challenging yet rewarding hike to Humantay Lake, a pristine turquoise lake nestled amidst the snow-capped mountains. Enjoy the stunning natural beauty and capture incredible photos of this breathtaking landscape.
  10. Visit the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art: Explore the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, which showcases an impressive collection of ancient artifacts and artwork from various pre-Columbian cultures of Peru.
  11. Attend Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun: If visiting in late June, witness the grand celebration of Inti Raymi, an ancient Inca festival honoring the sun god Inti. Experience vibrant rituals, traditional music, and colorful processions that recreate this ancient Inca ceremony.
  12. Take a scenic train ride to Aguas Calientes: Board a picturesque train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, the gateway town to Machu Picchu. Enjoy the stunning views along the way as the train winds through the mountains and valleys.
  13. Explore the Textile Center of Chinchero: Visit Chinchero, known for its rich textile heritage. Learn about traditional weaving techniques, observe local weavers in action, and purchase high-quality textiles directly from the artisans.
  14. Discover the Andean Baroque Art of Cusco: Visit the Cusco School of Art, known for its distinctive blend of indigenous and European artistic traditions. Admire the intricate religious paintings and sculptures that characterize this unique art style.
  15. Take a Pisco tasting tour: Sample Peru’s national spirit, Pisco, on a tasting tour. Visit local distilleries, learn about the production process, and savor different Pisco varieties and cocktails.
  1. Explore the neighborhood of Pisaq: Visit the charming town of Pisaq and explore its archaeological site, known for its terraced hillsides and intricate Inca ruins. Discover the impressive agricultural terraces, temples, and residential areas that offer a glimpse into the ancient Inca civilization.
  2. Discover the hidden gem of Choquequirao: For adventurous travelers, embark on a multi-day trek to Choquequirao, often referred to as the “sister city” of Machu Picchu. Explore this remote and less-visited archaeological site, surrounded by stunning mountain scenery and vast terraces.
  3. Marvel at the beauty of the Cusco Cathedral Art Museum: Step inside the Cusco Cathedral and explore its Art Museum, which houses a collection of religious artwork, including paintings, sculptures, and gold and silver artifacts. Admire the intricate details and craftsmanship on display.
  4. Participate in a traditional Andean ceremony: Immerse yourself in the local culture by participating in a traditional Andean ceremony, such as a Pachamama (Mother Earth) offering or a coca leaf reading. Engage with local shamans and gain insights into Andean spiritual practices.

These 33 activities provide a diverse range of experiences that showcase the historical, cultural, and natural wonders of Cusco and its surroundings. From exploring ancient ruins and vibrant markets to immersing yourself in traditional ceremonies and breathtaking landscapes, Cusco promises an unforgettable journey that will leave you with lasting memories.

Cuy is a must try dish for visitors to Cusco, Peru

What To Eat and Drink in Cusco, Peru

Cusco offers a vibrant culinary scene with a variety of traditional and fusion dishes that showcase the flavors of Peruvian cuisine. Here are some must-try foods and drinks when visiting Cusco:

  1. Cuy (Guinea Pig): Considered a delicacy in Peru, cuy is often roasted or fried and served with potatoes or other accompaniments. It has a unique taste and texture and is a traditional Andean dish.
  2. Anticuchos: These skewered and grilled meats, typically made with beef heart, are marinated in a flavorful sauce and cooked to perfection. They are often served as street food and are packed with rich, smoky flavors.
  3. Ceviche: Enjoy the refreshing flavors of ceviche, a dish made with fresh fish or seafood marinated in citrus juices, such as lime or lemon, and mixed with onions, chili peppers, and cilantro. It’s a popular coastal dish that can be found in Cusco’s seafood restaurants.
  4. Lomo Saltado: This flavorful stir-fry combines strips of beef, onions, tomatoes, and spices, all sautéed together and served with fries and rice. It’s a delicious fusion of Peruvian and Chinese cuisine.
  5. Rocoto Relleno: Rocoto is a spicy pepper native to Peru, and rocoto relleno is a dish where the pepper is stuffed with a flavorful filling, often made with minced meat, onions, garlic, and spices. It’s typically baked with cheese on top and served with potatoes.
  6. Aji de Gallina: This creamy and mild chicken dish features shredded chicken cooked in a sauce made from yellow chili peppers, bread, milk, and nuts. It’s often served with rice, boiled potatoes, and a garnish of olives and hard-boiled eggs.
  7. Pisco Sour: Peru’s national drink, the Pisco Sour, is a refreshing cocktail made with Pisco, a grape brandy, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, and bitters. It’s shaken and served chilled, creating a delightful balance of sweet, sour, and aromatic flavors.
  8. Chicha Morada: This non-alcoholic beverage is made from purple corn, fruits, spices, and sweetened with sugar. It has a deep purple color and a fruity, refreshing taste. Chicha Morada is a popular traditional drink in Peru.
  9. Cusqueña Beer: Enjoy the local brew, Cusqueña Beer, which comes in various styles, including lager, dark beer, and wheat beer. It’s a great way to quench your thirst and enjoy the flavors of Cusco.
  10. Quinoa: Sample dishes made with quinoa, a nutritious grain that has been a staple of Andean cuisine for centuries. Try quinoa soup, quinoa salad, or quinoa-stuffed peppers for a healthy and satisfying meal.
  11. Choclo con Queso: This simple yet delightful dish consists of boiled giant Peruvian corn served with a side of fresh cheese. The combination of the sweet corn and the salty cheese creates a perfect balance of flavors.
  12. Picarones: Satisfy your sweet tooth with picarones, a popular Peruvian dessert made of fried sweet potato and squash dough, shaped into doughnut-like rings. They are drizzled with a sweet syrup made from molasses and flavored with spices like cinnamon and cloves.

