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Where to Stay in Cusco
Cusco is the gateway city to Incan culture. No matter where you stay in this historic city, you will get a sense of both the its ancient heritage as well as its Spanish-colonial past. Whether you choose to book a room in a high-end luxury boutique or one of the many discount backpacker hotels, you will certainly encounter amazing sights and exciting adventures.
The most popular area for tourists to stay is in the centrally located Plaza de Armas, Cusco's town square. Here, day or night, you can always find some form of entertainment in this bustling city center. Photograph the picturesque churches that line the plaza's streets, or duck into one of the many charming cafes for some delicious Peruvian coffee. There are also a number of wonderful little shops along the square that are perfect for souvenir shopping.
Or head over to the Plaza de San Francisco, another hotspot for daytime entertainment and nightlife action. Enjoy the local cuisine at one of the many nearby restaurants. If you're feeling bold, sample some roasted guinea pig, a delicacy among the Cusco people. For those looking for cold libations, sip on a sweet Pisco Sour, the traditional Peruvian cocktail.
Cusco Hotel Tips
Unlike the U.S., Cusco only has two seasons: rainy and dry. If you want to avoid the wet weather, consider buying your flight to Cusco outside the months of January and February, which are known to get the most precipitation. If you want to take advantage of some of the best hotel deals, search for reservations at the tail end of this rainy season, around April or May. Peak season tends to hit in the summertime, when the weather is drier. If you choose to go around this time, you'll definitely want to find rooms in advance, since hotels fill up fast.
In addition, because of Cusco’s extremely high altitude—the city is located nearly 11,000 feet above sea level—the uninitiated may need to take a day or two to get used to the air quality. One way to help diminish any negative affects from the thinner air is to find a hotel that offers oxygenated rooms. Some accommodations will either supply oxygen tanks while others will actually pump extra oxygen into guest rooms to help ease this transition.
Cusco Hotel Recommendations
Stay along Plaza de Armas in one of the most luxurious boutiques in Cusco. The Hotel Monasterio occupies a former monastery that dates back to the late 16th century. Featuring baroque architecture and private courtyards, guests can sleep comfortably in their modern Spanish-colonial-style rooms that provide wonderful views of the city. For an additional fee, the hotel can provide extra oxygen to your room to help stave off altitude sickness.
If you want something a little more mid-range, check out the El Balcon Inn. The small hostel claims 16 rooms all with their own bathrooms. El Balcon is only three blocks away from the Plaza de Armas and features its own private garden that guests can use for reading or relaxing.
Or stay in the family-run Garden House. This affordable boutique hotel rests on a beautiful piece of land that is overflowing with native flowers and plants. Only a short 10-minute walk from the Plaza de Armas, the Garden House provides guests with comfortable rooms, modern conveniences, a fully stocked bar and sitting rooms with open wood fires. And with babysitting services and large suites, it’s the perfect spot for families on a budget.
Cusco doesn’t have a full-fledged public transportation system. Most hotels and tour operators have vans that can bus you around site to site or to and from the airport. If you're traveling during the peak summer season, you'll want to call tour operators in advance to make sure there are vacancies.
Another options is to catch a cambi, one of the many local buses that drive throughout Cusco's streets. Of course, you can always opt to walk as well, since many attractions, shops and restaurants are clustered together around the city's squares. Just make sure to take some time to adjust to the city's high altitude before going on any long treks.
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