Cusco is a must-visit destination in Peru. It is the second most visited city in the country, due to its proximity to historic sites like Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley, as well as some of the most amazing hikes in the country. Exploring Cusco using this self-guided Cusco walking tour is a great way to enjoy this vast city.
This self-guided Cusco city tour is a perfect way to spend a half-day or full-day exploring Cusco, depending on what you decide to do and all the suggested sites are accessible by foot. It is a great free option that also helps with acclimating to higher altitudes.
History of Cusco
Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. The blend of these two cultures is ever-present throughout the entire city. The Incan ruins can be witnessed throughout the city and outside of it. We will visit some of the ruins within the city during this self-guided walking tour of Cusco.
Because of the city’s antiquity and importance, Cusco was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983.
Self-Guided Cusco Walking Tour
I recommend starting early in the day, as we will walk all the way up to Saqsaywaman and White Christ Statue. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen with you.
Start with the visit to Qorikancha, a beautiful religious site dedicated to the sun, stars, and moon. Outside the building are beautiful gardens where you can walk around and admire the architecture of the building which is a blend of Incan and Spanish colonial design.
Since there is really no shade around the Statue of Christ and Saqsaywaman, try to get there as early as possible in the way. You can stop at Iglesia de San Blas on your way, it has a beautifully designed wood pulpit inside.
From the Statue of Christ, it is a short walk to Saqsaywaman. This monumental complex is made up of three platforms on top of each other. The enormous boulders were perfectly put together without using a mortar and some of them weighed over 125 tons. You can spend a couple of hours walking around here and enjoying the views of Cusco. It feels like the city is endless.
When ready to return look for the Siete Borrequitos neighborhood. Here you will find a nicely decorated street you can walk through to Acueducto de Spantiana. On your way to the city center don’t forget to stop by the Twelve Angled Stone, the pride of Incan capabilities.
Finish this self-guided walking tour at Plaza de Armas, a city square where everything happens. You can spend hours here walking around, going inside the church and the cathedral, or just find a place to sit and people-watch. This is also the most populated area with street vendors. Everything from ladies trying to get you to take pictures with their alpacas, or selling handmade jewelry, or street vendors selling paintings. It can get overwhelming.
We refreshed ourselves with delicious lunch at Morena Peruvian Kitchen, one of our favorite places in Cusco.
Other Incan Ruins
Some other Incan ruins within the city can be visited but will require some type of transportation.
- Puca Pucara
Or even further outside of the city is Sacred Valley with many archeological sites worth visiting.
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