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Cusco is an amazing region for exploring many beautiful places, not to mention that it’s a paradise for hikers. You can climb a snow peak or hike in a jungle, see the lagoons or enjoy the hot springs, ride a horse or do a zip line, go to the most tourist places, or “get lost” in off the beaten paths. If you have more time in Cusco, go and get to know the best places to see in this region.

Rainbow mountain

One of the most known tourist places around Cusco. Many one-day tours are leaving every day to drive to a mountain, originally called Vinicunca. The mountain is at 5,200 meters elevation, so keep in mind that you should be already acclimatise before you go and hike up. But since it’s quite a tourist place there are many horses you can take up. Normally, it takes around 3 hours to hike up the mountain. The temperature in this altitude is quite low and the sun stronger, so be sure to take some warm clothes and sunscreen. The tour will cost you around $30. Rainbow Mountain has around 1,500 visitors per day during the high season, that’s why be prepared to wait for your photo on the top.

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Red Valley

If you have some more time, you can hike to Red Valley, 30 minutes away from Rainbow Mountain, but this place is also included in some of the tours to Rainbow Mountain. Due to the iron-rich soil that covers a huge area, you will also see the river colored red. The Red Valley is at the same altitude as Rainbow Mountain and If you go there between December and February, be prepared for the snowy or rainy weather.

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Palcoyo Rainbow Mountain

If you are not a big fan of tourist places, you can consider going to an alternative Rainbow Mountain. It’s not that perfect as the famous one, but the trek and scenery are also amazing. You will get there by tour from Cusco within one day. The altitude is a bit lower and the trek takes around 45 minutes.

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Pallay Punchu

Talking about rainbow mountains, there is one more in the Cusco region, a bit farther, but even less touristy. People started calling it a new rainbow mountain, but the word “pallay” represents the drawings and design of the typical Andean clothes. You can take a “collectivo” to Sicuani and from there another ride to Layo. The hike takes around 4 hours and you will reach an altitude somewhere below 5,000 meters.

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Humantay Lake

Humantay Lake is one of the most beautiful lagoons around Cusco and also one of the most accessible. it sits between Salkantay and Humantay Mountain at an altitude of 4,200m. You can get there by a one-day trip from Cusco for around $20 or you can visit the lagoon within the first day of the Salkantay trek. If you choose a one-day tour, you will need to hike up to two hours to get there. There is also an option to go alone, but you will need to hire a taxi from Cusco which might costs you around $75. Keep in mind that during the rainy season (December – March), there is a high chance that clouds will cover all your view. 

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Choquequirao trek

The Inca city, Choquequirao, was built in the same area as Machu Picchu and it’s also called a new Machu Picchu. So far, only 40% was uncovered , but archeologists estimate that it should be bigger than the famous Machu Picchu. What is unique, is that the only way how to get there is by hiking two days from Cachora, that’s why you won’t meet many tourists.

There are two options how to get there, the first is to take a guided tour which will cost you somewhere around $500, or you can do the trek by yourself. This option is cheaper, but also more difficult. It will cost you around $100 + $14 for the entrance. Keep in mind that you need to have your own camping equipment and you will also need to pay for the entrance, so be sure you have some cash. If you go alone, there is also an option to hire a guy with a mule for about $8 per day, but better to have a bit more food for him too.  

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Inti Punku

The small archeological ruins at the top of the hill with a view of snow-capped mountains. Inti Punku means Sun Gate and to get there it’s a beautiful one-day hike from Ollantaytambo village with amazing scenery on the valley and surrounding hills. To get to the village of Ollantaytambo, you can just take a minivan from Cusco, oversleep in one of the hostels and start hiking early in the morning. The hike should take you around 6 hours in total. You can take a classic Cachiquata Trail and start walking from the village, or you can take a taxi to the community of Cachiquata and start hiking from there which is a shorter option. 

Pacchanta and 7 lagoons

This remote community is one of my favorite places. I have been there twice and every time was different. Pacchanta is a remote highland community in the beginning of the Ausangate mountains and it sits at 4,200 altitudes. Usually, people do the Ausangate circuit which takes around 4 days, but you can also do a one-day trek around 7 lagoons.

You don’t need to rush and take a one-day tour from Cusco. Instead, take a bus from Limpacpampa for 10 soles ($2.50) and in three and a half hours you will be in Tinke village. Make sure you grab something to eat at the local market and enjoy the view of Quechua women dressed in beautiful textiles. From Tinke you can either walk to the community (it’s around 4 hour hike) or you can take a taxi or stop someone in a way there for around 30 soles ($8). Once you get there you can enjoy the hot springs for 5 soles and with the view on an imponent Ausangate Mountain. For the night you can rent a room for around 30 soles ($8), but I would recommend taking as many warm clothes as possible since at night the temperature goes below zero Celsius.

The 7 lagoons hike will take you probably around 6 hours, but better to start hiking really early since the sun gets really strong during the day. If you don’t feel good at the high altitude (the hike’s highest point is around 4,800m), just take a horse from the community for 40 soles ($10). However, the hike is mostly flat and it’s not that difficult. 

