Deciding where to stay in Cusco is no easy task. The city is filled with many different neighborhoods, and not all of them are safe.
After having been to the capital of the Inca Empire many times, I can positive assure you that it is very important to pick the right place to stay in Cusco.
However, due to its popularity of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are so many accommodations to choose from – from boutique hotels to backpacker hostels and everything in between. Selecting the perfect place cannot be any more difficult.
That is why we’ve decided to write this guide, so not only are you picking the best neighboorhood in Cusco to stay, but also the best hotels for the best value-for-money.
Quick Tip on Where to Stay in Cusco Peru
The best area in Cusco to stay is San Blas!
This neighborhood of the historic center is situated northeast of the Plaza de Armas, or the Main Square of Cusco. It is the oldest neighborhood in Cusco and is home to some of the best things to do.
San Blas is filled with artisan crafts and traditional Peruvian restaurants, as well as Inca architecture and artifacts such as the famous twelve-angled stone.
This is one of the most tourist-friendly neighborhoods in Cusco. As a result, there are some of the best hostels and hotels in Cusco in this neighborhood.
Our Favorite Places to Stay in Cusco Peru
Best Luxury Hotel in Cusco – Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection
- Gorgeous and historical setting with a stunning courtyard
- Free activities include a Pisco Sour making class
- Many amenities including a gym, swimming pool, and spa services
Best Boutique Hotel in Cusco – Tariq Hotel Boutique Cusco
- Simple but beautiful decor
- Rooms feature windows with stunning views of the city
- Situated close to Plaza de Armas
Best Hostel in Cusco – Nao Victoria Hostel
- Cozy and social atmosphere to meet other travelers
- Comfortable beds with curtains for privacy
- Excellent value-for-money
What Are The Best Areas to Stay in Cusco
The best areas to stay in Cusco are the ones in the historic center, or Centro Historic in Spanish. These are the neighborhoods that are near Plaza de Armas, or the Main Square of Cusco.
Because of the amount of tourist, these places have a big police presence, so they are also the safest areas in Cusco.
The majority of the best things to do in Cusco – from the Cusco Cathedral, souvenir stores, and tour agencies (for Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, Sacred Valley, etc) are all located in the historic center.
Any accommodation in the historic center is a good place to stay since it very walkable and you can go from one end to the other end in 20 minutes, but there are sub-neighborhoods inside that are slightly better than the other.
Cusco is very hilly, and the historic center is no exception. One of the most important things to consider is whether your accommodation is going to be on top of a hill, especially since the elevation in Cusco is so high and altitude sickness is a real challenge.
Here are the main sub-neighborhoods within Cusco’s historic center:
- San Blas
- San Cristobal
- San Pedro
- Santa Ana
💪 Pro Tip: Any accommodation within walking distance of Plaza de Armas is a good place to stay.
San Blas is a sub-neighborhood to the northeast of Plaza de Armas. It is a historical area filled with boutique shops selling handicrafts, Peruvian souvenirs such as alpaca clothing, and restaurants with amazing Peruvian cuisine.
Known for its hippie culture and artistic vibes, travelers will enjoy a completely different side of Cusco. San Blas is situated near the center of the historic center. It is not more than a 15-minute walk from all other areas of the historic center.
The neighborhood of San Blas is on a steep incline, so consider that if you are traveling with big luggage. The cobblestone streets of Cusco will not be kind!
San Cristobal is a small neighborhood in the northern part of Cusco’s historic center. It is located directly south of Saqsaywaman, one of the most spectacular Incan ruins in Cusco. The area is known to be fairly residential, so you won’t find many shops and restaurants there.
One of the landmarks in Cusco, the San Cristobal Cathedral, is located here, and it’s a great vantage point to see all of Cusco.
Plaza de Armas (the main square) and San Blas are no more than a 5-min walk away. San Cristobal is located on a steeper slope than San Blas, so keep that in mind if you have big rolling suitcases.
