4-day Machu Picchu, Cusco, Sacred Valley.
4 Days -> from$799
As the gateway to Machu Picchu, Cusco is a hub for travelers from around the world and from across the backpacker-to-luxury spectrum. Wander the narrow cobblestone streets and you’ll find yourself in a wonderland of historic and cultural treasures. Your first introduction to Cusco will likely take place at the Plaza de Armas, where a gilded statue of the Inca Pachacutec greets all visitors and two baroque cathedrals preside gloriously over the bustle of the square. On a clear day, the Andean sun plays off the red-tiled roofs of South America’s oldest continuously inhabited city, while church bells clang the passing hours from every direction. Diverse, enchanting, and always surprising, a full exploration of Cusco can prove to be an unexpected highlight of a tour to Peru. All tours are fully customizable.
4-day Machu Picchu, Cusco, Sacred Valley.
4 Days -> from$799
Machu Picchu, Cusco, Sacred Valley
6 Days -> from$959
Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Cusco
9 Days -> from$1469
Machu Picchu, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Puno & Lake Titicaca
8 Days -> from$1309
Cusco’s blend of Inca and Spanish architecture set in a spectacular mountain landscape justifies its reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. The Inca walls, cochas (water fountains), Spanish churches, plazas and cobblestone streets offer visitors an extraordinary experience. The famous 12-angled stone, the Plaza de las Nazarenas and the beautiful church of San Blas are just a few of its highlights.
Cusco sits in a fertile Andean valley at approximately 3,400 meters (11,150 feet) above sea level. The Plaza de Armas marks the geographic heart of the UNESCO-protected historic center. The Cusco Cathedral and the Iglesia de la Compañía tower over the main square, dwarfing the square’s other buildings, and making an excellent backdrop for photographs. From the plaza, take any side street to explore Cusco’s many charming areas.
In the 15th century, Cusco emerged as the political, military, and religious center of the Inca Empire. The Inca ruled for just 100 years until two events, a civil war in 1527 and the arrival of Spanish conquistadors a few years later, destroyed the empire and ushered in an era of transformation.
The great palaces and temples erected by Inca rulers were transformed into Catholic churches, convents, and mansions during the Spanish colonial era. The most important is undoubtedly Qorikancha, close to the main square. Visitors to Qorikancha will be struck by the blending -- albeit an unwilling one-- of the Spanish and Inca cultures. You will be transported back in time as you marvel at the foundation of perfectly-fitted, massive stones of what was once an Inca temple, on top of which the Dominican Order erected a beautiful church.
These sites will feed the senses while Cusco’s many restaurants will nourish the body. The city has eateries for every taste and price range, from those serving delectable local dishes to those offering haute cuisine and still others catering to homesick foreigners with typical pub food, burgers and tacos.
The Plaza is an impressive place, where nature compliments the lovely churches and archways with majestic trees, wide blue skies and a gorgeous light that places everything in high relief. In Inca times, the Plaza was known as Huacaypata and was twice as large as it is today.
The Plaza has been the stage for some of Cusco’s most dramatic events, including the spectacular military and religious ceremonies that accompanied the rise of the Inca Empire, the fall of Cusco at the hands of Spanish soldiers, and the execution of the last Inca ruler, Tupac Amaru, in 1572.
The square is within walking distance of all hotels in Cusco’s historic center. Stake out a bench in the sun or under the shade of a queñua tree to enjoy the harmonious blend of architecture and nature. If you are lucky, you might catch one of Cusco’s many processions, with their costumed dancers and musicians.
You will become immersed in history as soon as you step through the lovely entrance to Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun).Dedicated to the worship of the Sun, it was the most important temple in the entire Inca kingdom. During the Conquest, Spanish chroniclers described gold-plated walls and extensive gardens decorated with life-sized replicas of llamas, maize, and other sacred Andean flora and fauna, all crafted in gold, silver, and precious stones.
When the first Spanish soldiers arrived in Cusco, the treasures of Qorikancha had already been removed to pay the ransom of the Inca Atahualpa, who had been captured by Francisco Pizarro. After the Conquest, Santo Domingo Church, an architectural gem in its own right, was built on top of the temple. Some sections of Qorikancha were kept intact, including a semi-circular outer wall, which is one of Cusco’s most recognizable Inca sites today.
