International flights into the capital city of Lima are plentiful, but once there, you need to find a way to get to Cusco, which is approximately 1,100 km (684 miles) away. The fastest way to get to Cusco from Lima is by plane; it only takes about 55 minutes. I do not recommend traveling by bus because it would take around 24 hours; only do it if you intend to make stops along the way to visit other places.
It is not recommended to rent a car to travel from Lima to Cusco. The roads are rough and you could find yourself lost or facing some of the dangers that come with traveling in unfamiliar territory.
How to get to the center from the airport
The Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport is about 20 minutes from downtown Cusco. Cusco Airport Shuttle and Cusco Shuttle charge around $20.00 to take you downtown, depending on the location of your hotel in the city. Both companies allow you to book the return trip.
Taxis are actually cheaper and can cost around $5 USD for the trip. The main disadvantage is that you will have to haggle over the price, as the drivers will try to charge you more.
How to get around Cusco
Cusco covers a large area, but it is easy to get around. Most of the main attractions are in one area, so you can walk from one place to another.
Taxis are a cheap and convenient way to get around. They are regulated and charge flat rates rather than metered rates, but it’s best to ask what the final price will be before you get on. Uber is also available.
Another popular way to get around is to take a panoramic bus around the city. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the area. The tour on the panoramic bus takes about an hour, and a guide provides narration about the different places you’ll see. It costs around $18 USD.
Colectivo buses are another option for getting around and cost around $1.50 per trip, while regular public transportation buses charge $0.25 per trip.
I do not recommend renting a car in Cusco. There is a lot of traffic, chaotic traffic! And the road conditions are bad. Also, the driving is aggressive and traffic jams are common.
Be sure to pack smart
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it tends to get chilly in the mornings and evenings, so one of the best tips for traveling to Cusco is to make sure you bring a warm, windproof jacket, gloves, a warm hat, and clothing that can be layered. Despite the low temperatures in the region, the sun is still strong during the day, so be sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. If you plan to go to restaurants or bars, be sure to pack at least one outfit suitable for the occasion, as some places have dress codes.
Since you will be doing a lot of walking, the most important thing is to bring a sturdy pair of walking shoes that are resistant to the elements. Also, remember to wrap your toiletries in plastic, as the change in altitude can cause them to explode (I know from personal experience!).