Cusco

Travel Guide South America Peru Cusco

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Introduction

The Steps of Cuzco

The Steps of Cuzco

© NomadicOne

Despite being Peru's main tourist hub, Cusco (also known as Cuzco or Qusqu in local native language) still manages to retain its infamous grandeur and delicate beauty. Set against the backdrop of an all mighty cultural historical past, Cusco now serves as an excellent base for exploring one of the world's oldest empires and is a definite must see on any visit to Peru. As the former capital, Cusco was the absolute centre of the ancient Inca Empire in Peru, staging legendary battles, and housing some of the most important royal descendents. To this day the magnificent history of Inca warriors and Spanish conquistadors can still be seen from the original old Inca walls which line the city in tact. Set against breath taking mountain peaks, over 3,300 metres above sea level, Cusco really is breath taking. Cusco is a large city that has expanded a lot in recent years. It is nestled beautifully between the andean valleys and contains more than four different speaking languages.

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Neighbourhoods

The area around the Plaza de Armas contains the majority of tourist-related facilities such as hotels, restaurants, tour companies and equipment stores. This area also houses the most impressive churches buildings in the city. Uphill from the Plaza de Armas is the neighborhood of San Blas, the art district of Cusco. There you´ll find many cafes and restaurants, as well as the Plaza San Blas with its Iglesia San Blas.

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Sights and Activities

Boleto Turistico
Note that for a number of sights you need a Boleto turistico (check the website for latest conditions and prices, as they tend to change frequently). It is required for access to some of the sights in and around Cuzco. It can be bought at the Oficina Ejecutiva del Comité (OFEC), Avenida Sol 103. There are three different kind of tickets:

  • A full ticket (valid for ten days and for all sites)
  • A student ticket (ISIC sudentcard required as proof)
  • A partial ticket, (only valid for one day and a limited number of sites)

The ticket gives access to the following sites in Cuzco: Santa Cataline Monastery, Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo, Museo Historico Regional, Museo del Sitio del Qoricancha, Museo de Arte Popular, Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo Danzas Folklórico and Monumento Pachacuteq.
Around Cuzco the following ones are included: Sacsayhuamán, Qénqo, Pukapukara, Tambomachay, Chinchero and the ruins of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Tipón and Pikillacta.

The Inca Trail

Most of the tour operators for the Inca Trail are based in Cusco, which makes the town a stepping stone on to the popular hike. The Inca Trail actually starts at 82 kilometres outside Cusco, and generally takes a 4-day hike to reach the Machu Picchu ruins.

Plaza de Armas

Sunset at Plaza de Armas in Cuzco

Sunset at Plaza de Armas in Cuzco

© tommydavis

The Plaza de Armas houses the main cathedral and the main church in Cusco as well as a large open park with plenty of seats. Surrounding the Plaza are numerous balcony restaurants that allow you to enjoy a drink while watching the manic activity below. Sitting in the main square, you will be approached by many men, women and children selling art work, post cards and wrist bands. These are cheap and buying one or two helps the local economy and if anything at all, allows you to be left alone!

Avenida Sol

The Avenida Sol, leading away from the main Plaza has the tourist information office (i-Peru) as well as a small park in front of the Qoricancha museum, a monastery built on top of a partially demolished Inca sun temple. This is a lovely area just to wonder around or sit and take in the view. Away from the main plaza, it gives you the chance to take a break and breath. The sights up from here are absolutely breath taking and if you can make it to the highest peak, provide you with beautiful sun-set camera shots.

Inca Museum

The Inca museum is located just off the Plaza de Armas, on a steep road leading to Plaza Nazarenas, this houses many significant artefacts but the descriptions can be a bit lacking so it is worth getting a guide at the desk, for the cost of a tip.

Sacsayhuaman

Heading out of town up the hill to Sacsayhuaman is well worth a visit, the sheer enormity of the site is dificult to comprehed without actually seeing it, it also offers spectacular views over Cusco. You can arrange horse rides from Cusco or the hawkers at the gates to Sachsayhuaman which can last from 2 hours to a whole day and will take you around the other sacred Inca sites that litter the plateau above Cusco, no horse riding experience is needed.

Museo de Arte Precolombino

The Museo de Arte Precolombino is well worth a visit, the pieces are well displayed and lit even if the descriptions are rather pretentious and lacking in historical detail.

Cusco Market

Cusco Market

© alsalis

Markets

The San Pedro market in Cusco is very large. It sells an array of things from clothes, to fruit, to meat, to pots and pans and more, and is fantastic to wander around to get a better insight into Peruvian life. Here you will get a better price than in the main square with regards to hats and clothes and get the buzz of a proper shopping trip, complete with the pushing and shoving and hussle and bussle! After you've walked up and down the aisles, gawped at the frozen pigs heads and stocked up on enough coco leaves, do go and try one of the many fruit shakes that are on offer. They are absolutely amazing!!! There are two aisles full of them and you can choose anything and everything. Dont be afraid to try something new or a fruit you've never seen, they all taste wonderful and the women are more than happy to help you and give you a very good price.

The market just outside the Machu Picchu train station is worth a visit, but the faint-hearted may wish to avoid the meat section. There is a wide range of locally produced fruit, coffee, chocolate and other foodstuffs on sale.

