Exploring Cusco: A Three-Day Itinerary


Cusco, also known as the «Archaeological Capital of the Americas,» is a beautiful city located in the heart of the Andes in Peru. With a rich history and vibrant culture, Cusco is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to South America. If you only have three days in Cusco, it’s important to make the most of your time. In this travel guide, we’ll highlight some of the most important places to see, provide tips for getting around the city, and offer suggestions for where to stay and eat.

Travel Tips in Cusco

  • Altitude sickness can be a problem for many travelers to Cusco, as the city sits at an elevation of over 11,000 feet. Be sure to take it easy and stay hydrated, and consider taking medication to prevent altitude sickness.
  • Cusco is a safe city, but it’s always a good idea to take precautions such as keeping your valuables close and avoiding walking alone at night.
  • Cusco has a wet season from November to March, so be prepared for rain if you visit during this time.
  • Most places in Cusco accept credit cards, but it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand.
  • The official language of Peru is Spanish, but many people in Cusco speak Quechua, the language of the Inca people.


What to See in Cusco

Cusco is a city full of history and culture, and there are many places to explore. Here are some of the most important places to visit:

  • Machu Picchu: No trip to Cusco is complete without a visit to Machu Picchu, the famous Inca citadel located on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley. To get there, you can take a train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and then hike or take a bus up to the site.
  • The Plaza de Armas: This central square is the heart of Cusco and is surrounded by beautiful colonial-era buildings and churches. It’s a great place to people-watch and take in the atmosphere of the city.
  • The Cathedral of Cusco: Located on the Plaza de Armas, the Cusco Cathedral is an impressive example of colonial architecture. Inside, you’ll find beautiful artwork and artifacts from the region’s history.
  • The Inca Museum: This museum is dedicated to the history and culture of the Inca people and is a great place to learn about the region’s pre-Columbian past.
  • Sacsayhuaman: This ancient fortress is located just outside of Cusco and is an impressive example of Inca stonework. The site offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains.
  • Qorikancha: This temple was once the most important religious site in the Inca Empire and was covered in gold. Today, you can visit the site and see the remains of the original structure.

These are just a few of the many places to visit in Cusco. There are also many museums, galleries, and markets to explore, so be sure to take some time to wander the streets and discover the city’s hidden gems.

Most Important Places Highlighted in Cusco

  • Machu Picchu
  • The Plaza de Armas
  • The Cathedral of Cusco
  • The Inca Museum
  • Sacsayhuaman
  • Qorikancha

Routes in Cusco

Cusco is a compact city that’s easy to explore on foot. However, if you’re short on time or want to see more of the surrounding area, there are several routes you can take:

  • The Inca Trail: This famous trail takes you through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu. It’s a multi-day hike and requires a permit, but it’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of the region.
  • The Sacred Valley: This beautiful valley is full of ancient ruins, small towns, and stunning views. You can take a day trip from Cusco or spend a few days exploring the area.
  • The Rainbow Mountain: This colorful mountain is located a few hours from Cusco and is a popular destination for hikers. The trek to the top is challenging but offers incredible views.
  • The Inca Jungle Trail: This alternative route to Machu Picchu combines hiking with adventures such as zip-lining, rafting, and hot springs. It’s a great option for travelers who want to experience more than just hiking.
  • The Maras Salt Mines: This unique site is a series of salt evaporation ponds that have been used since Inca times. You can take a half-day trip from Cusco to visit the mines and learn about the traditional salt-harvesting techniques.

These are just a few of the many routes you can take in and around Cusco. Depending on your interests and time constraints, you can choose the one that’s right for you.

Where to Sleep in Cusco

Cusco has a wide range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Hostal Inti: This budget-friendly hostel is located just a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas and offers clean and comfortable rooms.
  • Tierra Viva Cusco Centro: This mid-range hotel is located in a beautiful colonial-era building and offers spacious rooms and a great location.
  • Belmond Hotel Monasterio: This luxury hotel is located in a converted monastery and offers beautiful rooms, a spa, and excellent dining options.

These are just a few options to consider. There are many other hostels, hotels, and apartments available in Cusco, so be sure to do your research and find the one that best fits your needs and budget.

Where to Eat in Cusco

Cusco is known for its delicious food, which blends traditional Andean ingredients with Spanish and other international influences. Here are a few restaurants to check out:

  • Chicha por Gaston Acurio: This restaurant, run by celebrity chef Gaston Acurio, offers a modern take on traditional Peruvian cuisine. Try the alpaca steak or the ceviche.
  • Cicciolina: This cozy restaurant offers a wide range of dishes, from Peruvian classics to international favorites. Be sure to try the grilled octopus or the quinoa risotto.
  • El Mercado: This casual spot offers fresh and flavorful seafood dishes, as well as a great selection of craft beers and cocktails.

These are just a few of the many restaurants to explore in Cusco. You can also check out the local markets for street food and snacks.

Free Tours in Cusco

If you’re on a budget or just want to learn more about the city, there are several free tours available in Cusco. Here are a few to consider:

  • Free Walking Tour Cusco: This tour takes you through the city’s historic center and covers the Plaza de Armas, the cathedral, and other important landmarks.
  • Cusco Free Tour: This tour covers a wider area, including the San Pedro market, the bohemian San Blas neighborhood, and several Inca ruins outside of the city.
  • Free Cusco Alternative Walking Tour: This tour focuses on the alternative side of Cusco, including street art, urban culture, and local initiatives.

These tours are typically led by knowledgeable and enthusiastic local guides who are passionate about sharing their city with visitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best time of year to visit Cusco? The best time to visit Cusco is during the dry season from April to October, when the weather is mild and the skies are clear.
  • How do I get to Cusco? Cusco has an international airport with direct flights from several cities in South America, as well as connections to other parts of the world. You can also take a train or bus from other parts of Peru.
  • Do I need a visa to visit Peru? Visitors from many countries, including the United States, Canada, and most of Europe, do not need a visa for stays of up to 183 days. Check with your local embassy or consulate for more information.
  • What should I wear in Cusco? The weather in Cusco can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to dress in layers. Be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes, as many of the streets in the city are cobblestone and can be slippery.


Cusco is a fascinating and beautiful city with a rich history and culture. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient ruins, trying delicious food, or just soaking up the atmosphere of this vibrant city, there’s something for everyone in Cusco. By following this three-day itinerary and taking advantage of the travel tips, recommendations, and routes provided, you’re sure to have a memorable and enjoyable trip. For more information about Cusco and its attractions, visit the official tourism website of the city of Cusco at https://www.cusco.gob.pe/.

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