There is so much to do and see in and around Cusco, whenever possible we recommend giving yourself a few extra days in the city, both to acclimate to the altitude (3,400 m.a.s.l.) and also to enjoy the amazing architecture, restaurants, markets, and archeaological sites. Cusco has no shortage of history: everywhere you look there is a stark contrast of colonial and Inca architecture. Local markets are fascinating to explore and become familiar with the local culture and do some souvenir shopping. Don’t miss out on tasting the many local Peruvian dishes at local restaurants offering affordable Menu lunches and at the many gourmet locals that serve traditional dishes with a modern twist – you won’t go hungry in Cusco! This is by no means an exhaustive list of ideas for your visit to Cusco – contact us to help you make the perfect plan.
Sacsayhuaman and other nearby archaeological sites
On the hills looking over Cusco you’ll find several massive archaeological sites, including Sacsayhuaman, a citadel constructed from impossibly huge stones, Puca Pucara, Qenqo, and Tambomachay. Sacsayhuaman can be reached easily on foot (a steep uphill climb), or you can take a “City Tour” half day bus excursion that brings you through the Cathedral and Sun Temple in Cusco followed by a visit to the four archaeological sites. It is also possible to visit the hills above Cusco on horseback
The Sacred Valley is an exceptional and magical place. This valley is cut by the Urubamba River and is dotted with ancient villages and archaeological sites. It is about an hour from Cusco (depending which village you visit), and located almost a thousand meters lower than the city, so it is a wonderful destination to help acclimate to the altitude. All trips to Machu Picchu must pass through the Sacred Valley: the railroad passes through the valley and the Inca Trail begins here. Of the many villages, Pisac is often visited for its amazing and massive artisan market and archaeological site. Urubamba is located further along the valley and is the largest town. Ollantaytambo is the location for the Sacred Valley train station, so most travelers to Machu Picchu will stop here. Ollantaytambo is a quaint and beautiful town with an impressive Inca palace in the hills above the modern town. You can venture by local bus to any town in the Sacred Valley and stay at any number of lovely hotels or hostels, or you can take a bus tour that will stop at Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chincheros, a town in the altiplano above the valley famous for hand woven textiles.
Rainbow Mountain Trek
2018 price: $170 (CAD) per person
In recent years the trip to Rainbow Mountain has been growing in popularity. The hike begins after a 3.5 hour drive from Cusco, and leads you through the high Andean hills to the Rainbow Mountains, famous for the geological formations that result in colourful stripes on the mountain face. This trip is done in one (long) day, and offers a truly amazing and unique perspective of Andean geography.