Cusco is more than just a launchpad for Machu Picchu. It’s a stunning mountain city and one of the most historically significant in South America, once the capital of the fabled Inca Empire. If you’re planning to take on the Inca Trail or one of the many other amazing hikes in the region, it’s the perfect place to acclimatise to the altitude while getting to know the region’s history. We’ve compiled the best hostels in Cusco to help you choose your base.
This article contains booking links for our recommended hostels, from which we may make commission at no extra cost to you.
In this article:
Cusco: a quick overview
One of the world’s largest high-altitude cities, Cusco stands at 3,400 metres above sea level in the Peruvian Andes mountains. A city of complex historical intrigue, it is riddled with symbolic architecture, ruins and archaeological sites. Its lofty setting also makes it a spectacular city to behold, spread across curvaceous mountain hills.
Cusco is most famous for being the nucleus and administration centre of the Inca Empire between the 13th and 16th centuries. In the days before the arrival of the Incas, it was home to the Killke people and from the 16th century onwards it came under colonial rule after the Spanish conquest.
The city has been built in layers over the centuries of different settlements, giving it a unique appearance and historical profile. For example, the fortress of Sacsayhuaman was adapted by the Incas from an original Killke complex, while the Spanish-era Santo Domingo Church was built on the foundations of Coricancha, one of the most important temples of the Inca Empire. The city’s streets are full of examples of architecture from its complex past, and museums to find out more.
This fascinating history, along with the close proximity to Machu Picchu and various spectacular hiking trails in the Andes, brings over 2 million tourists to Cusco every year.
For ideas on how to spend your time in Cusco, check out our tips on the best things to do in the city.
How to get to Cusco
The easiest way to reach Cusco is via its international airport, Alejandro Velasco Astete. It’s an hour and 20 minutes’ journey from the country’s capital, Lima, a flight which be as cheap as 110 PEN if booked in advance.
Another option, which is often cheaper, is to arrive by bus. Several companies in Peru operate bus routes to Cusco from the main cities of Lima, Arequipa and Puno. Our favourite is Cruz Del Sur, which is reasonably priced and offers excellent comfort – very important for the winding mountain roads on the way! Another option is Peru Hop, which is a little more expensive but provides flexibility on travelling dates and additional services for tours, accommodation and border crossings.
If you’re travelling to Cusco from Puno, there’s also the option to make the journey by train on the Andean Explorer. It’s a scenic, ten-hour journey that runs a few times a week, stopping once on the way at La Raya.
Best hostels in Cusco
These are the top-rated hostels in Cusco for providing great value, excellent facilities and an ideal base for trekking adventures or day trips in the region.
La Posada Del Viajero
La Posada Del Viajero is a clean and friendly hostel that makes a comfortable base for trekking preparation and recovery. It has a great central location, just a short walk from the Plaza de Armas.
The hostel offers private rooms for up to six people, each of which features a private bathroom and is equipped with cable TV and safe boxes. It’s the ideal base if you need your own space to relax and prepare for trekking, and is great value for money in comparison to local hotels.
Located in the charm of a rustic old building, La Posada provides a relaxing environment, and has a great reputation for customer service thanks to its kind and attentive staff. There’s also a free large buffet breakfast served every day, including eggs and fresh juice.
Cost: single privates $50 | shared privates $65–$100
Facilities include: free breakfast | 24-hour reception and security | hot showers | self-catering facilities | common room | luggage storage
Samay Wasi Youth Hostel
Samay Wasi is a fantastic all-round hostel located in the scenic San Blas district of Cusco, with spectacular views of the city and within close reach of many restaurants and shops. It’s a safe and chilled-out place to stay either side of a trek.
The only downside to San Blas is that it’s an uphill walk from the central plaza. Once you arrive at the hostel, coca tea is available all day to help with altitude. If you’re heading off on a trek you can leave your luggage at the hostel.
If you’re staying for two or more nights, an airport or bus station transfer is included. A free basic breakfast is served daily with an option to pay an extra 4 Peruvian soles for eggs.
