10 INCREDIBLE Day Trips from Cusco + Tips! (2024)

Planning your trip to Cusco and overwhelmed with the abundance of day trips from Cusco? I’ve been there too. There are so many incredible sights both within Cusco and just a day trip away!

I spent 6 weeks in Cusco living and volunteering there. However, I had lots of time to explore the city and take my fair share of day trips. Weather you have 1 day in Cusco or a few weeks, Cusco is definitely worth a visit! I can honestly say, I have fallen in love with this vibrant city and it’s beautiful surrounding mountains.

In this post, I will go through 10 of the best day trips from Cusco, share my favorite spots, and even give some insider tips along the way.

Let’s get started!

blue train in peru rainforest
Peru Rail Train to Machu Picchu

Table of Contents

10 Incredible Day Trips from Cusco

sunset with a cathedral
Plaza de Armas

7 Lakes of Ausangate

When considering day trips from Cusco, one of the hidden gems is 7 Lakes of Ausangate. These picturesque mountains sit at over 14,000 feet and are absolutely beautiful!

There are a few companies that run day trips from cusco to 7 Lakes of Ausangate, however, it is significantly less popular than Machu Picchu or Rainbow Mountain.

The drive is about 3 hours from Cusco, one-way. So you’ll want to be prepared for a long car ride. However, once you arrive, you have a beautiful hike that is moderately challenging ahead. Although the hike is a small incline, at this elevation you will feel every bit of it!

One of the best parts about this day trip from Cusco is that there are hot springs nearby! When you finish your hike and looking at the beautiful scenery, you can relax in natural hot springs. While I didn’t bring my swim suit, I heard these hot springs were really nice and well maintained. 

When looking for day trips from Cusco, this hidden gem should be at the top of your list because the views are just as beautiful as other spots, with much less tourists!

blue lake with big grey mountain
7 Lakes of Ausangate

Humantay Lake

Day trips from Cusco

On the way to Machu Picchu you will find Humantay Lake. Although it’s most popular for being the first stop along the famous Salkantay Trek, it also makes for a great day trip from cusco!

Humantay Lake is a beautiful lake at a high elevation with soaring mountain views. After having visited both Humantay Lake and 7 Lakes of Ausangate, I must say I am biased to the latter, but this one is nice too.

Humantay lake is about a 2 hour drive from Cusco, and a short and steep hike up to the lake. The lake sits at nearly 14,000 feet, so you will feel the air thinned out here. This makes it harder to breathe when you are hiking.

However, if you still want to visit the lake but you are not up for the hike, no worries! There are horses available for hire that will take you to the lake. Many people utilized these during my visit, and I really recommend it if you need it.

beautiful lake with blue water and snow-capped mountains - best day trips from Cusco
Humantay Lake

Machu Picchu

Can I really make a list of the best day trips from Cusco without including Machu Picchu?! 

Machu Picchu, one of the new seven wonders of the world, is without a doubt the most popular thing to do while in Cusco.

Although I recommend taking a few days to visit the area of Machu Picchu, it is possible to do in a day trip, however it is one of the most expensive options.

To take a day trip from Machu Picchu, you will need to take the train. It takes around 3 hours to get from Cusco to the base of Machu Picchu, and then another 20 minute bus ride up.

A day trip from Cusco to Machu Picchu will be a BIG day, but if you are short on time, this is the best option for you! Just be sure to pack snacks because you will be busy!

Machu picchu mountain
Machu Picchu

Rainbow Mountain

Day trips from Cusco

Admittedly, I wasn’t the most excited about Rainbow Mountain on my trip to Cusco. I heard the hike was hard and the pictures all look edited to me. However, I have hear it is a nice place to visit, and one that is one of the must-do day trips from Cusco for many travelers!

In recent years, Rainbow Mountain has taken over social media and become really popular for tourists! This means it is crowded!

Many tourists visit Rainbow Mountain, so there is an overwhelming amount of tour companies willing to take you.

PRO-TIP: If you are in a group of 3-4 consider taking a taxi in the afternoon to rainbow mountain. The price will be similar or a bit cheaper, you have private transportation, and the afternoons are less crowded than the mornings.

rainbow mountain
Rainbow Mountain

Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley is a large area just an hour away from Cusco that is famous for it’s fertile land and Inca ruins. It’s an area home to many of the most famous sights in Cusco, which makes it one of the best day trips from Cusco! However, when visiting the Sacred Valley there are many tours that go to different stops because it is impossible to do everything in a single day.

I really love day trips to the Sacred Valley because it’s only an hour away, significantly less driving than most other day trips.

Most of the day trips to the Sacred Valley stop in Pisac and Ollaytaytambo, which are both incredible day trips on their own. However, if you are short on time, you might need to combine everything into one day, to get the most out of your day trip from Cusco.

