Information on Cusco
Cusco is known as the Imperial city of the Incas, this city is located in southeastern Peru, near the Andes mountain range.Cusco has a population of about 435,114, which grows each year. The city is at an elevation of about 3,400m or 11, 200 ft.
Cusco has a subtropical highland climate, which is defined by two seasons, dry (May-August) and wet (December – March). Cusco tends to get very dusty at times during the dry season. It is recommended to bring a pair of hiking boots or sneakers with you. Flip flops are not recommended to bring at it gets too dusty or too muddy. It also tends to get colder at night, so bringing a lightweight thermal coat or jacket helps as well as a hat or gloves.
Spanish and Quechua are the languages spoken in the city and region. English is also spoken but it is not as common as the first two.
Local festivals are held depending on the event such as Holy Week, Inti Raymi (summer solstice festival) or Christmas. Each festival is unique as it offers one of a kind traditional dances and rituals.
The local airport in Cusco (Alejandro Velasco Astete) is situated at the edge of the city itself. There are many airline companies that provided flights into and out of Cusco. Latam, Avianca, Peruvian Airlines, Star Peru, Viva Air and LC Peru, you can either buy flights online through the airline websites or purchase your ticket at the Lima International airport. Flights differ in cost the cheaper could start at $110 to $ 200 dollars round trip. Flight time is about a 1 hour with 20 or 30 minutes.
What to do
Cusco has much to offer tourists from all walks of life. From free walking tours within the city to zip lining in the sacred valley to catching a train to Machu Picchu. Cusco offers an array of activities for everyone. Here is a list of things to do in Cusco:
- Visit the city itself either with a tour guide or by yourselves.The main square (Plaza de Armas) offer many small activities such as visiting the local cathedrals, museums, and eateries surrounding it.
- Taking a cheap city tour, which will include visits to the local ruins, Cusco has to offer such as Sacsayhuaman. Tours differ in prices depending on the tour company, it is recommended to look around for the best deal.
- Visit the local marketplace (Mercado de San Pedro), which is only a few blocks away from the main square, to experience the local foods offered.
- Visit the hidden catacombs the Cathedral of San Francisco has to offer, located next to San Francisco square( Plaza de San Francisco). Cost is about 15 soles to enter.
- Located right on the Avenida del Sol (avenue of the sun) is the famous Qorikancha temple and convent of Santo Domingo. Most tour agencies and companies offer it as part of their city tour but you can also go on your own as well. Cost is about 10 to 15 soles.
- The district of San Blas is located right up the street from the main square ( Plaza de Armas); it is filled with many artistic shops and cozy eateries.The San Blas scenic overlook is located within this district; visitors will be able to see the city of Cusco from here.
What to see
It is recommended to purchase the Boleto Turistico to enter these sites. There are many options in purchasing these tickets, the most popular ones would be the 70 soles ticket, which offers from three circuits to three different ruin sites, depending on which circuit you chose, will determine the validity of your ticket. It is usually good for one or two days. 130 soles ticket, which includes visits to all the ruins and is valid for 10 days.
Cusco has much to see from local marketplaces to the infamous Machu Picchu, there is always something to see within and outside the city.
- Cusco has many ruins to offer to visitors such as Sacsayhuaman, Pukapukara, Qenqo, Tambomachay as well as the temple of Qorikancha.
Outside of Cusco
- The city of Pisac located northeast of Cusco has its own small Incan citadel that offers much to see such as temples, terraces, fortress and more.
- Tipon archaeological park is located just south of Cusco and offers the chance to see Incan water aqueducts among other water-related structures from those times as these are located with an Incan estate used by nobility at the time.
- Moray and Maras are located northwest of Cusco.Maras offers incredible views of the natural salt mines.There are about 3,000 or more of these salt mines that are still being used today. Moray offers views of an Incan ruin with several terraced circular depressions, up to this date it is uncertain what this ruin was used for.
- The city of Ollantaytambo, which was once an Incan fortress offers spectacular views from its ruins. This city is considered a living Incan city and is a popular choice for visitors, who want to be close by to catch their train to Machu Picchu.
- The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is located northwest of Cusco, it is the most famous citadel within Peru and considered one of the new world wonders. Machu Picchu is also considered a protected sanctuary for the fauna and flora that live there some of which included the spectacled bear.
- The complex of Choquequirao is located west of Cusco and is considered the mini Machu Picchu. It includes a trail to hike much like the Inca trail in order to get there.
What to eat
There are many places to eat within Cusco and its surrounding areas.
*Cusco offers an array of places to eat if offers visitors from street vendors to upscale dining. These places are more traditional in the sense of the local food offered and local dishes.
Getting around Cusco is very easy. There are many options to choose taxis.The local buses run within different routes so ask where it is heading before boarding the bus.The fare is about .70 centimos.Taxis offer differ fares depending on where you will be going.The fares are not standard rates so ask how much the total will be before boarding into a taxi.