The City

Cusco is a beautiful city with well preserved colonial architecture, evidence of a rich and complex history. The city itself represents the center of indigenous Quechua culture in the Andes, and by merely walking the streets one sees the layers of history. Spanish colonial buildings erected directly atop Inca walls line the square, while the modern tourist nightlife flourishes in their midst. 

The city is surrounded by a number of ruins, the most impressive being Sacsayhuaman, the site of the 1536 battle in which dozens of Pizarro's men charged uphill to battle the forces of the Inca.

Nowadays, Cusco is known for its indigenous population--often seen on the streets in traditional clothing--and its substantial tourist-fueled night life.


June-August. Cusco can be very hot during the day and quite cold in the early morning and late at night. If you get cold easily, you might want to carry a hat, gloves, and several layers in your day pack to use at night, that you can peel off during the day for complete summer mode

Cusco is somewhat dusty and you will be very happy wearing a boot/sneaker mix such as Keens, rather than for example flip flops.


Cusco  ~  Plaza de Arma

  • Sacsayhuaman is the ruins by the white Jesus. You need a boleto touristico to get in. A 10 day pass to all sites is 130 sol for foreigners. You can also get a single day pass to 4 sites (one of which is Sacsayhuamn) for 70 sol or if you are Peruvian, 40 sol.
  • The walls of the city are Inca, particularly near the Plaza de Armas.
  • Monumento Pachacuteq, down Av. Sol, is a statue of the Inca warrior King Pachacuteq. The statue is placed on a cylindrical base and the total monument is over 22 m high. The cylindrical base can be climbed, but views are disappointing because the monument is located at a lower part of town. Admission with the boleto turistico.

Get Outside

Pisac , Colorful marketplace, climb up to the expansive ruins to the religious site and cemetery behind. 32 km (20 mi) from Cusco. Accessible with the boleto turistico. 

Ollantaytambo, Religous center that doubled as a fortress during the Spanish conquest . A great place to visit on the return from Machu Picchu or an alternative if you don't want to visit Machu Picchu. Great place to stay too. 77 km (48 mi) from Cusco. Accessible with the boleto turistico.

Tipon, Farming terraces, water channels and long staircases believed to be a part of the Incan royal estate. Here sits the largest hydraulic system built by the incas (much of it still functioning) as well as an Incan cemetary. 22.5 km (14 mi) from Cusco. Accessible with the boleto turistico. 

Lake Titicaca, PeruRail [55] connects Cusco to Juliaca and Puno, and the journey is one of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world, passing both through amazing scenery and the middle of small towns. The journey should take 10 hr, but there are often delays. The 'scenic stop' included at La Raya is a bit of a waste of time, though it's included anyway. 

There are several buses that travel to Lake Titicaca, which are compareably priced, and takes less time than the train. They also stop at 5 or 6 interesting spots along the trip, including the "Sistine Chapel of South America" Prices have increased recently, and the cheap backpacker train no longer runs this route, having been sent to the Poroy (Cusco) - Macchu Pichu line. The trip from Cusco to Puno runs about US$220 each way now. 

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, The atmospheric ruin perched below the Andes and above the jungle. For the best experience, walk there on the Inca Trail or one of the alternative trails, which is certainly worth the exercise! There are numerous tour companies which organise such trips, costing US$365-450 with all travel costs. There are lots of companies offering a 4 day "Jungle Trek" as an alternative to the Inca Trail. If you are good at bargaining, you may be able to get the jungle trek (including zipline & rafting) for US$200 (price as of May 2012). As of April 2008, a one-way trip on PeruRail [56] costs US$71 for Vistadome class, and US$58 Backpacker class. This journey takes just under 4 hours, but note that trains now terminate (and begin) at Poroy - you must take a bus or taxi from Cusco to Poroy (the section of track between Poroy and Cusco was too steep and difficult to continue using).

Troubles reaching Machu Picchu, The railroad service between Ollantaytambo and Km. 82 may be disrupted or at times suspended due to landslides, mudslides and subsidence following sustained periods of very heavy rain. This means that everybody must be transported to Km. 82 to get on a second train. An overland trip is a very good yet adventurous alternative way to get there. When the the rail service is operating between Poroy and Machu Picchu it is a slow but beautiful and comfortable 4 hr trip.

Choquequirao, Like Machu Picchu a big Inca ruin area at the edge of a mountain with great view. It offers much bigger area and terraces but less housing. Not as fabulous as Machu Picchu but definitely worth a visit. Only accessible by trekking (possibility to continue to MP) and thus only very few visitors. BTW, it's cheaper.

Puno, Visiting Lake Titicaca is the perfect way to complete a journey to the Southern Andes. It is possible to travel from Cusco taking a direct 30 minutes flight, traveling by train or by road, which allows stopping at various interesting sites on the route such as Andahuaylillas, Piquillacta, Tipon, Huaro, Raqchi or Lampa as well as witnessing stunning landscapes.Wonder Peru Offers a tourist bus service starting at 7:30am in Cusco with several stops to visit sites of interest on the way to Puno (Andahuaylillas, Raqchi, La Raya and Kalassaya - check for exact itinerary). It takes about 10 hours to Puno in total and includes a free lunch in Sicuani, drinks, a reasonably comfortable bus with a knowledgable and friendly guide. At around 150 soles it's and expensive but nice way to get to Puno by road.

La Paz (Bolivia), At the very least there appear to be overnight buses direct from Cusco to La Paz that pass through Desaguadero. The duration seems to be about 15-17 hr long. As an alternative, go from Cusco to Copacabana, Bolivia, (about 10 hr) and from there onto La Paz (about 6 hr).

Content courtesy of  - available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0