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16 Essential things to see in Cusco, Peru

Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire, the strongest pre-Columbian empire in the Americas, and included Peru, Ecuador and part of Colombia, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Cusco was the navel of the world and millions of travelers a year come to Peru to see this place. In Cusco are some of the most sacred and spectacular places in the world, including one of the 7 wonders of the modern world, Machu Picchu.

In this post you will find everything you can see and do in Cusco and its surroundings. Keep in mind that you can spend days and days in this area and you will always leave with things to visit.

With this list of things to do, I hope you can organize your route through Peru including the places you most want to visit.

If you still have doubts about what to see in Peru or you do not know very well how to organize your trip, you should not miss the following posts, where I tell you many things to do throughout the country.

This post will be a complete travel guide to Cusco, what to see and do in the city and its surroundings, where to stay, where to eat, travel tips, and some advice that I will give you so that your trip is one of the best of your life.

Cusco, Perú


1. The Plaza de Armas, the most essential place to see in Cusco

It is the main square and the heart of Cusco, the best thing is that as soon as you arrive in the city you start to explore it here. In it you will find the Cathedral of Cusco and the Church of the Company of Jesus. Admire the colonial architecture that surrounds the city, get lost in the surrounding streets and take the opportunity to eat in this area or buy a souvenir. There are many small shops with handicrafts, and as in almost all the destinations that I tell you about in the blog, in Peru you also have to haggle!

Cusco, Perú

There are several interesting guided tours to do in Cusco, guided tours, free tours... any of them will allow you the possibility of knowing the history of the city, the Inca footprint that can be seen in different parts of the city and many curiosities. These are the best:

Cusco, Perú

2. Look for the Stone of the 12 angles

When you are in the Plaza de Armas, go up towards San Blas along Hatunrumiyoc street, located just to the right of the Cusco Cathedral. After a few meters you will come to a building whose lower part is made up of large stones that fit perfectly between them. The Stone of the 12 angles has been gaining popularity because it is a good demonstration of the very precise techniques that the Incas used in architecture.

3. The San Blas neighborhood

Near the Plaza de Armas is the Barrio de San Blas. This neighborhood is full of charming narrow streets, ideal for wandering around for a long time. In this area there are small bars, cafeterias and quite cool restaurants with traditional food.

Cusco, Perú

The ruins of Cuzco

In Cusco there are 4 areas of ruins that you should know. These ruins are: Saqsaywaman, Tambomachay, Kenko and Puca Pacara.

4. Saqsaywaman

Construction began in the 15th century, during the Pachacútec government, although it was finished in the 16th century. Today, the architectural techniques used for its construction are a mystery. Many of them will talk about paranormal legends (and it is that in all of Peru there are things that you will wonder, but how the hell have they done this?

5. Tambomachay

It is in these ruins that the Incas worshiped water.

6. Q'enco

Q'enco is an important sanctuary. This Sanctuary is a 30-minute walk from the Plaza de Armas.

7. Puca Pacara

These ruins are the site of an ancient Inca fortress.

The best way to get to know the 4 temples is with a tour. That also includes a visit to the colonial zone of the city of Cusco.

Cusco, Perú

8. Qorikancha and the Church of Santo Domingo

An essential place to see in Cusco to understand the history of the city.

Qorikancha was one of the most important temples during the Inca Empire and was dedicated to Inti, god of the sun. The temple was destroyed during the Spanish colonization. In its place, conserving the foundations of the temple, the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo was built.

Without a doubt, it is one of the places you should know in Cusco.

9. San Pedro Market

Without a doubt, if you have time, one of the coolest things to do anywhere is to walk through the local market. The Mercado De San Pedro, in Cusco, is full of stalls for fruit, vegetables, fresh products and even some stalls for handicrafts and souvenirs. Although the best way to buy textiles, handicrafts and souvenirs is in the little shops that fill the streets of Cusco.

Cusco, Perú

Cusco, Perú

10. Inka Museum and Museum of Pre-Columbian Art

If you have time and you like to know the history of the places you visit, a good idea is to visit some of these museums in Cusco: the Inka Museum and the Pre-Columbian Art Museum.

You also have others such as the Natural History Museum, the Coca Museum, the cocoa museum, the Machu Picchu Museum and the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art.


