Cusco is a mysterious but pretty city, it’s considered the number one tourist destinations in the world and also the most cosmopolitan city in America; in this article we are making a recount of 40 things to do in Cusco city
Cusco city has a lot of history and rich culture because of our incas and hispanic ancestors. We are sure with this detailed guide Cusco will attract you with its magic.
- ✅Things to do in the City of Cusco:
- 1. Book the Free Tour of Cusco
- 2. Take a walk to the main square (Plaza de armas)
- 3. Visit the cloister Santo Domingo and Qorikancha
- 4. Appreciate the view in San Cristobal balcony
- 5. Take a walk in the San Blas neighborhood
- 6. Drink Frutillada.
- 7. Visit the Traditional San Pedro market
- 8. Take a walk through the Almudena Cemetery
- 9. Visit the Pachacuti Statue building
- 10. Take your self a picture in Paccha de Pumac Chupan
- 11. Enjoy the Regional Historical Museum of Cusco or Casa Garcilaso
- 12. Appreciate the Pre-Columbian Art Museum
- 13. See the Stone of 12 Angles
- 14. Visit the Goblins Valley
- 15. Enjoy Corpus Christi
- 16. Enjoy the Inti Raymi
- 17. Visit the traditional Picantería of “La Cusqueñita”
- ✅Things to do outside of Cusco city:
- 18. Discover the Abode of the Gods
- 19. Get to know Machu Picchu
- 20. Get to know Ollantaytambo
- 21. Sit in Qenqo
- 22. Walk through Tambomachay
- 23. Appreciate the Huaypo Lake
- 24. Visit the Pisaq Market
- 25. Take a walk through the Pisaq Archaeological Park
- 26. Get to know the Salt Mines of Maras
- 27. Discover the archaeological site of Moray by bicycle
- 28. Enjoy the Thermal Baths of Lares
- 29. Go by Train to Machu Picchu
- 30. Walk to Choquequirao
- 31. Refresh yourself in Siete Tinajas (the Seven Jars)
- 32. Take pictures in La Mano Gigante de Huaro (The giant hand of Huaro)– Cielo Punku
- 33. Tour the Andean Baroque Route
- 34. Bungee Jumping (Action Valley Park)
- 35. Visit Humantay Lagoon
- 36. Stay in the Pyramid Rooms (Lomada Lodge)
- 37. Visit the Hanging Hotels
- 38. Enjoy the Thermal Baths of Cocalmayo
- 39. Look at The Festival of La Virgen del Carmen In Paucartambo
- 40. Visit the Mountain of 7 Colores (Rainbow mountain)
✅Things to do in the City of Cusco:
1. Book the Free Tour of Cusco
Discover the historic center of Cusco on foot with an expert guide in history and culture. We have confirmed departures every day in Spanish and English. Book your free tour of Cusco here, you can also see our photos on Instagram and thousands of comments here.
Note for Peruvians: Free tours are available only for non-Peruvians. Peruvians see the availability on WhatsApp +51 958745640.
2. Take a walk to the main square (Plaza de armas)
The main square is an ancestral place, where the Cusco city starts, located in the heart of the history center, surrounded by a lot of restaurants, bars, traveling agencies and recreational places. from the main square you can see the “White Crist” and the San Cristobal neighborhood, Santana’s neighborhood, the Cathedral, the Jesus Company church, the first university of Cusco and last but not least a pretty sink, donation from New York city in the XX century — don’t miss it!
3. Visit the cloister Santo Domingo and Qorikancha
Discover the largest ceremonial center of the Inca era located 7 minutes walking from the Main Square following the main avenue Av. del Sol. The beauty of this attraction is impressive due to the contrast it shows the combination of Inca and hispanic architecture.To enter the temple turn to the square of Santo Domingo, it is open from Monday to Saturday from 8am to 5pm and on Sundays from 2pm to 5pm.
4. Appreciate the view in San Cristobal balcony
To the north of the main square (Plaza de Armas) is located the small square (plazoleta) of San Cristobal, next to San Cristobal church where you can still see the remains of the first Inca palace called Manco Capac (12th century).
From this place you will be able to see not only the entire historic center, but also a large part of Cusco city located along the Huatanay River.
5. Take a walk in the San Blas neighborhood
This neighborhood is located 7 minutes approx. walking west of the main square, on the route you will also appreciate the famous stone of 12 angles. It is a traditional neighborhood that already existed in the Inca era under the name of Toq’o Cachi and with the arrival of the colonizers it changed its name to San Blas. The church of San Blas stands out for its pulpit, carved from a single piece of wood in the hispanic churrigueresque style.
In this neighborhood you will also find a small square called San Blas and decorated with a waterfall, you can also visit the museum of the great artist Hilario Mendivil, the Limbus bar and finally the San Blas viewpoint balcony.
6. Drink Frutillada.
The Frutillada is one of the luscious drinks you will try in Cusco city, the main ingredient is “la chicha de Jora” that’s made with a fermented white corn and then mixed with frutilla (a small variety of strawberry) as result we have a pink color drink.
The best places to delight frutillada are in chicherías or in picanterías, traditional spots in Cusco city were you can find chicha and traditional food. We suggest “Mama Trini” chicheria, located in San Blas neighborhood.
7. Visit the Traditional San Pedro market
It’s the principal market in Cusco city, it was built in 1925, designed by Alexander Gustave Eiffel, the famous engineer. It’s a rustic and very traditional place for locals and travelers of all around the world, it’s the perfect place to make a cheaper grocery, to buy souvenirs, fruits, fruit juices, medicinal plants, and prepared food for breakfast and lunch – no dinner.
It’s located 10 minutes away from the main square.
8. Take a walk through the Almudena Cemetery
It is located in the Santiago neighborhood, it is the oldest cemetery in Cusco city and it has amazing pieces of marble, thus denoting the great importance of the dead for the local people.
Illustrious personalities of art, politics, and important writers and Cusco society lie in the cemetery; It was declared a cultural heritage of the nation in 2011. This place offers guided tours during the day and certain days in the year (Todos Santos) also at night, with performances of stories from beyond the grave, remembering characters who lie there.
9. Visit the Pachacuti Statue building
The statue was built at the end of the XX century to make an homage to the ninth emperor, Pachaqutec, it is located on Avenida el Sol (at the oval height), in the district of Wanchaq; It has a cylinder-shaped base of 22 meters high and at the top there is a 11-meter bronze sculpture.
The monument has a museum that operates Monday through Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. You can get there in about 7 minutes by taxi or 30 minutes walking from the historic center of Cusco; to enter you will need to buy a Tourist Ticket.
10. Take your self a picture in Paccha de Pumac Chupan
The Quechua word “Paccha Pumac Chupan” means “Water Source at the Puma’s tail”. This water source is located on Avenida el Sol, a few blocks below the garden of the Coricancha temple; the fountains have a waterfall of 7 meters high with a width of 10 meters, behind the waterfall there is a beautiful and very colorful mural that tell us historical events from the Inca’s time.
There is also a runner under the small waterfall, which is the perfect place to take great pictures and have a good time.
11. Enjoy the Regional Historical Museum of Cusco or Casa Garcilaso
The house is located one block away from the main square, where the famous mestizo chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega was born in 1539, and today it is one of the most popular museums; to enter you have to buy the Tourist Ticket.
Inca Garcilaso de la Vega was a chronicler who wrote the first narrative of Inca history in a more objective way because he was born and raced his first years in Cusco, he spoke spanish and quechua, his understanding of the idiosyncrasies of the andean man was much more precise; he is the author of the famous chronicle called The Royal Comments of the Incas; Currently Garcilaso is considered the Father of Peruvian Literature.
The colonial house has an important collection of paintings from the Cusco School, wooden sculptures by the famous artist Bernardo Bitti; the tour lasts approximately 35 to 40 minutes.
12. Appreciate the Pre-Columbian Art Museum
This museum is located inside an old house that belonged to the Cabrera’s family during the spanish occupation, the museum is located in the Nazarenas small square. The property was acquired in the 1980s by Banco Continental – BBVA and after restoration it became one of the first museums in Cusco dedicated specifically to the art of the ancient pre-Columbian cultures of Peru.
Inside the museum there are pieces of wood, gold, silver and also quite a lot of textiles and ceramics. Office hours are every day from 9 am to 5 pm.
13. See the Stone of 12 Angles
This stone piece is one of the most visited places in the imperial Cusco city, the stone of the 12 angles has more than 800 years of antiquity and is perfectly embedded in an Inca wall on Hatumrumiyoq street. The stone probably represents the 12 months of the Inca calendar; other historians point out that this stone was a milestone that separated Hanan Qosqo (Cusco from above) from Hurin Qosqo (Cusco from below).
It is located just one block from the main square on the way to Antisuyo (it is the name of the eastern province in Inca’s times).
14. Visit the Goblins Valley
It is one of the most contemporary attractions in Cusco located in a small valley full of rocks, trees and many figures of sculpted goblins ; It is a perfect place to spend with the family, especially if you have children. It is located in the district of San Sebastián in the Alto Qosqo neighborhood.
