Cusco, one of Peru’s most stunning colonial cities, is tucked away high in the Andes Mountains and was once the capital of the Incan Empire. Today, it is visited by millions of visitors a year and is a major tourist attraction to anyone wanting to incorporate history, culture and adventure into their Peru Itinerary! Let me share with you my favourite things to do when you visit Cusco!
Wander around the Historic Centre of Cusco
The city of Cusco is a huge attraction in itself. The steep, cobbled streets of Cusco are perfect for a day of exploring and getting to know the city. There is a free walking tour that leaves every day, multiple times a day, from Plaza de Armas. The best company to go with is “ Free Walking Tour Cusco” – the guys with the red shirts!
The 12:30pm tour with Jose Martinez also visits Sacsayhuaman (gorgeous ruins just out of Cusco) and the Christ statue on the hill! This is the best one for sure.
Just remember to tip your guide at the end 🙂 http://www.freewalkingtourcusco.com/
Do a day trip to climb Rainbow Mountain
You may have seen pictures of this natural phenomenon clogging up your social media feed. The colourful stripes of Rainbow Mountain (also called Vinicunca Mountain by the locals) is fast becoming one of the most popular things to do in Cusco and in turn, South America. You won’t find anything quite like this anywhere else.
The mountain can be visited in a long day trip from Cusco or incorporated into a longer trek itinerary. Any one of the thousands of travel agencies around the Historical Centre can organise it for you in a matter of minutes!
Expect a tough climb as the summit of this beauty is 5029 metres above sea level….but it’s oh-so worth it! Take some extra snacks and water with you and remember to take your time to acclimatise!
Visit the Sunday Markets in Pisac and the Sacred Valley
Pisac is a small Peruvian village located in the Sacred Valley about an hours drive form Cusco. Every Sunday morning a huge local market is held in the villages main square where you can purchase everything from fruits and vegetables to handicrafts and souvenirs. It’s a great place get a feel for the local culture and spend the day out of Cusco.
There’s lot’s of other things to do in the Sacred Valley if you wish to spend the whole day exploring. Go to the Pisac ruins – said to be smaller in size but equally as impressive as Machu Picchu. Get a car to the nearby town of Moray and visit the salt mines or spend the afternoon wandering around Ollyantaytambo – another small, impressive Peruvian village.
Mini Van’s leave Cusco every 15 minutes and will drop you off in Pisac Village.
No words can describe this magical place. Machu Picchu is the usually the main reason for people making the journey to Peru to begin with. The ruins are some of the most impressive in all of Latin America and a definite highlight of most people’s trips!
The remarkable, ancient ruins can be visited a number of different ways. Most people opt to do a multi-day trek to visit the ruins by choosing either The Jungle Trek, The Salkantay or the original Inca Trail. If the walking along the original paths of the Incans is something you’re interested make sure you book in advance! There are a limited number of permits per day and sometimes this can be fully booked up to a year ahead of time – Make sure you get in quick…because it’s totally worth it!
If hiking isn’t your thing you can also reach the ruins by train or bus from Cusco. Check out this blog post for more information.
Do a chocolate making course at the Chocolate Museum
I’m not sure if I even need to go into this in more detail?
The Choco Museum in Cusco not only makes the best damn hot chocolates going around but also offers a Chocolate making course where you can learn the tricks of the trade from scratch! Thats right….Straight from the Cacao Fruit (form the Peruvian Jungle) and into a delicious bar of chocolate. Oh, did I mention you get to keep (and eat) everything you make?
Book your class online at or pop in to their shop for more information!