An hour and a half plane ride from Lima brings you to Cusco, located 3,400m above sea level and considered to be one of the most important tourist destinations in Peru.
Cusco was actually one of my favourite ‘cities’ on this trip. It’s quaint enough to feel like you’ve arrived in a foreign and ethnic land but developed enough to still be in touch with the civilised world. The whole city seemed to be built just to cater to tourists which is also something I noticed on several stops throughout my journey. Hostels, money changers, Western restaurants, ATM machines and tour operators were in every nook and corner.
It is located near the Urubamba valley of the Andes mountain range and is hence, surrounded by beautiful mountains all around. It centers around the Plaza de Armas which is the main square with a lovely fountain and garden in the middle and shops, restaurants and cathedrals all around. This is probably the busiest and most buzzing part of Cusco, overflowing with tourists and travellers carrying backpacks and squinting at maps.
You will find several tradionally dresssed women with bundled babies on their backs, tugging on their llamas around the streets. I personally thought this to be more for the tourists than anything else and if you do want to snap a picture, make sure you have some change to spare as they demand money in return. Another tip is to avoid giving little children any kind of sweet goodies as they don’t have dental care!
Some good restaurants to check out:
Jack’s Cafe – A tourist favourite, you’ll actually have to queue for this one! They’re great if you want a little bit of everything; breakfast, sandwiches, soups, salads, burgers and other hearty meals.
Los Perros – A really good place for dinner thanks to its dim lighting, comfy couches and lounge-y Latin music. It’s almost as if you’re transported out of this tiny city in the midde of Peru to a swanky underground bar in NYC.
Cusco is actually one of the three main stops (and a must see in my opinion) en route to the infamous Machu Picchu. The next stops are Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes, both of which I will share with you in my next few posts.
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