The 10 best places for photography in Cusco
Cusco is one of the best tourist destinations in the world. This Andean region has some of the most photographed tourist attractions on the planet. Without a doubt, the most visited place is Machu Picchu, considered one of the 7 wonders of the modern world. But there are also other destinations such as the 7 Colors Mountain, the Humantay lagoon, the Salineras de Maras, the circular platforms of Moray, the city of Cusco and more. Get to know and get the best photographs on your trip!
How to get the best photo of Machu Picchu? – Without a doubt, Machu Picchu is the main tourist destination in Cusco and, consequently, the most photographed. The Inca city offers the opportunity to get incredible photos. However, the best photo, the one most shared on social networks, is obtained from the so-called Guardian House sector. From there the archaeological site offers a panoramic angle with the Huayna Picchu mountain at the top. The best time to get the photo is after 4 in the afternoon. You will get a memorable photo!
Machu Picchu (2,430 meters above sea level) is located 100 kilometers from the city of Cusco, in the high jungle of the region, in the province of Urubamba. The archaeological site has more than 150 stone buildings. The most famous are the Temple of the Sun, the Main Temple, the Sacred Rock, the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Condor and more. All the temples are widely photographed by tourists from all over the world.
However, Machu Picchu has its best figure from the so-called Guardian House Sector. There, in the upper part of the archaeological site, you have a beautiful view of the entire place: the Huayna Picchu mountain, the citadel and more. The best time to get photos is in the afternoon (after 4 pm). Some days (especially in January, February and March) Machu Picchu can be covered in clouds, making it difficult to get that dream photo.
- Where is it?: In the province of Urubamba, district of Aguas Calientes, 100 kilometers from the city of Cusco.
- How much does it cost?: Foreign adults 152 soles / Peruvian adults 64 soles.
Vinicunca (5,200 meters above sea level) is the 7 Colors Mountain, also called Rainbow Mountain. It is located in the high mountains of the Vilcanota Mountain Range, 120 kilometers from the city of Cusco. This mountain is famous for its slopes with varied colors coming from its soil with various minerals. Its discovery in 2015 was precisely due to the publication of photographs by a tourist. Since then the place became popular.
The 7 Colors Mountain can be photographed from an adjacent hillside where there are up to three viewpoints with beautiful views. The view is one of the most shared on social networks. The difficult part is the hike up the mountain. This runs approximately 4 kilometers (almost 2 hours of walking). That is to say, this tourist attraction offers beautiful photos, but at the cost of an arduous walk above 5 thousand meters of elevation.
- ¿Where is it?: In the Vilcanota mountain range, 120 kilometers from the city of Cusco in the province of Canchis.
- How much does it cost?: Foreign adults 15 soles / Peruvian adults 10 soles.
Humantay (4,200 meters above sea level) is the beautiful lagoon that is located below the snow-capped mountain of the same name and the famous Salkantay snow-capped mountain. It is approximately 130 kilometers from the city of Cusco. The lagoon has turquoise waters crowned by the snow-capped Humantay. Around it is a chain of mountains where the Salkantay stands out. The lagoon is one of the most photographed landscapes in Cusco.
To get to the Humantay lagoon it is necessary to take an arduous walk of approximately 2 kilometers. The paths are uphill, so it is of medium difficulty. An average tourist does it in 1 hour 40 minutes. The best way to visit it is with the Humantay tour or the 5-day Salkantay trek tour. The best photos are taken during the rainy season (January, February and March). However, the rest of the year also produces amazing photos.
- Where is it?: In the Vilcabamba mountain range, 130 kilometers from the city of Cusco in the province of Anta.
- How much does it cost?<: Foreign adults 15 soles / Peruvian adults 10 soles.
Plaza de Armas of Cusco
The Plaza de Armas of Cusco (3,445 meters above sea level) is in the heart of the city of Cusco, in the Andes Mountains of Peru. There was Huacaypata, the administration center and where the main religious and social ceremonies were held in the Tahuantinsuyo empire. Today, reduced in size since the colonial era, it is the tourist center of the city, with temples, shops, restaurants, hotels and more.
The Plaza de Armas is one of the most photographed points in Cusco. In the center it has a pool with an Inca statue. Around there are even photographers willing to photograph the visitor at the moment. In addition, there are dozens of women with alpacas and llamas offering a dream photo with these animals, in exchange for a tip. The best time to get the desired photograph is after 4 in the afternoon.
- Where is it?: In the historic center of Cusco, in front of the Cusco Cathedral.
- How much does it cost?: Free for all.
The Cathedral of Cusco (3,445 meters above sea level) is the main colonial temple in Cusco. It has a very ancient history that dates back to the 16th century. It has a solid Andean baroque style architecture. It is actually made up of three temples: the El Triunfo temple, the La Sagrada Familia temple, as well as the Cathedral Basilica. They are located in the heart of Cusco, in front of the Plaza de Armas. It is perhaps the most beautiful church in Peru.
