Lima or Cusco

How Many Days To Stay In Lima vs Cusco?

cusco vs lima

Lima or Cusco

{How Many Days To Stay In Lima vs Cusco}

Lima and Cusco are two of Peru’s most popular destinations and chances are you will end up visiting both of them at least once during your trip.

Despite their popularity, each city is very different from one another offering two completely different travel experiences. 

Many travelers often find themselves struggling with the decision of whether to fly into Lima or Cusco as well as exactly how long to stay in each destination.

Therefore, in order to help clear up any possible confusion or misconceptions about Peru’s two most popular cities, in this blog we will compare the most important differences and similarities of Lima and Cusco.


Please be aware that some of the links in this blog contain affiliate links and at NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU, Wild & Away earns a small commission if you decide to make a purchase/reservation.  The commission made from each affiliate link helps to support this website. Please understand that I have experience with all of these booking companies, and I only recommend certain accommodation if I find they will be useful to you. Thank You!



Is It Better To Fly Into Cusco or Lima?

The majority of the time it will be cheaper to fly into Lima as opposed to Cusco

Although both airports offer international flights, Lima regularly offers cheaper flights no matter where you are flying from.

This is especially true when you are flying from anywhere outside of Latin America. Not to mention that any flight to Cusco will almost always have a layover in Lima.

Therefore, the majority of Peru backpackers enter Peru through Lima. Then they eventually make their way to Cusco.

Winner Between Lima Or Cusco: Lima




How To Get From Lima To Cusco | cusco city

How Many Days To Stay In Lima vs Cusco

How Many Days To Stay In Cusco

Filled to the brim with attractions like Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain, Humantay Lake and countless others nearby, the Cusco bucket list offers endless opportunities for adventure.

With attractions as good as these, it is literally impossible to have a quality backpacking tour of Peru without spending some time in Cusco. 

Therefore, I recommend at least 5 days in Cusco and that is a bare minimum.  If you are into hiking and adventure then you will want to stay for much longer.

Must Read | 17 Best Things To Do In Cusco Peru {The Certified Guide}


where to buy machu picchu tickets


Rainbow Mountain Tour From Cusco


How Many Days To Stay In Lima

I wish I had just as many positive things to say about Lima… but unfortunately, I don’t.

Compared to Cusco, Lima is quite deprived of things to do.

Sure, there are things like the Magic Water Circuit, Larcomar shopping center, and the beach, but other than those few things Lima lacks quite a bit in this category.

It’s worth mentioning that 9 months out of the year it’s too cold and cloudy to even have a good beach day, so unless you are planning to visit during the summer months don’t even count on a beach day in Lima.

Although there is next to nothing distinctively cool to see in Lima, at least it has amazing food and some of the top restaurants in the world here. 

With that being said, I recommend at most 3 days in Lima and trust me when I say even that is pushing it.

Must Read | The Magic Water Circuit In Lima Peru {Updated Guide}


Winner Between Lima Or Cusco: Cusco


magic water circuit in lima 

Who Has Better Nightlife between Lima or Cusco?

Cusco Nightlife

I have to admit I was not expecting much from Cusco in terms of nightlife but was indeed pleasantly surprised when I ended up partying every night. 

Cusco nightlife was pretty much nonstop and definitely made it quite the challenge to wake up in the morning for all the hikes.

It’s safe to say we did miss quite a few as a result.

Though in hindsight, staying at the notoriously crazy Wild Rover party hostel probably wasn’t the best choice either… and yet I have zero regrets. Aside from Wild Rover, Cusco is loaded with party hostels that really do make everything much more exciting.

A night out in Cusco almost always begins at one of the hostel bars before moving onward to the Plaza de Armas. This is where the majority of the best bars and clubs are located in Cusco including the infamous Chango nightclub which is open until 6 in the morning. 

You can kind of see how we missed some of our hikes now, right?

Must Read | Best Party Hostels In Cusco


cusco nightlife girl at club

Lima Nightlife

Though I didn’t get to experience as much Lima nightlife as I would have preferred, seeing as I couldn’t bear to be there for more than three nights, I did hear it does get quite lit.

With an assortment of different bar and club choices, the nightlife is definitely not something Lima is lacking.

The few nights I did make it out in Lima were nothing but good times and I enjoyed myself the entire time.

In addition to this, there are plenty of Lima party hostels scattered throughout the city with staff who will do everything within their power to make sure you have a good ol’ drunken time.

Among the most popular are Loki Lima and The Point. 

Must Read | Best Party Hostels In Lima {The Certified Guide}


Winner Between Lima Or Cusco: Tie


cusco vs lima | lima nightlife 

Is Cusco or Lima More Dangerous?

