Greetings, fellow travelers! Journeying Jack here, back with another exciting edition of Suitcase Stories. Today, we’re going to dive into the heart of the ancient Inca Empire and explore the vibrant city of Cusco, Peru. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and lively culture, there’s no shortage of must do Cusco experiences that will leave you in awe. So, strap on your adventure boots and join me as we uncover the top must do Cusco activities that will make your trip to this enchanting city truly unforgettable. Trust me, you won’t want to miss out on these must do Cusco gems!
Exploring the Historic Heart: Cusco’s Main Attractions
Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, is a city that is steeped in history and culture. It is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Peru. Here are some of the must-do Cusco attractions that you should add to your itinerary:
No visit to Cusco is complete without a trip to Machu Picchu. This ancient Inca citadel is one of the most iconic and breathtaking sites in the world. You can take a train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and then hike up to Machu Picchu or take a bus up to the site. Either way, the journey is worth it.
Plaza de Armas
The Plaza de Armas is the heart of Cusco’s historic center. It is a beautiful square surrounded by colonial buildings and churches. You can sit on one of the benches and people-watch or visit the Cathedral of Cusco and the Church of La Compañía de Jesús.
Sacsayhuaman is an impressive Inca fortress located just outside of Cusco. It is made up of massive stone walls that were built without the use of mortar. The site offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains.
Qorikancha was the most important temple in the Inca Empire. It was dedicated to the worship of the sun god and was covered in gold. Today, only the stone walls remain, but it is still an impressive site to visit.
San Pedro Market
San Pedro Market is a bustling market located in the heart of Cusco. It is a great place to buy souvenirs, try local food, and experience the vibrant culture of the city.
These are just a few of the must-do Cusco attractions. Make sure to add them to your itinerary and experience the historic heart of this incredible city.
Unearthing Ancient Inca Ruins: Sacred Valley and Beyond
If you’re planning a trip to Cusco, exploring the ancient Inca ruins is a must-do. The Sacred Valley and its surrounding areas are home to some of the most impressive Inca ruins in the world. Here are some of the top sites you shouldn’t miss:
No visit to Cusco is complete without a trip to Machu Picchu. This ancient Inca city is one of the most iconic and breathtaking sites in the world. The ruins are perched high in the Andes Mountains, surrounded by lush greenery and stunning views. You can hike to Machu Picchu or take a train from Cusco.
Ollantaytambo is a small town in the Sacred Valley that’s home to some of the most impressive Inca ruins in the region. The ruins are perched high on a hill overlooking the town, and they offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains. You can explore the ruins on your own or take a guided tour.
Pisac is another must-visit site in the Sacred Valley. The ruins are located on a hill overlooking the town, and they offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The site is also home to a large market where you can buy local handicrafts and souvenirs.
Moray is a unique Inca site that’s unlike any other in the region. The site consists of several circular terraces that were used for agricultural experiments by the Inca. The terraces are arranged in a way that creates different microclimates, allowing the Inca to test different crops and growing conditions.
Tipon is another impressive Inca site that’s located just outside of Cusco. The site consists of several terraces and water channels that were used for irrigation and agriculture. The site is also home to several fountains and waterfalls that are still in use today.
Exploring the ancient Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley and beyond is a must-do when visiting Cusco. These sites offer a glimpse into the fascinating history and culture of the Inca people, and they’re sure to leave you in awe. Don’t miss out on these incredible sites during your trip to Cusco.
Culinary Delights: Savoring Cusco’s Local Cuisine
When it comes to must-do Cusco experiences, indulging in the local cuisine should be at the top of your list. Cusco’s culinary scene is a fusion of traditional Andean ingredients and Spanish influences, resulting in a unique and delicious cuisine that you won’t find anywhere else.
Ceviche: This popular dish is made with fresh fish marinated in lime juice, onions, and chili peppers. It’s a refreshing and flavorful dish that’s perfect for a hot day.
Lomo Saltado: This hearty dish is a stir-fry of beef, onions, tomatoes, and french fries, served with rice. It’s a filling and satisfying meal that’s sure to please.
Papa a la Huancaína: This dish consists of boiled potatoes covered in a creamy sauce made with cheese, milk, and chili peppers. It’s a simple yet delicious dish that’s perfect as an appetizer or a light meal.
Where to Eat
Mercado Central de San Pedro: This bustling market is a must-visit for foodies. You’ll find a wide variety of local dishes, including ceviche, roasted guinea pig, and chicha morada (a sweet purple corn drink).
Chicha: This restaurant is owned by renowned Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio and offers a modern take on traditional Peruvian cuisine. The menu features dishes like alpaca steak and quinoa risotto.
Pachapapa: This cozy restaurant is located in the San Blas neighborhood and serves up traditional Andean dishes like cuy (guinea pig) and rocoto relleno (stuffed spicy peppers).
No trip to Cusco is complete without indulging in the local cuisine. From ceviche to lomo saltado, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Be sure to visit the Mercado Central de San Pedro and try some of the local street food for an authentic culinary experience.
Cultural Immersion: Participating in Traditional Festivals and Events
Cusco is a city rich in culture and history, and one of the best ways to experience it is by participating in traditional festivals and events. Here are some “must do Cusco” cultural activities that you should not miss:
Inti Raymi Festival
The Inti Raymi Festival, also known as the Festival of the Sun, is one of the most important festivals in Cusco. It takes place every year on June 24th and celebrates the winter solstice. The festival includes a reenactment of the Inca ceremony of worshiping the sun god, Inti. The event attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world, so make sure to book your tickets in advance.
