things to do in cusco

13+ Things to do in Cusco Peru on 2024

Positioned amidst the highlands of the Andes, Cusco, Peru, is the epicenter of the bygone Incan empire. This captivating city is an amalgamation of rich history, vibrant culture, and majestic landscapes, beckoning explorers with its myriad experiences. If the question “What are the exciting things to do in Cusco?” is on your mind, rest assured, your quest ends here!

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This detailed guide is brimming with secret local spots and insightful recommendations, crafted with the aim of helping you curate an unforgettable journey through Cusco. So whether you’re a history aficionado, a culture enthusiast, an adventurer, or a casual traveler, prepare to chart your ideal itinerary and dive headfirst into the wonders that this Peruvian gem has to offer.

8 Best things to do in Cusco City

1. San Blas District

Perched on the inclines overlooking Cusco’s bustling central square, you’ll discover the San Blas district, renowned for its lively art culture and bohemian charm. The neighborhood is a picturesque fusion of meandering cobblestone lanes, scattered terracotta roofs, whitewashed abodes, and balconies adorned with vibrant flora.

Each corner of this hilly district exudes an artistic spirit, breathing life into the heritage-rich ambiance. San Blas is more than just a neighborhood; it’s a vibrant canvas showcasing the city’s creative pulse, a quintessential Cusco experience waiting to unfurl itself to the discerning traveler.

1.1 Calle 7 Borreguitos

Start your journey by meandering through Calle 7 Borreguitos. Along this narrow pathway, you’ll see an enchanting blend of ancient Inca stonework and Spanish colonial architecture. The striking contrast offers a tangible link to the city’s rich history.

1.2 Sapantiana Aqueduct

Next, wander over to the Sapantiana Aqueduct. As you walk along this historic pathway, once the lifeblood of Cusco, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back into the Inca period. This walk also offers glimpses into everyday life in Cusco.

1.3 San Cristobal Viewpoint

No visit to San Blas would be complete without a stop at San Cristobal Viewpoint. From here, you can drink in a panoramic view of the city, framed by the verdant Andean peaks. It’s the perfect spot for photography or simply appreciating the cityscape.

1.4 Santa Ana Arch

Delve deeper into the city’s past at Santa Ana Arch. This stately archway, adorned with intricate carvings, is a testament to Cusco’s rich architectural heritage. Standing beneath it, you’ll feel the echoes of history.

1.5 Coffee on a balcony – L’atelier

After exploring San Blas, take a breather at L’atelier. Enjoy a fresh-brewed Peruvian coffee on a quaint balcony while gazing at the stunning views. The serene atmosphere here provides a perfect end to your day in San Blas.

2. Qoricancha Temple in Cusco

Immerse yourself in the spiritual aura of the Qoricancha Temple. Originally known as the Temple of the Sun, it was the most important shrine in the Inca Empire, dedicated to the worship of the Sun God, Inti. Now, it’s a fascinating fusion of Inca and Spanish architecture, offering a unique insight into Cusco’s layered history.

3. San Pedro Market

For an authentic taste of Cusco, venture into the San Pedro Market. This vibrant market is a riot of colors, sounds, and scents. From fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats to handicrafts, textiles, and traditional medicines, you’ll find an array of products that showcase the city’s rich cultural tapestry.

San Pedro Market Variety- Things to do in Cuscco

4. Trendy Local Clothing

If shopping is on your agenda, Cusco won’t disappoint. The city’s stores brim with trendy local clothing, featuring traditional Andean designs in a contemporary fashion. From cozy alpaca wool sweaters to colorful woven textiles, you’ll find the perfect souvenir to remember your Cusco experience.

5. Sacsayhuaman – Most Popular Thing to Do in Cusco

Make your way to the outskirts of Cusco to explore Sacsayhuaman. This impressive fortress is a testament to the architectural prowess of the Incas. Comprising enormous stone blocks meticulously fit together, the site offers a stunning view over the city. Visiting Sacsayhuaman is undoubtedly among the best things to do in Cusco.

6. Cusco’s Historical Center

The heart of Cusco lies in its Historical Center. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a captivating blend of Inca ruins and colonial buildings. As you stroll through the narrow, cobblestone streets, you’ll feel the city’s rich past come alive.

7. Taste the Best Restaurants in Cusco & Cooking Clases

Cusco is not just about history and culture; it’s also a food lover’s paradise. With its diverse gastronomic scene, the city offers an array of dining experiences, from high-end restaurants serving gourmet fusion dishes to small eateries dishing out hearty local fare. Don’t miss trying traditional Peruvian cuisine, like Ceviche, Lomo Saltado, and Alpaca Steak.

