Is Cusco Peru Safe? All You Need to Know
Are you looking for a comprehensive guide to navigating the safety aspects of your trip to Cusco, Peru?
Located amid captivating Incan ruins and museums, Cusco stands not only as a treasure trove of historical wonders but also as a gateway to the enchanting Andean countryside. Beyond its picturesque streets lies the allure of the Sacred Valley, a realm woven with ancient trails and steeped in rich history. This vibrant city not only offers a visual feast of cultural gems but also serves as an unrivaled launchpad for intrepid treks and explorations, promising a journey into the heart of Peru’s remarkable past and breathtaking landscapes.
As a digital nomad, Czarina spent a few weeks in Cusco solo last year, while my most recent visit was a few years ago. Our upcoming trip in February 2024 prompted us to share our insights.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Practical safety tips for solo travelers, families, and LGBTQ+ visitors in Cusco.
- Insights into local scams and how to avoid them.
- Safety statistics and an overview of crime levels in the city.
- Tips for safe exploration of landmarks like Machu Picchu.
Rest assured, our shared experiences will equip you with valuable information for a secure and enjoyable visit to Cusco. Is Cusco Peru Safe? Find out as we guide you through the intricacies of navigating this remarkable destination.
Is Cusco Peru Safe Right Now?
Wondering if Cusco, Peru is safe right now? Good news—Cusco is currently enjoying a period of tranquility, making it an ideal time to plan your visit. The country is not only open but bustling with activity. Machu Picchu beckons, and securing tickets to this iconic site is highly recommended due to the swift sales.
For a secure stay, the Historic Centre and San Blas districts are top choices. However, exercise caution when flaunting valuables in public spaces. As you explore this vibrant city, you’ll find a welcoming atmosphere, affirming Cusco’s reputation as a secure destination for travelers.
Safest Places to Stay in Cusco Peru
Curious about the safest areas to stay in Cusco? Let’s talk about San Blas, often dubbed the ‘bohemian’ district. Beyond the cliché, San Blas boasts charming coffee shops, trendy stores, and a plethora of vegetarian dining options—a perfect spot for a laid-back afternoon. Conveniently, numerous hostels and hotels dot this area, with easy access to Plaza de Armas and key attractions, all within a brisk 10-minute stroll.
Plaza de Armas
Another excellent area to consider is Plaza de Armas, the beating heart of the city’s tourism scene. This expansive central square and its adjacent streets serve as the focal point for restaurants, albeit on the pricier side. The Cathedral and souvenir shops add to the vibrant atmosphere. Despite the bustling activity, Plaza de Armas maintains a secure environment, ensuring a memorable and safe stay as you soak in the rich cultural offerings of Cusco.
Lucrepata, located beside the trendy San Blas district, is a peaceful yet well-connected area. This burgeoning neighborhood exudes a tranquil residential ambiance, making it an ideal choice for an extended stay, especially if you’re considering a longer-term Airbnb in Cusco. With its pleasant surroundings and proximity to San Blas, Lucrepata offers a secure retreat, allowing you to experience the city’s charm while enjoying a more laid-back residential atmosphere.
Check out San Cristobal, perched high on a hill with stunning views overlooking the city. Named after the impressive San Cristobal Church, this neighborhood offers a unique blend of beauty and proximity to Sacsayhuaman. Imagine waking up to breathtaking vistas and being in the closest vicinity to this historic site. San Cristobal stands out not just for its safety but also for the visual treat it provides. If you seek a serene yet strategically located neighborhood, San Cristobal might just be your ideal choice for a secure and picturesque stay in Cusco.
🔗 Related: 10 Best Hostels in Cusco
Places to Avoid in Cusco Peru
While Cusco is generally safe, it’s wise to be cautious. Opportunistic crimes like muggings and thefts can happen. Avoid solo night strolls around Plaza de Armas, as it’s known for increased risk. Stay vigilant against street vendors pressuring sales, and be mindful of your belongings. A little awareness goes a long way in ensuring your safety while enjoying the beauty of Cusco.