San Pedro refers to the small neighborhood near the San Pedro Market, which is about 5 minutes west of Plaza de Armas. Besides a mega market, small shops and residential units dot this neighborhood. Like most of the neighborhoods in Cusco, this one is also located on a slight uphill.
The San Pedro Market is definitely going to be a highlight of your trip, especially if you want to dive deep into Peruvian culture. Here you can find lots of traditional items, such as more unusual Peruvian drinks like Emoliente and Frutillada, native produce, and textiles.
Santa Ana is on the outskirts of Cusco’s historic center. It is a neighborhood located to the northwest of Plaza de Armas. Perched over a slope, walking from Plaza de Armas to Santa Ana takes about 15 minutes.
This area is filled with mostly residential units and locals so you won’t find lots of touristy establishments. It does have a handful of affordable accommodations. Though only a 15-minute walk, it does add up, especially with the high elevation.
We would recommend you avoid staying in Santa Ana if you are traveling with kids, elders, or have lots of heavy luggage, though this area tends to be a little bit cheaper than others.
How To Pick Your Hotel In Cusco?
Selecting the right hotel for your Cusco trip might be daunting because of the countless number of hotels in Cusco. Not only that, the language barrier and the high altitude (3399m) are obstacles that you will inevitably encounter on your visit to Cusco.
You need a hotel that can provide oxygen support in case you suffer altitude sickness, one of the biggest challenges in Cusco. The staff should be able to tell you the best things to do in Cusco and the most economical way to go about those activities.
It should recommend local Peruvian dishes to try, but also not try to scam you because you are a tourist. Just having big spacious rooms with comfortable beds, luxurious decorations, and free high-speed wifi is no longer enough!
Best 5-Star Hotels in Cusco, Peru
There are plenty of 5-star luxury hotels in Cusco that cater to tourists that would love to be pampered in style and elegance. Here are some of the best ones!
JW Marriott El Convento is one of the best 5-star hotels in Cusco. Come and enjoy the beautiful and ancient courtyard and play with the baby alpaca Panchita. Stay in one of the oxygen-enriched rooms with real historic Inca walls.
The hotel itself feels like its own lost city inside Cusco, a relic of the past. The staff is happy to assist you with anything including planning your trip to Machu Picchu.
If you don’t feel so well after hiking in the Andes, visiting Machu Picchu, or for any altitude-related sickness, the hotel offers free oxygen treatment that will make you feel better. After the oxygen treatment, relax in their indoor relaxation pool or their spa.
Their breakfast buffet is filled with international and Peruvian delicacies and is the perfect way to start your sightseeing in Cusco.
The personalized attention you get from this luxury hotel makes it feel like a 5-star home, not a hotel.
One of the best 5-star Cusco hotels with oxygen, Palacio del Inka is located in a historic Inca site. The hotel is named Palacio del Inka because it used to be a palace for the Inca.
Daily tours of the hotel are offered to explain the significance and the history of the Inca. Lessons for Pisco sour, the national drink of Peru, are also offered daily.
The hotel is one of the few luxury hotels with a gym, perfect for travelers who need a little bit of training before doing the Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, or any other hikes to Machu Picchu.
Travelers that have not adapted to the altitude of Cusco can visit the adjacent Qorikancha, the most important temple in the Inca Empire.
The staff is attentive and will personally go above and beyond to make sure you have a good time in the hotel and outside the hotel in Cusco.
Was it ever your dream to stay in a monastery? Well here is your chance.
Belmond Hotel Monasterio is a beautifully restored 15th-century monastery. Most of the design of the monastery has been kept the way it was, as visible by the beautiful courtyard and architecture. It is an attraction in Cusco on its own.
The experience of staying in this luxury hotel is a bucket list item in Peru. If you are not sure where to stay in Cusco and want a unique accommodation, consider staying at Belmond Hotel Monasterio.
