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This blog is for backpackers in Cusco who are looking for great budget hostels! After spending 4 weeks in Cusco (and staying at several hostels) we’ve narrowed it down to the 5 absolute BEST hostels in Cusco! We’ve also included some other budget travel tips for backpackers such as things to do and how to save money!
Cusco is the city every tourist visits to begin their trip to Machu Picchu. Many people make the mistake of allowing for only one or two nights in this city while allowing much more time to spend in other cities such as Lima.
Surprisingly, Cusco is actually quite an interesting city with various activities to do and a ton of culture to experience. Plus, it offers many western creature comforts which makes it an easy place for backpackers to get “stuck” for a while.
This happened to us, “We will only need to spend about three days in Cusco” we said as we were arriving by bus from Arequipa. Four weeks later we found ourselves STILL in Cusco!
The thing about Cusco is that there are many rich tourists visiting on a short holiday to go on a tour to Machu Picchu. Many of the hotels, restaurants, and tours cater to these people who have much larger budgets than backpackers.
Therefore, you can easily find yourself spending too much money by either getting ripped off by extreme tourist prices or visiting high-end tourist agencies and restaurants. Not to mention, you need to find budget-friendly hostels in Cusco that are fun, comfortable, and cheap!
In Cusco, we have discovered some of the best places in Peru for backpackers on a budget. Here are the 5 best hostels in Cusco for backpackers, as well as a few little extra budget-saving tips!
Don’t have time to read the full article? Our very favorite hostel in Cusco is Pariwana Hostel because of its social atmosphere, good prices, and nice facilities. You can check availability and book online here!
5 BEST Hostels in Cusco – Cusco Backpackers
I’ve chosen the 5 best hostels in Cusco based on my personal experience, referrals from friends, and lots of research of reviews across various websites. The choices are completely unbiased and are really what I think are the best places for backpackers in Cusco to stay!
I’ve also labeled them each so you can quickly choose the best one for you.
One last thing to note is that all of the hostels below have a central location as well as offer dorm beds for under $13 USD per night. They are all quality hostels where you will have a comfortable stay even being on a backpacker budget!
1. Selina Saphi Cusco – Hostel with the best facilities in Cusco
Selina hostels have become famous around South and Central America simply because they are everywhere! This hostel brand has made a name for itself by offering really comfortable hostels that go above and beyond what you normally see in a backpacker hostel.
Amazing facilities, friendly staff, exquisite design, and ample places to hang out make this Selina one of the best hostels in Cusco. They even have a yoga room, co-working space, communal kitchen, as well as a space to hang out outside!
The bar and restaurant is a little pricey but it does offer the chance to meet other travelers or just sip on a coffee.
Like all of the hostels on this list, the location is great and the reviews are even better!
Selina Saphi Cusco is of great value because although it is not the cheapest hostel available in Cusco, it is the cheapest that offers a really quality stay. Any of the hostels that are cheaper tend to have very basic facilities and compromise quality.
A dorm bed here goes for as little as $13 USD per night without breakfast but you can add it for $4 USD. If you have extra cash to spare, their private rooms are absolutely gorgeous but do cost quite a lot more at $53 USD.
2. Backpacker La Bo’M – The best cheap hostel in Cusco
Backpacker La Bo’M Hostel is a cozy hostel set in a colonial building in the heart of Cusco. With a large courtyard for hanging out, a small bar and restaurant, as well as spacious rooms (yes, even the dorm rooms) this hostel is the perfect place to just relax.
While there is a bar, you won’t get a party here and that’s all that makes it one of the most chill hostels in Cusco! With that said, the atmosphere is friendly and it’s a great place to chat with other travelers.
It is relaxing, and a bit of an escape from the hustle and bustle of Cusco which sits right outside its front doors.
The staff here are highly rated and the onsite restaurant is actually a Creperie – win! On top of that, the hostel is known for being exceptionally clean, with cozy and cute decor.
Expect to pay about $12 USD per night for a dorm bed in a 5-share with breakfast included! Their private rooms are also super affordable at around $37 USD per night for two people – perfect for couples traveling on a budget.
You can book Backpacker La Bo’M in Cusco on Booking.com.
