Are you looking for an unique experience? want to see an ancient culture? Want to learn Spanish? How about fantastic nature and discover Inca culture, Machupicchu, Sillustani, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chavin de Huantar or Pucara while enjoying a real Andean lifestyle? Cusco is the place!
Cusco used to be the center of the Inca Empire, but today it’s one of the largest and most interesting cities in South America. In this blog post, we’ll show you how you can use these extra days off to create an amazing vacation in Cusco, Peru.
Cusco is a magical city, a place where the colors and smells of South America meet the majesty and mystery of the Inca Empire.
You’ve never been to Cusco. You probably didn’t even know that Cusco existed until now, but after reading this article, you have a burning desire to book a ticket and get your passport as soon as possible. The best part is that you can do just that on Expedia. Vacations are about being able to travel to locations all over the world, and when it comes to checking those locations off of your List Of Places To See Before You Die list, Cusco should be at the top of your list. If you don’t believe me, read on for some great tips on why Cusco is a prime vacation spot and inspiration for planning out your trip.
Vacation In Cusco
The following is a guest post by Anya Pavlova, a former resident of Cusco, Peru and an experienced adventure travel blogger at www.reach-out-to-nature.com . She writes about all kinds of outdoor expeditions and has been to several spots in Peru, some of them bordering the region covered in this article.
At the age of 10, I was flying way above my head. That’s when our family took a trip to Peru for a real cultural experience—the kind you can’t get in Miami.
High up in the Peruvian Andes lies Cusco, once the center of the Incan Empire. It is, of course, the launching point for Machu Picchu – Peru’s largest tourist attraction – but the city is well worth a visit, to acclimate and experience the mix of Incan and Spanish influences that define it.
Plaza de Armas
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© Mia Spingola / Culture Trip
Cusco’s Plaza de Armas is the cultural center of the city. Lining the plaza are restaurants, bars and coffee shops – many with a great view of the city – perfect for spending an afternoon people-watching and acclimating to Cusco’s elevation. At the heart of the plaza lies a manicured garden and intricate statue of the Incan ruler Pachacuti. Those willing to venture from the sun-soaked benches will appreciate a tour of Cusco’s massive cathedral, complete with a trip into the crypts. The cathedral, a symbol of the Spanish conquest, houses a replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper: in a uniquely Peruvian touch, it has a guinea pig (cuy) on one of the plates.
San Pedro Market
Market, Street Food, Healthy
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Mia Spingola | © Culture Trip
San Pedro Market is a spectacle to behold, filled with fruit, vegetable and meat stands, as well as 30 stalls serving freshly squeezed juices. A lack of refrigeration means products are displayed open-air, and the freshest items are sold first thing, so come early if you’re wanting to buy. For lunch, the market hosts a number of empanada and tamale vendors, as well as food stalls that serve a menú – a two-course meal – at a very reasonable price. If you’re struggling with the altitude, pick up a bag of coca leaves here to suck on.
Paddy’s Irish Pub
Pub, Irish, Pub Grub, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, $$$
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Stop in for a drink at Paddy’s, the highest Irish-owned pub in the world. Expats and backpackers fill Paddy’s to enjoy imported European beer (including Guinness) and watch rugby, soccer or American football. Homesick travelers will appreciate the pub’s burgers and sandwiches, as well as Irish favorites such as shepherd’s pie. Centrally located on the corner of the plaza, Paddy’s serves as a spot for a celebratory drink after a trek to Machu Picchu, and a good place for the solo traveler to meet people.
Dare to try cuy
Restaurant, South American, $$$
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Mia Spingola / | © Culture Trip
Foreigners may be squeamish at the site of guinea pig at their table, but cuy is a Peruvian delicacy that carries historical and regional importance. The dish appears in the copy of the Last Supper hanging in the cathedral, and has provided a cheap livestock alternative for centuries. The Cusco variety of cuy is typically roasted, meaning that the guinea pig is particularly palatable, with a similar flavor to duck or rabbit. Although home to several cuyerías – restaurants specializing in cuy – the city’s best option is Pachapapa, an open-air restaurant that cooks the dish in a wood-fired clay oven. For the faint of heart, try alpaca steak, another delicacy served throughout the city.