Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian's Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel & Design Editorial

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian’s Guide

October 2, 2023

POSTED IN: Peru, Travel

This page may contain affiliate links. This means we get a commission if you purchase through these links, at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting Aesthetics Traveler!

Hello!

I'm Karen,

I'm a luxury travel blogger, educator, and marketing consultant. I am a citizen of the world and have been traveling since 2016. 

categories

Travel

Lifestyle

Guides

Business

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Local’s Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel & Design Editorial

Peru has been creating quite a buzz lately, and for all the right reasons. It’s home to one of the world’s wonders, Machu Picchu, and boasts a culinary scene that’s been turning heads worldwide. With so much to offer, exploring Peru on your own can be a bit overwhelming. That’s where having the guidance of locals can come in handy. Relying on tried-and-true itineraries can serve as a great starting place to explore Cusco. As a Peruvian-American traveler, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing Peru through the eyes of locals (my own family and friends). This particular Cusco 5-day itinerary incorporates this local recommendation, as I traveled with other Peruvian friends who showed me around the majestic city. 

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian's Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel & Design Editorial

Pre-Cusco: Start Your Adventure In Lima 

Our Cusco adventure started with a flight from Lima to Cusco. It’s worth noting that the only way to get to Cusco is via Lima, as there are no direct international flights to Cusco. While many people skip Lima, I highly recommend spending a few days here. Eating your way through the neighborhoods of Miraflores and Barranco is highly memorable. Lima has been voted a top culinary destination worldwide, with the number 1 restaurant in the world, Central, being located in Barranco. 

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian’s Guide

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian's Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel and Design Editorial

Day 1: Arrival In Cusco, San Pedro Market & Walking Tour

Cusco is a mystical and well-known city, and the gateway to exploring Machu Picchu. After touching down in Cusco, we settled into our stylish boutique hotel right in the city center. We spent the day exploring the vibrant San Pedro market, sipping on refreshing smoothies, souvenir shopping, and then embarked on a Cusco city tour. After our full day of exploration, we headed to Morena Peruvian Kitchen for dinner. Later, we ventured out to explore Cusco’s nightlife, going on a bar-hopping adventure through the city.

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian's Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel and Design Editorial

Day 2: Sacred Valley Tour

The next day we set off early for a tour of the Sacred Valley with Cusi Travel. Our journey took us to a llama sanctuary, the remarkable Pisac market, a craft beer tasting at The Sacred Valley Brewing Co, the ruins of Ollantaytambo, and finally to our charming hotel in the Sacred Valley. It was a day filled with memorable moments, including llama and alpaca selfies, and fun souvenir shopping.

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian's Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel and Design Editorial

Day 3: Maras Salt Flats 

After a good night’s rest, we ventured out on ATVs to explore the Maras Salt Flats. The Salineras de Maras, also known as the Maras salt mines, lie just an hour’s drive from Cusco tucked away in the Sacred Valley. These salt mines have a history that predates the Inca civilization and stand as the largest pre-Hispanic salt mines in Peru, dating back to 700 BCE. They have a unique pinkish hue, and are worth the visit. The best way to reach the Maras Salt flats is with a tour, which is what we did. If an ATV tour isn’t your thing, you can also take a private or shared taxi to Maras.

If you’re traveling around South America, also check out our 48 Hour Guide to Bogota, Colombia!

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian's Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel and Design Editorial

Day 4: Train to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town)

Our Cusco 5-day itinerary followed with waking up bright and early to take the train to Machu Picchu Town. We enjoyed a scenic train ride on the Vistadome via Perurail, which took us from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes where we spent the night.  The Vistadome train provides a more comprehensive service compared to the Expedition, which is a more budget-friendly option. Vistadome ensures enhanced comfort, includes complimentary snacks, features live dance performances, and even showcases a fashion show highlighting exquisite alpaca garments. It’s worth the upgrade for a memorable experience and fantastic views! It’s worth noting that there is no train that takes you straight to Machu Picchu, so you will usually need to spend a night in Aguas Calientes (the closest town to Machu Picchu) and then take an early bus from there the next morning.

