If you’re going to Peru, you’re going to Machu Picchu. If you’re going to Machu Picchu, you’re going to Cusco. Cusco is where you will get your transportation to Machu Picchu, but Cusco is much more than just a jump off city! It was the capital of the Inca Empire until Spanish conquest and is home to a number of very interesting sites, unique culture, and great cuisine. The streets felt safe and they were very clean, people were friendly, and there were plenty of dogs roaming around minding their own business.
*Before you start making notes on what to explore, it is important to know that Cusco is at a very high altitude, 11,152′ above sea level – a height which can affect people with altitude sickness.
With limited time to visit I wanted to maximize my enjoyment. I hate taking prescription medication, but I talked to my doctor and started taking Diamox (a pill for altitude sickness) two days before my trip. When we arrived in the city I was absolutely fine, but Jeff (who also took the medication) felt some side affects such as headache and dizziness. Consider using the pill, but know that it may have varying results – the best bet to avoid altitude sickness is to take things slow. I’m the worst at this as we only had one full day and I wanted to see it all.
The city is walkable, but hilly and you need good shoes. Below is a jam-packed possible one-day itinerary that can certainly be spread out for a more relaxed visit.
+ Plaza de Armas – the historic square filled with grand architecture
+ San Pedro Mercado – experience local life and delicious food at this market
+ Twelve angle stone – unfathomable Incan stonework at its finest
+ San Blas – quiet neighborhood on a hill filled with hidden galleries, restaurants, and a market
+ Boleto Turístico (tourist ticket) – includes entry to 16 sites around the area from ruins and museums in Cusco spanning out into the Sacred Valley
More detailed accounts coming up this week, stay tuned!