The handicraft market, a short way down Avenida Sol, is also worth a visit and the amount of competition means reasonable prices on the items.

Pisac

The nearby town of Pisac has a large tourist market on Sunday with a smaller but still respectable tourist market all other days of the week. This is one of the cheaper places to buy souvenirs. You can easily get there by bus, taxi or even cycle it (about 20 kilometres).

Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley encompasses everything between Ollantaytambo and Pisac. Many tour companies in Cusco offer day trips to the multitude of Inca sights in the valley. A combination ticket that includes many sights in the Sacred Valley and several museums in Cusco is 155 sols (see above under Boleto Turistico).

Jesuit Cathedral

Jesuit Cathedral

© alsalis

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Events and Festivals

Inti Raymi

One of the biggest events in Cusco is Inti Raymi. Inti Raymi is a celebration dedicated to the sun and takes place every year on the 24th of June. In the week leading up to Inti Raymi, there are daily parades and participants practicing dances/routines within the Plaza de Armas. Every year one man is nominated to lead the procession to the top of Sacsayhuamán and conduct the ceremony entirely in Quechua, the native language of the Incas. The festival lasts the entire day and is often celebrated with dance and the traditional alcoholic drink, chicha.

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Weather

Tends to be dry/wet depending on the season. The driest time is from May to September when hardly any rain falls. From October onwards rainfall increases and December to February is the wettest time of year with well over 100mm a month. The altitude (3,300 metres above sea level) means that when the sun is not out it can get very cold, very quick. Temperatures during the dry season are averaging around zero at night, while during the wet season it is more like 7 °C at night. Days are around 20-22 °C yearround. The absolute records high and low are 28 and -9 °C respectively.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max18.9 °C18.8 °C19.1 °C19.7 °C19.8 °C19.5 °C19.1 °C19.8 °C19.8 °C20.9 °C20.7 °C19.4 °C
Avg Min6.6 °C6.5 °C6.2 °C4.9 °C2.5 °C0.3 °C0.1 °C1.6 °C3.9 °C5.5 °C6.1 °C6.4 °C
Rainfall145.3 mm133.7 mm107 mm43.2 mm8.7 mm1.5 mm4 mm8.6 mm21.8 mm39.4 mm71.9 mm122.7 mm

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Getting There

By Plane

The Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) is in the suburbs and is a 10-minute taxi ride to the Plaza de Armas. There are daily flights from Lima, Juliaca (Puno) and Arequipa among other places. LAN Peru offers these flights, including less frequent flights to Tacna and Puerto Maldonado (for Manú National Park). Star Peru flies to Lima and Puerto Maldonado as well and TACA Peru to Lima only. Aerosur flies to La Paz in Bolivia. Remember to save some cash (about US$ 5) for the airport tax when you leave Peru via Cusco airport.

The flights itself offers a great view of the valley as it comes into land. The airline offices are located along the Avenida Sol. Taxis from the airport cost approx S/7. Buses are available.

By Train

There are two train lines, one to Machu Picchu and the other (at a separate station) to Arequipa via Juliaca and Puno. Both offer a range of classes right up to the Orient Express luxury class. The local train to Machu Picchu, however, is not available to tourists.

By Car

Main roads lead to Lima, Puno and Arequipa and are mostly tarmac. The Sacred Valley, along the Urubamba river is also tarmacked, but many of the other roads are dirt tracks of varying quality.

By Bus

Buses are probably the easiest way to travel in and out of Cusco and there are services (including overnight ones) to all the major cities in the area. Most of long distance buses leave from their respective companies offices located in the long-distance bus terminal, remember that there is a S/1.2 departure tax. From Lima, there are three possible routes:

  • Via Nazca and Abancay - This is the quickest route, and takes about 18 hours. The scenery is breath-taking, but the road is extremely curvy, so not recommendable to those prone to car sickness.
  • Via Arequipa and Puno - This route takes only slightly longer than the one via Nazca, but is a much quieter ride. The bus ride to Arequipa is roughly 12 hours while the bus ride to Puno is 6 hours. Buses for Puno leave in the morning or around 10:00pm.
  • Via Huancayo and Ayacucho - Timewise, this is a massive detour, as the route takes you about 30 hours to complete. On the other hand, the route is a very nice non-touristy alternative to both the coastal routes, and takes you through a region of Peru that is little visited.

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Getting Around

Cusco in the morning

Cusco in the morning

© alsalis

By Car

The roads in and around Cusco are largely of good quality. Traffic in the city itself is very heavy but once out into the countryside it quickly thins out.

By Public Transport

There are small minibuses running all over the city and to nearby towns. These usually cost S/0.50. Taxis are to be found everywhere, but be sure to hail one with a current permit (large circular sticker on windscreen) and which has the number plate written on the side of the car at the rear. Any trip in the main part of the city will cost S/4-5.

By Foot

The tourist area around the Plaza de Armas, Avenida Sol and Sachsayhuaman is easily accessible by foot.

By Bike

Bicycles are available for hire and one day can allow you a visit to Pisac and along the Sacred Valley or just cycling around the plateau above Cusco visiting Sachsayhuaman. Be wary of vehicles however, they show little regard for cyclists.

