Things to do in Cusco: An Amazing Travel Guide in 2023


Welcome to Cusco, a captivating city nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. From its rich history as the former capital of the Inca Empire to its vibrant modern culture, Cusco offers a tapestry of experiences that will leave you awe-inspired. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an adventure seeker, a food lover, or simply a curious traveler, Cusco has something remarkable to offer. Let’s dive into the top things to do, the finest hotels, convenient flights, captivating tours, and delectable restaurants that await you in this Peruvian gem.

Things to Do in Cusco

Cusco is a city that offers a plethora of experiences for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in history, culture, adventure, and natural beauty. Here’s a more comprehensive look at the many things to do in Cusco:

Machu Picchu: Starting with the crown jewel of Cusco, Machu Picchu is an absolute must-visit. You can choose from various options to reach the ancient citadel, such as hiking the Inca Trail or taking a train journey through the stunning Sacred Valley. The archaeological site itself is awe-inspiring, revealing the advanced engineering and architecture of the Inca civilization.

Historical Cusco City Center:

  • Plaza de Armas: This central square is surrounded by colonial buildings, including the Cusco Cathedral and the Church of the Society of Jesus. It’s a great place to begin your exploration of the city.
  • Cusco Cathedral: Marvel at the intricate architecture and impressive artwork within this cathedral that was built over an Inca palace.
  • Qorikancha: Visit the Temple of the Sun, an important Inca religious site that the Spanish built the Santo Domingo Church upon.

Sacred Valley Exploration:

  • Pisac Market: Browse through vibrant markets where you can purchase traditional crafts, textiles, jewelry, and fresh produce.
  • Ollantaytambo: Explore the well-preserved Inca ruins that overlook the town of Ollantaytambo and learn about its strategic significance.

Inca Ruins and Archeological Sites:

  • Sacsayhuamán: Marvel at the massive stone walls and panoramic views of Cusco from this impressive fortress.
  • Q’enqo, Tambomachay, and Puka Pukara: Visit these lesser-known sites that offer insights into Inca religious and administrative practices.

Rainbow Mountain Trek:

  • Embark on a challenging but rewarding trek to Vinicunca, known as Rainbow Mountain, where you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking landscape of multicolored stripes.

Moray and Maras Salt Mines:

  • Explore the fascinating Inca agricultural laboratory of Moray, a series of concentric terraces that were likely used for experimental farming.
  • Visit the unique salt pans of Maras, where salt has been harvested since Inca times.


  • Learn about the history and production of chocolate in Peru, participate in chocolate-making workshops, and indulge in delicious treats.

San Pedro Market:

  • Immerse yourself in local life by wandering through this bustling market, where you can find everything from fresh produce to handicrafts.

Peruvian Cooking Classes:

  • Enroll in a cooking class to learn how to prepare traditional Peruvian dishes such as ceviche, lomo saltado, and causa.

Planetarium Cusco:

  • Gain insight into Inca astronomy and cosmology through engaging planetarium presentations that highlight the importance of celestial bodies in Inca culture.

Horseback Riding:

  • Explore the surrounding landscapes on horseback, riding through picturesque valleys and along ancient trails.

Cusco Street Art Tour:

  • Discover the vibrant street art scene in Cusco, which combines contemporary creativity with cultural heritage.

Music and Dance Performances:

  • Attend traditional music and dance performances, such as the Inti Raymi Festival, to witness captivating displays of Andean culture.

From uncovering the mysteries of ancient civilizations to immersing yourself in local traditions, Cusco offers an array of enriching experiences that cater to every traveler’s interests. Whether you’re a history buff, an adventure seeker, or simply in search of cultural immersion, this Peruvian city promises an unforgettable journey.

things to do in cusco

Hotels in Cusco

Cusco boasts a diverse range of accommodations, from luxurious five-star hotels to charming boutique lodges. Here’s a closer look at some of the notable hotels in Cusco that cater to various preferences and budgets:

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas:

  • A luxurious five-star hotel that was once a 16th-century convent.
  • Offers lavish rooms and suites with elegant décor, modern amenities, and stunning views.
  • Features a serene courtyard, a heated outdoor pool, and a state-of-the-art spa.
  • Known for its exceptional personalized service and gourmet dining options.