10 Cusco Peru Safety Tips
Cusco Safety Tip #1 – Respect the Altitude
Respect Cusco’s altitude at 3,400m, especially if arriving from sea level. Acclimatize for 24-48 hours—no rushing into hikes. Drink water, rest, and ease into exploration to avoid altitude sickness.
Cusco Safety Tip #2 – Leave Valuables at Home
While Cusco is generally safe for tourists, the risk of pickpocketing rises in busy markets. Consider leaving valuables at home or secure them in a reliable money belt when exploring vibrant marketplaces. Stay savvy in crowded areas to ensure a worry-free and enjoyable experience.
Cusco Safety Tip #3 – Use Reputable Travel Companies
When exploring Cusco’s stunning landscapes, prioritize safety by choosing reputable travel companies. Especially crucial for hikes and multi-day trips, expert guides ensure a secure experience amid changing weather conditions.
Cusco Safety Tip #4 – Be Careful of Street Dogs
Beware of street dogs in Cusco, numbering around 14,000. While many roam happily, some are less fortunate. These free-roaming dogs may tug at your heartstrings. Fortunately, Cusco has shelters for the abused and injured, demonstrating the city’s efforts to care for its canine residents. Stay cautious and compassionate.
Cusco Safety Tip #5 – Don’t Accept Drinks from Strangers
Stay cautious in Cusco; drink spiking is a concern. Hallucinogenic plants used in shamanic rituals can lead to robberies. Guard your drink, buy your own, and stay vigilant to ensure a safe experience.
Cusco Safety Tip #6 – Be Cautious Outside Tourist Areas
Stick to touristy areas in Cusco for safety; they boast better infrastructure and friendlier locals. If venturing out, opt for daytime exploration in groups or with reputable tours for added security.
Cusco Safety Tip #7 – Wear Sunscreen
Don’t underestimate the sun in Cusco; despite the chill, high altitude intensifies UV rays. Protect yourself with a top-rated sunscreen, especially during hikes. Stay sun-safe for a worry-free exploration of this picturesque city.
Cusco Safety Tip #8 – Stay Hydrated
While dehydration might not be a top concern in Peru, Cusco’s demanding hikes, some lasting up to 7 days, make staying hydrated crucial. Keep fluids flowing to ensure your well-being during challenging treks.
Cusco Safety Tip #9 – Keep Your Belongings in View
Enhance your security in Cusco by wearing your backpack on the front. In crowded areas, this simple adjustment adds an extra layer of protection against potential pickpockets.
Cusco Safety Tip #10 – Learn Some Spanish
Boost your safety in Cusco by learning some Spanish. Communication is key, and locals appreciate your efforts. Consider Qente Spanish School, where immersion with a local homestay family further enhances your learning experience. Read about Czarina’s two week experience in the below link.
🔗 Related: Survival Spanish 101
Is Cusco Peru Safe to Travel Alone?
Is Cusco, Peru safe for solo travelers? Yes, Cusco is a safe city, yet like anywhere, opportunistic crimes occur. Robberies are more prevalent in secluded areas away from the historic center. While Plaza de Armas is friendly during the day, it can pose risks in the early morning hours, urging caution when alone at night.
Safety in numbers is key—exploring with friends or locals minimizes concerns. Be wary of persistent vendors, as their tactics may involve distraction for theft. Opt for licensed taxis to avoid unofficial ones, and contrary to belief, their prices are comparable. While violent crimes are rare, exercising caution in districts like Santiago, Belén, or the Santiago Bridge is advisable.
Cusco heavily relies on tourism, leading to continuous security measures. Although major crimes are infrequent, minor incidents can occur. Caution is essential, especially in a city that attracts a diverse international crowd. Travelers should prioritize personal belongings, exercise prudence, and follow safety recommendations for a secure and enjoyable experience in the Imperial City.
🔗 Related: Lima vs Cusco: Which City is Better?
Is Cusco Peru Safe For Solo Female Travelers?
