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13 Wonderful Things to Do in Cusco | The Gateway to the Sacred Valley

Cusco, known as the gateway to the Sacred Valley, offers an abundance of incredible experiences. In this guide, we will explore 13 wonderful things to do in Cusco, ensuring that you make the most of your visit. From exploring ancient ruins to immersing in vibrant markets and indulging in delicious cuisine, Cusco has something for everyone. Discover the beauty, history, and culture of this captivating city as we highlight the top attractions and activities. Let’s dive into the exciting world of things to do in Cusco!

Explore the Historic Plaza de Armas

The Plaza de Armas, the heart of Cusco, is a must-visit destination. Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of this central square, surrounded by colonial architecture and historic landmarks. Explore the impressive Cathedral of Cusco and the Church of the Society of Jesus. Take in the beauty of the Plaza while enjoying a cup of coca tea and observing the vibrant energy of the city. The Plaza de Armas is the perfect starting point for your Cusco adventure.

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Discover the Majestic Machu Picchu

No visit to Cusco is complete without a trip to the legendary Machu Picchu, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of this ancient Inca citadel, perched high in the Andes Mountains. Hike the Inca Trail or take a scenic train ride to reach this extraordinary site. Explore the terraces, temples, and intricate stone structures while soaking in the breathtaking views. Machu Picchu is a testament to the ingenuity of the Inca civilization and a highlight of any trip to Cusco.

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Wander Through the Ruins of Sacsayhuaman

Just outside of Cusco, the archaeological complex of Sacsayhuaman awaits. Marvel at the impressive stone walls and the panoramic views of the city below. These ruins offer a glimpse into the remarkable Inca engineering and architectural skills. Explore the labyrinthine stone passages, discover hidden nooks, and imagine the ceremonies that once took place in this sacred site. Visit during the Inti Raymi festival in June to witness colorful celebrations and traditional reenactments. Sacsayhuaman is a fascinating historical site that should not be missed.

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Experience the Mystical Qorikancha 

Qorikancha, also known as the Temple of the Sun, is a testament to the fusion of Inca and Spanish colonial architecture. Marvel at the intricate stonework and the golden decorations that once adorned this important Inca temple. Explore the beautiful courtyards and learn about the spiritual significance of Qorikancha. Discover the blend of Inca and Spanish culture as you stroll through the halls and contemplate the historical importance of this site.

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Shop at the San Pedro Market

Immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and flavors of Cusco at the bustling San Pedro Market. This local market offers a sensory feast with stalls brimming with fresh produce, textiles, handicrafts, and local delicacies. Practice your bargaining skills as you shop for souvenirs and interact with friendly vendors. Taste exotic fruits, sample traditional dishes, and experience the vibrant atmosphere of this authentic market. San Pedro Market is a cultural hub that provides a glimpse into the daily lives of the locals and the richness of Peruvian traditions.

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Hike to the Rainbow Mountain

Embark on a challenging and rewarding adventure to Rainbow Mountain, also known as Vinicunca. This natural wonder is renowned for its vibrant colors, caused by mineral deposits in the mountainside. Lace up your hiking boots and trek through the stunning Andean landscapes, passing through local villages and breathtaking vistas. As you reach the summit, be captivated by the surreal beauty of Rainbow Mountain and the panoramic views of the surrounding peaks. It’s a bucket-list-worthy experience that showcases the breathtaking natural wonders of Cusco.

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Visit the Chinchero Village

Venture to the picturesque village of Chinchero, nestled in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Immerse yourself in the local culture as you visit the traditional adobe houses and interact with skilled weavers. Learn about ancient weaving techniques passed down through generations and admire the vibrant textiles created by the locals. Visit the Chinchero Sunday market, where you can find handmade crafts, colorful textiles, and fresh produce. The village’s charming beauty and warm hospitality provide a glimpse into the traditions and way of life in the Andean communities.

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Trek to the Humantay Lake

Embark on a breathtaking hike to Humantay Lake, located in the Vilcabamba Range. This turquoise gem is surrounded by majestic snow-capped peaks and offers a tranquil setting for nature lovers. As you hike through the Andean landscapes, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views and a chance to spot Andean wildlife. Reach the pristine waters of Humantay Lake and soak in the serene ambiance while admiring the reflections of the mountains. It’s an unforgettable experience that combines adventure and natural beauty.

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Marvel at the Moray Agricultural Terraces

Discover the impressive Moray agricultural terraces, which provide a glimpse into the advanced agricultural practices of the Incas. These circular terraces, resembling an amphitheater, were used for experimental farming due to their varying microclimates. Explore the site and marvel at the precision engineering that allowed the Incas to cultivate a wide variety of crops. The terraces’ unique design and historical significance make it a fascinating attraction in Cusco.

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Taste Peruvian Cuisine

Cusco is a paradise for food enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of traditional Peruvian dishes. Sample the iconic ceviche, indulge in lomo saltado, and savor the flavors of rocoto relleno. Taste the rich diversity of Peruvian ingredients such as quinoa, potatoes, and alpaca meat. Don’t miss the opportunity to try cuy, a traditional dish made from guinea pig. Whether you’re dining at a fine restaurant or exploring local markets and street food stalls, Cusco’s culinary scene will delight your taste buds and introduce you to the rich flavors of Peruvian cuisine.

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Visit the Maras Salt Ponds

Journey to the Maras Salt Ponds and witness the centuries-old tradition of salt production. These unique salt pools, cascading down the mountainside, have been used since Inca times. Learn about the intricate evaporation process that locals use to harvest salt and appreciate the mesmerizing landscape of gleaming salt ponds against the backdrop of the Andes Mountains. The Maras Salt Ponds offer a captivating sight and a unique cultural experience in the Sacred Valley.

Journey to the Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley, just outside of Cusco, is a treasure trove of natural beauty and ancient Inca ruins. Visit the impressive Pisac archaeological site, hike to the Intihuatana stone in Ollantaytambo, and marvel at the agricultural terraces of Moray. Immerse yourself in the rich history and spirituality of this sacred region. Engage with local communities, participate in traditional ceremonies, and learn about traditional farming techniques. The Sacred Valley provides a deeper understanding of the Inca civilization and its connection to the Andean landscape.

Engage in Adventure Sports

For adrenaline junkies, Cusco offers a wide range of thrilling activities. Go whitewater rafting along the Urubamba River, zip line through the lush valleys, or go mountain biking along rugged trails. Test your rock climbing skills or challenge yourself with a multi-day trek to breathtaking viewpoints. Cusco’s diverse terrain provides the perfect playground for adventure sports enthusiasts. Get your heart racing and create unforgettable memories as you explore the natural wonders of Cusco from a different perspective.
Conclusion: Cusco, the gateway to the Sacred Valley, offers a plethora of amazing experiences for every type of traveler. From exploring ancient ruins to immersing in vibrant markets, indulging in delicious cuisine, and embarking on thrilling adventures, Cusco has it all. The 13 things to do in Cusco highlighted in this guide are just the tip of the iceberg, showcasing the city’s rich culture, history, and natural beauty. So, pack your bags, embark on a journey to Cusco, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure filled with wonder, exploration, and awe-inspiring moments.

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