If we imagine Cusco as a puma, the fortress ruins of Sacsayhuaman formed the head and its zigzagging stone terraces represented its teeth. Much of the original site has been destroyed -- as late as the 1950s, Cusco locals used dynamite to blast boulders into smaller stones. But the remnants of Sacsayhuaman remain visually stunning. Some stone blocks are several times taller than the average person and weigh hundreds of tons. Imagine the amount of labor and the level of organization needed to build such a place! A typical tour of Sacsayhuaman includes stops at the nearby archaeological sites of Qenko, Tambomachay, and Puka Pukara. Around the date of the winter solstice in June, the main ceremony of Inti Raymi, a reenactment of the Inca festival of the Sun (Inti), is performed on the main esplanade of Sacsayhuaman.
We Recommend: If you’re up for heart-pounding exercise, you can tackle the climb to Sacsayhuaman from the historic center of Cusco. It’s a short distance (less than 1 kilometer from the Plaza de Armas), but the way is steep and the altitude will make you stop to catch your breath if you’re not yet acclimated to the high elevation.
Altitude Sickness: Cusco’s high elevation is a huge concern for many travelers. Everyone reacts differently to the altitude. The majority of travelers experience mild symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite, and insomnia. A popular local remedy for soroche (altitude sickness) is to drink coca tea. The best strategy is to take it easy on arrival, eat lightly and drink water, avoid alcohol and caffeine as these can may cause dehydration, and be informed of more severe symptoms. Talk to a medical professional about taking Diamox or similar medicines before you travel.
Weather: With its 3,400 meters (11,150 feet) of elevation, Cusco gets quite cold when the sun goes down. To stay warm, pack a fleece or thick sweater and pair it with a windproof jacket. Many shops also sell warm alpaca gear including sweaters, scarves, gloves, and hats. Rainy season begins in November and extends through March.
Best time to visit: Cusco is a great time to visit at any time of year. Notable Catholic festivals include Semana Santa in March/April, kick into high gear with Corpus Christi in May, and continue with Inti Raymi and the Fiestas Patrias (Peruvian Independence) in June and July. The end of December and beginning of January is also especially busy in Cusco.
Arriving/Departing to Cusco: The fastest way to get to Cusco is by plane. Domestic airlines, including LAN, Star Peru, and Peruvian Airlines, offer several daily flights from Lima, Arequipa, Juliaca (Lake Titicaca), and Puerto Maldonado to the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (airport code: CUZ). Bus travel is a comfortable and inexpensive option if you have a flexible itinerary. The central Terminal Terrestre is located about 10 minutes by car from Plaza de Armas. For travel by train to and from Lake Titicaca, PeruRail runs the Andean Explorer service between stations in Cusco and Puno.
Trip Extensions: If you’re traveling from Lima and want to ease into the high altitude Andes, the beautiful city of Arequipa (2,335 meters; 7,661 feet) is a great place to acclimate before continuing on to Cusco (3,400 meters; 11,150 feet).
Most Cusco tours visit the city’s main historical and archaeological attractions in one day. But stay longer if you can, because the one-time Inca capital turned slow-paced Spanish town offers harbors an abundance of museums, handicraft markets, bookstores, hidden cafes, and peaceful plazas:
Get a glimpse of local daily life at the popular Mercado San Pedro, located a short walk from the main plaza. You’ll see all manner of products and services for sale including dry goods, fruits and vegetables, flowers, souvenirs, textiles, and more. There’s a butcher section that you should seek out or avoid according to your preference. If you need something mended, approach one of the tailors.
With its distinctive whitewashed adobe walls, wooden doors and balconies painted in bright cobalt blue, the artisan district of San Blas is a must see for travelers in search of art and culture. The neighborhood is located up the hill behind the Cusco Cathedral. You can stop inside the workshops and galleries of local sculptors, painters, and ceramicists whose work reflects a fascinating mix of old and new traditions. Be sure to visit the workshops of the Mendivil family, who have been producing famous long-necked figurines of angels and saints for generations.
Cusco caters to chocolate lovers with a number of small shops scattered throughout the historic center. For the most well-rounded experience, treat your cocoa-loving taste buds to the wonders of the Choco Museo located on the peaceful Plaza Regocijo. The educational museum offers exhibits and workshops dedicated to the art and craft of chocolate-making. Stop by the attached cafe for the best chocolate-inspired beverages in Cusco.
