Machupicchu Exploration

40 Best Things to do in Cusco

If you’re planning a trip to Cusco, Peru, then you’re in for a real treat. Cusco is a city rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. As a travel blogger, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring this incredible city and discovering some of the best things to do. So, without further ado, here are my top picks for the best things to do in Cusco.

1. Visit Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu in December

No trip to Cusco would be complete without a visit to Machu Picchu. This ancient Incan city is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, and for good reason. The views from the top of Machu Picchu are simply breathtaking, and the history and culture surrounding the site are fascinating. Whether you choose to hike the Inca Trail or take a train to the site, a visit to Machu Picchu is a must-do for any traveler.

Read our article about How to get to Machu Picchu.

2. Explore the Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley private tour

The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a region just outside of Cusco that is filled with natural beauty and ancient ruins. Here, you can visit sites like the Pisac Ruins, the Ollantaytambo Fortress, and the Maras Salt Mines. You can also hike through the stunning landscapes of the Andes Mountains and learn about the history and culture of the Incas.

3. Take a Walking Tour of Cusco

Cusco: Best Things to do in Cusco

Cusco itself is a charming city that is worth exploring on foot. There are many walking tours available that will take you through the narrow cobblestone streets, past the colorful colonial buildings, and to sites like the Plaza de Armas and the Cusco Cathedral. A walking tour is a great way to get a feel for the city and to learn about its rich history and culture.

4. Visit the San Pedro Market

San Pedro

If you want to experience the local culture of Cusco, then a visit to the San Pedro Market is a must-do. This bustling market is filled with stalls selling everything from fresh produce to handicrafts to souvenirs. You can try some traditional Peruvian dishes, buy some unique souvenirs, and experience the vibrant energy of Cusco’s local community.

5. Learn about Peruvian Textiles

Peruvian textiles are world-renowned for their vibrant colors and intricate designs. In Cusco, you can learn about the history and techniques of traditional Peruvian weaving by visiting a textile museum or taking a workshop with a local artisan. You can also buy some beautiful handmade textiles as souvenirs or gifts.

6. Try Traditional Peruvian Cuisine

Peruvian cuisine is a blend of indigenous, Spanish, and other international influences. In Cusco, you can try traditional dishes like ceviche, lomo saltado, and rocoto relleno. You can also sample local specialties like cuy (guinea pig) and alpaca meat. There are many restaurants and street vendors throughout the city where you can try these delicious dishes.

7. Visit the Qoricancha

Qoricancha Cusco Walking

The Qoricancha is an ancient Incan temple that was later converted into a Spanish church. The temple was dedicated to the sun god Inti and was one of the most important religious sites in the Incan Empire. Today, visitors can see the impressive Incan stonework and the Spanish colonial architecture that make up this unique site.

8. Explore the Sacsayhuaman Fortress


The Sacsayhuaman Fortress is a massive Incan structure that overlooks the city of Cusco. The fortress was built using massive stones that were quarried from a nearby mountain and transported to the site. Visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the history and significance of this impressive site.

9. Take a Chocolate-Making Workshop

Peru is known for its high-quality cacao beans, and Cusco is home to many artisanal chocolate makers. You can take a workshop where you’ll learn about the chocolate-making process, from harvesting the beans to creating delicious treats. You can also sample some of the best chocolate in the region and take home some handmade chocolates as souvenirs.

10. Enjoy the Nightlife

Cusco has a vibrant nightlife scene, with many bars, clubs, and restaurants open late into the night. You can try some traditional Peruvian cocktails like pisco sours and chilcanos, or dance the night away to live music or DJ sets. The nightlife in Cusco is a fun way to experience the city’s energy and culture.

11. Visit the Inca Museum

The Inca Museum is a great place to learn about the history and culture of the Inca Empire. The museum has a large collection of Incan artifacts, including textiles, pottery, and metalwork. You can also see mummies and other preserved remains from the Incan period.

12. Take a Cooking Class

If you’re interested in learning more about Peruvian cuisine, taking a cooking class is a great way to do it. You can learn how to make traditional dishes like ceviche or causa, and get a deeper understanding of the ingredients and techniques used in Peruvian cooking.

