Peru has incredible diversity and provides the travelers and people who live in the country the opportunity to explore and visit some of the most amazing places in the world over the weekend. One of these places is Cusco, which I am sure most of you have heard of, as this is the stop off city, high in the Andean mountains before you travel to Machu Picchu and trek the Inca Trail.
Normally a weekend is not enough to travel to Machu Picchu, so here is a list of some alternative things to do to keep your trip to Cusco packed with excitement over the weekend.
Explore the Art of Cusco
The stunning scenery and landscape of Cusco and its surroundings ha s inspired many artists over the years to produce the most beautiful artwork and when you travel to Cusco, you must visit the galleries and museums that showcase the talent. The main places that you should visit are; El Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, which shows the best modern Peruvian art in Cusco, and also El Museo de Arte Popular (Museum of Popular Art) and El Museo de Arte Religioso (Museum of Religious Art). As well as the museums there are also plenty of commercial galleries that you will see when you are walking around the city. One other museum worth mentioning is the Museo Inka (Inca Museum), which holds many historic artifacts from the Incan Empire.
Visit Pisac Market
Pisac Market is the biggest market in Cusco and is full of radiant colors from the local handicrafts, incredible smells from the local foods and spices, the sound of the mystical Peruvian music, and the bustling of people trying to get the best bargains. This place is a must visit if you want to excite all of your senses at once and also to experience local life for the people of Cusco. You should try a typical Peruvian snack called Choclo con Queso, which is a regional type of corn on the cob with melted cheese on top.
Visit the City’s Monuments and Landmarks
Cusco is full of ancient history, which also brings with it ancient landmarks and monuments that you must see. La Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus (Company of Jesus Church), is a magnificent structure that is hard to miss especially in the night when it is illuminated. La Iglesia de Santo Domingo and the Korikancha Temple is one of the most important Inca landmarks in Cusco and there is very little remaining of the structure due to the constant earthquakes over the years. La Catedral (Cathedral) is very impressive and was built in the 15th century and took nearly a century to build. Phuyupatamarca is a large complex of 15 separate buildings and ceremonial baths that was used by the Incan empire. Sacsayhuaman is a fort that is located above Cusco. This location was where a major battle took place against the Spanish conquerors.
Visit the Stunning Sacred Valley (Day Trip)
This day trip to the Sacred Valley is certainly worth your time. It lies between Cusco and Machu Picchu and is known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas or Urubamba Valley (as it was formed by the Urubamba River, also known as Wilcamayu, which means Sacred River in Quechua). This area was very important to the Incan Empire, in that it was the main area of maize production and also other natural wealth. The day tour will often include a visit to Pisac Market (above), Chinchero and Ollantaytambo. However, you can also spend the day tour visiting the Pisac Inca ruins and the market.
Experience the lively Nightlife of Cusco
Cusco is surprisingly well known for its lively nightlife and most travelers have stories to tell from here. There are many bars and night clubs, which offer an exciting night out on the town, most of which are located in or near the Plaza de Armas (Main Square). The most popular bars are:
– Paddy Flahertys – considered to be the highest Irish Pub in the world
– The Frogs – a lounge bar that also has a restaurant, cinema and pool tables
– Angelitos – live creole, rock music and DJ’s
– Mushrooms Lounge & Bar – known to have the best electronic music in Cusco and very popular with backpackers
If you want to go somewhere after closing hours, then you can check out clubs such as; Mama Africa, Kamikaze and Mythology. These places are bound to get your blood pumping from the beats that they play all night long.
Dare to Cure yourself the Peruvian Way
Have you ever heard of the hallucinogenic powers of Ayahuasca? Well if you haven’t, this is a Peruvian natural remedy that is made from plants and has been used for healing since pre-Inca times. Ayahuasca is Quechua for ‘vine of the dead’, which doesn’t sound like the most inviting remedy, but there is a lot to be said for it. People from all over the world who want to cure themselves of all kinds of illness including, cancer and depression, actually come to Peru especially to partake in these healing ceremonies that are done by healers known as ‘Shamans’. The ceremonies typically take place at night because the energies are much higher then and the Ayahuasca works best. This is not for everyone, but if you want to experience a true Incan experience, then this is definitely one of them you should try.
These are just some of the many things that you can do when you travel to Cusco, so your weekend will be jam packed with excitement and want you coming back for more.