One of the most amazing cities in the world has to be in one of the highest places in the world (3400 meters). Cuzco or Cusco, offers many tourist attractions, natural and cultural. We will tell you what are the best things to do in Cusco and its vicinity. Smile
We made all these visits in three full days that we were in this city, without too much haste, but taking advantage of very well the hours of day (blessed early travelers).
Cuzco, is known as the historical capital of Peru (the current capital is the city of Lima) and is declared as such in its constitution.
Its name Cuzco, Cusco (as the Peruvians call it) or Qosqo (Southern Quechua), is a struggle as a sign of national identity, and of detachment from the Spanish colonizer past.
The ancient capital of the Inca Empire was adorned by the Spaniards with palaces, squares, churches, to become today in the main tourist city of Peru. Such a number of monuments has led her to be known as the “Rome of America”, and perhaps that is why she was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983.
1. Plaza De Armas.
Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas is the heart of modern Cusco. A place full of restaurants, shops, churches and buildings from the time of the Spanish conquest.
As a curiosity, to tell that it was formerly a swamp, and that it was the Incas who Secaronpara to turn it into the principal place of the capital of the Inca Empire.
It is advisable to visit the Square Day and night, and see the difference in the night and daytime environments, as well as the charm of seeing the buildings illuminated in the midst of darkness.
2. Cuzco Cathedral.
Located in the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral of Cuzco is the main religious temple of Cuzco.
It was built with stones brought from Sacsayhuaman and it took more than 100 years to build it (between 1560 and 1664).
Two kilometres north of Cuzco is located this unique Inca fortress in the world. Considered the greatest architectural work of the Incas, it was built during its highest peak between the 15th and 16th centuries.
The extermination of the Inca nobles, took not only their lives, but the knowledge of how this fortification was built.
4. Take Cusqueña beer.
The Beer par excellence of the city of Cuzco began its production in the year 1909.
A soft beer very appropriate for the Andean heats, which is quite a symbol of the city.
You can try any of its three varieties (Premium, malt or wheat), each with different characteristics and flavor.
5. Qorikancha and the Convent of Santo Domingo.
Qorikancha, known as the Golden Temple (its walls was covered by sheets of gold), is the base on which was built the convent of Santo Domingo. Previously it was the religious, political and geographical center of Cuzco.
The Convent of Santo Domingo is located above the temple of Qorikancha. Juan Pizarro (brother of Francisco Pizarro the great conqueror) ceded the grounds to the religious order.
Finished in 1633, was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1650, but by chance of life did not cause any damage to the ancient Inca temple. Who knows if the gods didn’t take a little vengeance.
It has a nice interior and a spectacular courtyard.
If you want to know more thoroughly it is advisable to visit the city of Cuzco, you can do it here: “Temple of Coricancha, the temple gilded Inca.”
6. San Pedro Market or Central market.
The largest supply center in the city, has been serving since the year 1925, being one of the oldest in Cuzco.
The first impression is that of disorder and chaos. But once we are immersed inside, we see that the fixed post are grouped by gender, and that only the Cholitas or peddlers are those that have created an “alternative market” at ground level, selling their handcrafted products.
You can find meats, vegetables and varied handicrafts in the same place. Especially eye-catching the variety of colors, which gives the environment a very exotic air.
Security is less than in the most tourist areas of Cuzco, and it is advisable to walk with a little more attention.
The most famous stone block of the city, is considered cultural patrimony of the nation of Peru, and is part of the Archbishop’s palace wall.
This stone of diorite, is a perfect work of 12 angles, which lacks asymmetries in their joints. Something really complicated.
8. Loreto Alley.
The alley of Loreto, is famous above all, to house the stone of the Twelve angles. But as merits own has the charm of being an ideal place to see the contrast of the perfect Inca constructions and the Spanish (which did not have so much quality).
Look like the Inca stones are perfectly embedded, with a minimum separation. It’s a work of art.
9. See the other churches in Cuzco.
In addition to the Cathedral of Cuzco there are more religious precincts that are worth visiting for its charm. More collected and smaller churches house inside small jewels, or others with a larger size will impress us by their architecture.
The churches of the company of Jesus, La Merced or San Pedro could be good examples.
10. Eat guinea pig.
The guinea pig is one of the typical dishes of Peruvian cuisine. The guinea Pig (guinea pig) is fried, and presents itself in the dish, accompanied by vegetables, potatoes, maize, etc.
It is advisable not to see any photo of the animal above before eating it, as it can produce tenderness and inability to taste.
