Cusco is often called the heart of Peru, and after going there, it is easy to see why. This mountain city is the perfect combination of ancient and modern with elements of the old Inca Empire mixed with the new influences of today’s world. While you could easily spend several days exploring everything this city and area has to offer, time is often stretched thin trying to squeeze in all the travel plans. So, here’s how to spend one day in Cusco!
1. Visit Ruins
Peru is chalk full of history, and Cusco has done an amazing job at preserving breathtaking Inca ruins. Even if you are planning on visiting other historical sites during your time in Peru, you should still consider checking out a site near Cusco. There is Tambomachay, which is only a 5 to 10 minute cab ride from the city. It is an Inca site that showcases the culture’s use of water thru aqueducts, canals, and waterfalls. On the edge of the city is the site known as Sacsayhuaman, which is the site of an expansive Inca city. You can either take a cab to the entrance, which sits on a hill on the outskirts of the city, or you can hike the 20-30 minutes for an extra workout. Either way, this site will not disappoint.
2. Town Square
The city center of Cusco is unlike anything I have experienced. It is this crazy mix of old and new, with ancient buildings beside Starbucks. There is almost always something going on in the town square, so even if you don’t have a lot of time in Cusco, I would recommend you take a couple hours and spend them in the square. Sit down on a bench and look at the architecture, people watch from one of the many restaurant balconies, or visit the churches and buildings that are a mix of Inca foundations and Spanish wall.
3. San Pedro Market
If you want to see the real side of Cusco, get a glimpse into the people who live there, visit the San Pedro Market. This is not your typical Sunday market, this place is endless, cramped, and honestly, a little smelly. It has flowers next to raw meats and blankets next to fresh produce… it is kind of like going to a spice market in Morocco… it’s overwhelming to the senses. But it is the perfect place to see if you want to expand your view of Peru beyond the postcard picture of Machu Picchu then this how to spend one day in Cusco!