When in Cusco, don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in these delectable dishes and beverages, as they represent the diverse flavors and culinary traditions of Peru.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Top Restaurants In Cusco, Peru

Cusco boasts a vibrant culinary scene with numerous restaurants offering a range of delicious Peruvian and international cuisines. Here are some top restaurants in Cusco that you may consider for a memorable dining experience:

  1. Cicciolina: Known for its eclectic and creative dishes, Cicciolina offers a fusion of Peruvian and international flavors. The menu features fresh seafood, grilled meats, and vegetarian options, all prepared with a modern twist. The cozy ambiance and rooftop seating provide stunning views of the city.
  2. Chicha por Gastón Acurio: Led by renowned Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio, Chicha offers a contemporary take on traditional Peruvian cuisine. The menu showcases authentic flavors and ingredients, highlighting dishes from different regions of Peru. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the diverse flavors of Peruvian cuisine in a vibrant setting.
  3. Limo: Located in the heart of Cusco, Limo specializes in Nikkei cuisine, a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese flavors. The menu features innovative sushi rolls, ceviche with a Japanese twist, and unique dishes incorporating local ingredients. The sleek and modern decor creates a sophisticated dining atmosphere.
  4. MAP Café: Housed in the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, MAP Café offers an elegant dining experience surrounded by stunning artwork. The menu showcases contemporary Peruvian cuisine with international influences. Indulge in their carefully crafted dishes while enjoying the sophisticated ambiance.
  5. Greens Organic: A popular choice for health-conscious travelers, Greens Organic focuses on organic and vegetarian cuisine. Their menu includes fresh salads, hearty sandwiches, and creative vegetarian dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Enjoy the cozy and relaxed atmosphere while savoring nutritious meals.
  6. Morena Peruvian Kitchen: Located just off the main square, Morena Peruvian Kitchen offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The menu features classic Peruvian dishes, such as ceviche, lomo saltado, and causa, all prepared with high-quality ingredients. The friendly service and cozy setting make it a favorite among visitors.
  7. Kion: Known for its Asian fusion cuisine, Kion combines Peruvian ingredients with Asian flavors. The menu features a range of dishes, from sushi and dim sum to Peruvian-style stir-fries. The stylish and contemporary decor adds to the overall dining experience.
  8. Baco: If you’re a wine enthusiast, Baco is a must-visit. This wine bar and restaurant offers an extensive selection of wines from Peru and around the world, paired with delicious tapas-style dishes. Enjoy a cozy and intimate setting while exploring the world of Peruvian wines.
  9. Los Perros: Craving a hearty sandwich? Los Perros is the place to go. Known for its gourmet hot dogs and sandwiches, this casual eatery offers a variety of fillings and toppings to satisfy your cravings. It’s a great spot for a quick and tasty meal.
  10. Pachapapa: Experience traditional Andean cuisine at Pachapapa, located in the San Blas neighborhood. The menu features dishes such as alpaca, guinea pig, and stews cooked in clay pots. Enjoy the rustic atmosphere and live music while savoring authentic Andean flavors.

These are just a few of the top restaurants in Cusco that offer diverse culinary experiences. Whether you’re looking for traditional Peruvian dishes, international flavors, or unique fusions, Cusco’s culinary scene has something to satisfy every palate.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Tours For Visitors To Cusco, Peru

When visiting Cusco, there are numerous tours available that allow you to explore the city and its surrounding areas. Here are some popular tours for visitors to Cusco:

  1. Machu Picchu Tour: Take a guided tour of the iconic Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Explore the ancient ruins, learn about the history and significance of the site, and soak in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. You can choose from various tour options, including day trips or multi-day treks like the Inca Trail.
  2. Sacred Valley Tour: Discover the stunning Sacred Valley of the Incas on a guided tour. Visit archaeological sites such as Pisac and Ollantaytambo, explore traditional markets, and learn about the local culture and history. The tour often includes stops at scenic viewpoints and opportunities to interact with indigenous communities.
  3. Rainbow Mountain Tour: Embark on a day trip to Vinicunca, also known as Rainbow Mountain, and marvel at its vibrant, multi-colored slopes. Take a guided hike to the summit, enjoying panoramic views of the Andean landscapes along the way. It’s a unique natural phenomenon that has gained popularity among travelers.
  4. Maras Salt Mines and Moray Tour: Explore the fascinating Maras Salt Mines and the agricultural terraces of Moray on a guided tour. Learn about the ancient salt extraction techniques at Maras and admire the unique beauty of the salt pools. Discover the intriguing circular terraces of Moray, believed to have been used for agricultural experiments by the Incas.
  5. Cusco City Tour: Discover the highlights of Cusco on a guided city tour. Visit historical sites such as the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, and the Temple of the Sun (Coricancha). Learn about the city’s rich history, colonial architecture, and Inca heritage.
  6. Cusco Food Tour: Indulge in the flavors of Peruvian cuisine on a food tour of Cusco. Explore local markets, sample traditional dishes, and learn about the ingredients and culinary traditions of the region. This tour offers a delicious and immersive experience for food enthusiasts.
  7. Horseback Riding Tour: Enjoy the scenic landscapes around Cusco on a horseback riding tour. Ride through the countryside, visit local communities, and appreciate the natural beauty of the Andean mountains. This tour is a great way to explore the region while enjoying an adventurous experience.
  8. Andean Community Visits: Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting traditional Andean communities. Learn about their customs, traditional farming techniques, and textile production. Engage with the locals, participate in traditional ceremonies, and gain insights into their way of life.
  9. Nighttime City Tour: Experience Cusco’s charm under the stars on a nighttime city tour. Discover the illuminated streets, visit historical landmarks, and enjoy the tranquil ambiance of the city after dark. This tour offers a unique perspective on Cusco’s beauty and history.
  10. Coffee Farm Tour: Delve into the world of Peruvian coffee production on a coffee farm tour. Learn about the coffee-making process, from bean cultivation to roasting, and savor the flavors of freshly brewed coffee. Gain a deeper understanding of Peru’s coffee culture and its importance to the local economy.

