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Discover Cusco in one day: routes, tips and unforgettable experiences

Home » Guía de Viajes » Discover Cusco in one day: routes, tips and unforgettable experiences
Home » Guía de Viajes » Discover Cusco in one day: routes, tips and unforgettable experiences
Peru Maravilloso 7 Dias Julio

To walk around Cusco is to feel that Andean magic, to see the colonial and Inca style buildings, because the colonial houses and churches were built on Inca remains and some of them still preserve the architecture and style.

Travel Guide to visit Cusco for 1 day

Together we will travel through the archaeological sites that the city of Cusco has, our tour will be only one day, so we will manage to go to the most important attractions; I will tell you everything I could see in each site.

Why visit Cusco in 1 day?

The city is small, so the archaeological remains can be visited in just one day, but I am only talking about the most important places, because if you really want to see everything this beautiful city has to offer, then I think it would take more than one day.

Since the city has streets to visit, old houses, museums, churches, pre-Inca cultures to know then it would not be enough only one day, but several to know all its history…oh and I forgot, not only in the city there are attractions, there are also in its villages and they have several archaeological remains.

And its major attractions such as Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Moray and others have to be visited in more than one day. That is why the city of Cusco is one of the favourite destinations that you should visit and with one day you can visit the most important sites.

When is the best time to plan my trip to Peru?

Well it depends on the season you like, as you know Cusco only has two seasons, a dry season and a rainy season, personally I like the transition between the dry and rainy season.

For this reason I usually visit in the rainy season, and I like to travel between September and October, the rains are not so frequent and the archaeological sites become more beautiful, meaning that the landscape is greenish, the flowers come out and this gives them a special touch.

But if you want to have a quiet trip and enjoy the scenery, then I recommend travelling in the dry season and you will be able to see each of these places. Well, the dry season is between April and August, and from September to October there is little rain, but you can travel with peace of mind.

Now the rainy season starts from November to March you can travel, but be aware that sometimes visits are cancelled or changed due to weather conditions, so I recommend not to travel during these months.

Day 1: Visiting Cusco in just one day

As I had told you at the beginning, to know all of Cusco in one day will not be enough, but I will visit the most famous places of this millenary city, for which I made a list of the places I will visit.

This is the second time I come to Cusco, the first time I made a very quick trip and I didn't have the opportunity to know better, so now I will visit each site and know a little more about each of them.

At about 8 o'clock in the morning I go to the Municipality of Cusco to buy my tourist ticket for 130 soles, this ticket allows us to visit all the archaeological centres of the city of Cusco, the museums, archaeological parks and those archaeological sites of the Sacred Valley.

This ticket is valid for 10 days, but today we will visit as many places as possible that are important to go, but definitely more days are required to get to all the sites.

  • Square Armas of Cusco

This square stands out on its own, one could say that it is one of the most popular places for locals and tourists alike hehehehe….literally most of them come here to relax and contemplate.

The Plaza Mayor is surrounded by Inca and colonial buildings. In the centre of the Plaza is the Cathedral of Cusco and at its sides there is another church that receives visitors, the church of the Jesuits and the cathedral itself.

Each one of them shows us the passage of history through its architecture, paintings and some ornaments that we can see inside. You can also see the Compañía de Jesús church, another very old and important church that you have to visit.

The square is also surrounded by artisan shops and restaurants, among them are the famous fast food chains such as KFC Cusco, Bembos.

Also in the middle you will find an ancient pool with the statue of the Inca that represents the first governor Manco Capac, he tells us that before there was an Indian, but after an earthquake it was destroyed and some time later they placed the Inca as a representative character of Cusco.

  • Temple of the Sun or Qoricancha

This temple was one of the most important centres in the time of the Incas, on this occasion we entered, but you must bear in mind that to visit you must show your entrance ticket.

I was amazed with the architecture it has, you can see that it was one of the best because the style of stones they used were very fine, because their other archaeological sites have a different construction.

Once inside, the first thing you will see are the arches in colonial style, colonial architecture is the prevailing style, but as you go on you will come across the stones with which this place was built, they show us the shapes that were given to the stones.

Inside you can see the Inca rooms that could not be completely destroyed, what the guide told us is that this temple today is built over one of the main temples in Cusco, as it is said that the inhabitants of this place came from different places to worship it, because not only was its creator found here, but there was much more and that is why it was very important.

On the walls you can see pictures belonging to the catholic religion, and on the ceilings there are paintings; then at the back there is a golden plaque where they explain the worlds as they knew them: the world above, the world below and the present.

Then there is a painting showing the variety of constellations that served as an astronomical observatory. These are things that teach us a lot and help us to understand how the Inca Empire functioned at that time.

