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Things to do in Cusco

Things to do in  Cusco

Welcome to Cusco

With its verdant backdrop, high-altitude location—a dizzying 11,150 feet (3,400 meters) above sea level—and rich indigenous culture, Cusco is one of Peru’s most enchanting cities. Perhaps best known as the gateway to Machu Picchu, Cusco is both the sacred capital of the Incas and the grand finish to the legendary Inca Trail. Below Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas boasts a wealth of archaeological wonders, traditional market villages, and mesmerizing views, while the Salkantay and Lares treks are two of the country’s most worthwhile long-distance hikes. Cusco itself has plenty to offer too, with its beautiful colonial buildings, buzzing marketplace, and traditional and neo-Andean restaurants.

Top 10 attractions in Cusco

#1
Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

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The lost city of Machu Picchu is the most famous archaeological site in Peru and, arguably, all of South America. The UNESCO World Heritage–listed collection of temples, terraced hills, and plazas was once the mountaintop citadel of the ancient Inca empire. It may now be world famous, but Machu Picchu still hasn't revealed the mysteries behind its construction, function, and eventual demise.More
#2
Sacred Valley of the Incas

Sacred Valley of the Incas

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Between Cusco and Machu Picchu lies the Sacred Valley of the Incas (Urubamba Valley), home to some of Peru’s most interesting pre-Columbian ruins and attractive colonial towns and villages. While many travelers pass through here en route to Machu Picchu, the valley has become a destination in its own right.More
#3
Inca Trail

Inca Trail

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South America's most famous trek is an unforgettable way to reach the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. Along the way, the four-day trek takes hikers past three Andean mountain passes, Inca ruins, and views of the snow-capped Andes, culminating in a stellar sunrise over Machu Picchu—a UNESCO World Heritage site—from the Sun Gate.More
#4
Sacsayhuaman (Saqsaywaman)

Sacsayhuaman (Saqsaywaman)

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The largest and arguably most impressive of the four archaeological ruins on the outskirts of Cusco, Sacsayhuaman (Saqsaywaman) was built by the Incas from massive stones weighing as much as 300 tons. A critical military site in the battle with the Spanish for the Inca empire in 1536, the ruins offer impressive views over the city below.More
#5
Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes

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If you're visiting Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there’s a good chance you'll pass through the small pueblo of Aguas Calientes en route. This gateway town to Peru’s famous Incan ruins sits nestled in a valley of cloud forest, where a series of natural hot springs gives the town its name.More
#6
Ollantaytambo Ruins

Ollantaytambo Ruins

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Perched at the northern end of Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Ollantaytambo Ruins were once the administrative center of the Inca Empire. At this well-preserved and partly rebuilt archeological park, learn the secrets of Inca urban planning, admire the ceremonial temple, masterful Inca stonework, and set off on the legendary Inca trail.More
#7
Mt. Vinicunca (Rainbow Mountain)

Mt. Vinicunca (Rainbow Mountain)

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One would think that a rainbow-colored mountain would be fairly easy to spot, but in the case of Mt. Vinicunca (Rainbow Mountain), set high in the Peruvian Andes, getting a view of the multihued wonder means waking up early to trek through mountains that burst with natural colors, but are thin on air considering they rise over 17,000 feet (5181m). Despite the physical challenges, however, seeing Vinicunca in person is a once-in-a-lifetime visual treat where you’ll likely find yourself gawking in silence and wondering, “how is this real?” With impressively straight and colorful lines, “Rainbow Mountain,” as it’s come to be known, explodes with hues of lavender and red that are caused by minerals in the soil, and looks like something from a coloring book as opposed to an actual Andean peak that few are lucky to see.More
#8
Salkantay Trail

Salkantay Trail

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Salkantay Trail, a remote trekking route in the same Andean region as the Inca Trail, offers travelers spectacular scenery. Trekkers pass soaring mountains, picturesque villages, lakes, and lush jungle. While Inca Trail tours are typically booked far in advance, Salkantay offers another (more affordable) way to reach Machu Picchu.More
#9
San Blas

San Blas

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Away from the tourist foot traffic, the lovely San Blas neighborhood of Cusco is a haven for local artisans, weavers, sculptors, and potters as well as travelers looking to explore the city’s bohemian side. A particular highlight of the “Balcony of Cusco” is the San Blas Church, one of the oldest in the city and home to a golden altar and pulpit.More
#10
Plaza de Armas (Huacaypata)

Plaza de Armas (Huacaypata)

