1. Plaza de Armas, Cusco City
The main square of Cusco is absolutely stunning. Originally, the Plaza de Armes was built by the Inca’s to hold ceremonies and festivals, and this still stands occasionally in Cusco. As you are walking through the main square, you’ll see elaborate light fixtures, perfectly bright flowers, benches where you will find locals stationed and slightly cobbled ground. It’s hard to decide whether daylight is the prettiest, or the nightlife, as the main square transforms as the pink and oranges move across the sky. Plaza de Armas is perfect for exploring, sitting by the fountains or simply people watching. It is buzzing with restaurants, shops and local finds, and not to mention streets stalls.
2. Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun)
The temple of the sun is a must visit when exploring Peru. The Temple of the Sun may also be known as the ‘Court of Gold’, and you’ll understand why once you see it. If you are like me and prefer to witness buildings and attractions when they are most ecstatically pleasing, then you’ll want to see the Qorikancha at night time (if possible). Although the Historic sight closes at 5.30pm, you will be able to catch a glimpse of the gold building light up as the sun goes down. It is a mere $10USD to see the sight and it is worth every cent as you are able to learn more about the richest temple of the Inca empire. Once inside you will learn about the Inca culture, find small memorabilia, ancient paintings and the gold covered walls.
3. Did someone say FREE?
You know the best things in life are free and this is why travelling should surround all free experiences. The FWT or Free Walking Tours are the best way to see the city, whilst only using ‘two feet and a heart beat’. The FWT will provide you with a Historical background, you’ll visit the Coffee Museum and enjoy a FREE tasting, you’ll visit the temple of the snake, visit the ‘temple of the sun’, receive a FREE Peruvian Seafood class and play with lamas and alpacas. We’ve got to love that FREE word.
Check out http://www.fwtperu.com/index.html for times and locations
Cristo Blanco, which is a large statue of Jesus Christ is positioned on Pukamoqo Hill and is still seen as one of the most valuable statues and historic sights in Cusco. According to the Inca’s, the Pukamoqo Hill is situated on the soil of 4 quarters of the Inca Empire, meaning it holds spiritual luck across the city. You can see the Christo Blanco by Car or Taxi, but it honestly isn’t appreciated as much as foot. It is about 30-40 minute walk from the Plaza, and although it can be a little exhausting because of the altitude, it is worth every step. Once you arrive up top, you will be greeted with some of the most breathtaking views of Cusco. Personally, I believe if you are wanting to catch some panoramic views of the city, this is where you want to get them. If you want to catch the sunset, walk up and then get a taxi back down after dark.
5. Artisan Markets
The shopping and markets in Cusco is something that you should experience (even if you are trying to hold off on the purchases). If photography is your thing, then this is where you’ll capture some beautiful candid footage of women, children and families selling their goods (of course don’t forget to ask before taking photos). The local sights and smells is what I loved about visiting the Markets and it truly is a perfect way to gain insight into the Peruvian day to day life. San Pedro Market is one of my favourites, and you’ll understand why once you’re inside. Located inside, there is loads of fresh fruit stands, produce and traditional Peruvian treats. ‘Centro Artesanal’ is where I went to purchase anything surrounding clothing, jewellery, handcrafted ceramics and paintings.
6. For all you party animals…
It’s very easy to enjoy the nightlife of Cuzco on a very very small budget. The city has some of the best bars and clubs in Peru, and you’ll certainly enjoy yourself. ‘Paddy’s Pub’ is probably the most popular bar in Cuzco, you’ll find plenty of tourists who are celebrating absolutely nothing, just life in general. If I were to suggest a club, it would have to be ‘Mama Africa’. The reason isn’t because there is a giant Elephant head coming out of the wall, which the staff are completely fine with you climbing onto the trunk and riding it with a cocktail in hand (shame), it’s because it’s the best atmosphere! It is completely buzzing with tourists and locals, the music is awesome and they also have face painters inside the club who will paint an incredibly quirky design on your face for a couple of $$.
- Greens Organic
- Paddy’s Irish Pub
- Morena Peruvian Kitchen
- Pisko & Soul - although a little on the pricey side ($53AUS) a night, it is very central and very clean.