Cusco 4 Day Itinerary: Exploring the Best of Cusco and its Surroundings
A 4-Day Itinerary Packed with History, Culture, and Nature.
Cusco 4 Day Itinerary
Cusco, also known as the "navel of the world," is a city steeped in history and culture. It was once the capital of the Inca Empire and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting millions of visitors each year. If you are wondering how many days in Cusco are enough to explore the city and its surroundings, we recommend a 4-day itinerary. This itinerary will take you through some of the most iconic attractions in Cusco and its surroundings, including the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Humantay Lagoon, and Rainbow Mountain, among others.
Day 1: Sacred Valley and Overnight Stay in Aguas Calientes
Your adventure in Cusco begins with a trip to the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley is a picturesque region that stretches from Pisac to Ollantaytambo, along the Urubamba River. It is home to some of the most impressive Inca ruins, agricultural terraces, and traditional Andean villages.
Your tour of the Sacred Valley will start with a visit to the Pisac ruins, located high above the valley. The ruins are composed of terraces, temples, and residences, and offer spectacular views of the valley. Afterward, you will visit the traditional market of Pisac, where you can purchase souvenirs and handicrafts made by the local communities.
Next, you will head to the town of Urubamba, where you will enjoy a delicious lunch. From there, you will continue to the Ollantaytambo ruins, one of the most significant Inca sites in the region. The ruins are a formidable fortress and temple complex, built to protect the entrance to the Sacred Valley from invaders.
After your visit to Ollantaytambo, you will take the train to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. Aguas Calientes is a charming town situated at the foot of Machu Picchu, surrounded by lush vegetation and the sound of the Urubamba River. You will spend the night in Aguas Calientes, preparing for an early morning visit to Machu Picchu.
Day 2: Visit to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, needs no introduction. It is an iconic attraction and a bucket list destination for many travelers. The ancient citadel was built in the 15th century and was abandoned during the Spanish conquest. It was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham and has since become a symbol of the Inca civilization.
Your visit to Machu Picchu will start early in the morning, when you take the bus from Aguas Calientes to the entrance of the citadel. You will be greeted by the stunning view of the ruins, surrounded by the Andes Mountains and the clouds. Your guide will take you through the most important sites in Machu Picchu, including the Sun Gate, the Temple of the Sun, and the Intihuatana.
After your guided tour, you will have some free time to explore the citadel on your own or take the optional hike to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain (tickets must be purchased in advance). In the afternoon, you will take the train back to Cusco, where you will spend the night.
Day 3: Humantay Lagoon
On the third day of your Cusco itinerary, you will explore the stunning Humantay Lake, located in the Vilcabamba mountain range, about 4 hours from Cusco. The lagoon is situated at an altitude of 4,200 meters above sea level and
is fed by the melting snow from the Humantay Mountain, which is part of the Andes Mountain Range. The lagoon's turquoise color and the surrounding snow-capped mountains create a postcard-perfect view that will take your breath away.
You will start your tour early in the morning, driving through the high Andean landscape until you reach the trailhead. The trek to the Humantay Lagoon takes about 2 hours, and it is a challenging hike that requires good physical condition. Along the way, you will enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and you will pass through traditional Andean communities.
Once you reach the lagoon, you will have some free time to explore the area, take pictures, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the landscape. You can also take a dip in the cold waters of the lagoon if you dare. Afterward, you will descend to the trailhead, where you will be driven back to Cusco.
Day 4: Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley
The last day of your Cusco itinerary is dedicated to exploring the Rainbow Mountain and the Red Valley. The Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca, is a stunning geological formation located in the Andes Mountains. The mountain's colors are due to the presence of different minerals, including iron, copper, and sulfur, which create a rainbow-like effect on the slopes.
You will start your tour early in the morning, driving for about 3 hours until you reach the trailhead. The trek to the Rainbow Mountain takes about 2-3 hours, and it is a challenging hike that requires good physical condition. Along the way, you will enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and you will pass through traditional Andean communities.
Once you reach the top of the Rainbow Mountain, you will have some free time to explore the area, take pictures, and marvel at the stunning landscape. You can also hike to the Red Valley, a nearby attraction with equally impressive views. Afterward, you will descend to the trailhead, where you will be driven back to Cusco.
A 4-day itinerary in Cusco is the perfect way to explore the city and its surroundings, including the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Humantay Lagoon, and Rainbow Mountain. This itinerary offers a mix of history, culture, and nature, providing a well-rounded experience of this fascinating region. Whether you are a history buff, an adventure seeker, or a nature lover, Cusco has something to offer for everyone. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable journey in the heart of the Andes Mountains.