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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

Machu Picchu

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

Aguas Calientes

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

Inca Trail

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

Agricultural Terraces of Moray

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

Sacsayhuaman (Saqsaywaman)

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

Ollantaytambo Ruins

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

Qorikancha (Coricancha)

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

Cusco Cathedral (Catedral del Cuzco)

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

Sacred Valley of the Incas

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


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

Plaza de Armas (Huacaypata)

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

Pisac Indian Market

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

Cusco Historic Center (Centro Historico de Cusco)

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

Maras Salt Pools

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

Q'enqo (Qenko)

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

Top activities in Cusco

Machu Picchu Day Trip from Cusco

Machu Picchu Day Trip from Cusco

Humantay Lake Tour from Cusco

Humantay Lake Tour from Cusco

Pisac Inca Town, Artisan Market and Ollantaytambo Full-Day Tour from Cusco
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Hiram Bingham Round Trip Luxury Train to Machu Picchu
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full day tour to Machu Picchu from Cusco
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Rainbow Mountain with ATV's

Rainbow Mountain with ATV's

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Cusco

Informative and fun!
Riya_J, Nov. 2022
Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Workshop in ChocoMuseo Cusco
We really enjoyed this workshop - it was informative, fun, and an easy afternoon in Cusco after a few days of more strenuous activities.
Most beautiful ride
Rita, Nov. 2022
Mystical Horseback Riding Tour from Cusco
He spoke excellent English and taught us the history of the land.
Go-to tour in cusco
Sitong_Z, Oct. 2022
City Tour in the city of Cusco 1/2 Day
The trip was compacted, adequate free time, and covered the 5 main attractions in Cusco.
We were very pleased with...
Anonymous, Jan. 2023
Late morning departure Rainbow Mountain Tour (Afternoon Tour)
The hike itself was very challenging due to the altitude, much more challenging than any other activities we did while based in Cusco.
Wish I could give it more than 5 stars- WONDERFUL trip!
Maureen_S, Jan. 2023
Cusco Rafting and Zipline Adventure
We went to the river and received solid instruction about how to paddle, when and how to move into and around the raft, and what to do if someone fell out.
Great experience
Keyana_R, Dec. 2022
Machu Picchu By Car (2 Days)
Unfortunately we weren’t able to visit the hot springs as they were closing close to dinner.
Peru a burst of happiness!
Kimberley_C, Dec. 2022
7- Days Cusco|| Sacred Valley || MachuPicchu || Rainbow Mountain || Humantay||
Darwin gave an excellent tour of the city’s highlights and had a great command of both English and Spanish.
Amazing mountain, needs better facilities
Glen_G, Nov. 2022
Rainbow Mountain in One Day from Cusco
If you are planning to visit, keep this in mind.
Seamless, memorable - this tour is a must !
Angela_S, Nov. 2022
2-Day Tour: Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu by Train
This tour made planning and preparing to see Machu Picchu and parts of Peru absolutely seamless.
Half day Cusco ruins tour
ELEONORA_R, Oct. 2022
Cusco City Tour Four Ruins Half-Day Tour
He spoke very well in English, very knowledgeable, informative, caring and fun.
Good option for people who don't want to do the 4-day hike
Jinsong_Z, Oct. 2022
2 Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
His English is the best among the 5 tour guides we had in Peru.
One of my most memorable experiences
Fnu_R, Aug. 2022
2-Day Tour: Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu by Train
He communicated in English with us, and was friendly.
Amazing sites!
Lucie_d, Aug. 2022
Half-Day City Tour of Cusco Including Tambomachay
You get to see a lot of places during the tour and learn so much about them!
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.
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!
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.
Hop On Hop Off Tour
Linda_G, May 2022
Little View of Cusco Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
The guide spoke English very well.
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!
Great Experience
Matthew_M, Mar. 2020
Inca Bridge of Qeswachaka Private Service
What an interesting place to visit.
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.
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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.

Peruvian Sol (PEN)
Time Zone
PET (UTC -5)
Country Code

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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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