What is the best time to visit Cusco?

The best time to visit Cusco | Cusco is the Mecca of Cultural Tourism in South America, it has an ancient history as Cusco city and Cuzco region, Cusco is the place where defining historical events happened and changed the Horizon of Latin America, such as the Tupac Amaru II rebellion in 1781 or the birth of Clorinda Matto de Turner, the first female novelist in Peru.   

In Cusco you will find the best attractions for cultural tourism and eco-tourism, for example the historic center, the Plaza de Armas, Saqsaywaman, the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Choquequirao, Humantay lake, the Rainbow Mountain, and the most important attraction Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountain.

In this city you will also find the most popular celebrations from Peru, such as the Inti Raymi, Corpus Cristi and Santurantikuy.

1. Useful Data of Cusco

  1. Cusco has been for thousands of years, the cradle of the Andean civilization, during the Inca Empire it was the capital city, the Rome of South America, when the Spaniards arrived at Cusco city in the 15th century the population was 20 thousand inhabitants living in this city.
  2. En 1534, llegan los españoles y cambian el diseño urbanístico de la ciudad, y también se destruye el 80% de la ciudad Inca. La ciudad que visitarás es en un 60% colonial, 30% republícano y un 10% Inca.
  3. In the colonial or Spanish period, Cusco was still very influential from the religious point of view, note that the first Art School of South America was founded is in Cusco known as “La Escuela Cusqueña“. In this School of Art, about 20 thousand of oil canvases were painted, and you see them nowadays in the main colonial churches of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.
  4. The Original Indigenous name of this city is “Qosqo“, but due to a phonetic matter of the first Conquerors, the Spaniards changed to Cusco; Qosqo in the Quechua language means the “Center of the Universe“.
  5. The city of Cusco is located in the southern part of the Andes of Peru, at 3400 masl, it has a population of about half a million inhabitants.
  6. We use the term Cusco to address both the city and the region, however the region of Cusco has a population of 1.5 million inhabitants.
  7. You can write it Cusco or Cuzco, both are grammatically correct.
  8. UNESCO declared the historic center of Cusco World Heritage Site in 1983.
  9. The tourist infrastructure of Cusco is very good; you will find hotels, hostels, restaurants, bars, discos, recreation areas, etc. However, Cusco doesn´t have its own International Airport, so if you want to travel to Cusco you will have to stop in Lima.

2. What is the weather like to travel to Cusco?

  • Cusco is cold and dry, temperatures vary from 0 ºC (32 ºF.) to 21ºC (70 ºF), the weather all in all is good just make sure you wear the appropriate clothes at all times.
  • It is very windy and cold at night (especially in the months of May and July), during the day time the Sun literally burns your skin, note that we are 3400 meters closer to the sun than all people living at the cost line or sea level.

3. What are the weather seasons in Cusco?

The Andes of Peru and Cusco have two seasons, the dry and the rainy season.

3.1 The Dry Season

  • It begins in the middle of April and ends in mid-November, the driest months are June and July.
  • It doesn´t mean that during April and November never rains, from time to time there some showers.
  • The days during the dry season are super hot, reaching 21°C and the nights are super cold dropping to 0 °C – The numbers suggest that 21 °C is not as hot as 35 °C in the city of Lima , this is a wrong concept because Cusco is literally 3400 masl, which means we are closer to the sun, so 21 °C is really hot.
  • During April and November we cultivate and harvest the potatoes, so if you like rural tourism, you can choose these months to see the most beautiful Andean landscapes.
  • We cultivate corn on September and haves in March (rainy season).
  • During April and November we cultivate and harvest the potatoes, so if you like rural tourism, you can choose these months to see the most beautiful Andean landscapes.

3.2 The Rainy season

  • It starts in mid-November and ends in mid-April.
  • During this season the rain is incessant, especially in the months of February and March.
  • We harvest the corn on March, so going to the fields is a good option to enjoy the andean nature.
  • Note that the agriculture of the Andes depends 80% on natural irrigation, so the rain is very good for the agricultural sector of the Andes, not everything is bad.

4. When to visit Cusco?

On the Dry Season:

  • We recommend visiting Cusco between April and November (this may change for Lima and the coastline of Peru).
  • During these months, the days are super sunny and the probability that it will rain is very low, thats is why during the dry season there are no mudslides or flight cancellations.
  • On the other hand, the prices of the excursions and accommodations are not very cheap, the tour attractions are crowded.
  • All in all, visit Cusco during the dry season to assure the best experience ever.

On the Rainy Season:

  • If you love, you can also visit Cusco between the months of December and March (rainy season), the tourist infrastructure is always in operation all year round, just be positive regarding the weather.
  • Keep in mind rainy season doesn´t mean everyday rainy day.
  • If you visit Cusco on the rainy season the accommodation, flight tickets, tours, restaurants are very cheap.
  • In Conclusion, visit Cusco on the rainy season if you are not keen to spend a lot money.

