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Cusco Peru (Cuzco*)

If you are considering visiting Cusco, Peru, you will be amazed by the richness and tranquility of this city nestled in the mountains.

"Where do I begin?" is a question many tourists are faced with as they struggle to organize all activities within their travel dates to Peru.

From the experience of a former tourist and current local, here are a few tips about what to expect, see, and do during your visit.

Getting Used to Cusco, Peru, and the Altitude

Cusco, Peru (Cuzco)
Cusco Peru Cuzco
Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru
Upon arriving in Cusco, it's best to take a taxi inside the airport/terminal that has a checkerboard symbol or green stripe on its sides, as these represent the taxis that are authorized by the city.

Once you arrive at your hotel/sleeping quarters, give yourself time to get acclimatized to the Cusco altitude.

Drink lots of liquids, preferably coca tea, which you can find at most hotels and restaurants in the many areas of Peru.

In addition, get lots of rest and keep activity to a minimum for the next few days.

During your first days, spend time in the Plaza de Armas, the main square, just soaking up the view of Peru's mountain life and the slight hustle and bustle of the locals. In addition, set aside time to visit the main avenue in Cusco, Avenida El Sol.

Cusco Peru
Cusco Peru Girl and Llama
Young Girl and Paco
This street is full of tourist shops where one can develop film, buy Peru postcards, withdraw money, and pick up souvenirs.

Arts,  Crafts, and Souvenirs

For artisanal souvenirs, visit the Handicraft Center Cusco, located across from the waterfall fountain on Avenida El Sol.

This is Cusco, Peru's largest shopping center for colorful, diverse items!

In addition, for those needing to pick up a Peru guide, the SBS bookstore is located nearby on the same street (Avenida El Sol 864, Cuzco, Peru).

This bookstore has the largest collection of books in English, including dictionaries, guides, history books, and books about Peru.

Exploring Cusco, Peru

With regards to sightseeing, many tourists enjoy taking a local tranvia bus to explore the city.
  • The tranvia is a small wooden bus resembling a streetcar which picks up passengers in the lower left hand corner of the Plaza de Armas.

  • You can catch the tranvia every hour and a half between the hours of 8:30am and 6:30pm (Monday-Saturday).

  • The cost for adults is 20 soles or 10 soles for students and residents of Cusco, Peru.

  • The ride lasts an hour and 15 minutes and visits 40 historical sites around the city.

While this may be considered a tour of Cusco, the actual City Tour is a different activity that allows you to spend a few hours visiting nearby Inca ruins, monolithic reminders of Peru's past rulers.

The Cusco City Tour

Cusco Peru
Cusco Peru Girl and Llama
Boleto Turistico
In order to participate in the City Tour you will need to purchase a Boleto Turistico, which will permit entrance into the ruins.

This ticket can be purchased at the Municipalidad del Cusco located on Avenida El Sol 103, Cuzco, Peru (it will be the first office on the left).

The general Boleto Turistico costs 130 soles and permits entrance into 16 different attractions:

All 16 Attractions: S/130.00 soles
(For students with a valid ID (e.g. a clear expiration date), the cost of the general boleto is 70 soles.)
Sacsayhuaman Tipon Pisaq (Pisac)
Qenko (Qenqo) Pikillacta  Ollantaytambo
Puka Pukara
(Puca Pucara)
Museo de Qoricancha (Koricancha) Chinchero
Tambomachay Monumento Inca Pachacutec Moray
Museo Historico Regional Centro de Arte Nativo Museo de Arte Contemporaneo
Museo de Arte Popular (clicking the links takes you to more Inside-Peru pages or TripAdvisor reviews for these locations)

 If you are interested in a Partial Boleto Turistico, the cost for all tourists is 70 soles. There are three different partial tickets that permit entrance into limited places:

Partial Boleto Turistico 1
S/70.00 soles 
Partial Boleto Turistico 2
S/70.00 soles
Partial Boleto Turistico 3
S/70.00 soles
Sacsayhuaman Tipon Pisaq (Pisac)
Qenko (Qenqo) Pikillacta  Ollantaytambo
Puka Pukara (Puca Pucara) Museo de Qoricancha (Koricancha) Chinchero
Tambomachay Monumento Inca Pachacutec Moray

Centro de Arte Nativo

Museo de Arte Popular

Museo Historico Regional

Museo de Arte Contemporaneo


Thus, the Boleto Turistico, offered by Peru's tourism department, is necessary to gain entrance into the Inca ruins around the city, participate in the full day Sacred Valley Tour, or visit local museums and monuments, all of which can be done within the first few days.

Outside of Cusco, Peru

After acclimatizing for two to three days, you may want to consider more adventurous tours such as:

These tours allow you to spend days trekking with the opportunity to finish at world-famous Machu Picchu.

For those who prefer less strenuous activities, there is a train that will take you to Aguas Calientes, the city at the base of Machu Picchu. From there you can take a bus up to the citadel.

Cusco Peru Cuisine

As you sightsee around the city or participate in tours, you will have multiple opportunities to try the Peruvian cuisine.

Cusco Peru Cuy
Cuy - Cuzco Peru
It goes without saying that most tourists are eager to try cuy (guinea pig).

However, a word of advice: this animal tends to have a lot of grease and therefore it is not recommended as an evening meal.

A well-known restaurant for cuy and other traditional dishes is Quinta Eulalia, located on Choqechaka St. 384, Cuzco, Peru.

In addition, for those interested in "authentic Peruvian pizza," there is a small pizzeria on the same street, Pizzeria Dinos (Choqechaka 278 B, Cuzco, Peru), which prepares pizzas in a homemade wood-burning oven. So, as they say in Peru, provecho! (Translation: Enjoy your meal)!

The Cusco Entertainment Scene

During your spare time in Cusco, take advantage of the opportunities to go dancing around the Plaza de Armas. The "discotecas" have a variety of music, such as salsa, regetton, rock, electronics, and maybe even some music of Peru.

One of the more popular discotecas, Mythology, even offers free salsa lessons every night from 9pm-11pm. So get your dancing shoes on and visit this hopping place located at the corner of the Plaza de Armas and Calle Suecia!

Additionally, if you have not purchased souvenirs during your tours, spend some time shopping at the local artisan shops (e.g. Handicraft Center Cusco). You will find a variety of Peruvian materials, such as alpaca and llama, and remember, always compare prices before making a purchase!

While these are just a few suggestions about how to spend your time in Cusco, Peru, please remember, above all, to be safe, keep an open mind, and enjoy each moment in this amazing city!

Contributed by Inside-Peru's Associate Writer Michelle Dinos

*NOTE: Cusco can also be spelled "Cuzco" and is used interchangeably. Return to Inside-Peru Home Page from Cusco Peru
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