Complete guide to the Peruvian city of Cusco, the birthplace of the Inca Empire

Machu Picchu stamps the postcards, the Peruvian 10 soles note and almost the entire historic center of charming cusco, scattered on the signs of travel agencies, grocery stores and even pharmacies. The entire Inca culture is also honored in statues, graffiti and in the pride of the Peruvian people who know and value their origins well.

There's no denying it, everyone travels to cusco with ulterior motives: Machu Picchu is the most visited Peruvian destination in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, but arriving there, everyone discovers a still little known side of the world. Peru. The charming and multicultural Cusco also conquers those who like history, architecture or nights with parties and lots of nightlife. Undoubtedly, Cusco cannot just be a passing place, the city also deserves a longer time to explore calmly, whether in the award-winning gastronomic part, which mixes typical Peruvian cuisine such as ceviche and other traditional preparations, or the influence of gastronomy. foreigner who found refuge in the country in renowned restaurants.

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Cusco is among the three most visited places in peru, the city is always taken by foreigners from all over the world, forming a multicultural place. Some travel directly to Cusco or Lima, but the majority are almost always concentrated in the Cusco city, others include a stop at the destination while traveling through other South American countries. It is practically unanimous that Cusco has become a meeting point for travelers who almost always extend their trip to enjoy a little more of the city and the good location and structure offered, being ideal for discovering the nearby interiors and other archaeological sites in the city.

Plaza de Armas, central square of Cusco. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Plaza de Armas is home to some of the best restaurants in Cusco. Photo: Gustavo Albano

What to do in Cusco 

The historic center of cusco deserves hours of walking. There are several narrow streets paved with stone, full of shops, bistros, ateliers, bars and bakeries. These small shops are scattered throughout the historic center, that is, wherever you start from Plaza de Armas, you will be surprised by these typical restaurants, shops and galleries that sell clothes, clothing and various Peruvian handicrafts.

Women walk with llamas to be photographed by tourists. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Others set up their stores on the street. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Machu Picchu is the most famous archaeological site in Peru and one of the 7 Wonders of the World, but the Inca Empire – the largest in South America – also made other immortal constructions, following the same precepts of century-old architecture. These buildings are everywhere, Cusco also has underground ruins in parts of the city and offers other cool tours for you to do throughout the day. In addition, other imposing buildings are located within the historic center and surroundings, such as the ruins of Saqsaywaman, Qoricancha, Temple of the Sun, Puka Pukara, Tambomachay and other cool places for a quick day trip or an unhurried overnight stay, such as the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the archaeological city of Ollantaytambo and Pisac.

Ollantaytambo is the only inhabited Inca archaeological site. Photo: Gustavo Albano

What to do in Cusco

The traditional Peruvian tuk-tuk. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Some of them, like the ruins of Saqsaywaman, are very close to the historic center where most hotels, inns and hostels are concentrated. The traveler arrives at these places after a few minutes of walking along the slopes of the city or taking a 5 Peruvian soles taxi, the accesses are quick from the center to the other attractions of cusco. Through the city the history of Peru is seen everywhere, in the Plaza de Armas popular demonstrations always take place on festive dates, when everyone is concentrated in the main area of the center.

Ruins of Saqsaywaman, located just 2 km from Cusco. Photo: Gustavo Albano

What to do in Cusco

Ruins of Inca architecture at Saqsaywaman. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Inca engineering details at Saqsaywaman. Photo: Gustavo Albano

What to do in Cusco

Saqsaywaman was an Inca fortress, another archaeological site near Cusco. Photo: Gustavo Albano

What to do in Cusco at night

Cusco is extremely touristy and has become a global place, many foreigners chose the city to live and work, which also attracted a lot of excitement during the nights and diverse parties, with several nightclubs known worldwide!

THE Mama Africa is a nightclub located in Praza de Armas and is one of the most recommended on TripAdvisor, very close to there is the Chango Club, a very traditional “bowling” that is almost always crowded. Some large hostels also offer nightly programs with live music, djs, drinks and beer. The best known are the Loki Hostel it's the Supertramp Hostel. This first one has a large lounge with djs and pop and electronic music with a bar, and is always full on weekends. Supertramp has sporadic parties. Both have an entrance open to the public and non-guests.

Understanding the history of Cusco

In addition to all the mystery surrounding the Inca culture, the historic city has great influences from Spanish colonization. Today Cusco lives exactly the mixture of two historical interferences of the country, the height of the Inca Empire and the consequences of the European colonization. The historic houses built in this second period use stone and wood, all scattered through the streets and narrow alleys full of Spanish colonial houses.

Language: How to communicate in Peru

THE language Originating from the Inca empire and cultural in this part of the Andes is Quechua, in Peru, the elders still speak both languages fluently, even as a way of staying with the Inca culture. However, after the domination of Spain in 1533 in the city of cusco, the Spanish language took over. Fluency as the main language has grown over the years. Today everyone speaks Spanish and some Peruvians speak Spanish and Quechua.

What is the Peruvian currency?

THE new peruvian sun came to stabilize the local economy and currently resembles the real in Brazil. THE conversion is 1 to 1, according to the simulated exchange rate made in Jan/2017. Even though they are equivalent, the cost of living in Peru is much lower, both for food, transportation and accommodation. In Cusco you can find simple restaurants that offer a complete menu with soup, main course and a drink (usually tea), for only 7 soles. Simple accommodation in hostels from 20 Peruvian soles and inns from 80 soles.

Times to visit Cusco 

Cusco is located on the outskirts of Andes mountain range, the stations are demarcated as in other countries of the South America. The climate is more accentuated precisely because of its altitude and proximity to the Andean mountain ranges.

In summer and spring the weather is hotter during the day, but at night temperatures tend to drop sharply. During autumn and winter the days are more pleasant and the nights are cooler. Depending on the season you choose, bring extra warm clothes. Did you like it? Check out other destinations to visit in Peru and Cusco:

What to do in Cusco

Machu Picchu, the biggest Peruvian tourist attraction. Photo: Gustavo Albano

View of the Archaeological Park of Ollantaytambo. Photo: Gustavo Albano

What to do in Cusco

Streets of Cusco, full of shops, restaurants and bistros. Photo: Gustavo Albano

Read too:

» Tourism in Cusco: what to see and do in the Inca capital
» Trail from Salkantay to Machu Picchu, one of the most beautiful treks in Peru
» 7 little-known places you need to visit in Peru
» How to get to Machu Picchu
» Unraveling Machu Picchu

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