To get there, we recommend you take the public or collective buses called “Chaski” outside the El Paraíso shopping center. This local bus will take you to the door of this theme park; the cost of transportation is 3 Soles per person.
The entrance fee for this place is 3 Soles per person, do not forget to bring your candies because some people leave as an offering for the goblins; this attraction is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm.
15. Enjoy Corpus Christi
At the beginning of June, the largest Catholic festival is celebrated in Cusco city, where you can appreciate gabble, music, procession of saints, blessing of the Black Christ, culinary festival, etc.
What stands out most in this festivity is definitely the blessing of the Black Christ who is also known as the Lord of the Earthquakes (el Señor de los Temblores), the local people have faith in him.
If you want to try 100% Andean food in this festivity, people offer a famous dish called Chiri Uchu, its a word that comes from the Quechua language and means “cold dish” because it is served cold; the ingredients of this typical dish are dried meat, seaweed, cheese, toasted corn, tortilla, etc. and it is served with an Inca Cola (soda).
16. Enjoy the Inti Raymi
The Inti Raymi is the most important celebration in Cusco that dates back to the Inca times, its a pre-Hispanic religious event to thank the Sun God, originally it used to be celebrated every June 21 because it is the shortest day in the southern hemisphere.
The celebration of the festivity was prohibited throughout the colonial time and much of the republican time; however, at the beginning of the XX century this festivity was held again and in the middle of the XX century the date of celebration was changed from June 21 to 24 because June 24 is also the day of Peruvian Peasant.
17. Visit the traditional Picantería of “La Cusqueñita”
We are sure that when you arrive to Cusco you will look for a traditional (non-tourist) restaurant, so then we recommend you to visit the restaurant “La Cuzqueñita” where you will find the best of the local food of Cusco, for example “El Cuy Chaqtado” and traditional drinks (La Chicha de Jora, La Frutillada, Chicha Morada, others) and finally this restaurant is one of the few places where they still have shows of typical Cusco’s dances.
This restaurant is located on Centenario Avenue, it is open every day from 11am to 5pm, the price of food is on average 40 Soles a plate.
✅Things to do outside of Cusco city:
18. Discover the Abode of the Gods
It is a place where there are several stone sculptures carved by the artist Michel de Titan. Due to their size and beauty, these figures carved on various rocks stand out as a contemporary attraction in the province of Cusco; the most outstanding statues are La Pachamama, the Puma, the three-dimensional door and los Falsos
It is located half an hour by car heading north of Cusco city. The access is cheap, in the same place you will also find a restaurant and cafeteria, you can also take an ATV tour.
19. Get to know Machu Picchu
This wonder was discovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham, its located between the limits of the Andes and the Amazon in the province of Cusco, it was built as a country residence by the ninth emperor named Pachaquteq.
Its beauty lies in its architecture and its geographical environment; Within the citadel there are a total of approximately 70 tourist points, the most important are the Sacred square, the temple of the sun, the temple of the condor, the solar clock, Huayna picchu, Huchuy picchu, el cuy, etc.
Machu Picchu also refers to the entire natural park that includes a lot of local flora such as orchids and wildlife such as the famous Spectacled Bears.
20. Get to know Ollantaytambo
It was a strategic military center for the Incas built in the early fifteenth century under the government of Pachacuteq, it has large buildings, beautiful staircases, ceremonial terraces and a beautiful temple dedicated to the water. Keep in mind that not only the Inca ruins are an attraction but also the city of Ollantaytambo for being the only living Inca city in the world (This city still has the original architectural trace of the Inca era and a large part of its inhabitants still wear traditional costumes). typical).
It is located two hours by car from the city of Cusco, the hours of operation are from 7 am to 5 pm, the tour lasts approximately 2 hours. The entrance is included in the Cusco Tourist Ticket; to enter you will need to buy the Tourist Ticket.
21. Sit in Qenqo
15 minutes by car from the historic center of Cusco and very close to Saqsayhuaman is located the archaeological center of Qenqo, which is made up of a sacrificial hall, the astronomical observatory, the zigzagging canal and the amphitheater; most of these rooms are carved in stone except for the amphitheater.
If you want to go on your own you can take the bus “Sr. de Huerto” in front of the Coricancha garden, these buses will leave you at the same archaeological site; to enter you will need to buy the Tourist Ticket.
22. Walk through Tambomachay
It was a ceremonial temple where water was worshiped, with terraces and three water sources; its name means “place of rest”. It is located northwest of the City of Cusco, on the route to Pisac.
