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16 most popular tourist attractions in Cusco

Cusco, considera una de las 50 ciudades más bellas del mundoCusco is considered one of the 50 most beautiful cities in the world

Beautiful city of Cusco is considered one of the 50 most beautiful cities in the world. Thanks to its unique history, surreal street, charming people and delicious gastronomy, it’s on the bucket list of many tourists worldwide.

We have prepared a list with the 16 most popular tourist attractions in Cusco, places you definitely shouldn’t miss out:

1.- Sacsayhuaman Fortress:

Location:

Ceremonial Sacsayhuaman Fortress is located 2 kilometers north from Plaza de Armas in Cusco, at 3,700 meters above sea level. 

Constructed during the reign of Pachacuteq (1438-1471 CE) and his successors. 

The fortress was the largest structure built by the Incas. It was constructed on an elevated rocky promontory facing the northern marshy ground outside the Inca capital of Cuzco. To complete such a massive project 20,000 labourers were drafted in under the well-established Inca system of extracting both goods and labour from peoples they conquered. Working in a system of rotation 6,000 were given quarrying duties while the other 4,000 dug trenches and laid the foundations.

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How to get to the Fortress?

Getting to Sacsayhuaman is very simple. You can walk, but it will take 40 minutes from Plaza de Armas in Cusco.

You can also take a taxi. It will take 15 minutes only. And if you want to save some money and immerse in the culture, you can take the public transportation. 

If you like everything settled for you in advance, then the best option is to hire the service of a tourist agency like Inkayni Peru Tours.



Inkayni Note: Sacsayhuaman Fortress is part of some of the following tours:

Fiesta del Inti Raymi - 2018 Forografía: Luz Incappuiño

Inti Raymi feast– 2018 Sacsayhuaman 
Photography taken by: Luz Incappuiño

2.-Qenqo, Inca place to worship Gods

Archeological Complex of Qenqo is located 4 km from Cusco. It is some meters from the Sacsayhuaman Fortress, Tambomachay, Puca Pucara and other archeological sites.

In Quechua, Qenqo means labyrinth or zig-zag and the temple is named for the crooked canal cut out of its rock. Qenqo may have been used for death rituals, possibly to embalm bodies or detect whether a person lived a good life by the course the liquid followed.

It is also believed it had a holy purpose as to worship their gods. This unknown and unclear purpose give Qenqo a mystery that remains alive. Inkayni Peru Tours offers to visit Qenqo as part of the following tour:

How long does it take to get to Qenqo?

To get to Qenqo, you can take a taxi in Plaza de Armas in Cusco. It takes less than 30 minutes to get there. You can also take the public transportation in Puputi street. It is a 45-minute ride. You can also visit this place as part of a City Tour with any local agency like our City Tour.

Complejo Arqueológico de Qenqo

Archeological Site of Qenqo

3.- Puca Pucara:

Puca Pucara is a fortification formed by platforms, stairs, passages, turrets, windowsills and a wall that defends the whole construction in a circular shape. Since it is located in the peak of a hill, it is believed that it was a military position and an administrative center. It may have served as a defense fortress of Cusco.

Puca Pucara or Pukapukara comes from Quechua and it means ‘Red Fortress’. This is because of the red granite that was used in its construction.



Location:

Puca Pucara is located at the top of the road to Pisac, about 7 km from Cusco. It is at an altitude of 3 850 m.a.s.l. 

How to get there?:

Getting to Puca Pucara is very simple. You can walk, but it will take 50 minutes approx from Plaza de Armas in Cusco.

You can also take a taxi. It will take 20 minutes only. And if you want to save some money and immerse in the culture, you can take the public transportation. It will take 30 minutes.

If you like everything settled for you in advance, then the best option is to hire the service of a tourist agency like Inkayni Peru Tours.