3. Loki Hostel – Best party hostel in Cusco
On the opposite of the spectrum from Backpacker La Bo’M, we have Loki Hostel which is famous for having large nightly parties. Actually, scratch that, daily parties that span well into the night.
If you want to drink cheap drinks with other backpackers and dance the night away this is the place for you! Their very large building has an abundance of space to house hundreds of backpackers in Cusco and makes it the easiest place to party!
But besides the party, Loki is a very nice hostel. I stayed here in both a double private room (which was of a nice 3-star hotel quality) as well as a dorm and found both were great! Each dorm bed had its own plug and little locker which was really handy.
Sure, the hostel can be a little noisy. But, if you book a private room instead of a dorm you are in a separate area of the building which is quieter.
For a 14-share dorm bed expect to pay about $11 USD per night without breakfast which is only an additional $4 USD. The private room would be around $47 USD without breakfast.
It is also important to note that there is no kitchen for guests to use here. But in all honesty, this isn’t a problem as the meals at Loki are cheap and there are many other affordable places to eat nearby.
4. Nao Victoria Hostel – The classiest hostel in Cusco
This one is for the “flashpackers”! You know, backpackers in Cusco who are budget-conscious but don’t want to sacrifice comfort. In all honesty, this is the type of traveler I am these days and I loved the Nao Victoria Hostel in Cusco!
Beautifully decorated in a colonial building, this hostel appears to be more of a classy boutique hotel rather than a hostel – but they have dorm rooms!
Dorm beds are comfortable and have curtains so you are completely isolated on your own, almost like a pod! Each bed also has its own light and power outlet.
From Nao Victoria Hostel to the main plaza is only a 2-minute walk!
There is also a small restaurant and bar onsite, but there are tons of restaurants right outside the front door too.
For such an upscale hostel I was surprised that a dorm bed with breakfast included goes for as little as $13 USD! Their standard private rooms are also very nice and affordable for backpackers!
You can book the Nao Victoria Hostel on Booking.com
5. Pariwana Hostel – The most social hostel in Cusco
Pariwana Hostel is what most Cusco backpackers are looking for in a hostel – social! The social vibe is everything when it comes to picking the right hostel in Cusco. If you want to meet other travelers then Pariwana Hostel is the place to do so.
This place can be a little on the “party” side with a bar that is busy practically every night. However, they do adhere to a strict time schedule when everything must be shut down to allow guests to get a good night’s sleep.
The large common areas and friendly staff make the environment so inviting and easy to meet other travelers.
But besides the social vibe, Pariwana has nice facilities offering everything you would expect from a top-rated hostel in Cusco. The location is central and they have an onsite restaurant perfect for an easy meal.
Expect to pay about $11 USD for a dorm bed in a 10-share with breakfast included!
Cheap Things to do in Cusco for Backpackers (other than Machu Picchu!)
And there you have it, the best 5 hostels in Cusco – one for every type of backpacker! If you are looking for some other backpacker budget-saving tips while in Cusco then keep reading for some cheap things to do in Cusco that you might want to check out!
1. Join a free walking tour
The city is surprisingly large and the best way to get your bearings on your first day in Cusco is to join a free walking tour.
We aren’t always fans of these tours (sometimes we think they are boring) but Cusco is an exception. There is a lot of interesting history and hidden alleys that only a local could show you.
Show up at the Plaza de Armas any day at 9:45 am 12:30 pm or 3 pm and there will be a tour you can join with Free Walking Tour Cusco which costs nothing but a tip at the end. Perfect for someone on a backpacker budget in Cusco.
2. Hike Rainbow Mountain
Expect to pay about $49 USD for a tour including breakfast, a buffet lunch, and an English-speaking guide.
Keep in mind that it is a 12 km/7.5 mile hike at over 5,000 meters/16.404 ft above sea level. So, only tackle Rainbow Mountain after being acclimatized for a couple of days in Cusco (and if you aren’t feeling up to the hike, bring an extra 80 soles to ride a horse).
You can book this cheap and highly-rated Rainbow Mountain tour online in advance to secure your spot. Although more expensive than the tours you can book in Cusco, it guarantees breakfast and lunch, as well as a great guide!