Inside the Cusco Cathedral, a painting of the Last Supper famously depicts Jesus and his disciplines feasting on cuy (guinea pig), choclo (corn), and other foods native to the Andes. Today, cuy is a popular dish served during festival times. For example, during the Corpus Christi festival, the traditional plate of chiriuchu includes guinea pig, chicken, sausage, corn, potatoes, and rocoto pepper. Many restaurants in Cusco now serve cuy. If you wish to partake, call ahead to confirm that cuy is in stock for that day or the next. Guinea pig can be prepared in at least three ways: baked (al horno), fried (chactado), or grilled (asado).
"The old Inca capital of Cusco, the breathtaking "Sacred Valley," and the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu are all overwhelming, each in their own right. But they can all be even more overwhelming after Peru-for-Less has done their trick of dressing them up a little for you."
Karl-Heinrich & Terttu Barsch (Orlando, Florida)
Traveled to: Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu
"Cusco and Machu Picchu were certainly the highlights of our trip. Even though we read books and have seen documentaries of the Inca Ruins, nothing prepared us for the immensity, lushness, and location of the ruin. Seeing the ruin as the morning mist cleared was so memorable."
Dave and Blanche (Colorado, USA)
Traveled to: Nazca Lines, Ballestas Islands, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Puerto Maldonado
"We selected Peru For Less because of your willingness to individualize our trip to Cuzco and Machu Picchu for a great price. Little did we realize just how wise a decision this would turn out to be."
Janet and Karlene (Texas and Virginia, USA)
Traveled to: Cusco, Machu Picchu
We use the following hotels as our preferred choice in Cusco. San Juan de Dios 255, near Plaza Regocijo, Cusco The brand new Aranwa Boutique Hotel, opened in October 2010, is operated by Aranwa Hotels Resorts & Spas, one of the most luxurious hotel chains in Peru, known for their careful attention to their clients’ well-being. One of the best-value luxury accommodations in Cusco, this elegant 5-star hotel is housed in a converted 16th century mansion and is decorated with colonial era furniture, impressive paintings from the Cusco school, and colonial gold-leaf plated carvings and sculptures. This boutique hotel is conveniently located right behind Plaza San Francisco, a new upscale neighborhood away from the hustle and bustle of Cusco’s main square. With each room boasting an oxygen system and a variety of soothing spa treatments available, this just may be the best place to acclimatize to the high altitude in Cusco in a most comfortable setting.
Aranwa Boutique Hotel
San Juan de Dios 255, near Plaza Regocijo, Cusco
The brand new Aranwa Boutique Hotel, opened in October 2010, is operated by Aranwa Hotels Resorts & Spas, one of the most luxurious hotel chains in Peru, known for their careful attention to their clients’ well-being. One of the best-value luxury accommodations in Cusco, this elegant 5-star hotel is housed in a converted 16th century mansion and is decorated with colonial era furniture, impressive paintings from the Cusco school, and colonial gold-leaf plated carvings and sculptures. This boutique hotel is conveniently located right behind Plaza San Francisco, a new upscale neighborhood away from the hustle and bustle of Cusco’s main square. With each room boasting an oxygen system and a variety of soothing spa treatments available, this just may be the best place to acclimatize to the high altitude in Cusco in a most comfortable setting.
Siete Cuartones Street 225, Cusco
Located in a magnificent colonial house that dates back to over 300 years ago, this charming boutique hotel offers excellent services in a luxurious atmosphere. The Andean Wings Boutique Hotel strives to provide guests with an intimate setting as well as the highest quality amenities in the heart of magical Cusco. The rooms are extremely well appointed and inviting; the restaurant offers original and delicious dishes in the hotel’s interior patio; and the spa’s amazing services are assured to keep guests relaxed. The small size of the hotel, with only 18 rooms, allows for personalized attention to each and every guest.
Tocuyeros 566, San Blas, Cusco
Located in the historic artisan quarter of San Blas, this boutique hotel is privately situated, but still close to restaurants, bars, artisan workshops, and galleries. Only two and a half blocks from the central Plaza de Armas, the Boutique Hotel Casa San Blas is near all the main attractions in Cusco, but provides the peace and tranquility guests look forward to after a long day exploring Inca ruins. With gorgeous wooden furnishings, a pretty terrace area with umbrellas, potted plants, and colorful artwork, you will feel at home in this charming hotel. Guestrooms boast handmade colonial furniture and Andean weavings as well as lush bedding for a good night’s rest. Enjoy a delicious dinner or cocktail in the downstairs restaurant before indulging in a luxurious massage in your room. The staff at this excellent-value Cusco hotel will work overtime to make your stay is a pleasant one.