Qoyllur Rit’i Festival
The Qoyllur Rit’i Festival is a unique event that takes place in the Sinakara Valley, about 100 km from Cusco. It is a pilgrimage festival that celebrates the reappearance of the Pleiades constellation and the start of the agricultural season. The festival includes traditional dances, music, and colorful costumes. It is a great opportunity to witness the fusion of Andean and Catholic traditions.
Corpus Christi Festival
The Corpus Christi Festival is a religious celebration that takes place in Cusco’s main square, the Plaza de Armas. It is held 60 days after Easter Sunday and includes a procession of the city’s patron saints and the famous 15th-century painting of the Last Supper. The festival is a great opportunity to witness the fusion of Inca and Catholic traditions.
Cusco Artisan Market
The Cusco Artisan Market is a great place to experience the local culture and buy souvenirs. The market is located in the San Blas neighborhood and features a wide variety of handmade crafts, including textiles, ceramics, and jewelry. You can also find traditional Andean clothing and accessories, such as ponchos and hats.
Participating in traditional festivals and events is a “must do Cusco” activity that will give you a deeper understanding of the city’s rich culture and history. Make sure to plan your trip accordingly and immerse yourself in the local traditions.
Adventure Awaits: Outdoor Activities and Excursions in Cusco
Cusco is a city that offers a wide range of outdoor activities and excursions for adventure seekers. From hiking to biking, there is something for everyone. Here are some of the must-do outdoor activities and excursions in Cusco:
Hiking to Machu Picchu
One of the most popular outdoor activities in Cusco is hiking to Machu Picchu. This is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Cusco. The Inca Trail is the most famous route, but there are other options such as the Salkantay Trek and the Lares Trek. These hikes offer breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains and the opportunity to explore ancient Inca ruins.
Mountain Biking in the Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley is a beautiful area just outside of Cusco that is perfect for mountain biking. The terrain is varied, with steep descents and challenging climbs, making it a thrilling adventure for experienced bikers. The views of the surrounding mountains and valleys are stunning, and there are plenty of opportunities to stop and explore the local villages and ruins.
White Water Rafting on the Urubamba River
For those looking for an adrenaline rush, white water rafting on the Urubamba River is a must-do activity in Cusco. The river offers a range of rapids, from class II to class IV, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced rafters. The scenery is breathtaking, with towering mountains and lush vegetation lining the riverbanks.
Zip-lining in the Sacred Valley
Zip-lining is a fun and exciting way to experience the beauty of the Sacred Valley. There are several zip-line courses in the area, offering different levels of difficulty and length. The views from the zip-line are spectacular, with panoramic vistas of the valley and surrounding mountains.
ATV Tours in the Andes
For those who prefer a more motorized adventure, ATV tours in the Andes are a great option. These tours take you through the rugged terrain of the Andes Mountains, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape. You can explore remote villages, ancient ruins, and even visit a local farm to learn about traditional Andean agriculture.
In conclusion, Cusco is a paradise for adventure seekers, with a wide range of outdoor activities and excursions to choose from. Whether you’re hiking to Machu Picchu or zip-lining in the Sacred Valley, there is something for everyone. Don’t miss out on these must-do activities when visiting Cusco.
Shopping for Treasures: Navigating Cusco’s Vibrant Markets
If you’re looking for unique souvenirs and gifts to bring back home, Cusco’s markets are a must-visit. From colorful textiles to intricate silver jewelry, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the top markets to explore during your visit to Cusco.
San Pedro Market
Located in the heart of Cusco, San Pedro Market is a bustling hub of activity. Here, you’ll find everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts. Take a stroll through the aisles and soak up the vibrant atmosphere. Don’t forget to haggle with the vendors to get the best prices on your purchases.
If you’re willing to venture outside of Cusco, Pisac Market is a must-visit. This market is known for its impressive selection of textiles, including alpaca wool scarves and blankets. You’ll also find handmade pottery, jewelry, and other unique souvenirs. Make sure to arrive early to beat the crowds and get the best deals.
Centro Artesanal Cusco
For a more curated shopping experience, head to Centro Artesanal Cusco. This market is located just a few blocks from the main square and features a wide selection of high-quality handicrafts. From intricate wood carvings to colorful paintings, you’re sure to find something special here.
No matter which market you choose to explore, shopping for treasures in Cusco is a must-do. Don’t forget to bring your bargaining skills and a sense of adventure!
In conclusion, my fellow travelers, the enchanting city of Cusco offers a plethora of experiences that are simply unmissable. As Journeying Jack, I’ve had the privilege of exploring many corners of the world, but there’s something truly magical about this ancient city that keeps drawing me back. From the awe-inspiring architecture to the rich cultural heritage, the “must do Cusco” list is seemingly endless.
As you embark on your own adventure, I encourage you to embrace the spirit of exploration and dive headfirst into the “must do Cusco” experiences that await you. Whether it’s wandering through the cobblestone streets of San Blas, marveling at the intricate stonework of Sacsayhuaman, or indulging in the vibrant flavors of Peruvian cuisine, there’s no shortage of memories to be made in this captivating city.
So, my fellow wanderers, as you pack your bags and prepare to embark on your own Suitcase Stories, remember that the “must do Cusco” experiences are not just about ticking off boxes on a list. They’re about immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of history, culture, and tradition that makes Cusco such a unique and unforgettable destination.
Until our paths cross again, I wish you all the best on your journey and look forward to hearing about your own “must do Cusco” adventures. Safe travels, and may your Suitcase Stories be filled with wonder, excitement, and the spirit of discovery.