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Eat

The Cuzco area has some extremely good international food with tasty options for all budgets. Excellent at the end of the Av. La Cultura. Be sure to try an alpaca steak (don't forget a llama/alpaca is normally kept and used for its wool - so only old animals will be slaughtered). You can get alpaca pizza as well.

The soups are amazing. Try sopa de zapallo, a type of pumpkin soup.

If you are looking for traditional Peruvian food try lomo saltado (beef tips stir-fried with tomatoes, onions, and spices, over a bed of French fries and rice), aji de gallina(chicken in a very good yellow pepper sauce with olives and hard-boiled eggs), or papa rellena (stuffed potato with beef, olives, hard-boiled egg, vegetables, and spices).

Cuy (guinea pig) is the absolute traditional holiday food of the region. You can buy a whole cooked cuy in many of the restaurants around Plaza de Armas. In 2018 cuy cost S/60-70 at all these places. There are also dedicated 'cuyerias' that serve much cheaper cuy.

Chifa is the Peruvian version of Chinese food. The neighborhood of Wanchaq has many Chifa restaurants.

As far as drinks, try Inca Kola, a bubble gum/tutti-frutti-flavored yellow soda. This drink outsells Coca-Cola in Peru (which is why it was bought out by Coca-Cola in 1999). Also, chicha morada is a Peruvian specialty. It's a spiced non-alcoholic drink made out of purple corn.

When leaving Cuzco, there is a place called Boing Appetit (in front of the airport, just if you want to have breakfast or a sandwich before take the plane to Lima) its the only place that provides a free internet connection in front of the airport.

  • Ajjla Wasi, Sta Catalina Angosta (just off the Plaza de Armas). Traditional 3-course meals with a glass of chicha for S/7 and a comfortable upstairs setting. It is frequented by a mix of locals and tourists.
  • Chifa Status, Av. La Cultura (close to El Mega supermarket). Good quality Chifa. Dishes for S/2-3.
  • El Balcon. Soup, main course, and desert (no drink) for S/10. If you're looking for good quality food for not a lot of money, this is the place to go.
  • El Cholandes, Choquechaca 188b. Dutch-owned and -run bar and restaurant, with typical Dutch food such as 'patatje oorlog' and 'bitterballen' (both for S/8 each, May 2012) and also other choices including local specialties.
  • El Encuentro. Reasonably priced vegetarian restaurant with good portions. The S/10 dinner includes soup, main course & mate. Free salads with lunch. They also do soy meat very well. There are two of these restaurants but the one in Calle Tigre near Plaza de Armas is S/8 for exactly the same menu.
  • El Fogon, Plateros 365 (Just off of Plaza de Armas, top floor), ☏ +51 84 233596. Nothing fancy but great cheap food: for S/10 you get a meal deal that includes a plate from the salad bar, a selection of soup, a selection of main dish, a dessert and a beverage. Or splurge with their more expensive menu offer for S/20. Very tasty Peruvian food. Friendly staff.
  • El Mercado (in front of the train station). A roofed market where they sell delicious local bread, herbs, juices, souvenirs, DVDs and other items. If you want something truly more local, very cheap, and are willing to take risks of not the best methods of cleaning dishes, then head over here. At the end of the market are the food stands, where they serve local food. For S/2 you can get soup, an entree, and juice. All the locals know where the train station and El Mercado is. This is where many local workers go for their meals, not exactly a tourist place, but they are friendly towards tourists.
  • Prasada, Qanchipata 269 (sit-down restaurant; lunch & dinner) & Choquechaca 152 (alley-way; lunch) (about half a block from Jack's Cafe, a bit hard to find in a small alley walkway, and is only marked by a small blackboard outside listing the daily specials). Cute local vegetarian friendly spot. The food is delicious. For S/5 you can get plates like "falafel tacos" and "Mexican veggi burger". Also, they have lassies (a yogurt drink from India), and tasty desserts for a few soles. At the sit-down restaurant they do a daily menu (drink, soup and plate) for S/8. Can't be beat! US$3.50.
  • Victor Victoria, Calle Tsesequocha (just off Calle Tigre). Friendly service. Great salad bar buffet included in all main dishes. Gorgeous garlic trout with rice or potatoes for S/10 (including the salad bar buffet and lovely fresh bread) but only for lunch. Great value breakfasts. Regular glasses of freshly squeezed juice for S/6. Also they have a proper espresso machine for good coffee in the morning.
  • Chia Vegan Kitchen, Calle Tecsicocha 466 (near the intersection with Calle Tigre), ☏ +51 84 599055. 10:00-22:00. Arguably the best vegan place in Cusco, and very good value for money. Looks good, smells good, tastes good, and the staff is super friendly. Lunchtime offer incl. drink and salad buffet for S/15. A la carte dishes more expensive, but worth it. If you're up for a hot drink and/or something sweet, try the enormous hot chocolate for the (very enjoyable) sugar shock of the day.
  • Bagdad Cafe (left of the cathedral). This small restaurant seems to produce everything themselves. Local food is extremely good, in the evening small performance groups enter the restaurant and give excellent performances. The prices are mid-range, but it is sure worth it. The daily menu lunch special is more like a snack.
  • Jack's Cafe, Choquechaca 188 (on the corner and near the South American Explorers clubhouse), ☏ +51 84 254606. This is a great place to get a big breakfast complete with eggs, bacon, avocado, toast and fantastic thick shakes. Very popular with tourists. Try the homemade lemonades.
  • Maikhani, Av Del Sol (second floor in little mall before you get to Plaza de Armas). Great Indian food served as an all-you-can-eat buffet for S/15. You get mineral water, salad, chutneys and fruit included but it is extra for chapatis, beers or similar. S/15.
  • Cicciolinia, Calle Triunfo 393 (at the end of the alley by the 12-sided stone). Very tasty place to go for breakfast. There is an amazing bakers downstairs.
  • Emperador, 172 Granada. They have a 13-page menu with all sorts of foods from around the world. Try the pisco sour tall.
  • Encantasq'a, Choquechaca 131. A nice place to have a break with coffee and a snack. Especially the chocolate cupcakes are delicious and make up for half a lunch. They also have fresh cakes, quiches and juices.
  • Green Point, 235 Calle Carmen Bajo, ☏ +51 84 431146, ✉ greenpoint.vegan@outlook.com. Vegan restaurant popular with tourists, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Various international dishes, and some Peruvian food. Gluten-free and raw options. Menu in English and Spanish. Wifi available. S/35–50.
  • Inka Grill (On the Plaza de Armas). Well-known and frequented by tourists but not a trap. Excellent food. Good place to try cuy (guinea pig); some people have reported mud butt after eating it, it is tastily done and served without the head so eating doesn't remind you of your pet hamster. Try the appetizer tiradito de trucha. Alpaca also on the menu.
  • Restaurant Inkazuela, Plazoleta Nazarenas N 167 (8 m from Hotel Monasterio (2nd floor)), ☏ +51 84 234924, ✉ restaurantinkazuela@gmail.com. This place specializes in stews. Food is delicious and friendly waitresses will take good care of you. Well chosen music and a fireplace create a romantic atmosphere. Appetizers around S/15, mains around S/28.
  • Tunupa, 233 Portal Confituría, ☏ +51-84-25-2936. They offer some of the best guinea pig or alpaca dishes from the local Novo Andino cuisine as well as other local specialities. Lunch entrées US$9–17.

