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Portada / Useful information for travel to Peru / Data for traveler / Build your trip to the magical city of Cusco

Build your trip to the magical city of Cusco

Your visit to the city of Cusco should be incredible; here we help make planning your trip straightforward.
Calle 7 borreguitos en Walking tour Cusco
Main Square of the city of Cusco

The number of visitors coming to the city of Cusco has increased significantly in recent years, especially tourists eager to explore Machu Picchu. This has made it necessary for some services, tickets, and passages to be booked in advance.

Below, we present a summary of the most important points to consider when planning your trip to the city of Cusco:

THE MACHU PICCHU TICKET

The first step for a successful trip to the city of Cusco and visiting the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is purchasing the Machu Picchu ticket. The Cusco Directorate of Culture is the institution responsible for managing and selling tickets for Machu Picchu.

Due to the massive influx of visitors, entry tickets must be reserved at least 3 months in advance to ensure availability on the desired travel day.

Types of Machu Picchu Tickets

There are 5 different tickets for Machu Picchu, as each offers a distinct visit of the Inca citadel. Here we present what they are and their main differences.

Important: Each ticket is unique and non-transferable, so it is crucial to correctly enter the name, surname, and ID number of each visitor.

Machu Picchu Only

  • Entry time: Entry is hourly, from 06:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., as you must select a specific time when purchasing the ticket to avoid any issues.
  • Duration of visit: The visit typically lasts 3 hours.
  • Restrictions: There are no restrictions for the Machu Picchu Only tickets.

Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu

  • Entry time: There are 4 entry times, from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Duration of visit: The visit typically lasts 5 hours, including the ascent and descent of the mountain.
  • Number of visitors: 325 visitors per day (100-75 people per slot)
  • Restrictions: This ticket is only available for those over 12 years of age.

Machu Picchu + Machu Picchu Mountain

  • Entry time: There are 2 entry times, at 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
  • Duration of visit: The visit typically lasts 5 hours, including the ascent and descent of the mountain.
  • Number of visitors: 250 visitors per day (125 people per slot)
  • Restrictions: This ticket has no restrictions.

Machu Picchu + Inca Bridge

  • Entry time: Entry times are from 07:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Duration of visit: The visit typically lasts 3 hours.
  • Restrictions: This ticket has no restrictions.

Machu Picchu + Huchuy Picchu

  • Entry time: There are 5 entry times, at 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
  • Duration of visit: The visit typically lasts 3 hours, including the ascent and descent of the mountain.
  • Number of visitors: 425 visitors per day (100-75 people per slot)
  • Restrictions: This ticket has no restrictions.
Inca city of Machu Picchu
Inca city of Machu Picchu

THE TRAIN TICKET FROM OLLANTAYTAMBO TO AGUAS CALIENTES

After purchasing the Machu Picchu ticket, the next step is to acquire the train tickets for the journey from the town of Ollantaytambo or the city of Cusco to Aguas Calientes.

There are various types of train services and schedules, but generally, if you want to make reservations from one day to the next, especially during high season, prices can vary considerably. It is advisable to purchase these tickets well in advance.

The railway companies on the Ollantaytambo - Aguas Calientes route are as follows:

PERURAIL

The types of train services offered on the Cusco - Machu Picchu route are:

Hiram Bingham

The Hiram Bingham is distinguished by its blue and gold colors, its warm and welcoming interiors featuring elegant upholstery. This service includes four cars: two dining cars, a bar car with an observatory, and a kitchen car.

Vistadome

Surrounded entirely by glass, with carriages featuring large panoramic windows that offer unparalleled scenic views and are perfect for taking spectacular photographs.

Expedition

The Expedition features carriages fully covered by panoramic windows so that travelers can immerse themselves in the beauty of the natural landscape, and they will be informed about the most significant points along this ancient route.

