If there’s one place that almost every traveller in South America will head for at some point on their journey, it’s Cusco.
Located in the south of Peru, an overnight bus ride from the Bolivian border, this lively city lies at the heart of the backpacker fun in this continent.
With Machu Picchu on its doorstep, ancient Incan culture oozing from the walls and more hikes, ruins and mountainous dreams around than you can shake a stick, it really is no wonder Cusco is hot on everyone’s list.
And with this popularity comes a large amount of tourist infrastructure too, because Cusco has just about everything the traveller could need.
From travel agencies and hiking gear shops to restaurants, cafes and bars aplenty, the centre of Cusco is a touristy world and at the heart of it all lies the backpackers!
Joining the crowds, I’ve got to admit that I ended up spending over 3 weeks in and around Cusco, exploring the length and breadth of what this amazing destination has to offer.
And, in doing so, I certainly got a good flavour of the many hostels that line these city streets.
Staying in a different backpackers each time I returned back to the city from a hike, I’m happy to say I’ve certainly done the groundwork for you guys, and so here they are, my list of the 14 best Cusco hostels… in alphabetical order!
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- Ultimate Peru Itinerary
- Choquequirao Trek, Peru: All You Need to Know
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Straight in at number 1 on this list of the best Cusco hostels is a firm favourite with an excellent location, Ecopackers.
Certainly at the pricier end of the backpacker market here, these guys nevertheless know what they’re doing, with spotlessly clean private rooms and dorms set around pleasant, open courtyards.
Right in the heart of Cusco, set just a few minutes from the lovely Plazoleta Regocijo, this is a large hostel, but with a chilled non-party atmosphere, it’s a good place to find other travellers who might want to go hiking rather than heavy drinking!
Book Your Stay at Ecopackers HERE!
#2 Flying Dog
A quieter and smaller hostel than most others on this list of the best Cusco hostels, Flying Dog is part of a small chain of backpackers that can be found across Peru.
The great thing about the one in Cusco however is that it has a kitchen – a rare find for hostels in this city.
With a small number of rooms and an intimate low key atmosphere, this is a good place to stay for those who want a more relaxed time in Cusco… and some home cooking!
Book Your Stay at Flying Dog HERE!
#3 Gaia House
Situated in one of the main backpacker hubs in Cusco, along Calle Nueva Alta, Gaia House is a more boutique backpackers with a locked off-street courtyard and very secure access.
Its higher prices reflect its top quality fittings, high level of comfort and personal atmosphere and make this a great choice for the older backpackers among us, especially given its single-sex male and female 4 bed dorms.
Daily room cleaning, free luggage storage and a kitchen also make this a good option for backpackers wanting a relaxed and comfortable hostel stay in Cusco.
Book Your Stay at Gaia House HERE!
#4 Intro Hostel
And not far from Gaia House, Intro Cusco is a great backpackers that continually ranks in the best Cusco hostels thanks to its chilled, but social atmosphere.
Nightly fires, a bar and swinging hammocks make this a great place to meet other travellers, without any crazy party vibes, and the historic building feels very authentic.
A good location in the main backpacker area, a short walk from the very centre of Cusco, means this place also ranks well for its location.
Because of the old nature of the building, creaky floorboards can be an issue in the dorms here, but the great ambience at Intro more than makes up it if you remember to pop your earplugs in!
Certainly a top pick, I really enjoyed my stay here and would definitely return.
Book Your Stay at Intro Hostel HERE!
#5 La Bo’M
Up in the trendy San Blas area, above the main square, La Bo’M sits at the heart of hipster Cusco!
With a creperie on site, this place is almost always full thanks to its amazing reputation, so do make sure you book in advance!
Perfect for digital nomads or those hanging around in Cusco for a while, I really liked the location of this hostel, which is in a more ex-pat area filled with good cafes and lovely shops.
With an alternative streak and a cosy décor around the many communal areas, La Bo’M is certainly one of the best Cusco hostels and for solo travellers, it offers some more affordable single rooms.
Book Your Stay at La Bo’M HERE!