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Drink

There are many clubs and pubs in Cuzco, and there are always people handing out flyers around the Plaza de Armas. These usually include free drinks. The clubs are almost always busy, even during the week, do not usually have cover charges, and most are open until 03:00 at the earliest and 17:00 at the latest. The hot spots change nightly; ask around and you will quickly find the crowds of travellers.

  • Mama Africa. On 3 levels. Snacks, a cafe on the rooftop, restaurant with a good cheap menu, 2 discos, the latest movies on DVD. Some of the decorations and paintings are by the owner/artist. Lots of people, good music, good atmosphere and free salsa lessons. Salsa starts at about 21:00 and goes until about 23:00. If you really want to learn some moves, dance with Carlos, Miguel, or Checo, who work there. It also plays host to the legendary 'crew' lively lot of Lima ladies whose exploits with gringo males have reached mythical levels. On the corner of Plaza de Armas.
  • El Muki. Across the street from Mama America. A place with more locals than the Plaza de Armas. It has a unique cave-like interior and is one of the city's oldest discos.
  • Caos, La Avenida de la Cultura (next to the post office). If you want to get away from the tourist crowd for a while and dance the night away with the locals, head to this very nice large club with a great mix of music and exotic drinks.
  • Cross Keys Pub. Looking onto the central square is a pub serving European food to tourists. Skip the fish and chips.
  • Paddy's Irish Pub, 124 Calle Triunfo (on the eastern corner of Plaza de Armas). The night-brother of Jack's Cafe. Not exactly traditional Peruvian fare, but an excellent atmosphere among fellow travellers in a cozy upstairs pub setting. Purportedly the highest 'Irish-owned' pub in the world at 3,400 m, it offers a good selection of pub food (think cottage pie, casseroles, mash and gravy), local and international drinks (even had cider and Guinness), and a useful "No Gracias" T-shirt for sale.
  • Mythology. Disco that offers salsa. If you want to learn Rueda Cubana, this is the place to go. Classes usually start around 21:00 and private lessons can be arranged with Cesar, the dance instructor. Mythology also offers a unique decor of gods and goddesses and has the cleanest restrooms of all of the nightclubs, by far.
  • Garabato's. If you want to dance meringue and salsa all night, head here. Features a live salsa and meringue band most nights. This is where the salsa crowd goes after 22:00-23:00 when the other clubs stop playing salsa.
  • Ukuku's, Plateros 316. Live music with local and traveling artists playing a variety of different music styles including salsa, meringue, criolla, and Afro-Peruvian. There are great decorative masks in the walls and a huge wooden woman statue with butterfly wings.
  • Blue Moon, Tullumayo St. For drinks before you go out dancing. It's a small bar with a local crowd and local prices.
  • Los Perros, Tecsecocha 436, San Blas. Chill restaurant/lounge. Ethnic food and comfortable couches.
  • Blue Martini. If you want to hear a great percussion group. There is also a hookah lounge close by.
  • The Tea Room, Avenida Santa Teresa 364, 2. Nd floor. New to Cuzco is another chill place chock full of wall, furniture, and sculpture art, not to mention creative cocktails and funky chilled out music. Bring a group to chill and converse and enjoy their creative tea mixes and pastries. Free wifi. 12:00-00:00.
  • Norton Rats. Sort of a biker bar on the southeast side of the Plaza de Armas. They have pool and darts and a pretty cool atmosphere.
  • Paddy Flaherty's, Triunfo 124 (next to the cathedral). Irish-themed pub, serves a very good burger. The bathroom is questionable.
  • Rosie O'Grady's, Santa Catalina Ancha 360 (a block from the Plaza de Armas). Irish-themed pub. You can watch football (soccer) or baseball on the big screen, and the staff is very friendly.
  • The Muse, Triunfo 338, 2nd Floor. Live performances, juggling, food.
  • Angelitos, San Blas. A good place for live music with a mix of locals and gringos. Wednesdays and Saturdays are reggae nights.
  • Le Nomade. 2nd floor, cnr of Choquechaca and Cuesta San Blas 207. Bar/lounge with live music every night. Reggae, Latin, cubano, afro-Jazz, blues, bossa, funk, soul, rock and española. No cover. Friendly staff.
  • The Lost City Bar (turn left out of gringo alley, basement bar on the left before Calle Tigre). nights. Small basement bar one block from the plaza de Armas. Very friendly place to watch American football or basketball and chat to the regulars and owners. Great pizzas and paninis, cheap happy hour cocktails and beers. A real bar for locals, expats and Cusqueños.

