Many travelers to Macchu Pichu start their trip in Cusco, but there’s more to the ancient city than just a staging site for a hike up the Inca Trail. No traveler to Peru should miss spending time taking in the sights (and maybe doing a little shopping) in Cusco. If you are planning a trip to Cusco, know that it is is the best place to stock up on supplies like snacks and water – things are pricier in Aguas Calientes at the base of the mountains.
Steps to Take When Planning a Trip to Cusco
Don’t be alarmed if you find the colonial city of Cusco literally breathtaking – at 11,000 feet above sea level, those who aren’t used to the altitude will need time to acclimatize. Many trail guides will require you to spend some time here before your hike – the city itself is actually higher than Macchu Pichu.
Begin your trip to Cusco in the heart of the city, the Centro Historico De Cusco. Dominated by a forbidding Spanish Mission style cathedral, the central plaza is perfect for a walking tour of Cusco’s history. Surrounded by the cathedral on one side and another church on the other the aesthetics are stunning. There are two levels of provincial two-story shops and homes, making the square is a hub to many great parts of Cusco: local outdoor markets, attending a native food cooking class, watching chocolate being made or preparing for your Inca Trek.
The ruins of Sacsayhuaman, located just outside of the city, are easily accessible on foot. The Inca knowledge of architecture and building support is astonishingly displayed here. This is an ideal place to view the entire town of Cusco from above. There are cabs to and from the ruins, so if you have mobility issues or are just tired, you can still visit the site.
Whether you’re looking for authentic souvenirs from your trip to Cusco or just a snack, shop where the locals do: the Mercado Central de San Pedro. The fresh juices will nourish and refresh you, and the prices for handmade llama wool sweaters are some of the best you’ll find.
To learn more about planning a trip to Cusco, get in touch with Alpaca Expeditions. Alpaca Expeditions is a Peruvian travel operator with a main office in located in Cusco, Peru, and we are the top-rated tour operators of the Inca Trail.