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Things to do in Cusco

Things to do in  Cusco

Welcome to Cusco

With its verdant backdrop, high-altitude location—a dizzying 11,150 feet (3,400 meters) above sea level—and rich indigenous culture, Cusco is one of Peru’s most enchanting cities. Perhaps best known as the gateway to Machu Picchu, Cusco is both the sacred capital of the Incas and the grand finish to the legendary Inca Trail. Below Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas boasts a wealth of archaeological wonders, traditional market villages, and mesmerizing views, while the Salkantay and Lares treks are two of the country’s most worthwhile long-distance hikes. Cusco itself has plenty to offer too, with its beautiful colonial buildings, buzzing marketplace, and traditional and neo-Andean restaurants.

Top 15 attractions in Cusco

#1
Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

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The lost city of Machu Picchu is the most famous archaeological site in Peru and, arguably, all of South America. The UNESCO World Heritage–listed collection of temples, terraced hills, and plazas was once the mountaintop citadel of the ancient Inca empire. It may now be world famous, but Machu Picchu still hasn't revealed the mysteries behind its construction, function, and eventual demise.More
#2
Inca Trail

Inca Trail

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South America's most famous trek is an unforgettable way to reach the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. Along the way, the four-day trek takes hikers past three Andean mountain passes, Inca ruins, and views of the snow-capped Andes, culminating in a stellar sunrise over Machu Picchu—a UNESCO World Heritage site—from the Sun Gate.More
#3
Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes

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If you're visiting Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there’s a good chance you'll pass through the small pueblo of Aguas Calientes en route. This gateway town to Peru’s famous Incan ruins sits nestled in a valley of cloud forest, where a series of natural hot springs gives the town its name.More
#4
Sacsayhuaman (Saqsaywaman)

Sacsayhuaman (Saqsaywaman)

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The largest and arguably most impressive of the four archaeological ruins on the outskirts of Cusco, Sacsayhuaman (Saqsaywaman) was built by the Incas from massive stones weighing as much as 300 tons. A critical military site in the battle with the Spanish for the Inca empire in 1536, the ruins offer impressive views over the city below.More
#5
Ollantaytambo Ruins

Ollantaytambo Ruins

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Perched at the northern end of Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Ollantaytambo Ruins were once the administrative center of the Inca Empire. At this well-preserved and partly rebuilt archeological park, learn the secrets of Inca urban planning, admire the ceremonial temple, masterful Inca stonework, and set off on the legendary Inca trail.More
#6
Sacred Valley of the Incas

Sacred Valley of the Incas

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Between Cusco and Machu Picchu lies the Sacred Valley of the Incas (Urubamba Valley), home to some of Peru’s most interesting pre-Columbian ruins and attractive colonial towns and villages. While many travelers pass through here en route to Machu Picchu, the valley has become a destination in its own right.More
#7
Qorikancha (Coricancha)

Qorikancha (Coricancha)

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A symbol of both Incan cosmology and their brutal conquest at the hands of the Spanish, Qorikancha (Coricancha) is one of the most important sites in Cusco. The sacred temple—which the Incas created to worship their sun deity and then swathed in gold—was looted and destroyed by conquistadors, who built a colonial church atop the temple ruins.More
#8
Plaza de Armas (Huacaypata)

Plaza de Armas (Huacaypata)

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From the coastal deserts of southern Peru to the frigid peaks of the Andes, every part of the vast Inca Empire traced back to Cusco. Tucked within the Andean mountains, the scenic capital city was the beating heart of one of the greatest civilizations in history. Today, you can feel this powerful history most palpably in its central square, Plaza de Armas.More
#9
Cusco Historic Center (Centro Historico de Cusco)

Cusco Historic Center (Centro Historico de Cusco)

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Once the shimmering capital of the entire Inca Empire, Cusco is the gateway to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the ruins of Machu Picchu. Bearing its original Inca name, meaning “Navel of the Earth,” Cusco pulsates with a unique and magical energy rivaled by few other South American cities, most notably in its historic center.More
#10
Agricultural Terraces of Moray

Agricultural Terraces of Moray

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In a remote pocket of the Sacred Valley is an ancient agricultural laboratory. Encircled by terraces and a complex system of irrigation aqueducts, the site’s gigantic natural bowl-shaped hole was once filled with fertile soil, growing more than 250 vegetal species. Resembling an ancient Roman amphitheater, the concentric circles are not only a wonder of science but a vision of beauty.More
#11
Cusco Cathedral (Catedral del Cuzco)

Cusco Cathedral (Catedral del Cuzco)

