Plan your journey with insight into the best time to visit Cusco. From lush rainy seasons to colorful cultural festivals, Cusco offers unique attractions throughout the year, ensuring a memorable Andean adventure.
As the gateway to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, I have visited Cusco many times and in all those visits, when considering the best time to visit Cusco, you should just be aware of the crowds.
In terms of weather in Cusco, I always packed the same clothes. Even during the dry season, there will be sudden showers so take note that Cusco is a city of (beautiful) rain!
The sun is also very strong so I would say that this is really a city of multi-climates. However, please note that Cusco weather is not the same as Machu Picchu so this post will only be talking about the city.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comment box below and I will get back to you with answers!
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☀️ When is the best time to visit Cusco?
I love the rain and cold so in many of my visits, I never checked the best time to visit Cusco. Based on experience, Cusco weather can be somewhat unpredictable due to its mountainous location.
As such, you should be prepared for a range of conditions regardless of the season. Here’s a background on the best time to visit Cusco according to season:
Best time to visit Cusco for good weather
The most ideal time for pleasant weather in Cusco is during its dry season, which spans from May to September.
During these months, the skies are generally clear, and rainfall is minimal, making it a prime time for sightseeing and trekking to nearby attractions such as Machu Picchu.
Daytime temperatures hover around 18°C (mid-60s°F), while nights can get chilly, especially in June and July.
When to visit Cusco for fewer crowds
If you want to escape the throngs of tourists, consider visiting Cusco during the shoulder months of April or October.
While there’s a higher chance of occasional rain, attractions won’t be as crowded as in peak months.
Furthermore, many of the major festivals, like Inti Raymi in June, draw significant crowds, so avoid them if you want more solitude.
Cheapest months to visit Cusco
The rainy season, which lasts from November to March, is considered the off-peak tourist season. This is actually a good time if you want to escape the winter from your home.
During this time, accommodation and tour prices are generally lower. While the frequent rain showers can be a drawback for some outdoor activities, the landscape is lush and vibrant.
If you’re budget-conscious, these months offer value for money, but always be prepared for unpredictable weather and potentially muddy trails.
🌡️ Average Cusco weather
Cusco, located in the Andes Mountains, experiences two main seasons: the wet season and the dry season.
Its weather, influenced by its altitude and topography, is relatively cool compared to other parts of tropical South America. Here’s a general overview of the average weather in Cusco throughout the year:
Temperature in Cusco
The average daytime temperatures tend to hover around 16°C to 18°C (61°F to 64°F) throughout the year.
Due to its high altitude, Cusco sees cooler nights. The temperatures at night can vary considerably, ranging from around 1°C (34°F) during the coldest months to 7°C (45°F) during the warmer months.
Rainfall in Cusco
This period dry season of May to September sees minimal rainfall. The climate is mostly dry with clear blue skies, particularly between June and August.
During the wet season from October to April, rainfall increases, with the heaviest precipitation typically occurring between January and March. However, even in the wet season, it’s common to experience bright sunshine for parts of the day.
Humidity in Cusco
The humidity levels in Cusco generally range between 50% and 80%, depending on the month and recent weather patterns.
📅 Cusco weather by month
If you are traveling to Cusco for a particular month, here is an overview of the weather in Cusco by month including what to expect during your visit.
January in Cusco weather
January places you right in the heart of Cusco’s rainy season. During this month, visitors should anticipate frequent showers and overcast days.
Temperatures typically hover around 14°C (57°F) during the daytime, dipping to about 6°C (43°F) at night.
Despite the wet conditions, January has its own charm, especially with the Feast of San Sebastián.
The city comes alive with dances, vibrant fireworks, and a plethora of local customs, presenting a warm contrast to the cool weather.
February in Cusco weather
February remains entrenched in the rainy season, with the landscapes turning increasingly lush and vibrant.
Expect daytime temperatures around 14°C (57°F) and nighttime at 6°C (43°F).
The Inca Trail closes for maintenance during February, but the spirit of Carnival more than compensates, marking the month with colorful parades, joyful music, and playful water balloon skirmishes across the city.
March in Cusco weather
As March progresses, the rains start to recede, ushering in the dry season. However, you should still be prepared for occasional showers.
The temperatures remain relatively stable with highs of 15°C (59°F) during the day and 6°C (43°F) at night.
The Cusco Fall Equinox, an important event in the Incan calendar, is observed and respected by locals, adding a cultural dimension to visits during this month.
April in Cusco weather
April witnesses Cusco’s transition into the dry season. Clear skies become the norm, and rain showers become less frequent.
Daytime temperatures are mildly warm at around 16°C (61°F), with cooler evenings at 5°C (41°F). April is also a spiritually significant month for Cusqueños.
