Getting around Cusco is straightforward and relatively simple, especially because so many of the city sights are within walking distance of the Plaza de Armas in the historic center. You will mostly depend on leg power and omnipresent, inexpensive taxis to make your way around town.
Most of Cusco is best navigated by foot, although because of the city's 11,000-foot elevation and steep climbs, walking is demanding. Allow extra time to get around, and carry a bottle of water. You can walk to the major ruins just beyond the city -- Sacsayhuamán and Q'enko -- but you should be rather fit to do so. It's also best to undertake those walks in a small group and not alone.
Cusco is crawling with taxis. Unlike in Lima, taxis are regulated and charge standard rates (although they do not have meters). Taxis are inexpensive (S/3 for any trip within the historic core during the day, S/4-S/5 at night) and are a good way to get around, especially at night. Hailing a cab in Cusco is considerably less daunting than in Lima, but you still should call a registered taxi when traveling from your hotel to train or bus stations or the airport, and when returning to your hotel late at night (there have been reports of muggings and even rapes tied to rogue taxis). Licensed taxi companies include Okarina (tel. 084/247-080) and Aló Cusco (tel. 084/222-222). Taxis can be hired for return trips to nearby ruins or for half- or full days. To the airport, taxis charge S/10 from the city center; to the distant Terminal Terrestre (bus station), they charge S/8.
A tranvía is a vehicle designed to look like the old mule-pulled streetcars that once traversed Cusco; they cart visitors around the city on sightseeing tours for a modest sum (though the city, despite its hills, is much better appreciated on foot). Catch the Tranvía de Cusco on the Plaza de Armas, departing at 10 and 11:30am and 2, 3:30, and 5pm. Tours last 85 minutes and cost S/15 for adults and S/8 for students. For more information, call tel. 084/223-840 or visit www.tranviacusco.com.
Most buses -- called variously colectivos, micros, and combis -- cost S/1.50, slightly more after midnight, on Sunday, and on holidays. You aren't likely to need buses often, or ever, within the city, though the colectivos that run up and down Avenida El Sol are also a useful option for some hotels, travel agencies, and shopping markets (taxis are much easier and not much more expensive). A bus departs from Plaza San Francisco to the airport, but it isn't very convenient. Buses and combis are most frequently used to travel from Cusco to towns in the Sacred Valley, such as Pisac, Calca, and Urubamba. Those buses depart from small terminals on Calle Puputi s/n, Cdra. 2 (via Pisac) and Av. Grau s/n, Cdra. 1 (via Chinchero).
The most popular means to visit Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley sights is by train. PeruRail trains from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu Pueblo (also called Aguas Calientes) leave from Estación Poroy, a 15-minute cab ride from downtown. Reservations for these trains, especially in high season (May-Sept), should be made several days or weeks in advance. Make reservations online at www.perurail.com.
Renting a car in the Cusco region -- more than likely to visit the beautiful Sacred Valley mountain villages -- is a more practical idea than in most parts of Peru. Rental agencies include Avis, Av. El Sol 808 (tel. 084/248-800) and Localiza, Av. Industrial J-3, Urbanización Huancaro (tel. 084/233-131). Rates range from $50 per day for a standard four-door to $75 or more per day for a Jeep Cherokee four-wheel-drive. Check also with 4x4 Cusco, Urb. San Borja, Huanchaq (tel. 084/227-730) which has pickups and even Toyota Land Cruisers.
For information on driving around the Cusco department, and in case of emergencies, contact the Touring Automóvil Club del Perú, Av. El Sol 349, 2nd Floor (tel. 084/224-561). The office is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 1pm and 3:30 to 7:30pm, and Saturday from 9am to 1pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.