For those planning a trip to Peru, Cusco is surely on your bucket list, which is why we have prepared this section to help you decide among the different attractions in the so-called Imperial City of the Incas.
As you may know, Cusco was the epicenter of the Tahuantinsuyo empire, a beautiful region that was considered sacred by the famous Inca civilization. For that reason, there are so many things to do, including cultural, historical and outdoor excursions.
Based on our passenger’s pick, we have structured this blog to give you a glimpse at 10 of the most sought after day trips from Cusco. Either you’re traveling alone, with a partner, family or kids, here you’ll find inspiration for your trip to Peru!
1. Visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas
As you already know, the Incas developed a great cosmovision movement in the Andes, where they worshiped nature itself. The Urubamba Valley is surrounded by imposing mountains and comprises a flourishing territory that provides an optimal agricultural practice.
These and other strategic factors made it suitable for the Quechua civilization to settle in those lands. For that reason, the Sacred Valley of the Incas has several constructions that once served as ceremonial, administrative and residential centers that you certainly can’t miss.
In case you didn’t know, the main attractions are located in Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Chinchero, three beautiful towns with an extensive cultural expression, where Inca traditions are still carried out until the current date.
The archeological sites are as impressive as you can imagine, composed of agricultural terraces, palaces and temples that will allow you to know much more about this powerful ancient empire.
Likewise, the Sacred Valley isn’t only about these Inca remains but also its natural scenery. If you’re eager to visit it during your trip to Cusco, we have the perfect excursion for you!
2. Explore the archaeological sites around Cusco city
Although most of the Inca structures in the Imperial City were almost completely destroyed by the Spanish colonizers, some have remained as the foundations of the colonial buildings within the Historic Center of Cusco.
Likewise, there are other magnificent examples that lie a few kilometers away from the city. These ancient constructions served as ceremonial and administrative centers. And though a great part was disassembled, they still stand with greatness looming over Cusco.
One of the most impressive archeological complexes is the Sacsayhuaman Ceremonial Fortress, which was built with perfectly carved stones that can weigh over 100 tons and be as tall as 9 meters.
A few meters from there, lies a temple with a gloomy past, thought to be an important religious center for the Incas since it’s been destroyed by the Spanish conquerors. The Temple of Q’enqo is another construction that you shouldn’t miss during your stay.
Going a bit further up is another structure called Puca Pucara, which seemed to be a checkpoint for travelers and messengers that came from other regions. A few meters from there, you’ll find an ancient water cult temple and resting point called Tambomachay.
Our Cusco Archeological City Tour will take you to these attractions, so you can experience each of them and get to know all the secrets and mysteries contained in these authentic Inca ruins.
4. Make your way up to the Lake Humantay
For those looking to spice up their adventure in Cusco, there’s a special place located at 4,200 meters above sea level. An emerald lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks and an otherworldly natural scenery, called Humantay.
The Lake Humantay Trek is one of the most in-demand trekking activities near Cusco since it takes you to the most beautiful water body of the southern Andes.
This beautiful lagoon has a turquoise color thanks to the microalgae at the bottom of the lake and the mineral-rich water that comes from the thawing of the nearby glaciers.
The trek to this natural wonder can be quite challenging since it is very steep and the altitude is surely a factor that can’t be ignored. For that reason, we highly recommend taking some time to get used to the altitude in Cusco before venturing out to this natural beauty.
5. Get to know the Machu Picchu Citadel
There is no way that we could leave the most important attraction of the region out of this listing. Machu Picchu is undoubtedly everyone’s favorite destination while traveling to Peru and if for a second you were thinking about skipping it, here’s why you shouldn’t.
As you already know, the Inca Citadel is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and it’s only a day trip away from the city of Cusco. If you’re short in time you can experience this outstanding structure in just one day!
Machu Picchu is the most well-preserved Inca ruin of the Andes since it was never discovered by the Spanish colonizers. The Historical Sanctuary sits on a hilltop, surrounded by imposing mountains, flourishing valleys and an everlasting energy.
