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Best Things To Do in Cusco

With dazzling temples, ancient cities and access to famed Inca ruins, Cusco's imperial city enchants its visitors. First and foremost, you'll want to plan your route to Machu Picchu. For a scenic (and strenuous) hike, make arrangements to trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Less daring travelers should nab a seat on one of PeruRail's daily trains to the lost city. If you have time before or after your expedition, head straight to the Plaza de Armas, where the glorious cathedral and nearby Qoricancha await exploration. Then, elevate your experience to a whole new level by visiting the Sacsayhuamán ruins, which boast gorgeous views of Cusco city.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Cusco

Free
The history of the Plaza de Armas stretches back all the way to the Inca Empire when it was called Huacaypata or Aucaypata. The massive square (originally twice its current size) was built as a venue for festivals and ceremonies in ancient times.
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Neighborhood/Area Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Plaza de Armas
The history of the Plaza de Armas stretches back all the way to the Inca Empire when it was called Huacaypata or Aucaypata. The massive square (originally twice its current size) was built as a venue for festivals and ceremonies in ancient times.
... more

#2

#2 in Cusco

It's hard to believe this iconic "lost city of the Incas" was untouched during the Spanish conquest. The Incas cleverly obscured these 12 acres of temples, aqueducts and gardens from the Spaniards, keeping their sacred city untouched for hundreds of years.
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Hiking Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Machu Picchu
It's hard to believe this iconic "lost city of the Incas" was untouched during the Spanish conquest. The Incas cleverly obscured these 12 acres of temples, aqueducts and gardens from the Spaniards, keeping their sacred city untouched for hundreds of years.
... more

#3

#3 in Cusco

Amid the many splendors found in the Plaza de Armas, the sky-high La Catedral is one of Cusco's finest architectural displays. Constructed in the 1550s with stones stolen from Sacsayhuamán, the baroque cathedral features opulent ceilings and gold and silver altars. It is also home to an impressive collection of colonial art that mixes Catholic traditions with indigenous legends.
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
La Catedral
Amid the many splendors found in the Plaza de Armas, the sky-high La Catedral is one of Cusco's finest architectural displays. Constructed in the 1550s with stones stolen from Sacsayhuamán, the baroque cathedral features opulent ceilings and gold and silver altars. It is also home to an impressive collection of colonial art that mixes Catholic traditions with indigenous legends.
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#4

#4 in Cusco

Sacsayhuamán is often overshadowed by Machu Picchu, but this towering ancient Incan fortress – filled with exquisite stone masonry and dramatic vistas – is worth a visit. Much of the massive structure was used as building materials for the Spaniards, but what remains gives a glimpse at how large the fortress once was.
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
 Sacsayhuamán
Sacsayhuamán is often overshadowed by Machu Picchu, but this towering ancient Incan fortress – filled with exquisite stone masonry and dramatic vistas – is worth a visit. Much of the massive structure was used as building materials for the Spaniards, but what remains gives a glimpse at how large the fortress once was.
... more

#5

#5 in Cusco

For a glimpse of the Inca's former grandeur, look no further than Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun), also known as "Court of Gold." In its heyday, Inca's elite watched as light bounced from 700 gold-plated walls and danced across the temple's altars and statues. And its splendor stretched from its glimmering exterior walls into its regal confines, where approximately 4,000 of the most prestigious priests and their attendants resided.
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Qorikancha
For a glimpse of the Inca's former grandeur, look no further than Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun), also known as "Court of Gold." In its heyday, Inca's elite watched as light bounced from 700 gold-plated walls and danced across the temple's altars and statues. And its splendor stretched from its glimmering exterior walls into its regal confines, where approximately 4,000 of the most prestigious priests and their attendants resided.
... more

#6

#6 in Cusco

Located next to Sacsayhuamán, the Cusco Planetarium offers travelers a unique experience in the hills surrounding the city. While it may not be much to look at (the small planetarium is housed in a plain adobe building) recent visitors give almost unanimous praise for the informative guides and idyllic setting.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Planetarium Cusco
Located next to Sacsayhuamán, the Cusco Planetarium offers travelers a unique experience in the hills surrounding the city. While it may not be much to look at (the small planetarium is housed in a plain adobe building) recent visitors give almost unanimous praise for the informative guides and idyllic setting.
... more

#7

#7 in Cusco

While Qorikancha and Machu Picchu draw more visitors, the Museo de Arte Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Art Museum) possesses a world-class Peruvian collection that cannot be matched. This 12-room exhibition space is located in the Casa Cabrera, a mansion-turned-convent that dates back to 1580. Inside the compact space, you'll find 450 artifacts (including Peruvian ceramics, jewelry and carvings) that date back from 1250 B.C. to A.D. 1532.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Museo de Arte Precolombino
While Qorikancha and Machu Picchu draw more visitors, the Museo de Arte Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Art Museum) possesses a world-class Peruvian collection that cannot be matched. This 12-room exhibition space is located in the Casa Cabrera, a mansion-turned-convent that dates back to 1580. Inside the compact space, you'll find 450 artifacts (including Peruvian ceramics, jewelry and carvings) that date back from 1250 B.C. to A.D. 1532.
... more

#8

#8 in Cusco

Winding through Peru's verdant landscape toward Machu Picchu, this famous four-day hike is not for the faint of heart. That said, recent travelers say the laborious trek pays off with gorgeous scenery, interesting wildlife and for many, a life-changing experience.
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Hiking Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Winding through Peru's verdant landscape toward Machu Picchu, this famous four-day hike is not for the faint of heart. That said, recent travelers say the laborious trek pays off with gorgeous scenery, interesting wildlife and for many, a life-changing experience.
... more
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#9

#9 in Cusco

Located in a beautiful 16th-century colonial mansion that was once home to Spanish Admiral Francisco Alderete Maldonado, the Museo Inka (Inca Museum) boasts an eclectic assortment of Incan artifacts.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Museo Inka
Located in a beautiful 16th-century colonial mansion that was once home to Spanish Admiral Francisco Alderete Maldonado, the Museo Inka (Inca Museum) boasts an eclectic assortment of Incan artifacts.
... more
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