If you have been reading all about the history of Peru and the Incas, then you will know all about Machu Picchu, the beautiful Sacred Valley, and Cusco. Machu Picchu is one of the most famous sites in South America with a mysterious history and a wonderful presence. The citadel is located on the side of a mountain on the fringes of the Amazon rainforest. People who make a trip to Peru always visit the famous Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu. But did you know that there are many other equally fabulous ruins and temples that you should not miss? When you are in town, you need to plan a Cusco city tour. This will take you past different attractions that you cannot miss. Therefore, together with the experts from Machu Travel Peru, we have prepared a small article about the Cusco city tour. Get to know what this beautiful corner of the city has to offer.
Some Cusco city tour ideas to consider
- What places are included?
- Cusco main square
- Cusco Cathedral
- Coricancha and Convent of Santo Domingo
- Puca Pucara
- How much does the city tour cost?
- Recommendations for the city tour
- Alternative things to do
When people think of the ceremonial city of the Inca Empire, Machu Picchu immediately comes to mind. But the city of Cusco has much more to offer. So, you may wonder why visit Cusco city? The majestic and soaring city of Cusco offers not only the best jewel of Peru, Machu Picchu, but also ancient churches, temples, and more archaeological ruins. So, the city tour in Cusco is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating, educational, and enjoyable activities to do as part of your vacation in Peru. A Cusco city tour will last approximately half a day. You can do it during your first day in Cusco, as long as you are in the city before 11 a.m. Another good option is to take the first day to rest in the different hotels in Cusco and acclimatize to the altitude. There are two schedules in which the City Tour can be done: The first runs from 7 am to 12 pm. While the second schedule runs from 2 pm to 7 pm.
WHAT PLACES ARE INCLUDED?
The city tour goes through some of the most important points of the city of Cusco. Among them, you will find a great variety of historical buildings, colonial churches, and archaeological sites in Cusco. Visitors will be dazzled by the locations below:
CUSCO MAIN SQUARE
The Plaza de Armas in Cusco is considered the heart of the vibrant city. The main square is surrounded by numerous restaurants, bars, and buildings with magnificent architecture from the Spanish conquest. The Plaza del Cusco is world-famous for being a meeting point for people from all over the world, in addition to its beauty and great history. Formerly it was the religious center of the capital as well as the administrative center during the height of the Empire. After the Spanish conquest, many colonial churches and temples were built around it. Today, the Plaza de Armas forms one of the main attractions that cannot go unnoticed.
The Cusco Cathedral is part of the many ancient churches of the Imperial City. It is the main religious temple in the city and also one of the most popular architectural monuments. It is located right in front of the Plaza de Armas. It was originally an ancient Inca temple designed to worship Wiracocha. However, during the conquest, it was looted and demolished to build the monument that is appreciated today.
It took almost a hundred years to build it. Today it forms one of the most recognized architectural monuments in the city along with other churches. And in 1983, it was declared Humanity Heritage by UNESCO. This will be one of the first sites that you will visit within the Cusco city tour.
CORICANCHA AND CONVENT OF SANTO DOMINGO
Coricancha, also known as the “Templo Dorado” (Golden Temple). It is stated that formerly the walls of the interior of the Coricancha were covered with gold plates. It even had a giant gold statue of the sun god, Inti, which was taken out of the temple every day and placed in the garden until sunset when it was returned. All the gold and treasures disappeared with the arrival of the Spanish conquerors who caused the decline of the Incas.
The temple of the sun had a famous garden, entirely dedicated to Inti. It is also said that the garden had many elements from the Inca Empire that were used to decorate the garden made of gold and silver. All of the various figures included corn, llamas, jaguars, birds, and many pots and jars. There aren’t many of these treasures left these days, but the garden is believed to have been a spectacular sight. The construction of the church was a way to undermine the Inca religion. However, you must visit the Church on your Peru vacation. For this is a beautiful piece of Spanish architecture, with marvelous decorative carvings and unique vaulted ceilings that are truly beautiful. Take the time to see the carved entrance doors of Santo Domingo, the only place in Cusco where you can see such carvings.
The emblematic fortress of Sacsayhuaman is one of the most imposing and enigmatic places on the planet. It was built between the 15th and 16th centuries and its size impresses many people from all corners of the world. There the tourist will be able to appreciate stones up to nine meters high and more than 120 tons. It was built on a mountain where you can see an excellent view of the city of Cusco.
