Before traveling to Cusco, we heard both of these statements on the regular: "we fell in love with Cusco and want to move there" or "wandering the city in the altitude will give you a lung condition". For us, neither of those statements were false. The truly magical city sits at just over 11,000 feet (3,399 meters) above sea level and will surprise you with its intriguing history.
Cusco is filled with backpackers on their way to Machu Picchu carrying huge packs that tower high above their heads. If you haven't read our Machu Picchu blog yet, you can read it here. Honestly, we haven't met one traveler that did not love Cusco and everything it has to offer. We encourage everyone to visit and discover the history of this ancient city on their own, but after spending 11 nights in the city, here's our best advice.
where to stay
Palacio del Inka - A Luxury Collection Hotel - As we mentioned, Cusco is an ancient city with cobblestone streets that wind up and down the hillsides. Walking the roads alone, paired with the altitude, left us exhausted by the end of each day. From the minute we passed through the doors of Palacio del Inka, we were able to sit back and relax in this beautiful sanctuary. We spent a few days here recharging our batteries.
Our room was spacious, comfortable, and even had a nice work space to get caught up on some of our blogging (funny, we know). Our favorite feature was the view of the historic Iglesia De Santo Domingo (church) from our balcony. We were able to observe the people, traffic, and alpacas from the comfort of our own room.
One night, we joined a pisco sour class in the hotel bar with our friends that we'd met earlier in the day. How could we say no to a free class offered to all guests of the hotel? We were able to learn a lot about pisco, consume some the best pisco sours we had in Peru, and socialize with friends and hotel staff. For dinner, we opted to stay in and try out the hotel restaurant. The menu offers a wide variety of food that will suit even the pickiest eaters. The food was so delicious and we couldn't stop eating!
If you're looking for a luxurious experience, we recommend spending at least a few days at this beautiful property! The hotel also has a thermal circuit spa, a 24/7 fitness room, and an insane breakfast buffet.
where to eat
Cusco is saturated with top-of-the-line restaurants. In fact, not many restaurants receive poor reviews on Trip Advisor or Google.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Green Point Vegan -- incredible cocktails made with kombucha
Organica -- a great lunch spot if you're craving a salad
Cantina Vivo Italiano -- some of the best Italian food outside of Italy (seriously)
Limbus Restobar -- go here for happy hour cocktails overlooking Cusco's red roofs
L'aterlier Coffee -- a tiny quaint coffee shop with delicious desserts
Pankracio -- the biggest avocado sandwich we've ever eaten! Try the veggie option
what to do
Pisac Market - We visited Pisac twice because we loved it so much. There is a large artisan market and some ancient ruins that are begging to be explored. Hang tight for a blog post coming soon about Pisac.
Catch a sunset - One evening, we were itching for a quiet place to sit and watch the sun set. We took a colectivo taxi (the same one that goes to Pisac) to the top of the hill. Just ask the driver to take you to Q'enqo ruins. Instead of entering the ruins where all of the tour buses are parked, walk past into the tree forest. As you keep walking, you'll eventually pass through the trees and be awed by a beautiful view of the city. To avoid waiting for a bus or colectivo taxi after the sunset, we walked down a series of staircases that led up straight to Limbus Restobar where pisco sours were calling our names (very convenient).
We hope that you have the opportunity to explore this mountainous piece of the world. As always, let us know if you have any questions.
For the love & adventure