If you’ve been to Machu Picchu, but want to do more in Cusco? You’re not alone! There are many other sites to explore in the city, including Sacsayhuaman, Tambomachay, Qenko, PukaPukara, and more. Here are a few of the highlights you can’t miss during your trip to Peru.
One of the most spectacular sites of Inca history is Sacsayhuaman, a fortress and citadel built on a cliff overlooking Cusco. It is believed that twenty thousand men and tens of thousands of tons of stone were used to construct the wall. Despite the ancient age of the building, approximately 40 percent of the structure is intact. It features a huge grassy plaza and three walls constructed of irregular-shaped rock.
There are many things to do in Cusco besides Machu Picchu, including visiting Sacsayhuaman. The museum is open from 7 am to 5 p.m. on Mondays to Sundays. It is accessible on foot, by taxi or local bus. However, you should make sure that you bring plenty of water and eat light meals. It’s advisable to inform your guide if you are ill or feel sick.
If you’re planning on taking a day trip from Machu Picchu, you should consider visiting Sacsayhuaman, another Incan ruin located just north of Cusco. A hike to this site will reward you with fantastic views of the city and the surrounding area. You’ll be able to walk from the Plaza de Armas to the top of the hill, where you’ll find some of the most impressive walls and buildings.
Near the ancient Incan ruin of Sacsayhuaman, you can take a tour of the Cusco Planetarium. Ancient Incan astronomy played a big role in everyday life, influencing crops, religious ceremonies, and architecture. This is a great opportunity to spend some time stargazing – the city’s high elevation makes this an ideal location for viewing the stars. Your guide will explain the history of Incan astronomy to you, and you can enjoy a projection of the southern sky. If you’d like to view the universe without leaving the planetarium, you can opt for a professional telescope to get a closer look.
If you want to take a break from the soaring Inca ruins, you should visit the nearby ruins of Tambomachay. Tambomachay means “place of watering” in Quechua, and it is a natural spring. The ruins are located on a hill with mountains surrounding it. The entrance to the ruins costs 70 Peruvian soles (about $20 USD) per person. There are a variety of ways to get there, but you will likely have to walk.
Another thing to do in Cusco explores the Sacred Valley. This area is about an hour and a half from Cusco and is home to several Inca sites. Pisac and Ollantaytambo are the top sites to visit while visiting Cusco. In addition to ancient ruins, this area is also home to several luxury spa hotels.
A visit to the main cathedral is another worthwhile activity. This cathedral was constructed in 1654 and houses the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cusco. It contains relics and small artifacts from the Inca Empire and the colonization era. The main cathedral is free to visit but you must make reservations in the high season. There are also many museums in the city.
Another fun thing to do in Cusco is to take a walking tour. This tour will show you the city’s most important points. During the tour, you can see the Cathedral of the city and La Campania, one of the main churches of the city. You can also take in the city’s beautiful garden, and gaze upon a fountain depicting the head of a puma.
When to visit Cusco: While it’s cheaper to stay in a hotel in other parts of the country, it’s a bit more expensive in Cusco. Budget hotels usually cost $15-20 a night, while upscale ones can be over $50.
One of the best things to do in Cusco besides Machu Picchu is to visit Qenko, a temple dedicated to the Inca sun god. You can also take a day tour. Day tours can be affordable too, starting at just $50 for a full-day trip.
Next, you should visit the Tambomachay ruins, also known as El Bano del Inca. These ruins feature a natural spring, aqueduct, and canal systems. The ruins were also used as a surveillance center for threats coming from the north. The name ‘Puka’ is Quechua for “red fortress”, and it was named after the red color that reflected on the stones during the dry season.
You can also get an overview of Cusco from the main plaza. It’s a fifteen-minute walk to the Mirador de San Cristobal, Plaza Santa de Santa Ana, and San Blas. From these viewpoints, you’ll get a breathtaking view of the city below. If you’re looking for a better view, you can go up even higher to Sacsayhuaman, which is just as accessible as Qenko.
If you’re looking for something a little more unique than Machu Picchu, the Qenqo Temple is a must-see. Constructed out of a massive monolith and a hillside, Qenqo was used for sacrifices and ceremonies. The temple is located about three kilometers northeast of Cusco. You’ll be glad you did.
One of the many things to do in Cusco besides Machu Picchu is to visit the nearby PukaPukara archaeological site. The site consists of short walls and doorways on terraces, and it is thought to have been a fortress or military watchtower. The name translates to “red fortress,” and the stone used in the construction once was reddish in color.
The Sacred Valley, also located just south of Cusco, offers many free Inca sites. This region is lush and green and full of hiking trails. Many of these sites are free to visit, making them a great choice for those on a budget. This area is also popular with Instagrammers, as it’s home to many photos of the Inkas.
You can book a tour to PukaPukara through a travel agency. If you have some extra time to spend in Cusco, you can take a day trip to nearby Islas Ballestas. This small group of islands, off the coast of southern Peru, is home to sea lions and rare bird species. They are considered to be the Galapagos of Peru and are a must-visit for any traveler.
While there, you can tour the Moon Temple. This striking Inca temple was once a place of worship. It has two caves that were filled with sacred altars and carved with ancient symbols. You’ll be amazed by the mystical energy that emanates from the temple. If you want to experience a real slice of Inca culture, PukaPukara is a must-see when in Cusco.
Maras salt mines
If you’re wondering what to do in Cusco, Peru besides Machu Pichu, one of the best places to visit is the Maras salt mines. The vast underground salt deposits have been cultivated by generations of local people. The salt is mined from the subsoil of the Qaqawiny mountain. Its intense sunlight evaporates the water, leaving behind salt crystals. Then, a wood scraper is used to harvest the crystals. Once harvested, they are placed in baskets and left to dry. The process starts again and repeats itself for a few days.
The town of Maras has a colonial past that’s well worth a visit. You’ll find traditional adobe houses here, and you can also enjoy a typical festival. During your tour, you’ll also visit the ancient Moray archaeological site. The ancient pools are just 10 kilometers from town. The town is a popular tourist destination in Cusco, but it’s not to be missed.
There are many tours available to the Maras salt mines. You can opt for a private tour or group tour. There are also private tours that focus on highlighting the salt mines. In addition to private tours, you can also sign up for a Machu Picchu tour, which includes a visit to the Maras salt mines. These tours are available every day.
While you’re visiting the Maras salt mines, don’t forget to buy some of the local pink salt. These salt mines produce more than enough salt throughout the Dry Season, thanks to a large amount of sunshine that allows the brine to evaporate. The resulting salt solidifies in three layers. One layer is gourmet salt, while the other two layers are industrial salt. The third layer is used for fertilizer.