Where to Stay in Cusco (2020 • COOLEST Areas!)

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When you stay in Cusco, you stay on the roof of the world. At 3400 metres above sea level, the gateway to Machu Picchu will leave you breathless, in more ways than one!

But when you’ve got 2 million visitors annually to a town of fewer than 450,000 residents, things can get a bit crowded. That’s why our travel pros have created this useful guide, categorised by interest and budget, to help you find the best place for you to stay.

You need to save your energy for that giant hike to the lost city, not searching for the perfect Peruvian accommodation!

So kick back and read on, intrepid traveller. You’ll soon be feeling your Incan independence, knowing exactly where to stay in Cusco!

 

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Cusco

 

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

Historic Centre
The Centro Historico of Cusco is exactly where it sounds – right in the middle! It encompasses much of the tourist area of Cusco and, as such, is a great place to stay for your first time here.
Places to Visit:
  • Worship the sun at Qorikancha – if it’s shining that day!
  • Walk down Calle Hatunrumiyoc and try to imagine what those stones have seen.
  • See a cultural performance at Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo.

 

Where to Stay in Cusco

Not worried about where you’ll be and just looking for a fit for you? Check out our top picks for Cusco in general!

 

Best Hostel in Cusco – Kokopelli Hostel Cusco

Kokopelli in Cusco is located just a 2 minutes walk from Cusco’s Main Plaza. Their unique 200-year-old house will offer you the Magic of Cusco fusioned with Kokopelli’s Energy. All their efforts are focused in offering all that a traveller needs, and more!

Need to spend some quality time with fellow backpackers? Get your fix by staying at one of these amazing hostels in Cusco!

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Best Airbnb in Cusco – Homely apartment with great view

Super cosy, right in the centre with great attractions around and comes with a great view – if this sound s good to you, check out this Airbnb. The apartment is located in the heart of the historic centre with hotspots in walking distance. From your living room, you’ll have an amazing view of Coricancha. The apartment has every amenity you need and the host is always open for questions.

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Best Hotel in Cusco – Antigua Casona San Blas

Strategically located in the middle of the city, this 3.5-star hotel makes for an ideal base in Cusco. Guests can soak up the outdoors on the terrace or have a beverage at the bar. Staff are available 24 hours a day and can assist with booking tours and tickets

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Cusco’s Neighbourhood Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Cusco

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Historic Centre

  • The Centro Historico of Cusco is exactly where it sounds – right in the middle! It encompasses much of the tourist area of Cusco and, as such, is a great place to stay for your first time here.
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San Cristobal

  • San Cristobal is a small neighbourhood up the hill from the centre of town. It’s adjacent to the Historic Centre and arguably overlaps in parts.
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Plaza de Armas

  • Technically part of the Historic Centre, Plaza de Armas deserves its own mention as an area to stay! The Plaza itself is a square in the middle of the tourist section of town, lined with churches, Inca ruins, bars and restaurants.
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San Blas

  • A short quick walk up the hill from the plaza is the barrio of San Blas. Rapidly gaining attention as the coolest place to live, work and play in Cusco, this is also our top pick for you!
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Lucrepata

  • Right next to San Blas and only a short walk from Plaza de Armas is Lucrepata. This is a relatively unknown area of town, at least to the tourists.
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Located in the Southern Sierras mountain range of Peru, Cusco is a city high up (get it?) on many people’s bucket lists.

It’s best known as the stop-off point for travellers before they embark on a multi-day hike to Machu Picchu, though it has an illustrious history of its own.

This was the capital of the Inca empire from the 13th to the 16th century, when the Spanish conquered the region.
Today, it’s a buzzing historic town, with a lot set up for the tourists who flock here throughout the year.

You can sample wonderful new meats (guinea pig, anyone?), see people go about their lives in the traditional clothing of the area and play with alpaca, all while soaking in the long history of the place.

The neighbourhoods we’ve chosen for you are all grouped quite close, as that’s where the action is. If you’d prefer, you can stay in Wanchaq, an area popular with students and not too far from town. In Marcavalle you’ll find the wealthier crowds, staying near to the classy-sounding Avenida de la Cultura. And in Huancaro, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with the hipsters of the region.

Whatever your style, we’ve got a place in Cusco for you!

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Read our full review!

 

Cusco’s 5 Best Neighbourhoods to Stay in…

From budget to family-friendly, to night-life centred, the neighbourhoods of Cusco can be divided into interest group, but really the lines blur since many areas are good for most options!

 

#1 Historic Centre – Where to Stay in Cusco First Time

The Centro Historico of Cusco is exactly where it sounds – right in the middle!

It encompasses much of the tourist area of Cusco and, as such, is a great place to stay for your first time here.