As for Qenqo, if you want to go on your own you can take the bus “Sr. de Huerto” in front of the Coricancha garden, these buses will leave you in the same archaeological center; to enter you will need to buy the Tourist Ticket.
23. Appreciate the Huaypo Lake
If you would like to know a lake very close to Cusco city, we recommend you to visit the Huaypo lake located an hour and a half from Cusco city by vehicle.
This lake stands out for its crystal clear waters, its landscape and recreational activities that you can do such as kayaking or an ATV tour.
24. Visit the Pisaq Market
It is located 1 hour from Cusco in the city of Pisac, in this place you can still see local people bartering, an ancient economic practice because in pre-Columbian times there was no currency.
Around the market you can also find a variety of jewelry and textiles, the artisans of Pisaq are very famous for their great skill in silverware.
If you want to visit only the Pisaq market, we recommend doing it on Sundays where bartering is still practiced: the market is also open the rest of the days of the week, however there is no bartering.
25. Take a walk through the Pisaq Archaeological Park
This beautiful place is located only 20 minutes by car from the colonial city of Pisaq, it is made up of dozens of platforms, aqueducts, roads, gates and also stone buildings with a large surface area located specifically on the top of the mountain.
Among the main attractions we can find the Intiwatana or Solar Clock located at the top of the mountain. Sundials were used to have a good Inca calendar and practice good agriculture; to enter you will need to buy the Tourist Ticket.
26. Get to know the Salt Mines of Maras
The Salineras are located in the province of Urubamba, it is one of the most visited places in South America, it is made up of pink salt pools with medicinal properties that is why even people who suffer from high blood pressure can consume it.
To enter the Salineras de Maras you will need to pay 10 Soles per person.
27. Discover the archaeological site of Moray by bicycle
Discover the agricultural laboratory of Moray by bicycle, you do not have to be an expert riding a bicycle, you will leave from Cusco by car to Cruzpata and then you will start pedaling on a compacted soil road with a qualified guide-instructor, you will pedal for an hour until you reach Moray, then You will have the guided tour and finally you will continue with the route until you reach the salt mines of Maras by bicycle.
After your visit to the salt mines, you will continue pedaling until you reach the Urubamba River; The last part of this bike route is a narrow but totally safe path.
To enter Moray you will need to buy the Tourist Ticket and to enter Salineras 10 Soles per person.
28. Enjoy the Thermal Baths of Lares
If you are one of the people who likes medicinal tourism, this attraction may be your best destination in Cusco; It is made up of a group of 6 thermal water pools of volcanic origin.
The thermal baths of Lares have many properties that will help you improve your health, mainly those related to bones and muscles, at least that is what most people believe. In this place you can also find restaurants, lodgings and a camping area with a bonfire.
The thermal baths of Lares are located 3 hours from the city of Cusco, the entrance fee is only 7 Soles per person.
29. Go by Train to Machu Picchu
An unforgettable experience is definitely to travel to Machu Picchu by train, as it gives an old touch to the experience because the first trips to MP at the beginning of the 20th century were made by steam train; Many of those wagons that arrived in Cusco for the first time are still operating nowadays.
Currently there are 2 companies that are responsible for train transportation to Machu Picchu; Peru Rail and Inca Rail, both have different categories of service to the client’s preferences; being the Hiram Bingham (Peru Rail), and the First Class (Inca Rail) the highest category and comfort. The trip to MP from Cusco is approximately 4 hours.
30. Walk to Choquequirao
The trek to Choquequirao is definitely one of the most unique experiences in adventure tourism in Cusco. There are treks of 3 days / 2 nights, others are 4 days / 3 nights.
The route to Choquequirao offers many stories and archeology because Choquequirao was one of the last strongholds of resistance against the Spanish; The last Inca military campaigns against the Spanish occupation of Cusco were organized from Choquequirao and Vilcabamba.
31. Refresh yourself in Siete Tinajas (the Seven Jars)
Siete Tinajas are a natural tourist destination located in the district of Echarate, province of La Convención, almost 5 hours by car from Cusco. The name is due to the 7 natural pools on rocks along a crag, it means a waterfall with 7 falls.
The charm of this place is the weather and the possibility of bathes in the 7 pools, considering that they are not hot springs, literally they are not required to be hot springs because it is very hot in the Echarate district.
32. Take pictures in La Mano Gigante de Huaro (The giant hand of Huaro)– Cielo Punku
It is a recently built tourist attraction, located in the district of Huaro, 50 minutes by car south of the city of Cusco. It is also known as “Cielo Punku”, for its beautiful landscape.
This place is, ideal for taking panoramic photos with an Andean landscape photo.
