Cusco is one of Latin America’s most viral travel destinations and is considered an absolute essential for aspiring photographers, travel influencers, and casual Instagram enthusiasts alike. Renowned not only for its distinguished archaeological wonders, unparalleled history, and mesmerizing traditions but also for its unique aesthetic charm. The city is defined by a captivating fusion of ancient Incan and colonial Spanish architectural styles that guarantee to bless your Instagram profile with a plethora of vibrant colors and Andean mystique.
In this article you will find the definitive half-day walkable itinerary that we have curated to ensure that you hit all of the city of Cusco’s hottest (and free) Instagram-worthy spots that are bound to blow your followers away. Along with each spot we have also provided recommended Instagram filters to really make your next posts pop! So, put on your walking shoes and let’s get going!
Plaza de Armas: Capturing the Heart of Cusco
Begin your Instagrammable Cusco adventure at the iconic Plaza de Armas, the city’s beating heart. Surrounded by stunning colonial architecture and the imposing Cathedral of Cusco, this picturesque square is a visual feast. Don’t forget to photograph the vibrant local artisans and their colorful wares that add an authentic touch to your feed. We recommend taking at least half-an-hour here to get the perfect shot, and then taking an hour for lunch in one of the plaza’s many amazing restaurants with terraces. We also recommend that your start your journey at around noon, so that you can arrive at the last at the last spot on the list just in time for the sunset.
Paid Extra: To the right of the main cathedral can be found the Iglesia de la Companía de Jesús. You can go up to the second floor of this church and get some additional shots of the plaza. The entrance ticket costs S/10.
Featured Filter: Valencia.
Reasoning: The Valencia filter adds warmth and a slightly vintage look to photos, making it a great choice for a place like the Plaza de Armas. It enhances the earthy tones of the cobblestone streets, brings out the natural warmth of the terracotta buildings, and gives the photo a nostalgic and inviting atmosphere. This filter can help capture the essence of Cusco’s historical and cultural heritage while making your photo more visually appealing.
Piedra de 12 Ángulos: The Incan Puzzle
Venture into the historic street of Hatunrumiyoc to discover the enigmatic Piedra de 12 Ángulos (Stone of 12 Angles). This intricately carved Incan stone is a testament to their advanced masonry skills. Capture the precision of the stone’s angles and the intricate carvings that showcase Cusco’s rich Incan heritage. We recommend taking only 10 minutes here to get the perfect shot, as it can be a congested street, and then taking half-an-hour to shop for souvenirs in one of the area’s many interesting shops.
Directions: On the ride side of the cathedral, go down Triunfo Street, and you’ll find the Piedra de 12 Ángulos located on Hatunrumiyoc Street.
Featured Filter: Hudson
Reasoning: The Hudson filter provides a slightly muted and desaturated look while enhancing textures and details. This filter can work well for photos of this spot because it helps bring out the intricate carvings and the texture of the ancient stone. It also imparts a timeless and artistic quality to the image, emphasizing the historical aspect of the site and making it feel like a piece of art. This filter can help your photo convey the sense of awe and wonder that comes with visiting such a significant Inca site in Cusco.
Barrio de San Blas: Artistry and Culture
Wander into the charming neighborhood Barrio de San Blas, known for its vibrant art scene and Santorini-like color scheme (blue doors, window frames, and balconies with white walls). This district is a treasure trove of artisan workshops, galleries, and cobblestone streets lined with picturesque buildings. Your camera will love the colorful doors and murals that adorn the neighborhood. We recommend taking at least half-an-hour here to get the perfect shot.
Directions: Continue straight on Hatunrumiyoc Street and you’ll immediately enter the Barrio de San Blas via the street Cuesta de San Blas.
Featured Filter: Juno
Reasoning: The Juno filter enhances colors and adds a warm, slightly vintage tone to photos. This filter can work well for capturing the artistic and colorful aspects of San Blas. It will make the vibrant street art, colorful buildings, and local crafts stand out. Additionally, the warm tones can give your photos a welcoming and cozy feel, reflecting the friendly and creative community atmosphere of the neighborhood. Juno is a versatile filter that can make your San Blas photos pop and feel inviting to viewers.
Mirador de San Blas: A Cultured View
Hike up to the Mirador de San Blas for a breathtaking panoramic view of Cusco. This elevated viewpoint offers the perfect backdrop to capture the city’s red-tiled roofs and the Andes mountains in the distance. The evening light here is particularly magical for your Instagram shots. We recommend taking only 15 minutes here to get the perfect shot.
Directions: Walk uphill from Barrio de San Blas via Cuesta de San Blas before turning left onto Calle Tandapata and then right onto Calle Pasñapakana. Then, go up the stairs and take a left onto Kiskapata. Keep walking straight until you reach the third staircase on your right. Go up the stairs until reaching the Mirador de San Blas.
