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Overview

Not just a hurried stop en route to the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, the colorful Andean city of Cuzco is a destination unto itself. Its maze of cobblestone streets lined by fine Inca stonework lead to 16th-century cloisters and churches, quaint museums, and traditional workshops where weavings are made from finely spun alpaca wool. The city's cultural overlay of Catholic ritual atop Inca ceremony is shown off during vibrant festivals and inside the downtown ruins of Qorikancha, once the Inca empire's finest temple, long buried under the Iglesia Santo Domingo. For a history lesson, inspect the ruins of Saqsaywamán fort high above ...

Not just a hurried stop en route to the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, the colorful Andean city of Cuzco is a destination unto itself. Its maze of cobblestone streets lined by fine Inca stonework lead to 16th-century cloisters and churches, quaint museums, and traditional workshops where weavings are made from finely spun alpaca wool. The city's cultural overlay of Catholic ritual atop Inca ceremony is shown off during vibrant festivals and inside the downtown ruins of Qorikancha, once the Inca empire's finest temple, long buried under the Iglesia Santo Domingo. For a history lesson, inspect the ruins of Saqsaywamán fort high above the city, where a bitter battle between Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro and the king Manco Inca took place. Detour to the bohemian barrio of San Blas, where late-night cafes and bars spill out onto plazas encircled by art galleries, then sleep inside a boutique hotel scenically set inside a restored Spanish colonial mansion.

Sara Benson
About the Expert

Sara Benson was the coordinating author for Lonely Planet's Peru and wrote the Peru chapter for South America on a Shoestring.

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Sara Benson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Cuzco is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Nuevo Sol
  • Research: Cusco, Peru
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Late May through early September. Also Easter holiday season, Corpus Christi (May/June), Inti Raymi (late June).