The city of Cuzco is most often used as a base of operations to visit the main attractions of Peru.
Cusco is the city we arrive to and then went on to visit Machu Picchu, but many people do not stop to know Cuzco and run out to the lost city of the Incas.
What to see in Cusco?
Today, I will tell you what there is to visit in Cuzco.
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Cusco or Cuzco is a city that has many interesting things to visit and do. You can enjoy Peruvian gastronomy, visit temples, contemplate its architecture, make horseback riding tours, tour its squares, eat in its markets, shop, and enjoy its most famous drink, Pisco Sour, in some bars in the neighborhood of San Blas.
In addition, another good thing about the city of Cusco/Cuzco is that you can visit it walking. You will also find nice accommodations, at a good price, and well located. Shall we?
Plaza de Armas, Main Square of Cusco
In the heart of Cuzco, we find its Plaza de Armas. Although it does not seem like it was a swamp. Yes, as you read, before the Incas arrived in Cusco, the Plaza de Armas was a swamp that they dried by bringing sand from the Peruvian coast.
The Plaza de Armas of Cusco became the religious, administrative, and cultural center of the Inca empire until the arrival of the Spaniards, who built temples and buildings in the surrounding area, on the constructions of the Incas.
Currently, in the Plaza de Armas, you can find the Cathedral, restaurants, shops, agencies to hire tours, etc.
Cusco Cathedral is an imposing building that we find in the Plaza de Armas of the city. It has a mix of styles in its architecture, as it has Gothic, Mannerist, and Baroque renaissance characteristics. On both sides it is guarded by two towers. Inside, you can see Cusqueñas works of art.
In addition to the Cathedral, in Cusco, you will find many churches. The most outstanding are: La Compañía, La Merced, Santo Domingo or Qoricancha, San Blas, and Santa Catalina.
I stayed at a hotel where I was treated very well and was recommended some roads to get to the center that were more picturesque than going down the avenue. On those roads that I was recommended, I came across a few very nice Inca murals that deserve a visit.
If you like visiting museums, you’re in luck. In Cusco you will find different museums where you will learn more about the Inca culture, about Peru, among others. These are: The Inka Museum, the Regional Historical Museum, Casa Cabrera, and the Archbishopric.
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The neighborhood of San Blas
The neighborhood of San Blas or the neighborhood of the artisans of Cuzco are a must visit, it is a very bohemian neighborhood and is ideal to go for a drink in the evening to some of its picturesque restaurants or in the afternoon to visit some of its art galleries and craft shops.
This neighborhood is full of slopes, so take it easy, but don’t miss it.
I went to the neighborhood of San Blas on my last night in Cusco with my Italian friend that I met on the train to Machu Picchu.
We had dinner in a very nice place called El Pisonay, which is also cheap for foreigners. I don’t think we spent over 20 suns since we had one pisco each and the service was very good.
In San Blas, it is much higher in altitude and you have some beautiful views of Cuzco that deserves a visit.
The St. Peter’s Market
At the market in San Pedro, honestly, I arrived by chance. When I returned from Machu Picchu, the train left me in Ollantaytambo and you barely get off the train they offer you bus tickets to Cusco and you leave in a minivan along with other passengers and it is quite cheap, about 10 soles, and leave you in the center of Cusco.
I was left in a square I had already visited and I thought I knew the way to my hotel, the thing is that I should have turned into a street that I did not take and ended up at the market of San Pedro.
In the San Pedro market, there is a lot of movement, both within the market and in the surroundings. Inside, you will find stalls to eat cheap, really delicious fruit, prepare juices in the moment or you can buy meat, among a lot of other things.
In the surroundings, you will find many stalls and if you walk towards the center, you will see restaurants where the locals go and prices are much lower.
The tourist ticket allows you to access about 16 attractions of the city. It is advisable to buy it to do the city tour in Cusco and also to visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The attractions that you have access to are:
- Regional Historical Museum,
- Museum of Contemporary Art,
- Museum of Popular Art,
- Qorikancha Site Museum,
- Qosqo Center of Native Art,
- Monument to the Inca Pachacutec,
The tourist ticket has different modalities and prices, for example, for Peruvian tourists and accredited students the ticket comes out cheaper. You can also buy it by one-day circuits or the one-stop tour ticket that serves for 10 days and includes all the attractions.
It can be purchased directly in Cusco, a few steps from the Plaza de Armas, you pay only in cash with soles, but you are not charged the commission that you are usually charged on the internet.
If you want to see the Sacred Valley and do the city tour you will have to buy it. You’ll realize that you can’t see everything and you’ll have paid for attractions you won’t see, but anyway I think the price isn’t too much for everything there is to see.
What excursions does Cuzco offer?
There are plenty of excursions to do in Cusco, from getting to know the city on foot, go horseback riding, learning to cook Peruvian food, etc.
Here I am leaving you some excursions that you will surely find very interesting and you can take buy them from here.
- Horseback Riding Tours from Cusco.
- Pisco Sour night tour and class.
- City tour of Cusco.
- Ziplines and rafting from Cusco.
- Peruvian cooking classes and local market in Cuzco
How to get to Cuzco?
Cusco can be reached by land or air. I arrived by bus from Nazca, a very long journey (more than 15 hours without stops to be able to get off) that if I had to do it again I would definitely not repeat it. I would go back to Lima and from there I would take a plane that has about the same price as the bus and the journey only lasts a couple of hours.
To Cuzco you can reach by plane from Lima and from the main airports, for example from Madrid.
You can also get there by bus from Lima and other points of the Peruvian geography.
If you arrive by bus, the taxi to the center costs about 4 soles (in February 2017 it cost that). Always ask before you get on so they don’t scam you!
Where to sleep in Cusco?
I stayed at Waynapicchu Hotel every night I was in Cusco. Moreover, when I went to Machu Picchu I left them my backpack and spent one night in Ollantaytambo and another in Aguas Calientes and they kept my backpack until I came back, free of charge.
In addition, they gave me a rain poncho that came very well for me when it started to rain in Machu Picchu.
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