One of the first things you notice arriving in Cusco are all the Inca rainbow-like flags flying proudly all across the city. As much as we thought we’d hit some big gay Pride celebration, this is in fact the Inca flag, flying proudly everywhere in this Peruvian Inca city (you can tell the difference as this one has an extra blue stripe added).
Cusco is famous for being the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 1200s until the mid 1500s when the Spanish invaded. It’s also the base to visit the famous world wonder, Machu Picchu.
This is our experience travelling in Cusco as a gay couple, which you can read more about in our gay travel guide to Cusco.
GAY BARS AND CLUBS IN CUSCO
Unlike the big capital city Lima, Cusco doesn’t have many gay hangouts. There are however a few gay friendly hangouts which are gay owned and/or popular with LGBT locals.
1) Fallen Angel
This gay owned resto-bar actually has the real rainbow flag flying high outside. It functions as a restaurant by day and by night a bar. In terms of parties, it hosts 5 parties each year: in June to celebrate their opening anniversary, in July for the Peruvian Independence Day, October for Halloween, December for Xmas and then again for New Year’s Eve/Day.
One of the more popular gay hangouts, attracting a local crowd. It’s located outside the main touristic heart of the city, which is why not as many foreigners come here.
3) Mama Africa
This is the main club in Cusco, located right in the centre in the Plaza de Armas. This gay friendly institution has been around since 1994. Every local gay guy we spoke to said this was their favourite place to come and we agree: it attracts a fun crowd, plays the latest latino pop hits and you’re always guaranteed a fun night out here.
GAY FRIENDLY HOTELS IN CUSCO
On a budget: Airbnb
If you’re on a budget and like us not interested in staying in hostels, you can find some pretty decent deals on Airbnb. We were in Cusco during the Christmas and New Year period so just wanted a base to call home close to the centre where we could cook and party before heading out. If you’re a first time user of Airbnb you can use our coupon to claim £31/$40 off your booking and save more.
Mid-priced: Los Apus Hotel
Los Apus is a charming and affordable base in the San Blas neighbourhood of Cusco, only a few minutes walking distance to Plaza de Armas. It’s set in a 17th century building decorated in colonial style. The rooms have wooden floors, soundproof windows and balconies. Rooms at Los Apus start from $75/£60 a night.
Luxury: Palacio del Inka
Checking into Palacio del Inka after 4 days trekking the Inca Trail sure feels gooood! This 5* hotel used to be a sacred Andean temple called Qoricancha, which was really important to the Incas and has been decorated to retain its authenticity, making it a museum in itself.
It’s the perfect splurge for a plush romantic stay in Cusco. Rooms start from $170/£135 a night.
WHAT TO DO IN CUSCO
Although most will rightly come to Cusco as a base to visit Machu Picchu, there’s a few other things you should check out:
Machu Picchu is the highlight of most people’s itineraries to not only Peru, but also to the entire continent. You can either visit as part of the 4 days 3 nights Inca Trail or day trip by train from Cusco. Whichever way you choose to visit it, it’s stunning, breathtaking and top bucket list item! You can read more about our experience trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with Journeyou.
For first timers to Cusco, this is the best way to get an insight into the culture. Tours are led by locals and really easy to book. They’re run on tips so not free per se, but well worth it to give you a basic introduction to the main sights around the city.
This multi-coloured layered mountain is like something you’ve never seen before. It can be visited as a day trip from Cusco and involves a 2 hour trek at 5,000 metres (16,400 feet) passing lots of Andean villages, alpacas and herding dogs.
Foodies will want to consider a cooking class. We love these as they’re a great way for gaining a more in depth insight into the culture and they show you the local markets as well as recipes for ceviche and llomo saltado (stir fry).
Stefan and Sebastien are a gay couple who left their lives in London in 2014 and have been travelling the world together since. They are currently on a big adventure around Latin America and you can follow them on their gay travel blog Nomadic Boys, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.