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What to do in 3 days in Cusco.

March 13, 2024
Cusco city

Cusco the heart of the Inca Empire has many attractions on offer so, if you are short on time and don’t want to miss out on any of the best sights, sit back and relax, here we will give you some suggestions of what to do in 3 days in Cusco

You will need to arrive into Cusco early on day one, this is important to fit in all the amazing sites that you can’t miss.

Best Suggested itinerary for day 1 ( Explore the City and Inca Ruins)

Firstly, you settle into your hotel and drink some coca tea, which is usually supplied in your hotel reception.

After you have settled in you will need to purchase a CUSCO VISITORS TICKET (Boleto Turistico), ask your reception where to buy, this you will need to enter all of the best attractions in Cusco. From here you have a couple of options, either you can buy a Cusco City tour that will take you to some of the best places like Qorichanca (The Incan Sun Temple), the remains of an Inca Temple, Sacsayhuyman, Qenqo, Puka Pukara and Tambo Machay, 4 Inca Ruins at the top of Cusco or you can visit the places of interest by yourself. If you decide to do it alone here are some suggestions for you, head to Corichanca which is located in Ave Sol. Take a guided tour through the Church and the ruins.

Qoricancha - What to do in 3 days in Cusco
Qoricancha

Next, walk to the San Pedro Market which is close to the San Pedro train station, this is a must see when visiting Cusco. San Pedro Market is filled with local handicrafts, local produce and the most delicious fresh fruit juices, freshly made while you wait. Here is where the locals come to buy their meat, chicken and fruit and vegetables, you will see a great mix of locals and tourist and get some great photos.

Once you are finished at the market, walk to the Plaza de Armas, the main square and have lunch, there are many very good restaurants to choose from, see if you can get a table on one of the many cute balconies so you can observe life in the plaza.

After lunch you should visit the 4 ruins at the top of Cusco, these are Sacsayhuyman, Qenqo, Puka Pukara and Tambo Machay, get a taxi and negotiate the price, ensure that the taxi waits for you to get back down to Cusco. Here is a brief explanation of the 4 ruins.

Sacsayhuaman is one of the most impressive sites built by the Incas. It is generally referred to as a military fortress. The stones in the wall are incredible and the largest one weighs 128 tons, we have no clear explanation on how they were transported to the site. The Incas designed Cusco in the shape of a puma, with Sacsayhuaman as the head.

The site of Q’enqo (meaning ‘maze’ in Quechua) contains very impressive hand-carved sections of bedrock. There are many carvings at the site, with some being very clear, such as a llama, a condor and several snakes. There are a number of caves and passageways, and an altar which was used for the sacrifices of llamas. Mummified people have been discovered by archeologists in these caves.

Puka Pukara is translated to ‘the red fortress’ in Quechua. This is a small site and although the name suggests that it was a fortress, it does not appear to have had any defensive purpose. Archeologists theorize that it could have been used to protect the water source at Tambomachay.

Tambo Machay The name means “place of rest” in Quechua. It was the royal home of the Inca Yupanqui when he went to hunt in the surrounding area. This site was also thought to have been used as a Temple to the Water. There are some interesting aqueducts, canals and cascades sculpted out of stone, designed to channel water flowing from a nearby stream.

After you have finished return to Cusco have a delicious dinner and either return to your hotel or go out clubbing at one of the many nightclubs located around the main square.

Best Tour for Secon Day ( Sacred Valley Tour)!

For Day 2 you shouldn’t miss the wonderful Sacred Valley of the Incas, located around 45 minutes from the city of Cusco. There are many wonderful places to visit in the Valley so it is suggested that you purchase a tour to be able to fit all these places in one day. The main points of interests that should not be missed are the Pisac Archeological Ruins, perched high above the town of Pisac, Pisac Market, a local market bursting with Peruvian craft and color, a great place to buy your souvenirs for the family back home.

The exact date of construction of Pisac is unknown, but the ruins are believed to be either a gift to Inca nobility, or a defense against the invasion of Cusco. What is certain is that the site served more than one function. With military, religious, and agricultural structures, the site served at least three purposes and was able to support a whole community, even a small city, of Incas.

The tour should also include Moray, which was an experimental agricultural site built in the form of an amphitheater with different temperature at each level which grows different types of crops. These levels of terraces were carved before the Incas took control of the valley. Archeologists have found that over 250 different types of crops have been produced in Moray. The tour will continue to the Maras Salt Mines, with over three thousand salt ponds have been used to extract salt since before Inca times. A hot spring at the top of the valley trickles a stream of salty water, which fills the salt ponds and is allowed to evaporate to produce salt.

After Maras you will go to the town of Urubamba where you will indulge in fabulous buffet lunch before traveling to the Inca town of Ollantaytambo. This quaint Inca village and the amazing Inca Ruins on the hilltop overlooking the town are the highlight for many travelers visiting. These ruins are where the Incas fought their last battle with the Spanish conquerors before they had to retreat and flee into the dense jungle. Most of the structures were unfortunately incomplete or destroyed by the intense battle.

From Ollantaytambo you can catch the train to the town of Aguas Calientes, which is the town below Machu Picchu, here you can spend the night and explore the sweet little town and maybe visit the hot springs to soak away your sore muscles. It is suggested to stay in Aguas Calientes the night before your adventure to Machu Picchu.

Day 3; Machu Picchu and back to Cusco

Day 3 on the 3-day adventure is to the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, it is also suggested that you purchase a guided tour to get the most out of your time in Machu Picchu. Today you will need to wake up early and take the bus to the gate of Machu Picchu, from here you will take a guided tour of the ancient ruin and marvel at the brilliance of the Inca engineers.

Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911 by an American Explorer, Hiram Bingham with the help of a local resident. Bingham was looking for another Inca city which has still been discovered. This site remained intact as it was never found by the Spanish conquers.

The dwellings at Machu Picchu were probably built and occupied from the mid-15th to the early or mid-16th century. Several dozen skeletons were excavated there in 1912, and, because most of those were initially identified as female, Bingham suggested that Machu Picchu was a sanctuary for the chosen women, an elite Inca group. Technology at the turn of the 21st-century, however, identified a significant proportion of male physical types. The reason for the site’s abandonment is also unknown, but lack of water.

We will begin exploring the Citadel of Machu Picchu with a 2-hour guided tour of the site, visiting many of the important places and learning the ancient history of Machu Picchu. When you have had your fill of the incredible views of Machu Picchu, and finished your tour, we take a bus back down to Aguas Calientes. From Aguas Calientes take the train back to Ollantaytambo from there transport will take you back to Cusco where you will stay the night.

From these 3 full days you will get to see all that Cusco and the surrounding areas have much to offer and you will leave seeing the best of the ancient Incas and the local people.