Things to do in Cusco

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About Cusco

The central Plaza de Armas, the enigmatic ruins of Sacsayhuamán, and the sacred site of Qorikancha are crucial to any Cusco itinerary. For a deeper dive into Inca history, the nearby Sacred Valley, with its picturesque terraces and ruins, should not be missed. Additionally, the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu remains an iconic excursion for those desiring a profound connection with the Incan heritage.
Engaging children with the colorful San Pedro Market, the interactive Cusco Planetarium, and the thrilling animal encounters at the Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary ensures a mix of fun and education. These attractions offer an immersive look into Cusco's local culture, natural beauty, and history in a way that's accessible and enjoyable for children.
Hiking to the photogenic Cristo Blanco overlooking the city, exploring the terraced circles of Moray, and enjoying the fresh air and flora at the Kusicancha botanical gardens rank among the best outdoor activities. Such experiences combine natural scenery with cultural significance ideal for outdoor enthusiasts.
Visitors can immerse themselves in cultural history at the Inca Museum and the Pre-Columbian Art Museum or indulge in chocolate making workshops at the ChocoMuseo. For a tactile experience, the Textile Museum offers live demonstrations on traditional weaving techniques.
The iconic Machu Picchu citadel tours, comprehensive Sacred Valley excursions, and exclusive city and ruins tours that offer insightful guidance around Cusco's historic sites are considered some of the best. These tours provide expert knowledge, safety, and ease for travelers discovering the city's treasures.
The Museo Inka, with its rich collection focusing on Incan culture, and the Museo de Arte Precolombino, which showcases pre-Columbian art from all over Peru, are Cusco's most venerated institutions for their historical significance and well-curated exhibits.
On rainy days, the guided tours through Cusco's cathedral and museums, such as the Museo Inka or Casa Concha (Machu Picchu Museum), provide a sheltered yet enlightening cultural experience, making the best of the city's indoors activities.
Short excursions such as the chocolate-making sessions at the ChocoMuseo, guided walking tours of the historic centre or a visit to the artisan San Blas neighborhood can all be completed in under an hour, offering a quick, fulfilling glimpse into Cusco's charm.

Best Things to Do In Cusco

Discover the heart of the ancient Inca Empire. Immerse in the rich culture and history with an array of attractions.

Cusco: The Inca Trail

What is it?
A world-renowned trek leading through breathtaking Andean landscapes to Machu Picchu.
Why you should go?
For adventurers and history buffs, the Inca Trail presents an unforgettable journey. This pilgrimage echoes the footsteps of a great civilization, winding through cloud forests, past majestic mountains, and ancient ruins. Embarking on this trek is not merely about the destination; it's an excursion back in time, connecting trekkers to the spiritual path the Incas once walked. This trail is often a highlight on the list of Cusco activities for those seeking both the thrill of a challenge and a profound cultural experience.

Cusco: Museo Inka

What is it?
An enlightening museum housing a collection of artifacts from the Inca civilization.
Why you should go?
Museo Inka is a cornerstone for understanding the rich tapestry of Inca history. As one of the key places to visit in Cusco, the museum offers a comprehensive narrative of pre-Columbian culture. Exhibits of pottery, textiles, mummies, and goldwork provide contextual knowledge pivotal for appreciating the archaeological sites nearby. This museum is integral to the suite of educational Cusco tours, and it contributes endlessly to the cultural context that Cusco's visitors eagerly seek.

Cusco: Tambomachay

What is it?
An ancient Incan site, often referred to as "El Baño del Inca," featuring intricate aqueducts and waterfalls.
Why you should go?
Tambomachay stands as a testament to the Incan's mastery over water, an element they held sacred. The precise stonework channels flowing springs that have operated continuously since their creation. Engaging with this site adds layers to one's understanding of the engineering prowess and the spiritual connection to nature the Inca culture possessed. As part of the Cusco excursions circuit, it's a tranquil and thought-provoking destination that intrigues with its harmony and design.

Cusco: Ollantaytambo

What is it?
An ancient Inca fortress and village known as a living Inca town with remarkably preserved ruins.
Why you should go?
Ollantaytambo invites visitors to wander through history in one of the few places where the town's original Incan layout persists. The massive terraces and the fortress are a prelude to the advanced astronomy, agriculture, and architecture of the Inca. As a gateway to the Inca Trail, Ollantaytambo is a core part of what to do in Cusco, blending an archaeological site with a vibrant contemporary community, providing a unique glimpse into the past and present of Andean life.

