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Everything you need to know about the Weather in Cusco

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Everything you need to know about the Weather in Cusco

“The weather of the Andes is like the women of the Andes: changeable and unpredictable.” – Popular Cusco saying  

 

Many of your adventures during your Peru tour will start from Cusco, the ancient city of the Incas and previous capital of Peru. For many travelers, it’s the most impressive city in Peru. From there, you will explore places such as the Rainbow Mountains, Humantay Lake, the Sacred Valley and most importantly – Machu Picchu. If you’re looking for a tour that incorporates Cusco’s highlights, our Best of Cusco in 4 Days tour is the right choice.

As Cusco is located at 3400 m (11,155 ft.) in the Andean mountains, weather conditions might change rapidly. Therefore, this is a very important factor to consider, especially if you plan on doing trekking tours.

Based on all the dry and rainy seasons we have witnessed in Cusco, this article gives you some recommendations regarding when you will have the best weather in Cusco so you can make the most out of your trip.

Table of contents:

 

Weather in Cusco

As previously mentioned, the weather in the Andean mountains can change pretty quickly. Obviously, the magnitude of the change depends on the month/season you’re visiting.

Generally speaking though, this means that sometimes you might be wearing a shirt during the day (and you’ll be warm) but as soon as the sun goes down, the temperatures drop considerably. At night, when you’re ready to check out one of the restaurants in Cusco, you can easily wear a winter jacket, a hat and gloves.

view from top main square cusco

We highly recommend booking an accommodation close to Plaza de Armas, as walking can get difficult at over 11,150 ft. Also, this way you’ll be close to restaurants, bars and museums.  

 

Therefore it is important to choose the month for your visit in Cusco wisely and to keep an eye on the respective rainy & dry seasons.

Besides that you have to get used to the altitude in Cusco, as this is no joke and stay at least 24-48 hours in the city before you start any tour! Furthermore you should get some altitude pills (f.e. Soroche) and drink a lot of coca tea and water to feel fine.  

 

Cusco Weather: Rainy & Dry Season

Rainy Season in Cusco 

The months from November – March are considered “rainy season” and during this time there will be a lot of rain. It can happen that it rains every day during these months, which makes it no fun to explore Cusco’s fascinating sites. 

Therefore you should try to avoid the months January and February, as these are considered the ones with the largest amount of precipitation

weather in cusco diagram of average rainfall

In case you are flexible with taking vacations, then make sure to visit Peru between April/May – October. 

 

During the rainy season in Cusco, the days are still pretty warm and you can expect average temperatures ranging from 17°C – 23°C and at night from 5°C- 7°C. Even though the temperatures are higher, it isn’t a popular season for tourists due to the rainfalls. 

 

Note for tours:

Keep in mind that treks, such as the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek, do not take place in February due to maintenance work. 

 

What to wear in rainy season: 

  • Multiple layers of clothes 
  • A raincoat
  • Zipper jackets 
  • Multifunctional clothes
  • Water-resistant hiking shoes 
  • Warm socks (hiking socks) 
  • Sun protection (cap, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses)  

 

Dry Season in Cusco 

The dry season is from April – October and during this time the weather conditions are amazing, but you should also consider that the city will get very crowded. Especially from June to September. In these months, you will face sunny and warm days, which makes your time even more unforgettable. 

However, at night the temperatures drop drastically to 0°C – 4°C, so don’t forget to take enough warm clothes with you. Cusco’s nights are very cold!

cusco weather diagram average temperature

Packing clothes for warm and cold temperatures is crucial when coming to Cusco. The weather can change rather fast and you should be prepared for that.

 

Furthermore, should you keep in mind to book your hotels, tours, flights etc. for this time a couple weeks or months in advance as the demand is peaking during this time.

 

Note for tours:

In case you want to hike Huayna Picchu or do the Inca Trail in the high season (best time end of April – all of May) you should make a reservation at least 2 months and 4-6 months in advance, respectively, in order to make sure that you get tickets. 

 

What to wear in dry season:

  • Multiple layers of clothes 
  • Zipper jackets
  • Trekking pants/shorts
  • Multifunctional clothes
  • Hiking socks
  • Sun protection (cap, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses)  

 

Best Time to Visit Cusco 

So when is the best time and weather to visit Cusco? In the end, it depends on your personal preferences and also on when you are able to make your unforgettable Peru trip. 

In case you want to travel to Cusco in the rainy season, you should avoid the months of January and February as weather conditions tend to be the worst of the entire year and some treks are closed due to the maintenance. Therefore you should aim to visit in the months before or after that. 

five travelers in front of cloudy machu picchu

The weather at Machu Picchu can be very different depending on when you visit. In the dry season, the probability of rain and clouds is low.

 

The benefit of these months is that the city won’t be so crowded and the prices for hotels and flights tend to be lower. However, in the end it’s important to keep in mind that due to the rain some places potentially won’t be as you’d like them to be, such as the Rainbow Mountains (there can be snow at the top). 

The worst that could happen is that tours are getting cancelled due to bad weather. On the contrary, the landscapes will be green (f.e. the Sacred Valley) as the rain nourishes Cusco’s nature.

cusco weather diagram average sunshine hours

Remember in Cusco that you’ll be closer to the sun than normally. That’s why you should always make sure to use sunscreen.

 

The best months to visit Cusco regarding the weather are May to October, as you will have the most daily sun hours and it hardly rains. As mentioned before, June to August/September are the busiest months because of stunning weather and international vacations. 

 

Our favorite month regarding weather and the amount of tourists isMay! The rainy season finished shortly before, so the landscapes are lush and green. You will enjoy a lot of sun, hardly any rain and, most importantly, places like Machu Picchu or the Rainbow Mountains won’t be as crowded as in other months of the high season.

 

Quick Overview of Rainy vs. Dry Season in Cusco

comparison rainy and dry season

 

Regardless of the Weather in Cusco, it’s always an Adventure!

In case you are flexible with your time, you should definitely go to Cusco in the dry season (April – October).

With the sunny and warm weather the tours are not only more fun, but you will also enjoy the overall experience a lot more. Seeing sunsets in Cusco and slendering around in its narrow streets is just a lot better than sitting in a café waiting for the rain to stop. 

On the other hand, if you can make your Peru trip only in the rainy season (November – March), you should go in the months before January and February or at the end of March. Even if you get to experience more rain, you’ll still be able to enjoy your time in Cusco.

couple in ponchos at machu picchu

If you want to buy a poncho like this in Cusco, you can find them at the San Pedro market.

 

All in all, the weather in the Andean highlands is pretty unpredictable and it can change daily/hourly from rain to sun, cold to warm etc. Therefore, it’s a great option to plan in one buffer day that gives you some flexibility in case the weather isn’t as planned and also to get used to the altitude. 

Apart from the climate in Cusco, if you are interested in finding out more about the weather at Machu Picchu or if you have any additional questions, just send us a mail or let us know in the comments below!

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