Solo female travelers find Cusco to be as safe as their male counterparts. The city poses a relatively low risk of attacks, and numerous women explore it without issues. While Cusco is generally secure for solo travel, caution in isolated and dark areas, especially late at night, is advised. Traveling with locals or fellow women enhances safety.
Unwanted advances from locals may occur, but expressing discomfort often deters such behavior. If uncomfortable, seek assistance from security or nearby establishments. In cramped minibusses, groping incidents can happen; promptly alerting the driver or ticket seller is crucial. Don’t hesitate to create a scene if needed.
For rural areas, conservative dressing is recommended, and some suggest wearing a ring to deter unwanted attention. Overall, Cusco provides a safe environment for solo female travelers, ensuring an enriching experience while adhering to basic precautions.
Is Cusco Peru Safe For Families?
Exploring Cusco solo with your family? Absolutely! Beyond a brief stopover, Cusco offers kid-friendly activities for an enriching Peru family adventure. The city’s welcoming atmosphere ensures a safe and enjoyable experience for solo families.
Is Cusco Safe for Tourists?
Cusco stands out as one of the safest large cities in Latin America. We felt an impressive sense of security, even when exploring the streets at night. Implementing basic precautions, like avoiding poorly lit areas and not displaying valuables openly, will make a big difference. The historic center, where many tourists spend their time, has a noticeable presence of both tourism and regular police, providing an additional layer of assurance.
Is Machu Picchu Safe?
Machu Picchu is generally safe, with guidelines to ensure a secure visit. The nearby town, Aguascalientes, where visitors stay, is also considered safe. Hiking to Machu Picchu is safe, but the stone steps can be strenuous, requiring breaks and ample water. Adherence to safety guidelines at the site is crucial, avoiding crossing ropes near steep edges.
For those trekking the Inca Trail, strict adherence to local guides and established paths is necessary. Guidelines include refraining from littering and bringing food into the ancient site. Overall, Machu Picchu offers a safe and awe-inspiring experience when visitors follow designated protocols.
Common Scams in Cusco Peru
While scams are uncommon within Cusco’s Imperial City, fake taxi drivers are known culprits. Caution with transportation is key. Opt for certified tour operators to avoid potential pitfalls, as some less reputable ones may charge extra. Be wary in crowds; scammers, sometimes posing as harmless young women, exploit confusion to steal from bags. Organized groups often target seemingly lost tourists carrying valuables, emphasizing the need for vigilance in crowded areas.
Cusco Peru Travel Advisories
Cusco is generally safe with no current travel advisories, but exercising common sense is crucial. Steer clear of protests, stay updated through local media, and heed local authorities’ advice. For added safety, avoid solo outings at night, ensuring a secure and enjoyable experience in this captivating Peruvian city.
Crime in Cusco Peru
Cusco’s Historic Centre and San Blas are among the safest areas, with minimal risk of violent assault. While pickpocketing and petty crimes occur sporadically, extra caution is advisable in bustling markets like San Pedro. Outside these areas, neighborhoods can be less tourist-friendly, requiring a more casual dress to avoid drawing attention. Overall, violent crime is rare in Cusco, emphasizing the city’s general safety with a need for increased awareness in specific scenarios.
Cusco Peru Safety Statistics
Cusco’s safety statistics reveal a moderate level of crime at 43.01, with a concerning 65.86% increase over the past three years. While worries about mugging or robbery are low, concerns about property crimes like home break-ins and theft are moderate. Safety walking alone during daylight is high at 79.61%, but caution is advised at night with a moderate safety rating of 58.36%. The city faces challenges with corruption and bribery at 61.11%, emphasizing the importance of awareness and vigilance when exploring Cusco.
Are Ubers Safe in Cusco?
Navigating Cusco? While walking is ideal, taxis, especially Uber, are handy. Uber is often cheaper, adding an extra layer of security. However, some drivers may play unfair, from long waits to cancellations. Be cautious and assertive. In a pinch, traditional buses offer a cost-effective option for city exploration at just S/. 1 per ride.