The Cathedral is one of the most photographed architectural monuments in Cusco. However, this is only possible on the outside since taking photographs inside is prohibited. There are relics of great historical and economic value as they are made of sheets of silver, gold and even precious stones. From the street you can take excellent photographs at all hours, especially after 4 in the afternoon.
- Where is it?: In the historic center of Cusco, in front of the Plaza de Armas.
- How much does it cost?: Foreign adults 40 soles / Peruvian adults 20 soles.
The eucalyptus forest
The eucalyptus forest (3,580 meters above sea level), also called Qenqo forest, is one of the most innovative landscapes in Cusco, photographed by Peruvians and foreigners from all over. As its name indicates, it is a forest of eucalyptus trees, an aromatic species with tall trunks that, together, offer a magical landscape. It is located very close to the city center, approximately 6 kilometers.
It is presumed that the origin of the Qenqo eucalyptus forest dates back to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, as it is a tree of foreign origin. Today the place has more than five hundred trees of this species. Visitors from all over come there daily to take beautiful photos and even carry out professional photo and video sessions. The place is free for everyone. It is recommended to visit during the day.
- Where is it?: On the Circunvalación highway, about 6 kilometers from the city of Cusco, in the Sacsayhuamán sector.
- How much does it cost?: Free for all.
Moray (3,500 meters above sea level) is one of the most famous archaeological sites in Cusco. It is located in the upper part of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, about 49 kilometers from the city of Cusco, in the community of Maras. This place is not just history because the Incas built an agricultural laboratory there. In addition, it has a peculiar shape similar to immense amphitheaters that made it one of the most photographed tourist attractions in Cusco.
Moray is made up of concentric circular platforms that, in their depths, have colder and more humid temperatures. On the upper platforms, however, the temperature is higher, which made it easier to get different food products in the same place. Moray has viewpoints to get beautiful landscape photos. It is not allowed to enter the platforms due to the risk of destruction.
- Where is it?: In the Sacred Valley of the Incas, 8 kilometers from the town of Maras and 49 kilometers from the city of Cusco.
- How much does it cost?: Foreign adults 70 soles / Peruvian adults 40 soles. The Cusco Tourist Ticket also includes entry to Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero.
Maras (3,200 meters above sea level) is another of the most photographed tourist attractions in Cusco. It is located 10 kilometers from the town of Maras and 50 kilometers from the city of Cusco. It is famous for its more than a thousand natural salt wells formed thousands of years ago by a spring. This salt, in addition to its beautiful panoramic landscape, was useful since before the Inca era and continues to be useful for the local inhabitants who market the salt.
The Maras salt mines have five viewpoints from where you can get beautiful photographs of the entire place. Before it was possible to enter the salt wells and get incredible photos. However, because salt is consumed through the Cusco markets, today it is prohibited to enter the salt wells. The best photographs are taken from the highest viewpoints. You can get excellent photographs at any time.
- Where is it?: In the Sacred Valley of the Incas, 50 kilometers from the city of Cusco in the Maras district.
- How much does it cost?: Tourists in general 10 soles.
Cocalmayo (1,600 meters above sea level) is considered the best thermal baths in Cusco. It is located in the district of Santa Teresa, in the province of La Convencion, in the high jungle of Cusco. It has several pools of crystalline hot springs, with temperatures that vary from 38ºC. up to 44ºC. The thermal baths are widely photographed on social networks. It was even the setting for movies and television series.
Cocalmayo is 207 kilometers from the city of Cusco. You can get there through a tourist bus trip (Hydroelectric route) that takes 5 hours on average. The waters are turquoise and surrounded by high green mountains typical of the Cusco jungle. The pools are open every day from 6 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon. It is recommended to bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
- Where is it?: In the district of Santa Teresa, province of La Convencion, 207 kilometers from the city of Cusco.
- How much does it cost?: Foreign adults 10 soles / Peruvian adults 5 soles.
- Where is it?: In the province of Paucartambo, 105 kilometers from the city of Cusco, in the town of Challabamba.
- How much does it cost?: General admission 20 soles.
Three Golden Crosses
Tres Cruces de Oro (3,700 meters above sea level) is a viewpoint in Cusco famous for offering the so-called ‘most beautiful sunrise in the world’. This viewpoint is located 105 kilometers from the city of Cusco, in the province of Paucartambo. It is part of the high mountainous part of the Manu National Park. Therefore, from 5 to 6 in the morning, you can see a beautiful, golden sunrise, ideal for taking excellent photographs.
The Tres Cruces de Oro viewpoint is also called ‘Balcony of the East’. Every year, during the winter solstice (on June 20, 21 or 22) the sun appears to distort like three luminous mirages. This phenomenon is called ‘White Lightning’. Furthermore, every year, from July 15 to 18, the Festival of the Virgin of Paucartambo is celebrated very close by. This party is full of joy, costumes, masks, music, dances and many ingredients to get beautiful photographs.
By Machupicchu Terra – Last updated, November 8, 2023