Cusco – The Cultural Capital of Peru

In our last post, we discovered the highest capital city: La Paz, Bolivia. Now we take you to a city enriched by history and established in 1100!

Cusco sits at 11,200 ft and has a estimated population of 435,114. Many tourists flock to the cultural centre with the two largest plazas: Plaza Mayor del Cusco and Plaza de Armas.

This is also the city where you can book tours into the rainforest, to climb the Rainbow Mountain and Macchu Picchu.

The prices of tours can vary between companies so make sure you do research around the city. For foreigners many choose Peru Hop for safety reasons but local tour companies often offer more varied and less touristy deals.

There is certainly a lot to keep you occupied in and around Cusco, here is our suggestions:

1. Churches

Cusco has some of the most decorative churches in the world, filled with Inca gold. The largest is the cathedral complex in Plaza de Mayo.

Entrance to churches can be pricey but you can reduce the cost by getting the Cusco Tourist Card which gives you access to 3 churches for 12sol. (Compared to 25sol)

2. Restaurants

The city has a wide range of restaurants to suit your tastebuds and price range.

In the centre, restaurants and cafes are more expensive and mostly cater to the richer tourist market however if you search in the lanes you can find some local gems.

We highly recommend searching for cafes/restaurants that offer a Menú. These are set menus that offer a soup, main and a drink for a set price. Prices range from 5sol – 10sol. Anything over 10sol isn’t local!

3. Markets and Plazas

Cusco has markets for anything you can imagine.

Mercado de Pedro is the main food and clothing market where you can grab fresh fruit juices, sweets and meats.

This market is also the place to grab the best menus in town. The back of the market hosts local women with small gas stoves serving the menu of the day.

Hint: Lomo Saltodo is a traditional Peruvian dish with meat, tomato and potatoes. Definitely try this at the Mercado De Pedro!

After your meal, finish up with a fresh fruit juice for 3sol.

Prices broken down:

Menu cost – 5 sol ($1.49/£1.19)

Mixed Fruit Juice – 3sol ($0.89/£0.70)

Total cost – 8sol ($2.89/£1.86)

At these prices it is an absolute steal for anyone on a budget.

4. Bars and Nightlife

The city comes alive at night, with bars opening their doors and nightclubs opening from 10pm onwards.

Jacks Irish Pub, is most popular with the backpacker tourist crowed giving a feeling of home with the food and the beer. Football games (of the American and European kind) are shown her regularly along with other major sporting events. The place itself is the highest Irish pub in the world 🌎

If you are looking for something more traditional then head to one of the cities clubs and Salsa dance the night away.

We visited Mamma Africa in Plaza de.. and danced some salsa with the locals. Drinks here are reasonably priced but water isn’t free.

Hint: Bouncers in Cusco are cautious of drunk patrons throughout the course of your night. If you arrive to drink to a club or bar you will be denied entry.

5. Rainbow Mountain

The mountains rainbow colours come from the minerals within the rocks.

Tours to this area are very popular as a day trip from Cusco, with prices starting at 40sol including transport and food.

Read about us conquering the rainbow mountain.

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