My trip to Cusco, How was it?
How is Cusco from a real traveler!
Cusco - Perú
Nicole Maxdeo
April 10, 2024

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To give you an idea, to get to Cusco from Norway, one must take 3 planes: From Norway to Amsterdam and then to Lima, and no, it doesn’t end here, there’s still a small flight from Lima to Cusco to finally feel the weight of the altitude. Not everything is bad, remember that the best reward is yet to come.

Table of Contents

My start in Cusco: Strolling through the city

As soon as I checked into the hotel, I had to sleep for at least 3 hours, I was very tired and the truth is that time wasn't exactly on my side since in 5 days it's impossible to see it all, but we'll try!

After being able to rest, I embarked with my friends from Magic Experiences on the route through the city, the so-called City tour. I honestly thought it would be boring, I was completely wrong. Every magical place showed me why the universe conspired for me to reach this magical destination.

First, we visited the Plaza de Armas and the Cusco Cathedral, learning about this masterpiece of Peruvian colonial art. With its impressive Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque structures, the cathedral invites us to immerse ourselves in centuries of religious and cultural history. I was already starting to feel breathless, but this was just one of the 5 stops we had.

After paying our entrance fees, it was time for the Temple of the Sun or Coricancha as the locals know it. Here there's nothing more to say, simply grandiose. I was surprised to see how the Spaniards imposed their beliefs on us, but this temple is the living image of how we didn't let ourselves be subdued.

Then Sacsayhuamán, Qenqo, Pucapucara, and Tambomachay. These famous 4 ruins left me LITERALLY breathless. The transport ventured into the heart of the valley and took us through these ruins which, in Inca times, meant so much, and it's no wonder, as their constructions are truly impressive. The guide explained so many things to us that one really starts to think... Wow, if the Incas could do it alone, were they really human?

After spending an afternoon between challenges due to the altitude and wonderful (though a bit rainy) views of Cusco, my stomach was already asking for food and I couldn't deny it. I had the opportunity to eat, recommended by the agency, at the MORENA restaurant. It was simply AMAZING. Peruvian food with Andean fusion, unparalleled flavors, and you can tell that the ingredients are local. 1000 points!

My second day, almost close to Machu Picchu

For today, the plan is to wake up early, I remember being able to have breakfast at 7 and the transport picked me up with my friendly guide. Here, I'll be honest, I slept a little more, almost for 40 minutes until the bus stopped and I knew that a new day of adventures was approaching. We were already in Chinchero, a picturesque town known for its colorful looms and rich history. Here, we visited the archaeological center to explore the ancient Inca ruins and learn about the local culture.

I knew that more ruins were coming, so already awake I prepared the cameras. We visited Moray, a fascinating archaeological site composed of circular agricultural terraces, and then Maras, yes, the place from Instagram. I've seen so many photos of this place that it seemed unreal to me. I took advantage and took a thousand photos with this scenario that left me speechless.

I asked about lunch and finally we headed to Urubamba to the restaurant where the variety of dishes amazed us. From ceviches, makis, and Peruvian Creole dishes. Wow, a spectacle for the stomach. I couldn't eat much, because I was advised not to eat much, but it was still incredible.

The last stop to be able to board my train was Ollantaytambo. Here comes the real challenge, walking up the stairs to the top, oh, better get ready because this is just the beginning.

The panoramic train journey

After staying in Ollantaytambo, my guide gave me the instructions to get to my car. I presented my documents and finally I could enter. What the news show is true, there are many people who want to board the trains, they should increase their frequencies, perhaps.

Once inside, the train staff welcomed us and we were able to enjoy the comfortable seats, but by that time I was already half asleep, I took the opportunity to rest but my mind was saying, you'll miss the scenery. The train I was able to get was the Vistadome, characterized by its wide windows that allowed us to see EVERYTHING on the route. It was curious how we went from that typical mountain environment to the warm jungle brow. Everything is magical, the atmosphere, the sound of the river, nature, and the sky. After almost 2 hours, we arrived at Aguas Calientes, a town where you can already feel the warmth of the place and its people.

My night in Aguas Calientes

Anxiety didn't let me rest, I already wanted it to be the next day so I could visit Machu Picchu. I settled into the hotel, which, by the way, was a total success. I was able to rest in the comfortable and cozy bed, listening to the river and the calm it provides us. Today I only ate the snack from the train at night because I wanted to be light for Machu Picchu.

Our dreams come true, Machu Picchu

I was told by phone that the day would start at 5:30 am. The hotel packed my "lunchbox" for me and I was ready for the guide. I noticed there were many mosquitoes, so I bought a repellent. Camera, glasses, and passport ready.

After the guide passed by the group, we went to board one last transport to Machu Picchu, the bus. Yes, surely like me, you also thought that Machu Picchu was right there, well no. It took us almost 25 minutes to get to the gate through a zigzagging path. Finally, my last queue and boom: Machu Picchu.

The phrase: That's why I work, made sense at that precise moment. In front of me was the wonder of the world and the beauty of this mystical place. We started our guided tour and the photos really match this visit. We toured the Main Square, the Circular Tower, the Sacred Solar Clock, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows, and the cemeteries. Here I was already wondering, where's the famous photo? The guide told us it was the guardian's house and we finally made it. There's a bit of a crowd to take this long-awaited photo but nothing that a good mood can't solve.

Mind you, don't forget that the bathroom can only be used at the beginning. After almost 3 hours, the guide told us we finished the tour and that now we can choose where to eat. We freshened up a bit and went to taste once again the delight of Peruvian food.

In the afternoon, after having enjoyed the day of adventures, I boarded the train back to Cusco and honestly I fell totally asleep. Then I woke up on the bus to Cusco and ready to rest with my dreams come true.

My last day in Cusco: The colorful mountain

I was very doubtful about this tour, I thought about not taking it but they convinced me. I saw many photos of this colorful mountain but I thought about 2 things: Is it true? Is it difficult to get to? When you research the place you want to visit, you generally see edited photos and in good weather, however, this can be different from reality, right?

Well then, let the journey begin.

This trip was a bit long, almost 6 hours round trip and a walk of about 3 hours more or less, but it was totally worth it. The ascent is steep but only in the last part, during the journey you'll have bathrooms available to rent and many opportunities to take photos with llamas.

Upon arrival, I realized that I had low expectations, as the mountain did have 7 colors! I took advantage of the good weather and the help of my guide and captured an unforgettable postcard. The food during this day was incredible, a lot of variety in one of the best restaurants I've tried. Rainbow mountain was amazing!

My recommendations for Cusco

  1. Research. Cusco has thousands of options available for travelers, from adventure, hikes, and activities. It's better to have an agency like Magic Experiences that can guide you through the best tours.
  2. Don't be fooled. There are many retail vendors who will try to give you very low prices for tours but you'll end up in a group of more than 20 people and won't enjoy anything.
  3. Exchange your dollars in Cusco. Near the Plaza de Armas there are many exchange houses that help tourists. The exchange rate is much better in Cusco than in Lima.
  4. Cusco is a safe city. As everywhere, it's good to be cautious, but let me tell you that Cusco is one of the safest places I've set foot in. Very well lit and above all, most people are honest.
  5. Street vendors. This is a problem since they tend to be insistent, but there's nothing that the kindness of a good NO can't solve.
  6. Taxi prices range from 10 to 25 soles. Don't overpay, remember that the price is seen in terms of distances.

I appreciate the bravery I had to travel alone and enjoy this magical place. There are always good and bad moments but, without a doubt, Cusco takes the Oscar for tourism. Cheer up and visit Cusco!

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