30 Best Things to do in Cusco

llama on the sacred valley

Welcome to “Best Things to Do in Cusco,” your ultimate guide to exploring the heart and soul of the ancient Incan Empire. Cusco, a city that beautifully marries the past with the present, offers an array of unforgettable experiences for every type of traveler. From wandering through the cobblestone streets brimming with history to marveling at natural wonders that seem otherworldly, this guide aims to unveil the magic of Cusco. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a history buff, or someone looking to immerse themselves in vibrant culture and traditions, Cusco has something special for you. Join us as we embark on a journey through the city’s most mesmerizing sights and activities.

1. The Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu sun rise 2 days tour

The lost city of the Incas at Machu Picchu, a mysterious wonder that has fascinated travelers for centuries. Located high in the Andes, its impressive architecture and panoramic views are a testament to Inca ingenuity. For the best experience, visit at sunrise and consider hiking the Inca Trail. Feel the magic of antiquity and be inspired by the mystique of Machu Picchu.

Go to: Machu Picchu Tours.

2. San Blas neighborhood

peru, cusco, painting-2912854.jpg

Stroll the cobblestone streets of San Blas, Cusco’s lively artistic neighborhood. Known as the “Artisans’ Quarter”, San Blas is a colorful tapestry of art galleries, workshops and quaint cafes. Here you will hear echoes of pre-Columbian cultures mixed with Spanish colonial influences. Meet local artists, drink coca tea in a cozy bar and enjoy the panoramic view. San Blas offers a unique insight into Cusco’s thriving creative community and rich cultural heritage.

3. The Coricancha temple

cusco city tour - coricancha sun temple
cusco city tour – coricancha sun temple

Enter the golden heart of the Inca Empire at the Coricancha Temple, once the most sacred site in Inca mythology. Adorned in gold, this temple dedicated to the Sun God now sits beneath the Convent of Santo Domingo and features a mix of Inca and Spanish architecture. The contrast between the Inca stone foundations and the colonial church highlights the layers of history that define Cusco. Discover the remains of this ancient wonder and feel the spiritual energy that still permeates its walls.

4. Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain - vinicunca

Venture to the spectacular Vinicunca, known as Rainbow Mountain, and admire one of nature’s most extraordinary canvases. Brightly colored streaks paint the landscape, created by mineral deposits over millions of years. This natural phenomenon hidden in the Andes offers a challenging and rewarding hike. Morning walks offer the clearest views and most stunning colors.

5. Calle Siete Borreguitos

Discover the charm of Calle Siete Borreguitos, a hidden treasure in the heart of Cusco. This narrow alley, less known to tourists, is full of traditional houses, small shops and local restaurants. It is a place where you can experience the daily life of the people of Cusco. Take a quiet walk, visit the craft workshops and maybe find a unique souvenir. Calle Siete Borreguitos is a quiet refuge from the hustle and bustle, offering a slice of local culture and simplicity.

11. Inti Raymi Festival

If you come to Cusco in June, you can attend the Inti Raymi festival, an ancient Inca ceremony that pays tribute to the sun god, Inti. This celebration, held annually on June 24, fills Cusco with vibrant costumes, traditional music, and dance performances. The main ceremony takes place in the Sacsayhuamán Fortress, it is a powerful recreation of Inca rituals, which shows the rich cultural heritage of the Andean people. Inti Raymi is a party that starts in Qoricancancha at 7 AM, then passes through the Plaza de Armas around 10 AM and ends in Sacsayhuamna around 2 PM. To see both in Qoricancancha and in the main square, you can see it for free, only you will have to reserve your space hours before or you can pay for a chair right there.

12. San Cristóbal Viewpoint

Experience stunning views from the Mirador de San Cristóbal, a perfect place to appreciate the vast beauty of Cusco. A few steps from the historic center, this viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the city’s rooftops with the distant mountains in the background. It is a great place to take photographs or simply enjoy the serene beauty of Cusco at sunrise or sunset. The drive to San Cristóbal is as picturesque as the view itself, passing through charming neighborhoods and old colonial churches.

