Cusco sits at 3,399m above sea level. This lofty city was the capital of the Incan Empire and is home to amazing ruins, food & a strong culture. I lived here for 5 weeks, so can definitely say the top places to see & eat.

Top places to see

There is so much to see in Cusco and around that it is hard to decide what to see first.

  1. Machu Picchu + one of the hikes to Machu Picchu
  2. Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley (need boleto turistico)
  3. Salt mines near Moray, Sacred Valley
  4. Puka Pukara, Cusco (need boleto turistico)
  5. Moray, Sacred Valley (need boleto turistico)
  6. Típon, South Valley (need boleto turistico)
  7. Qoricancha, Cusco (need boleto turistico)
  8. Saqsayhuaman (need boleto turistico) Incan ruins that offer a great view of Cusco
  9. Plaza de Armas, Cusco
  10. San Pedro Market, Cusco
  11. Chocolate Museum, Cusco – see how they make chocolate & have fun taste testers
  12. Pikillacta, South Valley (need boleto turistico) one of the only pre-Incan sites near Cusco
  13. Plaza San Francisco + the San Francisco Church, Cusco – it has fun markets & performers on the weekend
  14. Shopping! There are great hand made crafts & locally sourced produce to buy

Sites worth seeing that do not require boleto turistico

  • Salt mines near Moray
  • Macchu Picchu
  • The Devil’s Balcony

How to see touristic sites

You need to purchase a boleto turistico for 130 soles ($56 AUD) which will allow you access many sites in Cusco and around.

What to eat/drink

  • Organika – a restaurant with all locally sourced produce. Try the amazing ceviche (raw fish cured in citrus juice)
  • San Pedro Market – try the fresh fruit juice here (without ice or water to avoid stomach bugs)
  • Cuy – guinea pig (the local delicacy)
  • Pisco sour – Chile & Peru both lay claim to being the creators of this delicious cocktail made with lemon, pisco, sugar & egg white. Beware that pisco paired with high altitude can lead to killer hangovers
  • Chocolate – Peru sends their best chocolate to Belgium…truly top quality
  • Coffee – it can be hard to get your coffee fix in South America. Cusco is an exception, and offers up great locally sourced coffees
  • Corn! Peru has all types of corn & corn produce, such as “chicha morada”. A sweet purple corn drink
All the types of corn you can imagine. Toast some “choclo chulpe” with salt in a pan & enjoy!

What not to eat/drink

  1. Stick to more touristy restaurants (it can be fun to eat street food & at local markets, but your stomach won’t thank you later…trust me)
  2. Don’t overdo it with alcohol in your first few days. Altitude sickness is real & alcohol can exacerbate your symptoms. Don’t spend your 2nd day in Cusco with a bad hangover or “con caña
  3. Stay away from tap water – again your stomach will thank you for this

What not to do

  • Rainbow Mountain is not as you see in Instagram photos + at over 5000m above sea level you will not feel your best. Don’t be fooled by heavily edited photos.
  • All the museums included in the boleto tursitico are a bit lack lustre. If you have nothing else to do, sure go visit them. But if you have limited time spend it elsewhere