Cusco Weather

15°C

Local time Cusco

Currency

S/.

Getting around Cusco

Public transport

The historic centre of Cusco is compact, so the best way of exploring it is on foot. The complicated bus network is cheap and fast - if you can work out where it's going. Most buses are unregulated and simply chalk their destinations in the window. More useful are the large number of colectivos that run up and down Avenida Sol every couple of minutes, charging a flat fare and stopping wherever you want them to. All you have to do is yell 'baja', meaning ‘let me off’.

Taxis

You can flag down taxis on most streets, particularly around Plaza de Armas, Avenida El Sol and the central market. Taxis belonging to an official company have a roof light and company phone number and are safer than unregulated cabs, which have occasionally been linked to tourist muggings.

It is safest to order a taxi through your hotel. You can also hire a taxi for a day to visit sites around Cusco, in which case you should pay the driver half the fare at the start of the service and half at the end.

Driving

Although driving in Cusco is calm compared with Lima, Peruvian roads will test your nerves as locals tend to speed, brake suddenly and overtake at will. Streets can be slim in places, so watch those wing mirrors, and although there’s much less traffic outside the city, those behind the wheel should to be aware of tight mountainous roads.

Car hire

You won't need a car in Cusco itself. Should you wish to explore further afield, a decent selection of vehicles are available to hire from Europcar, which has a downtown outlet at Calle Saphy 639 (tel: +51 84 262 655; www.europcar.com). You must be over 21 to drive a hire car and daily rates vary.

Bicycle hire

Loreto Tours (tel: +51 84 228 264; www.loretotours.com), Calle del Medio 111, rents bicycles and motorbikes by the day.

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Featured Hotels

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Inkaterra La Casona

Cusco's first luxury boutique hotel is located in what is probably Cusco's first Spanish construction. The colonial courtyard is surrounded by 11 sumptuous suites furnished with antiques and all mod cons imaginable. Brilliantly located for the arty San Blas district and Plaza de Armas, Inkaterra La Casona is a quiet oasis of serenity with an eco conscience.

Palacio del Inka

Just moments from the Plaza de Armas, the Palacio del Inka combines utmost luxury with an Incan and Spanish twist. Expect framed dark ochre (a nod to Andean spirits), gold and burgundy furnishings that reflect the conquistador influence and original artworks. There are 203 wonderfully fitted rooms to choose from and all boast handcrafted furniture, huge beds and historical décor, along with fast internet, LED TVs and big bathtubs. The Inti Raymi Restaurant downstairs plates up remarkable Peruvian fine dining and there is a tranquil spa onsite as well.

Hotel Monasterio

Located two blocks from the Plaza de Armas, this is the best hotel in Cusco. A sensitive conversion of the 16th-century Seminary of San Antonio Abad, this former monastery has retained its original infrastructure and colonial décor but is now a 5-star international hotel boasting a gilded chapel, superb fine dining and oxygen-enriched air in every room. The therapy suite is also ideal for those returning from a long Machu Picchu trek.

Hotel Costa del Sol Picoaga

Formerly the colonial home of the17th-century Spanish noble, the Marqués de Picoaga, this top-end hotel in Cusco close to the heart of the city makes the most of its handsome colonnaded courtyard, beautiful stone columns and elegant archways. Service is excellent and the hotel has its own bar and high-quality restaurant.

Mama Simona

Quite frankly the coolest hostel in town, Mama Simona (named after one of the mountains in the Scared Valley range) is a clean, kitschy hostel that offers private rooms and dormitories. With varnished wooden floors, comfy beds and artworks adorning the cream walls, those that stay here could quite as easily be bedding down in a New York apartment. Free Wi-Fi and a decent breakfast buffet come as standard with the odd live music night providing the ideal opportunity to make friends too.

Hostal Suecia II

This friendly, budget Cusco hotel option is set in a colonial-style building located two blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Its 16 rooms are set around an attractive interior courtyard and are basic but spacious, clean and comfortable. A safe, sociable, economical option, this hostel has a family atmosphere and is particularly popular with backpackers, especially as Wi-Fi is now available. Ask for a room away from the street. No breakfast.