This 5-star hotel also has one of the best breakfast buffets in Cusco. Their oxygen-enriched rooms can help anyone suffering from altitude sickness.
With only 15 rooms, Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel & Spa is arguably the smallest 5-star hotel in Cusco, and that is exactly why we like it so much. As a boutique hotel of this size, the staff really gets to know you and offers guests individualized attention.
The staff’s hospitality is on another level, and after a few days, it starts to feel like you are part of the family.
While the staff is what makes this Cusco hotel shine, the property itself is far from lackluster. Located in a historical Incan building, guests can feel like a part of history.
Located two blocks from Plaza de Armas square, guests can explore the best of Cusco effortlessly. When you are tired, relax in its outstanding courtyard, enjoy its spa services, go for a rejuvenating workout in the gym, or enjoy some delicious Peruvian dishes from their on-site restaurant.
Best Budget Hotels in Cusco, Peru
If you don’t want to splurge but still want some decent comfort, then go for one of the cheaper hotels in Cusco. These usually offer excellent value for money on top of being affordable!
If you want to stay in a monastery but don’t want to spend big money on a hotel? Consider Hotel Monasterio San Pedro. Located across the local market San Pedro, you can eat local Peruvian food, shop for alpaca souvenirs, and observe Peruvian culture just right across the street.
Plaza de Armas is only a short 5 to 10-minute walk away.
As a restored monastery, the hotel has one of the most beautiful courtyards in Cusco. It is the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring the Cusco or visiting Machu Picchu.
Hosteria de Anita is a small cheap hotel located in the San Blas neighborhood of Cusco. Many of the famous attractions such as the twelve-angled rock, Plaza de Armas, and Cusco Cathedral are just within a 10-minute walk.
With affordable and spacious rooms, an amazing breakfast buffet, and a cute courtyard to relax, guests will surely fall in love with this economical hotel.
Not only is Los Aticos B&B a cheap accommodation, but it is also one of Cusco’s best bed and breakfast establishments. Located close to Plaza de Armas, guests can enjoy the convenience of visiting Cusco’s best attractions.
This bed and breakfast is situated in a small alley with just foot traffic, so guests can rest in peace and quiet, something that is rare so close to the historic center.
The buffet breakfast, big spacious rooms, and the friendly staff working at the 24-hour reception make this cheap bed and breakfast one of my favorite places to stay in Cusco!
If you are looking for a great value-for-money hotel in the San Blas neighborhood, then the Tierra Viva Cusco San Blas hotel is ideal for you.
While it doesn’t have any luxury amenities such as swimming pools or spa services, what it does offer is a relaxing courtyard where guests can chill after long exhausting days.
Their spacious rooms are built around the courtyard, so every guest can get a share of their own paradise. However, the most iconic feature of this hotel isn’t the nice rooms or the beautiful courtyard, but the attentive staff that makes sure your stay is as pleasant as possible!
Best Vrbos / Airbnbs in Cusco, Peru
Staying in a Vrbo or Airbnb in Cusco is an excellent way to directly give back to the local communities.
These accommodations offer a more cozy environment compared to traditional hotels, and amenities such as fully equipped kitchens, access to rooftops and terraces, laundry machines and more.
The hosts of Vrbo or Airbnb are often locals who can assist you with not only basic tourist information but also the hidden gems in Cusco.
Here are some of the best Vrbos and Airbnbs in Cusco, Peru!
(Images Courtesy of Vrbo)
If you are looking for visiting Cusco as a pair or couple, then consider this homey penthouse apartment. Its most iconic feature is the rooftop, where guests can relax on one of the benches and take in the panoramic views of the Andean Mountain Range.
This Cusco vacation rental is located two blocks away from Plaza De Armas, the main plaza of Cusco. From the best restaurants to the best attractions in Cusco, everything is within walking distance away. The apartment is also situated above a hotel, where guests can enjoy its amenities.
