Top Peru Tour Destinations: Cusco

Every Peruvian city is distinct in its own way, brimming with history, yet each tells a tale all its own. Cusco was the seat of power for the entire immense Inca empire. Vistors are able to enjoy customs and culture that are just as humble and vibrant as those you find in the carved stone; a great mix of international, cosmopolitan and indigenous. Read on for more about Cusco and Peru adventure tours .

Cusco

In the City

Cusco is home to many sites but heading to the Plaza de Armas is where most people go to seek them out. An Incan creation, the plaza is a beautiful spot and is home to the Spanish built Cathedral of Santo Domingo and La Compania de Jesus temple. Several more majestic churches and monasteries are open to the public including La Merced, 1.5 blocks off the Plaza de Armas toward the Plaza San Francisco. All have entry fees from $1-3 USD, up to $10 USD for the main cathedral. Another well-curated example of Spanish construction on an Inca site is the Qorikancha, a stunning temple which was more extensively revealed beneath the church and convent of Santo Domingo after a 1950 earthquake. Sacsayhuaman is an Inca fortress of mind-boggling stonework which looms on a hill above town. It is open 7am-6pm and can be entered with the boleto turistico; 70 Soles for several Cusco sites for one day, 130 Soles for Cusco and the Sacred Valley sites for ten days.

Cusco is also home to many museums of history and art of varying quality. If small selections of world-class holdings are your bag, then a trip to Plaza Nazarenas for the Museum of Pre-Colombian Art is a great spot to see some of the Museo Larco of Lima. Those who wish to take a Peruvian treasure home will find beautiful hand-woven textiles, alpaca knitwear, traditional handicrafts and modern knick-knacks at densely packed tourist markets or higher-end shops around the centro historico. Get in to the local spirit and take a shop down at the cavernous, beautiful San Pedro market found on Calle Santa Clara.

Surrounding Areas

When it comes to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, the starting point tends to be from Cusco. The trails, interesting traditional towns and archaeological sites are enough to keep you in the region for months at a time. Pisac offers a sprawling market and an expansive, well-restored Inca fortress built of distinctive reddish stone. Another popular day trip includes the traditional pueblo of Maras, mysterious ruins at Moray and the unique, martian landscape of natural salt pools at Salineras. Ollantaytambo is a pleasant village where Inca streets and buildings are preserved and still inhabited.

Cheap public buses head to Pisac regularly or ask at your hotel about arranging a taxi for around 50 soles. Transport hub Urubamba or Ollantaytambo can be reached for 6-12 soles in a collective car or van departing from Calle Pavitos in Cusco. Other sites can be visited in private car or colectivos from Cusco or any town in the valley. Tour companies in Cusco and the Sacred Valley offer all manner of guided trips including by horse, mountain bike or whitewater raft.

Getting There

To reach Cusco from Lima, you may take a quick one hour flight (from $150 USD round-trip) or an all-day or overnight bus. The most comfortable buses run by Cruz del Sur are $140 USD round-trip. There are a number of bus terminals around Lima, so cheaper fares are available. Visiting Arequipa can be done by transfering at Lima or making a stop at Juliaca for flights. Fares run from $200-500 USD round-trip on TACA or LAN airlines. Most people choose the easy 10 hour overnight buses; the nicest of which are $30-50 USD with fully reclining seats to make your trips to Peru as comfortable as possible.

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