Cusco: Cathedral of Santo Domingo

What is it?
A colonial cathedral built atop an ancient Inca palace, melding architectural styles and symbolizing a cultural crossroads.
Why you should go?
Standing proudly on the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, also known as the Cusco Cathedral, is as much an art gallery as it is a religious monument. Within its ornately carved walls lie a collection of colonial art, including the famous painting of the Last Supper featuring a native Andean guinea pig. Visiting the cathedral provides a solemn and reflective space for understanding the impact of Spanish colonization and the religious transformation that ensued, making it a highlight among things to see in Cusco.

Cusco: Sacsayhuamán

What is it?
An iconic ceremonial complex boasting impressive Incan stonework and panoramic views.
Why you should go?
As a testament to Incan architectural genius, Sacsayhuamán remains one of the paramount things to do in Cusco, revealing the historical prominence of the region. Wander through the colossal boulders meticulously carved and placed without mortar, leaving visitors in awe of the Incan civilization's mastery. This sprawling fortress-like site offers insight into ancient rituals and provides an unparalleled vista of Cusco, making it a top-rated destination among Cusco tours for photography, history enthusiasts, and cultural connoisseurs alike.

Cusco: Qorikancha

What is it?
Once the richest temple in the Incan Empire, now a stunning blend of Incan and colonial architecture.
Why you should go?
Delving into the rich past of the Incas' is essential when considering what to do in Cusco. Qorikancha, the Temple of the Sun, offers a tangible narrative of Peru's complex history. The site perfectly represents the synthesis of the Incan and Spanish cultures, standing as a symbol of the transition from an ancient empire to a colonized state. Cusco excursions to Qorikancha provide an intricate view of the construction techniques and cultural amalgamation that has shaped this UNESCO World Heritage city.

Cusco: Plaza de Armas

What is it?
The historic heartbeat of Cusco, lined with stately colonial buildings and vibrant local life.
Why you should go?
Plaza de Armas is a central hub where the narrative of Cusco unfolds, a perfect addition to any list of the best things to do in Cusco. It radiates with energy as locals and travelers alike gather, making it an ideal spot for people-watching, photography, and soaking in the vivacious atmosphere. The plaza's surrounding structures, including the Cusco Cathedral and the Church of La Compañía de Jesús, tell tales of the city's colonial and religious history, adding depth to the exploration of things to see in Cusco.

Cusco: San Pedro Market

What is it?
A bustling marketplace where culture, cuisine, and commerce converge in a vibrant setting.
Why you should go?
An excursion to San Pedro Market is among the fun things to do in Cusco for those seeking an authentic local experience. This market is a sensory overload, filled with colorful stalls, aromatic spices, fresh produce, and a variety of artisanal goods. Influential for understanding everyday Cusco life, it is an excellent opportunity for visitors to interact with local vendors, sample traditional Peruvian dishes, and find unique souvenirs. Walking through San Pedro Market, tourists participate in a long-standing tradition, becoming part of the city's living culture.

Cusco: Moray and the Salt Mines of Maras

What is it?
A striking archaeological site featuring circular terraces alongside a fascinating pre-Incan salt production area.
Why you should go?
The journey to Moray and the nearby Salt Mines of Maras encapsulates what to see in Cusco for those with an appetite for the unusual. Each site presents an innovative glimpse into ancient ingenuity—Moray with its agricultural terraces that may have been used for experimentation and Maras with its still-operating salt ponds that date back to pre-Incan times. This unique landscape offers a visually stunning and intellectually stimulating experience for all who partake in the best Cusco tours, highlighting the region’s past and present endeavors.

TOP-5 tours in Cusco for first time visitors

  • Explore the architectural splendor of the Inca empire with a tour highlighting key Cusco activities and the best things to do in Cusco.
  • Embark on a journey to the Sacred Valley, a must-see, with places to visit in Cusco that reveal the mysteries of ancient civilizations.
  • Enjoy a deep dive into local traditions with a vibrant excursion, encompassing fun things to do in Cusco, ensuring leisure and knowledge.
  • Discover things to see in Cusco with a focus on the city's religious and cultural history, spanning from Incan temples to colonial churches.
  • Uncover what to see in Cusco by strolling through bustling markets and serene plazas, encapsulating the authentic spirit of the city.

Fun things to do in Cusco with kids

Embarking on a family adventure in Cusco presents opportunities to create monumental memories. The city boasts activities that kids will find both educational and exciting. First, the Cusco Planetarium offers a gateway to the stars. Set in the hills above the city, families can learn about the southern sky and Inca astronomy through interactive displays and telescopic stargazing. It's both a fun and enlightening evening for the young and young-at-heart. Another fun thing to do in Cusco with kids is a visit to Awana Kancha, a living museum where children can feed llamas and alpacas while parents admire traditional Andean weaving techniques. Lastly, no family trip to Cusco would be complete without a visit to the Chocolate Museum where culinary workshops let everyone craft their own chocolate. These hands-on chocolate-making sessions not only provide a delicious treat but also educate about the chocolate-making process from bean to bar. Together, these top attractions offer a taste of Cusco's culture and natural wonders that are sure to delight the entire family.

