There is no doubt about it; Cusco is one of the most incredible cities in the world, and one of the highest at 3,400 meters above sea level. Adjust to Cusco’s breathtaking heights and you’ll find nature, culture, and plenty of attractions to keep you busy from start to finish of your stay. After all, you’re in the historical capital of Peru (truly! It’s written in Peru’s constitution).
So, plan your visit to Cusco with Explorandes and we’ll guide you to these 7 can’t miss Cusco historical sites.
1. Plaza de Armas
Every tour of Cusco must begin with a visit to the Plaza de Armas of Cusco located right in the heart of the city. The plaza is ringed by an assortment of restaurants, shops, churches, and government buildings housed in structures dating back to the Spanish conquest. We recommend that you visit the square during the day and at a night to experience both ambiances.
Fun Fact: Before the Incas made this plot of land their central square (long before the Spanish transformed the plaza to look the way it does today) it was a swampland.
2. Cusco Cathedral
The Cathedral of Cusco is the eye-catching main attraction in the Plaza de Armas and the main religious temple in all of Cusco. It was built with stones pillaged from the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman, an endeavor that took more than 100 years to complete (1560 to 1664).
Ollantaytambo is a small, formerly Inca, village cradled by the Sacred Valley. It’s located about 90km from the city of Cusco. The privileged views from the hill-climbing ruins that surround it are reason enough to make the journey to this quaint and historic town. Ollantaytambo is also the traditional starting point for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Just 2km north of Cusco’s Plaza de Armas and up a steep and winding road rests the Inca Fortress of Sacsayhuaman. Considered the greatest architectural work of the Incas, this impressive ruin was built during the Inca’s heyday in the 15th and 16th centuries. Come for the history. Stay for the panoramic views of the city of Cusco below.
5. The 12-Angled Stone
The 12-Angled Stone is one of Cusco’s most famous attractions. This popular photo op is literally a stone with 12 sides that are so neatly cut and fitted together with the adjacent stones that not even a piece of paper could slip between them. The 12-Angled Stone, a Cultural Patrimony of the Nation of Peru, can be found on an original Inca-built wall on Calle Hatun Rumiyoc.
6. The Sacred Valley of the Incas
The magical Sacred Valley of the Incas is a mix of archaeological remains, indigenous communities, and otherworldly mountain landscapes. It is one of the most traditional areas of the Peruvian Andes that has successfully integrated tourism into its very fabric, without losing an ounce of its original identity.
7. Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the modern world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s no wonder that this majestic Inca ruin is Peru’s number one tourist attraction. Situated on a hilltop at an elevation of 2,490 meters above sea level, the site is a feat of engineering and an architectural masterpiece. It’s one place you simply cannot miss during your tour of Cusco.
If you want to visit Cusco with the best guides, you’ll want to travel with Explorandes. To learn more about departure dates, potential itineraries or any other information you may need, please contact us.