In the southern end of the neighbourhood is Wanchaq Train Station, one of the main ways in and out of the city. With everything in walking distance, there’s no need for taxis with your luggage as your accommodation will be nearby.

It’s called ‘historic’ because it’s here that you can see the remnants of the Inca empire, with the Spanish influence laid over top.

Head to Calle Hatunrumiyoc to wander beside original Inca walls. You’ll find the Twelve-Angled Stone here too, so perfectly shaped to fit into the surrounding rocks that no mortar has been needed to secure it or the surrounding walls over its centuries of existence.

You’ll find Qorikancha near to the wall too, the Inca Sun Temple. Though it’s not lined entirely in gold, like it once was, you’ll still be dazzled!

At all of these sites, you can enhance your photo opp by asking a traditionally dressed local to stand in with you – for a small fee.

There is a bunch of museums and ancient sites to see in this area, so it may be worth getting some kind of package ticket, both so you can know where to go and to save you some soles.

Historic Centre, Cusco

 

Things to See and Do in Historic Centre:

 – Feast your senses at San Pedro market – how about trying an entire roasted guinea pig? It’s a local speciality!

 – Worship the sun at Qorikancha – if it’s shining that day!

 – Walk down Calle Hatunrumiyoc and try to imagine what those stones have seen.

 – See a cultural performance at Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo.

 – Go back to the market to pick yourself up an Alpaca wool jumper!

 

Best Hostel in Historic Centre – Pariwana Hostel

Pariwana offers top quality affordable accommodation in a superb location. No matter what you get, a share or private room, you can rest assured that your stay here will be one of exceptional comfort (leaving intact your piggy bank)!

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Best Airbnb in Historic Centre – Homely apartment with great view

Super cosy, right in the centre with great attractions around and comes with a great view – if this sound s good to you, check out this Airbnb. The apartment is located in the heart of the historic centre with hotspots in walking distance. From your living room, you’ll have an amazing view of Coricancha. The apartment has every amenity you need and the host is always open for questions.

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Best Hotel in Historic Centre – Casa Choquequirao

The rooms at the 3-star Casa Choquequirao feature an in-room closet and a private bathroom. Cusco’s attractions, including Mercado Central Cusco and Qurikancha, are within easy walking distance of Casa Choquequirao.

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Best Hotel in Historic Centre – Palacio del Inka

Palacio del Inka A Luxury Collection Hotel has been recently refurbished and offers a Turkish steam bath, a sauna and a Jacuzzi. All the modern rooms at this 5-star hotel provide a minibar, plus all the necessities for an enjoyable stay.

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#2 San Cristobal – Where to Stay in Cusco on a Budget

San Cristobal is a small neighbourhood up the hill from the centre of town. It’s adjacent to the Historic Centre and arguably overlaps in parts.

We’ve chosen this as the best place to stay in Cusco on a budget for some of the usual reasons, and one not so usual!
It’s a bit out away from the main square, so naturally, accommodation prices drop as you head out. We’re assuming you’re fit enough for a walk up the hill to your accommodation from Wanchaq Station (about 25 minutes) but if not, a taxi or bus is going to cost you very little!

The views from up here are fantastic, looking right over the town. The vantage point from in front of San Christobal cathedral is a great place to try and spot the lines of the ancient city.

The best reason though is that you’ll be super close to Sacsayhuaman, the most impressive of the Inca ruin sites. Not only that, but if you get up early, it’s free to enter before 7am, avoiding both the crowds that later morning will bring and the cost of the ticket!

Just behind Sacsayhuaman is the planetarium and, trust us, up here with such little light pollution, the skies are a real sight to see!

San Cristobal, Cusco

 

Things to See and Do in San Cristobal:

 – Have fun pronouncing Sacsayhuaman as you wander this ancient site.

 – Visit the stunning Christo Blanco for great views over the city.

 – See clear, unpolluted night skies from the Planetarium.

 – Get a guide to show you around the San Cristobal church.

 – Explore the little known Qolqanpata Historical Park.

 

Best Hostel in San Cristobal – Saqray Hostel

Saqray Hostel features accommodation with a shared lounge and free WiFi. At the hostel, all rooms are equipped with a patio. A continental breakfast is served each morning at the property. Staff at reception can help around the clock with advice on the area.

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Best Airbnb in San Cristobal – Cosy room in shared flat

This Airbnb offers you a great home for only little money. Right in between San Cristobal and San Blas, you’re close to the central area while being able to enjoy the more affordable neighbourhood. The room is clean, cosy and fully belongs to you, while the rest of the apartment will be shared with the kind host. Get even more out of your stay and ask him for recommendations!

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Best Hotel in San Cristobal – El Retablo Cusco

El Retablo is within walking distance of Q’inqu, Sacsayhuaman and Qurikancha. In fine weather, an outdoor terrace provides a nice place to relax. El Retablo has 17 rooms, all of which are filled with a range of facilities to ensure a comfortable stay.

