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10 Things to Do in the City of Cusco

10 Things to Do in the City of Cusco

Welcome to Cusco, the former capital of the Incas. The city is located in the Andean Mountains at 3400 m (11,151 feet) and offers many incredible things to do. It’s the starting point for many of your tours, f.e. to the Sacred Valley and -of course- to the New Wonder of the World, Machu Picchu!

In Cusco itself, you can visit numerous cathedrals, excellent cafes, museums, restaurants and historical colonial architecture. These activities will especially be helpful to get used to the altitude and therefore avoid altitude sickness before engaging in any trekking tours.

Therefore, we have created this post for you with the 10 best activities in Cusco so you can make the most of your time in the city of the Incas.

Top 10 Things to do in the City of Cusco:

Top 10 Activities in the City of Cusco

1. Enjoy the City’s View – With a Drink

guy sitting on fence for sunset

The viewpoint at San Blas is a great spot to take pictures, during the day and at night.

 

In Cusco you will find some outstanding places to enjoy the sunset with a view over the entire city!

The Limbus Restobar is one of these. The bar is undoubtedly one of the best viewpoints from which you can see the entire city while having a drink or some food.

Other places for these magical moments are:

(for your info, “mirador” means viewpoint).

Recommendation: Get to Limbus Restobar just before sunset to get a good spot and enjoy the view.

 

2. Discover San Blas

narrow street of cusco

Cusco is famous for its narrow streets. Our friends from Salt in our Hair loved it when they toured Cusco with us.

 

The artistic district of San Blas is famous for the narrow streets, idyllic cafes and numerous vegan and traditional restaurants.

While you stroll through the alleys, you will find many small boutiques. If you are looking for suitable souvenirs for your loved ones at home, the handicrafts you’ll find here are a great option.

Furthermore, you will find an incredible viewpoint from where you can oversee the entire city (the Mirador de San Blas, as mentioned above).

Recommendation: Visit the restaurant “Green Point”, where you can get delicious vegan dishes and be enchanted by a wonderful atmosphere.

 

3. Visit San Pedro Market

local woman with fruits at san pedro market

At the San Pedro Market, you’ll find a lot of delicious fruit for good prices.

 

The San Pedro Market is one of the most popular markets in Cusco and is definitely worth a visit. We are sure you will see various fruits, herbs and other foods that you have never seen before.

Walk through the market without hesitation to get an idea of a large Peruvian market. At the other end of the market hall you will find many menu offers at reasonable prices; we recommend a strong stomach for this.

We encourage everyone to learn some more expressions in Spanish to be better able to negotiate or communicate with the locals.

Recommendation: Enjoy a delicious fruit juice freshly prepared in front of your eyes. Our favorite is the amazing lucuma juice with mango and pineapple.

 

4. Enjoy the Peruvian Cuisine in Cusco (Or Do a Cooking Class)

lomo saltado la morena

The Lomo Saltado with quinoa at La Morena is one of the most delicious dishes you can try in Cusco.

 

Peru is a true paradise for foodies. In Cusco, you’ll find a very high density of excellent restaurants. Most of them are located within walking distance from the main square.

As you don’t want to make a wrong decision, here are some of our favorites:

You can find more info in our blog post about the best restaurants in Cusco.

And if you want to learn more about the Peruvian gastronomy…how about cooking yourself in an entertaining cooking class?

If so, we recommend the Marcelo Batata Cooking Class (costs $90 p. person and takes around 3.5 hours) where you will try some exotic fruits, prepare your own Ceviche and Lomo Saltado and mix your own Pisco Sour or Chilcano.

It’s a fantastic gastronomic learning experience with a lot of fun.

Recommendation: Try the restaurant “La Morena” and if you have the time do a cooking class.

 

5. Visit the Choco Museum

four people doing chocolate workshop

The great thing about the chocolate workshop is that there are many opportunities to try chocolate.

 

In Cusco, you have the opportunity to visit a chocolate museum and learn more about cocoa, try different types of chocolate and take part in a chocolate workshop.