Are Taxis Safe in Cusco?
In bustling tourist-centric Cusco, transport safety is paramount. While most taxis are generally safe, specific cases of robbery have occurred, especially with fake or unofficial taxis. To ensure security, it’s advisable to rely on official government-authorized taxi services. In a city with numerous transportation options, cautious choices enhance the overall safety of your journey.
🔗 Related: Is Peru Safe? Unique Things You Need to Know
Is Public Transportation Safe in Cusco?
Opting for local buses or colectivos in Cusco is a cost-effective and reliable alternative. Widely used by locals, buses or colectivos offer a budget-friendly way to explore the city and the surrounding communities. While it may not be as private as a taxi, it provides an authentic experience and a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture. For travelers seeking a more economical option, buses are a safe choice for navigating Cusco’s streets and the surrounding Sacred Valley.
Is the Tap Water Safe in Cusco?
The tap water in Cusco isn’t suitable for drinking, and it’s advisable to use a filter water bottle to ensure safe consumption. While it’s fine for cooking and washing, investing in a travel filter bottle is a wise choice for obtaining clean and safe drinking water from various sources. This not only promotes environmental sustainability but also contributes to a budget-friendly and convenient approach to staying hydrated while exploring Cusco.
Is the Street Food in Cusco Safe?
Indulging in Cusco’s street food is a must, offering a variety of local flavors. However, prioritize hygiene by choosing vendors who maintain cleanliness and have a decent presentation. Avoid homemade mayonnaise to steer clear of potential foodborne illnesses. Opt for bustling stalls with queues, indicating both popularity and likely freshness. Exercise caution with cutlery; bring your plastic utensils to ensure cleanliness. While street food experiences are a highlight, these precautions enhance your enjoyment while minimizing health risks associated with consuming local delights in Cusco.
Is Cusco Safe At Night?
Cusco’s nightlife, concentrated around Plaza de Armas and Tecsecocha street, is vibrant. However, ensure responsible drinking to navigate the night safely. While the city comes alive after dark, crossing roads demands caution. Maintain awareness and avoid excessive drinking to enjoy the nocturnal charm of Cusco without compromising safety.
Is Cusco LGBTQ+ Friendly?
Cusco is generally LGBTQ+ friendly, although Peru’s overall stance on LGBTQ+ rights is influenced by conservative Catholic attitudes. While same-sex activity is legal, discretion is advised. In Cusco, a more accepting atmosphere prevails, similar to LGBTQ+ friendly cities like Lima. Visitors may experience a welcoming environment, but it’s recommended to navigate with awareness of the broader cultural context.
🔗 Related: 45 Best Things to Do in Cusco Peru
Is Cusco Airport Safe?
Cusco Airport is generally safe, but flights to and from Lima can be unpredictable, often facing cancellations due to weather conditions. It’s advisable not to schedule domestic and international flights on the same day to account for potential disruptions. Spending a night in Lima as a buffer can be a wise precaution, ensuring a smoother travel experience.
Is the Weather in Cusco Peru Dangerous?
Cusco faces natural hazards such as flooding and landslides due to heavy rains. Additionally, being in an earthquake-prone region, it’s essential to be aware of potential seismic activity. Visitors should stay informed about volcanic conditions and adhere to guidance from local authorities for a safer experience in Cusco.
Well… Is Cusco Peru Safe?
In conclusion, Cusco, Peru, is indeed a safe destination, and armed with the insights shared in this guide, you’re well-prepared to make the most of your visit. From the vibrant streets of the Plaza de Armas to the awe-inspiring heights of Machu Picchu, the city offers a rich tapestry of experiences waiting to be explored. By staying vigilant, following practical safety tips, and embracing the unique charm of Cusco, you’ll not only discover the cultural treasures of this ancient Incan city but also ensure a secure and memorable journey.
We hope you’ve found the answer to your question in this article. Feel free to share your thoughts or ask any questions in the comments below. Safe travels, and enjoy your time in Cusco!