10 Places in Cusco You Must See NOW! Oh, Cusco, Peru! I love you. If you haven’t traveled to Peru yet, stop waiting, and GO NOW!
10 Places in Cusco You Must See Now
Cusco is one of the Unesco World Heritage Sites, the most visited city in Peru, and it dates back to 1200 AD. It was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Peru is full of life, history, and mystery. Make sure these 10 places are on your list!
- The Historic District.
Cusco’s Historic District is without a doubt one of the 10 places in Cusco you must see now. It was the first place we went to after checking into our room at the Belmond Hotel Monasterio. It was a short walk through tight streets and past crowded stores. The historic district is a favorite of tourists because of its charm and splendor, but also to locals who live in the area and have to shop at the stores or markets. It is also home to Compania de Jesus (La Compania), La Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral, The Baroque Church and Convent of La Merced, as well as the beautiful sister fountain to one in Savannah, Georgia.
I can still see those sunsets in my memories…
2. La Plaza de Armas.
Every day, we found ourselves in the beautiful, historic center. It was home to ancient architecture, local schools, markets, as well as popular shops, local restaurants, hostels, and of course, a Starbucks. As much as I wanted to avoid a Starbucks, it was nice to have wi-fi and watch the sun set behind the Andes mountains while staring out into the plaza. I can still see those sunsets in my memories very vividly today, with the smell of coffee in the air (and I am not a coffee drinker).
3. The Fountain in La Plaza de Armas.
This fountain was the focus of my journey into the historic district. A few months prior to our trip and before we even spoke about traveling to South America, I saw Cusco on the tv show – International House Hunters. They showed the Plaza with the fountain. I paused the show and BAM! It was the same fountain as the one in Savannah, Georgia. I did some research and found out that there are actually 3 (sister) fountains, and they are located in Place de la Concorde in Paris, France, Cusco, Peru, and Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A.
4. Compania de Jesus (La Compania).
La Compania is one of my 10 places in Cusco you must see now because of its splendor! It was built with such grandeur that it caused an issue with another church on the same square. La Compania is built on the palace foundations of Huayna Capac. Huayna Capac was the last ruler of the united Inca Empire. Touring the inside of the church is a must and don’t forget to go beneath the church floor into the catacombs. You won’t be disappointed.
While walking down from the terrace, we saw a skull in the window.
5. Templo de San Blas.
San Blas is a neighborhood northeast of La Plaza de Armas. This area is known for its narrow, cobbled streets with art galleries and workshops. The temple (church) was built in 1592 and is full of the ornate gold Baroque that fills the other cathedrals and churches in the city. If you climb to the top of the terrace you can see the beautiful, red-tile rooftops of Cusco. While walking down from the terrace, we saw a skull in the window. I’ve never been that close to a real skull. It’s creepy but beautiful at the same time.
The walls of Cusco are a mystery of their own but Sacsayhuaman is beyond fascinating. The ruins are mind-boggling in size and weight. Some of the stones used to build the site are 24 feet in height and weigh about 361 tons (722,000 pounds). If you get to Sacsayhuaman, pay attention to the detail in the stones. They all fit perfectly! It’s truly a mystery to me. However, I must admit, I have the best photos from hiking around Sacsayhuaman that include a shot of the city of Cusco from above and a mom with her child and llamas.
The most famous stone in Peru is the 12-sided Inca Stone.
7. Inca Walls.
Like I mentioned with Sacsayhuaman, the stones used to build the Inca walls are mind-blogging. They are precisely cut and fitted closely without mortar (they used “dry” mortar). The most famous one in Peru is the 12-sided Inca Stone that is found in the historic district. It was literally a short walk from our hotel and super easy to find (after looking for a few days without asking). Don’t be bothered by asking, it will get you there quicker.
PeruRail is also the most beautiful way to travel in Peru.
One of my 10 places in Cusco you must see now is not exactly a place. We decided to take a train ride to Machu Picchu. Well, we didn’t have much of a choice. It is the fastest way to get there from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. PeruRail is also the most beautiful way to travel. We went through the countryside, using switchbacks that helped the train climb the mountain. It was impressive to witness. We rode from Poroy to Machu Picchu on the Vistadome but the Belmond Hiram Bingham is top of the line and boasts luxury all the way around.
9. Machu Picchu.
I hope you didn’t think I was going to omit this Unesco World Heritage Site. It was the whole reason we went to Peru. We wanted to see the Inca ruins and marvel in their wonder. Since Marty read up on Machu Picchu before we went, we decided not to hire a tour guide. We also speak Spanish, so that helped. Get a tour guide and enjoy your time. We have a few GoPro videos from Machu Picchu and one even captured an encounter with a chinchilla.
We took some selfies with a llama who loved the camera.
10. Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley.
After shopping at the market and taking a cooking class at the Belmond, I asked our concierge for a car to go to their sister property, Hotel Rio Sagrado in the Sacred Valley. We took some selfies with a llama who loved the camera. The last of my 10 places in Cusco you must see now comes from standing in the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley while looking up at the mountains.
10 Places in Cusco You Must See Now
The list is actually longer than these 10 places but these are my favorites. Marty has a list that is different than mine! Are you ready to travel to South America and check out the beauty that is Cusco? Come back to see the actual LLAMA_SELFIE!!