I left Cusco wanting to go back! Located at 11,000 feet, Cusco was the ancient capital of the Incas. Today this charming little city is used as a base for a lot of activities in the surrounding areas. Whether you spend time in Cusco before or after these activities, I think the city of Cusco deserves a day or two on your itinerary. This post covers things to see and do in Cusco, Peru.
The Cusco Cathedral is one of the most beautiful churches I have seen. In fact, I even included it in my “Favorite Things” article that I posted recently! This massive Cathedral took almost 100 years to complete and was built over an Inca Palace. The style is a mix of Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic. The cathedral is impressive on the inside as it is on the outside. It’s a must visit site in Cusco.
Mercado Central de San Pedro
This market is filled with fresh produced, cooked food and souvenirs. It’s a place where locals gather to eat, shop and mingle.
Plaza de Armas
Like all Latin American cities, Cusco also has a Plaza de Armas or a main square. I really enjoyed this little square in Cusco. With the Cathedral in one corner, a fountain in the middle and surrounded by colonial balconies, Plaza de Armas is an ideal spot to sit and people watch on a sunny day!
Qoricancha was a holy Inca temple that was covered in pure gold. The temple was converted into a Christian monastery during the Spanish Invasion. You can visit this site any day of the week except Sunday.
San Blas District
San Blas is a little away from the touristy area but is a cool part in Cusco. Here, you will find cute little streets filled with cafes and shops.
See Cusco from Top
Cusco is best seen from the top. There’s something beautiful about all the red roofs glistening in the sun. Sunset or golden hour just before, is also a good time to go. Some of the best viewpoints in Cusco are:
Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus
This baroque church is located right on Plaza de Armas and is worth a gander. First built in the 1500s on an ancient Inca palace, it is one of the best examples of Spanish Baroque architecture in Peru.
Try Local Restaurants
The food in Cusco was amazing! Everything was either locally sourced and/or organic. If you just type in “places to eat near me” in Cusco on Google, almost all the resturants that show up in the search results are top rated. Just writing about this alone is making me want to go back just for the food!
Peru is one of the world’s biggest cacao producers. At the chocolate museum, you can learn about cacao, do a chocolate workshop and make chocolate or just simply indulge in delicious chocolate based foods.
Twelve Angled Stone
This unique stone has twelve angles and was part of a stone wall of an Inca palace. This stone is currently part of a wall in the palace of the Archbishop of Cuzco. It is considered to be one of the most sophisticated examples of Inca ingenuity in architecture.
Wander Around the Town
Cusco is busy any time of the day and night. You will even see people early morning, either hikers and day trippers waking up early or night lifers stumbling back to their hotels! You may even see festivals and dance parties! If you are an lover of architecture, you may be delighted with some of the beautiful buildings and monuments. Just wander around and enjoy the atmosphere of this high altitude town!
See Inca Sites and Other Natural Sites
- Macchu Pichu – Macchu Pichu needs no introduction! You can visit this Wonder of the World either as a day trip or by trekking the Inca Trail. More HERE
- Rainbow Mountains – The Rainbow Mountains are a must see in Peru. There are 3 different mountains that you can visit. Vinicunca, Palccoyo and Pallay Punchu. Vinicunca is the most popular of the 3. Check out Vinicunca HERE
- Sacsayhuaman – An old fortress overlooking the ancient Inca Capital. It’s the closest Inca ruin to Cusco town.
- Maras Salt Mines – Terraced salt pools. Best coupled with a tour of the Ruins of Moray (another archeological site)
- Laguna Humantay – A beautiful glacial lake that you can visit from Cusco
- Pisac Ruins – An ancient Inca site just 45 minutes from Cusco, overlooking the Urubamba Valley. These terraces are still in use today
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