Its flavor, by the way, is like … chicken (not how many animals of this world can know similar to chicken). Surprised
8 kilometres north-west of Cusco, and 1 kilometer from Puca-Pucara, is located the archaeological site of Tambomachay.
Dedicated to the worship of water, it was also useful to be the resting place of the head of the Inca Empire.
Formed by canals, aqueducts and waterfalls, there is a main waterfall and two secondary ones, which are perfectly equal. If we put two empty cubes, one in each secondary cascade, they would be filled at the same time. Surprised
12. Puka Pukara.
Puka Pukara is one of the fortresses created for the defense of the city of Cuzco. Formed by walls and terraces, known as “Red Fortress” (because of the color of its stones at dusk) is a good example of the Inca military architecture.
13. Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The Magical Sacred Valley of the Incas is a mixture of archaeological remains, indigenous peoples and varied mountain landscapes.
Given its unbeatable conditions for agriculture, this valley was also chosen by the Spanish colonizers, leaving a multi-cultural mix still visible today.
One of the most traditional areas of the Peruvian Andes, which has integrated tourism without losing a shred of its identity.
At 6 kilometres from the city of Cuzco, in the sacred Inca Valley, is located Qenquo. A maze of archeological ruins.
Its name was given by the Spaniards (very aptly) by the galleries between the rocks and the channels that compose it.
Its purpose is a mystery, as it could serve as a tomb, altar or tribunal. What he does know is his great importance to the Incas.
15. Take the train to Machu Pichu.
Riding on this train on the way to the most famous ruins of Peru and perhaps all of South America, is an experience in itself.
Two rows of two squares form the wagons, which has the peculiarity of having several panoramic windows (included in the ceiling) to be able to enjoy the scenery while we make the journey. The road is impressive by going by the river, crossing populations and seeing the huge mountains.
In our case the way to go very quiet, but the back was more a style “Ryanair”, with a show of sale on board and lights on, making it impossible to enjoy the darkness and tranquility of the landscape … A small price to pay.
16. Machu Pichu.
The “Old mountain” stands imposingly on the 2490 meters above sea level.
Peru’s number one tourist attraction is patiently waiting every day for the hundreds of visitors who are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy it.
A masterpiece of engineering and architecture, located in a unique environment, makes nothing like it anywhere in the world.
UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, and declared one of the Seven wonders of the modern world.
It is worth making the climb in one of the buses that make the ascent from Aguas Calientes to the “top”, in one of the seats of the windows on the right (refrain from placing in this place people with vertigo or apprehension by the heights).
One of the most impressive and beautiful archaeological sites of the Sacred Valley located in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba, Pisaq.
Here we will find a view of the Sacred Valley privileged, along with Inca archaeological ruins, and incredible terraces of cultivation that make people look like ants. It is a place that will also give us the great intelligence of the Inca people, when it comes to saving the great inconvenience of cultivating the slopes of the hills.
Along with Ollantaytambo and Machu Pichu, one of the best sites in the vicinity of Cuzco.
If you want to know more about the ruins of Pisac, prepare for free visit, or know everything you need to enjoy it at 100%, you can do it here: Ruins of Pisac, the viewpoint to the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
This essential archeological site is located 90 kilometers from the city of Cuzco.
Typical example of the urban planning of the Incas, who were geniuses when making their streets and agricultural terraces.
Its dimensions and height are amazing. Your dozens of steps look like they’re going to take us to the same sky. Once up we can enjoy a privileged view of the Sacred Valley and the city itself.
This area is also famous for being one of the starting points of the Inca trail, in the direction of Machu Pichu.
If you want to know more about this amazing visit, you can do it in this post that we have dedicated: “Ruins of Ollantaytambo, a halt before Machu Picchu”.
19. Visit the village of Chinchero and its market.
Almost 3200 meters high and 28 kilometers from Cuzco, is known as “City of the Rainbow”.
This small town is surrounded by huge snow-capped mountains, which did not impede the arrival of Spanish conquistadors. These despite wanting to implant their culture never got it, which has made Chinchero a perfect example of Inca city. Its inhabitants to this day still live in the Inca constructions, which are preserved almost intact.
It is worth visiting one of the days that is celebrated the market (Tuesday Thursday and especially on Sunday). On Sunday the people are about the mountains dressed in their traditional clothes, to trade with their products and to see (already in disuse) how they practise bartering (it is the exchange of objects, products or services, instead of using the money).
If you want to know more about this beautiful town, you can do it in this post that we dedicate: “Village of Chinchero in Peru.” “The Land of the rainbow.”
20. Maras and Moray.
Two of the most important tourist centres in the city of Cusco are Maras and Moray. In these places you can see part of our millenary culture in its different stages.