13. Visit the Cusco Planetarium

The Cusco Planetarium is a unique attraction that allows visitors to learn about the Incan understanding of astronomy. You can see constellations and planets through a telescope, and learn about the role that astronomy played in Incan religion and culture.

14. Take a Day Trip to Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain Peru

Rainbow Mountain is a stunning geological formation located just a few hours from Cusco. The mountain is known for its colorful stripes, which are caused by mineral deposits in the rock. You can take a day trip to Rainbow Mountain and hike to the top for an incredible panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.

15. Attend a Festival or Celebration

Cusco is home to many festivals and celebrations throughout the year. Some of the most popular include the Inti Raymi festival in June, which celebrates the winter solstice, and the Corpus Christi festival in May or June. Attending one of these festivals is a great way to experience the local culture and traditions of Cusco.

16. Explore the San Blas Neighborhood

The San Blas neighborhood is known for its narrow, winding streets and picturesque colonial architecture. It’s a great place to wander and explore, with many boutique shops, cafes, and galleries to discover. You can also visit the San Blas Church, which dates back to the 16th century.

17. Visit the ChocoMuseum

If you’re a chocolate lover, the ChocoMuseum is a must-visit attraction in Cusco. The museum offers guided tours where you can learn about the history of chocolate and its importance in Peruvian culture. You can also participate in chocolate-making workshops and taste some of the best chocolate in the region.

18. Take a Hot Springs Bath

The hot springs of Cusco are a great way to relax and unwind after a day of sightseeing. The hot springs are located in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes and offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains. You can also book a massage or other spa treatments while you’re there.

19. Visit the Cusco Cathedral

The Cusco Cathedral is a stunning example of colonial architecture and art. The cathedral was built in the 16th century on the site of an Incan palace and features beautiful artwork and decorations inside. You can also see the famous painting of the Last Supper, which features a local dish of roasted guinea pig instead of bread.

20. Take a Trek to Machu Picchu

No trip to Cusco would be complete without a visit to Machu Picchu. You can take a trek to the ancient Incan city and experience the stunning scenery of the Andes Mountains along the way. There are many trekking routes to choose from, ranging from easy day trips to multi-day expeditions.

21. Visit the Maras Salt Mines

The Maras Salt Mines are an impressive series of salt pools that have been in use since Incan times. You can visit the mines and learn about the traditional techniques used to extract the salt. The salt is still harvested by hand and sold throughout Peru.

22. Take a Tour of the Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley is a beautiful area just outside of Cusco that is home to many important Incan ruins and historical sites. You can take a guided tour of the valley and see sites like Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and Chinchero. You’ll also get to see the stunning landscapes and scenery of the Andes Mountains.

23. Go Biking in the Mountains

If you’re an adventure seeker, biking in the mountains around Cusco is an exciting way to experience the region. There are many trails and routes to choose from, ranging from easy rides to challenging downhill courses. You can also rent bikes and gear from local shops.

24. Visit the Pre-Columbian Art Museum

The Pre-Columbian Art Museum in Cusco is home to a large collection of artifacts from pre-Columbian cultures throughout South America. The museum features impressive collections of textiles, ceramics, and metalwork. You can also learn about the different cultures and societies that existed in the region before the arrival of Europeans.

25. Take a Walk on the Inca Trail

If you’re not up for a multi-day trek to Machu Picchu, you can still experience the Inca Trail by taking a short walk on the trail itself. You can hike to sites like the Temple of the Moon or the ruins of Huchuy Qosqo. These hikes offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and landscapes.

26. Visit the Coca Museum

The Coca Museum is a fascinating place to learn about the traditional uses of coca leaves in Peru. You can learn about the history of coca in South America, as well as its cultural significance and medicinal properties. The museum offers guided tours in multiple languages.

27. See a Traditional Andean Music Show

If you’re interested in traditional music and dance, you can see a show in Cusco that features Andean instruments and styles. Many shows also include colorful costumes and elaborate choreography. You can find these shows at various venues throughout the city.

28. Take a Cooking Class

Peruvian cuisine is known for its unique flavors and ingredients, and taking a cooking class in Cusco is a great way to learn more about it. You can learn how to make traditional dishes like ceviche, lomo saltado, or aji de gallina. Many classes also include a visit to a local market to shop for ingredients.

