Every corner of Cusco could be considered a tourist attraction, is that this city keeps great mystery and living culture in every street and building, that’s why we present a list of the best tourist places in Cusco, and we have been updating it every time a new one appears.
There are many tourist attractions in the city of Cusco, so it is really essential that you take your time to know it properly and do not try to visit like crazy or crazy all is a few days.
If you have already visited Cusco several times, our section of tourist places that few people know may interest you.
In this list we classify the tourist sites of Cusco in 4, the first one talking about the must-see places to visit, the second one about the little known places, the third one about fixed points within the city and the last one about places for adventure trekking.
Top 10 MUST SEE PLACES DURING YOUR VISIT TO CUSCO
Cusco is the main tourist center of Peru and one of the main destinations in South America. The attractions begin in the city itself and extend along its valleys and snow-capped mountains, all the way to the wonder of the world.
1. Machu Picchu
A trip to Cusco will not be considered as such, if you do not go to the wonder of the world.
The Inca city rises imposingly between the Andes Mountains and the jungle, showing itself to the world as one of the greatest works of man and can be enjoyed intact even today.
Despite its difficult location, getting to Machu Picchu is relatively simple and can be done in many ways, whether you like comfort or adventure.
There is no excuse not to visit the Inca’s masterpiece, a must-see for all who come to Cusco.
Read the article we created about: How to buy tickets for Machu Picchu.
2. Rainbow Mountain
The number 2 spot goes to the famous Rainbow Mountain in Peru, a natural attraction that amazes every visitor.
The Vinicunca mountain (The rainbow mountain in Cusco) which is located at 5200 m.a.s.l. is the protagonist, also known as the “Rainbow Mountain or Mountain of 7 colors”, it belongs to the Ausangate snow-capped mountain, which is the highest in the Vilcanota mountain range, it has become one of the most popular destinations in Cusco.
When you arrive at the mountain of 7 colors, in one of the many daily tours that are out there, you will not believe in front of this unique spectacle, only the pictures that will be taken will make this incredible experience believable.
The mountain of 7 colors is definitely a place not to be missed, and is part of the Cusco Tourist Places that are to visit if or if.
3. The neighborhood of San Blas
There is no place more traditional and beautiful than the neighborhood of San Blas in Cusco. It is reached by Hatun Rumiyoc street, where you can see the spectacular Stone of the 12 angles, until you reach the hillside of San Blas.
Passing through narrow streets with handicraft stores and some restaurants we will arrive at the San Blas square, where you can see its temple, which has a beautiful pulpit carved in wood in baroque style.
In this neighborhood you will find the workshops of the most renowned Cusquenian artisans.
Throughout the neighborhood you will find many hotels, restaurants, pubs and mystical centers, a place to rejoice and get lost in time.
The fortress of Sacsayhuaman is one of the most amazing constructions of the Incas, it is here that we can see a gigantic stones that are carved to the millimeter, something very surprising of the Inca architecture.
Located 2 km from the city of Cusco, its incredible cyclopean walls, the towers located on the zigzag walls and the huge trapezoidal gates stand out in a very remarkable way.
You can have a fun time sliding down the Suchunas (rolling) or the Chincanas (tunnels).
In Sacsayhuaman, every June 24th, the Festival of the Sun called Inti Raymi is held.
Pisac is located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Pisac will surprise you in two ways:
First: With its world famous traditional market, with countless stalls between the streets of the town and its main square, in this market you can find handicrafts of all kinds, highlighting ceramics, textiles and silverware.
Second: Behind the town, on top of a mountain, are the best preserved Inca constructions, with magnificent structures such as the Temple of the Sun or its spectacular platform.
Ollantaytambo, located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas like Pisac, is the obligatory stop for all visitors heading to Machu Picchu, and not precisely because of the train station located there, but because of the spectacular archaeological complex that is located there.
It is an incredible place, as well as for its spectacular Temple of the Sun which is a Monolith of 6 huge rocks that are exactly coupled and is located at the top of the complex.
The town itself is also a delight, with its houses and streets that seem to stand still in time, you can enjoy a pleasant moment in one of its hotels or restaurants that exist.
Ollantaytambo is definitely a place you will not forget.
