If you decide to go to Peru you cannot miss a trip to the ancient capital of the Inca Empire Cusco (3,400m above sea level!), also named Qosqo in Quechua which means “the belly button of the world”.
Having my roots in this wonderful city I can’t recommend Cusco enough as a place to learn Spanish. Not only the setting in the middle of the mystical Andes is incredible but also the local people are very friendly and open to visitors.
Here are some tips on things to do and keep in mind in Cusco and surroundings to make your trip unforgettable!
1) Visit the ruins around Cusco
There are numerous ruins of the Incas around Cusco. The nearest and more impressive ones are the ruins of Sacsayhuamán. You can easily walk there (not more than 30-40 minutes away from the centre) but it is also possible to take a taxi or if you want to spend less you can also take the local bus.
The other ruins are on the outskirts and further away. If you feel adventurous you can make a trek out of this! Another option is also to rent a horse or take a taxi. Just ask the people on-site, they will be happy to help you!
2) Enjoy the unique and delicious Peruvian kitchen
In the last years the popularity of Peruvian cuisine has increased worldwide and deservedly so! As the country is, the food is also very diverse.
Some of the many dishes you should not miss during your stay are “Ceviche” (for the seafood fancier among us), “Aji de Gallina” or “Causa”.
While you are there taste also the coca tea! You can find it everywhere in Cusco and it is supposed to help you through the altitude sickness.
3) Discover the markets
You will find a numerous number of markets in Cusco. From the food market “Mercado Central de San Pedro” (10 minutes from the main square) to the artisan market “Centro Artesanal Cusco”, where you can find the best prices for gifts for your family and friends!
Another famous market in the outskirt of Cusco is the market of Pisac. Here you will find a variety of beautifully handmade products.
4) Nightlife and more!
As Cusco is one of the most popular cities in Peru, there are lot things to do in the evening and at night. You will find numerous bars, clubs but also theatres and authentic folkloric performances. One of the most popular clubs, especially for young people, is “Mama Africa”, which is located just next to the main plaza.
To start a good evening in good company, do not miss to try also out the national and most popular cocktail: the “Pisco Sour”.
5) Machu Picchu
What would be a trip to Cusco without a visit of the Peruvian emblem: Machu Picchu!?
There are different ways to get there. The fastest one is to take the train from Cusco to Aguas calientes, the city at the foot of Machu Picchu. My tip is to stay at least one night in this city to experience the sunrise up on the mountain. Instead of taking the train you can also dare the “Camino Inca”, one of the most famous treks in South America. You will definitely not regret it! The nature of the region is breathtaking and the summit of this trip, the arrival to the “Lost city of the Incas” will exceed your expectations!
For all these reasons and many more Cusco is one of the cities you should have visit at least once in your life. My personal suggestion is to take your time and enjoy the Peruvian lifestyle and your stay to the fullest.