Easily in my top favorite cities in the world and possibly my favorite overall, Cusco sits at the base of the Andes and holds a vibrant population. The old style buildings and architecture are busily surrounded by a large indigenous population, sleeping dogs, and a vibrant nightlife. In contrast to the warmth of Lima, Cusco in April was full of rain and thunder storms. The massive open market was friendly, the hostels gave out free coca tea and every bar had a pisco sour happy hour. During the day you could find fresh pastries for pennies, have locals cook your meals in front of you for a dollar, and even get your Starbucks fix overlooking the Plaza de Armas.
-Stay at Pariwana for hot showers, free breakfast, free tea, social atmosphere and great staff
-Book train tickets for Machu Picchu here and instead of taking the tourist bus, take the local bus to Ollantaytambo for $5
-Walk everywhere, don’t be afraid to turn down offers from locals to party, and eat street food
-ATMs are widely available in Cusco, stick to Scotiabank for lower rates and to avoid scams
-Exchange rate in Cusco was the best we found in Peru, 3.33 Sol to 1 USD, just be sure to never accept torn or stained bills, and never exchange anywhere but a bank or local exchange desk