Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca Empire and is often described as the 'Archaeological Capital of the Americas'. The city is a fascinating blend of ancient Andean heritage, the colonial buildings of the Spanish conquest, and a plethora of bustling bars. It is this vibrant medley of past and present that create Cusco's intriguing charm and we think you'll end up staying here longer than originally planned.
Cusco stands at an altitude of 9,000ft and visitors may experience mild discomfort while adjusting to the thin air, so we recommend taking it easy for the first couple of days – perhaps now is not the time to hike to Machu Picchu. Instead, why not go on a city tour and explore the area's ancient Inca Ruins and Baroque churches. The large stone walls of Sacsayhuaman – meaning 'satisfied falcon' in Quechua – were built to overlook Cusco, guarding the capital of the empire below. Discover the 'Inca Baths' of Tambomachay, Qenqo Temple and the extreme Inca landscaping at Moray.
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After getting your fill of historic sites, it's time to taste the food and drink on offer. Head to the Chocolate Museum – the Choco Museo – and taste delicious delicacies such as cacao tea, fondue and iced chocolate. There is even the opportunity to make your own chocolate and the museum runs a range of Peruvian cooking classes for the foodies amongst you. During your stay make sure to try the choclo con queso, a regional strain of corn on the cob topped with cheese and chili sauce.
At night, the historic streets are alive with a younger crowd, eager to see whether Cusco lives up to its title as Peru's party capital. There are a plethora of bars and clubs on offer and the best bit is that you can get a buzz on a budget.
Located on a hill top high above Cusco, the striking Cristo Blanco statue provides spectacular city views and is well worth the hike.