One of its most characteristic details are its stone walls up to nine meters high and weighing more than 120 tons. They all fit together with incredible precision. The Spanish believed that it was a work of the devil. Even there brutal struggles were fought between the Incas and the Spanish. Today it is one of the most symbolic attractions of the Cusco city tour. It is also the headquarters of the celebration known as Inti Raymi or Sun Festival. This is celebrated every June 24 of each year. One of the best places to visit within the tours in Peru.
Qenqo is a large limestone ruin surrounded by a complex pattern of steps, niches, seats, geometric reliefs, and symbolic carvings. Qenqo can be translated from the ancient Quechua language as “zigzag” or “labyrinth”. One of its main attractions is an underground cave that has altars finely carved into the rock. Qenqo is very close to the Sacsayhuaman fortress, just one kilometer away. It is believed that it was an ancient Inca ceremonial center whose buildings were dedicated to the Pachamama. It is also associated with fertility rites, solstice, and equinox ceremonies.
Puca Pucara is also known as “Red Fort” because of the color of its stones when it gets dark. Puca Pucara was used as a military and rest center for the numerous Inca troops. It is located in front of the Valley of Cusco, where beautiful panoramic views are offered. Furthermore, it was an entrance and exit controlled by those traveling to or from the Imperial City. It is believed that one of its main functions was to watch over Tambomachay and Sacsayhuaman. In this place, you can also see fountains, aqueducts, and other Inca constructions.
The Tambomachay ruin is made up of aqueducts and water channels. It is believed that its purpose was to worship water. It is one of the most beautiful archaeological sites that you will visit in the Cusco city tour. It is located approximately 100 meters from Puca Pucara. Even today after so many centuries, its channels continue to flow water. In addition to canals and aqueducts, the enclosure is made up of a set of finely carved rocks.
HOW MUCH DOES THE CITY TOUR COST?
The cost of the Cusco city tour will depend a lot on whether you are with your Cusco tourist ticket. All these attractions can be visited individually and without the need for a tourist ticket. But to save a little and take advantage of your time in the city, it is advisable to buy one. The ticket includes all the aforementioned attractions. Like Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Puca Pucara, and Tambomachay among others. The cost of the Ticket ranges between $ 50 to $ 60. If your Cusco city tour does not include the Ticket, then it can cost about $ 15 to $ 30. Now, if you prefer, you can also opt for a private walking tour in Cusco, but the cost will be higher. Round-trip transportation is generally included as well as a bilingual guide.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE CITY TOUR
The city of Cusco is located about 3,399 meters above sea level. At that point, it is always advisable to be acclimatized or otherwise drink coca tea. Keep in mind that the climate of Cusco is temperate. This means that the days are sunny during the day. However, depending on the time you travel, rains can occur at any time. Make sure you are well equipped with the essentials: such as sunscreen, lip balm, clothing for hot and cold temperatures, as well as a hat. Don’t forget to bring bottled water, snacks, and some cash. A good option is to visit the San Pedro market in Cusco before leaving for your tour, in this way you will find everything you are looking for.
ALTERNATIVE THINGS TO DO
The Cusco city tour offers some interesting and unmissable activities to enjoy. Keep in mind that the city tour is intended as a summary of those activities and places that you cannot ignore. But you can also consider other kinds of things to do in the Imperial City. Some alternative activities to enjoy are:
- Have a Pisco Sour: our flagship drink.
- Try a typical Cusco dish: Cuy Chactado.
- Visit the San Pedro Market: One of the oldest markets in Cusco.
- Enjoy the Cusco nightlife. Not everything is tours of ruins and museums. Have a little fun!
- Take a walk and see the Stone of the Twelve Angles: Cultural Heritage of the Nation of Peru.
- Visit Chinchero: Known as the “Ciudad del Arco Iris” (Birthplace of the rainbow).
- Go to the Sacred Valley of the Incas: A beautiful place where you can enjoy the flora and fauna of Cusco. You can also do adventure sports.
- Explore Machu Picchu: Obviously, it is a must. From Cusco to Machu Picchu, there are some interesting options to get to the Inca citadel.
- On the other hand, there are also important festivals in Cusco celebrated by the general population. These unique dates will make your visit to Cusco a magical experience as well.
“REMEMBER THAT HAPPINESS IS A WAY OF TRAVEL, NOT A DESTINATION.”
In conclusion, the Cusco city tour is an activity that you cannot miss. Especially if you have planned to know everything that this beautiful corner of Peru has to offer. From beautiful colonial churches to ancient archaeological ruins to visit. Everything will be a pleasant surprise for your senses. Machu Travel Peru hopes to have helped summarize what this popular tour is about. But we think the best way to get to know it is to experience it on your own. If you want to know more about our tours of Cusco, you can consult with our qualified advisers.