Cusco Peru: Location, Elevation, Weather and Things to Do

Unesco world heritage site


The city of Cusco (3400 masl.) stands at the head of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, this is the prime destination for the vast majority of Peru’s visitors. To see Cusco and the surrounding area properly you’ll need at least 5 days. This would allow you to visit the city, enjoy its nightlife, explore its attractions, and start your trip to Machu Picchu.

Weather in Cusco

In Cusco there are two well-defined seasons: the dry season from April to October, characterized by sunny days, cool nights and no rain (the ideal time to visit), and the rainy season from November to March, where rainfall is abundant (generally above 1,000 mm). Some general characteristics of Andean climates are dry air, the sunshine, which decreases in summer, and the temperature differences between sun and shade, night and day, morning and evening.

Climate info:

Season Weather T min (C) T max (C)
Apr-Oct Dry -2 20
Nov-Mar Rainy 5 24

Note that during the dry season temperature changes dramatically. Very cold at nights and hot during the days. Consider taking with you warm clothes, especially in the early mornings and evenings.


Coming to Cusco is very safe in general. Airports, train stations and tourist sports are always patrolled by the police. However you should always be vigilant. Machu Picchu Explorer has prepared some advises so you can totally enjoy your stay:

  • Look after your personal items all the time.
  • Stay vigilant when you take cash from an ATM.
  • Ask the Hotel to keep your important items in a safe.
  • Make several copies of your passport.
  • Keep with you a list of phone numbers you might need (tour agency, hotel, police, etc.).
  • Note Tourist Police number in Cuzco: 084-249665/221961.

How to get to Cusco

The best way to reach Cusco is by plane (1h10 min). If you’re arriving from Lima you’ll probably do so.
Taking a bus is also possible, but long and tiring (22 hrs. Of travel). On the contrary, by plane you can see beautiful landscapes coming from the coastline to the highlands

Companies that have regular flights Lima – Cusco:

  • Latam
  • Viva Air
  • Sky

Consider booking your flight to Cusco a couple of months before. You'll get interesting rates in advance. Also make sure to read your ticket conditions, most of them charge an extra fee for additional services.

If coming by bus, make sure to come with a reliable company. We recommend traveling with "Cruz del sur" or "Oltursa". You'll find conections not just from Lima, but also from most of cities of Peru.

What to do in Cusco

The city of Cusco is a highlight in Peru. Here we show you the "must" that all visitors should see during their stay.

Getting Around

The center of Cusco is easy to explore on foot. However keep in mind that walking up at this altitude might leave you out of breath, so you’ll need to take your time upon your arrival, rest, not physical effort and hydration is our best advice for you!
If you feel tired and your hotel is not so close, you can easily take a cab, they’re everywhere and charge a small amount of Money. 5 soles (1.50 USD) is an average rate but of course, it depends on distance. Don’t hesitate to negotiate the rate with the driver, it's a common practice in Cusco.

San Blas District

Also known as Tococachi district in Inca times, this traditional neighborhood is a must see in Cusco city. San Blas is so popular by the large number of shops and galleries that sell local paintings, carvings and ceramics. It’s also a nice place to eat and have a drink, with lots of choice. Machu Picchu Explorer highly recommend you visit the Temple of San Blas, so popular because it houses one of the most famous pieces of wood carving in the Americas, a beautiful pulpit carved from a single cedar trunk.

huayna picchu stairs
The San Pedro Market

Local markets are a big tradition in Peru. You'll find local small markets almost in every city or town.
Consider walking through the San Pedro market and see how locals shop on their daily lives. Try to interact with the sellers, most of them women called mamitas who will be more than happy to explain you more details about their products (fresh fruits and vegetabbles, andean cereals, handicraft, etc).
Some basic spanish might be very useful.

huayna picchu stairs
The Temple of the Sun (Qoricancha)

A fascinating sight in Cusco. Considered as the most important temple in Cusco, it was built to honor the god sun. According to many authors, all the stone walls were covered by gold and silver.