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Sleep

Loads and loads of options in Cuzco to suit all budgets. Most won't need to be booked beforehand. San Blas, many new hospedajes/hostales have opened in this area 4 blocks up the hill from the Plaza de Armas.

  • Hospedaje Amanecer, 216 Choquechaca, San Blas District (From the Plaza de Armas, head towards Plazoleta de las Nazarenas, walk down 7 Culebras, turn left and its on the right hand side, its white with a blue door). A quiet place, private bathrooms, TV, wi-fi, hot shower. Twins S/40.
  • Hostal El Arcano, Carmen Alto 288, San Blas District (Go up Carmen Alto and it's almost all the way at the end (the road terminates at a T)), ☏ +51 84 232703. A great little hostal overlooking the city with a variety of comfortable, affordable rooms. ~S/30.
  • Pisko and Soul, Carmen Alto, San Blas District (Go up Carmen Alto and it's all the way at the end (the road terminates at a T)). Really nice for a hostel. Very friendly staff. Hot water, continental breakfast, free wifi. It's a new establishment so some books may not have it listed especially if the print is a few years old. ~S/35.
  • Hospedaje El Artesano de San Blas, Suytucato 790 (straight up from the Plaza San Blas), ☏ +51 84 263-968. Well-kept place with good-value rooms around a colonial courtyard, hot water, common kitchen, helpful staff, wifi. S/20-40.
  • Taita Home, Suytucato 759 (straight up from the Plaza San Blas, there is no sign on the door). Dormitory beds in a freaky, chilled out and friendly atmosphere with a sunny garden, fireplace, outdoor kitchen and gas hot water. S/15.
  • Hostels Cusco Samanapata, Siete Angelinos (Las Blas), ✉ hostalsamanapata@gmail.com. Hostel in San Blas area of Cuzco, about 3 blocks from Plaza de Armas. Free wifi, 2 free computers, free breakfast, all rooms have cable TV. Very friendly staff, rooms cleaned daily. Much cheaper than similar places. from S/25 per person.
  • La Casa de la Abuela, Urbanizacion Zaguan Del Cielo 0-17B (Lucrepata costado del Mercado San Blas), ☏ +51 84 301666, +51 84 733964. Check-out: 12:00. Cheap place to sleep with lean rooms, high speed internet/wifi, 10-min walk to Plaza de Armas. Bathrooms are not very clean-bring sandals. No access by taxi, foot access only. Some may find the beds a little hard. S/2 double, S/25 triple/room.
  • La Casa de mi Abuelo, Nueva Alta 785. A new guesthouse near the Plaza de San Francisco run by a kind local lady that offers extremely clean and comfortable rooms, ensuite bathrooms, cable TV, and excellent breakfasts. 7-minute walk to Plaza de Armas US$20 double, US$13 single.
  • Pirwa Hostel Colonial Cusco (Pirwa backpackers hostel), San Francisco #360 (San Francisco square), ☏ +51 84 244315, ✉ info@pirwahostelsperu.com. 24-hr hot showers, movies, in-house bar, pool (game) table, attentive staff, free breakfast, free internet, pick up service, and comfortable beds. From US$7.50/person. edit
  • Pirwa Bed&Breakfast Posada del Corregidor Cusco, Portal De Panes #151 (Main square), ☏ +51 84 244315, ✉ info@pirwahostelsperu.com. Movies, safe and relaxed environment, traditional meals, good view of the main plaza. From US$10/person.
  • Yamanyá Backpackers, San Andres 260, ☏ +51 84 224473. In a beautiful and funkily decorated colonial home with two patios and a back garden (complete with giant heated jacuzzi for 20 people), good beds with feather duvets. Hot showers, free wifi and internet, cable TV, DVDs, big screen high-def LCD, free breakfast, big guest kitchen, bar with great activities and weekly pub crawl. Good staff and helpful tour agency. Two blocks from the Plaza de Armas.
  • Casa de la Gringa, ☏ +51 842 41168. Each room has a different theme and features original international art. Comfortable and colorful. Free wifi, cable TV and DVDs, common rooms, a beautiful garden, and good staff.
  • Hogar Clinica San Juan de Dios, Avenida Manzanares 264 (Urbanizacion Manuel Prado), ☏ +51 842 40135. Private and double rooms and windows that look onto the mountain range. Good service and daily egg breakfast. Non-profit hostel supporting the children's hospital next door.
  • Pariwana Hostel, Meson de la Estrella 136. Two blocks from the Plaza, hot showers, common areas are decorated with local designs, safe, clean.
  • Casa de la Gringa 2, Carmen Bajo 226, ☏ +51 842 54387. Small friendly hostel is the little sister to Casa de la Gringa, and run by the same helpful owners. Long-term prices available. Can organize tours and special trips to the mountains. Rooms a bit small, wifi, no TVs. S/40 includes breakfast.
  • Flying Dog Hostel, Choquechaca 469, ☏ +51 842 53997. Great hostel with a wide range of rooms. Free wifi (in lobby, not room), breakfast, lockers, and coffee and tea all day. Check out their bar, and ask them to arrange tours for you. Friendly staff.
  • Hospedaje Estrellita, Avenida Tullumayo 445. Shared double rooms surround a large concrete courtyard. There is a kitchen with a sociable commonroom with cableTV. A night cost S/15 and includes a small breakfast. It's popular with gringos.
