What You Will See

Welcome to Cusco, the ancient Incan capital and UNESCO World Heritage site. And, welcome to the world famous Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Cusco is one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities in the world. At Destination Peru we make sure that you get at least a day or two in this city because it is breathtaking (symbolically and literally). 

In this city you will see the famous Plaza de Armas, with the famous Cusco cathedral, spanish archways, and views of the surrounding mountain range. The cobblestone streets make for beautiful photo opportunities and the mixture of cultures between Spanish and Inca will make this one of the most memorable cities of your experience in Peru.

Beyond Cusco, in the Sacred Valley, you will see some of the most incredible scenery and historical sites available in all of South America. From high-Andean villages like Chinchero, to the Awanakancha llama reserve, to Ollantaytambo city, where Incan canals are still in use today, the Sacred Valley is always a key part of Destination Peru's itineraries.

 

History

Cusco is one of the oldest cities in South America with a rich history that dates back to 13th century. Over 3000 years ago, Inca builders laid out the city in the form of a puma. They constructed the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, which you can still view today, and the Temple of the Sun which is included on most tours of Cusco city. Later in 15th and 16th century, the empire was expanded to include much of western South America.

The ancient plaza is believed to be the core of four regions of the Inca Empire – stretching from Quito in Ecuador to northern Chile. Describing the beauty of the constructions in Cusco, the Spanish conquistadores wrote to King Charles V to say that the city would look “remarkable, even in Spain”.

Today, you can view the unique mixture of architecture between ancient Inca and colonial Spanish, which will be a trip highlight.

 

Culture

Cusco is not only known for scenic beauty and the archaeological sites, but the region is also known for its never-ending display of colors, kindness, parades, celebrations, clothing, llamas, and so much more. 

The art and architecture is unique to this part of the world. The styles that you will see here were enriched by Spaniards, who upon their arrival brought in new ideas with a different perspective. 

The artisan markets that dot Cusco and the Sacred Valley will stand out. You will get the chance to practice your bartering skills are you purchase jewelry made of natural rocks, baby alpaca (or sheep wool) textiles, and all kinds of other creative and artistic trinkets.

The food scene in Cusco provides thousands of options. Whether you want to try the famous "cuy" (guinea pig) that dates back to Inca times, or some modern fusion between Peruvian and French food, Cusco will leave your palate satisfied.

 

Geography

Cusco is located approximately 12,000 feet above the sea level in the heart of the Andes. Nestled down into a small valley, Cusco is the perfect gateway to explore the entire surrounding area.

Every day of the year, all four seasons are fair game. Nights will often creep below 30 degrees and then that same day temperatures can get up to 80 degrees that afternoon. Because of the high altitude you should always be prepared for quick temperature shifts, rain, and chilly evenings.

The Sacred Valley drops down to about 9,000 feet above sea level and winds through massive mountain peaks. On the right day you can see glacier-covered peaks that are well above 20,000 feet.