Quick Itinerary Guide: Cusco, Peru

Cusco is located in the Andes mountains of Peru, the former capital of the Inca Empire. It sits at 11,152′ above sea level and is a beautiful and culturally rich destination with plenty to do in and outside the city. Below you’ll find family-friendly itinerary suggestions for a trip to Cusco, Peru.

Before you dive into the guide, you may want to first read Understanding a Quick Itinerary Guide. This will provide you with details on our trip planning philosophy, why it’s a quick guide, and what resources we use to plan. It also details what we mean by family-friendly, and further explains each of the sections included in a Quick Itinerary Guide.

Our trip details

  • Length of stay: 2 days, 2 nights
  • Accommodation: Ramada Costa Del Sol Cusco – beautifully restored Spanish Colonial mansion, great location
  • Type of trip: family travel with kids (6 months old & 2.5 years old), part of larger round-the-world 2-month trip
  • Month visited: July
  • How we got in/out: fly in, fly out
  • How we got around: walking and Uber
  • Additional places visited on the same trip: Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu, Lima

Family-Friendly Itinerary Ideas for Cusco, Peru

  • Explore Cusco’s historic center – a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once the Inca Empire’s capital
    • Take it slow to acclimate to the altitude change
    • Plaza de Armas – formerly the Great Incan Square used for various ceremonies and important events, today a busy modern city square
    • Cusco Cathedral (Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin) – home of Catholic Church in Cusco built in 1560-1654, right on Plaza de Armas
    • Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús) – Spanish Baroque style church, right on Plaza de Armas
    • Twelve-angled stone – Incan masonry marvel
  • Overlook at San Cristobal Church – go up the bell tower for a higher viewpoint
  • Qorikancha (Coricancha) – an Incan archaeological site historically an important temple that the Spanish constructed a church (Convent of Santo Domingo) on top of, the site itself is NOT included in the Cusco Tourist Ticket, but the small museum is
  • Saqsaywaman (Sacsayhuaman) – an Incan archaeological site, formerly a fortress, a great lookout over the city, Cusco Tourist Ticket required
  • Awana Kancha – a living museum where you can visit and feed llamas, alpacas and vicuna, see weaving demonstrations and shop for native goods, about a 30-minute drive outside of Cusco
  • Pisac – an Incan archaeological site historically an important citadel, about a 45-minute drive outside of Cusco, Cusco Tourist Ticket required

Food Ideas for Cusco, Peru

  • Foods/drinks to try: huatia (meats, potatoes, corn cooked in a traditional Peruvian underground earth oven), choclo (large kernel Peruvian corn), chicharron (fried pork belly), pollo a la brasa (Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken), alpaca, cuy (guinea pig), tamales, Inca Kola (popular local soft drink), coca tea (can help with altitude adjustment), fresh fruit juice
  • Los Toldos Chicken – casual, local restaurant known for pollo a la brasa
  • Inka grill– creative traditional Peruvian and international food right on Plaza de Armas
  • Qespi– upscale traditional Peruvian food in JW Marriott Cusco

Top Tips for Cusco, Peru

  • Cusco sits at 11,200ft (3,400 m), which is higher than Machu Picchu and higher than many of the other towns in the Sacred Valley. Take it slow when you first arrive to help yourself better acclimate to the altitude change.
  • Bring layers and some cold weather accessories, even in summer the mornings and evenings can be very chilly. 
  • There are countless tour providers in Cusco selling a wide variety of tours in and around Cusco. There are so many things to see not far from Cusco (Pisac, Moray, Mara, Rainbow Mountain, Humantay Lake). Compare your options before deciding. 
  • For the ruins sites, you cannot purchase separate single tickets, you need to purchase a Cusco Tourist Ticket.

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  1. Peru is high on my list of places to travel. After reading your post, I definitely want to include Cusco on my list of places to see in Peru. Thanks for providing some great tips!

    1. Peru is amazing, so much more than we anticipated. Definitely spend a good amount of time in Cusco, the Sacred Valley and beyond if you have the time.

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