7. Chinchero – Textile Centers
Chinchero, known worldwide for its weavings, there are countless videos of how they make the weavings.
The weavers of Chinchero have managed to bring weaving once again to the forefront of their community. Chinchero is now internationally recognized as a prominent weaving town whose focus on revitalizing the tradition has also revitalized the community itself.
As Chinchero is located on the road between Cusco and Urubamba in the Sacred Valley, the weavers of the Chinchero Weavers Association give demonstrations to visiting tourists and run a small store offering textiles from all ten communities.
8. Humantay Lake
The Humantay Lake (5,473 m.a.s.l.) is, without a doubt, one of the most incredible landscapes of Cusco. This natural tourist attraction is located at the foot of the mountain of the same name, on the way to the snowy Salkantay.
Getting there is an adventure. You walk through high Andean landscapes where you can see llamas, alpacas, vizcachas and other animals. The lake is surrounded by snow-capped peaks.
Moray is an archaeological site near Cusco, located in Maras. This Inca construction is characterized by being made up of several circular platforms in a kind of crater and is located at 3500 meters above sea level.
According to many arequologists, this site was used by the Incas to experiment with grains and plants at different altitudes.
10. Salt mines of maras
Salineras de maras is a unique and very instagrammable place, there are thousands of natural salt deposits that the villagers use to extract natural salt known as “sal de maras” and is used in gourmet restaurants.
9 LESS CROWDED TOURIST PLACES IN CUSCO
Now we will talk about the places that few people know and that are growing in popularity, and these places have their own charm that makes everyone fall in love with them.
1. Red Valley
The Vilcanota mountain range, south of Cusco, is the scene of incredible natural attractions. The best known of all is the Rainbow Mountain (5,200 m.a.s.l.). However, very few visitors know about the so-called “Red Valley of Cusco“, a natural landscape located nearby.
The slopes and peaks of this site are dyed red due to a mineralization process millions of years ago. Although the “Red Valley” is a new attraction, it already receives about 500 visitors a day.
2. Palccoyo – Another rainbow mountain
The Mountain of the 7 Colors of Palccoyo located at more than 4900 meters above sea level, is a summit dyed with various colors very similar to the Vinicunca. It is located a short distance from Ausangate.
In Palccoyo, you can also appreciate a forest of stones formed in a natural way. There abound llamas, alpacas, vizcachas, condors and other animals.
Despite its beauty, there are still not many tourists who dare to visit it and this makes some who do not like to visit a place with many people love it more than Vinicunca.
3. Tres Cruces de Oro de Paucartambo
The most beautiful sunrise in the world can be seen from the viewpoint of Tres Cruces de Oro in Paucartambo (Cusco). Also known as the Balcony of the East, because in the distance you can see the Manu Reserve Park in the jungle of Peru (Cusco and Madre de Dios).
This natural spectacle takes place every morning from 4.30 am. The sky is tinged with red, orange and its shades. Every winter solstice (end of June), in Tres Cruces de Oro takes place the so-called “White Ray”, an optical illusion that simulates three suns in the distance.
4. Huasao Wetland
A few kilometers from Cusco there is a theme park where the characters from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Lord of the Rings” were designed in wood. The Huasao wetlands are a natural environment where you can be away from the city and enjoy nature.
This attraction is located in the district of Oropesa. A short distance from there, there is a Jurassic park ideal to visit with the little ones.
5. Cocalmayo Hot Springs
Visitors arriving to Machu Picchu by the alternative route of Hidroeléctrica have the option of relaxing in the thermal baths of Cocalmayo.
This natural attraction is located in the town of Santa Teresa, approximately 20 kilometers from Machu Picchu.
The thermal waters of Cocalmayo have up to 3 pools with temperatures ranging from 38ºC. to 44ºC. Its waters are clear and have healing and relaxing properties.
Many tourists arrive there on their way or doing the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu to relax.
6. The Inca Bridge of Qeswachaka
The last Inca bridge called Q’eswachaka and declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO survives 3 hours from the city of Cusco, in the village of Qhehue. This bridge made of ichu (Andean grass) is approximately 500 years old.