During the chocolate workshop that takes around 2 hours (cost: $25), you will make your own chocolate from bean to bar. You can also just buy chocolate products or liqueurs and much more in the museum – great souvenirs for your friends and family at home!

Recommendation: Do the chocolate workshop on your free day.

 

6. Learn More About Koricancha

qorikancha site with garden

Qorikancha and its garden makes up for a great photo, as shown by traveler Leng Cheng.

 

Koricancha (Qorikancha or Corikancha) was the religious center where the Incas showed their appreciation for the sun god Inti. The name means “the golden temple”, as the temple used to be completely covered with Inca gold.

When the Spaniards came in the 16th century, they forced a change of religion and built a Christian monastery, the Santo Domingo Monastery, on top of the Koricancha temple.

You can directly buy the tickets at the entrance for S/ 15 ($4). You should plan around 1-2 hours for exploring the temple.

Recommendation: Relax in the garden of the Santo Domingo Monastery and enjoy this magical place. Here you can take great photos during the sunset/in the evening!

 

7. Have a Coffee on the Balcony

breakfast on balcony san blas

The L’Atelier café is a very famous spot for influencers to have breakfast and take their Instagram picture.

 

What could be better than drinking a delicious Peruvian coffee while admiring the beautiful streets and architecture of the city? A visit to one of these cafes should definitely be on your to-do list.

By the way, did you know that Peru is not just one of the largest cocoa producers on the planet but also one of the biggest coffee producers?

The expression “coffee with a view” applies to the following cafes:

Recommendation: In case you want to have a seat on one of the balconies, you should arrive early or have some time to wait, as these spots are often occupied.

 

8. Do a Free Walking Tour

stone wall cusco

The twelve-angled stone is an important archaeological artefact in Cusco that you’ll visit during your guided tour.

 

During the free walking tours in Cusco, a student or local will usually show you some of the city’s most interesting places.

You will learn more about Cusco’s history and the lifestyle of the locals, as well as about the culture, the tradition, the music and the food of the Cusqueños. In the end, it’s up to you how much you want to tip.

You will visit some of the following places during the tour:

  • Plaza San Francisco and the botanical garden
  • San Pedro Market
  • Plaza de Armas (Main Square)
  • City hall and Plazoleta Regocijo
  • Sun street

Recommendation: The Free Walking tour takes around 2.5 – 3 hours and you can find the guides at the Plaza de Armas wearing yellow vests.

 

9. Visit the Pisco Museum

pisco sour preparation

Trying a Pisco Sour in Peru is an absolute must.

 

After having visited cultural museums, you should definitely stop by the Pisco Museum to learn more about the traditional national drink.

In the Pisco Museum, you can enjoy a delicious Pisco Sour with live music and delicious snacks! For special tastings and other events, check out the Museo del Pisco facebook page.

Recommendation: Try the delicious Alpaca Mini Burgers or Tiraditio and combine it with a refreshing Maracuja Sour.

 

10. Buy Traditional Clothes

girls in traditional clothes

These travelers were having fun trying on typical ponchos and hats in a local textile center in Chinchero.

 

In Cusco, you will find numerous shops, small stores, boutiques and markets that sell typical traditional clothes.

In our Sacred Valley tour, we visit a local community’s textile center where you can buy these clothes and see how local women produce them.

These clothes will not only keep you warm during various treks or when it gets dark in Cusco, but they will also make your pictures look even more authentic.

Recommendation: Some examples of these shops and markets for traditional clothes (not branded clothing) are:

 

Fall in Love With the City of Cusco

As you can already see, there are lots of great places and things to do in Cusco! In order to make the most of your stay, it’s important to avoid altitude sickness and start slowly.

Therefore, we recommend you do some of the above mentioned activities in your first 24-48 hours. Once your body got used to the altitude, you are ready for the next adventure, such as a tour to Rainbow Mountain, Humantay Lake or to Machu Picchu.

If you need help planning your trip or if you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us or send us an e-mail to info@exploor.pe.

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