JW Marriott El Convento Cusco:

  • Set within a restored 16th-century convent, seamlessly blending history with contemporary comfort.
  • Offers spacious rooms and suites featuring a blend of colonial and modern design.
  • Amenities include a fitness center, a spa, and a charming courtyard.
  • The hotel’s Qespi Bar features an extensive collection of piscos, a Peruvian grape brandy.

Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel & Spa:

  • A charming boutique hotel that blends colonial architecture with modern design.
  • Features individually decorated rooms and suites with luxurious amenities.
  • Offers a tranquil courtyard with a garden, a spa, and a Jacuzzi.
  • Known for its exceptional service and attention to detail.

Antigua Casona San Blas:

  • A cozy boutique hotel located in the artistic San Blas neighborhood.
  • Offers comfortable and well-appointed rooms with a focus on local art and design.
  • Features a central courtyard, a terrace with panoramic views, and a fireplace lounge.
  • Known for its warm and personalized service.
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Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel:

  • Located in a historic 16th-century mansion with Inca walls.
  • Offers elegant rooms and suites with traditional and modern elements.
  • Features a courtyard with a colonial fountain, a spa, and an Andean sauna.
  • Offers a convenient location near the main attractions in Cusco.

El Mercado Hotel:

  • Inspired by the vibrant San Pedro Market, this hotel features a market-style atmosphere.
  • Offers comfortable rooms with a mix of modern and rustic design.
  • Features a courtyard garden, a restaurant serving Peruvian cuisine, and a cozy lounge area.
  • Provides a unique cultural experience with its market-inspired concept.

Novotel Cusco:

  • Offers modern and comfortable rooms with a touch of Peruvian design.
  • Features an indoor heated pool, a fitness center, and a restaurant with international and local cuisine.
  • Conveniently located near the historic center and major attractions.

Tierra Viva Cusco Plaza Hotel:

  • A boutique hotel located near the Plaza de Armas.
  • Offers cozy and well-equipped rooms with a blend of modern and colonial design.
  • Features a central courtyard, a lounge area, and a rooftop terrace with panoramic views.
  • Known for its friendly staff and convenient location.

Whether you’re looking for opulent luxury or a more authentic and intimate experience, Cusco’s hotels offer a range of choices that cater to different tastes and preferences. Whichever hotel you choose, you’re sure to find comfort, exceptional service, and a memorable stay in this historic and enchanting city.

hotels in cusco

Flights to Cusco Peru

Getting to Cusco by air is an essential part of your travel planning. The city is a popular destination, so there are several options for flights that can connect you to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ), the main airport serving Cusco. Here’s more information about flights to Cusco, Peru:

Major Airlines:

  • LATAM Airlines: As one of the largest carriers in South America, LATAM offers numerous flights to Cusco from various international and domestic destinations.
  • Avianca: Another prominent South American airline that operates flights to Cusco, connecting travelers from major cities in the region.
  • Peruvian Airlines: A domestic airline that offers flights to Cusco from various cities within Peru.

Flights from Lima:

  • Lima, the capital of Peru, is a common starting point for travelers heading to Cusco. Several flights operate daily between Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM) in Lima and Cusco.
  • The flight duration from Lima to Cusco is approximately 1.5 hours, making it a convenient option for both domestic and international travelers.

Flights from International Destinations:

  • Cusco does have some international flights, primarily from cities in neighboring South American countries such as La Paz (Bolivia) and Bogotá (Colombia).
  • However, many international travelers opt to fly to Lima first and then take a connecting flight to Cusco.

