Cusco for Two or Three Days
Visit these hotspots in Cusco if you are short on time- these highlights give you a slice of this Inca city says experts from Peru for Less
Cusco is nothing short of a charming and irritably beautiful city. Tucked in the depths of the Andes, this is truly one of the worldīs gems. Infamous for once being the heart of the Incan Empire then taken over as a Spanish colony this city is rich with culture, history and delicious cuisine. It is recommended that all tourists spend at least a few days here to wander the streets and check out some of the great museums here before going on to visit Machu Picchu, the rainforest, Puno the western shore.
If you only have two or three days in Cusco, it is recommended you spend your first day on a Cusco city tour. These guided tours in your mother tongue will take you through the Plaza de Armas, or the main square where you will see the main Cathedral and the central meeting place for locals to hang out in. You will then wind up the mountain to the sites of Sacsayhuaman, Q'enko, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay. Each site had a different logistical reason for construction and you will learn a little bit about each one before descending back into the valley to return to your hotel.
During the evening if you are not too tired, you can head into the main area of the city to try some of the restaurants, coffee shops, bars and night clubs, all within a few minutes walk of the Plaza de Armas. But be forewarned, at this altitude one drink is not equal to a drink at sea level, so be careful if you decide to drink alcohol in your first few days.
On days two and three, get up slightly early and jump onto a tour through the Sacred Valley. There are a number of trips, some cover the market of Pisac and the infamous military outpost of Ollantaytambo where Manco Inca Yupanqui and his men made the Incaīs final attempts to defeat the Spanish.
Other tours include a visit to Chinchero, Maras Moray and the Salt Mines. Chinchero is a cute little village with its own Inca terraces, a quaint but beautiful church and a good informational tour about the weaving techniques of the local handicrafts. They will show you the process of spinning the llama and alpaca wool, cleaning it, dying it and then of course weaving it. You will continue on to see the agricultural wonder of Maras Moray. This coliseum like structure has numerous microclimates for agriculture within it giving the chance for the Inca to produce a large variety of supplies in each location. Finally you will visit the Salt Mines where natural springs bring salt from inside the mountain onto a cascade of īpansī for the salt to then be harvested under the strong sun.
Your other option is a little further but includes visiting the archeological site of Tipon with a stunning backdrop of the Andes. You will then visit the Wari city of Piquillajta, which was in the first century the capital of the Wari Empire. The distinct architecture is still well preserved and retains much of its original structures. Before returning back to Cusco you will stop in the small village of Andahuaylillas, where the īSistine Chapel of the Andesī stands. A chapel built with a mix of Christian and Quechua symbols, this chapelīs intricate detail and amazing frescos rated in line with the works of the European masters.
If venturing into the Sacred Valley isnīt your cup of tea, there are hundreds of things to do within the city. Whatever you choose, you will not be disappointed with the endless activities you can participate in while visiting Cusco.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This guide to Cusco during Peru vacations was written by a Peru travel expert at Peru For Less, specialists in high value, fully customizable tours and packages.