These are just a few examples of the many tours available in Cusco. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, adventure, or gastronomy, there is a tour to suit every traveler’s preferences and provide an enriching experience in this fascinating region of Peru.

Cusco Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

When visiting Cusco, Peru, you’ll find a wide range of accommodations to suit various preferences and budgets. Whether you’re looking for luxury hotels, cozy boutique accommodations, or budget-friendly hostels, Cusco has options for every traveler. Here’s a guide to different types of accommodations you can consider:

  1. Luxury Hotels: Cusco boasts several luxury hotels that provide top-notch amenities, impeccable service, and stunning views. These hotels often feature elegant rooms, spa facilities, gourmet restaurants, and sometimes even oxygen enrichment systems to help guests acclimatize to the high altitude.
  2. Boutique Hotels: Cusco is known for its charming boutique hotels that offer a more intimate and unique experience. These hotels are often housed in beautifully restored colonial buildings with tastefully decorated rooms, personalized service, and attention to detail. They provide a blend of modern comforts and local character.
  3. Mid-Range Hotels: If you’re seeking comfortable accommodations without breaking the bank, mid-range hotels in Cusco offer a good balance between affordability and quality. These hotels provide clean and comfortable rooms, basic amenities, and friendly service.
  4. Hostels: Cusco has a vibrant backpacking scene, and hostels are a popular choice among budget-conscious travelers and those looking to socialize. Hostels offer dormitory-style rooms as well as private rooms, communal areas, and often organize group activities and tours.
  5. Guesthouses and Bed & Breakfasts: For a more homely and personalized experience, consider staying in guesthouses or bed & breakfasts. These accommodations are often family-run and offer cozy rooms, hearty breakfast options, and a warm atmosphere. They can be found both in the city center and in the outskirts, offering a quieter ambiance.
  6. Vacation Rentals and Apartments: If you prefer a self-catering option or are traveling with a group or family, vacation rentals and apartments are available in Cusco. These provide the convenience of having a kitchen, living space, and amenities similar to a home. They are particularly suitable for longer stays or travelers who value privacy and independence.

When choosing accommodations in Cusco, consider the following factors:

  • Location: Decide whether you prefer to stay in the historic center, closer to major attractions and restaurants, or in quieter areas outside the city center.
  • Amenities: Check the available facilities such as Wi-Fi, breakfast options, on-site restaurants, laundry services, and 24-hour reception.
  • Reviews and Ratings: Read reviews from previous guests to get a sense of the quality and service provided by the accommodation.
  • Safety: Ensure that the accommodation has proper security measures in place to ensure the safety of guests and their belongings.
  • Accessibility: If you have mobility concerns, check if the accommodation provides facilities or accessibility options to cater to your needs.

Lastly, it’s recommended to book accommodations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your preferred choice and obtain the best rates.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

Day Trips From Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru, is not only a captivating city itself but also serves as a gateway to numerous fascinating day trip destinations. Here are some popular day trips from Cusco that allow you to explore the surrounding area and its remarkable attractions:

  1. Sacred Valley of the Incas: Explore the Sacred Valley, located just outside of Cusco. Visit towns such as Pisac, known for its vibrant market and impressive Inca ruins, and Ollantaytambo, with its well-preserved Inca fortress. Experience the rich history, stunning landscapes, and traditional Andean culture of the region.
  2. Machu Picchu: A visit to Cusco is often synonymous with a trip to Machu Picchu. Take a day trip or multi-day tour to this awe-inspiring ancient Inca city, marvel at the magnificent ruins, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Hike the Inca Trail or take a scenic train journey to reach this iconic destination.
  3. Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca): Embark on a day trip to Rainbow Mountain, famous for its vibrant colors caused by mineral deposits. Trek through the Andean highlands, pass through picturesque landscapes, and reach the summit to witness this natural wonder up close.
  4. Moray and Maras: Discover the intriguing agricultural terraces of Moray, believed to have been an experimental site for the Incas. Visit the nearby Maras salt mines, where salt has been harvested for centuries. Explore the striking salt pans and learn about traditional salt production methods.
  5. Humantay Lake: Take a day trip to the stunning Humantay Lake, located at the base of the snow-capped Humantay Mountain. Enjoy a scenic hike through the Andean landscapes and be rewarded with breathtaking views of the turquoise lake surrounded by towering peaks.
  6. Chinchero and Maras Weaving Experience: Visit the traditional town of Chinchero, known for its vibrant textile production. Witness local weavers in action, learn about traditional dyeing techniques, and have the opportunity to purchase high-quality textiles directly from the artisans. Continue to Maras to explore the salt mines and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  7. Choquequirao: For adventurous travelers, a day trip to Choquequirao is an option. Trek through challenging terrain to reach this lesser-known Inca site, often referred to as the “sister city” of Machu Picchu. Explore the impressive ruins and soak in the remote and untouched atmosphere.
  8. Tipon and Andahuaylillas: Visit the archaeological site of Tipon, known for its impressive Inca terraces and intricate irrigation systems. Continue to Andahuaylillas to see the beautiful colonial church, known as the “Sistine Chapel of the Americas,” with its stunning frescoes and ornate decorations.
  9. Piquillacta and Raqchi: Explore the ancient sites of Piquillacta, an expansive pre-Inca city with well-preserved adobe structures, and Raqchi, known for its massive Inca temple complex dedicated to the god Wiracocha. Gain insights into the fascinating history of these archaeological sites.
  10. South Valley Tour: Take a tour to the lesser-explored sites in the south of Cusco, such as Tipon, Pikillacta, and the stunning colonial church of Andahuaylillas. Discover the lesser-known gems of the region and enjoy the peaceful ambiance away from the crowds.

