Is one day enough to visit Cusco? It’s a question we get asked a lot. And the answer is nope. No way. Not enough. Anyone who wants to experience the real Cusco should plan at least two to three days. After all, Nora lives in Cusco for more then two years and never got bored 😉
We’ll share 9 things you should definitely check out in Cusco!
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9 Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Cusco!
1. Breakfast at the Market in San Blas or San Pedro
Breakfast is usually included in the price of your accommodation, but sweet bread, salted butter, and strawberry jam quickly lose their novelty value. Instead, go and have breakfast at the market. It’s not only cheap, but also healthy, delicious, and full of variety. We recommend the markets in San Blas and San Pedro. There are special breakfast stalls where you can order your personal blend of freshly squeezed juices. The Señoras will also prepare sandwiches for you. Typical combinations are „Pan con palta“ (bread with avocado), „Pan con queso“ (bread with cheese), or „Pan con huevo frito“ (bread with fried egg). You can also mix and match the ingredients to your taste. There are stalls for fruit salads and yoghurt as well.
2. Stroll through the Bohemian District of San Blas
The charming art district of San Blas is located just above the main square. On the way there you’ll come across the alleyway Hatun Rumiyoc with the famous dodecagonal stone „Piedra de los Doce Ángulos“. The meticulous Incas chiseled out this gigantic stone in order to insert it into the massive masonry. You can’t really miss the stone because there is usually a large crowd of tourists in front of it, and it’s guarded almost daily by a man dressed like an Inca. Follow the Cuesta San Blas to arrive in the art district. You’ll find many small shops, galleries, and cafes in the narrow stone streets of San Blas. On weekends, a handicraft market takes place on the square. Street artists are almost always selling art and jewelry just above the fountain.
3. Tour of the Cathedral on the Main Square
We recommend the really great audio guide tour in English. It’s a good idea to visit the cathedral at lunchtime when the sun is at its zenith and the cathedral is a welcome shelter from the heat. You’ll see a reenactment of the Last Supper inside the cathedral and might notice that a guinea pig („Cuy“) is being served instead of a chicken. It’s further evidence of how indigenous artists have incorporated their traditions into Christian art.
Admission to the cathedral is 25 soles (50% discount with an ISIC card).
4. Fruit and Souvenir Shopping in San Pedro Market
San Pedro market is a ten-minute walk from the main square. It’s a typical weekly market with a roof that attracts locals and tourists alike. In addition to fruit, vegetable, nut, flower, soup, meat, and breakfast stalls, you’ll also find textile and souvenir stalls here. A good place to tick off some items on the souvenir shopping list and stock up on alpaca sweaters.
5. Chocolate Workshop in The „Choco Museo“
The Chocolate Museum is located in the Calle Garcilaso on Regocijo Square. Go here to find out where cocoa is produced in Peru and how delicious cocoa beans are turned into chocolate. In addition to a small free tour, you can also taste products (Our tip: Chocolate with Maras salt!), treat yourself to a hot chocolate in the café, buy chocolate products, or participate in a two-hour chocolate workshop. Make your own chocolate from different mixtures. An amazing gift for friends and family.
6. Hike to Saqsayhuaman and Cristo Blanco
You can see the ruins of Sacsayhuaman from the main square. It’s pronounced similar to „Sexy Woman“, which often causes some confusion. To the left of it, you can see the white Cristo Blanco, which is illuminated at night. Visiting Sacsayhuaman is included in every commercial city tour, but we recommend that you go and explore it on your own. This way, you can wander through the charming district of San Cristobal and enjoy some wonderful views of Cusco. The hike takes around 50 minutes and will quicken your breath a little, but tranquilo no más — just take it slow and pace yourself. The admission to the ruins is included in the Boleto Turístico, which you can buy right at the entrance. This ticket costs 130 soles and, besides the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, also includes other ruins in Cusco and in the Sacred Valley, as well as museums in Cusco. Enjoy an impressive view over Cusco and admire the huge zigzag masonry of the Inca.
7. Tracking down the Incas inside Coricancha, the Temple of the Sun
As you descend the great Avenida del Sol, you arrive at the Incan Temple of the Sun, once the holiest place in the Incan Empire. According to the beliefs of the Incas, the city of Cusco — which is also called the „navel of the world“ — arises from here. The foundations of the Temple of the Sun are still visible. The Spaniards demolished the temple in the 16th century and built their church Santo Domingo on the site.
Admission to the Temple of the Sun costs 10 soles.
8. Pisco Sour Tasting at the Museo Del Pisco
You will find the museum and bar „Museo del Pisco“ in Calle Santa Catalina. A perfect place to learn more about the national drink — the Pisco grape brandy — and taste it. There are often concerts in the evening. Many varieties of Pisco Sour are waiting to be tasted by you. Our favorite is „Asu Mare“ with cucumber and ginger — absolutely delicious.
9. Evening Tour of the Planetarium
We highly recommend a visit to the planetarium in Cusco. The two-hour evening program at the research center includes a lecture on the southern hemisphere and on the Incan understanding of astronomy, as well as a tour of the various star signs in the planetarium. Visitors can view the star constellations through a telescope, weather permitting.
Who is writing?
Hola! I’m Nora, Co-Founder of ALL ACROSS PERU. I cannot live anymore without Ceviche, mountain air and cumbia sounds. On this blog I share all my travel insights for Peru!