Q’eswachaka Rope Bridge

This is the last remaining Inca rope bridge and people from the village keep the ancient tradition and every year in July renew the bridge. The ropes are made from dried grass and every family prepares a different part of the bridge. Then, for the event in July, they gather and work on the maintenance. It’s like a community event. Unfortunately, the bridge collapsed during the pandemic, since all events where prohibited, but eventually, they rebuilt it again. You might find this trip a bit more expensive. The agencies charge you around $100 for one day trip and to get there alone it’s quite difficult. 

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Mirador de Tres Cruces

If you want to see one of the most beautiful sunrises in your life, this is the right place. Located 109 km away from Cusco, where the jungle begins. When doing this trip on your own, you need to take a bus from Cusco to Paucartambo for around 20 soles ($6). After 4 hours, in Paucartambo take a minivan or “collectivo” to Acjanaco Pass and from there hike around 3 hours to the viewpoint where you can camp. The entrance ticket is 10 soles ($3). You can also take a two-day tour that will cost you approximately $100.

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Pikillacta and Huarcapay lagoon

Pikillacta is a large archeological site of Wari culture, that existed before the Incas. The huge walls were built with stones and mud. Just two years ago were discovered pieces from Wari ceremonial offering. You can walk around these massive walls while enjoying the view of the surrounding hills and the Huarcapay lagoon. To get there, just take a bus from Cusco which goes to Urcos and get off in the village of Huarcapay. For the entrance, you need to have either the City of Cusco Partial Tourist Ticket – Circuit II. or the General Cusco Tourist Ticket.


Just a few meters away from the Pikillacta ruins, there are other ruins right next to the main road. This was probably built by Wari culture as a gate to their area. After Wari culture, the Incas occupied the area and built a gate on top of the Wari gate. You can find perfect carved stones combined with the old technique of the Wari culture. For Incas, the gate was used to separate the Cusco region from the Puno region.

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Ñaupa Iglesia

This is a really magical place just outside of Ollantaytambo village. You can take a “collectivo” from Ollantaytambo to Cusco, but get off in Pachar and walk half an hour along the main road. From the road, you will see some terraces and when you hike up, you will notice a huge rock under which is a perfectly carved “gate to another dimension“. There are some ruins outside, but the most impressive is the gate and the altar. People still use this place for offerings so you will find a lot of flowers, ashes, or coca leaves.

Brewery of the Sacred Valley

On the way from Ollantaytambo, you can stop in a local brewery. I really like the atmosphere and always enjoy craft beers in their garden. Their beers are named after the mountain or archeological ruins.

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Tipón ruins

Located just 22 kilometers from Cusco, makes it a perfect one-day trip. Tipon ruins are well preserved Inca terraces irrigated by a network of water canals with small fountains, residential areas, defensive walls, and petroglyphs. From Cusco take a minivan, get off in Tipón village and from there walk upon the ruins for one hour or stop a taxi to drive you there. To get to the archeological site you have to have either the City of Cusco Partial Tourist Ticket – Circuit II. or the General Cusco Tourist Ticket.


Puca Pucara

The ruins of the Inca fortress are where you can enjoy the view of the surrounding landscape and the typical valley of Cusco. The ruins are not big, you will spend there probably around 15 minutes. You can walk from Q’enco for around an hour or stop a local bus to drive you there. Again, here you also need either the City of Cusco Partial Tourist Ticket – Circuit I. or the General Cusco Tourist Ticket.

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Really well-preserved Inca baths. There is still water running from the stone wall. The site is right next to Puca Pucara and you will get inside on either the City of Cusco Partial Tourist Ticket – Circuit I. or the General Cusco Tourist Ticket. Get ready for local women trying to sell you some souvenirs. 

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Templo de la Luna

This is a nice getaway from the Cusco city and crowded tourists places. If you have one day free or even just one afternoon, go here. Templo de la Luna or The Moon Temple, it’s just 35 minutes from the main square of Cusco by walking. The Moon Temple dates back to Inca times and it’s basically a huge stone with carved rocks and a small cave. You can go up on the stone and just chill there and enjoy the view of the beautiful valley with beer or snacks.


If you have even more time or want to hike a little bit further, you can visit the amazing Inkilltambo ruins. From The Moon Temple, it’s just a 30 minutes hike in a way to the community of Yuncaypata. Inkilltambo ruins are from Inca times too, so you can find the beautiful terraces, amazingly carved rocks, and aqueducts. In the past years, the Peruvian government invested around 1 million dollars in the restoration of this archeological place.

Apukunaq Tianan

This place become popular just recently thanks to social media. Many people started coming here and posting photos of standing in puma’s mouth or posing with the Inca. The portraits of the Incan gods were carved into the stones by a local artist. Some of the sculptures are around 10 meters high. Getting there from the center is pretty easy. You have to take the bus Santiago Express and get off at Tika Tika stop which is the last one. Then you will need to just walk on a dirt road for around half an hour. From the road you will see the sculptures. The entrance fee will cost you just a few soles.

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Acueducto colonial “fortaleza”

If you are already in Apukunaq Tianan, you have just half an hour in an old aqueduct in the middle of nowhere. Obviously, the aqueduct was built to transfer water during colonial times to take water from the Piuray lagoon in Chinchero.

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Balcon del Diablo

Another great getaway from Cusco, just about an hour hike from the center. The Devil’s Balcony is a unique place where a small river runs through a cave in a huge rock and on the top of the rock is a balcony. You will get there from Sacsayhuaman by the main road and then just by following a dirt road through the communities.

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