#6 La Waka Perdida
Located in a residential part of Cusco, on the outskirts of San Blas, La Waka Perdida is the place to stay is you want to feel some real Cusco vibes.
Essentially a local home that has been converted into a small hostel, there’s a kitchen and patio here, along with 1 dorm and 1 private room, which makes it feel very cosy.
Breakfast is included, free tea is always on offer, the wifi is good and the kitchen here makes this a nice place to head to the market and then cook up a storm for yourself and a few hostel friends.
Book Your Stay at La Waka Perdida HERE!
#7 Millhouse Cusco
Changing tact completely, Millhouse Cusco is definitely not a small, low-key affair!
Yup, one of the big players on the Cusco hostel scene, this centrally located backpackers is the best place to head if you want to let your hair down and enjoy the Cusco nightlife.
A huge operation with an onsite bar, travel agency, free tea and coffee, complimentary secure bag storage, several courtyards and some very friendly staff, this sociable hostel really gets going every night in the bar.
But don’t worry, if you want to enjoy all the facilities of this hostel, and get a good night’s sleep at the same time, then the separate wing at Milhouse Cusco, full of newly renovated private rooms, is the perfect option!
If it sounds like this place is very well organised and has thought of almost everything… then you’d be right!
Book Your Stay at Milhouse Cusco HERE!
Another big player in the Cusco hostel scene, Pariwana always seems to be busy and each time I went there, it was more and more lively.
With pool tables in the central courtyard, and a historic building around housing multiple dorms of many different sizes, including female-only spaces, the atmosphere here is certainly one of the best in Cusco.
Bars, restaurants, free tea and breakfast, travel agency, TV rooms and laundry are just some of the services on offer at this immensely popular hostel, which is the perfect all-rounder in the city.
Book Your Stay at Pariwana HERE!
#9 Pisko & Sour
And now it’s back up to San Blas – my favourite area – we go, to name Pisko & Sour as one of the top hostels in Cusco.
The location is great – just a 10 minute walk up from the main square – and the prices are some of the best in the city too, especially as it includes such an excellent free breakfast!
Super staff and good beds are also top features at this favourite backpackers, which is not a party hostel but does offer super views over Cusco instead!
Book Your Stay at Pisko & Sour HERE!
#10 Secret Garden
One of the best value Cusco hostels, the Secret Garden deserves a mention on this list for its excellent value.
If you’ve ever looked at the prices of backpackers in Cusco you’ll know this is certainly not the cheapest place in South America to stay, and that’s why secret Garden is such a super choice for those of us on a really tight budget.
Set a little further out of the centre than most hostels, the location is quieter and more residential, but if you’re happy to have a short stroll to town, then the cheaper prices can’t be denied at this family-run gem!
Book Your Stay at Secret Garden HERE!
What I really like about Supertramp hostel was their eco-conscious vibes, with several attempts made across the hostel to lower waste and install a bit of awareness in the travellers passing through their doors.
With a partner hostel in Aguas Calientes (definitely the best place to stay if you’re visiting Machu Picchu FYI), Supertramp is also one of the best Cusco hostels with its fun vibes, central location, top-notch cleanliness and great, friendly staff.
Dorms have privacy curtains, charging points and reading lights, and there’s a lovely fireplace in the communal space.
Overall, a top atmosphere and the showers are brilliant!
Book Your Stay at Supertramp HERE!
#12 Tucan Hostel
A great value Cusco backpackers that gets rave reviews from many travellers, including myself, this place offers super value in a central location… and with a free breakfast and very clean facilities thrown in.
The showers are piping hot, wifi good, secure luggage storage is free, and the staff can arrange all tours in the surrounding area for you.
A quieter hostel with no bar, this is definitely not a party place and sometimes lacks a bit of atmosphere, but definitely offers a good night’s sleep as a result.
The female-only ensuite dorm is excellent (with privacy curtains) and very affordable private rooms make this a good option for solo travellers too.
Book Your Stay at Tucan Hostel HERE!
