Visit Cusco, Capital of the Inca Empire: A Guide for Explorers

Visit Cusco, Capital of the Inca Empire: A Guide for Explorers

When travelers dream of Peru, Machu Picchu often steals the spotlight, overshadowing the remarkable city of Cusco. Yet, let me reveal a well-kept secret: Cusco is a hidden gem that beckons exploration. Nestled in the breathtaking Andes Mountains, this city boasts enchanting architecture, a majestic cathedral, the captivating Plaza De Armas, and a haven for local handicrafts and woolen textiles. Cusco, with its labyrinthine streets and charming churches, invites wanderers to lose themselves amidst ornate wooden balconies and serendipitous plazas.

Stroll along the cobblestone streets of Cusco to realize immediately why this is the archeological capital of South America. Pre-Columbian and Colonial architecture blend together in this city filled with rich history from the time when Cusco was the capital city of the Inca empire. Spaniards built the 16th-century palaces and churches on top of the city ruins.

instagramIf you are in Cusco I would love to see your pictures.

Discovering Cusco: Where Inca Heritage Meets Spanish Splendor

Nestled amidst the Peruvian Andes, Cusco, the ancient heart of the Inca Civilization, awaits your exploration. The city’s main square, cobbled streets, and terracotta-tiled roofs evoke the ambiance of bygone European villages. Its architecture, an extraordinary fusion of Inca and Spanish influences, is truly one-of-a-kind. Yet, Cusco has much more to offer than its unique architectural tapestry. In collaboration with Machu Travel Peru, we present a glimpse into the myriad reasons to visit this captivating city.

Cusco unfolds not only as a repository of Inca ruins but also as a sanctuary of colonial plazas and vibrant markets, perfect for souvenir hunting. Venture beyond the city’s core, and you’ll uncover enthralling trekking routes and captivating archaeological sites.

Best reasons to visit Cusco, Capital of the Inca Empire

How to get there

As with most places in South America, it is best to book your airplane ticket in advance to get good prices! I personally recommend using Expedia to find the best rates.

If you have only a few days to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu, then the best option is to fly from Lima to Cusco.  This is not the cheapest option, but it will only take you one hour. The second option is to take a bus, or to rent a car both of them will save you some bucks, but it will take more than 20 hours.

What to do

Booking a tour to explore Cusco may not be yet an idea for you.

Why do I recommend you consider it? Because it will ease communication barriers, allow you to gain inside knowledge, and avoid the hassles of planning and logistics.  You will be sure about where you are going and what you are doing, seeing, and learning.  Here is the link with some tours you might like.

Book a tailor-made tour

Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure through the heart of Peru? I am thrilled to announce that I’ve partnered with a fantastic tour operator to curate an array of immersive experiences that will leave you spellbound. Fill out this form and get ready to uncover ancient ruins, savor mouthwatering cuisine, and forge memories to last a lifetime!

Here is a map of the hotel and the main sites, to give you an idea.



Best Things to Do in Cusco

Begin your journey at the iconic Plaza de Armas, surrounded by colonial architecture and the historic Cathedral. Don’t miss the awe-inspiring Sacsayhuamán fortress with its colossal stone walls.

  • Plaza de Armas
The city was then conquered in the 16th century by the Spaniards, which is why you will see that many of the structures built during the Inca empire remain and that those were the foundations to build churches and palaces that can be admired all around the city.
Some of the amazing stonework remains intact in the Qorikancha, located near the center of town. The original Qorikancha was an important temple for the sun-god Inti.
Best reasons to visit Cusco, Capital of the Inca Empire
  • Machu Picchu
While Cusco holds its own charm and allure, a visit to Machu Picchu remains an indispensable part of your journey. The ancient citadel, perched amidst breathtaking landscapes, offers a glimpse into the enigmatic past of the Inca civilization. So, when in Cusco, be sure to embark on the pilgrimage to this UNESCO World Heritage site, and witness the wonders of Machu Picchu for yourself. Book a tour
Inca Empire exploration in Cusco.
  • Church of Santo Domingo
The Spanish built the Church of Santo Domingo over the Inca temple, destroying much but keeping the foundations, and preserving some of the original Inca rooms inside. The sophisticated stonework techniques of the Incas proved resilient to earthquakes.
Inca Empire exploration in Cusco. Inca Empire exploration in Cusco.

What to eat

You should try to taste the Peruvian beverage Chicha de jora and alpaca meat.   Some other Peruvian favorites include tacu tacu, aji de gallina and for dessert, try some suspiro limeño.  If you are out in the evening, then try the local soda, Inka cola, and some local beer.

