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Machu Picchu

Cusco, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu

Peru's cultural epicentre


While Machu Picchu grabs the headlines, standing imperiously on its Andean throne as a poster child of a lost civilisation, the Sacred Valley is crammed full of hidden jewels that reach back, via archaeological sites and a colonial renaissance, to Incan fortresses and historic market towns. It's all reached from Cusco, a city who's cultural wealth – both Incan and colonial – is among the greatest in Latin America.

Machu Picchu

Altitude aside, this is undoubtedly one of the high points of world travel. Dating back to the 15th century, Machu Picchu – literally ‘old peak’ – was kept hidden from the Spanish conquistadors until its rediscovery in 1911 when a local innkeeper led American explorer Hiram Bingham to its lost summit perch. Today, the spectacular Inca Trail and winding train rides bring you to what has become the most recognisable archaeological site in the Americas. Commonly believed to have been built for an erstwhile Incan emperor, palatial royal residences, religious sites and military quarters combine to form an imposing citadel. It’s all set to a backdrop of forested slopes and carved peaks – vistas every bit as grand as the city complex itself.

Sacred Valley

El Valle Sagrado to the locals and Río Urubamba to cartographers is a region of exceptional natural beauty. The hairpin turns of its river author are mapped out onto great rocky escarpments that give way to thick forests as condors dart in and out of its misty shroud. It’s the picturesque setting for colonial towns and a collection of important Incan sites. Combine the two with Pisac whose ruined fortress looks out over those signature terraces to the town below while Chinchero – a typical Andean village – has fused a colonial church in among its ancient Incan ruins and traditional market. Not to be outdone, nearby Ollantaytambo’s ruins cling to the mountainside in more giant green steps than it has syllables. 


As the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city, this is much more than a mere gateway to the region; charming Cusco marks the meeting point of colonial majesty and Incan solemnity. Its Coricancha Temple – complete with Incan foundations and Dominican church topping – is a fitting metaphor for the city’s contrasts while its Incan Sacsayhuaman Fortress and 17th century La Compania church keep their influences separate. However, it’s in its cobbled streets that Cusco really comes to life. Bustling markets sell the finest alpaca knits and plaza-side cafés dish up the best in Peruvian gastronomy. Think mouthwatering anticuchos beef skewers, rich Amazonian chocolate and hearty pork stews.


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Top itineraries in Cusco, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, Peru

Essential Peru: Machu Picchu & the Sacred Valley

8-day tailor-made holiday from £3,685 pp incl. flights

Short but perfectly formed, this superb-value holiday might last for just over a week, but it still manages to encapsulate the very best of Peru’s ancient wonders, colonial heritage and spectacular Andean landscapes.

Belmond Andean Explorer

Highlights of Peru by Rail

10-day tailor-made rail & stay journey from £6,325 pp incl. flights

Travel in style across the Peruvian Andes, linking Machu Picchu, Cusco and Lake Titicaca by rail, including an unforgettable journey, and overnight stay, on the Belmond Andean Explorer.

Huillos, Sacred Valley, Peru

The Best of Peru: Colca Canyon, Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca

14-day tailor-made holiday from £5,140 pp incl. flights

Explore the very best of Peru, from Lima to Arequipa, the Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca. Then, head to the Andes to explore the ancient sites of Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.

Belmond Andean Explorer

Luxury Peru by Rail with Belmond

13-day tailor-made rail journey from £8,870 pp incl. flights

With luxurious accommodation, exclusive tours and a trip aboard the continent’s most luxurious train, this itinerary showcases the very best of Peru, from its Incan treasures to its spectacular natural world.

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Top places to stay in Cusco, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu

Belmond Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge

Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, Machu Picchu

Contemporary lodge

Belmond Sanctuary Lodge holds the unique and highly privileged honour of being the only hotel located adjacent to the iconic ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

Sol y Luna, Sacred Valley

Hotel Sol y Luna, Sacred Valley

Traditional lodge

Hotel Sol y Luna is a luxury lodge and spa, surrounded by Peru's beautiful Sacred Valley, offering world-class food created by Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. It serves as an excellent base for exploring the renowned Machu Picchu.

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, Cusco

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas, Cusco

Historic hotel

The stunning Belmond Palacio Nazarenas enjoys a superb location, tucked away in a peaceful plaza behind Cusco's historic main square. This former palace and convent has been lovingly restored and is now one of the city's most exclusive hotels.

Explora Valle Sagrado, Sacred Valley, Peru

explora Valle Sagrado, Sacred Valley

Contemporary hotel

Combining contemporary luxury with an ancient setting, this new for 2016 property is poised to explore an ancient civilisation.

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Where to go in Cusco, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is an incredible site. This ancient Inca citadel is renowned the world over for its majestic setting, architectural excellence and sacred overtones.

Sacred Valley, Cusco

Sacred Valley

A scenic train ride from the myth- and mist-shrouded Inca citadel of Machu Picchu – the city in the clouds – Peru's Sacred Valley is a treasure trove of ancient wonders, waiting to be discovered.

Cusco, Peru


Cusco is the prime destination for Peru holidays and it's unsurprising. Famous as the departure point for treks on the Inca Trail and trips aboard the luxury Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu, the city also boasts a wealth of Inca ruins, impressive colonial architecture, breathtaking scenery, gre…

Salkantay Trek, Peru

Peru Trekking & the Inca Trail

The Peruvian Andes offers some truly spectacular trekking routes. Of course, there's the world-famous Inca Trail, while other options offer luxury lodge accommodation and the chance to visit communities far off the beaten track.

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When to go to Cusco, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu

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