Things to See, Do and Eat Around Cusco
#1 Get Pampered!
You can’t go very far in Cusco without being asked if you want some kind of pamper treatment – nails, massage, facial, you name it they will do it for you! If you enjoy haggling, you can get a massage at a ridiculously low price, especially when the asking price is already as cheap as a tenner!
#2 Get Factual with a Free Walking Tour
As we mentioned, Cusco is known as the Capital of the Incan Empire - so it is no surprise that you’ll learn lots from the free walking tour of the city. We love doing walking tours and if you haven’t done so before, get yourselves in on the best way to get your bearings and learn all about your new travel destination.
#3 The Coca Leaf Museum
I’m sure you’ll remember hearing the tale of Coca-Cola once having cocaine in it. Technically this is true – the most famous soda drink in the world is indeed derived from coca leaves (hence the name) and also the herb responsible for the infamous narcotic. This museum has loads of cool facts about the Andean herb and a cool gift shop full of coca leaf souvenirs too! It’s free and in the heart of the San Blas neighbourhood. Leading to our next point…
#4 Check Out the San Blas neighbourhood
The San Blas neighbourhood is the shabby-chic area of Cusco, full of funky cafes, bars and cute shops to browse. It is no more than a ten minute walk from the Cusco Plaza de Armas, so wander your way through the old cobbled streets and find yourself some new clothing or just have a bite to eat in one of the many food joints.
#5 Visit the Plaza
You can’t really come to Cusco without seeing the plaza as it is literally in the centre of everything and is quite an impressive size too. Fun fact - it is the second largest plaza in South America – after Vila de Leyva's in Colombia. Have a wander around, check out the churches and enjoy a coffee overlooking the entire plaza from a first floor café or alternatively visit Paddy’s high-rish bar.
#6 Visit the World’s High-rish Bar
Cusco is home to the highest Irish-owned bar in the world – or as we like to call it the high-rish bar in the world! Paddy’s was the perfect find in the plaza for us. We loved it as it felt a little bit like home, a necessity after 4 months of travelling. It provided us with the rare find of cider, a delicious veggie fry up (we switched the meat for extra eggs, scrambled and fried) and great views of the Cusco plaza.
#7 Go Party with the locals Tourists
Of course you will find some locals in Cusco but for the most part it is us tourists taking over the party scene! The plaza is full of clubs and bars and if you wander out in the evening, the masseuses disappear and the plaza is full of party promoters offering free drinks upon entry to most bars around the plaza. Depending on how hardcore your partying ability is and how intense your hiking itinerary is - you should also stay at Wild Rover hostel.
#8 Get a Picture with a Llama
It is as normal to see locals walking around Cusco with llamas, as it is to see somebody walking a dog at home! Some people will let you take a photo with one, usually for a small fee. If you would like a photo, we would suggest trying to seek a local who hasn’t clearly brought a llama into Cusco just for tourist photos and get a more authentic experience. Have a little cuddle, they’re so cute!
#9 Get Some Really Cheap Electronics
Whilst you’re shopping/haggling for your upcoming adventure tours in and around Cusco, the road we found the best prices for our tours Avenida el Sol is also full of electronics shops with all the tech gear you could want at some seriously good prices. You will find GoPro’s, cameras and all kinds of tripods and accessories to stock up on to ensure you get the perfect Machu Picchu pic!
#10 Get Incan Ruined Out!
There are so many ruins you can go to see around Cusco. We really enjoyed Moray, Saqsayhuman, Qenko and Ollantaytambo's. They are all very unique and interesting, especially if you treat yourself to a guide to explain everything - or follow another tour group to get the deets (we won’t tell! ). Boleto Turistico del Cusco is what you’ll need to visit these sites, cash to pay for the ticket and your passport to gain entry. We’d personally recommend getting the full Cusco tourist ticket from the get go, we didn’t and ended up having to buy two tickets in the end anyway! Save yourself the cash drama, it's worth it we promise.
#11 Check Out Cusco's Own 'Christ the Redeemer'
If like with us, the weather's not so great for an uphill trek, you can always barter with a taxi to take you around a few sites outside of Cusco. If you are doing this, you should go and check out Peru’s very own Christ the Redeemer, known as Cristo Blanco and enjoy the views over this beautiful city.
#12 Eat Good Food!
We found a few really great spots to eat in Cusco - so good in fact, we think they deserve a point each! They are in order from budget to a slight budget stretch but even a budget stretch isn’t much compared to Western prices of the same quality!
This Indian restaurant was so good! It was a buffet of curries with some great meat and vegetarian options available. It's a little hard to find though, you’ll need to go into the opening to the shopping mall and head upstairs. We found it almost empty but it really shouldn’t be so don't be put off! Enjoy a super cheap Indian meal and treat yourself to the naan, it was actually much tastier than most we've had before.
#14 Green Point
This is a vegan restaurant that really treats you to some delicious wholesome meals. They have an amazing ‘menu del dia’ each day, which provides you with a starter, main and dessert for around £4. Even for the biggest meat eaters it’ll be nice to have a break from the typical meat, 2 carbs and veg, we promise!
#15 Fallen Angel
Have you ever eaten your food watching fish swimming around a bath just under your plate? No? How about whilst also sitting in a heart shaped sofa and tonnes of pillows? Yeah and pigs can fly you say? They’re also hanging out from the ceiling. This place is instagram GOLD! The food and cocktails aren’t so bad either and whilst it would easily compete with the likes of Bob Bob Ricard or Sketch (for our London readers), you’re looking at prices not even half of those found in Western countries. Go on, treat yo'self!
There is plenty of shopping to be enjoyed in Cusco, whether you’re looking for beautiful handicrafts to decorate your house with, a gorgeous Alpaca wool jumper, jacket or scarf. There are plenty around Cusco but we found some lovely boutique shops en route to the Pisco museum. Leading to our next point.
#17 Enjoy a Tasting at The Pisco Museum!
We enjoyed a taster session at the Pisco Museum; it was really interesting learning about the different types of Pisco and the history of the grape too. Definitely worth checking out, but if you miss it here there are a few dotted around Peru, including one in Lima - and if you’re heading to Lima, check out our full guide here!
#18 Enjoy an Easter Festival!
We love being kind to you guys, so this one is an extra special bonus! Cusco has a huge Easter celebration which lasts an entire week! So if you're heading to Cusco around this time, make an effort to be there for at least a few of these days.
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