Before organizing your itinerary, you will want to know what the top places to visit in Cusco are so you can make sure you and your camera visit the right spots.
Snow-capped mountains, beautiful valleys, Inca ruins, friendly locals and cute alpacas – doesn’t that sound amazing?
If you think about Cusco, you most likely think of Machu Picchu first, but you should be aware of all the other beautiful destinations this city offers. That’s why the choice of what places to visit in Cusco isn’t that easy.
It obviously depends on how much time you have and how much money you want to spend, but we made sure to come up with a short list of places worth visiting.
These top places to visit in Cusco have proven to be rockstars on Instagram, as their photos all have earned tons of likes. To see some of the most amazing shots, make sure to check out our Instagram @exploorperu!
However, there is one winner that is the most popular tourist attraction on the app. Can you guess which one? Read on to find out…
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List of the top places to visit in Cusco:
10) Cristo Blanco
Cristo Blanco offers panoramic views across Cusco’s main square, Plaza de Armas.
The Cristo Blanco is a large statue (8m/ 26 feet) of Jesus Christ watching over Cusco. The statue was built in 1945 by Francisco Olazo Allende, a local artist, who also designed the Santa Clara Archway.
The white Jesus Christ looks similar to the Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro (Brasil) – but it is a smaller version.
Cristo Blanco is located next to Saqsayhuaman and from this spot you will have an amazing view over the entire city of Cusco.
Both are very worth visiting when you are in Cusco. Especially at night you will be fascinated by the magical view over the city!
9) Plaza de Armas
Make sure that you are staying close to Plaza de Armas, as there are restaurants, bars and cafes.
The Plaza de Armas (main square) of Cusco is the central nucleus of the city, where you will be able to take one of your best pictures in Cusco.
There are many different celebrations and parades taking place here, such as Easter celebration, Inti Raymi and new years eve.Besides that you are able to find many different restaurants, cafes, banks and much more there.
We recommend you to go to one of the cafes that have a balcony facing the Plaza de Armas so you can enjoy this beautiful view.
8) San Blas Neighborhood
In San Blas you will find plenty of cute boutiques and great coffee spots to enjoy Peru’s coffee culture.
San Blas is number 8 on the list of the top 10 places to visit in Cusco. You will find this neighborhood within 5 minutes walking distance from the Plaza de Armas. It is one of the most beautiful areas in Cusco and it is known as the artisan’s quarter and also for its narrow streets.
In fact, it is one of the most picturesque sites in all of Cusco which is why it is so famous among influencers visiting Cusco. When we visited it with our friends from Salt in Our Hair, they absolutely loved it (and took some amazing shots as you can see above).
But San Blas is not only famous for it’s narrow streets and artistic neighborhood. You’ll find many nice cafes, restaurants or bars and also some beautiful viewpoints.
7) Huayna Picchu
Avoid hiking Huayna Picchu, if you are afraid of heights or if you are not in a good physical shape.
Huayna Picchu (2693 m/ 8835 ft) offers an incredible view of the ruins at Machu Picchu and also of Machu Picchu mountain.
The hike to Huayna Picchu takes around 1.5-2 h each way. The path is steep and narrow so make sure you don’t have a problem with that before reserving your ticket.Therefore, we only recommend it if you aren’t afraid of heights and if you are in a good physical condition.
Apart from that, make sure to reserve your tickets 6-8 weeks in advance! Therefore, you can be one of the 400 daily travelers that will be allowed to climb the mountain.
If you have the chance to make the hike to Huayna Picchu, don’t miss it! We at Exploor think that it is an amazing experience.
Moray will enchant you with the view on the circular terraces and snow-capped mountains in the background.
The Moray ruins near Cusco is an incredible site in Cusco’s Sacred Valley of the Incas. As you see, the mighty circular Inca terraces are really impressive and look just like a Roman amphitheater.
Due to their design, depth and orientation towards wind and sun there can be a large temperature difference of up to 15 C° between the top and the bottom parts of the terraces…crazy, right?
This difference allowed the Incas to plant different crops on each level and to test what grows best.
5) Rainbow Mountain Palccoyo
At Palccoyo you’ll see three beautiful rainbow mountains close to each other. It’s just the perfect scenery for your instagrammable photo.
