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The Best Day Trips from Cusco | Peru

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

In this article, you will find the best day trips from Cusco excluding Machu Picchu.

Especially if you plan to do one of the treks to Machu Picchu it might be a good idea to spend a few days in Cusco and the surrounding area to get used to the altitude. There are so many unique places to visit, so I have put together a list and video of the best day trips from Cusco.

  1. Rainbow Mountains

  2. Red Valley

  3. Sacred Valley

  4. Maras Salt Mines

  5. Moray Archaeological Site

  6. Ollantaytambo Archaeological Site

  7. Pisac Archaeological Site

  8. South Valley

  9. Tipon Archaeological Site

  10. Quad Biking

  11. Video

Before we jump in, I just want to let you know that all the below trips I did with William from Peru Travel Company and all the tour details are based on what he offers. I couldn't recommend him highly enough, he really was an amazing guide!

Rainbow Mountains

As my favorite one, I have to mention Rainbow Mountains. One of the most incredible places I have ever been to. Rainbow Mountains will require the whole day as it takes around 3 hours to get there. Once you have arrived it will take around an hour and a half more to get to the actual top of the Rainbow Mountains. If you are very fit you might be able to do it in one hour. Once at the top you can enjoy the beautiful view and take some pictures.

An important thing to know before you travel to Rainbow Mountains

I do not recommend doing this as the first thing upon your arrival. The top of the Rainbow Mountain where you want to get to is more than 5000 meters above sea level. Higher than Cusco and Machu Picchu. So you want to spend a few days around Cusco and do other day trips first to get used to the altitude. Leave this visit for the end of your trip. Otherwise, you might struggle on your way up.

Length: Departure usually is around 4 am and you should be back to Cusco by 5 pm.

Things to take with you: Sunscreen, an extra jacket for the summit of the mountain, anything that helps with altitude sickness (I use 'Agua de Florida', a liquid you breathe in)

Red Valley

I think a lot of people miss this just because they do not know about it. Just around the corner from Rainbow Mountain, you will find Red Valley. It is absolutely incredible place and a must-see when visiting Rainbow Mountains, You already traveled 3 hours to this place why not include an extra site.

All you have to do is take the route on the left side back and not go the same way back. The route takes an extra 20 or 30 minutes more depending on how athletic you are but it is so worth it! Once at the top you will need to pay 20 Soles more to the local community, but trust me, you won't regret it!

Length: Extra 30 minutes to your Rainbow Tour.

Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley is a beautiful area featuring many Inca Archaeological sites, mountains, rivers, and breathtaking views.

So the most important thing is to pick the sites you want to visit and arrange that with your guide. Either way exploring the sites in Sacred Valley will take you the whole day.

Here are the top sites you should see in Sacred Valley:

Maras Salt Mines

A truly unique site in Sacred Valley is Maras Salt Mines because it is a place where people still produce salt the way the Incas did it! You will find more than 6000 salt pools there and each pool belongs to one community member. Maras salt mines are protected by the local community and no one from the outside can interfere.

Length: For this site, you will need around 30 minutes as there isn't too much walking around.

Moray Archaeological Site

Here you will find renovated Inca ruins that they built as a greenhouse. It is truly amazing what the Incas came up with. This construction was created because they wanted to grow plants in the mountain areas that they found in Amazon.

I wasn't sure how it works but once I went down it was actually much hotter that at the top.

Length: For this site, you will need around 45 minutes as you can stay and view the sight from the top, and also walk down and walk through it.

Ollantaytambo Archaeological Site

Other remains of the Inca's time can be found in a little town called Ollantaytambo. There you can find an example of ruins built for 2 purposes - as the fortress and for farming. You can climb to the top where previously a Temple of the Sun was and see some amazing stone constructions.

Length: For this site, you will need around 45 minutes.

Pisac Archaeological Site

One of the biggest Inca Ruins in Sacred Valley can be found in Pisac. This construction was mainly for farming. At the top of the site, you can also see houses they used to live in. It is quite a big site so you can easily spend more time there than in other Inca Archaeological sites.

Length: For this site, you will need at least 1 hour as there are many territories to explore.

South Valley

About the above sites you might have heard before but I want to offer you something completely new - South Valley. It is not so touristic and not so well known...yet. So ideal for those who like a bit less touristic places. One of the main sites in South Valley is Tipon.

Tipon Archaeological Site

For me personally, this was the most impressive Inca archaeological site apart from Machu Picchu of course. The territory is massive so you can easily spend 2 hours there. It is special from the other Inca sites as it has many different water canals running throughout the complex.

Just have fun!

In several places, you can rent quads! You can either rent them in Sacred Valley or South Valley and go around exploring the area. For sites, you will need the entrance ticket but to just go around and enjoy the place you can do that for free (apart from the rental).

I went quad biking in South Valley and really loved it as we went high up in the mountains to this special viewpoint William took us. From there we could see all of Cusco!

Here is a video of all the places mentioned above:

If you are looking for some ideas during your stay in Cusco then read my Cusco Travel Guide and watch the video:


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