Set in a historic building, around a lovely courtyard, Tunqui is an open hostel with plenty of natural light.
It offers good dorm prices in a good location, making it a firm hit with budget travellers looking to be close to the centre of Cusco along Meloc.
Table tennis and football tables, as well as good wifi, are other top features and the place is clean and the staff friendly.
Tunqui used to be called Colonial Hostel, so don’t get confused if Google Maps, or your taxi driver, knows it by its previous name.
Book Your Stay at Tunqui HERE!
#14 Wild Rover
And finally, last on this list of the best Cusco hostels is the number 1 party place in town.
Now I’m not a huge backpacker party go-er (mostly because I’m too old and I’ve got too much work to do) but if you are, Wild Rover is certainly the place to head!
With sister hostels, that are equally wild in both Huacachina and La Paz in Bolivia, many guests here just seem to bounce from one debauched Wild Rover party to another… each to their own!
An absolute classic on the South America backpacker circuit, I couldn’t not mention this hostel, so if you want to let your hair down, this could be the one in Cusco for you.
Book Your Stay at Wild Rover HERE!
Mini Travel Guide to Cusco
Best Time to Visit?
Travel seasons in Peru are often a little complicated, purely because of the diversity of this country’s topography.
When it’s summer on the coast, for example, it’s rainy in the mountains and when it’s cooler in the jungle, it’s freezing along the Pacific.
As such, you’re always going to be rolling the dice a little when you travel Peru, especially with global warming messing everything around too.
Bearing all that in mind however, the best time to visit Cusco is during the dry season in the Andes aka winter in Peru, which runs largely from the months of May through to October.
Trying to combine the best of both worlds i.e. spring on the coast and dry season in the mountains, I visited Cusco in October and actually found it ideal, as there were less tourists (because it was shoulder season) but it was not yet too cold or wet.
That said, it can, of course, rain any time of year at this altitude, so maybe it was just luck!
Learn more about the best time to visit Peru here.
How to Get to Cusco?
It’s pretty easy to get to Cusco overland from other places in Peru with regular buses from Lima, Arequipa, Ica and Puno.
Most take over 10 hours however, so strap in for a nighttime ride!
As usual in Peru, you can book buses online and choose from a range of services including day or night buses with varying levels of luxury. The more you pay, the better service you get.
Always book your long-distance bus tickets in Peru at least a day in advance, preferably 2.
Bookaway are a great, secure website for researching and reserving buses around Peru and South America.
Alternatively, if you want to save time, you can pick up domestic flights to Cusco from cities around Peru – with most services coming from Lima.
Use Skyscanner to find the best flight deals.
How Long to Spend There?
Well, if you read the intro to this article, you’ll know I spent a lot of time in Cusco and, honestly, I could have spent even longer!
There’s just so much to do in and around this city that you really shouldn’t underestimate it.
As such, I’d recommend a stay of at least 1 week in and around Cusco, which will give you time to sample both the best of this city and its magnificent surroundings.
If you’re then wanting to explore some of the top Cusco day trips I list below, or chill in the Sacred Valley, I’d give yourself anything up to 2-3 weeks in and around this city!
And if you’re wondering how long to spend in Peru in general, then check out my perfect Peru itinerary which will get you seeing all this country’s best bits easily.
Best Budget Accommodation in Cusco?
No question that near the Plaza de Armas is definitely the best place to stay in Cusco, especially if you’re only here for a few days.
This location will give you quick and easy access to all the city action, sights and eateries both day and night without having to take a taxi, because this city is safe to stroll at most hours of the day.
Centrally-located, immaculately clean and with a great, free breakfast, Milhouse Hostel Cusco have hit the nail on the head.
They offer both private rooms in a quiet wing for those who want to work (comme moi!), chill or get ready for an early hike, as well as a main building for those who want to let their head down and enjoy some Cusco fun too.
With fast wifi, hot water, an onsite tour agency and super friendly staff, these guys really have it all covered.
Plus the historic building, spacious chill-out courtyard and friendly feels, make this the perfect place to meet other travellers too!
