10 hours 15 minutes
Cultural site, archaeological site, ancient culture
Maximum comfort or class
7 Departures Daily
Price may fluctuate due to seasonal demand and other market-driven and regulatory events.
All about the bus from Arequipa to Cusco
Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers you a broad range of experiences, and if you’re going from Arequipa there’s no better way than taking a bus to see the great landscapes in between.
Founded by the Inca, Cusco’s riches are built upon the stones of the once capital of the Inca Empire. This is the history of the pre-Colombian America living on today.
If you are a culture buff, or you relish climbing and trekking in the breathtaking (literally – for the altitude!) landscapes, Cusco will fulfill your appetite! There’s a lot to see about this popular Peruvian destination. Let our AndesTransit experts tell you about the best activities and must-do in Cusco
What are the buses in Peru like?
Whew! There is a whole spectrum of buses in Peru. You can find buses that seem to be held together with baling wire, rattling down the highways and country roads, with passengers crammed on seats and standing (packed like proverbial sardines) in the aisles.
At the other end of the scale, you can experience first-class service in well-maintained buses, complete with 140º-180º reclining seats, climate control, pillows and blankets (a nice touch when traveling through the mountains at night), GPS and Wi-Fi, meals and drinks – and wait-staff to make sure your trip is pleasant. Between these two extremes, you have all types and offers of bus services.
How long is the bus ride from Arequipa to Cusco?
The journey from Arequipa to Cusco is a bit over 500 kilometers (310 miles) and takes about 10 hours. The road, shadowed by El Misti and Chachani volcanoes, cuts across the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve and reaches an altitude of almost 4,000 meters (over 14,000 feet). It then heads north across the barren páramo (high-altitude moor) edged by snowy mountains.
A number of factors can possibly affect your trip, both natural and manmade. Natural ones can involve anything from the elements like rain or snow storms (yes, SNOW, even though you are in the "tropics") to landslides. Man-made delays can be caused by traffic in or out of the cities or random demonstration marches on the highway. Shoddily maintained buses are also a major reason for choosing to travel with a more reputable company, albeit the ticket price might be a bit more.
Here are some tips to make your bus ride as comfortable as possible. Tips for Safe and Comfortable Bus Journeys.
What is the cost of traveling by bus from Arequipa to Cusco?
Depending on the class of bus you decide to take, fares will range between $12 and $15 (46-57 PEN). Several factors will affect the price: when you go (usually more expensive on weekends and holidays); when you book (always a good idea to do so in advance, especially during the holiday season and to ensure you get a seat on the service you want); and the bus company you decide to travel with.
Lower-priced buses will be basic (hard and slightly reclining seats, no onboard bathroom, old re-runs of blood-and-guts movies, and often over-capacity passengers). For a ride like this, you’ll have to prepare to take a sense of adventure as your companion, and then some more practical things like warm clothing and road trip snacks, although a stop for a meal will usually be made at an overly priced roadside restaurant.
If you want to travel a bit more in class, you can. Creature comforts are available like reclining seats (up to 180º!), individualized television screens, Wi-Fi (where there is coverage), air conditioning/heating, blankets, pillows, and onboard attention. Of course, buses with such amenities cost a bit more, but are worth it when traveling long distances with possible weather “adventures.”
What are the bus schedules from Arequipa to Cusco?
Buses depart from Arequipa for Cusco either in the early morning around dawn or in the evening.
Taking a day bus allows you to enjoy the stunning Andean landscape and gives you a glimpse of locals' lives in the settlements and towns nestled in the mountainous folds. You will get into Cusco before nightfall. But this 10-hour journey is also perfect for a night bus, thus letting you save on the cost of a hostel room. With the amenities that the higher-end line of buses provides, the trip will be much cozier.
By reserving your bus ticket on AndesTransit (press the Reserve Now button above), you’ll have the most up-to-date and accurate information on the schedules for buses from Arequipa to Cusco along with professional assistance to plan your journey in the Peruvian Andes.
Where can I book bus tickets from Arequipa to Cusco?
When traveling from Arequipa to Cusco, you have two options for booking bus tickets: buy in-person or buy online with AndesTransit.
