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The top 4 edgy ways to discover Cusco

Dernière mise à jour : 19 mars

It’s been a while since I published anything on my blog. I’m now finally catching up! Starting with another post about my trip to Peru.

While travelling through Peru last spring, I spent 3 days in Cusco, the ancient Incan capital. This city was one of my favourite pit stop! I therefore decided to share with you 4 edgy ways to discover it:

1. Explore hippy chic San Blas

Tucked away from Cusco’s buzzing city centre, San Blas is one of the city’s main neighbourhood. It’s very similar to Lima’s Barranco. And like Barranco, this vibrant borough was my favourite, in Cusco!

view of a square with trees surrounded by white washed houses and one colonial style church

The Incas designed the city in the shape of a puma, with at its centre the stunning Plaza de Armas. Using this regal square as your starting point, you’ll enter a labyrinth of colourful cobbled streets leading to San Blas.

Close-up picture of a typical white washed house in Cusco with two blue wooden carved balconies

Young blond women walking up a cobblestone streets surrounded by white washed houses in San Blas, Cusco

Picture of 4 peruvian women dressed in their very colourful tradictionnal costume and holding two baby goats

One of the many things I enjoyed about San Blas, is its laid-back atmosphere. There you’ll find several pretty coffee shops, super cute independent clothing and jewellery shops, as well as the best views of Cusco and fun nighttime bars.

Here are two of my favourite hangouts in San Blas:

  • Limbus Restobar, with its long outdoor seating area overlooking the entire city, is worth a visit for the views alone! Order Peru’s traditional cocktail, the Pisco Sour, and watch the sun go down on the city. It’s magical!

  • L’atelier. Even prior to being in Cusco, I’d heard so much about this coffee place on blogs and Instagram that it got super high up on my “things to do while in Peru” bucketlist! It’s an adorable tiny coffee/dainty jewellery/boho clothing shop, nestled at the top of one of San Blas cutest cobbled street. If you go early enough, you will be able to have your breakfast on their adorable tiny balcony.

Young woman sitting on a tiny balcony overlooking a cobbledstone street in San Blas, Cusco

2. Meander through the alleys of San Pedro Market

Another funky way to check out Cusco is to head to San Pedro Market. I spent hours browsing the vibrant market full of traditional textiles, trinkets and food. Visiting San Pedro gives you a good feeling of authentic local life.

Market stall in the covered San Pedro Market in Cusco, selling flowers

Market stall in the covered San Pedro Market in Cusco, selling vegetables

Bright coloured street food stall in San Pedro's indoor Market, Cusco with people eating

While meandering through the alleys, stop at one of the many smoothie pick-me-up for a big glass of freshly squeezed juice.

Young woman sitting on white wood stool and sipping a freshly squeezed fruit juice in Cusco

San Pedro’s neighbourhood is maybe Cusco’s least touristic, more untamed borough. Thus, if you feel adventurous, step outside the main market hall and go explore the back alleys, to witness real life.

FUN FACT: It’s also in San Pedro you’ll come across Peruvian specialties such as the “Cuy” aka roasted guinea pig…

However, if tasting “Cuy” is way too adventurous for you, I highly recommend lunch or dinner at Los Toldos De Pollos. There you can eat another of Peru’s delicacies, “pollo a la brasa” aka mouth-watering roasted chicken with fat fries. So yummy!

Close-up picture of grilled chicken wing, French fries and an Inca cola bottle

3. Visit the sacred Inca sites around Cusco

Cusco is ideally located at the entrance of the Sacred Valley. Therefore, it’s the perfect launch pad to visit the valley’s many archaeological sites, amongst which the Machu Picchu or the Maras Salinas.

If you decided to discover Peru, there are big chances you planned a visit to the Machu Picchu. But beware! There are many incredible sites an hour or two from Cusco to be seen. My favourite was Tambomachay, which used to be the Inca’s personal “spa”.

Young woman standing on a hill overlooking some ancient Inca ruins in Cusco

360 view of ancient Inca ruins covered by grass

Picture of ancient Inca ruins covered by grass
IMPORTANT: The “Boleto turistico” or Cusco’s tourist ticket. You’ve to purchase it in advance. It is not possible to visit or enter Cusco’s and the Sacred Valley’s sites without a valid boleto turistico. The Machu Picchu isn’t included in the Boleto.

4. Wander Plaza de Armas square

Although very touristy, a visit to Plaza de Armas is an essential when in Cusco! This square, bordered by Cusco’s magnificent cathedral and the smaller La Compañia de Jesus church, is the beating heart of the city.

360 view of Cusco's main square surrounded by two massive pink stone churches

Despite always being crowded, there is a serene vibe radiating from this square. In the evening, just before the sundown, go for a stroll and enjoy a fresh Cusceña (local beer) from one of the Casonas balcony’s overlooking the plaza.

Picture of a traditional white washed with blue balconies Cusco colonial house

A visit to Cusco’s cathedral is also a must-do! This pink-volcanic stone construction dominates the entire plaza and gives a very regal appearance to the square.

Close-up picture of Cusco's cathedral main entrance

Picture of a massive pink stone churche

FUN FACT: When you visit the inside of the cathedral, pay attention to all the religious paintings. The indigenous artists who created them inserted some very local Incan symbols as symbol of their resistance towards the Spanish invaders. In The Last Supper for example the artist added a “Cuy” as Jesus’s last supper.

Once you’re done with people-watching while drinking a beer and exploring the cathedral, head to Mr. Soup. This restaurant specialises in homemade soups, perfect for your body to get used to Cusco’s high altitude! With your soup, also order a nice coca tea, ideal to warm you up on those cold Cusco’s nights. Thanks, Lauren, for the tip 🙂

Picture of traditional Peruvian soup in a white plate and a cup of coca infusion on a wooden table

I hope through this post I could show you Cusco has a lot more to offer than only being your base camp before heading to the Sacred Valley and the Machu Picchu?! If you take enough time to explore the ancient Inca capital, you’ll discover its edgier side.

Young women posing with two women dressed in their tradional very colourful costume and their baby alpaga

Let me know what you thought of this article by sharing your thoughts in the comments!


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