The Rainbow Mountain Palccoyo is located at around 4900 m (16.076 ft), 3.5 hours south of Cusco. It is one of our favorite tours as the 45-minute hike is a very easy one.During the hike, we often have an alpaca or llama accompany us and we get astonishing views of three different rainbow mountains.
The best of all is that it’s still not that famous in comparison to the Vinicunca rainbow mountain. That’s why with our tour you will be the first ones to arrive without having other tourists around you.
As said, you don’t need to be an athlete to complete this trek but you should definitely be acclimated in order to avoid altitude sickness.
You can take amazing photos with all three rainbow mountains in the background.
4) Salt Mines of Maras
Today you’ll find over 6,000 salt pans at Maras!
The salt mines of Maras is another highlight in Cusco. The ponds have been in use since pre-Inca times by evaporating salt water from a water stream under the earth. This process has been performed for over 500 years.
This incredible place is one of many sites which we will visit during our Sacred Valley day tour. At the end of the guided tour you can buy delicious chocolate with salt and different kinds of salts.
We recommend our post about why combining Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu is a must before planning your tours.
3) Humantay Lake
Humantay Lake has one of the most impressive views in all of Peru.
After a 90-120 min hike, you can be one of the first travelers to visit the beautiful Humantay Lake on over 4.200m (13,779 feet) with us.
If you are worried about the altitude or whether you can make it to the top, you will have the option to rent a horse for around S/ 70 ($20-25).
Once you made it to the crystal-clear lake, you will have around 60 minutes to take photos, walk around and to just enjoy the crystal-clear lake. Our guide will make sure to show you some amazing spots where most tourists don’t go.
With some luck, you will be able to see the Salkantay mountain (6.271 m / 20,574 feet), one of the highest mountains in Cusco.
If you opt for the Salkantay trail, you will also see the Humantay lake on your first day. Don’t miss that unique place where you will see a breathtaking lake surrounded by enormous snow-capped mountains.
2) Rainbow Mountain Vinicunca + Red Valley
Get used to the altitude before you start your hiking tours to places such as Palccoyo or Vinicunca.
The Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain is one of the most famous Instagram spots ever. Often, the photos are heavily edited in order to make the mountain shine even more in its rainbow colored dress. Edited or not, the place is definitely very special.
In the recent years, Vinicunca has gained a lot of popularity and meanwhile there are 1000-2000 tourists visiting per day. The hike takes about 90-120 min to the top and is more difficult than the hike to the alternative Rainbow Mountain Palccoyo.
For more info, check out our comparison of the two rainbow mountains.
Instead of other agencies that only hike up to the viewpoint of the red valley, we hike all the way through it.
The beauty about it is that there are almost no other tourists around and it’s an entirely red landscape with alpacas and llamas around.
1) Machu Picchu
Don’t forget to buy your tickets a couple months in advance. Therefore you will be able to enter Machu Picchu at your preferred time.
The legendary Machu Picchu is the most instagrammable spot in Peru and number one in the list of the top places to visit in Cusco and part of all of our Peru tours. This doesn’t come at a surprise, as it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of South America.
But first of all, how will you get to this magical place?
Normally, you will go from Cusco /Ollantaytambo by bus and from there you take the train to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town).
From Aguas Calientes you can take a shuttle bus to the entrance of Machu Picchu or you can hike up. If you opt for a guided tour of Machu Picchu, it takes around 2-2.5 hours to visit the most important spots.
Machu Picchu posts always receive the most amount of likes and comments, especially if you are able to do them with your partner in a romantic pose.
Once in Cusco, make sure to visit the San Pedro Market, that features countless stands that sell traditional food, exotic spice, fruit juices, souvenirs and more.
Ready to explore the top places to visit in Cusco?
You can find a large variety of popular places to visit in Cusco and Machu Picchu is by far not just the most popular but also the most instagrammable place!
So make sure to always have your phone or your camera ready to capture the most important moments.
Did we miss one of your most instagrammable spots in Cusco? Let us know in the comments! 🙂 For more travel inspiration follow us on Instagram @exploorperu!