These day trips from Cusco offer a diverse range of experiences, from ancient ruins and natural wonders to traditional culture and breathtaking landscapes. Choose the destinations that align with your interests and time constraints to make the most of your visit to this remarkable region of Peru.

Cusco Transportation Guide

Navigating transportation in Cusco, Peru, is relatively straightforward, with several options available for getting around the city and reaching nearby attractions. Here’s a guide to transportation in Cusco:

  1. Walking: The historic center of Cusco is compact and best explored on foot. Many attractions, restaurants, and shops are within walking distance of each other. Walking allows you to appreciate the city’s charming streets, colonial architecture, and vibrant atmosphere.
  2. Taxis: Taxis are a common mode of transportation in Cusco. You can easily hail a taxi on the street or find them parked near popular tourist areas. It’s advisable to negotiate the fare beforehand or ensure that the taxi has a working meter. Taxis are a convenient option for short distances or when traveling with luggage.
  3. Ride-Hailing Apps: Mobile ride-hailing apps like Uber and Beat are available in Cusco. Using these apps provides a convenient and reliable way to request transportation. Simply download the app, set your pickup location and destination, and a driver will be assigned to you. This option offers upfront pricing and a cashless payment system.
  4. Colectivos: Colectivos are shared vans or minibusses that operate on fixed routes within the city and surrounding areas. They are a cost-effective mode of transportation and are commonly used by locals. Colectivos can be flagged down on the street or found at designated pickup points. However, note that they can be crowded and may not operate on a fixed schedule.
  5. Buses: Cusco has a public bus system that serves various neighborhoods and nearby towns. Buses are an economical option for traveling longer distances. However, the system can be confusing for visitors due to the lack of clear routes and schedules. It’s recommended to ask locals or seek assistance at your accommodation to navigate the bus system effectively.
  6. Rental Cars: Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore Cusco and its surrounding areas at your own pace. Several car rental agencies are available in the city. However, it’s important to note that traffic in Cusco can be congested, and parking can be limited, especially in the city center. Additionally, driving in the mountainous terrain may require experience and caution.
  7. Bicycles: Cycling is a popular option for exploring the city and nearby areas. Several rental shops offer bicycles for rent, including mountain bikes for more adventurous rides. Cusco has dedicated bike lanes in some areas, making it easier and safer to navigate through the city on two wheels.
  8. Trains: If you’re planning a trip to Machu Picchu or other destinations served by train, Cusco is well-connected by train services. PeruRail and Inca Rail are the main train operators, offering various routes and classes of service. Trains depart from the Poroy or Ollantaytambo stations, both accessible from Cusco.

When using public transportation or taxis, it’s always recommended to keep an eye on your belongings and be cautious of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas. Always use licensed taxis or reputable ride-hailing services for safety and reliable service.

Cusco Hiking and Trekking Options

Cusco, Peru, is a haven for hiking and trekking enthusiasts, offering a variety of breathtaking trails and routes that showcase the region’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Here are some popular hiking and trekking options in and around Cusco:

  1. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: The Inca Trail is one of the most iconic and sought-after trekking routes in the world. This multi-day trek takes you through stunning landscapes, including cloud forests, high mountain passes, and ancient Inca ruins, before culminating at the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu. Permits are required, and it’s advisable to book well in advance due to limited availability.
  2. Salkantay Trek: An alternative to the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek offers a challenging and rewarding adventure. This multi-day trek takes you through diverse landscapes, including snow-capped mountains, high-altitude passes, and lush valleys. The highlight is reaching the Salkantay Pass, offering panoramic views of the majestic Salkantay Mountain.
  3. Ausangate Trek: For a more remote and less-traveled trek, consider the Ausangate Trek. This challenging trek takes you through the Vilcanota Mountain Range, offering breathtaking views of the snow-capped Ausangate Mountain, turquoise lakes, and traditional Quechua communities. It’s a pristine and off-the-beaten-path adventure.
  4. Choquequirao Trek: Embark on the Choquequirao Trek to discover the “sister city” of Machu Picchu. This challenging trek takes you through rugged terrain and dense vegetation to the archaeological site of Choquequirao. Explore the ruins, camp in remote locations, and enjoy the tranquility of this lesser-known Inca site.
  5. Rainbow Mountain Trek: Hike to the colorful Vinicunca, also known as Rainbow Mountain. This day trek takes you through stunning landscapes, passing picturesque valleys, herds of alpacas, and finally reaching the multicolored slopes of Rainbow Mountain. It’s a popular and visually striking trek that can be done in a day from Cusco.
  6. Lares Trek: The Lares Trek offers a combination of beautiful landscapes and cultural immersion. This multi-day trek takes you through the scenic Lares Valley, passing traditional Andean villages, hot springs, and breathtaking mountain vistas. Along the way, interact with local communities and learn about their ancient traditions.
  7. Huchuy Qosqo Trek: For a shorter trek, consider the Huchuy Qosqo Trek. This two-day trek takes you to the archaeological site of Huchuy Qosqo, offering panoramic views of the Sacred Valley and the surrounding mountains. Experience the Inca history and enjoy the beauty of the Andean landscapes.

It’s important to note that some treks, such as the Inca Trail, require permits and should be booked in advance through authorized tour operators. It’s also recommended to acclimatize to the high altitude in Cusco before undertaking strenuous treks. Ensure that you’re properly prepared with suitable gear, including sturdy hiking boots, warm clothing, and a good backpack. Hiring a professional guide or joining a reputable tour operator is highly recommended for safety and to enhance your trekking experience.