8. Chocolate Museum

End your city exploration on a sweet note at the Chocolate Museum. Here, you’ll learn about the process of chocolate production, from bean to bar. Don’t miss out on the chocolate-making workshop, where you can make your own chocolate to take home!

5 best things to do in Cusco Region

1. Machu Picchu Tours

Your journey to Cusco won’t truly be fulfilled without setting foot on the legendary grounds of Machu Picchu. This breathtaking ancient city, nestled within the soaring peaks of the Andes, stands as an enduring symbol of the inventive brilliance of the Inca civilization.

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Machu Picchu, with its stone structures flawlessly blended into the mountainous landscape, offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and witness first-hand the extraordinary architectural achievements of the Incas. It’s not just a visit; it’s an immersive experience into a fascinating slice of human history.

1.1 Inca Trail

If you’re up for an adventure, take the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This 4-day trek traverses lush cloud forests and sub-tropical jungles, ancient ruins, and stunning mountain scenery, culminating in the sunrise view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate.

inca trail 7 days

1.2 Salkantay Trek

For those who prefer off-the-beaten-path trails, the Salkantay Trek is an excellent choice. This 5-day journey takes you through high peaks, lowland jungles, and finally to Machu Picchu. It’s a less crowded but equally rewarding route to the famed Inca city.

best time to visit humantay

2. Rainbow Mountain Tours

Among these marvels are the dazzling Rainbow Mountains, a series of geological formations that amaze with their multicolored ridges and slopes. There are three major Rainbow Mountains that visitors should consider for their bucket lists: Vinicunca, Palccoyo, and Pallay Punchu.

2.1 Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain (Classic & Original)

Known as the original Rainbow Mountain, Vinicunca, or Montaña de Siete Colores (Mountain of Seven Colors), is famous for its striated hues of red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. The colors are the result of different minerals in the soil, exposed over centuries by erosion. Vinicunca’s dramatic scenery and remote location make it a truly adventurous day trip from Cusco.

rainbow mountain tour
Tips for Visiting Vinicunca

Visitors to Vinicunca should remember to acclimate to Cusco’s altitude before attempting the hike, which sits at an elevation of over 5,000 meters. Dressing in layers is crucial, as weather conditions can vary greatly throughout the day.

2.2 Palccoyo: A Rainbow Mountain for Everyone

If you’re looking for a less strenuous experience without compromising on views, consider Palccoyo, the alternative Rainbow Mountain. Unlike the challenging trek to Vinicunca, Palccoyo offers three Rainbow Mountains and a “stone forest,” all accessible via a comparatively easy and flat trail. This makes Palccoyo a great option for families or those with limited hiking experience.

Tips for Visiting Palccoyo

Just like Vinicunca, Palccoyo sits at a high altitude. It’s recommended to spend a few days in Cusco or the Sacred Valley to adjust before making the trip. A good hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water are must-haves for this sun-exposed hike.

2.3 Pallay Punchu: The New Rainbow Mountain on the Block

The newest addition to Peru’s Rainbow Mountains is Pallay Punchu, located in the Apu Taqllo region. Pallay Punchu is characterized by a unique ‘horn’ of colored strata that juts into the sky, making it distinct from its siblings. This mountain is still relatively unknown, offering visitors a chance to experience Peru’s natural beauty away from the crowds.

pallay punchu tour
Tips for Visiting Pallay Punchu

Pallay Punchu is more remote than the other two mountains and requires a longer journey from Cusco. As always, acclimatization, hydration, and sun protection are vital for a safe and enjoyable trip.

3. Humantay Lake Tour

Escape the city’s hustle and bustle and head to Humantay Lake. This glacial lake’s turquoise waters, set against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, create a serene and picturesque landscape that is a dream for nature lovers.

4. Ausangate Trek

If you’re an experienced trekker, the Ausangate Trek is a must-do. This high-altitude trek is not for the faint-hearted, but it rewards you with some of the most awe-inspiring views in the Andes, including snow-covered peaks, colorful mountain ranges, and crystal-clear glacial lakes.

ausangate trek 6 days

5. Things to do in Sacred Valley Peru

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, resplendent with its verdant fields and lofty mountain ranges, served as the breadbasket for the Inca Empire in its heyday. This fertile land was once the core of agricultural activity, providing sustenance to a thriving civilization.

In the present day, this picturesque valley is steeped in rich history, playing host to an array of archaeological relics and offering a window into traditional Andean village life. With its pristine natural beauty and historical significance, the Sacred Valley continues to echo the grandeur of the Inca legacy.