Avoid Altitude Sickness


The altitude in Cusco being at 3399 m, can sometimes affect visitors, especially those living at sea level like me.
After living in Norway for 3 years, altitude sickness was an issue for me.
Fortunately, the hotel has coca tea and leaves in the lobby and I was able to chew and drink them.
While chewing the leaves I was thinking, this is how it was done during the time of the Inca empire! Let’s use ancient natural medicine! It did help, but after a while, I was offered 5 mins with an oxygen mask, which I gladly accepted.  Word of advice, take it easy! Your body needs to get used to the 3500m. Staff members were helpful and made sure we had all we needed.

Where to Stay Cusco

Top 3 Hotels in Cusco:

  1. Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel Experience opulence in the heart of Cusco at Palacio del Inka. This historic hotel seamlessly blends Inca traditions with modern luxury. With charming rooms, exquisite dining, and impeccable service, it’s a haven for discerning travelers. Book Palacio del Inka
  2. JW Marriott El Convento Cusco Nestled within a former 16th-century convent, JW Marriott El Convento is an architectural masterpiece. Enjoy the perfect fusion of colonial charm and contemporary elegance. Luxurious rooms and a central location make it an ideal retreat. Book JW Marriott El Convento
  3. Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel & Spa Step into a world of sophistication at Casa Cartagena, a boutique hotel blending historic charm with modern indulgence. Elegant suites, a tranquil courtyard, and a spa offering rejuvenating treatments define this intimate retreat in Cusco. Book Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel
  4. We stayed at Taypikala Hotel Cusco a lovely small hotel with antique Inca decor, a gorgeous small square “plaza” in the middle of the hotel with a lovely fountain and other nice details. The rooms were comfortable with a homey feeling to them. I love the fact you can easily walk to Koricancha from the hotel. In addition, it was near the main Plaza in Cusco. Book Taypikala Hotel Cusco
    Try to enjoy the walk to the main Plaza at night, the Koricancha is nicely illuminated. It provides a perfect occasion to get some wonderful night shots.
    Here are more great options for places to stay in Cusco.  


Book a tour

*1. Machu Picchu Exploration: Discover the wonders of Machu Picchu with our guided tours. From the mysterious ruins to breathtaking landscapes, this adventure promises an unforgettable experience. Book Now

*2. Rainbow Mountain Excursion: Embark on a colorful journey to Rainbow Mountain, where vibrant hues paint the landscape. Our guided tours ensure a seamless experience, allowing you to marvel at nature’s masterpiece. Book Now

*3. Sacred Valley Discovery: Immerse yourself in the rich history of the Sacred Valley with our curated tours. Explore ancient ruins, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant markets. A journey through the heart of the Inca Empire awaits. Book Now

Or get a tailor-made tour by filling out this form and get ready to uncover ancient ruins, savor mouthwatering cuisine, and forge memories to last a lifetime!

Inca Empire exploration in Cusco.

Plan your stay and adventures in Cusco with these top-notch hotels and unforgettable tours for an experience that blends luxury with the magic of ancient civilizations.

What to bring:

In addition to rain gear and warm clothes, bring something to drink and sunscreen. Remember the sun is stronger around the equator.

If you have an SLR camera with you on any trip where it might rain, get a  Professional Rain Cover for Large DSLR Cameras otherwise avoid using it or you risk it getting damaged.

You can stroll down the cozy streets in Cusco and feel that you are indeed in what was the capital of the Inca – Empire. Admire indigenous people dressed in traditional clothing, streets preserving Inca and Spanish architecture, and more.

Inca Empire exploration in Cusco.

In Conclusion: Unveiling the Essence of Cusco

As our exploration has revealed, the allure of Cusco is undeniable, with its distinctive character and myriad attractions. However, our words only scratch the surface of this incredible city. To truly grasp its magnificence, you must experience it firsthand.

The city offers many bars and restaurants all over its downtown area. The exterior is very well-kept, giving you that feeling that only a small city in the middle of the Andes can give you.

What were your impressions of this charming city?



If you are like me, you will probably want to know all about places to visit and enjoy the delicious gastronomy of Peru, so I highly recommend taking a look at the Lonely Planet Peru travel guide for more information, tips, and inspiration!


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Take a look at this list of travel resources to plan your trip and travel in South America.

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Visit Cusco, Capital of the Inca Empire: A Guide for Explorers

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