  • Loki Backpackers Hostel, Cuesta Santa Ana #601, Centro Historico, ☏ +51 842 43705, ✉ info@lokihostel.com. 180 beds, noisy party hostel in a 450-year-old Peruvian national monument. Dorms from US$6, basic breakfast included. Wifi, tea and coffee are included. Hot water with pressure in generally shared showers. 13:00 checkout and small lockers in reception that have plug sockets in them.
  • The WalkOn Inn, Calle Suecia 504, ☏ +51 842 35065, ✉ cusco@walkoninn.com. Has very beautiful rooms with private or shared bathroom and two small dorms. The place has a nice patio with a fireplace, it's completely clean and there is another sitting room with TV and cable and a computer with free internet on which to burn your own CDs or DVDs. Free wifi, laundry service, breakfast available. 2 blocks from the main square, close to the centre of 'fiesta'. Pressurized hot water available around the clock.
  • Casa Arco Iris, Calle Arco Iris 535, Barrio San Cristobal, ☏ +51 842 47526. In a centuries-old building, friendly owners. Opened in early 2006, calm and quiet. Rooms from US$4.
  • Rimacpampa Hostal. Close to the plaza. Amazingly hot showers, with good water pressure. TV, food available.
  • Home Sweet Home-El Mirador, Asociacion San marcos A-3, San Blas, ☏ +51 842 231235. Free internet and wifi throughout, hot showers, towels available, and warm bed available. Use of kitchen. Only 6 blocks from the main square.
  • Hostel Sweet Daybreak, Calle Pasñapakana 133, Mirador de San Blas, ☏ +51 842 225776. Panoramic views, showers with hot gas-heated water 24 hr, cable TV, wifi, laundry, cafeteria, free tourist information, a lovely garden, dormitories, private rooms with or without bathroom. Comfortable and safe, a 2-minute walk from the Plazoleta San Blas, 4 blocks from the Plaza de Armas (Main Square).
  • Hospedaje Corona Real, Ave Huascar 226. Quiet and cheap option about 15-min walk from the city center. Rooms are spacious and have private bathroom and local television and cost S/15 per person.
  • Hostal Familiar, Calle Saphi 661 (3 blocks from Plaza de Armas). Singles US$8 with private bathroom and hot water.
  • San Blas Hospedaje. Nice interior sitting area, some rooms have views. Cable TV, wifi. Rooms basic but clean and nice. Family-run. Hot water 24 hr. S/60 includes breakfast.
  • Hostal Central, Choquechaca #298. A simple but clean hotel in the heart of San Blas. Some rooms have views onto the street, others are to interior courtyard. No breakfast, no internet. S/30.
  • Qori Ñusta Inn, Calle Chiwampata 515 (on the edge of San Blas), ☏ +51 842 228299. Breakfast, cable TV, wifi, friendly staff. Large rooms some with desks and refrigerator. Posted prices are high, but they can be talked down to S/45 per night.
  • Mirador del Inka (Sanblas Backpacker Hostel), Tandapata 160, San Blas. Very big but nice place in a historic building with great view over the city. Free wifi, breakfast optional. They also run a tour agency and tend to be very pushy in trying to sell their tours (which are very pricey, so try to haggle the price down!). Advertised price is US$30 for a nice double, but in the low season it was possible to lower it to US$15 (May 2012). Rooms on the upper floors are much better than the lower floors!
  • The Grasshopper Hostel, Calle interior 3, Hospital 842, ☏ +51 842 242125, ✉ frontdesk@thegrasshopperhostel.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. A relaxed backpacker hostel with dorms, private rooms and a super friendly staff.
  • VIP House Garden Hostel, Calle Tambo de Montero 219. One of the cheaper hostels in the city, but surprisingly nice. Wifi, free breakfast, inexpensive dinners available some days, bonfires in the evening, and a view of the city from the upstairs kitchen/dining room. (The affiliated VIP House Hostel is around the corner.)
  • Piccola Locanda, Resbalosa 520, ✉ info@piccolalocanda.com. Very quiet, beautiful rooms, clean and cozy, 2 block from plaza de Armas. The Locanda contributes to the financing of 3 projects dedicated to children and has an internet cafè and a travel agency. Quiet, rooms are decent sized and have private or shared bath facilities and TV. US$30–55/room depending on type of beds, occupancy and season.
  • Amaru Hostal I, Cuesta San Blas 541, ✉ amaruhostal@speedy.com.pe. Quiet and cheap option about 3 blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Rooms are decent sized and have private or shared bath facilities and TV. US$30–55/room depending on type of beds, occupancy and season.
  • Amaru Hostal II, Chihuampata 642, ✉ amaruhostal2@speedy.com.pe. Quiet and cheap option about 2-3 blocks from the Plaza de Armas. US$30–48/room depending on type of beds, occupancy and season.
  • Hotel El Balcon, 222 Tambo de Montero. Awesome interior design, delicious breakfast and moderate prices. From Plaza de Armas, follow Plateros a block and a half or so. The hotel is in a lane up the hill. About half a block up, look for the door on the right. The sign is above the door, so you may not see it unless you walk on the opposite side of the lane.