Uno de los muros de la Fortaleza Roja de Puca Pucara

One of the walls in Puca Pucara, the red Fortress

4.- Tambomachay, The Inca Baths:

It consists of a series of aqueducts, canals and waterfalls that run through the terraced rocks. It is situated near springs such as the one called Timpuc Puquio, a boiling spring on the northern bank of the Timpuc River and the spring near Huaylla Cocha community. These natural springs were channeled through three waterfalls that still flow today.

Location:

Tambomachay is located 8km from the city of Cusco , at 3700 meters above the sea level.

How to get to Tambomachay?:

Tambomachay is not far from Cusco. Therefore, there are different options to get to this archeological site. You can take a taxi to get there. It will take 45 minutes from Cusco to Tambomachay. If you want to save some money, you can take the public transportation. The third option and more recommended is hiring the service of a tour operator in advance.

Inkayni Peru Tours has different packages that include Tambomachay like:

Tambomachay posee este sistema hidráulico con dos canales subterráneos tallados en roca

Tambomachay possesses a hydraulic system a natural spring, which continuously feeds a series of small aqueducts, canals, and waterfalls built into the terraces.

5.- Temple of the Moon, temple of fertility:

Templo of the Moon is a place where there was a spiritual conexion and energy with the female Moon Goddess. The Incas worshiped the Moon. It was a respected deity. This place is often visited for couples who want to have children.

Location:

The famous “Temple of the Moon, temple of fertility” is located near the archeological site of Sacsayhuaman, 30 minutes approximately from Plaza de Armas of Cusco.

What do people do when they visit the Temple of the Moon? 

  • The moon was a respected deity for the Incas. Nowadays, some people keep their traditions of rituals alive and perform some of them there.
  • This is a place for spiritual connection and encounter with the female energy of the Moon Goddess.
  • You can go on a picnic there. Bring fruits, drinks and snacks.
  • Temple of the Moon is included in the “Horseback riding – Outdoor Activity” of Inkayni Peru Tours.
Templo de la Luna o Templo de la fertilidad

Temple of the Moon, temple of fertility

6.- Chinchero Archeological Site – a living culture:

Archeological Site of Chinchero is part of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It has terraces that were designed by the Incas. These terraces are in the form of a trapezoid. On these terraces, they cultivated very nutritious crops such as Quinoa, Kiwicha, and seeds that provided lots of energy. Food storehouses and a highly efficient irrigation system show the genius of this culture that it is difficult to imitate today. They also are famous for being home to the Interpretation Center of Andean Textiles. Local women entertain tourists with weaving demonstrations. The women show how they produce different colors for the wool they spin and weave

Location:

It is located 28 km from Cusco, in the province of Urubamba, at an altitude of 3,762 m.a.s.l.

 



What can you see in the archeological site ?

  • This important park reaches an extension of 43 Hectare. It was formerly inhabited by the Killke culture.
  • There is a collection of architectural spaces: pre-Columbian walls, enclosures, platforms, staircases, and altars
  • The historic center of Chinchero is also considered unique because it mixes an archaeological complex and a town made from Inca foundations and walls, with a population that has maintained its ancestral customs.
  • In the main plaza, there is an adobe colonial church, dating from the early seventeenth century. It has been built upon the foundations of an Inca temple or palace. The ceiling and walls are covered in beautiful floral and religious designs. Diego Quispe Tito’s paintings are displayed here. 

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday: from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Proceso de teñido- Chinchero

Dying process – Chinchero

7.- Moray, The Agricultural LAB of the Sacred Valley

Many things have been said about Moray. At first sight, it looks like an amphitheater formed by many circular terraces. The most widely accepted theory is that Moray was used by the Incas as an agriculture research station. 

Location:

Moray is located 7 km far from the Maras’ community, in the Inca Sacred Valley, and 38 km approximately to the northeast of Cusco. It is at an altitude of 3500 meters above sea level.

Description:

According to historians, the circular terraces are gigantic natural holes that were built and used by the Incas with their respective irrigation channels as an agricultural laboratory. Each circular terrace was used as an agricultural research station. The terraces were used to cultivate and acclimate agricultural crops such as potatoes, corn, quinoa, kiwicha, winter and summer squash, and even coca.

