One of the trips of a lifetime for many people is Machu Picchu, that famous ruin of an Inca city high in the Andes mountains - and while some people choose to trek through the mountains for several days in order to reach the ruin, that's not the only option. You could choose instead to base yourself in Cuzco (also spelled Cusco), a pretty city that's a tourist destination on its own and happens to be where many visitors begin their trips to Machu Picchu as well.
Cuzco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, largely because of its status as the long-time capital of the Incas and its beautiful historic centre. Even if your primary goal in visiting this part of the world is to see Machu Picchu, there are other attractions right in Cuzco itself to check out - and the good news is that the historic centre is easily explored on foot. By choosing a Cuzco hostel in or near the historic centre, you'll have most of the city sights within easy reach and will only need to figure out public transportation to see the surrounding area.
Besides the obvious appeal of Machu Picchu, Cuzco is also very close to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, where the tight-fitting stone walls showcase the Inca's masonry skills. More modern attractions include the colonial architecture, a 16th-century cathedral, and the picturesque Plaza de Armas. Before you can enjoy all of that, however, make sure you give yourself enough time to acclimate to the altitude, or you'll risk altitude sickness. Take it easy and drink plenty of water to help your body adjust.
Cuzco has its own airport with daily service from Lima. Even if Cuzco is your first stop in the country it's likely that you'll need to fly through Lima first anyway, as Lima is Peru's primary international gateway. If you're already in Peru and have more time than money you can also consider a bus trip. Trains aren't typically the best way to get around here, but there is train service from Cuzco up to Machu Picchu.