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Top 5 Things to Do in Cusco


Top 5 Experiences in Cusco

A splendid city of Spanish colonial architecture erected on immortal Inca constructions, it’s no wonder Cusco is considered the archaeological capital of the Americas. As the former capital of the Inca empire and a prime access point for tourists to the Machu Picchu ruins, Cusco is riddled with contrasts between indigenous traditions and the modern western world. Located at 11,025 ft. (3,360m) above sea level at the foot of the Andes, its geographical location and abundant fertile grounds earned Cusco the legendary nickname of “navel of the world”. The ancient metropolis is historically significant as it was not just a capital city to the Inca but also a place of pilgrimage that attracted citizens from across the empire. The UNESCO World Heritage Site continues to lure tourists in with its charm, as the city sees on average 2 million visitors a year. Although Cusco has become somewhat of a tourist trap due to its easy access to Machu Picchu, the imperial city firmly defends its indigenous identity. The city’s permanent residents remain predominantly Quechuan, so you can always expect to see a woman in traditional dress offering bottled water to her pet llama and small boutiques selling the finest alpaca knits for next to nothing. To make sure you make the most of this captivating city, we’ve put together the top 5 things to do in Cusco.

Top 5 things to do in Cusco

A panoramic view of the stunning city of Cusco

#1 Enter the heart of the Inca empire at Plaza de Armas

As old as the city itself, Cusco’s vibrant plaza embodies strong historical meaning and tells the stories of two very different civilizations. Originally named Huacaypata or Aucaypata, legend has it that the plaza once marked the exact geographical center of the Inca empire, adding to Cusco’s nickname of “navel of the world”. Read more about the Plaza de Armas… 

Plaza de Armas, Cusco

Stroll through the historical Plaza de Armas

#2 Reimagine the legendary city of gold at Qorikancha and the Santo Domingo Convent

Possibly the most significant and sacred building in the entire Inca Empire, the Qorikancha was the name given to the Temple of the Sun in Cusco, dedicated to the worship of the Sun God. Qorikancha was the centerpiece of a vast astronomical observatory and served as a calendrical device where approximately 4,000 of the most prestigious priests monitored celestial activity. Read more about Qorikancha and the Santo Domingo Convent…

Qorikancha Temple, Cusco

Admire the unique blend of colonial and Inca architecture at the Qorikancha Temple / Source

#3 Enjoy a sensory experience at the San Pedro Market

A 10 minute walk from Plaza de Armas, the San Pedro Market in Cusco is guaranteed to tickle your senses and be a memorable experience. While the vibrant colors will keep you wide-eyed and the smell of lomo saltado (stir-fried beef) will flare your nostrils, the sound of local women haggling and fighting for you attention will complete the perfect picture of local Peruvian life. Read more about the San Pedro Market…

San Pedro Market Cusco

Experience the height of local Peruvian life at the San Pedro Market / Source

#4 Admire the colossal ruins of Sacsayhuaman

This magnificent Inca Fortress echoes the exceptional beauty and unrivaled power of the Inca empire at its prime. Sacsayhuaman offers a unique insight into the spectacular Inca archaeological sites that overlook the sprawling city of Cusco. The great walls of Sacsayhuaman are a part of the puma’s head that once formed the original shape of Cusco. Read more about Sacsayhuaman…

Sacsayhuaman Ruins, Cusco

Gaze upon the colossal stones at the Sacsayhuaman ruins

#5 Delve deeper into the Inca past at the Inca Museum

Located on a small road that links Plaza de Armas to Plazoleta Nazarenas, the Inca Museum is the ultimate must for anyone interested in Inca history. Housed in a remarkable colonial-style mansion which rests on Inca foundations, the state-owned museum is run and managed by Cusco’s San Antonio Abad University. Read more about the Inca Museum…

Cusco's Inca Museum

Local women weaving traditional textiles at the Inca Museum

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