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Cusco

City Guide

Meet Cusco

Once the center of the Inca Empire, modern Cusco is a relaxed mountain city surrounded by natural beauty, and one of the best spots in Peru for digital nomads.

Once the capital of the Inca Empire, this city in the Peruvian Andes is best known for its archaeology and history. Half a million tourists come to the region each year to see Machu Picchu, the most famous of the many historical sites in and around Cusco. The city is so steeped in history it’s easy to feel like you’ve stepped back in time, and life in Cusco happens at a more relaxed pace than you’ll find in other world cities. Though its cobbled streets can give Cusco the feel of a village, its population is over 400,000--the seventh-largest city in Peru. Its location in the mountains gives the city a unique climate and prevents it from sprawling, ideal for those who prefer walking to driving. While most people associate Cusco with mountain hikes and natural beauty, its popularity with backpackers also gives it a surprisingly active nightlife.

Where to live in Cusco

Compared to other cities in South America, Cusco is relatively compact and you can navigate easily on foot. You don’t have to worry about feeling stuck in whatever neighborhood you choose. The areas close to Plaza de Armas are the busiest, and where you’ll find the most active nightlife and entertainment scene. You don’t have to go too far from the center to find quieter, more residential neighborhoods, though. The topography of the city provides more separation between neighborhoods than you might find in other cities.

Best Neighborhoods in Cusco

The first question you’ll want to ask yourself is what level of immersion you’re looking for. If you’re a Spanish speaker and want to jump headlong into local life, living in a more residential neighborhood like Lucrepata or San Cristobal can give you a more authentic experience. The highest concentration of expats tend to live in San Blas, so you may find that the most comfortable neighborhood if you’re not confident in your Spanish skills. The Plaza de Armas is the most tourist-heavy area, and also where you’ll find the most entertainment options and the best nightlife.

Quick Facts About Cusco

Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire at its height, and was later colonized by the Spanish. Both influences can be seen and felt as if you walk through the modern city. While many travelers see Cusco as a home base for exploring the region, the city itself is also well-worth exploring. Here are some quick facts to get you started.
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Work in Cusco

Tourism plays a significant role in Cusco’s economy but don’t take that to mean the only jobs are in hospitality. It has historically been a farming and mining region, and the proximity to the Camisea Gas Fields makes it important to the energy industry, as well. Peru’s economy is one of the strongest in South America and Cusco has a relatively low unemployment rate. It’s a great place to find work in resource management and development or finance, especially international banking. Of course, if you are interested in a job in tourism, there are plenty of those available, too, especially if you’re multilingual.

How good is Cusco for Digital Nomads or Remote Work

Remote work is changing how the global workspace operates. In a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down, remote work is rapidly on the increase all around the world—especially in a place like Cusco. And about 25% of remote workers describe themselves as digital nomads—those who like to travel or stay in cities around the world while they work. So, how good is Cusco for both of these growing movements?

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Food and Drink in Cusco

The flavors in Peruvian cuisine are built on local ingredients, primarily peppers, corn, and potatoes, giving it a flavor unique from anywhere else in the world. Local favorites for traditional cuisine include El Huacatay, Pachapapa, and Cafe Inkaterra. For a more luxurious take try Chica, which is run by Gaston Acurio, one of the biggest names in Peru’s culinary scene. Limo in Plaza de Armas puts a different twist on classic dishes, whose fusion of Japanese and Peruvian flavors creates menu items like ceviche-style sushi. Cicciolina has a varied menu with both Peruvian and international options, and the sophisticated decor makes it a great spot for a nice dinner. Fallen Angel is another spot whose quirky decor is only matched by the innovative menu, featuring dishes like beer-marinated duck or risotto served in a banana leaf. If you want to drink like a local, get accustomed to the taste of Pisco. This brandy-style liquor is the base of most local cocktails, including the Pisco sour and Chilcano. While you can find these drinks on most bar menus, you’ll find the best cocktails at the Museo de Pisco, a 3-story bar that specializes in the local liquor. For live music while you drink, check out The Muse or KMO in San Blas.

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Bars

Top 6 Things To Do in Cusco

The trails and ruins around Cusco offer tons of variety for those who like to explore. Favorite stops include Koricancha, the Sacred Valley, the Pisac Ruins, and--of course--Machu Picchu. For attractions in the city, Cusco has simplified things for tourists. Entry to the museums, ruins, and other cultural sites are under the same ticket, called a boleto turistico. It lasts 5 days and costs less than 50 US dollars, so if you have an interest in history that’s something you’ll want to take advantage of. Favorites include the Coca Museum, the Museo de Arte Pre-Colombino, and the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco.

Plaza Kusipata

Cusco

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Coca Museum

Cuesta de San Blas 618 618, Cusco

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Iglesia, Museo y Convento de San Francisco

Plaza San Francisco S/N, Cusco

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San Pedro Market

Cusco

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ChocoMuseo

Calle Garcilaso 210, Cusco

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Plaza San Blas

Cuesta de San Blas, Cusco

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