Featured Filter: Lark
Reasoning: The Lark filter adds brightness, clarity, and a touch of vibrancy to photos. This filter can be an excellent choice for showcasing the picturesque views from the Mirador de San Blas. It enhances the natural colors of the landscape, making the blues of the sky and greens of the surrounding hills pop. The increased clarity and contrast help define the details of the cityscape and the architecture below, creating a striking and memorable image that captures the beauty of this viewpoint. Lark can help your photos convey the sense of awe and wonder one experiences when taking photos here.
Cristo Blanco: Overlooking the Beauty of Cusco
Head to Cristo Blanco, a serene white statue of Christ overlooking Cusco. This spot provides a captivating perspective of the city and the surrounding landscapes. Sunset is the ideal time to capture the warm, golden hues that bathe Cusco in an enchanting glow. We recommend taking at least half-an-hour here to get the perfect shot, and the journey up will probably take another half-an-hour.
Directions: Firstly, walk down the stairs from the Mirador de San Blas back on to Kiskapata. Take a right and keep forward until reaching a set of stairs named Atoqsayk’uchi. This is the most arduous part of the journey, so please be sure to take breaks and hydrate. Continue up these stairs until reaching a highway where cars are passing up and down. Take a left onto the highway and continue walking uphill until Cristo Blanco becomes visible.
Featured Filter: Ludwig
Reasoning: The Ludwig filter adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to photos. This filter can work well for capturing the awe-inspiring beauty and spiritual ambiance of Cristo Blanco. It softens the image slightly while maintaining the essential details, creating a serene and ethereal atmosphere. The filter’s muted tones can also emphasize the statue’s white marble and the surrounding natural beauty, allowing the viewer to focus on the monument’s symbolic significance. Ludwig can help your photos of Cristo Blanco exude a sense of reverence and spirituality.
Calle 7 Borreguitos: A Colorful Stroll
Take a leisurely stroll along Calle 7 Borreguitos, one of Cusco’s most charming streets. The vibrant houses and quaint alleys are a photographer’s dream. With each turn, you’ll discover more hidden gems to showcase on your Instagram. We recommend taking only 15 minutes here to get the perfect shot as the street can get very crowded and everyone will be waiting their turn to take pictures.
Directions: Firstly, exit Cristo Blanco via the path on the right of the statue. Keep walking down this path until you reach a street called Don Bosco. Then, continue down Don Bosco and turn on the first thin street to your left. Walk down this alleyway and Calle 7 Borreguitos will finally be on your right.
Featured Filter: Clarendon
Reasoning: The Clarendon filter is a popular choice for enhancing colors and adding a crisp, clean look to photos. It can work well for showcasing the aesthetics of a visually appealing street like this one. This filter can make the street’s colorful buildings, unique architectural features, and any street art or decorations stand out. It tends to work nicely with a variety of scenes, making it a versatile choice for urban photography.
The Colonial Aqueducts: A Glimpse of History
Explore the Colonial Aqueducts, an engineering marvel from Cusco’s colonial past. The stone arches and water channels create a captivating visual contrast with the surrounding architecture. These historic aqueducts provide a unique perspective on Cusco’s layered history. We recommend taking only 15 minutes here to get the perfect shot.
Directions: The aqueucts are exactly at the foot of Calle 7 Borreguitos. When going down the stairs they become immediately visible.
Featured Filter: Ludwig or Juno
Reasoning: Both Ludwig and Juno filters add a touch of elegance and warmth to photos. These filters can work well for highlighting the historical significance and intricate architecture of the colonial aqueducts. They enhance colors and bring out details, making the stone structures and water features stand out beautifully. The filters also add a subtle vintage or artistic touch to your photos, which can complement the historical aspect of the aqueducts.
Mirador de Plaza Sán Cristobal: The Perfect Ending
Conclude your day at the Mirador de Plaza Sán Cristobal, where you’ll witness a stunning sunset over Cusco. The city’s lights begin to twinkle as day turns into night, offering a magical scene for your Instagram feed. This viewpoint is the perfect ending to your Instagrammable Cusco itinerary. We recommend taking at least half-an-hour here to get the perfect shot and to enjoy the view.
Directions: Walk back up Calle 7 Borreguitos and go back to Don Bosco. Continue walking down that street for several moments and the Mirador de Plaza Sán Cristobal will be visible on your right.
Filter: Valencia or Aden
Reasoning: Both the Valencia and Aden filters can help accentuate the warm, golden tones typically associated with sunset photos. They add a soft, dreamy quality to your pictures and enhance the orange and red hues of the setting sun. These filters can bring out the romantic and enchanting atmosphere of the Mirador de Plaza San Cristobal at sunset, making your photos feel more inviting and captivating.
Booking a Cusco City Tour
If you are looking to discover more exciting sites in the Imperial City of Cusco, look no further than our City Tour! In this classic experience, you will discover not only the ruins in an around the city, but also discover the entire Sacred Valley of the Incas.