Cusco in 5 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Cusco is one of the most important cities in Peru. Here I tell you everything you can do in this destination to discover it in a 5-day tour.

Matías Rodríguez

Matías Rodríguez

8 min read

Cusco in 5 Days: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Cuzco, Perú |© Diego Solorzano

If you are planning to visit Peru and want to spend 5 days in Cusco, the best alternative for you to get the most out of your tour is to organize a detailed itinerary for each of the days, since this destination is one of the largest in the country and has many attractions to offer. With an intense and scheduled tour that I propose you will be able to see and do some of the best activities in Cusco.

Day 1: Visit the essentials of Cusco's historic center

Cusco Main Square|©onas mer
Cusco Main Square|©onas mer

For the first day of the Cusco tour I propose you to visit the main sites of the historic center such as the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral, the Central Market and the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, which are in the area near the old part of the city.

Visit the Main Square of Cusco

The Plaza de Armas is one of the most emblematic places in Cusco and is located in the heart of the historic center. It is also known as the Plaza Mayor and is surrounded by colonial buildings and the majestic Cathedral of Cusco, which you can visit inside by booking tickets on Hellotickets.

In the center of the square is a water fountain, which is a popular place to take pictures and the meeting point for the best Cusco tours.

In addition to the Cusco Cathedral, the square also has other nearby points of interest such as the Temple of the Society of Jesus and the Church of La Merced, making it a site that combines architectural beauty with local life.

Book tickets to the Cathedral of Cusco

See the Stone of the 12 Angles

The Stone of the 12 Angles is one of the most striking structures in Cusco. Located in the San Blas neighborhood, it is a carved granite rock found on the wall of a colonial house and is famous for having 12 perfectly carved angles.

The precision in the construction of the stone is striking and is believed to have been carved by the Incas in the 15th century. This stone demonstrates the skill and precision of the Incas in the construction of architectural structures.

Lunch at the Central Market of San Pedro

The Central Market of San Pedro is one of the best places to live a local experience in Cusco. There you can learn about the Andean culture and, being located in the heart of the city, you can get there in a few minutes walk.

You can find a variety of products, from fresh fruits and vegetables to traditional handicrafts and textiles, making it an ideal place to buy authentic and good quality souvenirs. The atmosphere of the market is vibrant and colorful, with friendly vendors and locals coming to do their daily shopping.

You can also sample typical specialties such as the traditional purple corn drink and typical food such as ceviche and chicharrón. In general, this market is an ideal place to take a break between excursions, to have lunch and to take some of the best gastronomic tours and cooking classes in Cusco.

Get to know the Pre-Columbian Art Museum

The Pre-Columbian Art Museum is one of the best museums in Cusco and is also one of the most important of its kind in Latin America, with a very important collection of pre-Hispanic art and archaeological artifacts of Andean cultures.

It is located in a restored colonial mansion in the historic center, right next to the Plaza de Armas. And the museum's collection includes more than 4,500 pieces dating from 2000 B.C. to the arrival of the Spanish in Peru in the 16th century.

The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art offers a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the pre-Columbian Andean peoples. There you will see a variety of artifacts, including textiles, ceramics, jewelry, sculptures and tools. Highlights include the famous gold and silver collection of the Moche culture and the ceramic collection of the Nazca culture.

Book tickets to Cusco Cathedral

Day 2: Visit Ollantaytambo and tour Machu Picchu

Ollantaytambo|©Jorge Chávez Mendoza
Ollantaytambo|©Jorge Chávez Mendoza

Machu Picchu is possibly the main attraction of Cusco, so on the second day, after the day of acclimatization to the altitude, I propose to know this sacred site of the Inca culture including a tour of Ollantaytambo, which is one of the closest towns to the archaeological site.

Know the Sacred Valley of Ollantaytambo

The Sacred Valley of Ollantaytambo is a popular tourist destination in Peru due to its rich history and natural beauty. This site is located 60 kilometers north of the city of Cusco and extends from Pisac to Ollantaytambo.

It is known for its Inca ruins, which include the archaeological complex of Ollantaytambo, but also for the fortress that was built during the rule of Pachacutec and was used for both military and religious purposes.

The Sacred Valley is also known for its impressive natural scenery, which includes mountains, rivers and valleys. The Urubamba River flows through the valley and there are many towns and villages to visit in the area. In addition, you can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking and river rafting, as well as using the village as a base for touring Machu Picchu.

Tour Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the most impressive and famous archaeological sites in the world. Located high on a mountain in the Peruvian Andes, this complex of Inca ruins has fascinated visitors since its discovery in 1911. Touring Machu Picchu is a unique experience that will transport you back in time.

The road to Machu Picchu begins in the city of Cusco. From there, you can take a bus to Ollantaytambo and then a scenic train to the town of Aguas Calientes, which is located at the foot of the mountain. From Aguas Calientes there are two options: take a bus or walk up the famous Inca Trail.

You can book tickets to Machu Picchu and walk it on your own or join a guided tour to learn more about the history of the ruins. Highlights include the main square, the Temple of the Sun, the Intihuatana and the House of the Inca. There are also hiking trails through the mountains for a panoramic view of the site.