Moray, like other archeological sites of Cusco, is part of the following tours of Inkayni Peru Tours:

Andenes de Moray

Moray Terraces

8.- Archeological Complex of Pisac, Genetics Lab of the Incas:

According to the history, the word Pisac comes from the Quechua word pisaq or p’isaqaq, which means partridge, a hen-like bird that inhabits the area. Likely Inca cities of Machu Picchu and Cusco, Pisac has the form of an animal precisely of which receives the name.



Location:

Archeological Complex of Pisac is located in the district of Pisac, Province of Calca, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is at an altitude of 2950 m.a.s.l. around 33 kilometers to the east, from the city of Cusco.

How to get to Pisaq?

Pisac is located 34 km from Cusco (1 hour). On the route you will see Sacsayhuaman. You can take the public transportation on Puputi street, in Cusco.

Pisaq, like other archeological sites of Cusco, is part of the different tours of Inkayni Peru Tours like:

Terraces of the Archeological Complex of Pisac. Photo by: Luz Incappuiño

9.-  Discover the magic of the Archeological Park of Tipon

The Archeological Park of Tipon is a magic place that has a lot of interesting things to discover. There are fantastic Inca constructions that captivate anyone’s eyes.

Location:

It is located  23 km from Cusco, in the province of Quispicanchis.

Altitude:

It is at an altitude of 3 316 m.a.sl./ 10879 Ft.

Terrazas de diferentes niveles en Tipón

Terraces of different levels in Tipon

How to get to Tipon:

There are 3 ways to get to Tipon:

  1. By Bus

This is the cheapest way to get to the town, but the longest. It takes 1 hour and a half approximately to get there. The name of the transport company is “Los Leones”, and it cost S/. 4 Peruvian soles roundtrip.

2. By Taxi:

The second option to get to Tipon is by taking a taxi. If you take one in the downtown area,it may cost from S/30.00 to S/ 40.00 Peruvian soles.

It takes 50 minutes approximately to get there.

  1. Inkayni Peru Tours and the South Valley Tour 

If you want to have everything arrange in advance, and get to the archeological park not only to the town, Inkayni Peru Tours is the best option.  The previous two options will take you to the town of Tipon, but to access the archeological park you will have to walk approximately 30 minutes.

We offer you to take you to the Archeological Park of Tipon as part of our South Valley Tour. We have daily departures, and promise to take to  Huasao, Pikillaqta, an important town of the Wari Culture in Cusco, and Andahuaylillas & The Sistine Chapel of America.

TIpón data de hace miles de años su desarrollo más impresionante se produjo hace 500 años

Tipon most impressive progress dates back to the 15th century.

10.- Huasao, the wizard town

Huasao town is a mysterious town, also known as the Wizard Town. The colorful signs and the name of the town has to do with the fact that there are many wizards and Altomisayoqs, people chosen by the Lightning God to intercede with the earth and the Incas gods.

Location:

Huasao is located in the district of Saylla, in the Cusco region.



How to get to Huasao?

Getting to Huasao is easy. You can take the public transportation on Cultura Avenue. It takes one hour and a half to get to the town. You can also take a taxi. It takes 50 minutes to get in the town. Below you can find the names of bus and taxis you can take.

There are 3 way to get to Huasao:

  1. By Bus

This is the cheapest way to get to the town, but the longest. It takes 1 hour and a half approximately to get there. The name of the transport company is “Saylla – Huasao”, and it cost S/. 3 Peruvian soles roundtrip.

2. By Taxi:

The second option to get to Tipon is by taking a taxi. If you take one in the downtown area,it may cost from S/30.00 to S/ 40.00 Peruvian soles.

It takes 50 minutes approximately to get there.

