Cusco as you might know was the capital of the Inca Empire and the heart of everything Inca. The city will have you reminiscing of many old European cities with its terracotta roofs, colonial churches and cobblestone streets. The city features a large main square, which is the perfect place to people watch, so what are some of the best things to do in Cusco on your vacation to the Inca city.
Let us start with Cusco Plaza de Armas, located in the center of the city; the Plaza in Inca times was twice the size. When the Spanish arrived they built there houses and churches around the plaza making it smaller than the original size. The plaza features two churches, The Cathedral of Santo Domingo, was Cusco’s first cathedral. Construction started in 1560 on the grounds of the Palace of the Viracocha Inca, the red granite blocks forming an impressive façade. Next to Cusco Cathedral, you will find a similar Christian colossus: the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus. Often referred to as the most wonderful baroque-style church in the Americas, the cathedral has quite an exciting history. The Jesuits built it to outdo the splendor of the Cathedral next door.
Also located on the main square are many restaurants located in houses with great views of the plaza. Some have balconies that on a fine day you can sit and enjoy your meal and the view.
Walk down Av Sol away from the Plaza and you will arrive at Qorikancha, called today the Convent of Santo Domingo, this once was the most important temple in the Inca Empire: The House of the Sun. It is believed that all the walls have once been covered in solid gold, while courtyards and niches featured heavy golden statues. This church is a recent addition, the Inka foundations remain literally unchanged.
Just outside the city are four Inca Ruins that you should take the time to visit, Sacsaywayhman, PukaPukara, Tambo Mochay and Qenko, all have significant importance for the Inca but were mostly destroyed by the Spanish Conquistadors. If you choose to take a city tour than these ruins will be included as part of your tour. The ruins are worth a visit so take the time to discover.
The San Blas area of Cusco should be on your list of places to go. Known as the artist’s district, the area has a small plaza which is frequented by locals and non-locals who want to sell their wares. The plaza is also surrounded by souvenir shops and nice restaurants to eat. What features on the Plaza San Blas is the Church; the church is rather plain from outside. Inside, however, you will see one of the main attractions of Cusco: a wooden pulpit of intricate baroque design. There are many myths about the creation of this pulpit and there is an audio guide available will tell you a few.
While in Cusco you will need to visit San Pedro Market, the market is large in size and offers a variety of things that would attract you to visit. When you first enter, there is a variety of souvenirs on offer. Walk further down into the market and there are stalls selling freshly made juices of any variety you choose. Visit the people selling all sorts of fruit and vegetable and even Meat and Chicken are available to buy. For a budget meal try a Menu which features a soup, a main and a drink for a very cheap price. The food stalls will be full with local people having lunch so look for the most popular.
Cusco nightlife and Restaurants are something that should not be missed on a visit to the city. The center of Cusco is teaming with many different choices for a meal and to dance the night away. The Plaza at night comes alive with both local people and tourists all hoping for a great night out. You will be spoilt for choice of places to dance with many local, modern, salsa and discos to choose.
Take the time to seek out the 12-sided stone, located on the way to San Blas you will know that you are close when you see the large man dressed like an Inca, he will direct you to the stone where you can take a photo him and the stone for a small fee.
There are many museums that are worth a visit, some have exhibitions from ancient cultures. There will be a small entrance fee and most have guides available to take you on a tour. The museums are not as good as in Lima but are worth your time to learn more about the cultures of Peru.
No visit to Cusco would be complete without a tour or a few days if you have time to the Sacred Valley. Around an hour’s drive, the Valley is one of the most naturally beautiful places you will ever experience. Sheer cliff faces and raging rivers along with a wonderful climate make the Valley the perfect place to spend a few days.
These are just a few of the things to do in Cusco there are many more so do some online research to discover what interests you and what you want to see. Another consideration is your Peru vacation cost, you might be surprised at the cost of your Peruvian vacation it will cost you a lot less than a vacation to some other places, so consider your Cusco and Peru vacation.