If you arrive in Peru by plane, you will arrive at Jorge Chávez International Airport, located 18 kilometres from the city centre of Lima. It is a very modern airport that has won several international awards. It is ranked as one of South America’s busiest airports.
Taxi companies at the airport will charge (around $ 20.00) for a ride to Miraflores or Downtown Lima. We do not recommend you leave the airport to find cheaper options; these taxis might not be licensed and a ride in one of these could be dangerous. There are 3 taxi companies operating within the aiport terminal: Taxi365, Taxi Directo and Taxi Green.
Another option is you take one of the shuttle buses for travelling from and to Lima airport.
Miraflores is known as the safest district of Lima. In downtown occur more pickpockets and robberies. You can find many good hostels in all price categories in Lima. The majority of them offer an airport transfer.
If you spend one whole day in Lima, you can check out the Gold Museum or do a Lima City Tour that will take you to the most beautiful and most interesting places in Lima. Many travellers do not stay in the city and takes a flight or bus right after arriving or the next day (or even the same day).
Yes, there are two different overland routes to Cusco, but both take a min 20 hours.
Lima – Arequipa - Cusco
The first option passes Arequipa before heading to Cusco. On the way to Arequipa, the bus will drive mostly on the Pan-American Highway, an excellent road along the coast. There are departures every half an hour from Lima. Along the route, you pass the interesting places of Pisco, Paracas National Park, Ica and Nazca, that are all worth a stop if you have time. After about 18 hours you arrive to the colonial city of Arequipa, definitely worth a stop.
If you don’t want to make a stop, buses from Arequipa to Cusco depart between 4 and 8 pm. The condition of the road is worse than the highway along the coast, you might freeze during the night and the bus might be overcrowded, but you will arrive in Cusco 12 hours later.
Lima – Acacucho – Abancay - Cusco
The second route is even more time-consuming way that will pass Ayacucho, Andahuaylas and Abancay. The road here is in bad condition and you won’t find good buses and hotels. Maybe it is therefore not a good idea to take this option if you have just arrived to Peru because this route will take around 2 days. Apart from that, the route is too dangerous during rainy season.
Flights to Cusco
In short: you might want to consider taking a national flight to Cusco. There are between 8 and 15 flights per day, depending on the season and the prices vary between $ 45 and $ 180 (both one way). The flight takes a bit over an hour.
The weather in Cusco can be divided in two different seasons. The rainy season in Cusco lasts from November until April and you need to be prepared for rain at any time of the day. During the day season you can expect around 18°C, but during the night temperatures dwindle to 8°C.
The dry season starts in April and lasts till October which brings about more sunshine. Although temperatures don’t climb a lot, the strong sun makes you think that it is 25°C. As soon as the sun disappears, it gets really cold; temperatures are slightly above zero degrees in June and July. Because Peruvians don’t have heating, you should bring warm clothes for the nights. But remember that you might get burnt easily during the day because of the altitude and the strong sun.
During summer season, from December until April, the climate is hot and dry. With average temperatures from 25 - 30°C, the weather is perfect for swimming. However, temperature drops during winter season, from May to November, and you must expect more clouds in the coastal area between Lima and the southern Peru. Only Tumbes in northern Peru provides comfortable climate conditions for swimming throughout the year.
Visiting Machu Picchu stands on every bucket list of travellers that come to Peru. The famous Inca site can be visited in different ways. The options include one of the many Machu Picchu Hikes, a Machu Picchu train tour, or, you can travel to Machu Picchu independently by either train or bus.
The Inca Trail is a four-day hike to Machu Picchu including a visit on the fourth day. Due to its famousness, you should book the trail up to five months in advance if you want to travel during high season. On the last day of the trail you will see the sunrise at Machu Picchu, a once in a lifetime experience.
»read about the 4 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.»
Trains to Machu Picchu
If the four day Inca trail is fully booked or you do not have much time or/and do not want to hike to Machu Picchu there are other hikes. But you can also choose one of the Machu Picchu Tours by train*. You can book the trains by yourself, or through an travel agency in Cusco.
