Machu Picchu Travel

What to Do in Cusco

What to Do in Cusco

 Cusco Peru is a tiny gem in the middle of South America, and despite its size, it has so much to offer. We assure you that you will have a good time here. Your days in Cusco won’t be enough to make the most of the former Inca Capital!

This time we’ll focus on what you can do in Cusco or outside the city. That’s why we won’t bring up topics such as Machu Picchu or the Sacred Valley that you can do in a day tour.

Try to follow the suggestions we give in the following list to make your stay in Cusco unforgettable.

What you can Do in the Historic Center

The Main Square, or la Plaza de Armas in Spanish, is your adventure starting point in Cusco and the beating heart of the city. When you're in Cusco, believe us that you'll cross this magical place many times and you won't tire of it. Restaurants, cafes, bars, and souvenir stores surround this square. There are two main buildings surrounding it too, La Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesus and Cusco Cathedral.

Our tip is to take a seat on a bench, breathe fresh air, and enjoy the view and mixture of Spanish and Andean Culture. Or, have a coffee in one of the coffee shops nearby on the balconies.

San Pedro Market is one of the most famous markets in Cusco and the most traditional one. You can find a variety of food, curious souvenirs, delicious beverages, and bizarre fruits and veggies here. 

Try to have a budget-friendly lunch amidst the lively locals. Drink a jugo made from fresh fruit. Smell, see, taste, and touch everything that this market has to offer.

Coricancha is a top tourist attraction. It combines Colonial and Inca elements, resulting in an outstanding building. Remarkable engineering skills were employed in this ancient temple in the Inca empire. As a result, some of it has survived centuries of earthquakes. 

On top of the shrine, you’ll see the catholic monastery of Santo Domingo because  Spanish conquerors imposed their culture and religion on the Inca people. Coricancha is a must when you visit Cusco.

Discover the Best views in Cusco, exploring the San Cristobal viewpoint, 15 minutes walking from the main square. It’s a steep uphill climb, but it’s paid off when you’ll see the view.

Another option is San Blas Mirador (viewpoint) which shows you another panorama of the city. The viewpoint of San Blas is quite modern due to recent remodeling. Tourists love it the most because many businesses surround it, such as hotels, hostels, restaurants, pubs, laundromats, and so on.

El Cristo Blanco was donated by the Arab-Palestinian population who arrived in Cusco in the mid-twentieth century. A local artist sculpted it in 1945. The sculpture stands 10 meters tall and depicts a heavenly figure extending his arms as a sign of protection to the city.

From the monument, you can see neighborhoods like San Blas and San Cristóbal, the Historic Center, and others. The steep walk takes 30 to 50 minutes and requires good physical condition. It's about 1.5 kilometers long and there's no entrance fee.

Keep in mind that would be a good idea to do these hikes when you feel acclimatized and don’t feel altitude sickness

If you love photos, you can take some in Hatun Rumiyoc Street on the 12 Angle Stone, one of the most intricate examples of their creativity, with its 12 angles effortlessly merging into the surrounding wall. It was built by Inca masons approximately 700 years ago and is now recognized as a National Heritage Object. 

Although the specific utility of this huge stone is unknown now, we are certain that the Incas were well-versed in the architectural work they completed.

The most traditional and bohemian neighborhood in Cusco is el Barrio de San Blas, located away from the major tourist area. It's gorgeous, less busy, and relaxed. The cobblestoned paths and white-washed buildings are packed with local boutiques, jewelry stores, and fantastic coffee cafes and pubs. It is well worth the difficult climb up the hill.

The most Instagramable street in Cusco is in this neighborhood, Calle Siete Borreguitos (Seven Lamp Street). It's a tiny, cobblestone path with a set of steps, scattered with colorful residences, cafés, and artisan businesses. Due to its popularity is normal to see crowds of tourists taking photos, that is why if you come by early in the morning or late at night you can get nice shots, and the entrance is free.

Don’t forget to visit Sapantiana Colonial Aqueduct,  located also in San Blas, which is a fascinating and often overlooked location in Cusco. Before the 1950s, people believed that water flowed down the canal. However, it has since become nothing more than a relic of the past that has survived and resists decay.

If you’re in the historic center is normal to see ladies in traditional costumes holding lambs or walking with alpacas. These ladies will approach you for photos, but you have to give them a tip, most of these ladies make a living by this, so if you want to take a photo with these picturesque ladies and their fluffy alpacas be generous. 

Another must in Cusco is to do a Chocolate workshop. Even if not well-known among people, Peru has a unique and full of quality cacao beans and chocolate. If you travel with kids, doing a workshop is educational and fun for them. 

Choco Museo is perhaps the best place to learn about Peru's cacao and chocolate. You can also sample the best handmade chocolate there. We recommend doing the two-hour bean-to-bar chocolate workshop. At the workshop, you can make and eat your own chocolate creations.

Some Museums you should Go

El Museo de la Coca (Coca Museum) is a small museum where you can learn more about this millenary plant. Coca is an essential aspect of present-day Andean cultures. People chew the leaves or steep them to make the famous coca tea.

They promote Coca tea as a remedy for altitude sickness. It's pretty usual to see travelers sipping coca tea to adjust to Cusco's elevation. They also drink it to power up before climbing the Inca Trail. 

As you may suppose, Cusco is a tourist area. It's full of museums, like the El Museo de Arte Pre Colombino (Pre-Columbian Museum of Art). The BBVA Foundation and the renowned Larco Museum established it as a collaboration. 

This museum exhibits around 400 objects from various cultures throughout the nation, such as Huari, Nazca, and, particularly, the Incas. It combines the most essential parts of pre-Columbian Peru. It also has an original hybrid architecture with Colonial and Inca components that distinguish it from the rest.

The Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco founded the Inca Museum to showcase the cultural evolution of the Cusco region through pre-Inca and Inca permanent exhibitions, as well as through temporary galleries featuring local contemporary artistic expression.

A prominent colonial home from that era houses the museum's offices. Various members of the Spanish nobility owned it. Yet, like other colonial residences in Cusco's Historic Center, it was built on top of an Inca Palace owned by Inca Huascar.

La Casa Garcilaso was built in the 16th century and named for Francisco de Oñate during the conquest. Later, it was owned by the Spanish conqueror Sebastián Garcilaso de la Vega y Vargas, the father of the renowned writer.

Like other colonial buildings, it sat on the sediments of Cusipata Plaza, another Inca site in the vicinity. As a result, it has an unusual hybrid architecture that flawlessly combines Inca and Colonial styles. The Museum involves many exhibitions featuring remaining items from the pre-Columbian and colonial eras. It is surely one of the must-see sites in Cusco's Historic Center.

If you’re interested in visiting more museums you can check here to get more info.

A Little Outside Cusco

We saved the best for the end. Your route continues to Sacsayhuaman, the most popular tourist spot in Cusco. By the way, it's pronounced as “Sexy Woman,” (no joke). 

Is an Inca fortress with enormous stones and an outstanding perspective of the city. Sacsayhuaman was a religious center. It was also the site of a deadly battle between Inca soldiers and Spanish conquistadors.

This is your favorite place to spend a morning or an afternoon, you’ll take one or two hours to explore it. The huge Jesus statue is nearby, takes around 40 minutes to walk from La Plaza or 15 Minutes by car.

Other sites include Qenqo, an Inca ritual site, and Puca Pucara, an old Inca military fortress. Tambomachay is an Inca structure featuring water channels and waterfalls that were built for water-related rituals. 

Planning your trip to Cusco gets much easier with the help of an expert. Check out our tour package services and let us help you set up the journey of your dreams. Cusco awaits!



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