Cusco 1 Day Travel Itinerary

If you have only one day to explore Cusco, Peru, here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your time and experience the highlights of this captivating city:


  1. Start your day with a hearty breakfast at a local café or your accommodation to fuel up for the day ahead.
  2. Visit the Plaza de Armas, the main square of Cusco. Take in the impressive architecture, including the Cathedral of Santo Domingo and the Church of La Compañía de Jesús. Explore the square and observe the daily activities and vibrant atmosphere.
  3. Take a short walk to the nearby Temple of the Sun (Coricancha), an important Inca site that was later transformed into a Spanish colonial church. Admire the blend of Inca and Spanish architecture and learn about the site’s historical significance.
  4. Explore San Pedro Market, located near the Plaza de Armas. Wander through the vibrant stalls filled with colorful fruits, vegetables, local crafts, and more. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavors of the market and perhaps sample some traditional Peruvian snacks.


  1. Enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the many restaurants in the city center. Indulge in Peruvian cuisine and savor local specialties such as ceviche, lomo saltado, or rocoto relleno.
  2. After lunch, embark on a guided city tour to learn more about Cusco’s history and cultural heritage. Visit the San Blas neighborhood, known for its bohemian atmosphere and art galleries. Explore the charming streets, admire the colonial architecture, and visit the San Blas Church.
  3. Continue the city tour by visiting the Sacsayhuaman archaeological site. Marvel at the impressive stone walls and take in panoramic views of Cusco from this hilltop location. Learn about the significance of this ancient Inca fortress and its architectural marvels.


  1. As the day winds down, head to one of the cozy restaurants or cafés in Cusco for a delicious dinner. You can choose from a range of options, including traditional Peruvian cuisine or international dishes.
  2. After dinner, take a leisurely stroll through the streets of Cusco, soaking in the magical atmosphere of the city at night. Admire the beautifully illuminated buildings and vibrant nightlife.
  3. End your day with a visit to a local bar or lounge to enjoy a Pisco Sour, Peru’s national cocktail. Savor the flavors of this classic drink and toast to a memorable day in Cusco.

Remember to stay hydrated and take it easy due to the high altitude of Cusco. This itinerary provides a snapshot of the city’s highlights, but keep in mind that there is much more to explore and experience in Cusco and its surroundings. If you have more time, consider extending your stay to delve deeper into the rich history, culture, and natural beauty of this remarkable destination.

Cusco 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary

Day 1:

Start your day by immersing yourself in the historic center of Cusco. Explore the Plaza de Armas, the main square of the city, where you’ll find the impressive Cathedral of Santo Domingo and the Church of La Compañía de Jesús. Admire the colonial architecture and learn about the city’s rich history.

Just a short walk away is the Temple of the Sun (Coricancha), an ancient Inca site that later became a Spanish colonial church. Marvel at the fusion of Inca and Spanish architecture and appreciate the significance of this sacred place.

Afterwards, venture into San Blas, a bohemian neighborhood known for its art galleries and local artisans. Explore the narrow streets, admire the colonial buildings, and visit the San Blas Church, known for its exquisite woodwork.

Conclude your day with a visit to Sacsayhuaman, an impressive Inca archaeological site overlooking Cusco. Marvel at the massive stone walls and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Explore the nearby sites of Q’enqo and Tambomachay, which provide further insights into the ancient Inca civilization.

Day 2:

Embark on an excursion to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Visit the town of Pisac and immerse yourself in its vibrant market, where you can find traditional crafts and local produce. If you’re up for a hike, climb up to the Pisac ruins for breathtaking views of the valley.

Continue to Ollantaytambo, a picturesque town with well-preserved Inca ruins. Wander through its cobblestone streets, visit the archaeological site, and learn about its historical significance as a strategic military, religious, and agricultural center.

In the afternoon, board a scenic train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. Check into your accommodation and prepare for an early morning visit to the iconic Inca citadel.

Day 3:

Rise early to witness the sunrise over Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Explore the ancient city with a knowledgeable guide who can provide insights into its history and significance. Marvel at the impressive architecture, stunning terraces, and breathtaking mountain views.

After the guided tour, take some time to wander through Machu Picchu at your own pace. Find a quiet spot to reflect, soak in the mystical atmosphere, and capture memorable photos. Don’t forget to visit the Sun Gate or hike to the Inca Bridge for additional viewpoints.

In the afternoon, return to Aguas Calientes for a leisurely lunch at one of the local restaurants before boarding a train back to Cusco.

Day 4:

Spend your morning exploring the vibrant San Pedro Market in Cusco. Wander through the colorful stalls filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and local crafts. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and perhaps sample some delicious Peruvian delicacies.

In the afternoon, take a tour to the Maras Salt Mines and the Moray archaeological site. Admire the intricate salt pans at Maras, which have been harvested for centuries, and learn about the agricultural experimentation that took place at the circular terraces of Moray.

Return to Cusco and spend your evening shopping for souvenirs in the San Blas neighborhood. Browse through the various boutiques and galleries that showcase local artwork, textiles, and jewelry. Enjoy a final dinner in Cusco, savoring the flavors of Peruvian cuisine.

This detailed itinerary allows you to experience the rich history, cultural heritage, and natural beauty of Cusco and its surrounding areas within a 3-4 day timeframe.

Cusco 1 Week Travel Itinerary

If you have a week to explore Cusco, Peru, you can delve deeper into the city’s rich history, experience its vibrant culture, and venture into the breathtaking landscapes of the surrounding region. Here’s a suggested itinerary for a week-long trip to Cusco:

Day 1: Arrival in Cusco

  • Arrive in Cusco and acclimate to the high altitude.
  • Take a leisurely stroll through the historic center, visit the Plaza de Armas, and enjoy the bustling atmosphere.
  • Explore the nearby Temple of the Sun (Coricancha) and appreciate the blend of Inca and Spanish architecture.
  • Relax and have dinner in one of the city’s local restaurants.