Alternatively and if you are on a low budget, you can also travel to a place nearby Machu Picchu by bus, and hike 12 kilometres from there to the Inca citadel).
»read about How to Get to Machu Picchu.»
Machu Picchu Hikes: alternatives
If the four day Inca trail is booked, but you would still like to hike to Machu Picchu you can choose between:
Machu Picchu Tours
If you book a tour to Machu Picchu by train in a travel agency in Cusco, your trip will include the transfer from your hotel to the train station, train tickets, bus tickets for the bus that drives between Aguas Calientes and the ruins, the Machu Picchu ticket and a guided tour at Machu Picchu. Since you can officially not walk around anymore without a guide, this might be a convenient option that saves you the hassle from buying all the separate tickets (train, bus, entrance) by yourself.
»Read about Machu Picchu Tours.»
Yes, the answer is yes and yes. Because the number of people permitted on the Inca Trail per day has been dramatically reduced by the Peruvian government, it is necessary to make a reservation 5-8 months in advance. Booking in advance is particularly important if you are planning on arriving in Cusco during the peak season (May-September). Only if you are planning on doing the hike in November, December or January, you might be lucky and find an Inca trail Permit a few weeks ahead. Remember the trail is closed in February.
»Read more: How to Book the Inca Trail.»
Can I trek the Inca Trail alone without a travel operator?
Certainly not. Since the 1st of January 2001, you are not allowed to go on the Inca Trail by yourself. You always need to buy the Inca Trail Permit with a licensed tour operator in Cusco between 3 – 8 months ahead. By no means can Inca Trail tickets be purchased at the start of the trail.
How difficult is the Inca Trail?
Although the trek is physically demanding, you do not need technical expertise. What makes the trail so difficult is the altitude as well as the steep ascents and descents. To reach the first pass you need to hike up from around 2000m to more than 4000m in a short time frame. Afterwards, you will descent around 1500m. However, the hike will be less difficult after passing the second pass at 3500m.
It is recommended you are in good health and well acclimatised to the altitude.
»read more about How to Prepare for the Inca Trail.»
Can I hire an extra porter? Should I?
During the Inca Trail, you will have to carry your stuff (such as your backpack, camera, etc.), as well as your sleeping bag and pad. Hiring an extra porter may make the trek more enjoyable since you will walk without all that extra weight. Each porter can carry up to 7 kilos, and you must ask for him to your trek operator when booking the Inca trail (not upon arrival to Cusco).
»Read more about Inca Trail porters.»
If the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu are on your list, you will for sure come to Cusco and spend some in the picturesque former capital of the Incan empire.
What to do in Cusco
There is plenty of things to do in Cusco! Scrolling down the cobblestoned streets, admire the Inca walls, hanging out in San Blas, visiting the beautiful Plazas and many museums, exploring the Cusco markets and enjoying the views over Cusco from the many viewpoints and terraces around town……. You will never be bored in Cusco. One of the best destinations in South-America, Cusco is unique and one of a kind.
If you like to stay longer – or you don’t want to take soo many tours-, you’ll be surprised by Cusco’s hidden gems you can explore by yourself. Off the beaten track, there is a good number of excellent sites within of at a short distance from Cusco.
Once you’ve visited the most important tourist highlights in Cusco, the towns and villages, Cusco is also great for taking cooking classes, yoga classes, learning Spanish in Peru or doing volunteer work in Cusco.
There are many different tours in Cusco.
Do you like to read more about the Cusco City Tour, the Sacred Valley Tour, Tour to Rainbow Mountain?
Depending on the time of the year you will be in Cusco, there are many different cultural festivals you can visit! Examples of those festivals are Semana Santa and Good Friday, the catholic Corpus Christi, the local pilgrimage event “Qoyllur Riti” or snow festival in the Ausangate region, and Virgen del Carmen in Paucartambo. The most famous Festival in Cusco is without a doubt the Festival of the Sun or Inti Raymi. Inti Raymi is held within the city centre of Cusco and in the nearby located ruins of Sacsahuaman on June 24th.