Sitting high in a mountain valley at 3,400 meters above sea level, Cusco provides an enchanting introduction to the world of the Andes. Once the capital of the mighty Inca empire, the city today is the gateway to Machu Picchu.
Exquisite churches, fantastic museums, and narrow cobbled streets in the historic center merit at least a few days’ worth of exploration. Add to that stunning Inca ruins both within the city and in the surrounding hills and you’ve got a recipe for travel magic. Cultural festivals throughout the year, including Señor de los Temblores and Inti Raymi, highlight the region’s mixed Spanish-indigenous heritage and illustrate the continual renewal of the community’s long-held Andean traditions.
As one of Peru’s most popular destinations, Cusco boasts a range of hotels to suit every budget. The following are our preferred hotels in Cusco, selected for their outstanding service, ideal location, and excellent amenities.
Restaurant Internet Laundry Service Gift Shop Room Service Gym Spa
JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
Corner of Calle Ruinas 432 and San Agustin, Cusco
JW Marriott Hotel in Cusco is excellently situated on the corner of Calle Ruinas and San Agustin, with easy access to the city’s main attractions, best restaurants, and great shopping. Built upon a former Inca temple and Spanish convent, this 5-star Cusco accommodation goes above and beyond in creating a hotel environment to match the historical setting. Common areas and guest rooms provide equal parts comfort and elegance as well as a full range of excellent services and amenities, including 2 restaurants, a bar, fitness center, foreign currency exchange service, and a museum exhibiting artifacts excavated during the construction of the hotel. In short, this is the perfect place to stay at either end of a trip to Machu Picchu.
Restaurant Internet Laundry Service Room Service Bar
Calle Siete Cuartones 306
El Mercado is located a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas. The upper floors look out over the tiled roofs and surrounding hills of Cusco, while the gorgeous interior courtyard offers a peaceful oasis away from the city bustle. This excellent 4-star hotel offers bright and airy rooms and comfortable common areas that entice guests to sit and relax. Standard room amenities include a safety box, satellite TV, and marble bathrooms, with an option to upgrade to an extra-luxurious suite. Start your morning with breakfast, featuring made-to-order eggs and any combination of fresh fruit juice. After a day of touring, “La Taberna” prepares delicious cocktails to help you unwind and a selection of market fresh dishes to fuel the next day’s adventures.
Restaurant Internet Laundry Service Room Service
Casa San Blas Boutique
Tocuyeros 566, San Blas, Cusco
Located in the historic artisan quarter of San Blas, this boutique hotel is privately situated, but still close to restaurants, bars, artisan workshops, and galleries. Only two and a half blocks from the central Plaza de Armas, the Hotel Casa San Blas is near all the main attractions in Cusco, but provides the peace and tranquility guests look forward to after a long day exploring Inca ruins. With gorgeous wooden furnishings, a pretty terrace area with umbrellas, potted plants, and colorful artwork, you will feel at home in this charming hotel. Guestrooms boast handmade colonial furniture and Andean weavings as well as lush bedding for a good night’s rest. Enjoy a delicious dinner or cocktail in the downstairs restaurant before indulging in a luxurious massage in your room. The staff at this excellent-value Cusco hotel will work overtime to make your stay is a pleasant one.
Internet Laundry Service
Cuesta de San Blas 541, Cusco
Located in the heart of the bohemian San Blas district, the excellent Hostal Amaru offers comfortable accommodation for a great value. All rooms are simple yet cozy, and the hotel features all the services necessary for a comfortable stay. Wireless Internet, computers, a safe deposit box, and complimentary coca tea are available. Only two blocks from Cusco’s main square, this is the perfect option for all travelers on a budget. Single, double, and triple rooms are distributed over a beautifully kept courtyard.
See all Cusco Hotels
Traveling to Peru in the peak season (June, July, August) requires lots of planning several months in advance. This includes booking hotels in Cusco and Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu), flights to/from Cusco, train tickets to/from Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu tickets (limited to 400 and sell out weeks in advance) and Inca Trail permits if applicable.
Altitude sickness is a concern for travelers arriving to Cusco (at 3,400 meters or 11,150 feet) directly from lower elevations. Minor symptoms include headache, fatigue, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Acclimation varies widely by individual. Most people are able to adjust within a day or two. Severe reactions to the altitude are rare and hard to predict. Before you travel, ask your doctor about medications to prevent altitude sickness. During your visit to Cusco, keep hydrated, avoid heavy meals, and try the local remedy, coca leaf tea. If you’re planning to hike to higher elevations, plan to spend 2-3 days acclimating in Cusco before beginning the trek.
Cusco is considered one of the safest cities in Peru. Standard travel precautions apply: don’t leave your bags and belongings unattended and take extra care in crowded places. Leave jewelry and excess cash in the safety box at your hotel.
How To Get Around
Walking is the best way to get around the historic center of Cusco. You can walk from one side of the historic center to the other within 15-20 minutes. Around the Plaza de Armas you’ll find Cusco’s top attractions, restaurants, and nightlife options. The area around the main plaza is mostly flat, but the streets become steeply inclined when you walk toward the San Blas, San Cristobal, or Santa Ana neighborhoods.
You can find money exchange offices and ATMs throughout the historic center and on Av. El Sol. (Ask your bank about international banking fees.) For payments in USD or to exchange USD or Euros to Soles, you’ll need crisp bills with no blemishes of any kind. Bills with tiny rips, marks, and other defects will likely be rejected.
Cusco city is generally warm during the day and cold at night. Bring sunblock and sunglasses for day tours, and don’t forget your warm clothes for the evenings. A thermal undershirt paired with a fleece, windproof jacket, and long pants is usually sufficient for Cusco’s 5C/40F nights.
For the rainy season, packing the right clothes to stay (relatively) dry can make the difference between an enjoyable experience and a wet, miserable one. Pack long pants made of synthetic quick drying fabric (not jeans), a rain poncho to go over your head and your backpack, and an umbrella to use during day tours.
Some legs of your Cusco trip may require you to leave your heavy luggage behind, for example to take the train to Machu Picchu (passengers are limited to 1 bag or backpack weighing 5kg/11lbs) or for a multi-day trek. This is generally not a problem as most hotels provide luggage storage for guests at no additional charge.