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The Cusco (Cuzco) Rundown

As the heart of the great Inca Empire many years ago, Cusco is a majestic city that tops the list on many a traveller’s journey. Today, Cusco is listed as the archaeological capital of the Americas that hosts the oldest continuously inhabited city on the continent. The historical centre of Cusco is beautiful, including a walk around the ‘Plaza de Armas’ with many of the local churches, shops and restaurants backing on to it. A visit to the Cusco Planetarium is a great way to see how the Inca’s saw the world. The Incas seriously studied astronomy and even aligned some of the city’s main streets to line up with the stars at certain times of the year.

A must see are the Qorikancha ruins, one of richest temples of the Inca empire and today stands as the base of the colonial church of Santo Domingo. The construction of La Catedral started in 1559 and took nearly 100 years to build. Built on the site of the Inca Viracocha’s palace, it was built using blocks taken from a nearby Inca site. The ‘Museo Irq’i Yachay’ (Irq’i Yachay Museum) is a bit more an art and craft exhibition.

When To Go

Cusco’s climate is relatively fresh. Average temperatures are between 10° and 11° Celsius (50° to 52° Fahrenheit). The temperature is fairly stable throughout the year. In general, it is cold at night and during the first hours of the morning the temperature rises considerably until about noon. On sunny days the temperature can go up to 20°C (68°F). In June, the temperature frequently decreases below zero to -5° and -7°C (23° and 19°F).

The change of the seasons during the year is not very noticeable; but it is generally divided into two seasons:

  • The dry season runs from April to October, with plenty of sunshine, and occasional nighttime freezes.
  • The wet season goes from November through March, during which time night frost is less common.
  • While frost and hail are common, the only snowfall was recorded in June of 1911.

Getting There

Coming into Cusco by air, the airport is at the edge of the city. There are daily flights into Cusco from Lima. A traveller’s tip is to book one of the earlier flights in the day to avoid possible weather delays or overbooking. When leaving the Cusco airport be prepared to pay a small airport tax; some tickets included this fee in their price.

The trip from the airport into town is a short ride with one of the many taxis available. Getting an ‘official’ airport taxi may run you up to 30 or more soles. While taxis are common and inexpensive, most don’t use meters. Be ready for a short haggle as you agree on your price before getting in.

  • Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport is in Cusco.
  • Taxis are readily available at different price points.
  • For the best deal, haggle with the taxi driver prior.

General Information

The venerable historic capital of the Inca Empire is a supreme destination point for international pilgrims on the way to Machu Picchu. Unlike many indispensable stopovers however, Cusco is a place where you want to linger. The UNESCO World Heritage city is a sensorial banquet, with a location in the high Andes that will take your breath away, literally and figuratively.

Cusco is a veritable permanent excavation site for scientists and archaeologists alike, with remains of the lost Inca civilization in and around the city. The Plaza de Armas is the foremost symbol of colonial Cusco, with all of the requisite architectural landmarks of 16th century Spanish conquest. Cathedrals, convents and palaces radiate from the plaza, which serves as the de facto pulsepoint of the city. Authentic Cusco life can be found in the innumerable city markets, small restaurants, coffee bars and mad atmosphere of Estadio Garcilaso de la Vega.

Attractions & Activities

Attractions

  • Machu Picchu
  • Cathedral of Cusco
  • Museo Historico Regional
  • Qoricancha Dominican Convent
  • La Merced Monastery
  • Activities

  • Cienciano Soccer at Estadio Garcilaso de la Vega
  • Cusco Beer Festival
  • Carnaval
  • Inti Raymi
  • Inca Trail
  • Restaurants & Nightlife

    Restaurants

  • El Truco
  • Kusikuy
  • La Retama
  • A Mi Menara
  • Quinta Eulalia
  • Nightlife

  • Los Perros
  • Sumaq Misky
  • Eko Club
  • Up Town
  • Extrem
  • Climate

    Cusco's high altitude brings even and predictable weather throughout the year, with temperatures between -1°C and 22°C.

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    Hotels in Cuzco

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    From US$98

    1 Novotel Cusco

    4 stars
    5.0 / 5 2 reviews

    San Augustin 239 - Map

    Rate includes breakfast

    Built around an early 16th century, Novotel Hotel Cusco presents an exceptional style of colonial architecture and comfortable accommodation to its guests. General The hotel also features a... More

    Nice Hotel
    It's easy enough to find, I walked there in the dark from the train station. The building is beautiful and the room was good. Very quiet. They have a great fine dining restaurant. Unfortunately I...
    23 Apr 2015
    From US$237

    2 JW Marriott El Convento Cusco

    5 stars
    4.9 / 5

    Esquina de la Calle Ruinas 432 y San Agustin Map

    Rate Includes Breakfast

    JW Marriott Hotel Cusco invites business and leisure travellers to contemporary rooms and latest facilities in Cusco. While in this part of Peru, tourists can view notable collections at Cusco... More

    From US$104

    3 Tierra Viva Machu Picchu

    4 stars
    4.0 / 5

    Av. Hermanos Ayar 401 Map

    FREE WiFi

    Tierra Viva Machu Picchu hotel strategic location ensures our clients the best experience possible of the amazing Inca citadel. Our facilities are located in the quietest area of Aguas Calientes,... More

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    4 Casa Andina Private Collection

    4 stars
    3.2 / 5

    Plazoleta Limaqpampa Chico 473 Map

    Built in a colonial large house of 16th century, Casa Andina Private Collection - Cusco makes you to enjoy a warm atmosphere and a friendly service. GeneralCasa Andina Private Collection - Cusco... More

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    5 Terra Andina Hotel

    3 stars
    4.0 / 5 2 reviews

    Calle Union 184 Map

    45%off per night

    Offering superb service along with a friendly and professional staff, the Terra Andina Hotel ensures you a delightful stay in the city of Cusco. GeneralThe Terra Andina Hotel also offers... More

    Wished we had stayed longer
    Booked this hotel for one night before our stay in the Sacred Valley. Convenient location and exceptionally helpful staff helped book our bus trip to Puno. Would have stayed here again on our...
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    6 Andean Wings Boutique Hotel

    4 stars
    4.5 / 5

    Siete Cuartones 225 Cuzco Map

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    7 Belmond Hotel Monasterio Cusco

    5 stars
    5.0 / 5

    Calle Palacio 136 Map

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    Belmond Hotel Monasterio Cusco is the ideal base for those who want to discover Cuzco and the ancient ruins at Machu Picchu. GeneralBelmond Hotel Monasterio Cusco also provides conference... More

    From US$259

    8 Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel and Spa

    5 stars
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    Calle Pumacurco 336 Map

    FREE Wi-fi + Welcome drink + Sunset cocktail

    Travellers who want to discover the rich heritage of Cuzco can stay in the charming accommodations housed in a historic Spanish-Peruvian building of Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel & Spa Cuzco. This... More

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    9 Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel

    5 stars
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    Plazoleta Santo Domingo 259 Map

    Save 10% on your stay

    One of the worlds most mystical destinations, Cusco boasts archaeological wealth and majestic Incan and Spanish architecture. Facilitating discovery from the cities historic center, Palacio del... More

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    10 Del Prado Inn

    3 stars
    4.0 / 5

    Calle Suecia 310 Map

    FREE WIFI

    If you want to visit Machu Picchu and Cusco, Del Prado Inn Hotel Cuzco offers a pleasant stay with high quality of service and customised attention to make it perfect for vacations. General... More

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