13. The Sacred Valley of the Incas

The sacred valley is the most important valley in Cusco, it is an extensive territory where we can find several arechaeological remains and Inca towns. This valley was the heart of the Inca Empire and its majestic landscapes are home to famous sites such as Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The Sacred Valley offers a combination of adventure, culture and history, with opportunities to hike, explore local markets and discover Incan agricultural terraces.

14. The 12 Angled Stone

Marvel at the precision of the Twelve Angle Stone, an exemplary piece of Inca stone located on Hatun Rumiyoc Street. This stone is famous for its twelve perfectly connected corners, demonstrating the advanced masonry skills of the Incas. The stone is part of a larger wall that once belonged to an Inca palace, today a symbol of Cusco’s rich heritage. A visit here is mandatory.

15. Qosqo Center for Indigenous Art

Immerse yourself in the vibrant traditions of Andean culture at the Qosqo Native Art Center.  Visitors can enjoy nightly folkloric shows featuring music, dance and traditional costumes from various regions of Peru. The center also houses an extensive collection of indigenous art, providing a deeper understanding of local heritage. The Qosqo Center for Indigenous Art is a celebration of Andean identity and a must-see for anyone looking to connect with the soul of Cusco.

16. The Cusco Planetarium

The Planetarium is a great place to see the stars at night in Cusco. Where is the Planetarium located? It is located a couple of meters from Sacsayhuaman. In this place we can learn more about how the Incas used the stars for agriculture and mythology, then you can see the constellations through telescopes.

17. The Humantay Lake

Best time to visit Humantay lake Elevation

Embark on a journey to the breathtaking Humantay Lake, a turquoise jewel set against a backdrop of snowy peaks. This glacial lake, situated on the way to the Salkantay trek, is a sight to behold with its vivid colors and serene atmosphere. The hike to reach it is both invigorating and rewarding, offering stunning vistas and a sense of tranquility. Pack your camera and prepare for an early start; the beauty of Humantay Lake is an unforgettable part of the Andean landscape.

18. The Inca Museum

The Inca Museum is located in a colonial mansion in the heart of the city of Cusco. This museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts, textiles, mummies and jewelry that tell the story of the Inca civilization and its predecessors (pre-Incas). It is a must-see for history lovers seeking to understand the depth of Andean cultures. In this museum we can find and see the history of Cusco and how the Incas arrived and transformed the imperial city.

19. The Picanterias

Savor the flavors of Cusco at the Picanterias, traditional eateries serving up local cuisine with a kick. These vibrant spots are where locals gather to enjoy hearty dishes like cuy (guinea pig), chicharrón (fried pork), and spicy stews. Visiting a picanteria is not just about the food; it’s an immersion into the lively atmosphere and warmth of Cuscan culture. Don’t miss the chance to try chicha, a fermented corn drink.

20. Nightlife in Cusco

Do you want to experience the energetic nightlife of Cusco? Cusco being a very popular destination, its nightlife comes to life with bars, clubs and live music venues. From cozy pubs to vibrant dance floors, there is a place for everyone. There are venues for locals and travelers in the Plaza de Armas, where the party spirit reflects the city’s rich cultural tapestry.

21. The Maras Salt Mines

sacred valley plus Inca trail- salt pods
sacred valley plus Inca trail to Machu Picchu

Witness the stunning landscape of the Maras Salt Mines, an ancient site where salt has been harvested since Inca times. Thousands of terraced pools cascade down the hillside, creating a breathtaking mosaic of white and pink. The salt pans, fed by a natural spring, are still worked by local families, offering a glimpse into traditional practices. A visit to Maras is not only visually captivating but also enlightening, showcasing a unique blend of natural wonder and human heritage.