INCA RAIL

The company Inca Rail obtained permission to start operations on this route in 2009. The types of train services offered on the route to Machu Picchu are:

Presidential Service

Designed for passengers looking for privacy, luxury, and maximum comfort, the car also features a beautiful onboard bar. Fully paneled in wood, with warm lighting, panoramic windows, and luxury finishes.

First Class

This service features spacious and comfortable seats, which have been carefully designed to ensure the total comfort of passengers. Additionally, all seats have tables at the front and panoramic windows to enjoy the beautiful landscape.

Executive Service

They have comfortable seats, which have been carefully designed. Additionally, all seats have tables at the front and panoramic windows to enjoy the beautiful landscape.

Tourist Service

They have comfortable seats, which have been carefully designed to ensure maximum comfort. Additionally, all seats have tables at the front and panoramic windows to enjoy the beautiful landscape.

Train to Machu Picchu. Source: CuscoPeru.com
Train to Machu Picchu

BOOK A HOTEL IN CUSCO

The city of Cusco has developed an extensive range of hotels, meaning you are unlikely to face difficulties in finding available accommodation. During your trip to the city of Cusco, you should be aware that although there is a wide choice of hotels, during the high season (May to August) hotel rooms can be scarce, so it is advisable to book at least one month in advance.

In the high season, prices tend to rise, not just for hotels but also for all services offered in Cusco and Aguas Calientes.

GETTING TO CUSCO: BY LAND OR AIR

To visit Machu Picchu, you must first get to the city of Cusco, either by air or by land. Here is a brief summary:

By Land

The journey from Lima to the city of Cusco by land takes approximately 20 hours, which can vary if traveling during the rainy season, sometimes extending to 22 or 24 hours. The route is operated by the following companies:

  • Civa
  • Cruz del Sur
  • Oltursa
  • Palomino
  • Transzela

Each company manages its own schedules, however, they are similar in some respects:

  • Frequency: Daily
  • Duration of the journey: Approximately 21 hours.
  • Type: Direct
  • Prices: Prices vary according to season and demand.

By Air

Air services between Cusco and Lima offer an efficient connection between two key destinations in Peru. With a flight duration of approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on the airline, find the best option according to your needs. The route is operated by the following airlines:

  • Jestmart
  • Latam Airlines
  • Sky Airline

Each airline manages its own schedules, however, they are similar in some respects:

  • Frequency: Daily
  • Duration of the journey: Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Type: Direct
  • Prices: Prices vary according to season and demand.

THE LOST CITY OF THE INCAS: MACHU PICCHU

The citadel of Machu Picchu is one of the 7 Wonders of the World, built by the Inca Pachacutec, this incredible archaeological center is the main tourist attraction in Peru.

The famous Inca city is located at 2,400 meters above sea level, almost 1,000 meters below the city of Cusco, which is at 3,300 meters above sea level.

This marvel of Inca architecture is the main tourist attraction for all visitors to Peru and a must-visit destination if you are planning a trip to the city of Cusco.

The Huayna Picchu or Wayna Picchu Mountain

This mountain is the one that appears in the background in almost all photographs of Machu Picchu and is famous for the challenging climb to the summit. The ascent to the top of the mountain takes approximately an hour and a half. The path is through stone stairs and along the edge of a four-hundred-meter abyss down to the Urubamba River located at its base.

Because it is considered one of the top five short hikes in the world, tickets are in high demand and should be purchased at least six months in advance.

The Machu Picchu Mountain

The Machu Picchu Mountain is also located next to the Inca citadel but offers a better view of the surrounding area. The climb to this mountain is more user-friendly and less demanding than the climb to Huayna Picchu Mountain and takes about two hours.

The hike to the summit of this mountain is an option when tickets to Huayna Picchu are sold out.

Inca city of Machu Picchu. Source: CuscoPeru.com
Machu Picchu, Cusco

CUSCO AND ITS COUNTLESS CHARMS

The city of Cusco is characterized by an urban architecture that intertwines, on one hand, the Inca influence, with its stone walls, staircases, and other lithic constructions, and on the other, the Spanish influence, with its balconies, houses with large entry gates, and double-pitched roofs, which you must visit on your trip to the Inca capital.

