About Cusco

Once the capital of the Inca empire and now a delightful city—as well as a terrific base for exploring the Inca Trail—Cusco is packed with fascinating historical gems to discover. Its name translates as “Rock of the Owl”, and comes from the city's founder Ayar, who flew to the city and turned to stone.

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About Cusco, Peru

Sitting at an altitude of around 11,200 feet in the Andes Mountain Range, Cusco is a city that makes an impression. It was under control of the Peruvian Incas until the 16th century, when it was colonized by the Spanish. The beautiful Baroque cathedral in Plaza de Armas is a particularly striking example of the latter's architecture.

Indeed, this is a city where history is literally around every corner—you'll still find descendants of the Incas pulling llamas through the city and the architecture is a mix of Inca and Spanish Colonial. In fact, the mortar-free walls erected by the Incas were so strong that it was easier for the Spanish to construct their buildings on top of the originals!

What to do in Cusco

It’s likely that you’ll want to explore some of the Inca Trail when visiting Cuenca, and you won’t be disappointed! There are lots of trips to choose from, some lasting as little as half a day and others taking up to six days. The most popular include Machu Picchu (one of the New Seven Wonders of the World), Sacsayhuaman, Pisca and Ollantaytambo, the Salt Mines of Maras and Tambomachay, above the city.

Once you've returned from your many Inca trips, sit down and sip on a Pisco Sour and, if you’re brave enough, consider trying out the local delicacies—roast guinea pig or alpaca.

Spend a day haggling at the artisan markets—Chinchero and Pisac are two of the most impressive. You're bound to find a souvenir or two here!

If you've still some energy left after all that trekking, how about trying some stand-up paddle boarding, whitewater rafting, or horseback riding? Book yourself onto one of the many adventure day trips available.

Top travel tips for Cusco

If you've a touch of altitude sickness, it's worth experimenting with the local cure - a mixture of coca and muña leaves. They can either be chewed or brewed into a tea.

If that doesn’t do the trick, use the time getting used to the altitude to look around the many colorful market stalls and check out the various incredible Baroque cathedrals.

You'll need to book a permit weeks in advance if you're there to experience the Inca Trail. The reason is so that the authorities can restrict the numbers who venture on this sacred land.

Cusco is wonderful city where the modern and the ancient blend perfectly, whether it's in terms of architecture, food, clothing or even medicine. It’s pretty much a traveler’s delight—it's a restful and fascinating haven from the Inca Trail. It's also picturesque, colorful and like somewhere you've probably never been before.

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