3. Do the South Valley Tour 

You can hire the service of a licensed tour operator to have everything arrange in advance. Inkayni Peru Tours is the best option since we will take you not only to Huasao but also, as part of the South Valley tour, you will visit Archeological Park of Tipon, Pikillaqta, an important town of the Wari Culture in Cusco, and Andahuaylillas & The Sistine Chapel of America.

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11.- Pikillaqta, an important town of the Wari Culture in Cusco

Pikillaqta,  was a town of the Wari people, a culture that existed before the Incas. Wari was the center village and other cities like Pikillaqta were influenced by it. The people reached a high level of engineering, their cities were built under established urban planning patterns, its progress was used by other cultures and perfected by Inca architects. Pikillaqta is part of the South Valley tour.

Location:

The archeological site of Pikillaqta is located 30 kilometers east of Cusco, in the district of Lucre, Quispicanchi Province.

How to get there?

One option to get to Pikillaqta is through the South Valley Tour. This tour will also take you to important places in Cusco.

Pikillaqta, es un complejo arqueológico perteneciente a la Cultura Wari

Pikillaqta is an archeological site that belonged to Wari Culture

12.-  Andahuaylillas & The Sistine Chapel of America

Location:

Andahuaylillas is located in Quispicanchi province, Cusco. It is at an altitude of 3121 m.a.s.l.

Why is Saint Peter Apostle church known as the “Sistine Chapel of America”?

The church was built by the Jesuits in the 16th century, on top of a huaca, or sacred place for the Incas.

It is known as the Sistine Chapel of America because of the magnificent frescoes that adorn its walls. You can find inside a Mudéjar-style painted ceiling (Mudéjar being an Iberian artistic style with moorish influence). The ceiling is a spectacular example of craftsmanship and use of kur-kur, a pre-Hispanic method of construction using cane, straw and mud. 

The interior walls are covered in Baroque frescoes by artists from the Cusco School (escuela Cusqueña), the colonial and religious artistic tradition.



 

How to get to Andahuaylillas?

There are different options for you to get to this small but lovely town, Andahuaylillas. The cheapest is by taking a bus from Cusco to Andahuaylillas. It may cost less than S/. 5.00 (Peruvian Soles), and it takes from 40 to 50 minutes to get there.

You can also take a taxi and ask for the best deal. It is a 30-minute ride. The price varies, not only because of the distance but also because of the driver’s rate and service.

La plaza de Andahuaylillas, está ubicado en la provincia de Quispicanchi, Cusco.

Andahuaylillas main square is located in Quispicanchi province, Cusco.

13.- Raqchi, Temple of Wiracocha

Raqchi was recognized as an archeological site by the National Directorial Resolution Nº 392-2009. The total area of ​​the Archeological Site is one thousand hectares. Since it is a very unique construction, this place has many functions, like religious, being Wiracocha one of the most important deities of the Inca Empire, creator of the world, administrative: located strategically allowing the control of the food and ceramic productions, as warehouses: Tambos, which were important places to keep the food safe, were built, and finally Military function: The presence of the houses of the Chasquis (mailmen) and the big walls, indicates that this place was used for training the messengers

Location:

Raqchi is an Inca archaeological site in Peru located in the Cusco Region, Canchis Province, San Pedro District, near the populated place Raqch’i. It is 3480 meters above sea level and 110 kilometers from the city of Cusco.

How long does it take to get to Raqchi?

By bus:  3 hours and a half approximately

By Taxi: 2 hours approximately

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14.- Qoricancha, The Golden Temple

Temple of Qoricancha or The Golden Temple was the most important religious and political temple for the Incas during Tawantinsuyu period. The word “Qoricancha” is formed through a combination of two Quechua words: “qori” meaning gold, and “cancha” meaning open ground or enclosure.

Location:

Majestic Temple of Qoricancha or The Golden Temple is located at 526 Sol Avenue, Cusco. It is near Plaza Mayor del Cusco.