Churches

The city of Cusco has at least 12 churches in its urban area, many of which were built over 400 years ago. Among the most representative are:

  • The Cathedral, located in the main square. The cathedral represents the grandeur of God over humanity, or at least that was what its architects intended to reflect in its design. With its 30 meters of height, the cathedral is an impressive construction built over an ancient Inca palace.
  • The Church of the Company of Jesus, also located in the main square, this church impresses both for its design and for the invaluable amount of history and art that its walls contain.
  • The Church of San Cristóbal, located on top of a hill, this church was also built over an ancient Inca palace and offers a privileged view of the entire city of Cusco.
  • The Church of San Blas, this church is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in the city of Cusco. It is believed to have been inaugurated in 1544 and is located in the neighborhood of the same name, a 10-minute walk from the Main Square of Cusco.

Museums

Many of the museums in the city of Cusco were once owned by the most important Spanish authorities living at that time or were once Inca palaces. Among the most representative museums are:

  • Casa Cabrera, located in the small Nazarenas square, was formerly an Amaru Cata or 'House of Wisdom' Inca, on which this building was constructed. Currently, it houses the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art.
  • The Casa Garcilazo, which belonged at one time to the Concha Iberico family and was acquired in 1967 by the Peruvian government, due to the valuable art collection it housed.
  • The Inka Museum, this place belonged to the Inca ruler Huáscar during the Incan period. However, it was Francisco Alderete who built the mansion that is today the museum. This museum has a collection of Inca objects that tell the history of the Inca up to the 20th century.

Inca Palaces

Although partially destroyed by the Spaniards, it is still possible to appreciate parts of the original structure of some Inca palaces. The most well-known are:

  • The Qoricancha, located in the center of Cusco, on El Sol Avenue, is an ancient Inca palace dedicated to the worship of the virgins. The Qoricancha, a Quechua word meaning "gold courtyard," was covered in gold before being looted by the Spaniards.
  • Tambomachay, a lithic complex located 20 minutes by bus from the city of Cusco. This palace was dedicated to the worship of water and also served as a natural spa for the Inca royalty.
  • Q'enqo, this Inca temple dedicated to the worship of the moon is located in the area of the Sacsayhuamán archaeological park, and stands out for its peculiar shape, which resembles a labyrinth.
Temple of Qoricancha, Cusco. Source: CuscoPeru.com
Temple of Qoricancha, Cusco

THE SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS

The Sacred Valley of the Incas is located an hour's drive from the city of Cusco and has countless attractions, both natural and archaeological.

Pisac

The town of Pisac, located in the Sacred Valley, hosts a popular craft market in the area. In the upper part of the town, there are Inca terraces offering an impressive view of the entire valley.

The archaeological site of Pisac is considered one of the finest archaeological complexes in Peru. This place was not only an Inca citadel but also an important religious center.

Ollantaytambo

The archaeological site was an Inca fortress and observation center, as it is strategically located at the intersection of three valleys. In the streets of the town of Ollantaytambo, one can find Inca walls, aqueducts, as well as terraces and cultivation terraces.

Moray

The Incas built Moray probably with the intention of experimenting with their crops, as this construction, which resembles a coliseum, has recorded significant temperature differences between one step and another, so it is believed that here they tested and developed new types of seeds.

Urubamba

An example of seed experimentation during the Inca period can be seen in the town of Urubamba, where one can find the giant Cusco corn, unique in the world for the size of its grains and its pleasant taste.

Chinchero

This town is famous for its textiles and textile industry. At its typical market, there is an innumerable variety of textiles, wools, and factory designs. Its archaeological site has terraces, staircases, cupboards, and channels, all dedicated to agriculture.

Pisac, Sacred Valley. Source: CuscoPeru.com
Pisac, Sacred Valley