Photo of Cusco

About Cusco

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.

For luxury

  • 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.

Travel Information

  • 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

  • Casa San Blas Cusco City Centre 18 rooms from £66

    This boutique hotel is nestled in historic Cusco's artisan quarter. Inside, rooms are named after symbols from Peruvian textile tradition and feature rustic-style furnishings and exposed wooden beams; while suites offer split-level living. Drinks are served on the pretty terrace; a cosy hotel.

    Local exploring  -  Set in the picturesque artisan's quarter of the city, this hotel is perfectly placed for local exploring
    Romantic Break  -  Couples rate this boutique bolt-hole highly; book a suite for split-level living with great city views
    City Style  -  With boutique interiors and a central city location, this hotel has lots of chic Cusco style
    Local markets  -  Shop like a local with a trip to the San Pedro Central Market, a thriving market with local produce and crafts
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  • El Retablo Cusco City Centre 17 rooms from £69

    Set in a restored heritage building, this charming B&B sits close to the centre of historic Cusco. Interiors feature traditional 'retablo' motifs hand-painted by local artisans, in addition to handwoven tapestries and cosy linens; book a luxury suite for a balcony with city views. An inviting hotel.

    City Style  -  Set in a historic property in central Cusco, renovated with the help of local artists, this hotel has plenty of local city style
    Romantic Break  -  Couples love the romantic atmosphere at this laid-back hotel; book a deluxe room for a charming private balcony
    Local exploring  -  With Plaza de Armas a few blocks away, this hotel provides the perfect base for local exploring in Cusco
    Local markets  -  Visit the San Pedro Market, a vibrant local market frequented by vendors from the indigenous communities in Peru's highlands
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  • Hotel Abittare Cusco City Centre 44 rooms from £75

    A colonial-era manor house is the setting for this boutique hotel in Cusco. Guestrooms line the property's traditional flagstone courtyard. Inside, suites feature contemporary design in a sandy palette and a period balcony; book a luxury suite for a separate living room. A stylish heritage hotel.

    Local exploring  -  With the main city attractions within easy distance, this hotel is perfect for local exploring in Cusco
    City Style  -  Set in a heritage property in Cusco with contemporary interiors, this hotel has lots of chic city charm
    Families  -  This hotel offers family rooms which can accommodate children, perfect for parents
    Sights nearby  -  Arrange a tour to Machu Pichu through the hotel and benefit from great value deals; enquire at reception for details
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  • Esplendor Cusco Cusco City Centre 34 rooms from £78

    Set around a charming interior courtyard with rockeries, this boutique hotel sits close to Cusco's Plaza de Armas. Inside, exposed beams and wooden shutters attest to the property's heritage, while terracotta walls display local artwork. Unwind in the hot tub after a terrace breakfast; a chic hotel.

    Romantic Break  -  Couples like the peaceful ambience at this boutique hotel; request use of the hot tub for a romantic evening in
    Local exploring  -  With the centre of Cusco just a few minutes' walk away, this hotel makes the perfect base for local exploring
    City Style  -  Set in a historic property a stone's throw from the heart of Cusco, this hotel has lots of local city style
    Local markets  -  Shop like a local with a trip to the Central Market, frequented by vendors from indigenous communities in the Highlands
    Check Availability
  • Unaytambo Cusco 14 rooms from £82

    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 city
    Value 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 hotel
    Local markets  -  A visit to Cusco is incomplete without a visit to the bustling San Pedro market
    Recommended by  -  Great Small Hotels
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  • Palacio del Inka Cusco 203 rooms from £132

    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 trip
    City Style  -  Make the most out of the property's excellently central location to fully explore all that Cusco has to offer
    Sights 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
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  • Fallen Angel Cusco 5 rooms from £148

    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 comes
    Sights nearby  -  Go visit the Santo Domingo Church, Sacsayhuaman archeological site or the Qenka Inca ruins
    Great walks  -  Amble through historic Cusco and take in its unique atmosphere
    Full of character
    Recommended by  -  Great Small Hotels
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  • El Convento Cusco Cusco City Centre 153 rooms from £152

    Historic grandeur and modern comfort combine in this renovated 16th-century convent-cum-hotel in Cusco, Peru. Guestrooms line the gallery of the interior courtyard; inside, original exposed walls are framed by floor-to-ceiling windows alongside bespoke furniture. Dine at Qespi; a cultured bolt-hole.

    Spa breaks  -  Boasting a luxury spa that draws on traditional Incan healing practices, book this hotel for your next Latin American spa break
    City Style  -  Set in a historic, 16th-century property in central Cusco, this luxury hotel has reams of local city style
    Local exploring  -  Set in close proximity to the city's main attractions, this hotel is a perfect base for local exploring
    Sights nearby  -  Visit the landmark Cathedral of Cusco, a colonial-era church that took almost one hundred years to complete
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  • Aranwa Cusco Cusco City Centre 43 rooms from £219

    This boutique hotel is housed in a 16th-century colonial mansion in Cusco, Peru. Rooms have classic interiors to complement the heritage property's original features, from frescoes to exposed stone walls. Book a luxury suite for a jacuzzi and living space. Dine at Mishti Restaurant; a stately hotel.

    Local exploring  -  Situated in the historic centre of the city, this hotel makes a great base for local exploring in Cusco
    Romantic Break  -  Book a luxury suite with a jacuzzi for added indulgence on your couples' getaway
    City Style  -  Housed in a heritage property in Cusco, this hotel has lots of local style
    Sights nearby  -  Visit the 16th-century Cathedral of Cusco, a major landmark that took nearly 100 years to complete
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  • El Mercado Cusco 31 rooms from £241

    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.
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  • Belmond Hotel Monasterio Cusco (Plazoleta Nazarenas) 122 rooms from £271

    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 city
    Great walks  -  The hotel puts on a two-day trek to Machu Picchu if you're looking for a truly unforgettable experience
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Santa Domingo Church, Sacsayhuaman archeological site or the ancient Coricancha temple
    Local markets  -  The vibrant and diverse San Pedro Market is an absolute must visit
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  • Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel Cusco (Centro Histórico) 15 rooms from £351

    Set inside a beautiful brick and adobe property, this boutique hotel offers guests an authentic taste of historic Cusco. The individually styled suites are spacious and contemporary, with restored wooden balconies overlooking the hotel courtyard. The Andean-inspired spa is a real plus.

    Local exploring  -  Located close to Cusco's main square, Plaza de Armas, this hotel is a great base for local exploring
    City Style  -  Set in a heritage property with contemporary interiors, this hotel has chic and modern Cusco style
    Romantic Break  -  Couples rate this sleek spa hotel highly; book a couples' massage for a romantic evening in
    Local markets  -  Shop like a local with a trip to San Pedro Central Market, a fresh produce market frequented by indigenous communities
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  • Inkaterra La Casona Cusco (Plazoleta Nazarenas) 11 rooms from £421

    Brimming with heritage, Inkaterra La Casona 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.
    Check Availability
  • Belmond Palacio Nazarenas Cusco (Plaza Nazarenas 276) 55 rooms from £503

    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 Cusco
    Local exploring  -  Go for a meander around the city and check out all the sights
    Great walks  -  Head for long walks along the beach and take in the sea views or simply wander through the city
    Local markets  -  The quintessentially Peruvian San Pedro market is an absolute must visit
    Recommended by  -  Tablet
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