10 towns in Cusco that you should visit
Cusco is a department of Peru located in the Andes Mountains. It is famous for different tourist attractions such as the Humantay lagoon, the 7-color mountain, the Sacred Valley of the Incas or, of course, Machu Picchu. However, in Cusco you can also visit Andean towns with beautiful landscapes, a lot of history and tradition. Get to know ten towns in Cuzco that you must visit.
Machu Picchu Pueblo or Aguas Calientes is the closest town to the Inca citadel of Machupicchu. It is famous for its streets dedicated day by day to tourism. Although the town is small, it has: hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes and more. The town is surrounded by high mountains and beautiful vegetation that are the perfect prelude to a visit to Machupicchu. It is also famous for its thermal baths, its craft market, the Putucusi mountain, the butterfly garden, the Manuel Chávez Ballón site museum and the Mandor gardens.
- How to get there? From the city of Cusco by train to the final station of Aguas Calientes (4 hours).
- What to see? Thermal baths of Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu.
Chinchero is one of the most famous towns in Cusco. The reason is due to the colorful costumes for men and women where black and red stand out. There the tourist can visit the Huaypo and Piuray lagoons as well as the town market or one of the many textile centers that the local inhabitants have undertaken there. However, the best tourist attraction in Chinchero is its archaeological site, where the palace of Emperor Túpac Yupanqui existed in Inca times. In this town the construction of the international airport of Cusco will take place.
- How to get there? From the city of Cusco by minivan from Belempampa street (40 minutes away).
- What to see? Textile center and archaeological site of Chinchero.
Maras is one of the towns with the most history in Cusco. In colonial times it was an important economic enclave, home to important personalities. As traces of that historical past, the colonial portals of some houses still survive. The two best tourist attractions of the place are: the Salineras de Maras and the circular platforms of Moray. Maras is located in the upper part of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Today its inhabitants are dedicated mainly to livestock and agriculture.
- How to get there? From the city of Cusco by minivan from Belempampa street to the Maras detour. From there a collective taxi to the town of Maras (1 hour 40 minute ride).
- What to see? Portadas de Maras, Salineras de Maras and circular platforms of Moray.
Pisac is one of the most visited towns in Cusco and the Valley Sacred of the Incas. It is located only 34 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco. It is famous for its Inca archaeological site, which was an immense citadel with platforms, enclosures, temples, roads and more. The town is also famous for its Sunday market, where you can buy various handicrafts at affordable prices. Pisac can be visited on your own or with the 1-day tour to the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
- How to get there? From the city of Cusco by minivan from Puputi street (1 hour trip).
- What to see? Pisac market and Pisac archaeological site.
Ollantaytambo is known as the ‘living Inca city’. The reason is that its streets retain their original urban structure dating from the Inca era. The town is located 60 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco. It is famous for its archaeological site, an Inca temple and citadel that served as a fortress during the war with the Spanish in 1537. Ollantaytambo also has a variety of tourist services including hotels, cafes, restaurants, bars, and more. From there the train leaves in the direction of Machu Picchu town.
- How to get there? From the city of Cusco by minivan from Pavitos street (1 hour 40 minute trip).
- What to see? Archaeological site of Ollantaytambo.
Urubamba is the capital of the province of the same name. It is also one of the most important towns in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Its infrastructure offers hotels (from services for backpackers to 5-star services), restaurants (renowned buffet services), bars, cafes and more. And all surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural landscapes of Cusco. Urubamba is a destination included in the Sacred Valley of the Incas tour (lunch takes place there). However, the best way to visit it is on your own. It is 53 kilometers from the city of Cusco.
- How to get there? From the city of Cusco by minivan from Belempampa street or Pavitos street (1 hour 20 minute trip).
- What to see? Tourist restaurants and tourist hotels in Urubamba.
The town of Lares is famous because from there the trek of 4 days and 3 nights ending in Machu Picchu. This hiking route is called ‘Lares trek’. However, this town located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas also offers tourists beautiful landscapes, rural community tourism and, above all, some very famous thermal baths. Lares is located 108 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco. Although it is a small town, it receives tourists daily.
- How to get there? From the city of Cusco by minivan from Puputi street to the town of Calca (1 hour 20 minute trip). From Calca by minivan to Lares (1 hour 30 minute trip).
- What to see? Lares thermal baths.
Santa Teresa is one of the jungle towns of Cusco most visited by tourists. The reason? This small town is located on the route that leads to Machu Picchu through the Hidroeléctrica road. However, it also has a lot to offer: its coffee plantations, fruit trees, adventure tourism, beautiful landscapes and, above all, the thermal baths of Cocalmayo (considered the best in Cusco). Santa Teresa is located 203 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco and only 28 kilometers from Machu Picchu.
- How to get there? From the city of Cusco by bus from Antonio Lorena avenue to the town of Santa María (4 hours). From Santa María by collective taxi to Santa Teresa (1 hour).
- What to see? Cocalmayo thermal baths.
Checacupe is an Andean town located in the province of Canchis, 98 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco. It is famous for its beautiful landscapes, for its tourist services and, above all, for its two bridges: one Inca and the other colonial. Both are located on the waters of the Pitumarca River. The creation of the town dates back to the 17th century, in the colonial era. A short distance away there are important tourist attractions such as the mountain of colors of Palcoyo or the famous mountain of 7 colors (the Vinicunca).
- How to get there? From the city of Cusco by bus from Huayruropata avenue to the town of Checacupe (2 hours 30 minutes).
- What to see? Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca).
Paucartambo is a Cusco town capital of the province of the same name. It is located 105 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco. It is famous for its traditional festival in honor of the Virgen del Carmen, celebrated from 15 to 18 July. Also by the nearby archaeological sites such as the petroglyphs of Kosñipata, the chullpas of Ninamarca, or Mauka llaqta. At 107 kilometers is the Three Golden Crosses viewpoint, famous for being the viewpoint to the Manu National Park in the Cusco jungle.
- How to get there? From the city of Cusco by minivan from the ‘Control de San Jerónimo’ to Paucartambo (2 hours 30 minute trip).
- What to see? Tres Cruces de Oro viewpoint.
By Machupicchu Terra – Last updated, August 28, 2023