As the capital of the vast Inca empire and their ‘navel of the world’, Cuzco was a remarkable city, reputedly built in the shape of a puma, full of magnificent stone palaces and temples decorated with gold.
The conquering Spanish were impressed, and so instead of completely destroying Cuzco, they built their colonial city atop these solid foundations. Koricancha is a perfect example of this, with the skilled stonework of the Inca’s Temple of the Sun used to underpin a baroque church.
Cuzco today is a proud, beautiful and lively city with a vibrant art scene, excellent museums and fine restaurants.
The elegant Plaza de Armas is at the heart of the city, and is the perfect place to stop, sit and take in the sights around you; we recommend that as well as exploring with a guide you should have time to relax and soak up the atmosphere.
San Blas is the bohemian arts district, where houses cling to the steep cobbled streets and inside the craftsmen are hard at work. There are also several fascinating museums such as the Inca Museum and the Pre-Colombian Art Museum which are worth several hours of your time.
The hills surrounding Cuzco are dotted with Inca sites such as Tambo Machay and Sacsayhuaman, the latter being the remains of an Inca ceremonial center and possibly the head of the Inca city planners’ puma.
Its massive interlocking stones are an impressive sight, as are the views over the terracotta roofs of the city below. Sacsayhuaman is also the stunning backdrop to the colorful Inti Raymi annual Sun Festival, held on 24th June.
Leaving Cuzco you can travel by road to some of the fascinating surrounding towns and villages. The Sunday market at Chinchero sees a colorful array of goods with traditionally dressed women selling fine handicrafts.
You will have an opportunity to see threads being dyed and woven in one of the local houses, plus visit the remains of the royal manor of the ruler Tupac Inca Yupanqui.
The unusual circular Inca terraces in Moray are still used for farming today, and in Maras you can see the busy salt workers extracting the mineral in a way unchanged for generations since, legend has it, the Sun God sent down a hail of salt on the people of Maras as a punishment for rebelling against the Incas.
The different salt pans create a strange and impressive sight, with the mountainside a patchwork of browns and whites which you can walk amongst.
Suggested itineraries featuring Cuzco
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Cuzco, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Cuzco
Places & hotels on the map
Accommodation choices for Cuzco
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Cuzco. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
Ideas for experiencing Cuzco
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Cuzco, and which use the best local guides.