Cusco is a city that lives from tourism. The city and the surrounding area has lots to offer:
Of course, when you’re in Cusco there can be no doubt that Machu Picchu should be on your list as well. The historical site is part of Unesco’s world heritage sites and for a reason.
From Cusco, you can of course walk alongside the Inca Trail in 5 days to Aguas Calientes. You can also make it to Poroy or Ollantaytambo and take the train. Poroy is about 15 minutes from Cusco center. If you drive to Ollantaytambo, you’ll have to count several hours. I met a couple of friends from New York that had seen all kinds of roads and villages while driving from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. Fortunately for me, they missed their earlier train because of this and ended up on the same train where I was on since Poroy. Still hope they were on time in Machu Picchu to meet their friends.
The Saqsaywaman sites near Cusco
There are several other historical sites surrounding Cusco. I was pretty much impressed by the ones that form the Saqsaywaman site. The large walls on the main site and the floor plans of the towers give an idea of the architecture in the area. The spirituality that surrounds the Q’enqo site is stunning. And the Tambomachay and Pukapukara sites give an insight into how the Inca society was organized.
Plaza de Armas
The Plaza de Armas is not only, just like all other cities in Peru, the central square. This one is infamous as well because it’s here that Túpac Amaru II was executed by the Spaniards. He started a movement for equal rights for indigenous people.
The fountain in the middle of the square has the statue of Pachacutec on top of it. There was a bit of controversy when it was installed in 2011. But when I visited in 2015, Pachacutec seemed to be still there, showing the Inca heritage of Cusco.
Plaza San Francisco
The Calle Marquez and the Plaza San Francisco are places where you can stroll or just hang out.
San Pedro Market
The Plaza San Pedro hosts many shopping facilities. You’ll find small stores, street vendors, and supermarkets. On the square itself there’s the San Pedro Market. The smells will lead you to this market where refrigeration of meat seems not been invented yet. But all the produces are local, and the people are more than willing to tell a little more. You will find all sorts of fresh food here. Most vendors are related to the farmers. Across the street are more people selling fruits.
There are several entrances to the market. The main entrance is located in front of the church.
The meat is displayed on the counter. It’s not cooled. Flies and other insects are of course very eager to taste the meat as well.
I stayed in the Tierra Viva Cusco Centro. A nice hotel, very much in the center of Cusco. All the comfort a traveler needs.
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.