Cusco and its surroundings are some of the most picturesque in the world, and it’s no surprise that visitors come from across the globe to enjoy it. One of the best ways to see as much of the natural beauty as possible is to head out of the city on some day hikes.
It’s perfect for getting away from the city, soaking up the wonderful landscapes, and enjoying some days out that you’ll remember for a lifetime. We’ve put together our top one day hikes in Cusco for you to make a part of your itinerary when you visit this amazing place.
To help you decide which tours you want to include in your trip, read our brief descriptions below. If you have time, we recommend trying them all.
This is a truly once in a lifetime trip that takes you to the incredible imposing mountain Vinicunca, also known as Rainbow Mountain. The place got its name due to the spectacularly colorful hillsides that resemble a rainbow. The colors have appeared over the years due to the different minerals that can be found there.
During the hike, you’ll walk through dreamy landscapes where you’ll see flocks of sheep, llamas, and alpacas. You’ll also get to see some small Andean communities on your way to the starting point. Make sure you acclimate in the city of Cusco for at least 2-3 days beforehand, however, as you’ll be hiking up to a height of 5,200 masl.
Amongst the snowy mountain peaks of the Andes and in front of the giant Apu Salkantay, sits the turquoise gem that is Humantay Lake. It’s one of the most beautiful sights to see in the area and the contrast of colors from the lake and the snow is truly stunning. It’s an excellent place to take some gorgeous photos.
The trek isn’t too far from Cusco and can be done in a morning or an afternoon. It’s a good idea to spend a day or two in the city before, though. On this hike you’ll get up to 4,221 masl at the lake itself. It’s a great way to witness a small Andean community that live in a very rural part of Cusco.
One of the lesser-visited Inca archaeological sites is Huchuy Qosqo. If you aren’t a fan of big crowds, this is a great option. It’s located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas and sits high up on a hillside. The Spaniards called it Little Cusco because a lot of the buildings looked similar to those in the city itself.
This is an extremely picturesque hike through the rolling hills and small communities that ends up at this site. It served as an administrative and military center hundreds of years ago. This day trip is a great way to learn more about the history surrounding Cusco in the age of the Incas.
Pallay Punchu is the latest of the colorful mountains in Cusco to be attracting visitors. When thinking of Cusco and Peru, many of you probably conjure images of ponchos. Many believe the mountain resembles one of the colorful garments.
It’s a stunning, peaceful hike through beautiful landscapes that takes you to this site. You’ll pass through local communities as well as agricultural areas and see plenty of livestock. You’ll walk with sharp mountains on one side and a dark lake on the other up to an altitude of 4,700 masl, so preparation is essential.
Palcoyo is another mountain full of colors and isn’t known by many, making it another great option for those looking to stay away from the crowds. As with most of the hikes, you’ll be heading up high again to 4,900 masl. You get to see 3 mountains full of color that look stunning in the middle of the Andes.
This is a relatively easy hike compared to Rainbow Mountain. You’ll walk just one and a half hours there and back and most of it is flat terrain. You don’t need a high fitness level for this one. It does get very chilly up this high, though, so make sure you’re prepared.
This day hike will take you to an Inca temple high in the Andean mountains. It’s a fantastic day out and far away from any crowds. You’ll see some wonderful flora and fauna, including the famous llamas and alpacas, as well as enjoy beautiful surroundings.
You’ll pass some incredible rock formations and small lagoons before you reach the main site. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn more of Cusco’s history. Enjoy this off the beaten path hike by starting early in the morning to make the most of it.