Qoricancha today: 

Little remains today except some sections of its fine stone walls which hint at the site’s once massive size and the legendary stories which tell of the enormous quantity of gold used to decorate the temples and its golden garden. Many structures of the enclosure were destroyed. Today, only some of its constructions are maintained:

  • Rainbow temple
  • Temple of the Sun
  • Ray, Thunder and Lightning Enclosure
  • Hall of Sacrifices 
  • Temple of the Moon
  • Solar Garden
  • Fountains
  • The Gate or the Sacred Alley

Opening Hours:

Admission time to the Temple is from Monday to Saturday 8:30 am -5:30 pm

Sunday 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Templo de Qoricancha o Templo Dorado, en la época del Tawantinsuyo el Qoricancha fue el principal centro religioso.

Qoricancha or The Golden Temple was the most important religious and political temple for the Incas.

15.- Ollantaytambo, the Inca living city:

Ollantaytambo is listed as a living Culture, and a Living Inca City since its inhabitants live according to customs inherited from their ancestors. Their houses are built on Inca bases. You will be amazed to see narrow streets of stone, which have original water channels from the Inca era in which a large amount of water flows. 

Location:

Ollantaytambo is located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, in the province of Urubamba (Cusco). It is located 2,792 meters above sea level, almost 60 kilometers from the city of Cusco. The town sits next to the Urubamba River.

Escalones de Ollantaytambo-Fotógrafo Paula Andrea Plaza

Ollantaytambo terraces – Photographer: Paula Andrea Plaza

How to get to Ollantaytambo, the Inca living city?

Ollantaytambo has its railway station where you can leave for Machu Picchu instead of from Cusco. Today, Ollantaytambo is considered one of the most critical places in South America. 

How to get there? Inkayni Peru Tours shows below two ways to get to Ollantaytambo: one to the north through the town of Pisac and another shorter to the south through the town of Chinchero.

Through Pisac:

  • To travel this route, you must take the buses on Puputi street in Cusco. The cars pass through the town of Pisac, Calca, and Urubamba. The trip takes approximately 2 hours.
  • When you arrive in the bus terminal in Urubamba, you have to cross to the other side of the terminal and take a ‘Colectivo’ (minivan) to Ollantaytambo.

Through Chinchero:

  • You must board the small buses on Pavitos street in Cusco.
  • These cars reach the Main Plaza of Ollantaytambo (with an intermediate stop in the town of Urubamba). The trip takes approximately 2 hours.
  • If you are in one of the towns of the Sacred Valley, you can take the buses to ‘Ollanta.’
Templo del Sol Ollantaytambo

Temple of the Sun – Ollantaytambo

16.- Machu Picchu

Most modern archaeologists and historians agree that Machu Picchu was built by the Inca Pachacutec, the greatest statesman of Tahuantinsuyo (what the Inca called their expansive empire), who ruled from 1438 to 1471.

The origin of Machu Picchu is attributed with some certainty to Pachacutec. Likely built as a refuge for elite members of the Inca aristocracy.

Its strategic location was chosen with admirable success. Surrounded by steep cliffs and away from the sight of strangers in a tangled forest, the citadel of Machu Picchu had the quality of having only one narrow entrance so that only a few warriors were needed for defense in the event of a surprise attack.

Complejo arqueológico de Machu Picchu

Archeological Complex of Machu Picchu

Location:

Machu Picchu stands 2,430 m.a.s.l. It is located about 80 km (50 miles) northwest of Cusco, Peru. In the heart of the Cordillera de Vilcabamba of the Andes Mountains.

Inkayni Peru  Tours offers you different tours that will take you to Machu Picchu, Wonder of the world. Visit our website to find the best tour for you: www.inkayniperutours.com.pe

Inkayni

Inkayni Peru  Tours would love to be part of this exciting adventure here in Cusco. Don’t hesitate to contact and email us. We will have everything arranged in advance for you to  make the most of the trip. We are supported by hundreds of reviews on our different virtual platforms like TripAdvisor, TourRadar, GetYourGuide, etc.

“If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears.” – Cesare Pavese

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