If you’re looking for the best way to visit this outstanding archeological site, make sure to check our Machu Picchu travel packages and explore Peru like a real expert.
6. Take a day trip to the South Valley
There’s so much to know about Cusco’s history and culture that you’d wish to extend your vacations a bit more. But, that’s why we are here to help you decide what’s best for you according to your interests.
The South Valley is another alternative to get to know another side of the Cusqueñan history since the Incas weren’t the only ones that dominated these lands. This touristic circuit will take you on a historical journey, where you’ll get to visit Inca, pre-Inca and colonial structures along the route.
On this occasion, you’ll get to learn about the Pikillacta Archeological Site, the San Pedro Church in Andahuaylillas and Tipon. These ancient structures are known for their impressive architectural style, engineering practice and evolutionary impact.
7. Immerse yourself in the Andes with the 7 Lakes trek
The Vilcanota mountain range holds an outstanding natural landscape, where towering snow-capped peaks, turquoise-water lagoons and the Rainbow Mountain itself harmonically converge to make a dream-like scenery.
In case you didn’t know, there’s a tall mountain that looms over the city of Cusco during the brightest days, which also was considered a mighty Apu to the Inca culture. The Ausangate Mountain is surely one of the most impressive mounts in Cusco and this is one of the many ways to experience it.
Although this trek won’t take you as far as its summit, you’ll be able to get fully immersed in the beautiful surroundings of the region, while also visiting 7 lakes that originate from this massive snow-capped mountain.
The 7 Lakes of Ausangate Trek will take you on an awe-inspiring journey through the Andes, where you’ll get to meet an ancient cultural expression at the very heart of the mountain range and a natural landscape like no other.
8. Discover the Maras Salt Mines and Moray
The Incas have definitely left a mark in this region, something that is incredibly represented in their architectural and engineering knowledge. There are two perfect examples of this definition that you must visit in the Sacred Valley.
For those who didn’t know, Maras is composed of a group of over 3,000 salt ponds that have been in current use since hundreds of years ago. The Maras Salt Mines are worked by locals only, a family business run through generations.
On the other hand, Moray is an agricultural center composed of several circular terraces built by the Incas, which allowed them to create different microclimates and cultivate many different plant species. Each terrace is fed by a complex water irrigation channel, allowing constant and regulated water supply to the crops.
9. Do the Rainbow Mountain trek
If you’re up for a bit of adventure during your trip, then the Rainbow Mountain Trek should be your go to option. This outstanding colored mountain sits on an elevation of 5,200 meters above sea level and is surrounded by an otherworldly scenery.
Keep in mind that you need to be properly acclimatized to join this adventure, which is why we recommend leaving it for the last thing to do in your Cusco trip itinerary.
The Rainbow Mountain is one of the most in-demand trekking activities in Cusco since it gathers over 1,000 travelers per year. The natural landscape of this region is like nothing you’ve seen before, complemented by towering peaks, hoards of llamas and alpacas, and the Red Valley behind it.
10. Explore the royal precinct of Huchuy Qosqo
If you’re looking to travel off the beaten track, then you should consider visiting the Huchuy Qosqo Archeological Site, a royal Inca precinct constructed under the order of the Viracocha emperor.
This ancient structure is one of the most well-preserved constructions near the Sacred Valley of the Incas, composed of several small buildings, agricultural terraces and colcas.
The site is located 50 kilometers north of Cusco and it’s believed that the Spanish conqueror, Gonzalo Pizarro, found the remains of the Inca Viracocha and ordered the burning of the entire site.
We’d love to show everything we know about our historical and cultural heritage. We encourage you to check our Peru travel packages while you’re here!
We, at Viagens Machu Picchu, will take care of all the details regarding your experience in the ancient country of the Incas. We want you to travel in comfort and most importantly, live an authentic experience in Peru from start to end.