5.1 Pisac Ruins

Start your exploration of the Sacred Valley with the Pisac ruins. Perched high above the modern town of Pisac, this archaeological site offers magnificent views over the valley.

5.2 Moray

Continue to Moray, a fascinating site of circular terraces that the Incas used as an agricultural laboratory. The concentric rings, each with its own microclimate, stir up intriguing theories about ancient agricultural practices.

inca trail 2 days

5.3 Maras Salt Mines

Next, head to the Maras Salt Mines. This surreal landscape of thousands of salt pans, still in use today, is a fascinating spectacle that has been part of the region’s salt production since Inca times.

5.4 Ollantaytambo

Experience the living history in Ollantaytambo, a town that retains its original Inca walls and street grid. Climb the steep terraces to the impressive fortress at the top for a fantastic view of the town.

inca trail 2 days

5.5 Urubamba

End your journey in the Sacred Valley in Urubamba. Known as the ‘Pearl of the Vilcanota’, it’s a quiet town with a scenic beauty, ideal for resting and acclimatizing to the altitude.

Cusco and its surrounding region offer an endless array of experiences for every kind of traveler. From history and culture to gastronomy and adventure, you’ll find plenty to explore in this charming city and its spectacular surroundings. Whether you’re an intrepid adventurer, a history buff, a food lover, or a culture enthusiast, you’re sure to find something to captivate you in Cusco, Peru.

Where to Stay in Cusco

Cusco Hostels

If you’re a budget traveler or enjoy a more social atmosphere, staying at one of Cusco’s hostels can be a great option. Here are six popular hostels to consider:

1. Loki Hostel Cusco: Located near Plaza de Armas, this hostel offers comfortable dorms and private rooms, a lively bar, and organized activities for guests.

2. Milhouse Hostel: Known for its vibrant social scene, Milhouse Hostel provides a variety of dormitory-style accommodations, a bar, and a terrace with stunning city views.

3. Wild Rover Hostel Cusco: This party-oriented hostel offers both dorms and private rooms, an on-site bar, and regular entertainment events.

4. The Point Hostel Cusco: This social hostel boasts a great location, comfortable accommodations, a bar, and a range of organized activities for guests.

Airbnbs in Cusco

If you prefer a more private and home-like experience, consider renting an Airbnb in Cusco. From cozy apartments to charming colonial-style houses, you’ll find a variety of options that cater to different budgets and preferences. Many Airbnb hosts in Cusco are friendly and knowledgeable about the city, so don’t hesitate to reach out to them for local tips and recommendations.

How To Get Around Cusco

Cusco is a walkable city, and many of its main attractions are within a reasonable distance from each other. However, if you need to travel a bit farther or prefer not to walk, there are other transportation options available.

Colectivo Stations

Colectivos are shared minivans or buses that operate on fixed routes within the city. They are an affordable and convenient way to get around Cusco. Look for colectivo stations or flag them down along their designated routes. Make sure to confirm the destination with the driver before boarding, as they usually have their route signposted in the front windshield. Colectivos are especially useful for reaching places like Sacsayhuamán, the Sacred Valley, or nearby towns and villages.

Taxis are safe and cheap

You are going to pay from 4 soles (1,2$) short distances to 12 soles (3,2$) long distances. Always ask he pice first, try to find taxis with a sign “TAXI SEGURO” in the front of the car.

Transport To / From Cusco

By Plane

The Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco serves as the main gateway to the city. Several domestic airlines operate flights to and from Cusco, connecting it with major cities in Peru, such as Lima and Arequipa. Flights to Cusco can be a convenient and time-saving option, particularly if you’re coming from a different region of Peru or have limited time for your trip. It’s advisable to book your flights in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.

By Bus

If you prefer a more scenic and budget-friendly option, traveling to Cusco by bus is a great choice. Cusco has well-established bus connections with various cities and towns in Peru, as well as neighboring countries like Bolivia and Ecuador. Several bus companies operate routes to Cusco, offering different levels of comfort and amenities. Choose between standard buses or opt for more luxurious options with reclining seats and onboard entertainment. The duration of bus journeys can vary depending on the distance and route, so plan accordingly.


Cusco, the gateway to the Sacred Valley, offers a wealth of experiences for travelers seeking history, culture, and natural beauty. From exploring ancient ruins and vibrant markets to indulging in local cuisine and embarking on unforgettable day trips, Cusco has something for everyone. Immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of this Andean city, marvel at its architectural wonders, and connect with the rich traditions of the Inca civilization. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a foodie, Cusco will captivate your senses and leave you with cherished memories of your journey to the heart of the Peruvian Andes.

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