Cusco is undoubtedly the most famous and surprising destination in Peru. Although the main attraction is Machu Picchu, there are other natural and archaeological tourist attractions in Cusco, which you can get to in different ways and will bring you experiences that will remain etched in your memory.
Based on the experience of many travelers and tourists, we have made this list of what we believe are the places to visit in Cusco. Let’s start!
- 1 1.- Machu Picchu
- 2 2.- Mountain of 7 Colors
- 3 3.- Humantay Lake
- 4 4.- Waqrapukara
- 5 5.- Sacred Valley (Pisac Ollantaytambo and Chinchero)
- 6 5.1 Pisac
- 7 5.2 Ollantaytambo
- 8 5.3 Maras
- 9 5.4 Moray
- 10 5.5 Chincheros
- 11 6.- City tour Cusco
- 12 8.- Queswachaca3
- 13 9.- Choquequirao
- 14 10.- The 7 Ausangate Lake
1.- Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is a lost Inca citadel, just over 100 kilometers from Cusco, it is considered one of the seven wonders of the world and one of the most important tourist attractions in Cusco and Peru.
This ancient Inca city has been hidden between the mountains and the thick vegetation since it is located on the edge of the jungle. Machu Picchu is famous for its relics and its architecture, such as the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, the main temple, the temple of the condor, the three windows among many more attractions.
To visit the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu you have two options
The first is to visit it on your own, this will require you to organize yourself with the entire itinerary.
The second way is to hire a local travel agency which organizes the entire tour for you and the only thing would be to enjoy your trip to Machu Picchu to the fullest.
2.- Mountain of 7 Colors
Vinicunca Mountain, commonly known as “Mountain of 7 Colors”, is a mountain shape filled with colors of the rainbow: red, purple, green, yellow, pink and other variations.
This natural wonder is located near the snowy Ausangate, at 5,200 meters above sea level. However, despite Vinicunca’s height, it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Cusco region.
Most of the travelers who come here love its mystery and the magic of the mountains that surround it. Therefore, on your next visit to Cusco, there is no reason not to visit this natural attraction.
You can get to this beautiful mountain on your own or by hiring a tourism agency. Whatever the way to get to Vinicunca, it is recommended that you spend at least 1 day in Cusco to acclimatize so that you do not suffer from altitude sickness.
3.- Humantay Lake
There are beautiful places in Cusco. Incredible places, dazzled by their beauty. One of the natural treasures found in Cusco is the Humantay Lagoon. Surrounded by turquoise waters and surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountains, the lagoon is a major destination for thousands of tourists and hikers.
Although the lagoon is not always part of the tourist route of Cusco, it is one of the most wonderful settings in the area, so we recommend that you visit it on your next trip to the imperial city.
On the trip to the Humantay lagoon, you will be able to live unforgettable experiences, such as the ancient ceremonies that commemorate Mother Earth or Pachamama. Upon arrival at the lagoon, you can participate in the ceremony by placing stones and coca leaves in a place of gratitude to thank the earth for everything.
Waqrapukara is one of the most beautiful pre-Inca archaeological sites in Cusco. It is located in the district of Acos, province of Acomayo, Cusco near the Apurimac River at a height of 4,300 meters above sea level. According to history, this place was built by the Qanchis and later conquered by the Incas. The archaeological complex is located on platforms, squares and stone forests. In the time of the Incas, it was used as a refuge for the Incas. and after many years of work and being valued in 2017, it was recognized as national cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture of Peru.
5.- Sacred Valley (Pisac Ollantaytambo and Chinchero)
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a fertile valley in the Andes, located on the banks of the Urubamba River. The district of Pisac extends to the district of Ollantaytambo.
During the heyday of the Incas, this fertile valley was highly prized for its geography and welcoming climate. Therefore, it has become one of the largest agricultural production areas from the time of the Incas to the present day.
Nowadays, due to the beautiful landscapes and the pleasant climate, most of the most exclusive hotels and restaurants are located in this incredible place.
Also, near this valley are the main tourist attractions of the Sacred Valley such as Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Maras, Moray and Chinchero.
Pisac is a small town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, 45 minutes from Cusco. The road from Cusco is a panoramic route, Pisac is known as the gateway to the sacred valley and is also a living museum. The sacred mountain called Apu Linly and ancient platforms enhance the spectacular natural setting, with the beautiful Wilkamayu River running through the fertile heart of the valley. The pleasant climate, low-lying location, and small-town charm, coupled with the convenient location near and easy access to Cusco, Machu Picchu, and other places in the Sacred Valley, make Pisac the ideal base.