Day 2: Cusco City Tour

  • Take a guided city tour to explore the main attractions of Cusco, including San Blas, Sacsayhuaman, Q’enqo, and Tambomachay.
  • Learn about the history and culture of the Incas and their influence on the city’s architecture and traditions.
  • Visit local markets, such as San Pedro Market, to immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture and sample traditional Peruvian snacks.

Day 3: Sacred Valley Exploration

  • Embark on a full-day tour of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
  • Visit the archaeological sites of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, and learn about their historical significance.
  • Explore the Pisac Market, known for its handicrafts and colorful textiles.
  • Enjoy a traditional lunch in the Sacred Valley, surrounded by stunning landscapes.

Day 4-6: Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu

  • Embark on a multi-day trek along the Inca Trail, one of the world’s most famous trekking routes.
  • Hike through diverse landscapes, including cloud forests, high mountain passes, and ancient ruins.
  • Marvel at the spectacular scenery and camp in designated campsites along the trail.
  • Finally, reach the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu and explore the ancient ruins with a knowledgeable guide.

Day 7: Maras, Moray, and Maras Salt Mines

  • Take a half-day tour to the Maras Salt Mines and the agricultural terraces of Moray.
  • Learn about the traditional salt production methods at Maras and witness the fascinating circular terraces of Moray.
  • Enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and gain insights into ancient Inca agricultural practices.

Day 8: Departure from Cusco

  • Spend your final day in Cusco at your leisure, exploring any sites or areas you may have missed.
  • Shop for souvenirs in the San Blas neighborhood or browse local galleries for unique artwork.
  • Enjoy a farewell dinner in one of Cusco’s restaurants, savoring the flavors of Peruvian cuisine.

This one-week itinerary allows you to experience the best of Cusco and its surroundings, from the historical sites within the city to the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. It provides a balanced mix of cultural immersion, outdoor adventure, and historical exploration, ensuring a memorable and fulfilling trip to this remarkable destination.

Is Cusco A Safe City To Visit?

Cusco is generally considered a safe city to visit, but as with any travel destination, it’s important to take certain precautions to ensure your safety and well-being. Here are some safety tips for visiting Cusco:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings: Like in any city, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and stay vigilant, especially in crowded areas and tourist sites. Keep an eye on your belongings, such as bags, wallets, and cameras, to avoid theft or pickpocketing.
  2. Use reputable transportation: When using taxis or ride-hailing services, opt for licensed and registered vehicles. If possible, arrange transportation through your hotel or a trusted service. Avoid hailing taxis on the street late at night, and be cautious when using unofficial taxis.
  3. Take precautions against altitude sickness: Cusco is located at high altitude, and some visitors may experience altitude sickness. To minimize the effects, take it easy upon arrival, stay hydrated, and consider acclimatizing for a day or two before engaging in strenuous activities. It’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional regarding altitude sickness prevention.
  4. Travel with a group or guide: When exploring remote areas or undertaking activities such as hiking or trekking, it’s recommended to travel with a reputable tour company or a knowledgeable guide. They can provide assistance, ensure your safety, and offer valuable insights about the region.
  5. Secure your accommodations: Choose accommodations that have good security measures in place, such as lockable rooms or safes for your valuables. Keep your room locked and use additional security features like door chains or bolts.
  6. Stay informed about local conditions: Prior to your trip, stay updated on the current situation in Cusco and Peru. Check travel advisories and consult reliable sources for any safety or security concerns. Register with your embassy or consulate to receive travel alerts if applicable.
  7. Respect local customs and culture: Show respect for the local customs, traditions, and cultural sensitivities in Cusco. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites and be mindful of local customs and practices.

By taking these safety precautions and exercising common sense, you can enjoy a safe and memorable visit to Cusco. As always, it’s advisable to stay informed, trust your instincts, and seek assistance from local authorities or your hotel if you have any concerns during your stay.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Cusco?

The best time to visit Cusco depends on various factors, including weather preferences, desired activities, and crowd levels. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the different seasons in Cusco:

  1. Dry Season (May to September): The dry season is considered the peak tourist season in Cusco. During this time, you can expect mostly dry and sunny weather with warm days and cool nights. The landscapes are typically golden and less lush compared to the rainy season. This is an ideal time for outdoor activities, including hiking, trekking, and visiting Machu Picchu. Trails are generally in good condition, and you can enjoy clear views of the surrounding mountains. However, it’s important to note that the dry season is also the busiest time in Cusco, and popular sites can be crowded. It’s advisable to make accommodation and travel arrangements well in advance.
  2. Rainy Season (October to April): The rainy season in Cusco is characterized by frequent showers, especially in the afternoons and evenings. The landscapes become lush and vibrant, with blooming flowers and green valleys. The rain can add a mystical atmosphere to the ancient ruins and offer unique photographic opportunities. While the rain is typically not constant, heavy downpours are common. Trails, especially the Inca Trail, may be temporarily closed for maintenance during this period. It’s essential to be prepared with waterproof gear and plan accordingly. The advantage of visiting during the rainy season is that the crowds are fewer, and you can experience Cusco with a more tranquil ambiance. Additionally, you may find better deals on accommodations and flights compared to the peak season.
  3. Shoulder Seasons (April, May, September, and October): The shoulder seasons offer a transition between the dry and rainy seasons and are characterized by more moderate weather conditions. April and May are the beginning of the dry season, while September and October mark the start of the rainy season. During these months, you can enjoy pleasant temperatures and a mix of sunny and rainy days. The landscapes are often at their most vibrant, and the crowd levels are lower compared to the peak season. It’s an excellent time to explore Cusco’s attractions, go hiking, and engage in outdoor activities. Accommodation and flight prices may be more affordable compared to the peak season.
  4. Inti Raymi (June 24th): If you want to immerse yourself in Cusco’s rich cultural traditions, visiting during the Inti Raymi festival is highly recommended. Inti Raymi is an ancient Inca festival celebrated on June 24th to honor the sun god, Inti. The festival involves colorful processions, traditional music and dances, and a reenactment of ancient Inca rituals. It attracts both locals and tourists, offering a unique cultural experience. However, due to its popularity, it’s crucial to book accommodations well in advance.

