Top 5 things to do in Cusco - Peru

Top 5 things to do in Cusco (Peru)

Cusco is probably the most beautiful city in Peru. Most people stay in this city before they visit Machu Picchu, but there’s so much more to do in and around Cusco! In this article, I’ll share my top 5 favorite things to do in Cusco.

Relax at Plaza De Armas

Top 5 Things to do in Cusco - Peru - Relax at Plaza De Armas

Every city in Peru has a Plaza De Armas, a central square with a cathedral where the locals hang out. The Plaza de Armas in Cusco is probably one of the most beautiful in Peru. No cars are allowed, so there’s plenty of space for you to stroll around and enjoy the beauty of the square. It has a lot of benches, which are perfect for people-watching or just reading a book. A perfect place to relax and get used to the altitude.

Visit the ruïns of Sacsayhuamán

Top 5 Things to do in Cusco - Peru - Visit the ruïns of Sacsayhuaman

On a hill on the north side of Cusco, you’ll find the ruïns of Sacsayhuamán (which you pronounce as sexy woman). It’s a 20-minute walk from Plaza De Armas and you should be prepared for a steep climb. At Sacsayhuamán you’ll see the ruins of old Inca structures and walls with huge stones.

It’s not clear what the purpose of this building used to be (it might have been something religious or a fort), but it sure is impressive. From the top of the hill, you’ll also have a great view of the city of Cusco.
Besides Sacsayhuamán, there are many other great Inca Ruins to be found in the proximity of Cusco. For a day trip, I would definitely recommend visiting the ruins of Pisac and, of course, Machu Picchu.

Go shopping at the San Pedro Market

Top 5 Cuzco - Peru - San Pedro Market

Do you still have to buy some souvenirs? Wait until you reach Cusco because you’ll find a great selection for cheap at the San Pedro Market. This huge market hall was designed by Gustav Eiffel (the same guy that designed the Eiffel tower in Paris) and is filled with stalls with souvenirs, food, drinks, and all other sorts of things. There are also some women with sewing machines, so if you ripped something during your trip, they will fix it for you. I had a big tear in my sweater and they fixed it for €0.80 (and that included a big tip).

Explore the San Blas neighborhood

Top 5 Cuzco - Peru - San Blas

San Blas is a neighborhood on the east side of Cusco. Here you’ll find lots of narrow streets, steps, and beautiful squares. It’s a great place to get lost, go shopping in the small stores, and have lunch or dinner.

Join a free city tour

Top 5 Cuzco - Peru - Free city tour

Would you like to learn something about the city during your stay in Cusco? Then I would recommend joining a free city tour. There are plenty to choose from in Cusco and the guide will show you all the great spots in Cusco and tell you about the history of this gorgeous city. I found it to be very informative and you’ll discover some places you wouldn’t have found on your own. It’s also a great way to meet people. The company I used for the free city tour was Inkan Milky Way and it was very informative.

These are my five favorite things to do in Cusco. What is your main purpose to visit this gorgeous historic city?

Where to stay in Cusco?

There are tons of places to stay in Cusco, from cheap hostels to luxurious hotels. I stayed at the Nao Victoria Hostel in a dorm and in a private room in Hotel San Francisco Plaza. I would definitely recommend both places. They’re in a great location and you really get value for your money.

More things to do in Cusco

There are many great places to visit during a day trip from Cusco. For example:
– Visit Machu Picchu – I can highly recommend hiking the Inca Trail
– Make the hike to Rainbow Mountain (make sure to check the weather before you go, I didn’t see anything because of a snowstorm)
– Visit the ruins of Pisac

Would you like to read more about Cusco or Peru?

Get one of these amazing travel guides:

Lonely Planet Peru

Moon Machu Picchu: With Lima, Cusco & the Inca Trail

Or check out one of these posts:

Travel tips Peru: everything you need to know before you go
A month in Peru: the perfect itinerary
Top 5 things to do in Lima, Peru


As a girl from a small town in the Netherlands, I always dreamed of traveling. I thought it would always be a dream, but nowadays, I travel 6 to 8 months a year and I hike thousands of miles on the most beautiful hiking trails. On this website you can read all about my favorite destinations.

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