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Built atop the Inca palace Viracocha, the Cusco Cathedral was a triumphant statement for conquering colonists who laid the foundation stones in 1559. Now Plaza de Armas’ showpiece, the cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cusco and a significant cultural monument holding the largest collection of Cusco School paintings.More
#12
Maras Salt Pools

Maras Salt Pools

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Maras, a remote Andean town deep in Peru’s Sacred Valley of the Incas, is a favorite of photography buffs and gourmands alike for its famous salt pans (Salinas de Maras). Fixed in geometric shapes on terraced hills, the surreal, photogenic pools were created by the Incas 2,000 years ago, and the mines are still harvested for their pink salt.More
#13
Tambomachay

Tambomachay

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Located five miles from Cusco, Tambomachay is also known as “the Baths of the Inca”. For the Inca, water was a sacred element, and due to the scattered pools here, historians believe the temple was reserved for Inca royalty. Throughout, the spring waters are masterfully diverted into aqueducts, pools, and stone-carved waterways.More
#14
Pisac Indian Market

Pisac Indian Market

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The Pisac Indian Market is one of the most popular and picturesque of the indigenous markets in the Cusco region. Travelers from all over the world make the pilgrimage to this mountain town to purchase all manner of textiles, ceramics, jewelry, ponchos, rugs, alpaca and llama wool clothing, Andean instruments, ceramics, and a host of other lovely souvenirs.More
#15
Q'enqo (Qenko)

Q'enqo (Qenko)

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Nearly 12,000 feet (3,600 meters) above sea level, the sky high Q’engo temple features some of the best examples of intact Inca carving. The name Q’enqo, which means labyrinth in Quechua, refers to the zig-zagging channels the Inca carved into a single rock monolith, used for mysterious death rituals not yet fully understood.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 2 Days in Cusco

How to Spend 2 Days in Cusco

What to Pack for Machu Picchu

What to Pack for Machu Picchu

Top Markets in Cusco

Top Markets in Cusco

Top activities in Cusco

Machu Picchu Day Trip from Cusco
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Machu Picchu Day Trip from Cusco

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$341.00
2-Day Tour: Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu by Train
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ATV Tour to Moray, Maras and Salt Flat in the Sacred Valley from Cusco
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Machu Picchu Private Guided Tour from Aguas Calientes
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Humantay Lake Tour from Cusco
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Humantay Lake Tour from Cusco

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$42.00
Rainbow Mountain with ATV's

Rainbow Mountain with ATV's

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$85.00
Rainbow Mountain in Quad Bike

Rainbow Mountain in Quad Bike

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$95.00
Machu Picchu by Train in 1 Day

Machu Picchu by Train in 1 Day

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$315.00
Machu Picchu Full Day
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Machu Picchu Full Day

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$278.00
Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Cusco

