The gateway to the Andes, and Machu Picchu. Whether you’re planning to hike the Lares Trek , Salkantey Trek, Inca Trail or take the train to Machu Picchu – you will spend some time in Cusco first.
Even if you are short on time, it is smart to take at least one leisure day in Cusco, as the altitude here can zap your energy. Drink plenty of coca tea and wander the streets exploring a seemingly endless list of museums.
If you’re interested in Inca culture, the Inca Museum is worthwhile. You can get a city pass to explore many of the churches and museums in the city, which will take a good 2-3 days to do justice to.
The Pisco Museum is a fun spot to learn about (and drink!) the famous Peruvian drink, while the Coca Museum offers everything from coca chocolates to coca beer. It also has a very informative history of coca and how it has played an important role in Andes culture.
If you have a few days in Cusco, then consider venturing further into the Sacred Valley. Inca sites such as Sacsayhuaman lie just outside the city, and are well worth a visit! Moray is even further, closer to Urumbamba, but adventurous travelers can book a full-day bike ride to get out there, which provides a good challenge, with plenty of inspiring scenery to keep you pedaling.
Further afield, before getting to Machu Picchu, you may want to visit Pisac, which is a great places for empanadas and cuy! For those taking the train into Machu Picchu, the best starting point is Ollantaytambo. This hidden city is magically surrounded by towering mountains, and has an impressive Incan agricultural site nearby. To some, it is their favorite Inca experience after Machu Picchu!