The Holy Week celebrations are particularly grand, characterized by processions and various traditional events that offer an immersive experience.
May in Cusco weather
By May, Cusco firmly settles into its dry season, offering optimal weather conditions for outdoor explorations and treks.
The clear skies provide a backdrop for temperatures that reach up to 17°C (63°F) during the day and descend to a chilly 3°C (37°F) at night.
A unique blend of indigenous and Christian traditions manifests in the Qoyllur Rit’i or Star Snow Festival, drawing pilgrims and curious visitors alike.
June in Cusco weather: best month to visit Cusco
June is a sunny and clear month, inviting numerous tourists to Cusco, making it a peak season. Day temperatures are a comfortable 17°C (63°F), while nights can be cold at around 2°C (36°F).
The highlight of June is undoubtedly the Inti Raymi, the revered Incan Festival of the Sun.
Celebrated towards the month’s end, the festival showcases grand parades, ceremonies, and an insight into the rich cultural heritage of the region.
July in Cusco weather
July is one of the coldest months in Cusco, with the heart of winter gracing the city.
While daytime temperatures may feel moderate at around 17°C (63°F), nights can get especially chilly, dropping close to 1°C (34°F).
Nevertheless, the skies remain mostly clear, allowing visitors to indulge in outdoor activities.
The month is enlivened by Peruvian National Holidays, particularly on the 28th and 29th. Festivities include parades, folkloric dances, and concerts, making July a festive time to visit.
August in Cusco weather
August continues the trend of dry, sunny days and cold nights. Daytime temperatures hover around 18°C (64°F), with nighttime temperatures nearing 2°C (36°F).
It’s a popular month for trekking, with trails teeming with enthusiasts. The Assumption of the Virgin, celebrated on the 15th, is a significant religious event in Cusco, accompanied by processions and festivities.
September in Cusco weather
September marks the end of the peak tourist season, though the weather remains pleasant for sightseeing. Daytime temperatures average 18°C (64°F) while nights stay at around 6°C (43°F).
As the month progresses, there’s a subtle shift towards the rainy season. The Spring Equinox, another important date in the Incan calendar, is recognized with various traditional observances, linking the city’s past to its present.
October in Cusco weather
October ushers in a palpable change in weather, as the dry days give way to increased rainfall. The temperature remains fairly constant, with days at about 18°C (64°F) and nights at 7°C (45°F).
The month is celebrated for the Lord of the Miracles, a religious procession held in various parts of Peru, with Cusco showcasing its own fervent devotion.
November in Cusco weather
November witnesses a further intensification of the rainy season. Frequent showers dominate the landscape, though they often don’t last all day.
Temperatures settle around 18°C (64°F) during the day and 7°C (45°F) at night.
Despite the rains, Cusco’s All Saints Day and Day of the Dead celebrations in early November bring vibrant customs, remembrance, and festive foods to the forefront.’
November witnesses a further intensification of the rainy season.
Frequent showers dominate the landscape, though they often don’t last all day. Temperatures settle around 18°C (64°F) during the day and 7°C (45°F) at night.
December in Cusco weather
December offers a mix of rain and sunshine as the wet season continues. Daytime temperatures average 18°C (64°F), and nights are at 7°C (45°F).
As the festive season approaches, Cusco is adorned with holiday decorations and lights.
Christmas in Cusco is special, with the Santuranticuy market in the main square offering handicrafts and traditional festive foods, culminating in colorful celebrations on Christmas Eve.
🌤️ What is the best month to go to Cusco?
The best month to go to Cusco largely depends on what you’re seeking from your trip. However, June is among the best months for a few reasons:
June in Cusco falls during the dry season, which means there’s minimal rainfall and the days are typically sunny. The weather is ideal for outdoor activities, hiking, and exploring.
June is a significant month in Cusco due to the Inti Raymi festival, which is celebrated towards the end of the month.
It’s a traditional Incan Festival of the Sun and offers tourists a unique cultural experience with grand parades, traditional music, dances, and ceremonies.
Being in the dry season, June is a great month to trek the Inca Trail and visit Machu Picchu, ensuring clearer views and safer trekking conditions.
However, it’s essential to note that because of these favorable conditions, June is also one of the busiest months in terms of tourism.
If you prioritize good weather and cultural experiences, June is perfect. But if you prefer fewer crowds, you might want to consider the shoulder months like April or October.
Always book accommodations and tickets, especially for Machu Picchu, well in advance if you’re planning to visit in June.
☔ What is the rainy season in Cusco Peru?
The rainy season in Cusco, Peru, typically spans from November to March. During these months, Cusco experiences the highest amount of rainfall, with January often being the wettest month.