Every two weeks in June, the inhabitants of the surrounding communities rebuild the bridge as their Inca ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Thus, after a 4-day ceremony, the old bridge is replaced by a new one.
7. Pallay Poncho – Apu Taqllo
This is a new tourist attraction of Cusco, which is becoming a very interesting place to visit, is located about 3 – 4 hours drive from the city of Cusco, is a new mountain of colors.
What makes it a good place to visit is its beautiful landscape and the lagoon that can be seen next to it. It is one of the little known places that you should visit if you are in Cusco for several times.
Waqrapukara es un sitio arqueológico situado en el distrito de Acos, provincia de Acomayo, en Cusco. Está situado cerca del río Apurímac a 4300 metros sobre el nivel del mar. Es uno de los lugares menos conocidos de Cusco, pero en los últimos años se ha ido dando a conocer cada vez más a través de las redes sociales.
9. Cusco stone sculptures
This is a new place, it is full of constructions and sculptures carved in stone with representations of an Inca, the Inca’s wife, puma, etc.
10. Sky Bike Cusco
Skybike Cusco is a tourist activity that few tourists know about, although lately it has become very popular in social networks.
The activity consists of pedaling from one hill to another on a rope. It is located about 30 minutes by car from the city of Cusco.
12 TOURIST ATTRACTIONS AROUND THE CITY OF CUSCO
Cusco Main Square
The Main Square of Cusco is the best place to start any visit to Cusco. In Inca times, Cusco’s Plaza de Armas was called “Huacaypata”, a Quechua word meaning place of weeping or gathering. It was an important ceremonial place where the Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun was celebrated every year. Read more about Cusco’s Plaza de Armas.
1. The Cathedral of Cusco
Built over what was once the Palace of the Inca Wiracocha, the cathedral began construction in 1559 and took almost a century to complete. It was built using blocks from Sacsayhuaman. Read more about Cusco Cathedral.
2. Temple of the Society of Jesus
The original temple was built in 1571 on the grounds of the former Amarucancha, palace of the Inca Huayna Capac. After the earthquake of 1650 it had to be rebuilt around 1688.
The original design and facade are examples of Andean baroque. The cover, type “altarpiece”, is decorated with towers of medium height and its stone walls have been carefully worked.
Upon entering the temple, the main altar with three bodies and Solomonic columns, the wooden pulpit and numerous baroque, plateresque and churrigueresque altarpieces stand out. Among the works of art “El matrimonio de Martín García de Loyola con Beatriz Clara Coya” (The marriage of Martín García de Loyola with Beatriz Clara Coya) stands out.
3. Neighborhood and Plaza de San Blas
The neighborhood of San Blas is one of the most picturesque tourist attractions of Cusco, not far from the Plaza de Armas. Called “T’oqokachi or salt hole”, it is characterized by its narrow and steep streets, and its beautiful colonial style houses.
It is known as the Artisans’ Quarter.
4. Temple of San Blas
Founded in 1560 during the Colony, it preserves a baroque pulpit that constitutes a masterpiece of the work and wood carving, attributed to the indigenous artist Diego Quispe Tito.
5. Temple and Convent of La Merced in Cuzco
The baroque church was built between 1657 and 1680. The sacristy preserves its most precious treasure, an impressive gold and precious stone monstrance 1.3 m high and weighing 22 kg, crowned by a large pearl in the shape of a mermaid, considered the second largest in the world.
6. Temple and Convent of Santo Domingo / Koricancha
The Koricancha, according to chroniclers, was one of the most impressive buildings of Inca Cusco; it had entire walls covered with gold leaf inside, because it was the main temple of the Sun God.
The Spaniards built over the original construction, around 1534, the church and convent of the Dominicans, which collapsed as a result of the earthquake of 1650 and were rebuilt around 1681.
The convent has a valuable art gallery with canvases from the 17th and 18th centuries. Today this construction is a sample of the mixture between western and indigenous culture.
7. Temple, Convent and Museum of Santa Catalina
They were built in 1605 over the old Acllahuasi or “House of the Chosen Women” (the acllas were women dedicated to special tasks for the Inca). Its architecture corresponds to the last stages of the Renaissance and is characterized by its semicircular arches.
