Maddy Breeling is a student at the University of Nebraska and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Cusco, Peru.
Exploring the entire former capital of the Incan Empire in one day can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of restaurants, shops, and historical sites all over this city! Don’t fear, this list will provide a guide for the highlights and can’t miss places to visit if you are crunched for time in this ancient center!
9:00 AM: To start off the day, a visit to the Regional History Museum will provide the background knowledge and information to fully appreciate the city. It is full of artifacts and art to represent the Pre-Incan, Incan, and Colonial periods of the Cusco region.
10:30 AM: Grabbing a cup of fresh juice from one of the local cafes around the city will be the perfect snack for the day. I would highly recommend trying lucuma or guanabana, two native fruits to Peru!
11:00 AM: A quick ride up the mountains will take you to one of the most important sites for the Incan empire: Saksaywaman. This area was once a religious site, and now you can see enormous stones that were moved, cut and placed perfectly together. You can also go down the Incan slides which are made from a unique stone formation.
12:00 PM: Close to Saksaywaman is Cristo Blanco, a tall statute of Jesus that overlooks the entire city. This present from the Muslim community in Peru provides by far the best view of the city because the entire valley can be seen.
1:00 PM: You can find every kind and style of food in Cusco, especially near the main Plaza. For lunch I would find a Picanteria, which provides native cuisines, including the famous cuy and anticuchos.
2:00 PM: Walking across the Plaza you can’t miss the Chocolate Museum and Shop. In the museum, you learn the process of making chocolate and get to taste each step along the way. At the end there is chocolate tea, chocolate pisco, and chocolate jam that are all free to sample! You can also make an appointment with a chocolatier and make your own!
4:00 PM: If you are looking for souvenirs, the San Pedro Market is perfect. It is an enclosed space with vendors in every corner. Besides looking for the perfect alpaca sweater, they also sell amazing fruits, flowers, and other things that can only be found in Peru.
6:00 PM: On every corner of the city is a “polleria,” or a place that sells Pollo a la Brasa. This is perfect dinner and consists of a rotisserie chicken with a mountain of French fries. Don’t be afraid to dig in with your fingers and grab a plate of Picarones for dessert!
9:00 PM: The Plaza de Armas is the spot to go if you are looking for live music, a pisco sour, or to dance. The Plaza comes alive after 9 PM and you can’t miss the dozens of bars and restaurants that surround it.
11:00 PM: You have gotten to enjoy all the best sites within Cusco and a little bit of the Incan culture. Time to go back to your hostel, relax and prepare yourself for your next day of adventures!
The world awaits…discover it.