10 Take a Free Walking Tour
Take a couple of hours of your time to learn about Cusco’s thousand year long history, how it used to be the capital of the Incas, or why its flag is in the colors of the rainbow. Visit ancient buildings and take selfies with alpacas. There are plenty of different options online to do such a tour and see Cusco from a different perspective.
9 The Last Guinea Pig Supper
This one may seem a tiny bit odd, but exactly that is so interesting about it. When Marcos Zapata painted his version of the world famous “Last Supper” in 1753, he used a slightly different interpretation. Instead of bread, Jesus and his disciples are having a fried guinea pig served on a plate. Unmistakably it lies there, stretching its four lifeless legs into the air. The painting is part of an art collection hanging in the Cathedral on Cusco’s main square. And believe it or not: There is a true message behind this painting. In Peru, guinea pig or “cuy” is seen as a delicacy. Now, not everyone likes the thought of consuming what others keep as their pets. But it is fully up to you to try one.
8 Visit San Pedro Market
If you want to experience Cusco in an authentic way, you can’t miss San Pedro market. Situated only about ten minutes walk from Cusco’s main square “Plaza de Armas”, you will immediately be struck with pleasant smells hard to ascribe. Your eyes will catch thousands of colours – fresh fruits, llama wool products and delicious juices. Men and Women scream in Spanish or Quechuan to get your attention. And to erase the last doubt that this market is unlike the ones you are used to, check out the aisles with donkey heads, pickled snakes or dragon blood.
7 Please Your Palate With Coca Tea and Chocolate
Apart from fried guinea pig, there are other ways to treat yourself food wise. There are numerous restaurant offering local delicacies and things you probably never have heard of. But two things you have to try: Coca Tea and Cusco Chocolate.
The tea, that is illegal in most countries around the world because of the coca leaves, is a local delicacy. In the Andes it has been drunk for centuries, due to its believed medical powers. It is also supposed to relieve you of altitude sickness symptoms. You find Coca Tea in most cafès and restaurants.
The second treat you can not miss being in Cusco is the local made chocolate. The delicious sweet has been produced in South America way longer than anywhere else in the world and that you will taste. Walking through the streets of Cusco you will encounter plenty of chocolate museums and stores. But be careful: The cacao beans that come right out of the close by jungle, might turn you into a chocoholic.
6 Get Your Heart Racing
Extremsport lovers will have an absolutely amazing time in Cusco. In some of the most beautiful nature this continent has to offer, you can race down a mountain bike between steep rock cliffs and get an adrenaline rush while you zipline through the Sacred Valley of the Incas. You can raft down the crystal clear waters of the Andes or paraglide and watch the spectacular scenery from the perspective of a Condor.
But whatever you decide to do: Don’t forget to wear your helmet!
5 Buy an original Alpaca Poncho
Who else can claim to possess a Poncho made of Alpaca wool, like Peruvians did thousands of years ago? An Alpaca Poncho will not only keep you warm and dry during chilly Cusco nights, but leaves you with a typical souvenir screaming “Peruvian Andes”. In order to get a good quality Poncho for a fair price, try to stay away from the touristy zones. Your best shot to get a Poncho, hat or hoody that makes you feel cozy, are at Calle Triunfo, Centro Textiles Tradicionales or even San Pedro Market. And surely you’ll wear your souvenir during the next snuggy movie night on your couch.
4 Enjoy the Cusco Nightlife
Peruvians have rhythm in their DNA, which definitely plays a big role in Cusco’s incredible nightlife. So throw on your dancing shoes and show your salsa skills or practice your Spanish with the locals at the main square. You will feel the vibrant energy in countless bars and clubs, and for every music enthusiast there is the right choice. Salsa, Reggaeton, Rock or House. And don’t forget to try a Pisco Sour, Peru’s national drink.
3 Colorful Rainbow Mountains
We are in the final three and this one will definitely take your breath away. It is no coincidence that the mountain range “Vinicuncu” is better known as the Rainbow Mountains. It’s peaks shine in bright red, orange, turquoise, blue and green tones, almost seeming like one of Salvadore Dalís surreal paintings. Make your Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook followers green with envy, as if they were part of the mountain. Or simply embrace this natural phenomenon.
2 Get the Best Views of the City
Cusco is a picturesque, green city with history-rich buildings. But what makes the former Inca capital really special is its location, situated in a valley surrounded by gorgeous mountains.
To get a better idea of Cusco’s whole beauty we highly recommend you to find a scenic spot.
360° around the city there are plenty of such opportunities to reach in no time. Close to the main square is the district of San Blas, lined with street vendors and art shops and offering you a spectacular panorama over Cusco. Have a picnic at the Puerto del Sol with incredible views. Enjoy the sunset from the statue of Cristo Blanco. Or just look out for the plenty “miradores” being spread around the city.
1 Hike up to a World Wonder
One of the most known sights of South America, the World Wonder of Machu Picchu is basically a must do. Sure, you could take the train up to the ruins located deeply in the Andes mountains. But a curious explorer should definitely choose to hike his/her way up through the imposing Sacred Valley. You have plenty of opportunities for different routes, 2-day or 5-day hikes, walking past unknown Inca ruins on ancient paths or take a trail through plain nature. But one thing is guaranteed, no matter the choice: incredible panoramics, snow-glazed mountain peaks, crystal blue lakes and tropical forests. And last but definitely not least, the sun rising over the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu.