Although Machu Picchu is normally the main draw for those who travel to Cusco, once you arrive, it becomes obvious that the city has a whole lot more to offer. This Andean city, famous for being the historic capital of the Inca Empire, is situated in the southeast of Peru and is not only home to spectacular Inca sites like Oyantaytambo and Machu Picchu, but a number of walking trails too, which offer unrivalled viewing points from which to see the historic monuments. Cusco also has a few surprises to offer, including a great nightlife.
Dining in Cusco
The restaurants in Cusco are a particular highlight and feature some of the best cuisine on offer in Peru. There are a number of highly recommended restaurants, which offer great food and drink.From the exceptional Inka Grill, with internationally renowned chef Coque Ossio, to a totally organic choice like Greens Organic, you can always find something for everyone. The classic Cusco eateries, like Chez Maggy, serve Cusco’s tastiest Pizzas just half block from the main square. There’s also the gay friendly Fallen Angel, which offers some of the best south american cuisine.
The are plenty of other must see options in Cusco too. The Granja Heidi in the middle of San Blas district offers an excellent four course menú at a very reasonable prices, as well as a great atmosphere. There’s also the Trotamundo Café in the main square, which offers not only great food and drink, but a nice balcony from where to view the main square (Plaza de Armas). The Map Café was named Cusco’s best kept secret and is located inside the Precolumbian Art Museum, giving customers the chance to sample the best in traditional Peruvian cuisine. Last but not least is the Cava San Rafeal, offering Andean food with a modern twist, and a wonderful view of the Plaza de Armas.
Going out for a drink
Cusco’s exciting nightlife is gaining a reputation as one of the best in Peru. Centred around the Plaza de Armas, Cusco’s bars and clubs offer an interesting and fun night out.By Cusco’s institutions there’s always an eager swarm of club promoters offering free drinks vouchers to direct you to places like Inka Team, Mythology, Mushrooms Lounge, and Mama Africa. Popular with tourists and young Cusquenans alike, these dance clubs offers a steady diet of American pop and hip-hop, mixed in with Latin American favorites like Cumbia and Salsa.
If you want to take it down a notch, but still enjoy a few good cocktails and some music, check out the reggae bars like Waychauma on Calle Tecsecocha or 7 Angelitos located on, not suprisingly, Calle Siete Angelitos. The San Blas neighborhood is home to a number of hip spots like Km 0 (Kilometer Zero) and Le Nomade that offer live music a few nights a week in a relaxed atmosphere.
Enjoying the Cusco sights at night
If you don’t feel like all the noise of a club or bar however, Cusco still offers all the beautiful sights and scenery that you might associate with a historic city. At night, in particular, the Plaza de Armas offers some really spectacular views. The square is beautifully lit and behind it are the twinkling lights of mountain villages. A short walk from the Plaza takes you to the bohemian centre of Cusco, the San Blas neighbourhood, which is full of little art galleries and artisan stalls.Finally, Cusco also offers alternatives to the usual tourist night scene, like the chance to catch a movie. There are various cafe’s and pubs that show films, but The Film Lounge and Danish Café, on Procuradores, probably offers the widest array of films, giving visitors the chance to see anything from art house cinema to children’s films.
If you go on a tour of Cusco, there is also the option to go to soak up the local culture at the Garcilaso Theater. The Garcilaso offers traditional music, dance and stunning choreography. There are also screens with translations for those not fluent in Spanish.