Cost: dorms $12–13 | privates $30–$35
Facilities include: free breakfast | 24-hour reception and security | hot showers | self-catering facilities | common room and outdoor terrace | luggage storage
Gaia House a charming hostel in an old colonial building with a great central location. Just a few blocks from Plaza de Armas in the historic centre, it’s also a 15-minute walk from the Sacsayhuaman ruin site.
The staff at Gaia House are friendly and happy to help with information about the city and booking tours. There’s a relaxed but social vibe with common areas, games, activities and a coffee bar. Make sure you try one of the house pisco sours.
You’ll find a supermarket right next to the hostel where you can stock up on supplies. A free breakfast of bread, jam, cereals, fruit, coffee and juice is served daily, with eggs available for a small additional fee.
Cost: dorms $9–12 | privates $43
Facilities include: free breakfast | 24-hour reception and security | hot showers | self-catering facilities | common room | bar and café | book exchange | laundry | luggage storage
Wild Rover Hostel Cusco
If you’re looking for a social place in Cusco to meet people, hang out and party, Wild Rover is one of the best. The hostel has an on-site Irish bar open until late every day, and is renowned for its great atmosphere.
The hostel features pod-style dorms with private curtains, personal lights and plug sockets, and thick blankets (it can get very cold in Cusco at night). There are also private suites available with fantastic views across the city.
Wild Rover is one of the cheapest accommodation options you’ll find in the city. Note that credit cards aren’t accepted, so you’ll need to have cash ready (although there is an ATM on site).
Cost: dorms $9–16 | privates $39–$49
Facilities include: free wifi | hot showers | bar and restaurant | luggage storage | common room | 24-hour reception and security | book exchange | security lockers | ATM
Intro Hostels Cusco
Intro Hostels, located in the historic centre of Cusco, is in the beautiful setting of a converted 300-year-old mansion. It’s a great choice if you’re a social traveller who likes to meet people, but still like space to chill out and get a good night’s sleep.
The hostel offers a comfortable and clean base in Cusco with very good facilities at excellent value. With an on-site bar and restaurant, outdoor terrace, fire pit and pool table, it fosters a positive social vibe.
A basic free breakfast is served every day, and you can leave your luggage free of charge if you’re heading off on a multi-day trek.
Cost: dorms $8.50–13.50 | privates $26–$48
Facilities include: free breakfast | bar, café and restaurant | common room and outdoor terrace | 24-hour reception and security | hot showers | security lockers | luggage storage
Cusco hostels comparison table
|Hostel||Quick info||Prices||Book now|
|La Posada Del Viajero||Clean and friendly hostel with private rooms for up to six people||Privates $50–$100 (1–6 people)||booking.com | hostelworld|
|Samay Wasi Youth Hostel||Relaxed hostel with top facilities and great city views in the San Blas district||Dorms $12–$13, privates $30–$35||booking.com | hostelworld|
|Gaia House||Charming, social hostel in a renovated colonial building in a central location||Dorms $9–$12, privates $43||booking.com | hostelworld|
|Wild Rover Hostel Cusco||Party hostel with pod-style dorms and late Irish bar||Dorms $9–$16, privates $39–$49||booking.com | hostelworld|
|Intro Hostels Cusco||Social but relaxed hostel in a converted 300-year-old mansion.||Dorms $8.50–$13.50, privates $26–$48||booking.com | hostelworld|
Want to check out some self-catered accommodation too? Look up our guide to sites like Airbnb you can try.
Cusco hostels map
Use the map below to locate the hostels recommended in this article:
Further reading on Peru
If you’re still in the early stages of planning your trip and haven’t chosen a tour operator yet, have a read of our article on why G Adventures is the best option for hiking the Inca Trail. If you’re a newcomer to multi-day hiking and nervous about the challenge, our complete guide to hiking the Inca Trail for first-timers will help to put you at ease, while our Inca Trail packing list covers everything you’ll need to bring.
If you’re travelling elsewhere in Peru, you might find our other articles useful:
- Lima in 2 days: the perfect itinerary for backpackers
- Colca Canyon trek: an up and down experience
- Flying over the Nazca Lines: a complete guide
- 24 hours in Huacachina: the Peruvian desert oasis
- Visiting Iquitos: the gateway to the Peruvian Amazon
- Discovering Peru on a budget: the legendary local menú restaurants
- How much does a Peru trip cost? Here’s what we spent
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