24 Hours in Cusco
The city of Cusco is an ancient gem full of enchantment, wisdom and colour, and is of particular importance as the gateway to the Peruvian marvel – Machu Picchu. Though, the allure of Machu Picchu should not be the distraction from the charm of Cusco and the city itself. With its Spanish and Incan influences, antiquated architecture and ruins, and the buzz of every turn of the cobblestone streets, here we’ll help you squeeze as much out of Cusco in 24 hours as we can.
Capital of the Inca Empire
After becoming acclimatised, you’ll want to get a feel for the rich and complex history of the Inca Empire. Cusco city was the home to Incas for over 200 years, and as you walk the streets you will notice many of the Inca-built walls mixed in with the ornate colonial architecture. For an adventurous and close inspection of fascinating Inca walls, take a walk along the paved curvy road or a taxi drive up to Sacsayhuamán, one of four archaeological ruins, rising high above Cusco. This is a good thing to do earlier in the morning, and if you can get there before 7am you’ll avoid the fee, just nod to the guard on the way out.
Crazy for Coca
The coca plant is a very interesting subject in Peru, and Cusco is home to the Coca Museum, where you can learn all about this infamous and essential part of Andean culture. A tour around the small museum will give you an insight into the medicinal properties of the plant, as well as tackling the issues of drug trafficking and cocaine addiction. The dried leaf is widely available in Cusco and can be enjoyed in a cup of hot water to make a soothing tea, especially nice for calming any nausea caused by the altitude (and perfectly safe).
Colourful, vibrant, and packed with edible Peruvian treasures, this market isn’t aimed at tourists, however is very open to the inquisitive wanting to see a local market in action. From tempting pastries and freshly squeezed exotic juices, to the maybe not-so-palatable roasted and ready-to-eat guinea pigs, once you get past the unusual you should leave ready to indulge your senses and take on the cuisine of the many restaurants, cafés and drinking nests that the town has to offer.
Once you’ve delved into Cusco’s history, culture and a bit of the early nightlife, it’s time to lavish in the comforts. For classic luxury and the essence of Peruvian fare, Palacio del Inka invites an opulent experience in the centre of the city. This five star hotel is an illustrious sanctum, surrounded by striking Inca and colonial buildings where you can even enjoy a relaxing moment in the Inka-Spa, nestled between Inca walls and colonial balconies. By now you’re well and truly ready for dinner and the hotel’s Inti Raymi restaurant is where you can savor Andean ingredients such as; quinoa, vegetables grown in the Sacred Valley and ceviche made with fish from the coast. Finish off with a classic pisco sour – a delectable Peruvian cocktail, followed by a stroll through Plaza de Armas, to conclude your Cusco affair.