Places in Cusco you must visit
Cusco was the capital of the Inca empire until the arrival of the Spanish conquerors in the 16th century. That is why many Peruvians argue that the Peruvian capital should be Cusco. This city left me amazed by its incredible Inca architecture and its temples and archaeological sites such as Machu Picchu.
However, in Cusco there are many places to should definitely visit, such as Ollantay Tambo, Maras Moray, Pisac, Sacsayhuaman, etc. These places are gorgeous and show all the engineering advances that the Incas had developed to build houses, temples, roads and even platforms for agriculture.
Where to stay in Cusco?
In Cusco, the best place to stay is in the city center, since there you will find everything you need, you can visit the museums and temples of the city and you can also take different tours to visit all the archaeological sites. Another excellent area to stay, but not very close to the city, is the Sacred Valley. It is an area surrounded by mountains and lots of vegetation where you can breathe a fairly calm atmosphere. This area is located around 40 km away from the city.
My recommendation on where to stay and why:
Stay there if you are looking for a central place with many other travelers and stores.
Stay there if you are looking for a calm place in the middle of the mountains.
How to move around Cusco?
Cusco is a city for those who like walking. Many of its streets are very narrow, so it is impossible for a car to pass. Bicycling is also not an option, as the streets are rocky and steep. If you want to go a long distance, the easiest way is a taxi. To visit archaeological sites, the trip can be done mainly by train or bus.
This transport is the easiest for long distances such as coming or going to the airport. You can also take a taxi to go to Sacsayhuaman which is an archeological site located on the outskirts of the city. The taxi price to move into the city is around 3 USD.
The trains in Cusco are not used to move within the city, but rather to go long distances such as from Cusco to Machu Picchu. There are 2 types of trains, local trains and tourist trains. This means that if you do not have a Peruvian passport, you cannot use the local train which is much cheaper.
Places you must visit
The Qoricancha is a temple built to worship the sun. It is a wonderful construction with different rooms built of stone and with an open-air plaza in the center. It is located in the center of Cusco, very close to the Plaza de Armas. This temple is described as the temple with the greatest construction perfection in the entire Inca empire. In addition to the Qoricancha being a temple dedicated to the sun god, this temple has different rooms to worship the moon, lightning, rainbows, water, etc.
Private walking tour in Cusco
Sacsayhuaman in one of the impressive constructions of the Inca empire due to the great difficulty of its construction. The most impressive are the giant rocks that were used, it is something that no one can explain today. Most of Sacsayhuaman was destroyed by the Spanish to use the stones to build houses and churches. Recent research on this place shows that under Sacsayhuaman, there are different tunnels and in the main square a burial has been found thanks to the use of radars.
Ollantaytambo was the place where the last battle between the Inca empire and the Spanish took place in 1537. “Manco Inca” was the one who led this battle and after winning, he took refuge in the Vilcabamba jungle. Ollantaytambo is within the Sacred Valley, right there you can find houses, guardhouses, places of punishment, platforms for agriculture and buildings to worship water. Climbing to the top of Ollantaytambo is hard since the rocks that function as stairs are quite high and pretty steep.
Pisac is a large area where there are mainly terraces for agriculture. What was planted in this place was corn to supply the entire community. In Pisac you can see 3 types of platforms, one for agriculture, another for planting small aromatic plants and the last one to prevent rock slides and at the same time for aesthetic purposes. In Pisac, the harvested products were stored in “Colcas” which were small houses built next to cliffs near the top of the hills. These “Colcas” were jealously guarded by Inca soldiers from towers.
Maras Moray is a beautiful place located in the sacred valley. The beauty of this place is that it is made up of several platforms that instead of planting plants, what is done here is to process the salt that comes down through small streams from the Andes. This salt belongs to the community of Maras and each family owns a certain number of salt ponds. On the other side of the salt ponds is Moray, which is known as the Inca laboratory. In Moray the Incas acclimatized the plants so that they can survive in the heights.
Maras Moray tour
The rainbow mountain is within the province of Pitumarca in Cusco. This colorful mountain has the 7 colors of the rainbow and has been a secret for many years among the residents, who only showed it to a few tourists so that this mountain remains special. However, thanks to social media, this mountain became very famous and today many travelers visit it hoping to take a beautiful picture. The best time of the day to take a good picture is very early in the morning when there are hardly any people in the place.
Quad tour to rainbow mountain
Machu Picchu is the most famous archaeological site of the whole Peru. This place is located in the sacred valley and was built in the middle of the 15th century during the Inca empire. This site has a set of temples for the veneration of the sun, the condor and the stars. Machu Picchu is a work of art of ancient engineering due to the great difficulty involved in its construction. In Machu Picchu you can see many terraces, but their purpose was not agriculture, but to support the mountain and prevent stones from falling.
Machu Picchu full day tour