Safety In Cusco

Compared to Lima, Cusco is definitely a much safer city. There are small crimes like muggings and thefts that occur on occasion, however at a much smaller scale than Lima. 

The main tourist zone of Cusco is particularly safe to explore both day and night with plenty of other tourists doing the same.

As long as you don’t go walking down any sketchy dare alleyways alone, you will feel totally safe in Cusco. 

cusco nightlife | plaza de armas


Safety In Lima

Lima on the other hand not so much.  Although I wouldn’t say Lima is dangerous, it’s just not as easy going and carefree as Cusco.

Similar to any major metropolitan city there is always going to be an increased rate of crime and violence, and Lima is no different.

However, as long as you stick to the tourist zones of Miraflores and Barranco while following the standard safety travel measures you should be just fine.

Pro Tip

Do not stay near the airport. Some backpackers who only plan to be in Lima for the day try and find accommodation around the airport because of the hour-long bus ride to Miraflores and Barranco. 

However, this is an extremely dangerous part of Lima. In fact, this area is so bad, that one of my friends had to have a police escort to the airport because the hotel manager feared for her safety. 

Winner Between Lima Or Cusco: Cusco


lima vs cusco | Is Cusco or Lima More Dangerous 

Is The Food Better In Cusco or Lima?

Food In Cusco

The food is actually quite delicious in Cusco.  There are so many delicious restaurants and food choices to try while you are here.

Although it doesn’t have the same reputation among foodie’s that Lima does, Cusco food is still quite delicious.

In particular, be sure to try the Alpaca and Cui while you are in Cusco which are two of their top dishes.

best things to do in cusco

Alpaca Burger in Cusco

Food In Lima

Lima’s reputation as one of the food capitals of the world definitely proceeds itself, therefore the bar was set quite high for me upon entering the city.

Oh my goodness does Lima live up to every ounce of expectation that I had and then some.

With endless delicious food choices and restaurants, Lima is literally any foodie’s dream destination. To be honest, I can’t remember one bad dish that I tried while I was there.

No matter whether you are eating at one of the world-renowned 5-star restaurants or a no-name hole in the wall restaurant, your taste buds will go ballistic here.

Though I did really enjoy the food in Cusco as well, it just simply cannot compare to the food in Lima. 

Winner Between Lima Or Cusco: Lima


Is The Shopping Better In Cusco or Lima?

Shopping In Cusco

Cusco produces 650 tons of alpaca each year, making it the best destination in the world to get anything alpaca related.

Aside from that, Cusco is loaded with tons of unique shops and markets that will have you constantly in your pocket digging for some more spare change.

Places like the historic center, Plaza de Armas and the San Pedro Market offer the best shopping in Cusco.

Pro Tip

I had my computer charger stolen in Cusco and trying to find a replacement was an absolute nightmare.  After searching for several hours I ultimately gave up.

If you’re searching for specific brands or technical equipment, Cusco is certainly not the place to find it.  

shopping in cusco


Shopping In Lima

It’s no surprise that a major cosmopolitan city like Lima would be good for shopping, boasting tons of mainstream shopping brands. There are plenty of different shopping malls and plazas where you can practically find anything you are looking for.

However, expect things to cost quite a bit more in Lima vs Cusco.  Though still much cheaper than shopping in North America or Europe, it is quite pricey by South American standards.

Another thing to consider is Lima does not have as many unique shops and markets as Cusco. There are mostly mainstream retailers in Lima, which is definitely not my favorite way to shop when abroad and backpacking. 

Winner Between Lima Or Cusco: Cusco


shopping mall in lima


Conclusion To Lima Or Cusco

If I had to choose between Cusco and Lima, I would hands down pick Cusco every time.

Like I mentioned before, although the vast majority of backpackers will visit both cities at one point or another during their trip, Cusco is definitely where you will want to spend the most time. 

Not to say there is anything wrong with Lima, however, in my personal opinion, I did find it to be exceptionally boring after the first day or two.

Whereas, on the other hand, Cusco never did lose its intrigue for me. Even though I spent a total of 10 days in Cusco, there were still plenty of things to do.

How To Get From Lima To Cusco thumbnail


Peru Content Guide

Cusco Nightlife Guide {Best Cusco Bars and Clubs}

17 Best Things To Do In Cusco Peru {The Certified Guide}

Top 3 Best Party Hostels In Lima For Backpackers

Best Party Hostels In Cusco Peru {The Certified Backpackers Guide}


Save”Lima or Cusco {How Many Days To Stay In Lima vs Cusco}” For Later?


cusco vs lima pinterest



Did we forget to mention some important information in our blog “One Week In Bali {The Perfect 7 Days In Bali Itinerary}”?

Drop your comments & suggestions below!

Don’t forget to check out some of our other blogs below.