star-5
Very pleasant experience
Jaeyup_J, Jul 2022
Peruvian Cooking Class and Local Market in Cusco
Jesus was a wonderful chef with good english and a sense of humor.
star-5
Definitely Take this tour!
Heather_L, Jul 2022
Horseback Riding Plus Tour to Sacsayhuaman, Quenqo, Puka Pucara and Tambomachay
Will definitely take this tour again if I’m lucky enough to visit again!
star-5
Great Tour of Cusco
Keisha_T, May 2022
Cusco City Sightseeing, San Pedro Market, Cathedral and Qorikancha Temple
My husband and I were the only English speaking people on our tour.
star-5
Short and sweet tour.
Celeste_S, May 2022
Cusco City Tour With Sacsayhuaman
Worth doing this tour, perhaps as one of the first things to do during your stay.
star-5
Hop On Hop Off Tour
Linda_G, May 2022
Little View of Cusco Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
The guide spoke English very well.
star-5
Being able to run with...
Nolan_S, Jan 2022
Horseback Riding Tour to the Devil's Balcony from Cusco
A perfect way to see Cusco from the mountains!
star-4
NOT for the faint of heart or inexperienced
Emilie_V, Jun 2022
Rainbow Mountain in One Day from Cusco
Each stall is so tiny, that with all your winter clothes on, a person can barley fit.
star-5
BEST Tour we took in Peru
Emilie_V, Jun 2022
Best of Sacred Valley small group Tour: Chinchero, Maras, Moray, Ollantayambo
You get to see an ancient practice start to finish how they harvest salt, all owned and ran by a local town.
star-5
Really loved this tour and the Guide was Outstanding
George_K, May 2022
Cusco City Tour Four Ruins Half-Day Tour
Because we already saw the inside parts of Sacsayhuaman and Qenqo Jose modified our tour so we were able to see all the best of Cusco between the 2 tours.
star-5
Go for it
Enrico_P, May 2022
Full day excursion to Machu Picchu from Cuzco
You will be for the entire day in good hands and have enough time to visit the site.
star-5
HIGHLY RECOMMEND- fun and easy trip from Cusco for a good cause
Grace_M, May 2022
Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary Admission Ticket
It was also very cool to see condors so close up.
star-5
Worth the effort!
Celeste_S, May 2022
Rainbow Mountain in One Day from Cusco
Keep in mind that to see the RB you will need to reach an altitude of 5.
star-5
The perfect tour :)
Celeste_S, May 2022
Best of Sacred Valley small group Tour: Chinchero, Maras, Moray, Ollantayambo
We opted to visit Chinchero instead of Pisac and we were delighted with our choice.
star-5
My birthday at Macchu Picchu!
LeahChristiaC_C, Apr 2022
Machu Picchu Day Trip from Cusco
They spoke wonderful English, communicated well, and made sure we had a seamless travel to our destination.
star-5
All Inclusive Machu Picchu
Michelle_D, Mar 2022
Private Machu Picchu Full-Day Tour from Cusco
Willy met us right after we got of the train and spoke excellent English (we don't speak Spanish very well).
star-5
Great trip to go out and explore the surroundings of Cusco with a knowledgeable and interactive Guide!
LucaTritto_H, Mar 2022
Horseback Riding Tour to the Devil's Balcony from Cusco
The horses where great and we did a lot of different activities along the way.
star-5
Amazing Quad Bike Rainbow Mountain Tour
Hector_N, Jan 2022
Rainbow Mountain in Quad Bike
I'd highly recommend this if you're considering adding it to your list of things to do while in Cusco.
star-5
Great Experience
Matthew_M, Mar 2020
Inca Bridge of Qeswachaka Private Service
What an interesting place to visit.
star-5
Wow! Really a wonderful day!!!
James B, Dec 2019
Cusco Food Walking Tour & Central Market
His English is fantastic and he really cares about Cusco, its history, heritage and culinary scene.
star-5
Full day horseback riding
Bree W, Sep 2019
Machu Picchu Private Guided Tour from Aguas Calientes
You get to see so much of the country side and her customer service was amazing!
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All about Cusco

When to visit

For trekkers looking to tackle the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, May through September offers the most pleasant conditions, but be prepared for crowds—this is Cusco’s peak season. Those willing to visit during the rainy months (December through March) will be rewarded with crowd-free sights, cheaper accommodation, and a number of traditional fiestas and folklore festivals.

Currency
Peruvian Sol (PEN)
Time Zone
PET (UTC -5)
Country Code
+51
Language(s)
Spanish

People Also Ask

What is Cusco known for?

Cusco is known as the longest continuously inhabited city in the Americas and as the former capital of the Inca Empire. The city is a blend of Inca ruins and Spanish colonial architecture, and the entire city is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's also a jumping-off point for Machu Picchu.

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How many days should you spend in Cusco?

Aim to spend two or three days in Cusco before exploring more of the Sacred Valley. If you fly in, you’ll need time to adjust to the altitude. You’ll also want to explore attractions including the Cathedral and Coricancha in the historic center and ruins of Sacsayhuaman on the outskirts.

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Is Machu Picchu near Cusco?

Yes. Machu Picchu is near Cusco, but it will take you around five hours to get there. The easiest way is to take a bus or shuttle to the Poroy train station, then take the train to Aguas Calientes. From there, it is a short bus journey to Machu Picchu.

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Is Cusco a walkable city?

Yes. Although Cusco is a sprawling city, most of the attractions of interest to travelers are within walking distance. You’ll likely want to spend most of your time in the walkable historic center. For attractions such as Sacsayhuaman, you can take a quick ride on a bus.

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What is there to do in Cusco besides Machu Picchu?

Visitors to Cusco should stroll around the Plaza de Armas, the heart of the city, and peek into the Cathedral to see its vast art collection. The Pre-Columbian Art Museum (Museo de Arte Precolombino) is another must-visit, as is the sacred Inca-built temple of Qorikancha (Coricancha).

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What can you do in Cusco for one day?

One day in Cusco gives you enough time to wander around the Plaza de Armas; visit Cusco Cathedral and Corichancha; and shop for souvenirs at San Pedro Market. You can also see the ruins of Sacsayhuaman just outside the city and enjoy an Andean-style dinner at a local restaurant.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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