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Joe from Houston asked

Sights in/near Cusco

We will be spending 3 days at Lake Tticaca in October with 3 days in Cusco before we do the Salkantay trek.

What to see in and near Cusco? Primarily cultural.. Restaurants, tours

There will be 4 of us - 2 couples - both in early 60s and good health. 

Cusco (Peru)

3 Answers
top answer by
Brew from Manhattan Beach

You won't have any issue finding great things to do in and around Cusco, but I would definitely get out to the Urubamba Valley and visit the town of Pisac.  The town itself sits in a beautiful valley on a river, and there is an Indian Market that you can explore, but the main reason I would go is to hike up the ruins at the Parque Arqueologico Intihuatana - Pisac.  The ruins are interesting and the hike up was about an hour, but the main reason I think it is worthwhile is that it gives you a nice warm up for your trek over Salcantay. 

The ruins at Ollantaytambo are very intersting as well, but they are much further up the valley.

If you can do a trip outside Cusco on a Sunday (best day), Tuesday, or Thursday, the market at Chinchero is incredible.  Very local and extremely good cultural experience.  Less touristy than Pisac's market (which is still very good), with lots of locals in traditional outfits who come out of the mountains to barter vegetables and goods, locals drinking locally made beer, etc.  A really interesting place.

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Cusco (city)
  2. Urubamba Valley (attraction)
  3. Indian Market (attraction)
  4. Parque Arqueologico Intihuatana - Pisac (attraction)
  5. Ollantaytambo (city)
  6. Chinchero (attraction)
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answered by

First, in Cusco proper there is an Inca temple Templo del Qorikancha pretty centrally located and easy to strool to. But right outside the city there are four more main sites: the already mentioned Sacsayhuamanbut also Q'enkoPuca Pucara, and Tambomachay. These are also remarkably easy to get to sans tour. A taxi up the hill to Sacsayhuaman will cost you about 10 soles or so and the ruins are all about a 5-15 minute walk apart (which is definitely doable though along a alternatingly busy/dead empty main road and catching a ride back may be a bit trickier). Honestly, as there are four of you, it wouldn't cost that much to hire to taxi driver to stay with you and take you to all four places--then you could visit each at your leisure. You can actually buy a single ticket that includes everything in Cusco, nearby Cusco, and the Sacred Valley at whichever place you go to first (I'd recommend doing this, gets you into some museums in Cusco too--which will give you more options to choose from).

Arts & crafts-wise, there's the Centro Artesenal Cuscofor some woven goods, and the El Artesano de San Blasin the square up from Jack's Café Bar.

Restaurants-wise, Inka Grill is a fun spot on the main square with good, hearty traditional fare, nightly live music, and great pisco sours. Another more interesting pick for sampling modern, innovation Peruvian cuisine is Chicha, which I'd definitely recommend (but stroll by the day before you want to go, or first thing in the morning, to make a reservation for that one). The best cafe to check out is Cafe Ayllu, which is a charming local favorite. (Of course, if you really, really just need some American fare, trek up the hill to Jack's Cafe Bar for great coffee, breakfast, lunch). Of course, I strolled down to the Mercado Central de San Pedrofor a mixed fruit juice/smoothie everyday too but, you'll have to evaluate your own travel stomachs for that!

If you do get a chance to head out of Cusco to the Sacred Valleyeither as a long day trip from Cusco or to/from Cerro Machu Picchu, there are a few sites to see: the already mentioned Parque Arqueologico Intihuatana - Pisac and Ollantaytambobut there are other sites in between. I'd have to most highly recommend Moray, perhaps not the most complex of ruins but very cool and certainly the most gorgeous vantage point..

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Templo del Qorikancha (attraction)
  2. Sacsayhuaman (attraction)
  3. Q'enko (attraction)
  4. Puca Pucara (attraction)
  5. Tambomachay (attraction)
  6. Sacsayhuaman (attraction)
  7. Sacred Valley (attraction)
  8. Centro Artesenal Cusco (attraction)
  9. El Artesano de San Blas (hotel)
  10. Jack's Café Bar (restaurant)
  11. Inka Grill (attraction)
  12. Chicha (attraction)
  13. Cafe Ayllu (restaurant)
  14. Mercado Central de San Pedro (attraction)
  15. Sacred Valley (attraction)
  16. Cerro Machu Picchu (attraction)
  17. Parque Arqueologico Intihuatana - Pisac (attraction)
  18. Ollantaytambo (city)
  19. Moray (attraction)
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answered by
Ryan from Redondo Beach

I'd recommend doing a day or half day tour around Cusco. You can find a tourist office on any corner and they can recommend a company. All the buses pick up in front of the Valle Sagrado. I did a half day tour and got to go all the sites you'd want to see in Cusco. You jump on a little bus and they drive you to all the sites. Make sure you get a tour that brings you to Sacsayhuamán (pronounced "sexy woman"). It has the best views of the city and unbelievable architecture.

For people watching and a cold Cusqueña (Peruvian beer) I'd go to Norton Rats Tavern and get a spot out on the balcony overlooking the Plaza de Armas de Cusco. It's kind of a younger crowd but I was with my 60 year old dad and he loved it! Have fun!

Comments (1)

Totally agree about Norton Rat's Tavern... I watched the world cup there in 2002. Great views over the main square. Great call.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Valle Sagrado (attraction)
  2. Sacsayhuamán (attraction)
  3. Norton Rats Tavern (attraction)
  4. Plaza de Armas de Cusco (attraction)
comments (1)
likes (7) thanks

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