Connecting Flights:

  • If you’re traveling from international destinations that do not offer direct flights to Cusco, you can find connecting flights via Lima or other major South American hubs.
  • Be sure to check the layover times and flight durations when booking your connecting flights.

High Demand Periods:

  • It’s important to consider that Cusco is a popular tourist destination, especially during peak seasons such as the dry season (May to September) when the weather is most favorable for travel.
  • During these periods, flights and accommodations can get booked quickly, so it’s advisable to book your flights well in advance.

Altitude Considerations:

  • Cusco is located at a high altitude (approximately 3,400 meters or 11,200 feet above sea level), which can affect travelers who are not acclimated to such altitudes.
  • Some people might experience symptoms of altitude sickness, so it’s recommended to take it easy for the first day or two after arriving in Cusco and stay well-hydrated.

Airport Facilities:

  • Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) is a relatively small airport but is equipped to handle the influx of tourists.
  • The airport has basic facilities including currency exchange, restaurants, and shops.

Transportation to City Center:

  • The airport is located around 3 miles (5 km) from the city center, making transportation to your accommodation relatively easy.
  • Taxis, shuttle services, and private transfers are available for transportation between the airport and the city center.

Remember to check with airlines and travel advisories for the most up-to-date information about flights, entry requirements, and any travel restrictions. Planning your flight to Cusco is a crucial step in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable travel experience to this captivating Peruvian city.

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Cusco Tours

Cusco offers a wide array of tours that cater to various interests and preferences, providing visitors with a chance to explore the city’s rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. Here are some detailed insights into the different types of Cusco tours available:

Historical and Cultural Tours:

  • Cusco City Walking Tours: These tours allow you to explore the historical city center, visiting landmarks like the Plaza de Armas, Cusco Cathedral, and Qorikancha. Knowledgeable guides provide insights into the city’s history and culture.
  • Inca Ruins Tours: Guided tours to significant Inca ruins around Cusco, such as Sacsayhuamán, Q’enqo, Tambomachay, and Puka Pukara. Guides explain the significance of these archaeological sites.

Machu Picchu Tours:

  • Classic Inca Trail: A multi-day trek that leads you through diverse landscapes, ending at the iconic Machu Picchu. These tours offer a combination of history, adventure, and stunning natural beauty.
  • Alternative Treks: Besides the Inca Trail, there are alternative treks like the Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, and Choquequirao Trek that offer unique perspectives of the region.
  • Machu Picchu Day Tours: For those with limited time, day tours from Cusco to Machu Picchu by train and bus are available. Guides provide historical context during your visit to the citadel.

Sacred Valley Tours:

  • Pisac Market and Ruins: Tours that take you to the vibrant Pisac Market and the nearby Inca ruins. You can explore the market’s colorful stalls and the archaeological site.
  • Ollantaytambo: Tours to the impressive Ollantaytambo ruins, often combined with a visit to the town’s charming streets and local markets.

Adventure Tours:

  • Rainbow Mountain Trek: A challenging trek to the colorful Vinicunca Mountain, offering spectacular vistas of the Andean landscape.
  • White-Water Rafting: Adventure enthusiasts can enjoy thrilling white-water rafting experiences on the Urubamba River.
  • Mountain Biking: Explore the Sacred Valley on two wheels with guided mountain biking tours that offer a mix of adventure and scenery.

Culinary Tours:

  • Cooking Classes: Learn to prepare traditional Peruvian dishes with expert chefs. Many tours include visits to local markets to purchase ingredients.
  • Pisco Tasting Tours: Discover the world of pisco, Peru’s grape brandy, through guided tours that offer tastings and insights into the production process.

Textile and Craft Tours:

  • Textile Workshops: Engage in hands-on textile workshops to learn traditional weaving techniques and create your own textiles.
  • Artisan Village Tours: Explore local communities known for their craftsmanship, such as Chinchero, where you can observe traditional dyeing and weaving processes.