Book your great-priced stay in either a private room or a dorm at Milhouse Cusco HERE!
Wellbeing & Safety in Cusco
As a solo female traveller, safety when travelling alone (especially in remote areas) is also big on my radar.
Although I have heard and read reports about female travellers being harassed in the capital, I haven’t experienced any of that myself and can only say that I felt safe here the whole time.
That said, there’s a lot of common sense involved in safety too.
My advice is to stick with other travellers, don’t wander out alone at night and always be clear about your boundaries in all situations.
You’ll also want to ensure you drink enough water as dehydration can be a problem here.
Travelling with a LifeStraw Go Water Bottle, which you can use to purify water from any fresh water source, is a top option to help you do this.
I bought one for my trip to South America – as it then allowed me to drink the tap water safely – and now wouldn’t be anywhere without it!
Sun protection is another thing to factor in here and packing clothes (like a cap or hat) and lotion that will protect you from the strong UV rays at that elevation is definitely recommended.
You’ll also want to make sure you pack plenty of warm clothes for the evenings in Cusco, including a good coat, gloves, scarf and a hat is a must, we can’t have you catching a cold now!
A Word About Altitude
There is something else (very important) that you need to know about Cusco too, and that is, altitude.
Being in the Andes and situated at 3,500m above sea level, Cusco is high and altitude sickness is a real and serious thing here.
This is even more true given that some of the hikes in this area go up to 5,000m above sea level.
As such you must, ABSOLUTELY MUST, take altitude issues seriously when you come to Cusco and spend at least 1 day here (better 2) acclimatising before attempting any hiking.
This is especially true if you’ve come from the coast i.e. Lima, as you must allow your body to get used to the lower levels of oxygen in the air in Cusco before attempting any serious exertion.
I’ve had altitude sickness myself in Ecuador and can definitely attest it is not nice.
In fact, it can be very serious and sometimes lead to hospitalisation and even death.
Do not take this issue lightly when travelling to Cusco and if you start to suffer any symptoms then take the necessary precautions.
You can learn more about altitude sickness, what causes it, what the symptoms are and how to avoid or treat it in this useful article.
Travel Insurance for Peru
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
Recommended Peru Tours
If you’re not totally comfortable with travelling this country independently, then a small group or guided tour is a great option that will have you seeing the best of Peru safely, securely and easily.
Check out these top picks for some super ideas and prices.
Want to Volunteer in Peru?
If you want to combine your time travelling in this South American country with giving something back, then why not consider volunteering in Peru?
It could even help you save money and travel for longer!
You can access loads of great volunteer opportunities in this country when you sign up to Worldpackers. Learn more here.
Travel Money in Peru
The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card in this country, and it links easily with Google and Apple pay. Grab yours here.
5 Peru Packing Essentials
#1 Good Camera – I would never even think of travelling to Peru without a camera good enough to capture the amazing landscape and people of this country. Both my Sony A6000 and GoPro Hero have been perfect for the job!
#2 Waterproof / Windproof Jackets – With so much of this country situated high in the Andes, taking a waterproof and windproof jacket is essential if you’re going to be hiking or sightseeing in the mountains. I highly recommend the North Face Venture 2.
#3 Hiking Boots – You can’t come to Peru and not do some trekking, so make sure you come prepared with some good, supportive hiking boots… I’ve never worn mine so much in my life! These Keen Targhee II’s are the ideal solution.
#4 Day Pack – Also for the hiking and sightseeing, a good daypack to carry water, snacks, camera, hat, gloves and other clothing layers is key in Peru! This one from Osprey is my pick.
#5 Travel Scarf – And finally, I’ve just discovered the amazing travel wraps from Sholdit and am so happy I took mine to Peru. Acting both as a scarf to keep you warm and a place to store your valuables while you’re out and about, this great invention is perfect for travel in South America.
To learn more about what to pack for a Peru trip in general, check out my ultimate Peru packing list.
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And there you have it, my list of the 14 best Cusco hostels.
Have you visited Cusco recently?
Where did you stay and would you recommend it?