In summary, the best time to visit Cusco depends on your preferences. The dry season (May to September) is ideal for outdoor activities and exploring popular sites with sunny weather. The rainy season (October to April) offers lush landscapes and fewer crowds, but expect occasional showers. The shoulder seasons (April, May, September, and October) provide a balance between pleasant weather, manageable crowds, and affordability. Lastly, if you’re interested in cultural festivities, visiting during the Inti Raymi festival in late June can be a highlight of your trip.

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Cusco?

After your trip to Cusco, there are several remarkable destinations in Peru and neighboring countries that you can consider visiting. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Machu Picchu: While Machu Picchu is often included in a Cusco itinerary, it’s worth mentioning again as a separate destination. Spend more time exploring this ancient Inca citadel and its surrounding area. Consider hiking the Inca Trail from start to finish or taking an alternative route like the Salkantay Trek for a different perspective of Machu Picchu.
  2. Lima: Peru’s capital city, Lima, offers a vibrant culinary scene, colonial architecture, and intriguing museums. Explore the historic center of Lima (known as the Historic Centre of Lima, a UNESCO World Heritage site), visit museums such as the Larco Museum, indulge in delicious Peruvian cuisine, and stroll along the coastal promenade of Miraflores.
  3. Arequipa: Known as the “White City” due to its stunning white volcanic stone architecture, Arequipa is a charming city with a rich cultural heritage. Explore the colonial-era buildings, visit the Santa Catalina Monastery, and embark on a trek in the nearby Colca Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world.
  4. Lake Titicaca: Journey to the high-altitude Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America. Visit the floating Uros Islands, home to the indigenous Uros people who live on man-made islands constructed from reeds. Explore the larger islands like Amantani and Taquile, where you can experience local culture, traditional customs, and stunning lake views.
  5. Sacred Valley: If you haven’t had the chance to fully explore the Sacred Valley during your time in Cusco, consider dedicating additional days to visit its charming towns and archaeological sites. Explore Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and Chinchero, and immerse yourself in the local culture and breathtaking landscapes.
  6. Rainbow Mountain: Extend your adventure by visiting Vinicunca, also known as Rainbow Mountain. Witness the stunning multicolored mountain slopes created by natural mineral deposits. Take a guided hike to the summit for panoramic views of the surrounding Andean peaks and immerse yourself in the surreal beauty of the landscape.
  7. Amazon Rainforest: If you’re looking for an immersive nature experience, consider a trip to the Peruvian Amazon. Fly to Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado and venture into the lush rainforest. Explore the diverse flora and fauna, go wildlife spotting, take guided jungle treks, and learn about indigenous cultures.
  8. Bolivia: If you’re interested in exploring beyond Peru, consider visiting Bolivia, which offers incredible landscapes and cultural experiences. Explore the otherworldly salt flats of Salar de Uyuni, visit the vibrant cities of La Paz and Sucre, and discover the historic site of Tiwanaku, an ancient pre-Columbian city.
  1. Nazca Lines: Head south from Lima to the city of Nazca, where you can take a flight over the famous Nazca Lines. These massive geoglyphs etched into the desert floor depict various animals and shapes, and their origin and purpose remain a mystery to this day.
  2. Paracas National Reserve: Located along the southern coast of Peru, the Paracas National Reserve is known for its stunning desert landscapes and abundant wildlife. Take a boat tour to the Ballestas Islands, also known as the “Galapagos of Peru,” to see sea lions, penguins, and various bird species.
  3. Huacachina: Just outside the city of Ica, you’ll find the picturesque oasis of Huacachina. Take a sandboarding adventure on the towering sand dunes or go for a relaxing ride in a dune buggy. The oasis itself offers a tranquil setting to unwind and enjoy the surrounding desert scenery.
  4. Colca Canyon: Considered one of the world’s deepest canyons, the Colca Canyon is a breathtaking natural wonder located near Arequipa. Take a guided tour to admire the stunning views, spot Andean condors soaring through the canyon, and immerse yourself in the local culture of traditional Andean villages.
  5. The Sacred City of Caral: North of Lima lies the ancient city of Caral, one of the oldest urban settlements in the Americas. Explore the archaeological site and marvel at the well-preserved pyramids and ceremonial plazas, gaining insights into the origins of complex civilizations in the region.
  6. Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands: If you have more time and want to venture further, consider a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Explore the vibrant cities of Quito and Cuenca, and embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to the Galapagos Islands, where you can encounter unique wildlife and immerse yourself in pristine natural environments.
  7. Chile: Extend your travels by crossing the border into Chile. Visit Santiago, the capital city, and explore its vibrant neighborhoods and cultural attractions. Venture further to the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth, known for its stunning landscapes, geysers, and star-filled skies.
  8. The Amazon Rainforest (Ecuador or Peru): Extend your adventure by exploring the Amazon Rainforest in either Ecuador or Peru. Immerse yourself in the incredible biodiversity, take guided jungle tours, spot exotic wildlife, and learn about indigenous cultures.
  9. Puno and Lake Titicaca (Peru): Travel southeast from Cusco to Puno, a city situated on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Take a boat tour to the floating Uros Islands and experience the traditional lifestyle of the indigenous Uros people.
  10. Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca (Peru): Head north to Huaraz, a gateway to the stunning Cordillera Blanca mountain range. Explore the Huascaran National Park, home to breathtaking landscapes, glacial lakes, and numerous hiking and climbing opportunities.
  11. Trujillo and Chan Chan (Peru): Journey to the coastal city of Trujillo and discover the ancient ruins of Chan Chan, the largest adobe city in the world. Explore the archaeological sites of the Moche and Chimu civilizations and learn about their fascinating history.
  12. The Colca Valley and Arequipa (Peru): Extend your visit to the Colca Canyon by exploring the charming colonial city of Arequipa. Known for its white volcanic stone architecture, Arequipa offers beautiful plazas, historic buildings, and the stunning Santa Catalina Monastery.
  13. The Uyuni Salt Flats (Bolivia): Cross the border into Bolivia and venture into the otherworldly landscapes of the Uyuni Salt Flats. Marvel at the vast expanse of salt, unique rock formations, and colorful lagoons that dot the area.
  14. La Paz and the Death Road (Bolivia): Visit La Paz, Bolivia’s capital city nestled in the Andes Mountains. Explore its vibrant markets, colonial architecture, and cultural attractions. For an adrenaline rush, take a mountain biking tour down the infamous Death Road, known for its steep and winding paths.
  15. Santiago and Valparaiso (Chile): Travel south to Santiago, Chile’s capital, and immerse yourself in its cosmopolitan atmosphere. Visit the nearby coastal town of Valparaiso, known for its colorful hillside neighborhoods, street art, and bohemian vibe.
  16. Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls (Argentina): If you’re up for a longer journey, consider heading to Buenos Aires, Argentina’s vibrant capital. Experience its lively tango scene, visit historic neighborhoods, and indulge in the renowned Argentine cuisine. You can also take a side trip to the majestic Iguazu Falls, one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders.
  1. Torres del Paine National Park (Chile): Travel to Chilean Patagonia and explore the breathtaking Torres del Paine National Park. Hike among towering granite peaks, witness stunning glaciers, and encounter unique wildlife such as guanacos and Andean condors.
  2. Galapagos Islands (Ecuador): Consider a trip to the Galapagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its remarkable wildlife and pristine ecosystems. Take a cruise or join an island-hopping tour to see iconic species like giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and blue-footed boobies.
  3. Cuenca and Baños (Ecuador): Visit Cuenca, a charming colonial city in Ecuador known for its well-preserved architecture, cobblestone streets, and vibrant markets. Then, make your way to Baños, a town nestled in the Andean foothills, famous for its hot springs, adventure sports, and stunning waterfalls.
  4. Bogota and Cartagena (Colombia): Fly to Bogota, Colombia’s capital, and explore its bustling markets, museums, and vibrant street art scene. From there, travel to the coastal city of Cartagena, with its beautifully preserved old town, colorful colonial architecture, and Caribbean vibes.