Night Tours:

  • Cusco by Night: Guided tours that showcase the city’s illuminated landmarks, offering a different perspective of its beauty after sunset.
  • Planetarium Tours: Engage in stargazing and learn about Inca astronomy during evening planetarium tours.

Hiking and Nature Tours:

  • Laguna Humantay Hike: A day trip to the stunning Laguna Humantay, nestled in the Andes. The hike offers breathtaking views of the turquoise lake.
  • Hikes to Hot Springs: Enjoy hikes to natural hot springs, such as Lares or Aguas Calientes, to relax and unwind amidst scenic landscapes.

Whether you’re fascinated by history, seeking adventure, interested in local culture, or eager to sample Peruvian cuisine, Cusco has an extensive selection of tours to suit your preferences. These tours provide enriching experiences that allow you to truly immerse yourself in the beauty and diversity of this captivating region.

cusco tours

Cusco Restaurants

Cusco is a culinary hub that offers a delectable blend of traditional Peruvian flavors and international influences. From quaint local eateries to upscale dining establishments, here’s a more detailed look at the diverse range of restaurants you can explore in Cusco:


  • A renowned restaurant that combines Peruvian and Mediterranean cuisines.
  • Offers a cozy ambiance and an extensive menu featuring fresh seafood, grilled meats, and inventive vegetarian options.
  • Known for its creative cocktails and impressive wine selection.

Chicha por Gastón Acurio:

  • Founded by celebrity chef Gastón Acurio, this restaurant showcases Peruvian cuisine with a modern twist.
  • Offers a variety of traditional dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
  • The menu includes classics like ceviche, anticuchos, and lomo saltado.

Limo Restaurante:

  • Specializes in Nikkei cuisine, which is a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian flavors.
  • Offers a unique dining experience with dishes like tiraditos, sushi rolls, and sashimi, infused with Peruvian ingredients and techniques.


  • A cozy restaurant that celebrates Peruvian comfort food.
  • Known for its traditional dishes like alpaca steak, rocoto relleno (stuffed pepper), and a variety of stews.
  • The charming courtyard setting enhances the dining experience.

Greens Organic:

  • Ideal for health-conscious travelers, Greens Organic offers a menu focused on organic and locally sourced ingredients.
  • Features a variety of vegetarian and vegan options, as well as delicious smoothies and fresh juices.


  • Another great option for health-conscious eaters, Organika offers a menu of organic and vegetarian dishes.
  • Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with options like grain bowls, salads, and nutritious wraps.

Café Morena:

  • A cozy café known for its homemade baked goods, sandwiches, and coffee.
  • Perfect for a quick bite or a leisurely afternoon snack.

Pacha Papa:

  • Offers a rustic and cozy atmosphere along with a menu that focuses on Andean and Peruvian cuisine.
  • Features live music performances that enhance the dining experience.
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Uchu Peruvian Steakhouse: – Ideal for meat lovers, Uchu specializes in Peruvian-style steaks and grilled meats. – Offers a variety of cuts, prepared to perfection, along with delicious sides.

Limo Cocina Nikkei: – A sister restaurant of Limo Restaurante, Limo Cocina Nikkei offers a similar fusion of Japanese and Peruvian flavors. – Features a modern and stylish ambiance with a focus on high-quality ingredients.

Inka Grill: – A popular restaurant that offers a mix of traditional Peruvian dishes and international cuisine. – Known for its generous portions and flavorful offerings.

From innovative fusions to authentic Peruvian delights, Cusco’s restaurant scene has something for every palate. Exploring these culinary gems is a delightful way to experience the city’s vibrant culture and diverse gastronomy.

Cusco, with its captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, promises an unforgettable journey. From exploring ancient ruins to indulging in world-class cuisine, this Peruvian gem has it all. So, pack your bags and get ready to embark on an adventure of a lifetime in the heart of the Andes. For a safe trip, it is important to have travel insurance.

cusco restaurants

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