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Cusco Travel Guide Overview

Most travelers only find out about Cusco as a starting point for the trip to the famous Machu Picchu. It’s also a great stop to get acclimated to the elevation. However, the city has much more to offer apart from being a convenient stop on your way. Wandering the streets of Cusco you can explore the charming cobbled alleyways and attractive historic buildings. Cusco is full of museums, galleries and other interesting places to visit. There is a reason the city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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How to Reach Cusco

By bus – The main bus terminal, Terminal Terrestre, is about 1.5 miles (2.4km) SW of the city center. Buses are plentiful to and from other Peruvian and Bolivian cities but are quite long and slow, although many times offer scenic views.

By train – Cuzco is connected to Machu Picchu and Puno by rail. The train service is operated by Peru Rail.

By plane – The international airport of Alejandro Velasco Astete (CUZ) is located at the edge of the city. There are daily internal flights to and from Lima, Arequipa and smaller jungle airports in the Amazon basin.

Where to Stay in Cusco

Aside from Central Cusco, where most establishments are, San Blas is also a popular area, especially for visitors. It’s several minutes and uphill from Lima, but it offers many choices in terms of types of accommodations and price ranges.

Cusco Travel Tips

Try Cuy (guinea pig) – Taste the traditional holiday food of the region. You can buy a whole cooked cuy in many of the
Eat and Drinks around Plaza de Armas. There are also many dedicated ‘cuyerias’ around town where you can find much cheaper cuy. If you purchase around the Plaza de Armas be prepared to pay close to that of a decent steak.

Take a Salsa class – With a number of enthusiastic teachers and a number of styles taught in the city, this is the perfect place to learn some new dance moves.

Try alpaca steak – A taboo in other parts of the world but here, it is considered a delicacy.

Do not be reckless – Although Cusco is a relatively safe city, as in any urban area, muggings and petty thefts do occur. Be
careful where you walk at night and take care of your belongings.

Do not underestimate the altitude– The altitude isno joke. Many people experience some for of altitude sickness when
arriving to Cusco as it is around 11, 000 feet (3399m) high. Just be sure to drink plenty of water and use cocoa leaves in a tea or simply chewing them. If you are doing hikes such as the Incan Trail it is a good idea to acclimate here for a day or two before heading out on a hike.

Typical Costs in Cusco

Price Range for Hotels

There are many sleeping options in Cusco to suit all budgets. Most won’t need to be booked beforehand. You can find a hostel or a local bed and breakfast for as low as $13 per night, you can find a luxurious hotel for a few hundred USD per night and you can find all the options in between.

Cost of meal

There is an endless string of Eat and Drinks and bars in Cusco’s streets that offer food and drinks at reasonable prices. Price per dinner in an average Eat and Drink can be lower than $5 per person. If you are looking for a more expensive option, there is no shortage of those also.

Transportation costs

Taxis are a relatively cheap way to move around the city as a 3 km ride will cost you around $1. The taxi from the airport to the city center costs around $3.5. Busses are an even cheaper way to move around the city, though they might get really crowded and hectic.

Where and What to Eat in Cusco

Where to Eat

Cicciolina (dishes start at $12) is one of the most recommended Eat and Drinks in Cusco and is known for its selection of international dishes. Marcelo Batata is for those looking to try classic Peruvian favorites ($15-$25), while La Bodega 138 offers up brunch menu and craft beer, with meals starting at $8.

Unique Dishes to Eat

Cusco has some very unique dishes that are must tries. First off try cuy (guinea pig). It’s sounds very odd but it’s actually pretty good and as you would suspect, it takes like chicken. Another unique thing to try is alpaca meat. Alpaca steaks are delicious and tastes a big like something between lamb and beef. Chicharrón is another typical local dish which is basically fried pork.

For the Beer Enthusiast 

We checked out the QosQo Beer House by the square which had an excellent beer selection with plenty of local craft beers. QosQo even had pretty good food. Cholos Craft Beers and Nuevo Mundo Draft Beer also come highly recommended.

Top Places to Visit in Cusco

Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley

Located under the famous Machu Picchu, the Valley is well worth visiting if you are in the neighborhood. It certainly is more than just a base for

Incan Trail

Incan Trail

Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel situated on a mountain ridge 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level. It is perched above the Sacred Urubamba River

Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain

The Rainbow Mountain is one of the most magnificent geological features in the world. Stripes of maroon, turquoise, lavender and gold blanket mountains that are over the

Uros Islands

Uros Islands

Uros Island is an island made from the totora reed that grows along the shores of Lake Titicaca. The affinity of the local Uru people is evident throughout

Sacsayhuaman

Sacsayhuaman

Located about 30 minutes by walking (uphill) outside of Cusco. This structure features hundreds of massive stones weighing around 300 tons! A ticket is required to visit

12 Angled Stone

12 Angled Stone

You can walk up the old Incan Road to reach the palace of the Archbishop of Cusco where the 12 angled stone is located. The stone was

Top Places to Eat in Cusco

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