This period is characterized by daily showers, though it usually doesn’t rain all day. The rains bring about lush landscapes, making the region vibrant and green.
However, the wet conditions can make certain outdoor activities, like trekking, more challenging due to muddy trails and potential disruptions.
If visiting during the rainy season, it’s essential to come prepared with waterproof gear and to be flexible with plans.
🥶 Does it get cold in Cusco?
Yes, Cusco can get quite cold, especially during the nighttime and early morning hours.
Given its high altitude of approximately 3,400 meters (11,200 feet) above sea level, Cusco has a temperate climate with significant temperature fluctuations between day and night.
During the dry season, which is between May and September, daytime temperatures are generally mild and hover around 18°C (mid-60s°F).
However, nighttime temperatures can drop significantly, often reaching close to freezing, especially in June and July. It’s not uncommon for nighttime temperatures to be 0-4°C (30s°F).
Even in the rainy season, while days can be slightly warmer, nights remain chilly. You should always be prepared for these temperature variations.
It’s recommended to dress in layers and bring warm clothing, including sweaters, scarves, and jackets, especially if you plan to be out during the early mornings or evenings.
❄️ What is the coldest month in Cusco?
The coldest months in Cusco are generally June and July. During this period, nighttime and early morning temperatures can drop close to freezing, often reaching 0-4°C (30s°F).
While daytime temperatures during these months can be mild and sunny, hovering around 18°C (mid-60s°F), the nights can get notably chilly.
These months fall within the dry season, and the clear skies often lead to colder nights.
🏔️ Is Cusco colder than Machu Picchu?
Yes, Cusco is generally colder than Machu Picchu. The reason for the temperature difference lies in their altitudes and geographical locations.
Cusco is situated at a higher altitude of approximately 3,400 meters (11,200 feet) above sea level. This higher elevation contributes to cooler temperatures, especially during the night.
On the other hand, Machu Picchu is located at a lower altitude of about 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) above sea level.
Moreover, it’s situated in a subtropical cloud forest, which makes its climate warmer and more humid than Cusco.
As a result, while both locations can experience significant temperature fluctuations between day and night, Cusco tends to be colder overall, especially during the evenings and early mornings.
🤒 Why do people get sick in Cusco?
Many travelers experience discomfort or sickness in Cusco due to its high altitude.
When people travel from lower altitudes to higher altitudes rapidly, they might experience altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS).
At higher altitudes, the air pressure is lower, which means there’s less oxygen available. The body needs time to adjust to this change, and if it doesn’t get the required time, altitude sickness can occur.
Altitude sickness can include headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms typically appear within hours of arriving at a high altitude.
It’s advisable to acclimatize slowly. For instance, some visitors choose to stay in the Sacred Valley (which is at a lower altitude than Cusco) for a day or two before heading to Cusco.
Drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol and heavy meals, and taking it easy for the first day or two can also help. If symptoms become severe, the best remedy is to descend to a lower altitude.
It’s also worth noting that there are medications, like acetazolamide (Diamox), that can help prevent or mitigate the effects of altitude sickness.
Please consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication.
Lastly, while altitude is a significant factor, other reasons for sickness might include consuming contaminated food or water, leading to travelers’ diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues.
Proper precautions, such as drinking bottled water and avoiding street food, can help minimize these risks.
🤮 Does everyone get altitude sickness in Cusco?
No, not everyone gets altitude sickness in Cusco. Altitude sickness, or acute mountain sickness (AMS), varies in its occurrence and severity among individuals.
While many visitors to Cusco might experience mild symptoms, others might feel perfectly fine, and some can have more severe reactions.
Rapidly ascending to a high altitude increases the risk. This is why some travelers opt to gradually acclimate by spending time in areas of slightly lower altitude, like the Sacred Valley, before heading to Cusco.
Some people are naturally more prone to altitude sickness than others. Genetics, overall health, and previous exposure to high altitudes can play a role.
The longer you stay at a high altitude without proper acclimatization, the higher the risk. Engaging in strenuous activity shortly after arriving at a high altitude can increase the risk of AMS.
If someone has been to high altitudes before without experiencing AMS, they might have a reduced risk in subsequent visits. However, this isn’t a guarantee, as AMS can still occur.
To minimize the risk of altitude sickness in Cusco, you can:
- Take time to acclimatize by ascending slowly.
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
- Consider taking prophylactic medications like acetazolamide (Diamox) after consulting a healthcare professional.
- Limit physical activity during the initial days of arrival.
Trisha Velarmino is the Global Editor-in-Chief of the Insider Media Group operating in Europe, Asia, and North America. She lived in Peru for 1.5 years and has helped thousands of expats, digital nomads, and solo travelers easily visit Peru. Trisha has traveled Peru extensively from North to South.