Cusco is a city meant to be explored over the course of a week, with many ancient nooks and crannies to be discovered. However, most people when they come to Peru don’t have the time to kick it in Cusco and peruse as they please. Here’s a guide for the travelers who need to get up and out of Cusco in a day, but want to see as much as possible.
San Blas is the high-end, bohemian district of Cusco. Its narrow cobblestone streets are lined with boutique shopping, restraunts and Cusco’s best coffee shops – the cafes in San Blas serve up fresh, Peruvian coffee, not the instant stuff you’ll find everywhere. As you’re walking through the streets, remember the shops you want to peek in later, when you have some more time.
The best and most important Inca ruins in the area are Sacsayhuamán. The site once served as the military base of the Incas for Cusco, as well as a place for large religious gatherings. The site is massive and while many of the ruins were destroyed by the Spanish during the conquest, what remains is still incredible. The giant rocks that weigh a mind boggling 300 tons line much of the gross and are a living testament to the civil ingenuity of the Incas. There’s also an underground temple that you can explore.
After you walk the ruins of Sacsayhuamán you’re going to be tired and incredibly hungry. Cusco offers some of the more interesting food options in Peru, a mix between ancient cuisine and modern Peruvian dishes. Just walk around the plaza and you’ll find something mouthwatering. A travelers favorite is La Bodega 138, which serves up Cusco’s best and most interesting pizza options.
While there are many things to go and see in Cusco, from ruins to museums, there’s only enough for so much in one day. Cusco itself is a living museum and should be priority number one when visiting. Explore the buildings, wander the tiny Inca streets and marvel at its uniqueness.
While you wander the streets take advantage of Cusco’s famous shopping. Find Andean print blankets and scarfs and even buy a poncho if you’re feeling adventurous. The city is known for its alpaca fibers, and has some of the most shopper friendly prices in the world.
End the night with some cocktails at Cusco’s pisco museum. Light on the museum part and heavy on the drinking side, this spot is more a bar than anything. They have the country’s widest selection of piscos and offer customers private tastings. It’s the best place to get familiar with Peru’s spirit.