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Best Hotel in San Cristobal – Palacio Manco Capac by Ananay Hotels

Palacio Manco Capac by Ananay Hotels provides 5 rooms, each with free wireless internet access, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. A wide selection of cafés and restaurants are also found in the surrounding area.

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#3 Plaza de Armas – Best Area to Stay in Cusco for Nightlife

Technically part of the Historic Centre, Plaza de Armas deserves its own mention as an area to stay!

The Plaza itself is a square in the middle of the tourist section of town, lined with churches, Inca ruins, bars and restaurants. You’ve got the entire kaleidoscope of Cusco, right there at your doorstep!

It’s a vibrant and bustling place where you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take photos of and with locals, including traditionally clad women with baby llamas, there for that exact purpose.

The multitude of street vendors can get a bit overwhelming at times so just practise saying ‘no, gracias’ then ignoring, and you’ll be fine.

The space itself is beautiful, with the cathedral towering proudly above and the fountain bubbling away as your soundtrack.

Getting to and from the plaza is easy and it’s only about a ten-minute walk from Wanchaq Station.

This is the main place for nightlife in Cusco, with young backpackers from all over the world converging to celebrate their upcoming or recently completed odyssey to Machu Picchu.

La Chupteria for the shots, Paddy’s for the pints, or Mama Africa for the atmosphere? The choice (along with many other options nearby) is up to you!

Plaza de Armas, Cusco

 

Things to See and Do in Plaza de Armas:

 – Head to Paddy’s Irish Pub where you’re guaranteed a great pint and great craic!

 – Visit the beautiful cathedral of Santo Domingo, built in the 16th century.

 – Choose a crudely named shot from the wall at La Chupeteria.

 – Get amongst the other backpackers at the legendary Mama Africa.

 – Be a patriot (whether you’re from the US or not) at the interestingly named Norton Rat’s Tavern!

 

Best Hostel in Plaza de Armas – La Posada del Viajero

La Posada offers a buffet breakfast, WiFi for free, computers with Internet free as well, a kitchen to be used as freely as you want, security cameras and friendly and helpful staff willing to help you in everything you need.

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Best Airbnb in Plaza de Armas – Cute room in great location

Tucked away from the main street, but only half a block away from Plaza de Armas, this Airbnb is amazing for nightlife enthusiats. The private room, which has a hotel-ish vibe, is very clean, serviced and heated (perfect for cold nights). The property even has it’s own coffee shop in the courtyard, which is also an amazing spot to meet other guests and travellers.

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Best Hotel in Plaza de Armas – Tierra Viva Cusco Plaza

Tierra Viva has 20 stylish rooms offering all the necessities to ensure an enjoyable stay. Those staying at Tierra Viva Cusco Plaza Hotel can enjoy a unique dining experience at the on-site restaurant, ideally situated for those who want to stay nearby for a meal.

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Best Hotel in Plaza de Armas – Inkaterra La Casona Relais & Chateaux

Strategically located in the heart of the city, this luxury 5-star hotel makes for an excellent base in Cusco. It is steps from Cathedral of Cusco and is close to the area’s popular attractions and dining spots.

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#4 San Blas – Coolest Place to Stay in Cusco

A short quick walk up the hill from the plaza is the barrio of San Blas. Rapidly gaining attention as the coolest place to live, work and play in Cusco, this is also our top pick for you!

It’s got a distinctly bohemian feel to the area, possibly due to being that slight bit out of the centre (though, again, it’s technically in the Centro Historico).

It’s here you’ll find boutique clothes stores right alongside the cheaper alternatives – so you can buy that nice, well-made alpaca wool garment for your ma, and a few less authentic (and cheaper) items for the siblings!

There’s a great little plaza in the middle of San Blas where artisans sell their wares on Saturdays and it has stalls going throughout the week.

If you keep your eyes open, you might find some vegan-friendly treats at Govinda’s food stall!

Coffee fans, this one’s for you! San Blas is home to a whole swag of places that can make a great cup of Peruvian coffee. For a real tour, you can visit Carmen Alto, where you’ll find four or five grouped together. How about a one-of-a-kind caffeine crawl to determine the greatest!?

San Blas, Cusco

source: Adwo (shutterstock)

 

Things to See and Do in San Blas:

 – Get something tasty to fuel your wanderings at Pantastico bakery.

 – Take your time wondering at Iglesia de San Blas.

 – Head to Carmen Alto to sample ALL the coffee

 – Pick out some souvenirs for the fam at the Andean markets

 – Stretch out sore muscles with some yoga at the Healing Center.

