Fly- Fly into Aeropuerto Internacional Alejandro Velasco Astete. There are many daily flights from Lima varying in price.
Bus- A bus from Lima will take around 22 hours. If you’re doing the loop from Lima then take an overnight bus from Puno or Arequipa. Compare companies HERE.
Once here you should be able to get everywhere by foot, but cabs are very cheap and should run you about 5 soles per ride.
Wild Rover– This place is like a small town. Pass through the gates and you’ve got reception, a travel agency, the hostel itself, and the bar. This is definitely a party hostel but the bar is separated with soundproof walls to ensure guests can still get a good night sleep if they have early treks or simply don’t feel like going out. The bar serves food and has an awesome vibe. Come on Monday nights for pub trivia!
Price- S/. 29 PEN ($8.95 USD) for a 20 bed mixed dorm (+ more options for smaller dorms)
Magic Packers– Nice beds- but top bunk is hard to climb into. Decent Wi-Fi, but not in the rooms. Clean facilities, regular breakfast and nice staff. I was only there one night so can’t comment too much on the vibe.
Overall- 8.5/10 Price- S/.25 PEN ($USD $7.71) Average for Cusco
Others- Loki, Pirwa and Kokopelli are also supposed to be very good.
Airbnb– If you’re here for a long period of time you may consider an Airbnb for some privacy. Most are a little outside the center but it’s pretty nice living away from the touristy stuff and women constantly yelling “MASAJE?!” at you. My Airbnb host was amazing! Julia was so welcoming and just a badass lady. I lived with her and one other guest for a month and had a few weeks to myself when she went on vacation. Her apartment is a short 30 minute walk from the center and is very comfortable. Check out her listing HERE. It’s a private room but not the entire apartment usually.
Eating: To be perfectly honest, I didn’t eat out much here. But if you’re going to do so- go to Green Point Café. It’s vegan food, but don’t let that deter you. I’ve brought many a meat eater here and they’ve said it’s the best food they’ve eaten in Peru. Go for their daily lunch menu del dia every day from noon-2:00 pm. You’ll get a salad bar, soup, choice between two entrees, desert and a juice and all for just S/. 15 soles! Get there early because it gets busy and will fill up. They’re open all day, though, so head there for dinner or breakfast as well!
Price- between S/. 15-40 off menu
Limbus Restobar– Grab a drink here for sunset (or any time of day) and enjoy one of the best views of the city! It has craft beer, fun cocktails, a full menu (starting at 6:30 pm) and a really nice vibe.
Pisco Museum– It’s a bit pricey and not really a museum, but for one DELICIOUS pisco drink it’s worth the trip.
Doing: Everyone comes for Machu Picchu, but you’ll stay because you’ll realize how much there is to do here! Visit the Sacred Valley, Puerto Maldonado, Rainbow Mountain, and explore Cusco itself. You may want to give yourself a few days to acclimatize to the altitude as everyone handles it differently.
Check out more detailed information on Machu Picchu HERE.
More on the Sacred Valley HERE.
More on Puerto Maldonado HERE.
Rainbow Mountain- This place looks epic. I didn’t end up going for various reasons, but I hear great things! It’s a long day with lots of traveling and lots of altitude (over 5,000m /16,404 ft), but the photos look beautiful. I walked around talking to a few different agencies and the best seemed to be with Peru Coca Travel, where you get to go to the Red Valley and three lagunas as well which other tours don’t offer. It’s possible to climb this without a tour by renting a car or hiring a taxi, but since it’s a 3 hour drive there and back and with a suggested 3 am start time it’s not ideal. The taxi is expensive and the driving is a lot.
In Cusco- Take the free walking tour, walk around San Pedro market and definitely climb up to Cristo Blanco for an awesome view of the city and then head over to Sacsayhuaman ruins just a few minutes away on foot.
If you’ve got some time, stay a while and volunteer at CusiMaki. It’s a great after school program where you get to spend the afternoon hanging out with some of the coolest kids in Peru. They all come from poor families and some have very sad stories but they all show up with a smile on their faces every day and an incredible attitude! It’s a very humbling and rewarding experience! I’m trying to track down their contact info, I signed up for it through Wiracocha Spanish School.
Staying: At least a week, if not more. You could easily spend a few weeks here!
Going: Many head back to Lima to fly out of Peru. Be careful if you have connecting international flights out of Lima, as the flights are very often delayed- especially during rainy season. Others who are headed south head towards Puno/Bolivia and cross over to Copacabana. You can also bus south Arequipa or onto Chile.