Since the beautiful city of Cusco is the gateway to Machu Picchu, you always arrive in Cusco first. From there, you can travel to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and/or to Machu Picchu.
Before continuing your travels in Peru (or back to your home country), you will come back to Cusco first.
Here we have listed some practical information for your stay in Cusco.
If you arrive in Cusco by plane, you will arrive at Cusco airport Alejandro Velasco Astete. The airport is located 5 kilometres from the city centre of Cusco, and it is a 20-minute drive by car (or tax). The opening hours are from 5.00 to 22.00.
There is not a very good bus connection between Cusco airport and the city centre. Therefore, we recommend you take a taxi. You can easily find many of them. Within the baggage hall of the airport, you can go to any of the two counters offering taxi services to the city centre of Cusco.
If you try to get the drive a bit cheaper, walk out of the airport and hire any of the taxi drivers there. Since taxis have no meters, you have to negotiate a bit. Don’t pay more than any amount between $ 5 and $ 8 US. If you want to save even more money, walk 300 meters away from the airport. Here you can even get taxis for only $ 3.
Note: many hotels in Cusco offer a free airport pickup, make sure to check this with your hotel before arrival.
Note: Flights to and from Cusco are often delayed because of bad weather. The airport is small, and due to its location it has some (visibility) limitations. Take this into account when planning your trip!
If you arrive in Cusco by bus, you will arrive at the busstation which is located within the city.
The Tourist office of iPeru (the National Tourism Information Service) has two offices in Cusco: you find iPeru at the airport, but also on the Plaza de Armas, in the so-called Portal de Panes.
The DIRECTUR Cuzco is the Regional Tourism office, located in Calle Mantas. If you are walking from the Plaza de Armas towards Plaza San Francisco, you will pass Avenida El Sol. You will find it on the left-hand side, situated on the left of a shoe shop and a supermarket.
Both tourism offices in Cusco provide helpful information, especially with any common inquiries. If you need “off the beaten track” type of information, you can try asking here – but depending on who is working that day will depend on how relevant the information might be.
If you stay for a long time in Peru, we recommend buying a Peruvian SIM card. Two very popular telecommunications providers are Claro and Movistar. Employees of these companies will advise you and help you insert your new card. If you want to buy a SIM card, don’t forget to take your passport with you.
If you are in Cusco for a few days only and you have a hotel in the city centre, you do not have to deal with taxis or the Cusco public transport system at all. Cusco is a relatively small city, and everything will be at walking distance. However, if you stay longer, or if you have rented an Airbnb or other accommodation a bit further out of town, the following information might be helpful.
Cusco has an extensive and inexpensive public transport system that consists of a combination of taxi’s and combi’s (minivans). A ride in a taxi in the centre of town will cost you just S/5.00, or S/6.00 after 10 pm. If you choose to go by combi expect to pay S/0.80. You can hail these from any of the frequently placed ‘paraderos’ (bus stops), and they will let you off at any of the stops along the route. The name of the route for the combi will be displayed on the front of the vehicle; you can also ask the doorman if they pass by the place that you wish to go.
Usually taxis park almost everywhere in the city center of Cusco and you can take any taxi during any time of the day. You should be more careful during night. Don’t take one of the “unofficial” taxis when you are alone. Official taxis normally have a sign on their roof. In Cusco, you should not pay more than 5 - 6 Soles for a distance up to three kilometers (during the day). If you are good at negotiating, you can get a better price if your destination is nearby (4 Soles). Don’t forget to take coins with you because taxi drivers might not have enough change.
If you need to go to the train station or airport in the early morning, you should let your hotel call a taxi for you or call one on your own to ensure that you arrive on time. It is also always safer to take an official taxi that is working for a company.
You can exchange cash at any of the banks on Avenida El Sol in Cusco or in a “Casa de Cambio”. You you can find several of these around the Plaza de Armas or in Avenida El Sol.
All ATM machines on Avenida El Sol generally give cash advances for all major credit cards, but check for your logo first!
Try to get small bills such as S/.10 or S/.20. It can be difficult to get change from most shops, restaurants and bars. If you have US dollars, be sure the bills are impeccable, without rips or tears, otherwise they will not be accepted anywhere.
The city of Cusco offers different hostels and hotels, from low-budget and low-quality to luxurious and expensive accommodations. If you do not want to spend much money, you will be able to find something cheap that might not be too displeasing ($ 7 per bed per night). But if you would like to have more comfort and if you are willing to spend more money, there are really good hotels in Cusco that charge you between $ 50 and $ 150 (or more) per double room average. Those who opt for something more luxurious can book a room in one of the 5 star hotels in Cusco that charge between $ 150 and $ 400 per room per night.
If you travel to Cusco in high season (June or July), we recommend to book a hotel in advance. However, during the other months, you can find a hostel or hotel on site if you think that the lower priced hotels will offer you a better price. However, this does not always apply. Sometimes you get better deals on the internet or through agencies. Remember that typical backpacker hostels usually do not take bookings.