Buying your bus ticket in-person requires going to the bus station with luggage in tow, and running from one bus company window to another to compare prices and schedules. Perhaps you’ll get lucky landing a ticket with a comfortable, reputable company. Or more likely, you’ll get the runaround as companies tend to redirect you to lower-class buses to fill quotas. If you have to wait for your journey, you’ll have the “adventures” of that scenario: keeping your eye on your valuables and wondering what to do with it all when you want to grab a snack or go to the bathroom.
By buying your ticket online with AndesTransit, you’ll just need to arrive at the station shortly before boarding time, check-in your luggage, board the bus, and settle in for a comfortable journey to Cusco.
It’s easy to buy a bus ticket from Arequipa to Cusco from your laptop or mobile device. Just click the Reserve Now button at the top of this page to see your options. Choose your bus company, time of departure, and seat type, and then pay with a credit card or PayPal.
What is the best bus from Arequipa to Cusco?
Of the half-dozen or so companies with service between Arequipa and Cusco, the best is Oltursa. Oltursa is one of Peru’s highest-ranking bus companies, and for good reason. Its buses have a bathroom, interior environmental controls, reading light, blanket, pillow, and a choice of 140º or 160º reclining seats. For your entertainment, there is WiFi where coverage is available, movies and music, and snacks to nourish you during the journey. This company also provides security measures like GPS, a change of drivers every 4 hours, and onboard attendants.
Another good option is CIVA’s Excluciva class of buses that depart at night. These offer reclining leather seats (160º-180º), a bathroom, blanket, pillow, WiFi, personal TV screens, movies, air conditioning/heating, and onboard wait staff. They also have GPS and speed-control devices.
What to see in Cusco
Monasterio y Convento Santa Catalina in Cusco, Peru is both meditative and aesthetically amazing.
Cusco (3,399 meters / 11,152 feet a.s.l.) is one of travelers’ most sought-after Peruvian destinations. Built upon the Inca capital city, Cusco is often thought of as a gateway to Machu Picchu. The city, though, has so much to offer that it’s worth spending a week or more here.
Besides the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the Valle Sagrado (Sacred Valley) offers many other treks that are more affordable, like the Salkantay Trail and Lares Trail, and other ruins like Pumamarca and Ollantaytambo. Day trips to Pisac and other villages for their market days are great plans.
Other sites have been trending in social media feeds more recently. The most notable ones are the Salares de Mares salt flats (one hour north of Cusco) and Winikunka, popularly known as Rainbow Mountain (100 kilometers / 61 miles from Cusco).
But back to the city of Cusco. To access many sites in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, you’ll need to pick up a Boleto Turístico del Cusco (Cusco Tourist Ticket).
#1 - Museo de Arte y Monasterio de Santa Catalina
This convent and art museum was built atop the Inca Acllahuasi House of the Virgins of the Sun in the early 17th century. It has a large collection of religious art, including many pieces from the Cusqueña School which merged European and indigenous iconography. Just like its Arequipa counterpart, the Monasterio de Santa Catalina gives insight into the life of nuns in that era.
#2 - Convento de Santo Domingo
The Santo Domingo church-convent complex is another Spanish religious institution built upon the foundations of the Incan city. In this case, it was upon the holiest of Inca sites: Qorikancha, the Temple of the Sun. Much of the original Inca masonry of massive, mortar-free stones is still visible.
#3 - Inca Stonework
Cusco’s streets and alleys are lined with walls of the Inca’s distinctive stonework: multi-cornered stones so tightly fitted together and with no mortar that a knife blade cannot be placed between them! There are two that are particularly stunning. On Calle Hatun Rumiyoc is the Stone Puma, formed by over 20 stones that were part of the foundation of the 14th-century palace of Incan ruler Inca Roca. Another enigma is the famous 12 cornerstone that was part of another palace’s construction and now is the Archbishop’s Palace (Calle Hatun Rumiyoq). Be sure to take the “obligatory” selfie with both these stones!
#4 - Sacsayhuamán
These well-preserved archaeological ruins are still a major Inca ceremonial site, hosting the former empire’s most famous Inti Raymi (June solstice) celebration. Located a few kilometers outside of Cusco, Sacsayhuamán allows you to study the mysterious stonework of the Inca, and at much less cost than Machu Picchu!
#5 - Museo Taller Hilario Mendivil
Cusco isn’t just about Inca and Spanish colonial art. At this museum-workshop, you can discover the eclectic works of regional folk artists Hilario Mendivil and his wife Georgina. Although they have passed to join the home realm of the many angels they sculpted, their children continue creating. Works are available for purchase.