Cuesta de San Blas 541, Cusco
Located in the heart of the bohemian San Blas district, the excellent Hostal Amaru offers comfortable accommodation for a great value. All rooms are simple yet cozy, and the hotel features all the services necessary for a comfortable stay. Wireless Internet, computers, a safe deposit box, and complimentary coca tea are available. Only two blocks from Cusco’s main square, this is the perfect option for all travelers on a budget. Single, double, and triple rooms are distributed over a beautifully kept courtyard.
Earlier groups inhabited the fertile mountain valleys around Cusco for thousands of years before the Incas came on the scene. About 20 kilometers east of the city, the archaeological site of Pikillaqta (or Pikillacta, meaning Flea Town) was built as an outpost by the Wari culture, which flourished across the Andes from 500 AD to 1000 AD.
Closer to Cusco, archaeologists have unearthed temples, roads, and aqueducts built by the Killke culture between 900 AD and 1200 AD. Some of this infrastructure was later adapted by the Incas. In Cusco, the Museo Historico Regional on Calle Garcilaso has an excellent collection of pre-Inca artifacts (alongside Inca artifacts and a collection of art, clothing, and furniture from Cusco’s Spanish colonial period).
According to Andean oral traditions, the first Incas, Manco Capac and his sister-wife Mama Ocllo, emerged from a place of three caves called Tampu Tocco. In a different version, they emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca. They then wandered the land until Manco Capac’s golden staff sank into the earth. The Temple of the Sun (Qorikancha) was built on this place and Cusco developed around it.
Until the early 15th century, Cusco remained a small city-state with limited influence. In 1438, the kingdom faced attacks from the Chancas, a neighboring tribe renowned for their ferocity. Pachacutec took charge of Cusco’s defense from his father and elder brother, who had already prepared to flee, and was able to organize the defeat of the Chancas.
Success in war earned Pachacutec his place as the 9th Inca king and for the next 100 years. In Quechua, his name means “earth-shaker.” Pachacutec and his successors Tupac Inca Yupanqui and Huayna Capac, directed the expansion of the new Inca Empire, called the Tahuantinsuyo, or “Four Provinces.” To commemorate their victories in battle and the addition of new territories across the Andes, each Inca king ordered the construction of ever grander temples and palaces in Cusco.
In 1527, Huayna Capac died and a devastating civil war erupted between his sons, Huascar and Atahualpa, for control of the throne. The timing could not have been worse. Having heard of the fabled riches of Peru, Francisco Pizarro and his band of gold-hungry soldiers were already plying the Pacific coast of South America.
Francisco Pizarro with 168 soldiers versus the Inca Atahualpa (recently victorious against his brother Huascar) with a cadre of fiercely loyal generals commanding an army of millions. By the numbers alone, the overthrow of the mighty Inca Empire should have been a harder task. But the recent civil war (and a large number of non-Inca indigenous groups who were willing to fight on the side of the Spaniards) turned the cards in Pizarro’s favor.
In 1532, Pizarro captured Atahualpa near present-day Cajamarca. The Spaniard demanded a ransom for the release of Atahualpa, received it, and then ordered the execution of the Inca leader anyway. The imperial capital of Cusco fell to the Spanish in 1533.
Leaving the city in the hands of his brothers Gonzalo and Juan, Francisco Pizarro returned to the coast and established the capital of Lima in 1535. A year later, in 1536, the young leader Manco Inca organized an uprising and laid siege to Cusco, but the Spanish soldiers launched a defense and regained control in 1537. The indigenous rebels retreated into Vilcabamba (in the jungle east of Machu Picchu) and remained there until 1572, when the newly appointed viceroy Francisco Toledo ordered the capture of the last Inca, Tupac Amaru, who was returned to Cusco and executed on the Plaza de Armas.
Throughout the new Spanish colonies, religion was a primary means through which to exert dominance over conquered peoples. With its large native population, Cusco became ground zero for the evangelization of Peru. Catholic churches, temples, and monasteries were intentionally built atop the tumbled ruins of Inca palaces and temples.
The Cusco School of Painting (Escuela Cuzqueña) emerged during this period and the native artists who were trained in this style became producers of religious art that was highly coveted across the Spanish colonies and beyond. In the paintings, we can see Andean symbols and imagery that indicate the persistence of indigenous ways of thinking despite European domination.