Inca ruins in the sacred valley best day trips from cusco
Moray Sacred Valley

Pisac

In the Sacred Valley you will find Pisac (or Pisaq), which is one of the most popular towns in the area. Although many tourists visit Pisac quickly, as a part of a Sacred Valley tour to see the Inca Valley ruins, it is full of beautiful city streets, markets, restaurants, and beautiful mountains.

In my opinion, this is one of the best day trips from Cusco to do Pisac as a tour on your own. Everyday, there are lots of “collectivos” or public shared buses that run from Cusco to Pisac. These buses are really cheap, only $1 for an hour long bus ride!

Pisac is best to visit on a Sunday, when the large market comes to life in the city center! However, any day of the week is magical here.

If you have extra time, many travelers choose to spend a night or two in Pisac to relax in the mountains.

inca ruines in the sacred valley - best day trips from cusco
Inca ruins on the way to Pisac

Izcuchaca

Day trips from Cusco

A hidden gem, and popular among locals is Izcuchaca. For the most authentic and least touristy day trip from Cusco, visit Izcuchaca! 

Only an hour outside of Cusco, Izcuchaca is a small town in the Sacred Valley. While it’s not a tourist town, if you are looking to get off the beaten path and more local this is one of the best day trips from Cusco.

To get here, you can take a bus from Plaza Santiago to Izcuchaca. They run about every 15 minutes and only cost 3 Soles for a one-way ticket!

After about 45 minutes of driving you’ll end up in Izcuchaca. The bus station is in the heart of the city, so from here you can begin walking and exploring.

Remember, here you can take it easy and relax in this authentic Peruvian town. Grab some food, explore, and relax among the mountains. It really is a gorgeous place with a relaxing vibe.

city street with railroad tracks in the center
Izcuchaca City Street

Ollantaytambo

Day trips from Cusco

One of the major train stops on the way to Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo is a popular spot for many travelers to make their way through, however very few stop to enjoy the city on their day trip from Cusco.

Just an hour drive outside of Cusco, Ollantaytambo is full of things to do. From ancient Inca Ruins to snow-capped mountains, this town in the Sacred Valley is worthy of a whole day dedicated to it!

Ollantaytambo also sits at a lower elevation than Cusco, making it one of the best day trip from Cusco to help acclimate to the high elevation of the area, while still having something to do.

I really like Ollantaytambo because it is less touristy than other towns in the Sacred Valley, while still having a good amount to see and do.

sacred valley with mountains and river - best day trips from Cusco
Ollaytaytambo

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is known as the birthplace of the Inca’s but also as one of the largest freshwater lakes to sit at such a high elevation! This lake is important because it gives life to the region, giving them fresh soil to grow crops and food.

However, Lake Titicaca is better known as a weekend trip from Cusco, and not feasible as a day trip. But, I still included it in this list because it’s worth considering a visit!

Overnight trips to Lake Titicaca are usually 3 days and give tourists the opportunity to live like a local and see their everyday life. It really is a unique experience and hard to find elsewhere as a tourist.

Lake and Village with mountain in Peru
Lake Titicaca

Moray and Maras

Day trips from Cusco

Last, but certainly not least, is a day trip to Moray and Maras in the Sacred Valley. I know, this list has many trips to the Sacred Valley and that is because it’s full of things to do and within a close distance to Cusco. However, Moray and Maras might be one of my favorite day trips from Cusco!

This day trip is a popular one, and with good reason! Moray and Maras are two different locations in the Sacred Valley, but nearby each other.

Moray is Inca ruins famous for the near perfect circles the Inca’s created. These circles helped with irrigation of the crops. 

Maras is the famous salt mine of the area! It’s really unique and interesting to learn about. The landscapes are different than anything I have ever seen before, and the salt produced here is just insane!

To get here, it’s best to book a tour or you could rent a car and road trip.

salt mines
Maras Salt Mines

Final Thoughts on the best Day Trips from Cusco

Cusco is a gateway city to so many beautiful landscapes and historical sights. While Cusco itself is worth spending a few days in, there are so many wonderful and iconic day trips from Cusco. From Machu Picchu to small towns in the Sacred Valley, there is so much to choose from!

After having spent 6 weeks living and exploring Cusco, I have experienced all of the day trips and really fallen in love with everything there is to do and learn in this region! It’s truly magical.

That’s why I recommend spending a week or more just in Cusco alone! There is so much to experience here, you won’t be disappointed.

blue lake with big grey mountain

I’m Danika! A travel obsessed, Disney adult, with a knack for budgeting.

In 2020 I was furlough from my “dream” job at Disney and have pursued my first love of travel ever since. I have traveled to 33 states and 28 countries spanning 5 continents.

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