Posted: 1/14/2024 | January 14th, 2024
Cusco is the undisputed archaeological hub of South America, and visiting it is an essential part of any trip to Peru. The capital of the Inca Empire for centuries, the city lies not far from the famed Machu Picchu, one of the iconic Wonders of the World. Whether you’re hiking the Inca Trail or just passing through, Cusco is worth spending a few days exploring.
While most travelers visit Cusco because of its location near Machu Picchu, there is a lot to see and do here. The city is popular with trail walkers and history lovers, but also partygoers who come to enjoy its nightlife and festivals.
Because of all this, most travelers backpacking South America pass through Cusco and stay a night or two.
Below is my list of the best hostels in Cusco to help you plan your trip and save money. If you don’t want to read the longer list, the following are the best in each category:
Want the specifics? Here’s my breakdown of the best hostels in Cusco and why I love them:
Price legend (per night):
- $: Under 40 PEN
- $$: 40-60 PEN
- $$$: 60 PEN and above
1. Viajero Kokopelli
This huge hostel is fun and artsy, with cool murals painted on the walls. It’s lively with lots of events so stay here if you’re looking to meet other travelers! There’s a bar with a daily happy hour, lots of activities (live music, DJs, cooking classes), and the common areas have billiards, foosball, and beer pong tables.
The dorm beds are pod-style and super comfy, with individual reading lights and outlets. The showers always have hot water and great pressure. There are female-only dorms too. There’s also a co-working space if you need to get some work done and free tea all day (including coca tea, which helps with acclimatizing to the altitude).
Viajero Kokopelli at a glance:
- Social hostel with lots of events and activities
- Pod beds with individual reading lights and outlets
- Tons of common areas (including a garden hammock area)
Beds from 54 PEN, private rooms from 270 PEN.
2. Wild Rover Hostel
Wild Rover is fun party hostel. There’s always something going on here, from parties at the bar to cultural experiences like cooking classes and salsa lessons. There are several common areas too, including a co-working space. The panoramic views from the bar can’t be beat (though keep in mind that the uphill walk from the city center can be a bit taxing at this altitude).
Most dorm rooms here have pod-style beds with privacy curtains, outlets, reading lights, and large lockers to store your gear. The dorms are located in an area separate from the bar, meaning you can still get a decent night’s sleep if you don’t want to join in on the festivities or want to turn in early.
Wild Rover at a glance:
- Party atmosphere with lots of organized events
- Dorm beds have reading lights, outlets, and lockers (some have privacy curtains)
- Lots of common areas make meeting people a breeze
Beds from 40 PEN, private rooms from 185 PEN.
3. Hospedaje Turístico Recoleta
This cozy hostel offers a quieter stay than the two above, making it a great option if you have an early morning wake-up to go trekking or just want a more laid-back stay. The atmosphere at this family-run hostel is super welcoming. Plus, unlike most hostels in Cusco, Recoleta offers free breakfast and has a guest kitchen in case you want to cook.
Dorm beds here are a bit basic (no privacy curtains), but they are made of wood, so they don’t squeak and shake like metal bunks. The hostel has private rooms too, including some with just a twin bed, making this a good option for solo travelers who are looking for a peaceful stay with a bit more privacy.
Hospedaje Turístico Recoleta at a glance:
- Small hostel with a quiet and homey atmosphere
- Free breakfast
- Fully equipped guest kitchen
Beds from 38 PEN, private rooms from 91 PEN.
4. Casa Tunki
The most luxurious hostel in Cusco, Casa Tunki feels more like a boutique hotel than a hostel. It’s located in a colonial-era building restored in a mix of contemporary and historic styles. I found the inner atrium (where you’ll find the cool fusion restaurant/bar) particularly stunning.
Each room bears a different name in Quechua (the indigenous language of the region). Both private rooms and dorms have comfortable capsule beds with individual reading lights, curtains, and outlets; insulating noise-reducing material; and blackout curtains. This is one of the best hostels in Cusco for getting a solid night’s rest. It’s perfect for travelers who are looking for a quiet place to recharge before or after a trek.
Casa Tunki at a glance:
- Upscale boutique hostel
- Capsule dorm beds with individual reading lights, curtains, and outlets
- Central location in the historic center of the city
Beds from 113 PEN, private rooms from 264 PEN.
5. Pariwana Hostel Cusco
Pariwana is a small Peruvian-owned hostel chain, named for the Andean flamingo (the idea being that this bird, like backpackers, travels all over South America). Its Cusco location is an institution and the staff are amazing and go out of their way to host fun social events.
In the dorms, you’ll find individual reading lights and outlets by each bed (no privacy curtains though), and lockers with outlets to safely charge your electronics while you’re out exploring. The showers have hot water (though sometimes it takes a little time to warm up), and there’s free tea available 24/7 (including coca tea).
Pariwana Hostel Cusco at a glance:
- Central location in the historic center
- Organizes lots of events so it’s easy to meet people
- Lockers have outlets so you can charge your stuff while its locked up
Beds from 56 PEN, private rooms from 220 PEN.
6. Selina Plaza de Armas Cusco / Selina Saphi
Selina is a go-to favorite for digital nomads. In Cusco, they have not one but two great locations. Selina Plaza de Armas is located in the historic center just a few blocks from Plaza Mayor; Selina Saphi is in the hills.
While their features vary a bit by location, both have all the amenities you can expect from Selina properties, which tend to be more like boutique hotels than your classic backpacker hostel. Both are decorated with curated local artwork and offer a co-working space with unlimited tea and coffee, a fully equipped kitchen, and a bar/restaurant where events are held throughout the week.
At both hostels, the dorm beds are comfy, with personal reading lights and lockers (the Plaza de Armas location has privacy curtains too), and there are private rooms as well.
Selina Cusco at a glance:
- Fully equipped guest kitchen
- Common areas include a co-working space, wellness center, and bar/restaurant
- Bunks with personal reading lights and lockers
Beds from 55 PEN, private rooms from 200 PEN.
As the jumping-off point for trekking through the jungle, exploring the nearby ruins, and of course, heading out to Machu Picchu, visiting Cusco is a must for anyone traveling through Peru. Since it sits at 3,200 meters (10,500 feet) above sea level, you’ll want to spend a few days here to acclimate to the altitude before doing any hiking (plus there’s a lot to do and see within the city itself). Pick a hostel from the above list for a good stay in the city!
Book Your Trip to Peru: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Peru?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Peru for even more planning tips!