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian's Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel and Design Editorial

Day 5: Machu Picchu! 

And then came the big moment everyone had been eagerly anticipating: Machu Picchu. We opted for the bus option to get to Machu Picchu, which picked us up early in the morning as we had chosen the morning slot for our Machu Picchu visit. You can also choose to hike from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, which takes about 1.5 hours. Another option is to do the 4-day Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu, but this requires a whole different itinerary. I’m actually planning on doing the Inca Trail in June of 2024, so stay tuned for that experience! 

When you arrive to Machu Picchu you have a few options:

  1. Buy a regular pass and walk around Machu Picchu with your guide.
  2. Tackle the Wayna Picchu hike – it offers the best views of Machu Picchu. This hike is steep and not the best if you have a fear of heights, but everyone who does it says it’s worth it. There is an additional fee for this hike, on top of the regular entry pass to Machu Picchu.
  3. Take the Machu Picchu Mountain hike – this is a longer hike that takes about 1.5 hours each way. It is considered a difficult hike. You must arrive in the early morning to Machu Picchu as there are limited times you can start the hike. There is an additional fee for this hike, on top of the regular entry pass to Machu Picchu. This hike also lets you see part of the citadel you wouldn’t see from the bottom. 

Want to get paid to travel to places like these? Then check our online course!

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian's Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel and Design Editorial

I decided to skip the hikes as I’d been grappling with altitude sickness. Instead, I enjoyed a magical morning in Machu Picchu, soaking in the breathtaking views while sipping coca tea and reading a book on zen. Just being in this mystical place was incredible. There is a magical energy about Machu Picchu that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. Because of this, it’s a place everyone should experience at least once in their lifetimes. 

Day 5: Return to Cusco

After our unforgettable visit to Machu Picchu, we returned to Cusco on the Vistadome for one last night and reveled in the city’s vibrant nightlife. My friends and I hit up Chango, where we indulged in Chilcanos and danced the night away. Please note that due to the altitude, alcohol will affect you more than usual, so it’s best to keep it light. You don’t want to be falling down Cusco’s stairways like many tourists do after a night of drinking. 

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian's Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel and Design Editorial

Post Cusco: Flight back to Lima 

Whether you choose to explore Lima before or after your Cusco adventure is up to you. Regardless, you will need to come back to the wonderful Peruvian capital (which is my birthplace) after Cusco. Enjoy one last evening in the city before heading back to your home country, or extend your trip to venture out to Paracas, Huacachina, and see the mysterious Nazca lines. All highly recommended! 

Overall, my first trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu exceeded all expectations. This Cusco 5-day itinerary was a perfect introduction to the area. Exploring one of Peru’s most magnificent sites, trying new foods, and building deeper connections throughout the week made it all the more special. This is the kind of journey that can change your life and lead to lifelong friendships. Even if you decide to travel solo, I promise you’ll have a magical time.

I sincerely hope you enjoy your visit to my home country, and that it too, is a magical experience. 

Like this post? Pin It!

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian's Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel and Design Editorial
Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian's Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel & Design Editorial

Travel

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian’s Guide

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian's Guide | www.aestheticstraveler.com Luxury Travel & Design Editorial

Travel

Cusco 5-Day Itinerary: A Peruvian’s Guide

Trip Details:
  • The Cusco & Sacred Valley Tours were booked with Cusi Travels.
  • Train rides to and from Machu Picchu were booked with Peru Rail.
  • All international flights need to go through Lima.
  • This itinerary DOES NOT include any hikes to Machu Picchu. 
  • I recommend you add at least 2 days before or after Cusco to explore Lima. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Launch your own travel blog with this FREE e-book!

You've arrived at your destination. Get your FREE e-book with the steps you need to launch your own travel blog and land your dream brand partnerships! Dreams need aligned action, and The Modern Travel Blogger E-Book is your first step. 

get  your copy!