Pisac is famous for its archaeological complex and craft activities and various excursions. The native communities of Pisac still maintain their original way of life.
If we talk about Ollantaytambo, the first things that should come to mind are the Inca buildings and cobbled streets that are still preserved. In addition, this place is one of the most important archaeological sites of the Inca Empire: considered a fortress due to its construction, it became the military, religious and agricultural center of the Inca Empire. Currently, Ollantaytambo has no other functions and can only receive visitors from around the world. Its excellent tourist destination is due to its almost perfect protection measures, and it is one of the few cities where Inca urban planning can still be observed.
Located in the traditional town of Maras, where the salt mines are located. Since the time of the Incas, the salt mines have been the first center of salt production in the south of the Sierra. Currently, this salt extraction activity is carried out by men and women from the communities of Maras and Pichingoto.
The extraction method involves sealing the brine (from a nearby high-salt spring) in a small pit. And as it evaporates a layer of salt is formed, the quality of the salt depends on the conditions of the mineral and the climate and can be used for human, animal or industrial consumption. During the months of the dry season, the Salineras de Maras reaches its greatest beauty. From this time of year, it seems to be covered by a white blanket due to the evaporation of saltwater.
Las Salineras de Maras is located 58 kilometers northwest of the city of Cusco, in the district of Maras, province of Urubamba.
Moray may be the Inca Agricultural Research Center, where he carried out planting experiments at different heights, the arrangement of his platforms produced a microclimatic gradient, the temperature of the center of the concentric circular platform was higher and gradually decreased towards the outside. Therefore, it can simulate up to 20 different types of microclimates.
It is believed that moray could have been used as a calculation model for agricultural production in the Urubamba Valley, but also as a model for agricultural production in various places in Tahuantinsuyo.
The microclimate of the terraces surrounding the funnel is distributed in four consecutive levels of sectors, each with its own microclimatic characteristics. The lower four platforms are wetter and the ground temperature is lower due to the higher evapotranspiration of the water. The average annual ground temperature on each shelf is 2° or 3°C.
Chinchero is one of the archaeological and craft attractions of the Sacred Valley and Cusco. It is characterized by preserving its ancestral customs and traditions and by its preserved terraces, retaining walls, and formidable Inca monuments that exhibit perfect niches.
If you enter one of the artisan centers you will learn about the process and the obtaining of alpaca wool, dyeing, weaving. You can also visit the colonial temple and the archaeological center that has platforms.
On the Inca walls stands an important colonial temple. This typical Andean town combines the mix between Inca customs and religion with the construction of the temple. From Chinchero you can enjoy beautiful and wonderful views of the mountains and a colorful Sunday market. Chinchero has located 28.5 km. northwest of the city of Cusco, in the district of Chinchero, province of Urubamba.
6.- City tour Cusco
The City Tour Cusco is a tour of the main tourist attractions of the city of Cusco, it will allow you to get to know the archaeological and religious tourist places of the ancient capital of the Incas such as the Koricancha temple, the Sacsayhuaman fortress, Qenqo, PukaPukara and Tambomachay.
6.1.- The Koricancha
The Qoricancha temple is the first religious site to visit. It is considered the most important of the Inca empire, but upon entering its interior we will realize that its façade corresponds to the fusion between the Inca and Spanish culture, so we can also appreciate beautiful and artistic paintings. the koricancha is also the first place where the great Inti Raymi staging begins on June 24 of each year.
In the surroundings of Cusco is the archaeological park of Sacsayhuaman, an enigmatic place where its structure is made of huge stones up to 9 meters finely placed and carved. These are arranged in an organized way and in the perfect position to form three platforms 390 meters long and from a certain distance you can see the shape of a lightning bolt which is said to have been built in worship of the lightning god and other chroniclers indicate that it was a fortress to defend the city. what was the reason for its construction, we can only appreciate and contemplate the strength and wisdom that the Incas had.
It is the ceremonial center dedicated to mother earth, which is slightly deteriorated by the passage of time. History mentions that this was a cult amphitheater where Inca sacrifices were made, the dead were stretched out on trapezoidal structures in the worship of the Pacha Mama (mother earth).
PukaPukara is known as the red fortress since the stones with which it is built have turned this color due to its high levels of iron. In this fortress, you can see archaeological structures such as aqueducts, enclosures and fountains. Due to its proximity to Tambomachay and its characteristics, it is believed that it was a military fort to defend this place.