29. Visit the Plaza de Armas

The Plaza de Armas is the central square of Cusco and is surrounded by impressive colonial architecture. You can relax on one of the many benches and enjoy the view of the nearby cathedral and other historic buildings. The plaza is also a great place to people-watch or do some souvenir shopping.

30. Take a Day Trip to Palccoyo

Palccoyo is a lesser-known alternative to the more famous Rainbow Mountain in Peru, located about 3 hours from Cusco. This beautiful destination offers a unique opportunity to explore the stunning Andean landscapes and experience the local culture.

31. Visit Ausangate

Ausangate is a snow-capped mountain located in the Andes range of Peru, about 100 kilometers southeast of Cusco. It is the highest peak in the Vilcanota mountain range and is considered one of the most sacred mountains in Inca mythology.

32. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

A hot air balloon ride is a unique way to experience the stunning landscapes around Cusco. You can float over the Andes Mountains and see the Incan ruins and agricultural terraces from above. Many balloon rides also include a champagne toast and breakfast.

33. Explore the Humantay Lake

Humantay Lake in Perú

Humantay Lake is a stunning turquoise-colored lake located in the Vilcabamba mountain range near Cusco, Peru. It is a popular day trip destination for visitors to Cusco who want to experience the beauty of the Andes Mountains.

34. Visit the Cusco Planetarium

The Cusco Planetarium is a unique place to learn about astronomy and the stars in the Southern Hemisphere. You can attend a guided tour that includes a presentation on the stars and constellations visible in the Cusco region, as well as a chance to observe the night sky through telescopes.

35. Experience a Traditional Andean Ceremony

If you’re interested in Andean spirituality and culture, you can participate in a traditional ceremony that includes offerings to the earth goddess, Pachamama. These ceremonies are held by local shamans and are a unique way to learn about Andean beliefs and practices.

36. Explore the Inca Museum

The Inca Museum is a fascinating place to learn about the history and culture of the Inca Empire. The museum features a collection of artifacts and exhibits that showcase the daily life and achievements of the Incas. You can also see mummies and ceramics from the pre-Inca era.

37. Visit the Moray Terraces

The Moray Terraces are a unique archaeological site that features circular agricultural terraces that were used by the Incas for experimentation with different crops. The terraces were built at varying elevations, which created different microclimates for the crops to grow. You can hike around the terraces and enjoy the stunning views.

38. Take a Mountain Biking Tour

A mountain biking tour is a thrilling way to explore the beautiful landscapes around Cusco. You can ride through the Andes Mountains and see the stunning scenery, as well as visit remote villages and see traditional farming practices. Many tours include equipment rental and transportation.

39. Visit Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is a small town located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, just a short drive from Cusco, Peru. It is known for its well-preserved Inca ruins and rich history as a strategic military, religious, and agricultural center during the Inca Empire.

40. Take a Horseback Riding Tour

A horseback riding tour is a fun and unique way to see the landscapes around Cusco. You can ride through the countryside and visit local villages, as well as see stunning views of the Andes Mountains. Many tours include a traditional lunch or snacks.


What are the top must-see attractions in Cusco?

Some of the top must-see attractions in Cusco include Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, Sacsayhuaman, and the Plaza de Armas. Additionally, there are many museums, art galleries, and historic sites to explore.

What are some unique activities to do in Cusco?

Some unique activities to do in Cusco include taking a hot air balloon ride, participating in a traditional Andean ceremony, visiting the Maras salt ponds, and taking a mountain biking tour.

What is the best time of year to visit Cusco?

The best time of year to visit Cusco is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. During this time, you can enjoy sunny weather and clear skies. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so you may encounter larger crowds.

Is it safe to visit Cusco?

Yes, Cusco is generally considered a safe destination for tourists. However, it’s always important to take basic safety precautions, such as not carrying large amounts of cash, keeping your belongings close to you, and staying aware of your surroundings.

Are there any cultural or religious considerations to keep in mind while visiting Cusco?

Yes, it’s important to be respectful of the local culture and customs while visiting Cusco. For example, you should dress modestly when visiting religious sites, and avoid taking photos of people without their permission. Additionally, you may want to learn a few basic phrases in Spanish or Quechua, which is the indigenous language spoken in the region.

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