Peru Travel

Two days of wandering Cusco

You’ll most likely fly from Lima to Cusco, especially if you are here to see Machu Picchu or the Sacred Valley. I spent one night in Cusco upon arrival, and one night upon departure. Considering I only spent two days wandering on foot, I saw and did a whole lot. Here’s some things you can’t miss!

Post flow:

  • Sights to see
  • Good eats
  • The best shops (not your average souvenirs)
  • Insight on things to know before you go

Saqsayhuaman:

Just a short walk from city center, sits some of the Incas best preserved work. This site was only about a 10 minute walk from the hotel I stayed at. Bring water, and wear comfortable shoes, lots of rocky steps!

The main wall of Sacsayhuaman is built in zigzag, with giant stones up to 16 feet high and 8 feet wide. Take a minute to admire just how big some of these stones are, then think about the fact they build this all by hand. Your mind will be blown.

It was 21US dollars to enter, the ticket was good to see other sites as well. Check out my post on The Sacred Valley, to learn about some other ruins you must see!

Christo Blanco is a 26 ft statue of Jesus Christ, that can be seen from the city. It’s about a 10 minute hike from Saqsayhuaman. You can also take a taxi, if you are only going to see Christ. I didn’t wear proper shoes this day, so I skipped the extra steps to see Christ.

Acueducto de Sapantiana:

It’s honestly a silly stop, but I saw it on google maps, and I was wandering around the area, so why not! It was actually quite busy when I went, so I had to wait a few minutes to take this photo. To get there, you can walk along Calle Tandapata from the San Blas neighborhood. You’ll see a sign for Acueducto de Sapantiana, walk down the path, there’s a small set of stairs, then walk next to the flowing water to the aqueduct. Free to enter!

Siete Borreguitos:

After you visit Sapantiana, walk just a bit farther to admire Calle Siete Borreguitos. It’s a picturesque set of stairs, full of flowers that leads up to the back entrance of Sacsayhuaman.

The San Blas neighborhood, is the general area of this day of wandering. I felt totally safe, and really enjoyed admiring all the random wall art, bright pottery filled with flowers, and old buildings.

There was a restaurant about half way up the stairs, that I ate at twice! I don’t even know if it had a name, but it felt like I was eating in someones home. She was very welcoming, had a wide variety to choose from, and a cute little balcony with views to enjoy the meal.

Mirador de Plaza Sán Cristobal:

A quick walk from Site Borreguitos, leads you to this Mirador de Plaza San Cristobal, a church with panoramic views of Cusco. You can also do a tour of the church.

Plaza San Francisco and San Pedro Market:

A bustling little area of town. Beautiful church, lots of shops, and restaurants. Honestly, Plaza San Francisco is a great little park to pick a bench and people watch.

Just a bit past Plaza San Francisco, lives the San Pedro Market. Definitely an interesting place to look around. All the locals bring their produce, crafts, and goods here to sell.

Good eats:

I’ll be honest and say I didn’t have a chance to visit every single one of these. However, they were recommended to me by a good friend.

Shops:

All of these shops had beautiful high quality, hand made clothing, and jewelry. There were quite a few other really cute shops here, that I can’t seem to find on google maps, but they were on this street. Definitely wander up and down the street C Carmen Alto, for some not so touristy shopping.

Where to stay:

Upon arriving in Cusco, I stayed at Auka Boutique San Blas, booked on Booking.com. I paid 57US dollars for one night. They arranged my taxi pick up at the airport, for 6US dollars. I was early, and my room wasn’t ready, but they were kind enough to hold my bag.

The only thing I found a bit odd, was that my room did not have any windows. If you choose to stay here, just upgrade the room. Aside from no window, it was a cute boutique hotel, the room was clean, and the bed was very comfortable.

Upstairs there was a lovely little balcony nook, with stunning views of the city. They had coca tea available all day long, which helps a lot with the elevation. In the morning, breakfast was served up there as well.

Amazing location! Walking distance to everything listed in this post. Safe and quiet neighborhood.

My other stay was not quite as great, but it was cheap. 22US dollars for the night. Ya get what ya pay for. I stayed one night at Andean South Inn. The staff was friendly, and also arranged for my airport drop off. I just needed somewhere to crash for a few hours, before an early departure. It was clean, but you could hear anyone walk down the hall, and there was not warm water to shower. I will say they were in a great location, only a few blocks from Auka Boutique, and I felt was safe.

In the know:

-Keep in mind, Cusco sits at a very high elevation, 3,399 meters, or 11,152 feet. Drinking coca tea can help with altitude sickness. And stay hydrated!

-I bought a SIM card at a Claro near city center. With Verizon, I typically get charged $10 a day when traveling. This SIM card only cost $10 for two weeks. I had iMessage, WhatsApp, and data. No calls unless on wifi. All plans will vary. They will need your passport when you purchase.

-I walked about 5 miles on my first day of wandering, highly recommend comfortable shoes. The roads, side walks, and stairs are quite uneven.

-I used an ATM to get cash. There is typically a fee, but depending on your bank, they will wave it. If you don’t feel comfortable using an ATM, there are plenty of money exchange places. Be sure you have brand new, crisp bill or they will not accept them. Most places will only accept soles.

I hope this post gives you some insight on Cusco, and a quick overview of some sites you can’t miss!

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