From Cusco there are several excursions that you can do on your own or with a guide. Throughout my trip to Peru, although we went free as far as long journeys and hotels, we took the rest on excursions because they are very complete and with good prices. I give you the entire list of excursions you can do from Cusco, so you can see which are the ones that interest you the most.

Although I am giving you a list of all these excursions, I am going to talk to you individually about each place in other articles. I leave you all the links so you can access it easily.

11. Sacred Valley

It is one of the most popular excursions from Cusco and it is an impressive place. You cannot miss it! Also, if you are doing a route through the area, it is a visit to do between Cusco and Machu Picchu.

In the Sacred Valley you will visit several archaeological sites and learn more about the incredible Inca culture. Some of the most visited places are Pisac, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. You can choose to go in one day or spend a night in the Sacred Valley.

You can hire the excursion to the Sacred Valley, it is very cheap, about 17 euros, and includes transportation to the Sacred Valley and the complete guided tour. It's worth it!

Also, if you are thinking of visiting Macchu Picchu and you are doing a route on your own, stay in Ollantaytambo and miss the return to Cusco. If you are going to Machu Picchu after your Sacred Valley excursion, stay in Ollantaytambo and take the bus to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo) from here. You will save time and money. In addition, you can spend the night in Ollantaytambo to enjoy this area.

Cusco, Perú

12. Salt mines of Maras and Moray

Moray was a place for agricultural experimentation built by the Incas. They created these terraces with different levels to be able to grow different varieties of plants, since the temperature on each level varies (approximately 1 degree difference per terrace) how did they know? I have no idea... It's just one more example of the great intelligence that this civilization possessed. The salt mines of Maras are huge salt mines from pre-Inca times.

Cusco, Perú

Cusco, Perú

13. Machu Picchu

The lost city of the Incas and one of the 7 wonders of the modern world. Impossible to travel to Peru and not visit Machu Picchu.

I tell you all the details of how to get there for free, prices, train, how to do the tour and lots of information about this impressive place in the post:

Cusco, Perú

14. Excursion to the Mountain of 7 Colors

This incredible place, Vinicunca or as it is known, the Mountain of 7 Colors was a totally unknown place until a few years ago. This is because years ago, the mountain was completely covered by snow. Currently, it is one of the most incredible places to see in Cusco.

The trekking is quite demanding since the mountain is 5,200 meters high. Although the journey does not have many kilometers from when the transport leaves you until you get there, the height makes it much more difficult, making the climb an hour and a half at a good pace. From Cusco it will take you almost 4 hours to get here by car. And although you may be thinking that it is too long by car and a lot of walking, but it is worth it! The place is spectacular.

Cusco, Perú

15. Excursion to the Humantay Lagoon

If doing the trekking of the mountain of 7 colors seemed hard to me, this trekking surpassed it. Even so, when we reached the top, at the Humantay Lagoon, a small lake of intense blue color located at the foot of a mountain of the same name, all evils were removed from us. It is spectacular! The climb is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. The path is quite steep and the height (4,200 meters above sea level) makes it quite a difficult climb. Take your time and take short breaks to catch up on some air. Despite the difficulty, it is one of the excursions from Cusco that you cannot miss. You must know this place!

To do this trekking (just like almost all the excursions in Peru) you must wear good mountain shoes.

Cusco, Perú

16. Excursion to Waqrapukara

Waqrapukara is an incredible archaeological site located on a mountain near the Apurímac River. It was built by the Qanchis. You can do a day trip or more days. It is located at 4,3000 meters above sea level, so I recommend you go when you have gotten used to the altitude a bit.

Cusco, Perú

From Cusco you can also do these excursions, all thought of the time you have. Although I spent 7 days in Cusco, I needed more to be able to finish visiting each place. I have it pending! But if you have more time, these excursions are very interesting and I have them written down for the next time I travel to Peru.


In Cusco there are many hotel options, for different budgets. The best option is to live in the center, thus enjoying the night in Cusco, strolling through the illuminated Plaza de Armas and taking advantage of the large number of restaurants in the city to dine on local cuisine.

Our choice for accommodation in Cusco was the 3-star El Virrey Boutique hotel, right on the Plaza de Armas. You can see accommodation offers from this link: Hotel offers in Cusco


I hope you enjoy your trip to Peru a lot and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.

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A hug and see you soon!


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