Throughout its history, Cusco remained a quiet, but important regional economic hub. In the 1930s, the photographer Martin Chambi, a native son of Puno, established his studio in Cusco and captured stunning images of the city, its streets, people, and traditions. Chambi also organized multi-day hikes through the towns of the Sacred Valley and to Machu Picchu, which in those days received very few visitors. (The Chambi family is working to preserve and create public access to the Chambi archive, which includes original prints, negatives, and ephemera. Read about the project at http://martinchambi.org.)
Between the 1960s and 90s, Cusco experienced an exponential growth in population driven by rural-to-urban migration and the tourist economy. In 1983, Cusco and Machu Picchu earned UNESCO World Heritage Status. Tourism has been increasingly steadily in recent decades, with a notable lull in 1991-92 when political violence in Peru reached its zenith.
Today, tourism is Peru’s fastest growing industry, the third largest after fishing and mining, and a huge source of local employment. In Cusco, tourism has impelled the economic development of the city in complicated ways that bring both positive and negative effects for the city and the local population.
Cusco city is nestled into the flanks of the Andes in southeastern Peru at 3,400 meters (11,150 feet) above sea level. Machu Picchu and the beginnings of the Amazon jungle are to the north and east. Lake Titicaca is to the south. The capital city Lima is 586 kilometers (364 miles) to the northwest if traveling by air; the distance doubles if traveling by road.
On the flight into Cusco, the rippled mountain landscape of the Andean altiplano (high altitude plateau) greets visitors. The giants Salkantay and Ausangate pierce the sky with snow-capped peaks reaching above 6,200 meters (20,000 feet). On clear days, the peak of Mount Ausangate is directly visible from the city.
The original Inca City was laid out in a basin created by two rivers and protected by long-slung mountains. The newest parts of Cusco stretch down the valley, connecting to old colonial settlements including Santiago and San Sebastian. The historic center of Cusco is just a small section of the present-day city of 413,000 people (Source: INEI, 2013). But today, as in the past, Cusco is the heart of the region. It is home to the proud emblems of Peru’s glorious Inca past and it's the place where people gather from all over Peru and the world to participate in the year’s most important cultural events.
Cusco has two well-defined seasons: rainy and dry. The one constant is that nights are always cold, especially in the dry season when temperatures often drop to freezing. Be sure to keep this mind when packing for a trip to Cusco. Snowfall in Cusco is very rare.
May to October is the dry season in Cusco. Temperatures fluctuate dramatically between day and night. Days are warm, but with no cloud cover, temperatures plummet as soon as the sun goes down. Expect 18-19°C (64-67°F) during the day and frigid nights around 1°C (33°F).
November to March, “summer” in the southern hemisphere,” is the rainy season in Cusco. January and February are the rainiest months. Cloudy skies are common, but patchy sunshine comes through on some days. Average temperatures range between 16°C (60°F) in the day and 8°C (46°F) at night.
Cusco’s topographical diversity results in a huge variety of microclimates. The valleys are warm and humid, while the higher altitude plains are frosty. Generally, as elevations climb higher, temperatures drop.
Lima is the epicenter of Peru’s 21st century gastronomic boom, but even the imperial Inca city has felt the aftershocks. From traditional Andean and Peruvian dishes to international favorites and novo-Andean fusion cuisine, travelers have no shortage of options.
Recommendations: Jack’s Cafe on Av. Choquechaca is popular for its ample breakfasts. Cicciolina on Calle Triunfo around the corner from the Cusco Cathedral serves Peruvian-Italian fusion cuisine with an Andean twist. For a warm bowl of stew in pan-Latino flavors (think Mexican, Caribbean, Brazilian, and Peruvian too), head to Restaurant Inkazuela on Plaza Nazarenas across from the luxurious Hotel Monasterio. Browse the TripAdvisor site for more Cusco restaurants reviews and recommendations straight from travelers.
How do I get to Cusco? Is is easy to get around the city? You can travel to and from Cusco by bus or plane. Flights from Lima, Cusco, Puerto Maldonado and Juliaca (Puno) leave daily; there are no international arrivals. The airport is located about 15 minutes away from the main square by car. A taxi ride will cost about S/.12 but prices are always negotiable. You can also travel to Cusco by bus from Lima, Cusco or Puno. Peru has an excellent inter-province bus service. Most of long-distance buses in Cusco leave from the bus terminal “Terminal Terrestre,” which is about a 10 minute ride in taxi from the main plaza in Cusco. The main means of transport in Cusco are taxis and combis (small buses) that cover the whole town. However the historic center of Cusco is relatively small and you can easily walk to major attractions in 10-20 minutes.
