Nestled high in the Andes Mountains, Cusco is a city that breathes history and culture. Once the capital of the Inca Empire, this enchanting Peruvian destination continues to captivate visitors with its ancient ruins, vibrant markets, and awe-inspiring landscapes. Whether you’re an adventurer, a history enthusiast, or a cultural explorer, Cusco offers a plethora of experiences that will leave you in awe. Let’s dive into the top 10 things to do and see in Cusco:
#1 Visit Machu Picchu (of course)
This iconic Incan site is a must-see while in Cusco. You can take a train or hike to get there. We recommend the Salkantay trek, since the Inca trail is usually booked months in advance. The Salkantay Trek is a popular alternative to the Inca Trail for hiking enthusiasts going to Machu Picchu. The trek takes you through stunning mountain scenery, including snow-capped peaks, lush valleys, and high-altitude plateaus.
It typically takes five days to complete the trek, covering a distance of approximately 74 kilometers. There is also the Inca Jungle trek that would get you to Machu Picchu, which includes Biking, Rafting, Zipline, HotSpring and Trekking Adventure. We recommend not to book in advance any of the tours you want to do in Peru, since you will pay much more than what you’d pay on spot.
#2 Explore the Sacred Valley
Start your journey with a visit to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Immerse yourself in its breathtaking landscapes, picturesque villages, and Inca archaeological sites like Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Discover the profound connection the Incas had with their environment.
#3 Wander the Streets of Cusco’s Historic Center
Stroll through the cobblestone streets of the historic center, admiring the colonial architecture, charming squares, and impressive cathedrals. Plaza de Armas is a must-see. Each corner is a step back in time, telling stories of civilizations that shaped the city.
#4 Savor Local Cuisine
Indulge in Peruvian flavors at local restaurants. Don’t miss out on trying traditional dishes like ceviche, alpaca steak, and quinoa-based specialties. Your taste buds will embark on a journey through Peru’s diverse culinary heritage.
#5 Visit Sacsayhuaman
Explore the archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman, known for its massive stone walls and panoramic views of Cusco. This ancient fortress holds significant historical importance. Marvel at the ingenious engineering that created this remarkable structure.
#6 Explore the San Pedro Market
Immerse yourself in local life by visiting San Pedro Market. Engage with vendors, sample fresh fruits, shop for souvenirs, and experience the vibrant atmosphere. The market is a true embodiment of Cusco’s lively spirit.
#7 Experience Inti Raymi Festival (June 24th)
If you’re visiting in late June, don’t miss the Inti Raymi Festival, celebrating the Incan sun god. This lively event is a cultural extravaganza with colorful parades and rituals. Join in the festivities and witness the living heritage of the Incas.
#8 Discover Qorikancha
Visit Qorikancha, once the most important Inca temple dedicated to the sun god. This site showcases the impressive engineering skills of the Incas. Stand in awe at the harmonious blend of Inca and colonial architecture.
#9 Take a Cooking Class
Learn to cook traditional Peruvian dishes through a cooking class. Uncover the secrets of Peruvian gastronomy and create your own delicious meals. It’s a hands-on way to connect with the culture through its flavors.
#10 Experience the Rainbow Mountain
Embark on a day trip to Vinicunca, also known as Rainbow Mountain, where you’ll witness the stunning natural wonder of vibrant, multi-colored slopes. Hike through breathtaking landscapes to be rewarded with a view that feels like stepping into a painting.
Cusco, Peru, is a destination that seamlessly blends ancient history with modern experiences. Whether you’re exploring ancient ruins, indulging in local cuisine, or immersing yourself in cultural festivities, Cusco promises a truly unforgettable adventure. Prepare to be enchanted by the beauty of this historic city and the surrounding wonders of the Andes Mountains.