  • Hostal Frankenstein, San Juan de Dios 260 (2 blocks from main square). Clean, friendly and helpful German chef, a lazy iguana, creative interior, cosy atmosphere. Double costs around US$20 (the one on top is quiet and offer view to Ausangate mountain).
  • Hoteles Garcilaso, Calle Garcilaso 233-285, ☏ +51 842 233031. There are two of them on the same block. Good location on the block between the Plaza San Francisco and the other small plaza that is one block from the Plaza de Armas. As in a lot of places, the inside rooms may be the way to go because they are quiet at night. Double US$75/night, however it is worth more like US$30–45/night.
  • Orquidea Real, Calle Alabado 520, ✉ orquidea@orquidea.net. The colonial building has original Inca walls and exposed wood beams, and the rustic accommodations are simply decorated in a cozy mountain lodge aesthetic. All rooms are oriented toward Cuzco below, offering panoramic views.
  • Madison Hostel, Av Pardo 721, ☏ +51 842 25995. Friendly, family-run hotel on a quiet, safe street four blocks from the Plaza. Rooms include cable TV, big buffet breakfast, Wi-Fi, and views. Children under 12 stay for free.
  • Ninos Hotel, Calle Meloc 442, ☏ +51 84231424. Hotel with charitable purposes: all procedures from room booking and in-house restaurant go towards running an association that gives support to local unprivileged children.
  • Gran Hostal Machu Picchu, Calle Quera 282, ☏ +51 842 84 23 1111.
  • Hostal Rumi Punku, Calle Choquechaca 339. Rumi Punku means "stone door" in Quechua: the entrance to the hotel leads through an ancient stone door, obviously of Inca design. The doorway is all that has survived of an Inca palace. The door is considered a historic item by the city of Cuzco.
  • Casa San Blas Boutique Inn, Tucoyeros 566, San Blas. In the historic artisan's quarter 2½ blocks from the main square in a neighborhood of narrow, cobbled streets and whitewashed colonial-era houses. Friendly staff. US$110 a night for a single.
  • Koyllur Hostal, Calle Carment Bajo 186, San Blas. Richly decorated and a nice place to splash out for a few nights. Big buffet breakfasts. Ask for room at top floor in the front - has skylights, lots of room, nice furnishings. CablebTV, wifi. US$20 in off-season.
  • KM Apartments, Calle Clorinda Matto - Magisterio (Behind Scotiabank of Avenida de la Cultura), ☏ +51 983515174, ✉ info@kmapartments.com. Affordable apartments, to 5 minutes from Plaza de Armas in Taxi. S/35.
  • La Posada del Viajero (Santa Catalina Ancha 366), ☏ +51 84 26164, ✉ laposadadelviajeroperu@hotmail.com. Free Wi-Fi, 2 blocks from Plaza de Armas, breakfast, hot water, kitchen. US$40 Double or twin room.
  • Hotel Golden Inca, Calle Retiro N° 435 (10 minutes walk from the main square), ☏ +51 84 240331, ✉ reservas@hotelgoldeninca.com. Check-in: 11:15, check-out: 10:30. Very quiet, beautiful rooms, clean and cozy.
  • Tierra Viva Cusco Plaza.
  • Tierra Viva Cusco Saphi, Saphi street. Many of the rooms on the second floor have high ceilings with white-painted wood beams visibly charming. The hotel is organized around two interior courtyards. Breakfast is included. The staff are attentive, speak great English, and can help you make reservations. The most interesting aspect of Tierra Viva Saphi is the location it is at the boundary between fancy Plaza de Armas and the poor hills around Cuzco it's charming, but also somewhat out of place. Room 212 is excellent. 2nd floor rooms are preferable. 24 hour desk so it's easy to check out for those early Inca Trail departures. Free coca tea in the lobby a great way to warm up at night.
  • Libertador Palacio del Inka, 4 Bustos house. The hotel was part of the Koricancha temple and during colonial times it became property of the conqueror Francisco Pizarro.
  • Amerinka Boutique Hotel. Modern hotel that combines warm room atmospheres with professional and experienced attention. Near Plaza de Armas.
  • The Garden House Hotel, ☏ +51 842 271117, ✉ info@cuscohouse.com. Family-run hotel in a wonderful private garden. Modern decor, wifi.
  • Hotel Royal Inka I or II (in front of the Plaza Regocijo, about 150 m from la Plaza de Armas). Royal Inka I is a renovated house while Royal Inka II is more modern with a spa (jacuzzi and steam room). Breakfast available.
  • Hotel Monasterio, Calle Palacios 136, Plazoleta Nazarenas, ☏ +51 842 41777, ✉ info@peruorientexpress.com.pe. Housed in a former monastery, rooms are former monks' cells, but they are far from monastic. By far the most expensive place to stay in Cuzco. Avoid rooms 414-419, which are near a noisy generator.
  • Hotel Marqueses, Calle Garcilaso 256, ☏ +51 842 264249, ✉ info@hotelmarqueses.com. The official hotel of SAS travel. Good staff and comfortable rooms. In the tourist district, 2 blocks from the Plaza des Armas.
  • Sol y Luna Lodge & Spa, ☏ +51-84-20-1620. doubles US$154, mains $16–22.
  • Hilton Garden Inn, Cuesta de Sta. Ana 207 (slight uphill walk from the centre, less than 1 km, part of which involves stairs), ☏ +51 84 580130. For those who wish for a quiet night's sleep. Beautiful views of Cusco city from the rooms, especially at night.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Learn