22. Moray Archaeological Site

Explore the intriguing circles of Moray, an archaeological site believed to have been an Incan agricultural laboratory. These terraced circular depressions, which create a series of microclimates, were likely used by the Incas to test crops. The site’s design and function showcase the advanced agricultural techniques and ingenuity of the Inca civilization. ​

23. Ollantaytambo Fortress

Step back in time at Ollantaytambo Fortress, a strategic military, religious, and agricultural hub of the Inca Empire. This well-preserved site offers insight into Incan engineering and architecture, with its terraces climbing up the mountainside, ancient temples, and storerooms. Ollantaytambo’s narrow streets and water channels have remained unchanged since Inca times, making it one of the most authentic living Inca towns.

24. Pisac Market and Ruins

Immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and textures of the Pisac Market, a bustling bazaar set against the backdrop of impressive Incan ruins.  After exploring the stalls, venture to the nearby terraces and temples that offer panoramic views of the Sacred Valley. Pisac provides a perfect blend of cultural shopping and historical exploration.

25. Choquequirao Archaeological Site

Embark on an adventurous trek to Choquequirao, often hailed as the sister city of Machu Picchu. This remote and less-visited archaeological site offers a unique experience for those willing to make the challenging journey. Nestled high in the Andes, Choquequirao boasts stunning ruins, terraces, and ceremonial sites, with a fraction of Machu Picchu’s crowds. The trek to reach it is an experience in itself, traversing rugged landscapes and offering breathtaking views. For those seeking solitude and a deep connection with Inca history, Choquequirao is a rewarding destination, revealing the grandeur of an ancient civilization still standing sentinel over the Sacred Valley.

26. Red Valley and Palccoyo

Best Time to Visit Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain

Just a stone’s throw from Rainbow Mountain, discover the Red Valley and Palccoyo, a road less traveled that offers equally impressive views. The Red Valley dazzles with its deep crimson tones, a striking contrast to the green and brown tones of the Andean landscape. Palccoyo offers a gentler hike with three different colored mountains, suitable for those seeking beauty without a strenuous hike.

27. Tipón Archaeological Site

Located in the southern valley, this complex has terraces, canals and aqueducts, which show the Inca dominance over their environment. Tipón offers a serene and less crowded experience, allowing you to marvel at the ingenuity of ancient civilizations. It is a testament to the Incas’ respect for nature and their advanced agricultural techniques.

28. Andahuaylillas Church

Visit the “Sistine Chapel of the Americas” in Andahuaylillas. Modest on the outside, this 17th-century church houses an incredible interior adorned with intricate frescoes, gold leaf altarpieces, and stunning baroque art. Its beauty lies in the contrast between the simple exterior and the richly decorated interior, which offers an insight into the religious and artistic history of the region. The Church of Andahuaylillas is a cultural treasure that reflects the mix of Spanish and indigenous influences.

29. Raqchi Archaeological Site

This ancient complex, with its imposing walls and distinctive cylindrical columns, displays the architectural innovation of the Inca civilization. Raqchi offers a deeper understanding of the religious, cultural and daily life of the Incas, against a backdrop of stunning landscapes.

30. The South Valley Tour

This tour includes visits to the archaeological site of Tipón, the Church of Andahuaylillas and the ruins of Raqchi, among others. It’s an opportunity to experience the diversity of the region, from ancient ruins to baroque churches, set against the picturesque Andean countryside.

As we conclude our journey through the “Best Things to Do in Cusco,” it is clear that this charming city is more than just a gateway to Machu Picchu. It is a treasure trove of cultural, historical and natural wonders waiting to be explored.

Cusco offers a unique combination of experiences that resonate with the soul, from its ancient ruins that whisper stories of a bygone era to its lively streets that showcase the enduring spirit of its people. When planning your visit, remember that every corner of Cusco holds a story, every stone a legacy, making it a must-see destination for anyone looking to connect with the heart of the Inca world.

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