5. How many days do I have to be in Cusco?

5.1 The “Obligatory” places to visit in Cusco are:

  1. The Historic Center with free tour
  2. Saqsayhuaman
  3. The Sacred Valley
  4. Ollantaytambo
  5. The Salt Mines or “Salineras”
  6. Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain
  7. Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu

Based on the places mentioned above, you require at least 4 days to explore the must-see highlights of Cusco.

5.2 The Alternative places to visit in Cusco are:

  1. The Humantay Lagoon
  2. The Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain
  3. The last Inca Bridge of Queswachaka
  4. The Inca Trail
  5. The route to Choquequirao
  6. The Condor Lookout
  7. Waqrapukara

If you want a full experience in Cusco, you will need at least 12 days.

6. What is the cheapest month to travel to Cusco?

There are two months of the year in Cusco: February and March, during these months the prices of excursions and accommodations are super cheap.

7. What is the best month to travel to Cusco?

Well, it is a little difficult to choose a specific month to travel to Cusco; it will depend a lot on your expectations as a traveller:

  • If you like sunny days, then visit Cusco in June, note that both Inti Raymi and Corpus Christi are celebrated on this month, so the good experience is warrantied.I
  • If you are looking to spend a good family vacation at Christmas, the month of December in Cusco is the best time because we celebrate the “Saturantikuy” festival; this festivity gathers hundreds of artisans in the Plaza de Armas.
  • If rain is not a problem for you, we recommend you visit Cusco in February, on this month there is a great chance for you to visit the Red River and Palccoyo Mountain.

In Conclusion, if you want to make sure of the best experience of your life in Cusco, come to this city during the dry season, especially in June.

8. What is the Calendar of festivities in Cusco?

The ones marked in green are the holidays you should never miss.

  1. Ollantaytambo Festival – January 6: The Feast of the Three Kings is held in Ollantaytambo city, there is a big religious procession with great folkloric dancers.
  2. Fiesta de San Sebastián – January 20: It is a religious festival with great folkloric dances and traditional food festivities.
  3. The Cusqueño Carnival – in February: February is the happiest month for people of Cusco city, full of folkloric parades, locals also play with balloons filled with water.
  4. Lord of Tremors or The Black Christ – Mids of March and first week of April: A Catholic holiday that has been celebrated since the mid-seventeenth century.
  5. Cruz Velacuy or Feast of Crosses – May 2
  6. Qoyllur Rit’i – in May: If you like living culture, then participate in this millennial pilgrimage event, we are 100% sure, you will love it.
  7. Qorpus Christi – in June: It is a colonial and Catholic festival that is celebrated in Cusco; the 15 Saints will be taken out on the streets so that they can bless the people of Cusco.
  8. “Inti Raymi” or the Sun Festival – June 24: It is the most important Inca festival in Cusco.
  9. Feast of the Lady of Carmel – July 15-16 in Paucartambo: Visit the Carmel Lady in the city of Paucartambo, live up the Catholic tradition of this town.
  10. “Pachamama Raymi” – Mother Earth Day – August 1: We are Catholics, at least the majority of us, but we never forget Mother Earth.
  11. Señor de Huanca – September 14 in Calca: Catholic pilgrimage festival that has been taking place since the 18th century.
  12. Santurantikuy Festival – December 24: it is a colonial festival that takes place in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco and gathers hundreds of artisans from the city of Cusco and rural areas, they show their best master pieces.

9. What to bring when you travel to Cusco?

It will depend on the activity you will do in Cusco; below we recommend you the most essential ones:

  • Warm clothes.
  • Light backpacks for a short walks.
  • Rain poncho.
  • Hat or caps.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Mosquito repellent.
  • Waterproof jacket.
  • Anti slippery shoes, especially if you are going trekking, buy yourself some good shoes in your country..

10. Frequently Asked Questions – FAQS

10.1 Is Cusco safe?

Of course, it is! – But as in any city in the world, you always have to be careful.

10.2 Is Cusco cheap?

Everything you find near the Plaza de Armas and the San Blas neighbourhood is not cheap, however the rest of the historic center has affordable prices to stay and eat.

10.3 Should I reserve my accommodation in advance?

No, there are many accommodations for all demands, but always check their comments before reserving.

10.4 Should I book my tours in advance?

It will depend a lot on what type of tour, for example if you wish to visit Huayna Picchu mountain, you have to book in advance because the tickets are usually sold out, it is the same situation for the Inca Trail.

In Conclusion, we advise you to at least get a quote in advance for any excursion in Cusco, you don´t necessarily have to book and pay for the tour in advance except for a few of them.

10.5 When is the worst time to travel to Cusco?

None, you can visit Cusco on any day of the year.

10.6 Where to stay in Cusco?

There are many options, we advise you to stay in the historic center or Wanchaq district.