These are just a few options for extending your journey after visiting Cusco. Consider your interests, time constraints, and travel preferences to choose the destinations that align with your plans and make the most of your overall South American adventure.

Cusco city views from a high vantage point with mountains in the background in Peru

Cusco Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

Cusco is a captivating destination that seamlessly blends ancient history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking natural landscapes. From exploring the historic center with its colonial architecture and Inca ruins to embarking on unforgettable adventures in the surrounding region, Cusco offers something for every traveler.

Immerse yourself in the rich Inca heritage by visiting iconic sites like Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman, and the Sacred Valley. Engage with the local culture by browsing through markets, trying traditional Peruvian cuisine, and witnessing colorful festivals.

When planning your trip to Cusco, consider the best time to visit based on your preferences and desired activities. Whether you choose the dry season for optimal weather or the rainy season for fewer crowds, you’ll be rewarded with a unique experience.

Remember to take necessary precautions for altitude sickness, stay aware of your surroundings, and respect local customs and traditions. Secure comfortable accommodations and reliable transportation to enhance your stay.

Cusco serves as a gateway to countless adventures, such as trekking the Inca Trail, exploring the Amazon Rainforest, or discovering the mesmerizing landscapes of the Andean region. Extend your journey to nearby destinations like Lima, Arequipa, or the Galapagos Islands for further exploration.

Throughout your visit, embrace the warmth and hospitality of the local people, and don’t forget to capture the stunning views and unforgettable moments.

Cusco will leave you with lasting memories and a deep appreciation for its rich history and natural wonders. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, adventure seeker, or cultural explorer, Cusco is sure to captivate your heart and inspire a sense of wonder.

In ancient lands where history breathes, There lies a city amidst Andean peaks. Cusco, a jewel with stories untold, Where travelers find wonders to unfold.

Once the heart of the mighty Inca empire, Its echoes whisper through stone and fire. In narrow streets, cobblestones align, Mysteries lingering at every shrine.

The Plaza de Armas, a vibrant core, With cathedrals and charm from days of yore. Where strolling souls and bustling markets meet, A tapestry of colors and scents so sweet.

Sacsayhuaman, where ancient stones stand, Guarding the city with an outstretched hand. Q’enqo, Tambomachay, each a sacred site, An ode to the Incas’ profound might.

The Sacred Valley, a verdant embrace, With Pisac and Ollantaytambo, full of grace. Awakening senses with its beauty untamed, Nature’s canvas, perfectly framed.

Machu Picchu, a pinnacle of awe, High in the clouds, where mysteries draw. Lost city of the Incas, hidden in mist, Where past and present seamlessly coexist.

From vibrant festivals to ancestral rites, Cusco’s spirit dances through the nights. In the melodies of panpipes and drums, The heartbeat of a culture never succumbs.

Oh, Cusco, a land of legends and dreams, Where adventure and wonder flow in streams. For every traveler who walks your path, A tapestry of memories to forever last.

So journey forth, explore with open eyes, Let Cusco’s magic be your greatest prize. Embrace the history, the people, the land, In Cusco’s embrace, let your soul expand.

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