I stayed in Cusco for 2 and a half days after returned from Machu Picchu. I loved Cusco city so much. The city is beautiful, authentic, and rich in historical culture. It isn't modernized, so unlike other cities in Peru, I really felt like I had traveled into another civilization.
I didn't plan anything ahead for Cusco because I wanted to take it easy and play it by ear and it worked well for me. I did whatever I wanted to do spontaneously and wasn't rushed at all, so my body wasn't too tired at the end of the day. Actually that's one thing everyone who travels to a high altitude city needs to keep it in mind; take it easy and give your body enough time to get adjusted with the altitude.
I am going to list some of the things I enjoyed and recommend for anyone who will visit Cusco.
Sightseeing Bus tour
I really recommend this to everyone! It's easy, convenient, and costs only $10! The bus take you to the major sightseeing points of the outer side of city with Spanish and English speaking guide to give you the history of the sights. The sights the tour took us was located on the top of hills, so I could over view the entire city, and it is even more beautiful than seeing from within the city. The tour took about 3.5 hours so it didn't take up all day and we still had lots of time to explore the city by ourselves. The tour started from the plaza de Alma, then we got on the bus.
The bus took us to a few cathedrals, drove around nearby ruins such as Saksaywaman, then it stopped at the textile shop. behind this shop, they had set up an area to explain more about traditional Inca rituals. At the end we performed a bit of the Inca ritual with coca leaves, chanting, and the fire ceremony. It was kind of awkward because I had no idea what I was chanting about, but sure it was an interesting experience. Later on, we went back to the shop. I didn't plan to buy anything because my backpack was 90% full already even before buying anything. I was just looking their piles of blankets, sweaters, and scarves aimlessly, but this nice cozy looking blanket caught my eye. Yeah, I found this baby alpaca blanket....and I just casually asked the price and it was 200 soles($75). until this point, I hadn't tried to bargain anything so I wanted to try how much discount I could get. After exchanging the prices with the sales lady multiple times and I even pretend to walk away, she finally agreed on 150 soles($50)! At that point, I didn't care how little space I had in my backpack. I bought this amazing super cozy baby alpaca blanket with a huge smile. Although It was so annoying to carry it for the rest of my trip, I'm so happy that this blanket sits on my couch beautifully ;)
These fluffy friends are sooooo cute.
Wander and Cafe time
Just walking around the city is fun in Cusco. We found chocolate museum/cafe and coffee museum while walking around. Spent some time in both museum and had some sweets and coffee after that. It was nice relaxing late afternoon.
We were also lucky to see some Peruvian parade during our visit. It was so amazing, especially the traditional dresses that the ladies were wearing. It is full of colours and beautiful how the dress moves along when they were dancing.
The Local market was super fun. When I was researching about Peru online, I read so many blogs that talked about the local market. It is where the local people go for grocery shopping, breakfast, lunch, and whatever they need. I tell you it was like a jungle. There are alleys of shops and food stand. You can easily get lost and overwhelmed with all the stuff. I got some fresh juice from one of the juice stand. But it was also hard to choose which juice stand to go because literally there are more than 50 stands to choose from! I was walking around and kind of forced myself to choose one. I ordered a fresh juice of passion fruit, orange and pineapple. It was so fresh and yummy. I could drink that every morning!
So this is the summary of my Cusco visit. I really enjoyed staying in this city. I wish I had 1 extra day to take a tour to visit some of the ruins in sacred valley though. Also I have to note that we didn't go out after 8pm so I am not sure about the nightlife in Cusco. We were pretty tired at the end of the day and also we were staying in a hostel, so we lounged in a bar area in our hostel. The only downside of staying in hostel was they didn't have heating system at all. It gets pretty cold at night(like 2 degrees..) so I couldn't sleep at all because I was freezing in my bed. It was my first time to stay in a hostel and it was amazing in terms of the price but in a winter, you need to be prepared how to stay warm....
Anyway, thanks for reading the long post! I feel like I've shared only 50% of my experience and I'd like to write a post about Arequipa city too but that will be another time.... It's already September and I'm so excited to change my wardrobe to fall!