Things to do in Cusco with family

Cusco bursts with family-friendly attractions that blend fun, learning, and adventure in this ancient Incan capital. For families captivated by wildlife, a trip to the Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary is a must-do. Here, a sanctuary dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of local Andean species offers an up-close encounter with animals such as the majestic Andean Condor, playful llamas, and alpacas, contributing to conscientious ecological tourism. Those with an eye for creativity and craftsmanship will adore the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco, where traditional weaving techniques come to life. Live demonstrations and a colorful gallery featuring high-quality textiles provide a culturally immersive experience. History is given a thrilling twist at the interactive Museo de Arte Precolombino, which exhibits a vast collection of pre-Columbian art spanning several millennia. The museum's state-of-the-art displays and family-focused tours engage both children and adults, underlining it as a top educational activity in Cusco. These destinations collectively offer a rich tapestry of experiences for families to explore and appreciate.

Free things to do in Cusco

Experience the rich culture of Cusco without the expense as you explore an array of complimentary attractions. Meander through the historic San Blas neighborhood, known as the artisan quarter of the city, which offers a feast for the senses with its narrow cobblestone streets, picturesque whitewashed buildings, and panoramic views over Cusco. It's the perfect locale for soaking in the city's charm and capturing stunning photographs. Exercise and history intersect at the ancient Inca ruins of Q'enqo, located just outside the city. This archaeological site allows visitors to ponder the mysteries of the Incan civilization at no charge. Lastly, the vibrancy of Cusco can be absorbed at the local markets, particularly the El Molino Market. Here, visitors can engage with friendly vendors, observe the richness of local produce and goods, and gain an authentic insight into the daily life and culture of the Cusqueños. Each of these experiences provides a wealth of wonder, revealing the true spirit of Cusco, all at no cost.

Cheap things to do in Cusco

Delving into Cusco's rich history and culture doesn't have to break the bank. Budget-conscious travelers can take a stroll through the artisanal delights of the bustling Mercado Central de San Pedro. For minimal expenditure, visitors can savor sumptuous local foods, absorb the lively atmosphere, and pick up affordable, handmade souvenirs. Gazing over Cusco from the White Christ statue (Cristo Blanco) is also a cost-effective choice. The minimal effort to hike there is rewarded with a standout view of the city, free of charge. For a nominal fee, the Cusco Regional Historical Museum offers a journey through the city's past, presenting a collection of art and artifacts that illustrate Cusco's layered history without a hefty price tag. Together, these attractions prove that some of the best things to do in Cusco are also the most economical, allowing for a rich travel experience that treasures value and authenticity.

Things to do in Cusco for couples

Couples seeking romance in the ancient Incan city of Cusco will find an array of enchanting experiences. Start with a visit to the serene gardens of the Museo de Arte Precolombino, offering a tranquil retreat. This setting is ideal for leisurely strolls among exquisite pre-Columbian artworks. As twilight descends, couples can enjoy the intimate ambiance of a rooftop dinner overlooking the city's rooftops and the twinkling stars above. For an unforgettable experience, journey together to the nearby archaeological site of Tipón. Known for its intricate terraces and water channels, it is a less crowded spot where couples can enjoy peaceful moments surrounded by history and nature. These meticulously crafted ancient structures serve as a prelude to discovering the sacred valley's mysteries. Finally, a leisurely walk through the charming San Blas neighborhood, with its narrow streets and artisan boutiques, is perfect for hand-in-hand exploration, providing a picturesque backdrop fitting for those in search of romantic things to do in Cusco.

Things to do in Cusco at night

When the sun sets over the former Incan capital, Cusco transforms with a vibrant nightlife that caters to all tastes. One of the must-do experiences is a visit to Plaza de Armas after dark, where the golden glow of the streetlamps casts a magical light on the colonial architecture and the cathedral's imposing facade. This central hub buzzes with activity, as locals and tourists alike congregate to enjoy the lively atmosphere. For a taste of culture, take in a traditional Andean music and dance performance at Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo. A blend of colorful costumes, soulful music, and energetic dances makes for an enthralling evening's entertainment. For those looking to unwind, the bohemian San Blas district, with its array of cozy bars and cafes, provides the perfect ambiance for couples and friends to relax and socialize. Each of these nighttime attractions in Cusco offers a unique way to experience the city's nocturnal charm and create lasting memories.