In the lower exterior part, exactly in the sacred garden, you can still see the Inca constructions, where you can see three animals that present the Andean cosmovision such as the snake, the puma and the condor. Also underneath this centre there is a museum where you can see objects that were found in this site, for the moment you can't enter.

  • Sacsayhuaman, Q’enqo, Puka Pukara y Tambomachay 

After visiting part of the city of Cusco, we went to the different archaeological sites that are in the northern part of Cusco, this time we went by bus to Sacsayhuaman, although there is also the option to go on foot from the Plaza de Armas.

Well, we arrive to our first tour which starts at the statue of Cristo Blanco, from this point you can see the city of Cusco, it is like a viewpoint where you can take beautiful pictures; then we go to the archaeological park of Sacsayhuaman to see those huge rocks with which it was built.

We are told that they are approximately 9 metres high, it is like a titanic city, because from a distance you can see its grandeur and grandeur, according to the buildings that were seen, it can be said that it was a religious and military centre.

You should also know that every 24th of June one of the biggest festivals known as the Fiesta of the Sun or Inti Raymi is celebrated, on the other side of the central square we find half-built stones, stone rodaderos, chincanas and other structures.

Then we visit Q'enqo, which is a few minutes away from Sacsayhuaman, this site is characterised by its underground labyrinths and according to the research carried out, it was used as a religious astronomical centre and for embalming bodies (mummification).

On the outside you can see a carving of the same rock considered as sacred and around it there is a semicircular wall with window niches where they placed the mummified bodies of the Incas or main deities, thus ending this visit.

Our next destination is the archaeological site of Puka Pukara which is located a few minutes beyond Q'enqo, this archaeological site is known to be a strategic place for the control and surveillance of access and exit of the city of Cusco.

And as a last visit we go to the archaeological site Tambomachay, this place is known for having the baths of the Inca, also here they worshiped the water because they found several water fountains.

It was also called the waters of eternal youth, because its flow is constant and it shows us part of the Inca trail that goes from Cusco to Machu Picchu, in the same way it could be said that it is not the whole archaeological site because in the upper part you can find terraces, but it is covered by the undergrowth.

We finished this trip at about 6:00 in the evening, I was very tired so I decided to go and get some rest. After a few hours I will go for a walk through the streets of Cusco, you should know that the shops located in the Plaza Mayor are open on average until 1 or 2 in the morning.

At all times I felt safe in the streets near the Plaza de Armas, because my hotel was close by, so everything was quiet; in the evenings there are nice places to visit, it's just a matter of looking or asking where you can go.

As I wanted to get to know a little more of Cusco's culture I went to see Andean folkloric dances presented at the Qosqo Centre of Native Art, located at 872 El Sol Avenue, in front of the great mural of Cusco's history.

I also found out that you can visit a museum until 10 pm, we are talking about the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art located at 231 Nazarenas Street, Cusco, https://mapcusco.pe/visita-2/.

Where to eat?

Here I will be honest, I did not have the opportunity to go to the most visited places in Cusco, but I am going to mention the places that were recommended to me so that you can visit them.

One of them was the Limbus Resto Bar, located in the upper part of San Blas, which stands out for its viewpoint overlooking a large part of the city, and we are told that its dishes are very delicious, especially the lomo saltado.

The second place where I was able to go was the San Pedro market. This market is one of the most important in the city because you can find various things, from handmade clothes, breakfast, food, groceries, herbalism, among others, but we stopped in the soup section where they sell chicken broth.

I tried them and they are really delicious, accompanied with vegetables from the pickled vegetables and chopped rocoto, I really liked it, the lady who served me told me that it was a breakfast to last me through the day. A few hours later we went back for lunch, but not soup, I went to try a ceviche, which was very good.

Don't forget that there are also street stalls, preferably at night, where they sell the famous anticuchos and you will find them on Ayacucho street in front of the Claro telephone shop; metres further on there is another stall on the corner of Maruri street and another one on the corner of El Sol avenue. Among the meats they sell are heart, kidney, among other prey, but they are very delicious and it is almost obligatory to try them.

My Recommendations

  • If you are coming to Cusco in high season you should book your hotel in advance.
  • Consider first the season in which you are coming.
  • Beware of altitude sickness, so it is best to rest the first day in Cusco, this will help you to acclimatise, as you will be above 3000 metres altitude.
  • If you already have a date to visit Machu Picchu, you should book weeks in advance.
  • Preferably make a list of the places you want to visit.
  • You should change your currency to the local Peruvian currency, the sol.
  • You should always have cash on you, as some shops do not yet accept credit cards as payment.
  • Wear warm clothing, windbreaker jackets, hat, sunscreen.
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