Taking a Spanish Class

Cusco is an excellent place to stop and learn Spanish if you are travelling for a while, or simply need an excuse to stay. It has an array of Spanish schools spread out across the city, all offering classes and courses from one day, to 6 months and really are worth it. It is a great way to meet people, and excellent way to stop and stay somewhere a while. This allows you to get better acclimatised and also gives a totally different experience than just sight seeing. You get to know the area much more in depth, as well as the people.

  • University of Cusco can arrange both Spanish and Quechua lessons.
  • Proyecto Peru Spanish School for Spanish lessons and free volunteer work in Cusco.
  • Wiracocha Spanish School can arrange Spanish lessons. Slightly away from the centre, up the steep hill Calle de San Blas extending towards the old city walls. It is set in a beautifully old building around a court yard and garden

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Keep Connected

Internet

More and more hotels, resorts, airports, cafes, and retailers are going Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity), becoming "hotspots" that offer free high-speed Wi-Fi access or charge a small fee for usage. In Peru, by far the easiest way to check your e-mail and surf the Web is to drop in at the Internet cabinas (booths) that can be found in virtually every city and even small towns. Connections are usually fast, and the service is as little as S/2 per hour.
Aside from formal cybercafes, most youth hostels and many hotels nowadays have at least one computer with Internet access.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Peru's country code is +51. Emergency numbers include 105 (Police), 117 (Ambulance) and 116 (Fire).

In all towns and villages that are not too small, it is no problem to find public telephones for national and international calls. Many public phones can be expensive, and an attractive alternative is a Locutorio, or "call-center". Typical rates include .2 Nuevo Sol/minute for calls in the country, and .5 Nuevo Sol/minute for most international calls. Phone cards are cheap and easily available from shops or vendors who hang around pay phones. You'll often see people with a bundle of mobile phones who act as pay phones, they'll be shouting 'llamadas'. Telephone booths are primarily used for making local calls. Calling to other countries from Peru is expensive.

If you have an unlocked cell phone you can buy local SIM cards. Movistar and Claro are two of the phone companies in Peru. You can buy your sim card from these companies and buy a phone card also.

Your best, cheapest bet for making international calls from Peru is to head to any Internet cafe with an international calling option. These cafes have connections to Skype, Net2Phone, or some other VoIP service. International calls made this way can range anywhere from 5¢ to $1 per minute -- much cheaper than making direct international calls or using a phone card. If you have your own Skype or similar account, you just need to find an Internet cafe that provides a computer with a headset.

Post

Check the Serpost website, the national postal service (a private company), for more information about prices and options regarding the sending of postcards, letters and parcels. The post service is relatively efficient and post offices can be found in most cities and (larger) towns. Post offices generally are open from 8:00am to 8:00pm Monday to Saturday and some are open on Sundays from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Postcards are available from street vendors and shops at any touristy area, and stamps are generally available as well, though sometimes only at the post office itself. It takes at least 10 days to send a postcard to North America and prices start at S/5.5. To Europe it is S/7.8 and it takes even a bit longer, around 2 weeks. For little extra money, you can choose 'expresso' services. For large parcels and quantities, you can use both Serpost or companies like DHL, UPS, TNT or FedEx, which are faster and offers the same prices, though it is still relatively expensive.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -6.967446
  • Longitude: -76.427422

Accommodation in Cusco

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Cusco searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

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This is version 71. Last edited at 9:38 on Jul 22, 19 by Utrecht. 21 articles link to this page.

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