Two days in Cusco give you plenty of time to explore the city’s historic attractions and pay a visit to Machu Picchu, one of the most famous archeological sites in the world. Here’s the best way to spend 48 hours in the former Inca capital.
Day 1: Experience the City
Begin your time in Cusco with a visit to the colorful San Pedro Market, to see traditionally-dressed locals shopping for fresh produce. Get an even richer experience by joining a morning cooking class; a guide introduces you to unusual products which are used to create a 3-course meal for lunch.
Afterward, embark on a private or group sightseeing tour of Cusco’s historical highlights, which include the Temple of the Sun (Qoricancha), Cusco Cathedral in Plaza de Armas, and the fortified Inca complex of Sacsayhuaman.
In the evening, head to the artisans’ district of San Blas for a traditional meal, or opt for an evening walking tour that includes Pisco Sours at a local bar. Another option is the Planetarium Cusco for some stargazing; small-group tours often include dinner and a drink, and allow you to skip the stress of arranging transfers.
Day 2: Discover Machu Picchu
Even though it requires a full day and a very early wake up, visiting Machu Picchu is possible on a day trip from Cusco. Opting for an all-inclusive package saves you hours of planning time; you won’t need to worry about arranging transportation, permits, admission fees, or the required guide.
Private and group tours typically include round-trip train tickets from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, round-trip bus tickets from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, and a guided tour of the Inca city, with some offering exclusive, early access in the company of an archaeologist. Guides provide historical context that’s crucial to understanding the UNESCO-listed site.
Depending on your budget, you have several train options; local trains prove the most cost-effective option, while the mid-range Vistadome, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, offers panoramic views. Visitors seeking luxury can ride the Hiram Bingham Pullman, a vintage train with a lavish interior.