It is an archaeological site that was destined for the cult of water so that the Inca on his way to the sacred valley could rest. It is located just 7 kilometers (15 minutes) northeast of the city of Cusco. At an altitude of 3,700 meters above sea level. It consists of a series of aqueducts, canals and several waterfalls that run through the specially carved rocks. Tambomachay stands out for the fine way the waters flow from the springs that are channeled into the main channel and then are separated into two secondary waterfalls, which these waters are divided exactly.
7.- South Valley (Tipon, Pikillacta, and Raqchi)
The South Valley of Cusco is another of the places to visit, in all its extension it has a diversity of archaeological, natural and recreational centers. We can also highlight the varied climate that makes this a favorable valley for agriculture and the construction of archaeological sites. as a guy Below we will describe the most important sites of this beautiful valley.
It is an archaeological site located near Oropesa in the Community of Choquepata, 27 km southeast of Cusco. This is an enclosure built in worship of Water and contains enclosures, terraces and an intact ditch. In the upper part of the complex, it is crossed by the Inca Trail together with an irrigation channel. From this point, you can also appreciate a beautiful view of the southern valley and the mountains that surround it.
Pikillaqta is an archaeological site that belongs to the Wari culture, its peculiar buildings show a high level of engineering since they were built under a meticulous urban pattern. It is located in the district of Lucre, province of Quispicanchis, approximately 30 kilometers from the city of Cusco, and has an altitude of 3,350 meters above sea level with an area of 34.21 km².
The archaeological site of Raqchi is an enclosure that is located in the district of San Pedro, Province of Canchis, 119 kilometers from the city of Cusco, this place is known for the construction of a temple to the god Wiracocha, however, remains were recently found ceramics belonging to pre-Inca cultures such as Marcavalle, Pucará and Wari. Its location is truly magical because it is built near a small lagoon and farm fields that attract thousands of tourists.
The Q’eswachaka Bridge is located in the district of Quehue, at 3,700 meters above sea level, three and a half hours from the city of Cusco, on the Apurimac River.
The knowledge that the Incas used for the architecture of this bridge continues to amaze the world in our time. In addition to constructing earthquake-resistant buildings, they also built bridges of vegetable fiber and wood, which are more resistant to the varied climate of the mountains and to earthquakes. Q’eswachaka, 28 meters long and 1.20 meters wide, is part of the QhapaqÑan or Inca Trail and is the only Inca bridge that has remained intact to date.
How did they get it?
Thanks to the help of the locals and the communities of Chaupibanda, Choccayhua, Huinchiri, Ccollana, and Quehue, they meet every second week of June for their renovation. For which Ichu is used, a natural grass that grows in the Andes. The women are in charge of braiding the ichu while the men are in charge of changing the broken and old strings and then replacing them with the new ones.
For this great event, a payment ceremony to Pachamama (Mother Earth) is performed accompanied by native dances. and for these reasons, the Q’eswachaka bridge was named Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2013.
After the Spanish arrived and conquered Cusco, the last Incas took refuge in Choquequirao. Choquequirao means “Cradle of Gold”, and its beauty and majesty can only be compared to Machu Picchu. This is a complex archaeological zone and getting there is extremely difficult and arduous, because you have to walk for 4 to 5 days and you have to camp along the way, but the reward after arriving is indescribable.
Choquequirao is located at an altitude of 3,033 meters, on a branch of the Nevado Salcantay in the province of Cusco. From Cusco you have to make a 4-hour trip to the town of Cachora (Apurímac). Afterward, begin a 30-kilometer hike to the resort.
Choquequirao was declared as a cultural heritage of the nation. In addition, this impressive stone complex was named the best walk of 2017 by the “Lonely Planet” travel guide.
10.- The 7 Ausangate Lake
The 7 lagoons are located around the Ausangate mountain. To get to these beautiful lagoons, you must hike for 2 to 3 hours. Upon arrival, you will feel the connection with nature and enjoy the beautiful landscapes that surround you. The Ausangate mountain is part of the Cordillera de Vilcanota. At the end of the walk, travelers can enjoy a bath in the hot springs of Pacchanta surrounded by the beautiful landscape of local life and the mountains that surround this town.
The Nevado de Ausangate is a natural attraction located in the Ocongate district of Quispicanchi, Cusco. Cold is the most predominant climate in this area and at night the temperature can drop to -5 degrees Celsius and during the day it is up to 20 degrees Celsius, with frigid winds during parts of the day in areas where they also occur. rain and snow.