day trips from cusco - countryside

10 amazing day trips from Cusco

In SOUTH AMERICA, PERU by IsabellaLeave a Comment

Mainly known as the getaway to the Inca Trail and the spectacular and overcrowded Macchu Pichu, you must know that there are many other incredible day trips from Cusco worth spending more time in the popular city.


Situated a few miles from the Sacred Valley, more properly known as Urubamba Valley, in the Anden Mountain range, in the southeastern region of Peru, Cusco has always been an important site, for being the capital of the Inca empire during its apogee, and it’s now one of the most visited city in Peru attracting over 2 million visitors per year.

Starting from the popular Inca trail, which is now one of the many more trails you can do to reach the Iconic Macchu Pichu, there are several other fascinating day trips from Cuzco that you can choose from.

My 10 favorite day trips from Cusco

Visit one of the world seven wonders: Machu Picchu

Cusco is known before everything else the getaway to the famous Machu Picchu. Whether you go through a trek or by train, the launching hub is Cuzco.  I did the most common Inca trail, the most expensive and most demanded. At the time I didn’t actually do lots of research and I thought there was only that option to hike there. Nowadays I realized how many ways there are to hike to Machu Picchu.

To know more about it check out this post on the 8 ways to get to Machu Picchu.  But first of all make sure you know the best time to visit Macchu Pichu and other practical tips, before making any arrangement.

Visit the archeological sites in the surroundings of Cusco

Among all the most popular day trips from Cusco, Saqsaywaman, Qenqo, and Pukamqu passing by Cristo Blanco are the easiest ones that you can do easily on your own.

In the same area, you can include Puca Pucara, which is also known as the red fortress as it’s uniquely red from the iron contained in the rocks.

It served as a guard post to check out the flow of people entering the city. It’s in fact on higher points compared to the other sites.

Tambomachay which is known as the Inca Baths. It’s made of canals, aqueduct, and small waterfalls that can be seen throughout the site and make it a suggestive natural park to walk through.

As you can see from the map below, you can see them all together in one day.

I took a taxi to Tabomachay, the farthest and highest and after I visited the small, but the pretty archaeological site, I walked my way down stopping by in all the others, until Saqsaywaman, the most important of the 4 sites, an amazing example of the precise ancient Inca architecture.

As a side note, on the way there, I met a girl who was traveling by herself like me, and we decided to walk together. We are still friends after 5 years, and even if we live in different places, we see each other now and then. These are beautiful things about traveling alone.

things to do in Cuzco - Boundless Roads

Day trip from Cusco to the Sacred Valley, Pisac, and the beautiful terraced archeological site

I went to Pisac the day after my strenuous hike to the Inca trail, just because it was Sunday, and I didn’t want to miss the colorful market. I took the best pictures there.

Even though I chose to travel in the rainy season, it was a beautiful sunny day.

I jumped on a combi (local transportation in a minivan) and got to the touristy Pisac. There, I got a cab to take me to the archeological site and walk my way down through the amazing ruins of nature. I was almost alone, and sometimes I got a little scared to get lost. But That’s just me. The path is clear, and you meet people hiking up now and then.

Once I arrived at the market, I had a sumptuous lunch in a lovely coffee shop nearby, and then I started to walk around the colorful stalls with the beautiful local textiles, jumpers and shirts, fruits, and many other items.

If you are a portrait photographer that place is for you. The beautiful faces of the kids playing or hanging from their mother’s shoulders in their colorful clothes are just a pleasure to watch. I am not good at stealing pictures but I managed to take a few, which I lost… of course.

It’s a visit that you can totally do on your own, don’t really need a tour. However, if you have a limited time available, a full-day tour to the sacred valley will be convenient, as you cover more sites in one day.

Saqsaywaman

Day trip from Cusco to Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is a tourist village and home to another Inca archaeological site. It’s manly popular because from there you would take the train to Machu Picchu or you would start your hike.

Historical note: here the Inca won a battle against the Spaniards, unfortunately only the battle.

things to do in Cuzco - Boundless Roads

Enjoy Typon

Located in the Southern Valley of Cusco those are the most popular ancient ruins among others in the area. It’s a place where the Inca worshipped the element of Water. In fact, you will see a lot of little canals, streams of waters fountains, all connected in a remarkable hydraulic engineering system.

I visited it during my 2 weeks volunteering in Cusco as it was close to the little town where my school was.

From now on we talk about my bucket list also. I knew about the following places but I didn’t have the time to see them:

Bike through Moray

A  masterpiece of gardening architecture. They say that the green amphitheater-like terraces were like an agricultural lab for the Incas where they performed experiments that resulted in the more than 3000 varieties of potatoes in Peru today.

If I remember well there are organized biking tours around the area. They take you from Cuzco to thereby minivan until there and then on a mountain bike adventure around the picturesque region. Fun!

Travel agents take you to Maras and Moray altogether on regular tour by minivan for only 25 USD. Click here to book your tour.

things to do in Cuzco - Boundless Roads

Take a picture to the colorful Maras Cascading pools

Another spectacular site to visit. A vast reddish carpet made of thousands of cascading pools of ancient salt deposits. Besides the historical interest, it is definitely one of the most Instagrammed places in Peru. No wonder why. I can’t wait to point my camera on it.

I will tell you how to get there as soon as I go myself.

Travel agents take you to Maras and Moray altogether on regular tour by minivan for only 25 USD. Click here to book your tour.

If you wish to do the same tour but by quads, you can also have this option, by clicking here.


Spend one night in the riveting Skylodge

Among the things you can do If you want to splurge, you can book a couple of nights on the Skylodge. It’s a surreal lodge made of glass capsules hanging from the wall of the mountain. I am not sure if I could even sleep there. The view must be amazing. I hope I will be able to do it on my next trip to Cusco.

Check out rates and availability on Airbnb.


Fall in love with humantay lake

…or AT the Humantay Lake, depending on who you are traveling with… 

Jokes aside, I saw this lake when I was checking out pictures of the Salkantay trail, an alternative and cheaper way to hike to Machu Picchu, and I literally fell in love, so much that I was almost ready to repeat the hike to Machu Picchu just to see it. Now I just found out that you don’t need to take the entire tour. There are daily trips from Cuzco that take you there.


Day trip from Cusco to the rainbow mountain

The Rainbow Mountain is another Instagrammed spot in Peru, after Machu Picchu.

It is part of a trek I am planning to do from Arequipa. But I have also found out that you can also take a one day tour from Cuzco. I will definitely do the complete trek. I will tell you how it goes. But if have a limited time and you don’t really feel fit for hiking there you can always take a tour and go see it anyway.


My South America route - Boundlessroads.com

VISIT THE BALCON DEL DIABLO

Right behind the ruins of Sacsayhuaman is a trail that leads to a large rock with a cave called the Chakan Cave, from where you have a stunning and scary view of the valley.

Apparently, you don’t need a guide to get there but I will check it out as I don’t like to hike on my own in isolated places.

It’s never a smart idea. I am intrigued by what I have read about the place, though.

It’s like a natural monument as the rock wall seems as if it has been painted in different colors and as I will be going in rainy season I might be lucky to see a waterfall.


Did you do anything else that I have missed, or did you do one of these tours? Please let me know in the comment below. I would love to hear from you.


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