How to Get There
Get in By plane – The airport is at the edge of the city (taxi ride). There are daily internal flights to and from Lima, Arequipa and small jungle airstrips in the Amazon basin. Lan Peru has the most flights between Cusco and Lima, followed by Star Peru and Taca. It is best to book the earlier flights to avoid weather delays and overbooking.
The closest major international airport is Lima. The cheapest one-way flights to Lima cost around US$70. StarPeru generally has the cheapest flights. Frequently, bad weather conditions can cause flights to be canceled, often up to two days on end. If you are flying straight into Cusco, beware of altitude sickness for the first couple of days.
With only 5 gates and a few off the main terminal this airport is fairly small but because it sees thousands of tourists a day, it has a good amount of facilities. There are a few restaurants before and after security and some shops too. Massage facilities and communication services are also available. There are a few ATMs in the check-in Area. If you have time, look across the parking lot for last-minute shopping.
By bus – The Terminal Terrestre is about a 20 minute walk down the Av. Sol. You can also take a taxi for a few soles.
Buses are plentiful from other Peruvian cities like Lima (about 24 hr), Puno (6-8 hr), Arequipa (10 hr, 20 soles), Nazca (14-16 hr), but are quite long and slow, although the views can compensate. The main roads are mostly quite good, but some can be bad, making trips take longer than expected.
Also, make sure your bus has a bathroom or that it stops for bathroom breaks every couple of hours before you buy tickets. There are Puno-Cusco buses that have/do neither, and that can mean a VERY long 6-8 hours.
- Expreso Los Chankas, Pje Cáceres 150. One of the only companies to offer direct service from Ayacucho to Cusco. 55 soles for a 22 hr ride on a semi-cama bus. Buses at 6:30AM and 7PM.
By rail – Cusco is connected to Machu Picchu and Puno by rail. Rail service was recently discontinued to Arequipa. This service is operated by PeruRail.
The center of Cusco is small enough to walk around, although you will probably need to catch a bus or taxi to the bus station, Sacsayhuamán or airport. Beware about walking around at night alone and/or drunk, robberies have often been reported.
Taxis are very common in Cusco. Officially they cost 2-4 soles depending on distance. Call Alo Cusco Taxis Often many drivers are not locals. Beware when using taxis at night; robberies have been reported in collusion with taxi cab drivers, at certain times radio taxis may be the safest option. The driver might also try to extort a hefty sum of money (15 soles) for a short ride if you don’t haggle before – which is likely if you’re just arriving at night at the bus terminal and want to avoid the hordes of touts. Just pay 5 soles and leave it at that.
If you are staying in Cusco for a long time, the Combis are a cheap and reliable form of transportation. These are the Volkswagen vans and small buses with names like Imperial, Batman, or Zorro. It costs about 60 centimos to ride them. If you are unsure if a certain combi will take you where you want to go, just ask. They will call out the stops as they go and if you want to get off, you just yell “Baja!”, as in, “I want to get off!” They run until 10PM. But if you are a fan of lots of personal space, this may not be the best option for you, as they tend to be quite full. Carry your backpack in front of you.
For large groups, a tourist bus can be very convenient to get to places like Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Check with one of the many local travel agencies.
At 3,400 m above sea level, altitude sickness (soroche) can be a problem. Altitude sickness tends to sneak up on you and although its symptoms may not be apparent at first, it has the potential to develop into something extremely dangerous.
The Lost Inca Civilization • Locations & Activities