Situated at an altitude of 11,155 feet (3,400 meters), Cusco is one of the most charming Peruvian cities. From vibrant markets to impressive cathedrals, the city has a lot to offer to any adventure seeker.
Cusco is also a popular base for those traveling on the southern Peru route, and for good reason. In just a couple of hours, you can start exploring breathtaking Inca architecture and picture-perfect scenery.
Joining a Cusco trip with an experienced guide is a great way to explore some of Peru’s most majestic ruins, peek into local communities, and discover the best hiking routes.
Let’s take a look at some of the top multi-day tours from Cusco.
The city of Cusco itself also has a lot of beautiful sites to offer, the cathedral at the main square being one of them.
The Best of Cusco in 2 Days
Cusco – also known as the former Inca capital – is a highly sought-after destination in South America. Filled with historic colonial architecture, museums, and cafes, there are plenty of things to do in Cusco. In order to be ready for the trip, check out our Cusco travel guide: how to prepare for your Peru trip.
For those ready to explore the surrounding area, though, taking a 2-day Cusco tour is an excellent way to pack in a mini-adventure. The tour features a visit to the beautiful Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, guides you through the must-visit places, and shows you hidden spots where you can take crowd-free pictures. We recommend our post about why combining Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu is a must before planning your tours.
While both destinations are full-day trips, they are well worth the effort. Here’s what you need to know.
The salt mines of Maras (on the left) is one of the most popular spots in the Sacred Valley.
The Sacred Valley, located only 40 minutes from the city of Cusco, is best known for its sweeping views of the Urubamba mountains, archeological sites, and culture-rich villages.
Visiting the Pisac Market, exploring Awanakancha, and strolling through the village of Ollantaytambo are just a few examples of the many exciting things to see in the Sacred Valley.
Our two-day Cusco trip includes a classic tour of the Valley, taking you to some of the most impressive sights in the area, such as the Moray ruins and the Salt Mines of Maras. Along with breathtaking views, you’ll get to learn fascinating Inca facts and experience the Andean lifestyle. If you want to know what to do and see there, check out our 2023 Sacred Valley Guide!
Machu Picchu is not just the most popular tourist attraction in Peru but in all of South America.
No traveler’s Peruvian adventure is complete without a visit to Machu Picchu.
The Cusco 2-day trip includes a private tour to Machu Picchu with a skilled guide. This allows you plenty of time to explore and get to know the site. You can also choose to kick-start your tour from Cusco or Aguas Calientes.
To ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit, there are a few things to know before visiting Machu Picchu. One of the most important things to remember is to have all your travel documents with you, including your passport and your transportation and entrance tickets.
In addition, it’s also sensible to book your tickets well in advance, take the right equipment (e.g. a regular-sized backpack, sturdy shoes, and a hat), and follow the fixed route.
The Best of Cusco in 3 Days
Cusco is one of the most popular gateways to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. That said, there are plenty of other sights around the city that deserve a visit. If you have a few more days to spend in town, consider the Cusco 3-day tour.
The tour includes three of the top day trips from Cusco:
- The Sacred Valley
- Machu Picchu
- Rainbow Mountain
At each of these sites, our guides will show you the best spots for photos without the crowds in the back.
The Rainbow Mountain is a rock formation in the Andes mountain range located at approximately 17,000 feet (5,200 meters) above sea level. The most iconic image is its peak striped in a sea of colors.
For many years, reaching the area required a days-long hike. Today, however, travelers can visit Rainbow Mountain by car or a (tour) bus and embark on a relatively short hike to the site.
With the 3-day Cusco trip, you can choose to visit Vinicunca or Palccoyo.
By far, the peak of Vinicunca is the most visited Rainbow Mountain site. To reach the colorful peak, you’ll need to go on a hike that takes around 1,5 – 2 hours to complete. It’s worth noting that because of its popularity, Vinicunca tends to get very crowded.
Reaching Palccoyo takes around 45 to 60 minutes and is a great alternative to Vinicunca. Overall, there are fewer tourists, you get to see three different rainbow mountains, and you can walk with an alpaca or a llama.
The Best of Cusco in 4 Days
Staying in Cusco for a while longer? Joining a 4-day Cusco tour is a great opportunity to make the most of your stay and further explore the incredible sites just outside the city.
The tour will take you to four destinations:
- The Sacred Valley
- Machu Picchu
- Rainbow Mountain
- Humantay Lake
Some must-visit spots in Cusco: Maras salt mines, Humantay Lake, Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain Vinicunca (from left to right).
Nestled between the Humantay Mountain and the Salkantay Peak, the Humantay Lake is a scenic mountain lagoon located about 75 miles (120 km) from Cusco. Thought to be a sacred area to the Incas, the turquoise lake stands in the midst of snow-capped mountain peaks and is a must-visit for anyone seeking out natural beauty.
As part of our Cusco 4-day trip, you get to reach the lake at a pace adapted to your needs, whether you’re a beginner or a pro-hiker.
Although the trekking tour to the Humantay Lake requires you to leave early, you get to be one of the first ones to get to the site and enjoy the breathtaking views before the crowds arrive.
Keep in mind that while the difficulty of the hike is considered moderate, the lake is situated at around 13,779 feet (4,200m) above sea level. This means that – before starting the trek as part of your 4-day tour – it’s important to be properly acclimatized. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to visit lower-altitude sites first (i.e. the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu).
A bird’s-eye view of Cusco’s main square, the Plaza de Armas.
Ready For Your Cusco Adventure?
Cusco is one of the many Peruvian cities steeped in age-old Inca traditions, and, without a doubt, a must-visit to include in your South America itinerary.
Although the city has plenty of historical sights to entertain any type of traveler, heading off to its surrounding nature and archeological sites is bound to be an unforgettable experience.
Looking to explore the enchanting blend of Cusco’s indigenous roots and colonial past at your own pace? Here are some of the best things to see and do in Cusco without a guide.