Book tickets for Machu Picchu

Day 3: Explore the archaeological site of Moray and discover the salt mines of Maras

Salt mines of Maras|©Doug Craig Travel Photography
Salt mines of Maras|©Doug Craig Travel Photography

For this day I propose a tour that also delves into the Inca culture, especially for you to know the Moray and the Salineras de Maras, two very important places to understand the engineering and technology of the Inca civilization.

Explore the archaeological site of Moray

Moray is a fascinating archaeological site formed by a set of circular terraces built on the side of a mountain that were probably used as an agricultural laboratory by the ancient Incas. Each terrace has a different height level and the temperature in the center of each is several degrees higher than at the edges, which allowed the Incas to cultivate different types of plants in one place.

The site offers panoramic views of the surrounding Peruvian Andes, making it a must-see for history and nature lovers. You can reach Moray on a full-day excursion from Cusco or by booking a quad biking adventure tour of Moray.

In addition, the archaeological site of Moray is surrounded by farmland and small villages of local people, offering a unique opportunity to experience Andean culture first-hand. You can also hike along the trails leading to the fields and cross paths with peasants working on their land.

Book a quad excursion in Moray

Discover the salt mines of Maras

The salt mines of Maras are one of the most unique sites in Cusco, which also serve to demonstrate the technological knowledge of the Incas.

This site is located on the outskirts of the city and is a set of more than 3000 terraced salt pits dating back to pre-Inca times that you can visit by booking a quad tour.

In addition to the beautiful panoramic view of the salt pans, you can also learn about the production process and how the wells are filled with salt water from a nearby spring and then left to evaporate in the sun to concentrate the salt.

Book a quad excursion to the salt pans of Maras

Day 4: Take an excursion to the Seven Colors Mountain (Rainbow Mountain)

Vinicunca|©Dayne Farley
Vinicunca|©Dayne Farley

The Seven Colors Mountain is one of the most important tourist destinations in Peru. It is a mountain of unique colors with red, green, yellow and purple stripes. One of the best ways to explore the mountain is to book a full day excursion to the Seven Colors Mountain from Cusco

The tour to the Seven Colors Mountain starts in the city of Cusco, from where you travel by bus for approximately 3 hours until you reach the starting point of the hike. Along the way, you will enjoy the views of the Peruvian Andes and the small villages surrounding the mountain.

Upon arrival, you will have to hike for approximately 2 hours to the top of the mountain. In addition, these excursions usually include a visit to the village of Chinchero, where you can find local handicrafts and traditional architecture. You can also do this excursion if you decide to discover Cusco in 3 days.

Book an excursion to Rainbow Mountain

Day 5: Tour Saqsaywaman and enjoy Peruvian cuisine


I suggest you close your tour of the city by visiting Saqsaywaman, a sacred space in the outskirts of Cuzco, and enjoy Peruvian cuisine, which is one of the most complete and tasty in the world.

Visit Saqsaywaman

Saqsaywaman is one of the most important archaeological sites in Cusco, which stands out for its large size and architectural design. Located on top of a hill on the outskirts of the city, this complex was built during Inca times and is believed to have had religious and ceremonial purposes.

Among its main attractions is the main fortress, which is an imposing stone wall that extends for several hundred meters. In addition, inside you can see various buildings and stone structures, such as aqueducts, squares, temples and houses. You can get there in the hop on-hop off tourist bus of Cusco that you can book on the Hellotickets website.

The visit to Saqsaywaman, especially the hike to the top of the hill, offers spectacular panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. Once at the complex, you will be able to appreciate up close the skill of the Incas in the construction of stone structures.

Book tickets for the Cusco tourist bus

Enjoy typical Peruvian gastronomy

Peruvian gastronomy is known worldwide for its richness of flavors and variety of ingredients and Cusco is no exception to the rule, so there is no better way to say goodbye to the city than with a dinner of typical products.

One of the most popular meals in the city is baked guinea pig. This small rodent is cooked slowly in a wood-fired oven and served with potatoes and corn. Another dish not to be missed is lomo saltado, a Peruvian-Chinese dish consisting of chunks of meat mixed with onion, tomato, fried potatoes and rice.

You can also opt for aji de gallina (a stew made with shredded chicken, potatoes, walnuts and aji amarillo), the popular ceviche, Peruvian causa and papa a la huancaína. All are a delicious and plentiful option that is available any time you travel to Cusco.

  • Day 1
  • Main Square
  • Stone of the 12 Angles
  • Cusco Cathedral
  • San Pedro Central Market
  • Day 2
  • Ollantaytambo
  • Aguas Calientes
  • Machu Picchu
  • Temple of the Sun
  • Day 3
  • Moray
  • Maras Salt Mine
  • Quad biking adventure tour
  • Full day excursion
  • Day 4
  • Seven Colors Mountain
  • Top of the mountain
  • Panoramic tour
  • Chinchero
  • Day 5
  • Saqsaywaman
  • Gastronomic excursion
  • Visit to local food stalls
  • Walk through the city