The interior still shows traces of the original construction. It has an exhibition hall with mural paintings, gold and silver work, textiles, sculptures and altarpieces.
Exhibitions of paintings, textiles, wood carvings and colonial altarpieces. The paintings of Diego Quispe Tito and the carpet of the gallery of the Arcades stand out, as well as religious ornaments with gold and silver threads.
8. Archbishop’s Palace and Stone of the Twelve Angles
The building is a viceregal construction of Arab influence, which was built on the foundations of the palace of Inca Roca. It is currently the seat of the Museum of Religious Art.
In Hatunrumiyoc Street you can see an ancient Inca wall that was part of the palace of Inca Roca and is an admirable example of the work of the Incas in the polishing and placement of each stone.
In this structure stands out the so-called “Stone of the Twelve Angles”, famous for the perfect work and assembly of its corners.
9. House of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega
Born on April 12, 1539, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega was the son of the Spanish captain Garcilaso de la Vega y Vargas and the Cusco princess Chimpu Ocllo.
He was the author of two works: “Comentarios Reales” and “La Florida del Inca”, both driven by the need to rescue the history of the Inca empire.
The house currently houses the Regional Historical Museum, which brings together a collection of canvases of the Cusco school.
10. Church and Convent of Santa Clara of Cusco
The monastery of the Poor Clares, a female branch of the Franciscan order, was founded in 1549 under the protection of the secular chapter of Cusco. The church was finished in 1622.
The works of the temple, carried out between 1603 and 1622, were in charge of the Greek religious Manuel Pablo. It survived the earthquake of 1650, so Santa Clara is one of the few buildings in Cusco that shows elements prior to that date.
11. Santa Teresa Church and Monastery of Cusco
It is a small building that arose from the donation of Antonio de Zea from the houses of the conquistador Diego de Silva y Guzman. The construction of the church was completed in 1673.
Its simple classical facade on the stone wall, flanked by stone walls, is very contrasting and of great interest to the visitor when he discovers the baroque luxury of its interior.
It generates a feeling of rusticity that contrasts with the fineness of the brick vaults and the conical dome, unparalleled in the city.
12. San Pedro Market
The San Pedro Market is located in the center of the city, it is one of the places where we can find fruits, food, handicrafts at relatively cheap prices. It is a place that you must visit if you want to.
5 ADVENTURE AND TREKKING TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Continuing with the tourist attractions in Cusco, in this section we will talk about the adventure attractions, that is to say, those that demand physical effort and treks of several days.
1. Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is considered the best hike in South America. It is a 43 kilometers route through ancient Inca trails to Machu Picchu.
The duration of the tour is 4 days and 3 nights. Tourists have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the landscape with Inca archaeological sites including the Wonder of the World.
One of the most incredible ways to visit Machu Picchu is through the Salkantay trek. This 5-day, 4-night trek crosses the imposing snow-capped mountain of Salkantay and then reaches the Wonder of the World.
The Salkantay is a snow-capped mountain whose name translated from Quechua would mean “Wild Mountain”. This summit is known as ‘Apu’ (‘Lord’) for its majesty and elevation.
3. Inca Jungle Trek
The Inca Jungle Trek is an adventure activity that takes you to Machu Picchu, combining different outdoor activities such as biking, rafting, zip-lining and trekking.
Choquequirao is a spectacular Inca city, located in a remote place near the snowy Salkantay.
It is considered the sister city of Machu Picchu and is as surprising as Machu Picchu. There is no way to get to Choquequirao by car, so you have to hike 60 km and it takes 4 days.
It is not a simple route, but it is full of adventure, with incredible mountain landscapes, abundant Andean flora and fauna. The Inca city of Choquequirao will surprise you pleasantly, it is a place that you can enjoy more quietly, since the visitor traffic is much lower than in Machu Picchu.
It is a unique place in the world, a formidable place shaped by the Incas themselves and that time has preserved until today almost intact.
The 5-day trek to Ausangate. It is the most challenging and amazing trek that exists in the Cusco region as well as the others.
The trek is physically demanding to the maximum, it is considered a high altitude trek, you walk above 5,000 meters above sea level and the campsites are located at more than 4,400 meters above sea level.