So you’ve decided to visit Cusco! Fantastic idea, it’s an excellent city with enough activities to keep you busy for however long you choose to stay. There are a few different ways to get around Cusco. If you’re visiting the city in South-Eastern Peru for the first time (and you don’t speak spanish), it might be tricky to handle all the different methods of transport. But don’t worry, these Viva Air tips will help you to efficiently navigate your trip!
First of all, there is no single best way to get around Cusco, the choice depends on several factors:
- Where do you need to go?
- At which time of the day do you travel?
- Are you travelling alone or as a group?
- How much do you want to spend?
- Is comfort important to you?
The good news is, that the costs for transportation in Cusco are quite low compared to the US.
Probably the best, easiest and most direct way of getting around Cusco. Taxis are available almost everywhere in the city, at all hours of the day and night, so you should never have a problem in getting one. Just be warned, that the journey can be quite nerve-wracking, because of some drivers poor driving skills and bumpy roads…
There are officially registered taxis and illegal taxis. If possible, choose to go for authorized taxis (with a company sign), especially at night. To stop a taxi, just stand by the street and stick your arm out. Prices of course vary, but as a rule of thumb, a ride is about 4 Soles ($1.20) within the city centre, 20 Soles ($6) to Sacsayhuaman or 50 Soles (15$) to the Airport.
Viva Air Tip: Make sure to agree on a price with the drive beforehand! Just ask “¿Cuánto cuesta?” (“How much does it cost?”).
Cusco is a city for walking! The most important sights in the historic centre are all within walking distance, so make sure you don’t forget to pack a comfy pair of trainers.
But be aware that physical activity on 3,400 metres above sea level is way harder than you might think, especially if you’re not used to it in the first days after arrival. So regularly take your breaks or jump in a taxi!
Cusco doesn’t have a very well established bus system. For example, there is no direct bus from Cusco Airport to the city centre. But the buses that they do have are very cheap and do usually serve the main roads, but tend to ignore the schedule. Just jump on at the signed bus stops and pay directly to the driver (carry cash, specifically change).
4. Colectivos or Combis:
Colectivos are large shared vans and an inexpensive alternative for transportation within Cusco but also to near towns like Ollantaytambo. They don’t have a fixed schedule and depart as soon as the van is full. The driver will announce the destination. This is also a good way to get from the airport to the city centre (and back).
A great and comfortable way to get to Machu Picchu is by taking the train. There are two companies offering these services – Peru Rail and Inka Rail – both offers being very similar. The trains depart outside of Cusco at Poroy Station and the ride takes around 3 hours and 20 minutes. From the destination (Aguas Calientes) there are shuttle buses to Machu Picchu, or you can trek there.
6. Rental Car:
Renting a car can be a great option if you would like to be more independent and flexible on your travels. Many travellers like to explore the hidden gems of Sacred valley that way. But be aware, that driving in Peru can be quite dangerous, so you should be a good, confident driver. There is also the option to rent a Peruvian driver.