The temple of the Sun was the most important temple in the Inca time. When the spanish arrived, they were so astonished by the imposing architecture it has. That's why they decided to build a catholic Church (Santo Domingo) to make the indians forget their beliefs and adopt the christianity.
According to ancient documents, the temple was built to honor all the elements of the universe (the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, the Rainbow, etc).
Inside, you'll be able to see a fine stone work which were probably decorated with gold and silver.

Outside the temple, a nice garden shows some stones still "resting" to be used in the construction. Every June 24th, the famous feast "Inti Raymi" (the feast of the sun) starts in the Qoricancha. People from different countries arrive specially to participate of this feast which is the most important of Cusco.

huayna picchu stairs
The Cathedral of Cusco

The cathedral of Cusco, built in the 17th century, forms a part of a three church complex; the cathedral itself, Iglesia Jesus Maria and el Triunfo.

The cathedral itself was built on the site of the palace of Inca Wiracocha. Stones from Sacsayhuaman were used on its construction after the architect, Juan Miguel de meramendi, ordered the destruction of the Inca fortress. Although Spanish constructers supervised its construction, it took nearly 100 years to be built.

The church of Triunfo. Considered the first Christian church in Cusco, its name comes from the Spanish victory over an indigenous rebellion in 1536. Spaniards claimed to have witnessed two miracles in their hour of need. They were visited by the virgin of descent who led to the Spanish victory. It was not only the triumph of the Spaniards over the Incas, but also of the catholic faith over the indigenous religion.

Church of Jesus and Mary. Located on the left side of the Cathedral, la iglesia de Jesus y Maria shows colorful murals which have been partially restored and also a renovated gilded main altar.

huayna picchu stairs

There are some magnificent Inca Walls in the ruined ceremonial center of Sacsayhuaman, on a hill on the northern part of Cusco. The Inca walls are hugely impressive, weighting up to 130 tons are fitted together with absolute perfection.

Sacsayhuaman was thought for centuries to be a fortress, but the layout and architecture suggest a great sanctuary. Broad steps lead to the altar from either side. Up the hill is an ancient Quarry, the Rodadero, now used by children as a rock slide.

You can visit Sacsayhuaman on your own, only 1 km away from Cusco city. You can either walk up (30 min from city center) or even take a cab that drives you for about 10 soles (USD$ 3.5). We recommend you taking our tour Machu Picchu Classic, which includes this site and others, don’t forget that you can customize your trip with with us, just contact us.

huayna picchu stairs

Travel Tips to Cusco

  • Consider to stay a couple of days in Cusco to fully visit it.

  • Upon your arrival, we recommend to rest, avoid physical effort and have some coca tea to get acclimatized.

  • Try to book a hotel located in the city center. I'll be easy to have access to all attractions as well as it's safer.

  • Depending on your date visit, wear proper clothing (rainy season or dry season).

  • The dowtown of Cusco isn't that big. You'll be able to explore the ciy on foot.

  • Many restaurants offer a great local gastronomy. Feel free to explore it.

  • Drivers sometimes aren't that patient. So look out every time you cross the streets.

Frequent Travel Questions

What is the best time to visit Cusco?

Consider visiting Cusco during the dry season, that is, from April to September. You'll have sunny and warm days.

What is the elevation of Cusco?

Cusco is located at 3400 msnm (11154 ft)

Is it safe to visit Cusco?

The short answer is yes. The city guarantees a safe experience while visiting Cusco. Neverthless, we always encourage you to look out at your personal items and travel smart.

How long should I stay in Cusco?

The average time to visit Cusco is around 2-3 days. Specially if you're planning to visit other attractions such as the Rainbow Mountain that requires to be fully acclimatized.

Where can we eat in Cusco?

We encourage you to explore all options available. The specialities are the Quinoa, the potatoes, the guinea pig and Alpaca. Vegetarian options are also available in most of the restaurants.

Is Cusco expensive?

Cusco offers different options for different budgets. From family hostels to 5-star hotels. You'll be sure to find the best option for your money and have a great experience.

Is Cusco open during the Pandemic?

Yes. Don't hesitate to visit Cusco. We respect all protocols in order to preserve your health and our partners'.

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