Length of visit: 1.5 Days
We ended up traveling to Peru one day early in order to beat a snow storm. As such, we ended up with a full day in Cusco on the front end of our trip that we hadn’t planned! We stayed in one Airbnb that night, and a different Airbnb two nights later.*
+ Hostal El Triunfo is an absolutely outstanding lodging option in Cusco. We booked it super last minute (as our plane was preparing for takeoff in the States), yet they were friendly and accommodating, and let us check in super early because our room was ready. The location is phenomenal – we could see the roof of the cathedral thirty feet away out our window! This is a thirty second walk from the Plaza de Armas, so you can’t ask for anything more central. Our room was clean and well-equipped, and quite comfortable. Breakfast was quite tasty, and the receptionists were courteous and helpful. For $61 a night, you can’t beat this place – I would absolutely recommend it.
+ Net House was where we intended to stay in Cusco for our half day, and it was fine. The location isn’t central, but it’s close to a market, and the room was as described. I wish it had been a bit cleaner, but for $45 for the night, I really can’t say anything negative about it. Things were basic, but alright overall. Not my favorite, especially compared to the other place that we stayed in Cusco, but I would give it three out of three stars.
*This was our first trip using Airbnb and we had so many good experiences! While I’ve never used Airbnb in the United States, our international experiences have been great so far. Highly recommend trying it out!
Can’t Miss Sights and Tours
+ Plaza de Armas – Be sure to start here! We arrived very early, at about 6:00 am, and it was great to see the sun dance across the hills and the city wake up. We got great photos, and a lay of the land. It’s also central to sights like the cathedral.
+ Qorikancha – This was the most important temple in the Inca Empire, and was dedicated to the sun god. The Spanish tore down most of the temple to build the Convento de Santo Domingo del Cusco, but you can still find the original foundations, terraced gardens, and some truly incredible paintings.
+ Museo de Arte Precolombino – When you’re ready to take a break from the sun (and catch your breath with that altitude!), this is a great stop. If you’re preparing to head to Macchu Picchu, then you’ll want to stop here to get yourself mentally in a place to understand how incredible the pre-Columbian peoples of South America were through these artifacts.
+ Climb! This isn’t a “tour” or “sight” per se, but if you climb, you will be rewarded with beautiful, sweeping views of Cusco (like the first photo in this post). It will also help you adjust to the lower oxygen levels. Take your time, and climb!
+ We visited Morena Peruvian Kitchen after I found it on TripAdvisor, and we were so impressed. They had just finished remodeling, and while the upstairs looks small, they have an enormous and beautifully-remodeled downstairs area not visible from the street. The location is great, the cost is reasonable, and it is delicious. I ordered lomo saltado (Peruvian beef stir fry) and L ordered what he described as an “epic veggie burger.” We also had a pisco sour and passion fruit pisco sour. This was one of the best meals on our trip, and it didn’t break the bank – around $30 total for entrees and cocktails. Service is not fast, but that’s the norm everywhere outside of the United States. Make time for a meal here, you’ll love it!
We ended up with a full day in Cusco absolutely by accident, and I’m so glad that we did. In addition to giving me time to acclimatize (L had hiked in Peru before and knew he’d be fine), it was beautiful, and had some real gems. It was a perfect start to our vacation, and I would recommend to anyone traveling to Peru that they slot one full day to hang out in Cusco.