Cusco Tourist Information and Tourism

(Cusco / Cuzco, Peru)

Photo of the Plaza de ArmasOne of the most enticing parts of southern Peru, Cusco (Cuzco / Qosq'o) really does have it all when it comes to tourism, and once served as the capital of the actual Inca Empire (Tahuantinsuyo), until the early 16th century. Cusco is close to so many Peruvian sights and attractions, including the Andes mountains, the Sacred Valley (Urubamba Valley) and also the world-famous lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. Do note that both the relatively high altitude of Cusco and Machu Picchu may take a little getting used to, so don't be in a rush to sightsee.

Cusco is always filled with international tourists, and the central Plaza de Armas is surrounded by hotels, shops, tourist bureaux and eateries, catering to the every whim of its ever-increasing tourism industry, which has grown dramatically over the past 25 years. However, the cobblestone streets of Cusco are still present and offer a taste of its past, with many now forming the actual foundations of more modern buildings and colonial mansions.

Often referred to as South America's archaeological capital and the gateway to Machu Picchu, Cusco is easy to reach by plane. Those flying into the nearby Alejandro Velasco Astete Airport (Aeropuerto Alejandro Velasco Astete) should look out for the iPeru tourist information outlet within the Main Hall. There is a further iPeru office in Cusco city centre, on the Avenida El Sol, within the Galerias Turisticas, while the Oficina de Información al Turista on the Santa Catalina Ancha is also a good place to head when you first arrive in the city.

Further plaza view, showing the Jesus Church

Cusco Tourist Information and Tourism: Top Sights

Although for most tourists staying in Cusco, Machu Picchu really is their first port of call, many also take full advantage of the magnificent surrounding scenery, enjoying the countless hiking trails around areas such as Ausangate, Huancacalle and Vilcabamba. Those in need of an adrenaline fix may even like to consider white-water rafting along the Urubamba River , or even skiing down an Andean summit. A little tamer is the Barrio de San Blas neighbourhood of Cusco, where the cobbled streets offer an insight into the city's strong Inca heritage, following the same original layout. The remains of the Qorikancha Temple also deserve a look, as do the ruins of Q'enqo (Quenko). More information about Cusco Tourist Attractions.

Close-up picture of the city's famous Jesus ChurchWithin the city itself, many prominent landmarks surround the main public squares, such as the Plaza de Armas, the Plaza de Regocijo and the Plaza San Francisco, with churches often being close to hand. On the Plaza de Armas in particular, the city's cathedral and Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus are to be found, originating from the 16th and 17th centuries respectively. Nearby and on the Plaza de Santo Domingo, the Iglesia de Santo Domingo is an especially important church, being built upon the foundations of the Inca Korikancha Temple. Also in Cusco is the Archbishop's Palace (Palacio del Arzobispado), the Phuyupatamarca complex and the Saqsaywaman fortress. More information about Cusco Landmarks and Monuments.

Plaza viewTraces of the Inca Empire are clearly visible all over Cusco and add a certain magic and air of excitement to this very tourist friendly city. Many tourists wishing to learn more about the Inca culture find the most interesting information and exhibits within the Museo Inka, the Museo Historico Regional and the Museo del Sitio de Qorikancha. There is even a fairly extensive selection of art galleries located within Cusco, with impressive paintings exhibited at the Museo de Arte Popular, capturing the full beauty of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. More information about Cusco Museums and Cusco Art Galleries.

Picture of the nearby Inca ruins of Machu PicchuCusco enjoys a relatively central setting in south Peru and as such, is a good place to stay if you are planning day trips and longer excursions. The city of Ayacucho is especially close and ranks as a leading Peruvian tourist destination, being filled with historic colonial architecture and museums. Arequipa, Juliaca and Puno are all considerably further away and lie to the south, with the latter two cities being particularly close to Lake Titicaca. Nearer to Cusco, the village of Chinchero features magnificent mountain views, while the Inca sites of Choquequirau, Moray, Ollantaytambo, Pisac and Salinas all warrant investigation. More information about Cusco Attractions Nearby.

More Cusco Information / Fast Facts and Orientation