33. Tour the Andean Baroque Route
The Andean Baroque circuit is described as “the perfect route for lovers of Art and History; It consists of a tour of 4 churches in different places in the Cusco region, which show beautiful pieces of art by indigenous, mestizo and Spanish artists.
The first stop is the temple of Compania de Jesus in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco, then we go to the South Valley of Cusco, the second stop is the Church of San Pedro Apóstol in Andahuaylillas — also called the “Sistine Chapel of America” by the immensity in its beauty, in paintings and engravings on the ceiling of the church.
The third stop is the church of San Juan Bautista de Huaro and the last stop is the chapel of the Purified Virgin of Canicunca in Urcos.
The four Baroque-style churches are open from 9 am to 5 pm.
34. Bungee Jumping (Action Valley Park)
This activity is for lovers of extreme sports and takes place in the Action Valley park in the city of Poroy, just 15 minutes from the historic center of Cusco; This unforgettable experience takes place from a suspended platform more than 122 meters high — the highest in Latin America.
The Bungee Jumping activity is carried out with state-of-the-art equipment that will guarantee 100% of your safety, the hours of operation are from 9 am to 4 pm, the entire experience begins in Cusco approximately 2 hours.
35. Visit Humantay Lagoon
The Humantay lagoon is one of the coldest and most beautiful in the world, it is the third place visited after MP and Montaña de 7 Colores; It is located 4 hours from Cusco by vehicle in the slopes of the Salkantay mountain; It is a turquoise lagoon formed by melting ice and minerals that give it a beautiful color.
It is located at 4100 meters above sea level, and that is why it is recommended that you first be acclimatized and wear warm clothes because it is very cold up there. If you are not good at walking you can also hire horses (only one way up: 50 soles — round trip 80 soles, prices are approx.).
The entrance fee for foreign tourists is 20 soles per person and for national tourists it is 10 soles per person, it is open every day.
36. Stay in the Pyramid Rooms (Lomada Lodge)
Under the lights of the stars; 300 meters from Ollantaytambo Train Station we find Lomada Lodge, which are ecological rooms in a pyramidal shape, where you can enjoy three hectares of hills and forests on the side of the Vilcanota River.
This Lodge stands out from the others because it combines camping, nature, glamor and Andean fauna simultaneously. Additionally, this lodge offers rooms with Jacuzzis, buffets, recreation and a good price.
37. Visit the Hanging Hotels
In the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the province of Urubamba, is located the famous Skylodge Adventure which was inaugurated in 2013; offers the incredible opportunity to enjoy a completely transparent hanging bedroom on the rock with an excellent view of the Valley.
To access you must climb about 400 meters by stairs, the founders point out that the quality of the accommodation is based on the hotel’s connection with nature.
38. Enjoy the Thermal Baths of Cocalmayo
It is a place of thermal pools that receive hot water from a natural spring near the Vilcanota River; there are currently three pools of different sizes, depths and water temperatures.
To get to this place you can hire a travel agency, trek to Salkantay or take a collective bus to the city of Santa Teresa from the city of Cusco, from Santa Teresa you can take another collective bus to Qoqalmayo.
The trip takes about 5 hours to go and another 5 hours to return, the road is a bit bumpy but it is worth visiting this attraction.
39. Look at The Festival of La Virgen del Carmen In Paucartambo
It is a religious celebration with a lot of dynamism and takes place in the Province of Paucartambo between July 15 and 18 of each year since the 17th century.
The main attraction of this festivity are the folk dances of all kinds of origin (Afro, indigenous, mestizo, Spanish, etc.); on this date all the dancers and parishioners pay homage to the Virgen del Carmen.
During July 15 and 18 there is also a popular natural event on the route to the city of Paucartambo (at the height of three crosses (Tres Cruces), it is the name of a place on the road), in this event you can observe the most beautiful Sunrise that exists, it is recommended to leave Cusco at 10 pm and at 5 am you will be able to see the sunrise and at 6 am you will arrive in Paucartambo.
40. Visit the Mountain of 7 Colores (Rainbow mountain)
It is the second most visited attraction after Machu Picchu in Peru; local people call this attraction Vinicunca (in Quechua) or the mountain of 7 colors (in Spanish), it is located 3 hours by car from the city of Cusco, at the foot of the mountain Ausangate.
The slopes and the summit present many shades of color, the beauty of this mountain is unique, perfect for taking a “selfie” and if you are still not happy, very close to this mountain is the Red Valley. The admission price for foreign tourists is 25 soles per person and for national tourists it is 15 soles per person, it is open every day.