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Cusco - or Cuzco or Qosq’o - is the cosmopolitan once-capital of the Incan Empire, and as well as being arguably one of the most fascinating cities on the continent, is also the closest city to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. So it’s quite a busy place as far as visitor numbers go. So if you like the look of our Guru’s recommendations for the best places to stay in Cusco then don’t wait too long.
The beautifully preserved colonial architecture, and the way it’s arranged around the older Incan structures, is one of the most wonderful things about Cusco. Narrow cobbled passages open out into graceful squares where ornate churches rub shoulders with low-rise Incan temples and you’re just as likely to see pet llamas as you are to see expensive alpaca wool clothing for sale. Cusco is also known for being 3.400metres above sea level and a great place to acclimatise - or get altitude sickness if you’re unlucky.
What Not To Miss
- Just walking the streets of Cusco you can see the layers of history with the Spanish building right on top of the Incan city walls and ruins dotted all around the outskirts. One of the most famous is Sacsayhuamán, which was the site of a dramatic battle in which Spanish soldiers ran uphill to meet the Incan forces. Several important Incan structures remain in pretty good condition, Qoricancha, the Sun Temple for example.
- As you can probably imagine, Cusco also has a number of museums which it needs to hold all its treasures! As well as ancient artifacts there are also several art museums and galleries.
- You’ll also want to visit the markets, maybe try local specialties like cut, chicha and alpaca.
- Hike the spectacular Inca trail with dramatic views of a lifetime provided along a path cut into the mountain hundreds of years ago. Visitors are able to walk the trail all the way to Machu Picchu, although a guide and good fitness levels are recommended.
- Stroll around the Plaza de Armas with a great assortment of restaurants, bars and local monuments - it guarantees visitors plenty to see and do. It's also a great look back in history with the stunning old colonial buildings.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Cusco range from everything for a luxury break to great value properties for city explorers.
For a city break
- The Palacio del Inka is an elegant 203 room hotel right in the heart of town. The decor is colourful, from the smallest room to the excellent Andean restaurant. There’s also a range of spa treatments available.
- El Mercado offers a fabulous mix of tradition and contemporary decor in the centre of Cusco. There are exposed beams and white washed walls but there are also some great pieces of modern art. There are 31 rooms plus a gorgeous terrace, perfect for drinks in the evening.
- The Fallen Angel guesthouse is just a few hundred feet from Cusco’s main square. Its five quirky rooms are decorated with bright contemporary art and the restaurant, which specialises in local cuisine, is top notch.
- You might recognise some of the name, and yes, the Belmond Hotel Monasterio is the same Belmond as the Orient Express. So you can expect a similar kind of luxury and charm here. Built in the 16th century this converted monastery with its leafy courtyard gardens, antique furnishings and original art and features is a really memorable place to stay.
- The Belmond Palacio Nazarenas shares the first bit of the name too so you can expect the same service and luxury, but this time in a remodelled palace with walls made of stones carved by the Incas. There are 55 rooms and suites, all elegant, but the suites come with their own bar and butler. There’s also a wonderful spa.
- Inkaterra La Cason is an 11 room hotel in a beautifully converted colonial mansion. If you’re interested in the history of this city then this is the place to stay. Decorated with antiquities dating back to the days of the Spanish Empire. The Peruvian restaurant is superb. And you’re just two minutes walk from the cathedral.
For best value
- Right in the heart of Cusco, just short walk from the Plaza de Armas, Unaytambo is a large colonial house with 14 rooms - many with private balconies. There’s a beautiful terrace and the decor is colonial too. Rooms start from around £80 per night.
- For around £110 per night you can stay in the much larger Costa del Sol Ramada Cusco, a converted 17th century mansion in the centre of town. There’s still something rather splendid about this 90 room hotel. It’s arranged around an arcaded central courtyard and there’s an excellent Peruvian restaurant.
For an apartment or cottage
- If you'd prefer your own space, we recommend visiting our online partner Booking.com for a range of properties to suit the needs of all visitors.
- Fly to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport a mere 3km (1.8 miles) from Cusco. The airport serves a combination of both domestic and international connections.
- Catch a train to Cusco with services to Machu Picchu.
- If you want to rent a car, for prices visit our online partner Rentalcars
- Best time to visit - May to October is the dry season with mild temperatures - making it great for exploring.
Still not sure?
