A Quick Guide to Cusco, Peru

Cusco is the main jumping off point for visiting Machu Picchu and the most popular place to visit in Peru. The old buildings, the side streets and the endless parades made me fall in love with this city. During the day the weather is perfect for wandering and the style of the city is a perfect mix of old and new.

GETTING THERE

BUS
I went a little backwards when traveling through Bolivia and ended up flying to Cusco. If you are coming from Bolivia though the usual route by bus is from La Paz to Copacabana to Puno to Cusco. If you are staying near the main plaza you’ll have to take a taxi to/from the bus station.

PLANE
I flew to Cusco from La Paz, Bolivia. The airport is about 20 minutes away and the taxi was 35 soles.

THE TOWN

Cusco is a pretty big city but everything centers around the main Plaza de Armas. Most everything you need is within walking distance of the plaza.

MONEY

There are ATMs everywhere and most places accept credit cards. VISA is the most commonly accepted card.

PHONE

Since I was going to be in Peru so long I decided to get a local SIM card for my iPhone. I purchased one at Moviestar (8 soles). For some reason you can’t load your SIM card at the Movistar store so I went to a vendor that loaded Movistar cards (there are signs everywhere). For 90 soles I loaded 2GB data for the month and I added a few extra soles for calling and texting.

EAT

Inka Grill: Classic Peruvian food.
Limo: I was so excited to have the ceviche sushi at this Asian-Peruvian restaurant and it did not disappoint.
Greens Organic: If you’re feeling like you need something a little bit healthy. I recommend their bruschetta.
Casa Faustina: My favorite, their dining courtyard is adorable and they serve classic Peruvian food.

SLEEP

I stayed off the main plaza about a 10 minute walk at Hostal El Grial. My only complaint was that the walls were paper thin but it was otherwise a great place to stay. It was a in a good location, they helped me book my tours and bus tickets and I was able to have my laundry done.

SEE/DO

IN TOWN

San Pedro Market
Plaza de Armas
Catedral de Cusco*
Iglesia de Compania (Climb up to the balcony for a view of the plaza)
Museo Inka
Shop! ( SEE ALSO: A Guide to Buying Alpaca in Cusco, Peru )

A Guide to Buying Alpaca in Cusco, Peru

DAY TRIPS

Maras Moray* & Salinas de Maras ( SEE ALSO: Visiting Moray and Salineras de Maras, Peru )
Sacred Valley* (Pisac, Ollantaytambo)
Take a City Tour
Coricancha (15 soles)
Sachsaywaman*
Qenko*
Puca Pucara* (Red Fort)
Tambo Machay* (Cavern Lodge)

A Quick Guide to Cusco, Peru

OVERNIGHT

Machu Picchu ( SEE ALSO: How to Visit Machu Picchu )
Ollantaytambo*

A Quick Guide to Cusco, Peru

*THE TOURIST TICKET

Most of the historical sites throughout Cusco and the Cusco Region can be visited by buying a one time tourist ticket. (FULL LIST HERE). Each time you visit the site you will get a punch at entry. The ticket is good for ten days from purchase and there is also a discount for students. The ticket is a little pricey 130 soles but if you plan on visiting more than two sites (it is 70 soles for a one-time entry) it is worth the price. They are for sale at the site entrances when you get your punch and they accept cash only.