Cusco

Peru Beyond Machu Picchu

Alyssa Collier is a student at The Ohio State University and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Cusco, Peru.

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When people think of Peru, they think of one of the seven wonders of the world: Machu Picchu. But Peru is so much more than one Inca city. The capital of the Inca civilization is actually Cusco, Peru. Cusco is a city thriving with so much culture and history. From the conquest by the Spanish to the ancient ruins throughout the city, Cusco is a city waiting to be explored. But the question is: where do you start?

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  1. Take a Salsa dancing class. There are many places around Cusco that offer free salsa dancing lessons at night. You’re able to take a class and then practice your moves after.
  2. Discover the Sacsayhuaman rock playground. Sacasyhuaman is a massive Inca fortress that overlooks the whole city. To the right of the fortress features many hidden tunnels and natural rock slides that are a fun activity for all ages.
  3. Indulge in the Chocolate Museum of Cusco. The museum is free to tour and has many free samples of the different variations of chocolate produced in Cusco. For 75 soles, you can even take a class to make your own chocolate. And who doesn’t love chocolate?!
  4. Hike through the Ollantaytambo ruins. Ollantaytambo is about an hour drive away. These ruins in particular consist of many temples, such as one of the most famous temples, Templo de Sol (Temple of the Sun). The views are breathtaking and there are little markets all around the ruins that feature different aspects of Inca culture.
  5. Eat at meal at the San Pedro Market. The San Pedro Market is the oldest standing market in Cusco and offers a wide variety of food. You can visit a juice bar for just 8 soles and have a massive smoothie or indulge in all of the freshly baked breads for just 5 soles.
  6. Visit Awana Kancha Farm. Located about 30 minutes from Cusco, this is a must-see farm. It’s free to go and you’re able to feed and play with many different types of llamas and alpacas. The farm is dedicated to the conservation of these animals and the traditional textile making process from the wool. There is also a onsite shop where you can purchase different sweaters, scarves, or blankets made out of the wool.
  7. Hike the trail to Blanco Cristo. Blanco Cristo is a famous statue that sits at the top of a hill that oversees the entire city of Cuzco. The views are the best for a sunrise hike to watch the sun come over the mountains.
  8. Explore the Inca Museum. If you’re looking for a place with an intensive Inca history, this is the museum. Costing only about 10 soles, you’ll be able to learn how the Incas began, how to make a sweater out of alpaca wool, and even see a selection of mummies, along with their jewelry and gold.
  9. Take a free walking tour of Cusco. Wander through the cobble streets of the central historic district and learn about the Spanish plazas throughout Cuzco. One of the most popular options is with Free Walking Tours Peru.
  10. Visit the Convento de Santo Domingo. This is considered one of the most beautiful convents in South America. For only 5 soles per person, it’s worth every sole for the breathtaking views and art.

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The world awaits…discover it.

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