Cusco was the capital of the Inca empire and is a bustling colonial town with many places of interest. Besides highlights like the the Main Square, the Cathedral the artisans district of San Blas Cusco offers great restaurants to try a typical Peruvian dish or enjoy a gastronomic expereince. Here is our recommended Top 5 list of Things To Do in Cusco. Make sure to also check out our Cusco destination guide for more ideas on what to do in Cusco.
San Pedro Central Open air Market
A visit to the San Pedro Market should definitely be on your list of must-places to see in Cusco. Situated not far from Plaza de Armas you will step back in time when you enter this open-air market. For a real sense of Andean Culture go to San Pedro and bombard the five senses. These places used to exist in the Western world long ago and you may still find something slightly similar in Spain… but not the same! There is a huge array of fresh products (without refrigeration) including a huge meat area with all cuts and entrails available - Your nose will be hit with a whole assortment of smells from meat & fish to incense & fragrances. There are fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, local cheese or fresh milk (straight from the cow!) and the locals will gladly offer a taste. Choose from a whole assortment of colorful goodies at low prices. Just be careful with your things. Cameras and things will disappear from your bags without even a clue of where, when or how! Delicious things to try: Freshly mixed papaya, carrot and alfalfa juice / Nata (fresh cream) with bread / lechón (Roast baby piglet)
Opening Hours: Daily 6.00am – 6.00pm except Public Holidays
Interested in this lively excursion? Check out our Tour page for tours from 2 to 20 days discovering Peru.
The Cathedral is another must see and will be better viewed with a professional guide. The cathedral is Baroque in style, built during the 15th & 16th on the foundations of an Inca Palace (The Spanish stole many stones from the important Inca sites including Sacsayhuaman in order to complete the building). Although it doesn't seem much from the outside, on entering you will be impressed by its high walls, huge solid, sliver and gold alter (materials also robbed from the Incas) and it contains dozens of examples of the Cusqueña school of painting with an interesting version of the Last Supper (Marcos Zapata) with a typical local dish of Guinea Pig (Cuy) as the main dish.
Visiting hours: Mon – Sat 10:00am – 6:00pm Sun and Holidays 2:00pm– 6:00pm
Visit the artisan neighborhood of San Blas the most picturesque district of Cusco with its narrow, steep, cobbled streets and its unique colonial buildings built from traditional adobe and Inca stone. There are many Artisan shops selling all sorts of handy-work and with its bohemian atmosphere and you will probably be tempted by one of its quaint cafes or restaurants. In the main square you will find San Blas Church, a simple adobe church which houses the 17th Century Pulpit of San Blas, considered to be one of the jewels of colonial art in Latin America and which was intricately carved from a single cedar tree trunk and is dominated by a triumphant figure of Christ. In the evening there are some great places with live music including Siete Angelitos, a popular bar with travelers and locals alike.
On the way from Plaza de Armas to San Blas you will have to pass along the narrow street of Hatunrumiyoc, which is where you will find the 12 Angled stone, easy to spot, due to the numbers of people inspecting the incredible workmanship and a distinctly dressed Inca ready for some photo action. Inca stonework is always something to admire and awe but the 12 Angled Stone is considered special due to the high number of angles. It is cleanly fused on all sides by similarly, perfectly carved stones. The 12 Angled Stone is so cherished by the locals that it has become a popular company logo including the popular ‘Cusqueña’ lager.
A short walk down Avenida de Sol from Plaza de Armas will lead you to a large area of green pasture (Green areas being noticeably absent in Cusco City). Here you can find Qorikancha, the most architecturally interesting building in the city of Cusco. Qorikancha (Quechua for ‘Golden Courtyard’) has a long history and started as an important Inca temple covered in sheet of gold and which house many golden statues. The Spanish did fine work in melting down the treasures and destroying the original building. What now stands on the clearly visible basalt foundations is the beautiful church of Santo Domingo and the adjacent convent. Hours: Ruins and Church: Mon - Sat 8:30am - 5:30pm, Sun 2.00pm – 5.00pm Museum: Mon – Sat 9.00am - 5:30pm, Sun 9.00am – 1.00pm Cost: Ruins and church, S/10 / Museum: Boleto Turístico
Interested in any of these excursions? Check out our Tour page for tours from 2 to 20 days discovering Peru or contact us to build your own tour.