 

Best Hostel in San Blas – La Wak’a Perdida

La Wak’a Perdida, is a beautiful, homey and very quiet property located in the historical centre of Cusco city, very close to the main tourist attractions in town. Comfortable shared dorms or private rooms are available.

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Best Airbnb in San Blas – Hidden mini apartment

This little gem is a very charming but kind of hidden Airbnb, around 3 blocks from Plaza San Blas. You’ll find every amenity you need. The patio entrance is quite cute and worth sitting down with your coffee for a bit. Make use of the free laundry after being out all day! If you don’t want to cook, you can choose from the numerous cafes and restaurants in your area.

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Best Hotel in San Blas – Tandapata Boutique Hotel

The chic Tandapata Boutique Hotel offers easy access to Cusco’s best hot spots. Tandapata treats guests to luggage storage, a ticket service and a 24-hour reception. In fine weather, an outdoor terrace offers a nice place to relax.

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Best Hotel in San Blas – Tika Wasi Casa Boutique

Tika Wasi Casa Boutique’s 24 modern rooms provide a private bathroom, a telephone and a private terrace, plus all the essentials for an enjoyable stay. There are also a number of rooms available for families at this 3-star hotel.

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#5 Lucrepata – Best Neighborhood in Cusco for Families

Right next to San Blas and only a short walk from Plaza de Armas is Lucrepata.

This is a relatively unknown area of town, at least to the tourists.

We’ve picked it as the best neighbourhood in Cusco for families as it is right next to the main centre, without being in it. And the transport links are great!

It’s a five-minute walk from Wanchaq Station, while the main bus station is right on the southern edge of the neighbourhood.

Lucrepata is also home to a bunch of tour agencies, ready to help you book a day trip for the family.

Rainbow Mountain – yep, a mountain coloured like a rainbow – is a good one, and you’ll need a tour as it’s three hours’ drive away. Worth it for that view and those photos though!

Lucrepata is a residential area, home to a lot of expat families, so you and your young ones will feel safe and secure, whatever time you need to leave the house. You’re also a little way away from the rowdy bars and clubs that go until the wee hours in Plaza de Armas and San Blas, so you’ll have a better night’s sleep as well!

Lucrepata, Cusco

 

Things to See and Do in Lucrepata:

 – Book day-trips easily from any one of several tour operators on the nearby streets.

 – Treat yourself with a rub-down at Massage and Healing Center Paramatma Yoga

 – Get out to Rainbow Mountain and marvel at how it can possibly be!

 – Wander over to San Blas for a day of market trawling.

 – Visit the Zoologico UNSAAC centre for rehabilitating wild animals.

 

Best Hostel in Lucrepata – Hospedaje Turistico Recoleta

The Recoleta has had so many rave reviews that we’re not sure what more we can say. With just 36 beds you’re guaranteed a small and friendly atmosphere, perfect for solo travellers looking for new friends or a potential hiking buddy up to Machu Picchu.

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Best Airbnb in Lucrepata – Spacious apartment for families

Nothing can be more annoying than being packed into the same room when travelling with your family. This Airbnb is spacious and accommodates up to 5 people without a problem – no claustrophobic vibe here! The home is super close to numerous restaurants, cafes and markets. Make sure to pack warm clothes since heating is very rare in Cusco and it can get quite chilly during the night.

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Best Hotel in Lucrepata – El Mariscal Cusco

El Mariscal Cusco allows for easy access to Cusco’s popular tourist attractions. Those staying at the property can also take advantage of free wireless internet throughout their stay. Guests of this 3-star hotel can plan sightseeing trips with the assistance of the tour desk.

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Best Hotel in Lucrepata – Casona La Recoleta

The front desk operates 24/7 and the friendly staff can suggest sights to visit and provide other tourist information. The property’s apartments are comfortable and provide a kitchenette that is equipped with a refrigerator. They are also fitted with cable/satellite channels and a telephone.

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Cusco

This city is not only incredibly picturesque and welcoming, but it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its incredible history and cultural richness.

Now, thanks to our guide, you’ll be able to navigate where to stay and what to do in Cusco with ease. You can always wander even further and let us know about any new great finds you make!

Though often used as a gateway, Cusco has a lot to offer in its own right. The heart of the Puma that was the heart of the Inca empire, to stand in these streets is to stand on centuries of history. Unlike in much of the world, this history is still alive and visible today.

Staying in our best overall hotel,  Antigua Casona San Blas, will have you right in the centre of it all, and at a reasonable price!

So that’s it for our travel experts’ ideas on where to stay in Cusco. Remember – Cusco is in the mountains, so rug up warm with one of those alpaca jumpers!

“Does travel bring wisdom? I think there is probably no better place to find out than Peru.”— Anthony Bourdain

While Peru can be very safe, it’s super important to make sure you get travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

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