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From the coastal deserts of southern Peru to the frigid peaks of the Andes, every part of the vast Inca Empire traced back to Cusco. Tucked within the Andean mountains, the scenic capital city was the beating heart of one of the greatest civilizations in history. Today, you can feel this powerful history most palpably in its central square, Plaza de Armas.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 2 Days in Cusco

How to Spend 2 Days in Cusco

What to Pack for Machu Picchu

What to Pack for Machu Picchu

Top Markets in Cusco

Top Markets in Cusco

Recent reviews from experiences in Cusco

star-5
Being able to run with...
Nolan_S, Jan 2022
Horseback Riding Tour to the Devil's Balcony from Cusco
A perfect way to see Cusco from the mountains!
star-5
Very good experience
Stefan_K, Nov 2021
ATV Tour to Moray, Maras and Salt Flat in the Sacred Valley from Cusco
After that we went to see a nice church in a very small village (Church for St.
star-5
Fun, Adventurous and Great Views
Marisa_I, Nov 2021
ATV Tour to Moray, Maras and Salt Flat in the Sacred Valley from Cusco
The people who run the tour are very good at communicating and spoke English especially well!
star-4
Well organized & guided was super kind and informed
Terri_R, Nov 2021
Machu Picchu Day Trip from Cusco
Our guide was great she did very well in English .
star-4
Unique ruins that few ever visit
Dawan_R, Oct 2021
Waqrapukara (Day Trip)
2) The tour description states that the guide will have professional bilingual fluency, implying fluency in both Spanish and English.
star-5
See all the Sacred Valley in one Tour, and GREAT tour guides and service
Adam_Ever, Sep 2021
Full Sacred Valley 1 Day
If you want to see mostly architectural sites rather than being taken to various shopping locations (which was also in this tour) go with this tour.
star-5
They really do everything...
Michael_C, Aug 2021
Private Machu Picchu Full-Day Tour from Cusco
She changed everything around and even came to our place to help make sure we got to see what we were supposed to see.
star-5
Great Experience
Matthew_M, Mar 2020
Inca Bridge of Qeswachaka Private Service
What an interesting place to visit.
star-5
Wow! Really a wonderful day!!!
James B, Dec 2019
Cusco Food Walking Tour
His English is fantastic and he really cares about Cusco, its history, heritage and culinary scene.
star-5
Full day horseback riding
Bree W, Sep 2019
Machu Picchu Private Guided Tour from Aguas Calientes
You get to see so much of the country side and her customer service was amazing!
star-5
Awesome
CaroleR678, Jun 2019
Machu Picchu Tour from Cusco Full Day
To see such an amazing sight.
star-5
Must visit!
MeiHui_H, Jul 2018
Machu Picchu Day Trip from Cusco
I would recommend people to stay overnight in Machu Picchu area as the transportation from Cusco will take about 9-10 hours, leaving you 2-3 hours to visit Machu Picchu.
star-4
Opportunity to see the heart of...
Keith V, Nov 2017
Half-Day City Tour of Cusco Including Tambomachay
Opportunity to see the heart of Cusco and get up close to many Incan ruins.
star-5
This was a well organised tour and...
Kate, Nov 2017
2-Day Private Tour to Machu Picchu from Cusco
A great way to see Machu Picchu if you are short on time and want the highlights.
star-4
The trip went very smoothly. The...
Jeffrey H, Dec 2017
Private Machu Picchu Full-Day Tour from Cusco
The guide was very good in English and did a great job.
star-5
I think one of the best places to see...
Sandra C., Jun 2018
Skip the Line: Planetarium Cusco Admission Ticket
I think one of the best places to see stars is probably Cusco and at the planetarium, we can learn so much about it.
star-4
We got to see the major sites in...
Sandra M, Feb 2018
Half-Day Temples and Cusco City Tour
We got to see the major sites in Cusco with a good guide.
star-5
The place is already great to visit...
Ilka R, Jun 2017
Machu Picchu Private Full-Day Tour from Cusco
The place is already great to visit!
star-5
I had a great trip. Fredi the...
Ravi D, Aug 2017
Best of Peru 6-Day Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca Tour
Peru is a great place to visit and Machu Picchu is the crown Jewel.
star-5
If you are looking for something a...
William F, Dec 2016
Sacred Valley 4x4 Quadbike Adventure from Cusco
It was a great way to see the valley and some of it's sights!

All about Cusco

When to visit

For trekkers looking to tackle the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, May through September offers the most pleasant conditions, but be prepared for crowds—this is Cusco’s peak season. Those willing to visit during the rainy months (December through March) will be rewarded with crowd-free sights, cheaper accommodation, and a number of traditional fiestas and folklore festivals.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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