Cusco, Peru

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas

(Pictured) Belmond Palacio Nazarenas

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cusco is Peru's most important tourist destination, in large part due to its proximity to the spectacular Inca ruins at Machu Picchu. Yet the charming colonial city, 11,000 feet above sea level, feels like its own world.

Cusco thrived in Spanish colonial times, and the history of both the indigenous inhabitants and Spanish settlers is evident throughout. Many former convents and monasteries now are breathtaking luxury hotels, among them Belmond's 126-room Hotel Monasterio and 55-room Palacio Nazarenas, and the 153-room JW Marriott El Convento Cusco.

Most international arrivals fly in via Lima, Peru's capital; a new international airport could debut by 2022.