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TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN CUSCO, PERU

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN CUSCO: Info, affordable mansion hotels, great pix, history, what to do, where to go, opening hours

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru

Lets take a look at all the fantastic things their are to do and see. The capital of the former Inca empire, Cusco, or Cuzco, lies at an average elevation of about 3400 m above sea level in the Huatanay valley, higher that most other important cities in the Andes. As a result, Cuzco is considerably cooler, but you will also run out of breath much quicker in Cuzco.

 

Before the arrival of the Spanish, the city must have had tens of thousands to maybe as many as 100,000 of inhabitants. Cusco and its surroundings - often referred to as the Sacred Valley - contain many Inca ruins at distances varying from 10 minutes to a few hours at the most.

 

Why consider booking our  Peru National Parks Tour? Because for the same price, our tour gets you to ALL places for which Peru is so famous, and on top of that, you get to see 9 National Parks/Reserves accompanied by a naturalist guide. There is nothing similar on the market. As Peru can be combined with other countries, we organize tours in modules: Lima Cusco, Machu Picchu module, Manu National Park module, National Parks Module, All modules.

Destinations Overview:  World Heritage Site LimaWorld Heritage Site Cusco, Amazon park Manu National Park World Heritage Site Valle Sagrado/Sacred Valley, World Heritage Site Machu Picchu, Cloud Forest Machu Picchu Sanctuary, Highland wetland Titicaca National Reserve, Uros floating islands, Altiplano wildlife park Salinas & Aguadas Blancas National Reserve, World's second deepest canyon Colca Canyon, Word heritage site Arequipa, World heritage site Nazca Lines, Pampas Galeras National Reserve, San Fernando National Reserve, Paracas National Reserve, Ballestas Islands National Reserve.

 

The Tawantinsuyu empire started building Cuzco - meaning “navel” or “centre” - in the 11th century and after the Incas established themselves, they made Cusco the capital of their empire. By the late 1400s Inca Empire  extended 1800 km north into present day Ecuador and 2600 km south into Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Estimates of the population size when the Spanish arrived vary between 8 and 12 million.

 

After conquering Cusco in 1933, conquistador Francisco Pizarro, established a municipality in 1934, but the city declined in importance after Lima became the capital of the new territory. In 1650, an earthquake destroyed the city, and the reconstruction was carried out in Baroque style, the prevailing style of the city's colonial buildings. In 1950, another earthquake ravished the town, but major restoration works have restored most of that damage, and since the 70s, the town has undergone many restoration efforts, one building at the time.

 

The most important museums are the Regional History museum in the 16th-century Garcilaso de la Vega House and the Inca Museum.

 

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Inca stones, Cusco, Peru.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Inca wall, Cusco, Peru.

Highly crafted stones sculptured to stand up without mortar.

 

Narrow street, lined by an original Inca wall.

 

Perhaps the most famous fact of Cusco is that many buildings have been built on the walls of inca buildings, thus combining two totally different styles into one new unique heritage. Cuzco was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.

 

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Plaza de las Armas, Cusco.

Two churches dominate the Plaza de las Armas: The Cusco Cathedral and the Compaņia de Jesus Church. (See below).

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Cusco Cathedral Basilica, Peru.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin, Cusco, Peru.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Cathedral, Cusco, Peru, interior.

Above: Cusco's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin.

Left: Interior of the Cusco Cathedral.

 

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Church of the Compania de Jesus at Plaza de las Armas, Cusco, Peru.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Compaņia de Jesus Church, Cusco, Peru.

The Compaņia de Jesus Church, in Cusco.

 

The original streets of Cuzco are narrow and frequently stepped:

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Colonial street in Cusco, Peru.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Street to Inca Museum, Cusco, Peru.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Arco Santa Clara, Cusco, Peru.

Cusco breathes history wherever you go, such as one of the many colonial streets (above) or the Arco Santa Clara. Just take off on foot and wander through the streets until they hurt. Afterwards you can relax in the romantic ambiance of your boutique hotel.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: La Merced Church, Cusco, Peru.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Archbishop's Palace, Cusco, Peru.

The oldest church of Cusco is the Merced Church, built in 1534.

 

The Archbishop's Palace.

 

 

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Santa Catalina Church, Cusco, Peru.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Santa Catalina Monastry, Cusco, Peru.

Another famous religious monument is the Santa Catalina Monastery and Church, well worth your visit.

 

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Santa Teresa Church, Cusco, Peru.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: San Cristobal Church, Cusco, Peru.