(Images Courtesy of Airbnb)
Located a few blocks away from Plaza De Armas, Casa Acroiris is the perfect place to stay for anyone that likes to stay near the action.
With features like a balcony overlooking Cusco, a wood-burning fireplace in the living room, a fully-equipped kitchen in a total of 2 floors, guests will find the utmost comfort and coziness here.
Wake up to the beautiful view from the balcony, make a delicious cup of coffee from the French coffee maker, spend the day exploring the nearby sights, fall asleep in your dreamy double size bed, and repeat!
This Airbnb can comfortably accommodate 4 guests with its double bed and sofa bed!
Best Hostels in Cusco, Peru
Because of Peru’s affordability, there are plenty of incredible hostels in Cusco. Whether you are looking for a party hostel or just a nice one to relax in, there is one for you.
Best Party Hostels in Cusco, Peru
For those travelers that like to meet new people and go out to bars and clubs, one of these party hostels is perfect for you! Just a word of warning though, you might feel drunker easily at higher altitudes (which is probably a good thing for most of us)!
Wild Rover is one of the most famous party hostels in Cusco. With many other locations in Peru such as Mancora, Huacachina Oasis, and more, Wild Rover hostel knows how to throw a party.
Every local knows that if you want to have a wild night, you go to Wild Rover. The only downside of Wild Rover is that it is a little far from the Plaza de Armas and you won’t be getting a lot of sleep with the noise!
2. Loki Cusco
Cusco has two famous party hostels, the first one is Wild Rover as we mentioned above, and the second one is Loki. Both are them are battling each other for the title of the best party hostel in Cusco.
Luckily for travelers having a difficult time deciding which one of the two to stay in, the two hostels are right next to each other.
Loki, similar to Wild Rover, has locations throughout Peru as well. And similar to Wild Rover, don’t expect lots of sleep but do expect an amazing social hostel full of partying.
Best Cheap Hostels in Cusco, Peru
Though Cusco is a tad more touristy, there are still plenty of affordable hostels to choose from.
Here are our favorite ones.
Blacky Hostel is one of my favorite hostels in Cusco, Peru. Not only is it one of the cheapest hostels in Cusco, but it is also comfortable and social.
The staff is friendly and offers tours to many of the best attractions in Cusco such as Machu Pichu and Rainbow Mountain at a cheaper price than more tour agencies. The common areas have a very homey atmosphere and it is very easy to make friends there!
The Point Hostels is a high-quality cheap hostel in Cusco, Peru. A social hostel with amazing activities to help you meet fellow travelers, you will never spend a day alone in The Point Hostel.
They have an outdoor common area that is perfect for hanging out and soaking in the sun on a nice afternoon, as well as plenty of indoor spaces for guests to socialize. Though they have a bar that tends to get a little rowdy at night, but you will never hear the noise from the rooms.
It is a perfect combination of good rest and a social atmosphere. Plaza de Armas is only a 7-minute walk away on flat terrain.
Best Overall Hostels in Cusco, Peru
If you are looking for a hostel that has a good balance of comfort, social atmosphere, and good value, then you’ll definitely like one of the ones below!
Closely located to the best sights, Nao Victoria is one of the best places to stay in Cusco. Plaza de Armas is located a few minutes away. Though its location is amazing, it isn’t even close to Nao Victoria’s best features.
The hostel’s stylish and modern decoration along with its cleanliness makes it feel like a hotel more than a hostel. Each dormitory bed is equipped with individual lights, a curtain, and an electric socket.
The staff becomes your best friend on your arrival day and helps you with your visit to Cusco, including information about Machu Picchu. This is one of the best hostels in Cusco.
Pariwana Hostel is a jack-of-all-trade hostel. A social hostel with some partying yet clean and comfortable for travelers looking to rest, it is a hostel that will satisfy most travelers’ needs. The reception also has a tour agency that will provide information about the various things to do in Cusco.