How to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes)? Your path to Machu Picchu will depend on how much time you have. The fastest way is to do a day trip from Cusco or the Sacred Valley. Catch a train from Poroy station near Cusco or from Ollantaytambo or Urubamba in the Sacred Valley. Ride the shuttle bus to the ruins, do your tour of Machu Picchu, and then return to Cusco on an evening train. It’s a long day, but doable. For a slower-paced experience, you can spend the night in Aguas Calientes town, which will allow you to enjoy more time at the ruins. Adventure-seeking travelers can also choose one of the trekking routes to Machu Picchu, be it the ever-popular 4-day Inca Trail (permits are limited and sell out fast), the scenic and rigorous Salkantay trek, or the culturally-oriented Lares trek.
When is the best time to visit Cusco? For sunny weather with reduced possibility of weather-related delays, travel to Cusco during the dry season, May to September. But keep in mind that everyone has the same idea. High season extends from June to August. The rainy season begins in late October and continues until March. Heavy afternoon storms are common, but it rarely rains all day long. Flight delays due to bad weather are also common. To avoid disappointment, rainy season travelers will want to plan an itinerary with enough flexibility to accommodate the unexpected.
What is the Boleto Turistico? The Cusco tourist ticket gives visitors access to major attractions in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. There are different types of tickets available, but most travelers purchase the Full ticket, which includes 16 sites and is valid for 10 days. Partial tickets visit either 1) ruins in around Cusco, 2) museums in Cusco, or 3) ruins in the Sacred Valley. If you buy the ticket on your own, be aware that transportation and guides are not included in the price. Before you book a tour of Cusco or the Sacred Valley, ask if the price includes the cost of your Boleto Turistico.
What are the best bus companies to travel to/from Cusco? Traveling to Cusco by bus takes around eight hours from Puno, ten hours from Arequipa, and a whopping twenty-two hours from Lima. The best companies for these long distances are Cruz Del Sur, Ormeño and Tepsa as they offer high level of comfort and quality service. It is only a short ride to the Sacred Valley towns of Pisac and Urubamba – the ride lasts less than two hours, and actually makes for quite a beautiful journey.
Are there tourist information offices, and where are they located? There are two main tourist information offices located in Cusco. InfoPeru, the national tourist information office, is located on Avenida del Sol, close to the Plaza de Armas. The regional office, DIRCETUR is situated on Calle Mantas between the Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Francisco.
What is the population of Cusco? The city of Cusco has a population of 413,000 people (2013).
What’s the weather in Cusco? Cusco is generally warm during the day and cold at night. There are two seasons, rainy (November to March) and dry (May to September). Nights are colder in the dry season when temperatures can drop to freezing.
Where can I find an ATM in Cusco? ATMs and money exchange locations can be found throughout Cusco, especially near the Plaza de Armas and on Avenida del Sol.
Where can I buy local handicrafts? Handicrafts stores are plentiful in Cusco selling a range of artisan items – the best place to catch these is at the Centro Artesanal Cusco at the end of Avenida El Sol, which is the biggest handicrafts market in the city. Large numbers of vendors sell various souvenirs, such as alpaca textiles and clothing in beautiful and vivid colors. You will also find a lot of great places to shop for local goods in the villages surrounding Cusco. Pisac (39 km from Cusco), for example, is renowned for its market taking place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
What are some interesting places to see around Cusco? Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Chinchero are the typical stops in the Sacred Valley on the way to Machu Picchu. This area also offers opportunities for adventure sports including whitewater rafting, horseback riding, and ziplining. South of Cusco, history and archaeology lovers can visit Tipon, Andahuyalillas and Piquillaqta.
What is altitude sickness and how can it be prevented? Cusco’s high altitude (3,400 meters or 11,150 feet) means that there is a possibility that you will suffer some side effects due to the exceptional conditions. However, altitude affects people in different ways. The side effects include headaches or fatigue as the body adjusts to the change in altitude.
Here are some tips to help your body acclimatize:
Ask your doctor’s advice about these altitude medications:
Drugstores can be found on almost every street corner across Peru.
For a taste of the city's culinary fusion and traditions, be sure to check out these first-class Cusco eateries.
Cusco’s folkloric music and dance traditions are cultural treasures. Dance plays a central role in the region’s year-round festival calendar. While each festivity tends to honor a different patron saint, the regional dances that are performed share many similarities.
Travelers can take a plane, train, or bus to Cusco. Learn more about these transportation options to decide which one is best for you and your travel buddies.