Best Hotels in Cusco
Unaytambo 14 rooms from £81Cusco
Unaytambo is located in the heart of Cusco just a short walk from Plaza de Armas. Set in a large house it features rooms with a traditional colonial decor which offer private balconies and plasma TVs. Sit out on the terrace and relax or explore the area! A charming stay in a brilliant spot.City Style - The hotel enjoys a wonderfully central location and so is the perfect base from which to explore the cityValue chic - Great accommodation in a fantastic location. Doubles from $105 per night.Sights nearby - Check out San Blas Church or head to Sacsayhuaman archeological site which is less than a mile from the hotelLocal markets - A visit to Cusco is incomplete without a visit to the bustling San Pedro market
Palacio del Inka 203 rooms from £130Cusco
This stunning property is situated in the heart of Cusco, a great base from which to get to know the city. It offers extremely elegant rooms with stunning use of diverse colours and has its own excellent restaurant focusing on Andean ingredients. A top-notch and classy choice for a city stay!Romantic Break - Luxurious accommodation to make you feel like royalty, superb cuisine and a range of spa treatments-perfect for a romantic tripCity Style - Make the most out of the property's excellently central location to fully explore all that Cusco has to offerSights nearby - Coricancha, the Incas' temple of the sun, is located less than a mile away and is a must visit!Great walks - Stroll around the streets getting a feel for the city and Cusco's unique atmosphere
Fallen Angel 5 rooms from £146Cusco
Fallen Angel guest house is located just a few hundred feet from Cusco's main square. It features individually decorated and quirky rooms with a strong contemporary art influence. Be sure to eat in their wonderful restaurant which serves local cuisine. A truly unique city stay in a fantastic spot.Local markets - A trip to Cusco is not complete without a trip to San Pedro market which is as authentic as Peru comesSights nearby - Go visit the Santo Domingo Church, Sacsayhuaman archeological site or the Qenka Inca ruinsGreat walks - Amble through historic Cusco and take in its unique atmosphereFull of character
El Mercado 31 rooms from £237Cusco
A fabulous mid-ranged property in the heart of Cusco. Stunning rooms mix tradition and contemporary styles; think exposed beams, white washed walls, in-room free standing baths and modern art. A gorgeous terrace is perfectly primed for evening drinks. Walking distance to the cities' sights. Superb.Local exploring - Centrally located walking distance from restaurants, museums and Cusco’s main Plaza de Armas.Local markets - Explore the authentic and oldest market of Cusco; San Pedro Market.Sights nearby - Be sure not to miss the fascinating Inca 'Temple of the Sun'.Restrictions on children - Not suitable for children.
Belmond Hotel Monasterio 122 rooms from £266Cusco (Plazoleta Nazarenas)
This stunning former monastery is situated in the heart of Cusco's historical centre. Boasting luxurious colonial-style accommodation with plenty of artwork, the hotel also has a beautiful courtyard garden and several bars and restaurants. Be treated like royalty at this utterly gorgeous city spot.City Style - This property is situated in the heart of Cusco's historical centre, a perfect location for getting to know the cityGreat walks - The hotel puts on a two-day trek to Machu Picchu if you're looking for a truly unforgettable experienceSights nearby - Visit Santa Domingo Church, Sacsayhuaman archeological site or the ancient Coricancha templeLocal markets - The vibrant and diverse San Pedro Market is an absolute must visit
Inkaterra La Cason 11 rooms from £414Cusco (Plazoleta Nazarenas)
Brimming with heritage, Inkaterra La Cason offers a glimpse into the rich history of Cusco. Set in colonial mansion, the hotel is packed full of antiques and artefacts dating back to days of the Spanish Empire. Luxurious rooms and a superb Peruvian restaurant complete this magnificent hotel.Romantic Break - Set in a colonial mansion steep in romance, it's perfect for couples looking to unlock the historic city of Cusco.Local exploring - Perfect for exploring the historic city of Cusco.Sights nearby - Two minutes walk from the Cathedral of Cusco.Local markets - Explore the bustling local markets of Cusco.
Belmond Palacio Nazarenas 55 rooms from £495Cusco (Plaza Nazarenas 276)
This remodelled Palace is situated in central Cusco and has walls made of Inca stones. It features elegantly decorated suites which each come with their own bar and butler! Go for a refreshing dip in the pool or totally relax in their wonderful spa. An absolutely magical spot and unforgettable stay.City Style - The hotel enjoys a fabulously central location and is the perfect base from which to explore CuscoLocal exploring - Go for a meander around the city and check out all the sightsGreat walks - Head for long walks along the beach and take in the sea views or simply wander through the cityLocal markets - The quintessentially Peruvian San Pedro market is an absolute must visitRecommended by - Tablet