My favorite part is definitely the rare spacious rooms in a hostel. Most hostels tend to jam as many beds in a room as possible, but not at Pariwana Hostel. If you are looking for a hostel and are not sure where to stay in Cusco, Pariwana Hostel is a top choice.
It is only a 6-minute walk from Plaza de Armas!
Best Boutique Hotels in Cusco, Peru
Boutique hotel is perfect for those looking for more personalized services and a more intimate feel.
Here are some of the best boutique hotels in Cusco, Peru.
Tariq Hotel Boutique is a cute little hotel located in the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas. The rooms are some of the best-decorated rooms I have seen in all of my travels in South America.
Each room has a big beautiful window overlooking the entire city of Cusco. No need to hike to the top of Saqsaywaman to get a panoramic view of Cusco, you have it in your room at all times.
Everything about this boutique hotel in Cusco is just gorgeous. If you are all about the aesthetics of a hotel, Tariq Hotel Boutique is the hotel for you.
Located in a refurbished Inca building, many of the rooms in the Loreto Boutique Hotel have historic Inca walls. The rooms are very spacious and you will have plenty of room to put your luggage.
The staff is extra friendly and will assist with anything you need inside and outside the hotel. My friend was looking for a camera bag and a member of the staff escorted us to the shops!
Situated adjacent to Plaza de Armas and within walking distance of the San Blas neighborhood and the San Pedro local market, this hotel is the perfect base for exploring Cusco.
If you are looking for a cozy boutique hotel that you can call home for your Cusco visit, make sure you check out Antigua Casona San Blas. This hotel is situated in a historic building that was built sometime between 1750 to 1800.
Besides beautiful and comfortable rooms, Antigua Casona San Blas offers a central patio for relaxing in the sun and an in-house bar to try some Peruvian drinks (including coca tea for altitude sickness).
As a boutique hotel, this accommodation prides itself on providing personalized attention to ensure you the perfect stay. From a free shuttle airport transfer to storing your luggage while you do the Inca Trail (or any other treks), the hotel has thought of it all!
Palacio Manco Capac is one of the coolest accommodations in Cusco. Located in the northern parts of the historic center of Cusco, slightly south of Sacsayhuaman Ruins, this hotel is perched over a hill. The entire property overlooks the historic city and offers incredible views. It is one of the most unique locations in Cusco.
As an ancient Incan Palace, Palacio Manco Capac features gorgeous antique decor with paintings and art that just ooze charm. It is hard not to fall in love with this accommodation, especially since it feels like its own castle in the sky away from the hustle and bustle of Cusco.
The rooms are spacious and comfortable but not much to brag about. Its staff is kind and attentive, making sure that all guests are having a good time and have everything they need to make the most out of their stay.
Since this is located on a hill, getting there might be challenging, but the hotel is more than happy to get you a taxi!
Where to Stay in Cusco FAQs
How many nights do you need in Cusco?
The historic centre of Cusco is quite small and only takes 1 to 2 days to see everything. However, Cusco is a good base for exploring the nearby attractions, such as the Sacred Valley, Rainbow Mountain, and of course, Machu Picchu. If you want to see everything, then 5 days is a good amount of time. Remember, you’ll need to acclimatize to the altitude!
How long do you need to acclimate in Cusco?
Typically, a minimum of two in Cusco is enough to acclimatize to the altitude. However, sometimes visitors might need more days, depending on if they are going to go hiking in high altitudes.
Is altitude sickness common in Cusco?
Yes, altitude sickness is common in Cusco, especially if you just came from somewhere near sea level.
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Final Thought: Where To Stay In Cusco
As you can see deciding, on where to stay in Cusco can be quite challenging.
We highly recommend you to stay in one of the neighborhoods in the historic center and stay in an accommodation based on your needs. One thing for sure though – there are plenty of places in Cusco to pick from!
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