Beginning of main content

Cusco

Known for Tours, Historical Buildings and Cathedrals

Once the capital of the Inca Empire, this historic city is the gateway to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and one of the most important sites in indigenous Peruvian culture.

How do you get to Cusco?

Discover the colorful history of southern Peru in this mountain city. Cusco is the former capital of the Inca Empire, and remnants of the civilization can be seen scattered throughout the town. The city has a vibrant culture that mixes traditional Quechua customs and contemporary Peruvian traditions. On the edge of the Andes Mountains, Cusco is an ideal location to base yourself in as you explore the terrain, including the Machu Picchu citadel and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Cusco’s city center is a charming blend of colonial architecture and Quechua culture. The city’s population is largely indigenous, and walking its cobbled laneways will reveal the colorful outfits and crafts of the locals. Seeing the city on foot is the best way to explore its small neighborhoods, where you’re sure to stumble across groups of men playing Sapo – a traditional coin tossing game – in the windows of Cusco’s many bars and cafes.

Stay on foot to reach the major attractions of the city, including the San Pedro Market, a fascinating and authentic Peruvian experience. Visit the Plaza de Armas for some of the best restaurants and shopping in the city. The city is home to some of the most important cultural institutions in Peru, including the Museo del Sitio del Qoricancha, a museum dedicated to pre-Columbian cultures, and a number of contemporary art galleries. The Saqsayhuaman complex is one of the most important Incan sites in the region, and offer excellent views across the city.

Cusco is located 11 150 feet (3400 meters) above sea level, and so temperatures are frequently very cold in the evenings. Some visitors are likely to experience altitude sickness, and it can take a few days to acclimatize to the thin air. Buses and trains depart frequently to Cusco from within Peru, while some airlines service the small airport on the edge of town. Visitors arriving from international destinations should travel via Lima to the west or Arequipa to the south. While Cusco may not be the most convenient city to reach in Peru, the journey is well worth the effort as traveling through rural Peru is a beautiful experience.

Best neighborhoods to visit in Cusco

Things to do in Cusco

Cusco’s busy main square has been the center of public life for centuries. Enjoy its spacious layout, ancient churches and restaurants.

Get caught up in the chaos of this intriguing attraction and enjoy a uniquely Andean experience. 

Discover the remains of an important Incan temple dedicated to the sun, admire its construction and learn about its fascinating history.

The colossal stones of Cusco’s hilltop fortress are a powerful testimony to the ingenuity of Incan construction techniques.

Visit this enthralling religious site and discover its fine collection of artwork dating from the 16th through 20th centuries.

Step inside “the Sistine Chapel of the Andes,” a richly decorated 17th-century church full of carvings and religious paintings.

Go for a walk down this famous street, which is known for a remarkable wall made with precisely carved stones.

Tickets & Tours

A train trip takes you into the mountains to see one of the wonders of the Americas on this tour to Machu Picchu. Discover the ancient citadel of the Incas in the hands of expert guides thanks to tickets on the Inca Rail.

Tickets & Tours

Visit one of the New 7 Wonders of the World at the fascinating ancient Inca town of Machu Picchu. Perched on a misty mountaintop, this picturesque site is a mystical setting where history and legends abound—take it in from the panoramic windows of a glass-top train as you ride to the peak.

Tickets & Tours

Early morning pick up from your Cusco hotel and transfer to the train station. On the train you will enjoy comfort & spectacular Andean scenery. Upon arriving in Aguas Calientes a representative will assist you to continue the journey by bus to reach the citadel.

Tickets & Tours

Discover the Sacred Valley of the Incas on this full-day tour. Visit the handicrafts market in Pisac to admire the colorful wares, enjoy a delectable Peruvian lunch in a local restaurant, and explore the impressive ancient ruins of Ollantaytambo.

Tickets & Tours

Be dazzled by the Vinicunca Mountain, also known as Rainbow Mountain, on this full-day adventure through the Peruvian Andes to the amazing spot. Follow an expert guide through breathtaking landscapes to a natural rainbow painted across the mountain ridges, a one-of-a-kind sight.

Tickets & Tours

Venture into the Sacred Valley to discover Inca heritage and present-day agricultural communities. Meet local families in this peaceful, verdant setting, learn traditional weaving techniques, and visit the Pisac market to find handmade goods before exploring the mystical ruins of Ollantaytambo.

Visitor guides from our travel experts

Local experts explore every corner of Cusco for you

Find Adventure on these Top Bucket List Trips

Unlike in stories, adventure doesn’t always come knocking on your door—you have to make it happen.

Camille Meyers
Find Adventure on these Top Bucket List Trips