3. Visit the Sacred Valley
If you love Inca ruins then this day trip from Cusco is for you. You can do it for as cheap as 130 soles ($36 USD) plus all entrance fees. In the Sacred Valley, you can explore lots of Inca ruins and enjoy breathtaking views!
If you want a guaranteed amazing tour then this Ultimate Sacred Valley tour here is one of the top-reviewed tours to the Sacred Valley from Cusco for around $129 USD per person.
You will visit four ruin sites which are Maras, Moray, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo over 12 hours. It also includes a colonial-style buffet lunch and transportation so it’s a respectable price point!
Looking back I wish I had booked that tour as our guide barely spoke English and lunch was never included (it was supposed to be!). An English-speaking guide is also essential to understand the history and significance of the Sacred Valley.
4. The Chocolate Museum
It isn’t really a museum but rather, more of a store that offers tours about chocolate. BUT, they also give free chocolate, free liquor, and free hot chocolate samples.
What more could backpackers in Cusco ask for than free chocolate?
For a real experience, be sure to sign up for their Bean to Bar Workshop for only $26 USD. On this guided experience you will learn the entire chocolate-making process while you make your very own chocolate to take home with you. It’s a fun, informative, and cheap experience!
To this day it is still some of the most delicious chocolate that I’ve tasted!
You can visit the Chocolate Museum in Cusco at Calle Garcilaso 210 in central Cusco.
5. The Inka Museum (Museo Inka)
It is only a 20 soles ($5.60 USD) entrance fee and is one of the few museums we have found in South America that actually has English descriptions throughout.
The best part of the museum is the mummified Inkas you can see at the end – if you haven’t already seen the one in Arequipa, this is something you need to check out.
You will find the Inca Museum’s location directly behind KFC at the Plaza de Armas, follow the ally one block and you will see it!
6. Go to the San Pedro Market
The San Pedro Market is a huge market located right in Cusco. This market sells everything and anything from fresh fruit and vegetables to cute souvenirs.
If you’re after a huge selection of souvenirs in one place this is the market to visit. However, I also recommend coming here to try some local produce and some weird fruits you may never have tried before. If your hostel has a kitchen, then grab some meat and fresh veggies and cook up a storm!
Where to Eat in Cusco (for Backpackers on a Budget!)
San Blas Mercado
You can choose between dozens of “menus of the day” (soup and a main course) for only 5 soles (less than $2 USD) or buy amazing sandwiches for 2 to 6 soles ($1.67 USD). There is also a vegetarian place under a big sign that says “Falafel” which serves amazing food for only 6 soles.
Did I mention the 1 sole avocado (less than $0.50 USD)?
This is by far the best value place to eat out in Cusco. It is only open for lunch between 12 to 4 pm every day. A haven for backpackers in Cusco.
Paddy’s Irish Pub
Right on the corner at the Plaza de Armas, Paddy’s Irish Pub offers great western dishes at a decent price (20 to 30 soles/$5 to $9 USD) as well as the expected lively Irish bar environment.
UFO Asian Food
If you are craving cheap Japanese food then UFO Asian Food should be your next spot! The setting and decor are nothing special but the food is authentic and delicious. The teriyaki chicken and ramen bowls are some of their most popular dishes and you can score one for around 12 sol (less than $5 USD) which is a steal!
Sumaq II Cusco
If you want to try some delicious Peruvian food or are craving a mouthwatering pizza in a woodfired oven head to Sumaq II Cusco right on the edge of downtown. Have you ever had Alpaca Pizza? You can here and reviewers LOVE it! Everything is made fresh to order so it may take some time but it is sure to be worth it. It is an affordable place but you get a free appetizer just from dining here!
Avocado, toast & more.
If you’re missing home, this place feels like the Western world with modern digs and avocado toast. That’s not all they sell though, Avocado, toast & more is a great fresh and healthy options for all meals at a great price point. Other popular menu items include their Avocado Burger, poke bowls, salads, and the Crispy Chicken.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
So if you’re a backpacker in Cusco, you now have some tips on the best hostels in Cusco, cheap things to do, and where to eat on a budget! I’m hoping my blog has helped plan your time backpacking in Cusco!
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