Not all colonial churches are large, and they don't need to be in order to be beautiful, such as the Santa Teresa Church (left) and the San Cristobal Church (right).

 

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Santo Domingo Church on walls of Coricancha temple, Cusco, Peru.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Santo Domingo Church, Cusco, Peru, built on the Coricancha temple.

The Santo Domingo church has been built on the walls of the Coricancha temple of the Incas an is one of the top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru. Also known as the Temple of the Sun, it was dedicated to Inti, the sun god and to Viracocha, the creator god. The center served as an astronomical and calendrer observatory. The walls of the temple were covered with golden and silver plates and golden straws that glittered in the sun, while many golden statues and artwork decorated the gardens. All treasures however were molten to bullion and sent to Spain.

 

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Nightlife Cusco, Peru.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: La Merced Church, Cusco, Peru, at night.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Courtyard archaeological museum Cusco, Peru, at night.

Cusco at night is a visitors delight. Wonderful streets littered with restaurants. Churches are beautifully illuminated, as well as most publically accessible courtyards.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Indian girls in Cusco.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Weaving ponchos, Cusco.

Many rural women in the Andes still wear their traditional clothes and for a few soles, one can take a picture of girls in their festive outfit.

 

Weaving of woolen clothing and rugs is still widely practiced, nowadays particularly to serve the arts markets.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Courtyard boutique hotel in Cusco, Peru. We can give you a great price.

Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru: Courtyard reasonably priced traditional boutique hotel Cusco, Peru. We help you book it.

Boutique hotels in colonial mansions with courtyards at a reasonable price are hard to find, but we have special arrangements with some of the finest boutique hotels from where to enjoy the Top 10 things to do in Cusco, Peru.

 

The best period to visit Cusco, coincides with the vacation season in Europe and North America, as the dry season is from May - September. Skies are blue and as a result, the nights tend to be cooler. Click at the graphs below for enlargements.

Cusco Climate

CLIMATE IN CUSCO, PERU. INFO ON WEATHER & SEASONS. Graphs: hours of sunshine, overcast, rainfall, temperatures, etc.

Cusco lies at an elevation of around 3400 m and has the following climate data:

Data on the Climate of Cusco, 3400m

Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Record high °C (°F)

27.8
(82)

27.2
(81)

26.1
(79)

26.1
(79)

28.9
(84)

25.0
(77)

25.0
(77)

25.0
(77)

27.2
(81)

28.9
(84)

27.8
(82)

30.0
(86)

30.0
(86)

Average high °C (°F)

18.8
(65.8)

18.8
(65.8)

19.1
(66.4)

19.7
(67.5)

19.7
(67.5)

19.4
(66.9)

19.2
(66.6)

19.9
(67.8)

20.1
(68.2)

20.9
(69.6)

20.6
(69.1)

20.8
(69.4)

19.75
(67.55)

Average low °C (°F)

6.6
(43.9)

6.6
(43.9)

6.3
(43.3)

5.1
(41.2)

2.7
(36.9)

0.5
(32.9)

0.2
(32.4)

1.7
(35.1)

4.0
(39.2)

5.5
(41.9)

6.0
(42.8)

6.5
(43.7)

4.31
(39.77)

Record low °C (°F)

1.1
(34)

2.2
(36)

1.7
(35.1)

−3.9
(25)

−4.4
(24.1)

−5.0
(23)

−8.9
(16)

−5.0
(23)

−1.1
(30)

−1.1
(30)

−1.1
(30)

0.0
(32)

−8.9
(16)

Precipitation mm (inches)

145.3
(5.72)

133.7
(5.264)

107.0
(4.213)

43.2
(1.701)

8.7
(0.343)

1.5
(0.059)

4.0
(0.157)

8.6
(0.339)

21.8
(0.858)

39.4
(1.551)

71.9
(2.831)

122.7
(4.831)

707.8
(27.867)

Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)

18

13

11

8

3

2

2

2

7

8

12

16

102

 % humidity

64

66

65

61

55

48

47

46

51

51

52

59

55.4

Mean monthly sunshine hours

143

121

170

210

239

228

257

236

195

198

195

158

2,350

Source 1: World Meteorological Organisation (UN), BBC Weather

Source 2: Danish Meteorological Institute

Cusco, located on the Southern hemisphere, has its winter from May to August, which is the dry season with blue skies and cold night, often falling to the freezing point. The winter, from December to March, is the wet season, when skies are often overcast, particularly in the afternoons. Day temperature vary little in Cusco, making the Cusco climate mild and comfortable. 

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