Cusco is the central hub of the Sacred Valley, a magnet for lovers of Inca handicrafts and ruins, colonial charm and churches. There is plenty to see in and around town as well as further afield. So go explore!
Day 1: Cusco walk
Cusco is ideal for exploring on foot, with cobbled streets, Inca walls and houses featuring massive lintels and worked blocks of stone, and a diverting collection of alleys, plazas and churches.
Get to know Cusco and its famous markets from the ground up on a Cusco Markets and Ruins Small Group Tour. You’ll take a guided walk through busy San Pedro Market, joining locals shopping for dinner, then visit the impressive Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman, the source of much of the stone used to build Cusco.
Day 2: Cusco’s churches
Cusco is known for its richly ornamented baroque churches, the most famous being the 1560s cathedral filled with colonial art and gold decoration on central Plaza de Armas. The oldest church in Cusco, the Iglesia de El Triunfo, is on the right of the cathedral.
One of the most ornate of Cusco’s churches is Iglesia de La Compania, with its decorative baroque facade also on Plaza de Armas. Lovely woodcarvings are a feature of Iglesia de San Blas, in Cusco’s handicrafts quarter, while San Domingo retains the intact walls of an Inca temple that once upon a time were covered in sheets of gold. The sacristy of La Merced contains priceless gold vessels, vestments and religious art.
Day 3: Sacred Valley
Cusco is surrounded by the Quechua hill towns of the Sacred Valley, ideal for a day trip into the countryside of terraced fields planted with maize, potatoes and wheat. Make a point of visiting Pisac, especially on market days Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, and take in the monumental fortress at Ollantaytambo.
For a guided tour that makes all the stops, join a Sacred Valley Community Small Group Tour to Pisac and Ollantaytambo that includes a community visit to a Quechua town. Not only will you meet the locals, you’ll also get insight into their community life and join in local activities, if you like.