50 Best Things to Do In Cusco and Sacred Valley, Peru

Cusco Sacred Valley Peru

Peru's Sacred Valley and Andean highlands are magical places. From ancient Incan citadels high in the mountains, to delicious food and wonderful architecture in Cusco, we loved all of it. Since we traveled during spring break, we were only able to spend a week here which is not nearly enough, and while we didn't get to explore everything, we think this list is a great jumping off point for you to put together an unforgettable trip of your own to Peru.

Unfortunately, with so much to explore, it is impossible to make a comprehensive list and many of the sites are difficult to find and research on the internet. We hope this guide is a great resource for you to plan your trip and inspires you to visit this awesome country.

We've organized this post working back from Machu Picchu through the Sacred Valley towards Cusco. The reason for this is the altitude, and we think this is a good way to visit and acclimate to the area (Cusco is extremely high). By no means is this necessary, so use our table of contents as a guide to jump around to areas that might interest you.

Let's keep this list growing! If there's something you have enjoyed in this region, drop us a line in the comments!

Sacred Valley Table of Contents +

Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu

1. Marvel at Machu Picchu
2. Test your stamina along the Inca Trail
3. Experience some of the best bird watching in the world
4. Enjoy a French pastry at La Boulangerie de Paris
5. Take a train ride to through the Andes
6. Soak your tired muscles at the hot springs in Aguas Calientes
7. Shop for souvenirs in the market at Aguas Calientes

Urubamba and Ollantaytambo

- Purchasing a Boleto Turistico -

8. Visit the Quechuan textile makers in Chinchero
9. See Incan agriculture at work in Moray
10. Taste ancient salt water in Maras
11. Tour the Sacred Valley on a Peruvian Paso Horse
12. Sleep on the side of a cliff in the Skylodge Adventure Suites
13. Explore the Incan ruins at Ollantaytambo
14. Shoot the rapids on the Urubamba River
15. Ride a mountain bike around Ollantaytambo
16. Walk a llama through the Andes with the Llama Pack Project
17. Kayak on Huaypo Lake
18. Soar on one of the longest ziplines in the world

Pisac and areas near Cusco

19. Pet the furry locals at Santuario Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary
20. Sacsaywaman
21. Tambomachay
22. Tipón
23. Temple of Wiracocha (Raqch’i in Quechuan)
24. Explore pre-Columbian history at Museo Inkariy
25. Tour the ancient ruins at Pisac
26. Haggle at the Pisac market
27. Stargaze at the Cusco Planetarium
28. Take a taxi tour of Valle Sagrado

Cusco City

29. Create your own chocolate masterpiece at The Choco Museo
30. Savor Cusco’s Asian influences
31. Have your picture made with a lamb…or a llama…or a baby alpaca
32. Test your intestinal fortitude at Action Valley Adventure Park
33. Learn to make a pisco sour
34. People watch at the Plaza de Armas, Cusco
35. Discover Incan culture at Museo Inka
36. Snap some photos of the lovely Cusco Cathedral
37. Pop into the Museo de Historia Natural
38. Take a walking tour of Cusco
39. Grab a Butifarra sandwich for lunch
40. Explore Coricancha (The Sun Temple)
41. Take in the views high above Cusco at Cristo Blanco
42. Get lost for awhile in the San Blas District of Cusco
43. Do some shopping at the San Pedro Market
44. Take a drive by the Pachacuteq Monument
45. Discover pre-Columbian art at the El Museo de Arte Pre-Colombino (MAP Museum)
46. Tour La Casa Concha Museum (Museo Machu Picchu)
47. Explore the Historical Museum of Cusco
48. Visit the Contemporary Art Museum of Cusco
49. Sample Peruvian delicacies
50. Find Paddington Bear

Map of Cusco and the Sacred Valley

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Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu

1. Marvel at Machu Picchu

Kids at Machu Picchu Peru

Kids at Machu Picchu Peru

The crown jewel of the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu is not to be missed. It will absolutely take your breath away (and not just because of the altitude and all the climbing)! This Incan relic is a marvel of engineering, and it will spark the whole family's imagination to learn about the Incan people and their way of life. We left with many questions about why they built Machu Picchu and why they suddenly left it, and we also wondered how in the world they managed to build it on such a rugged terrain in the middle of a jungle. We couldn't stop talking about it!

Machu Picchu Peru

Machu Picchu Peru

There are several options for touring the citadel, and we chose to just explore on our own. You could take a guided tour, and there are also additional paid treks up to Huayna and Wayna Picchu that will lead you to some unbelievable views. We visited during the rainy season, but that didn't stop us from thoroughly enjoying this unbelievable place.

Aguas Calientes Peru town square

Aguas Calientes town square

For all the details on planning a trip to Machu Picchu, check out our guide here.Machu Picchu with kids

Our friends the Wandering Wagars have a nice guide to Machu Picchu with kids as well, so check it out for more information.

2. Test your stamina along the Inca Trail

Some travelers consider this the ultimate adventure, but it is not for everyone. This four-day hike through the jungle culminates in a visit to Machu Picchu.

Aquas Calientes

Aguas Calientes and the Urubamba River

It's a tough trip and best suited for fit families with older teenagers who are up to the challenge. You can only go with an experienced guide, and only 500 people are allowed to start the trek each day, but we are told that the views are worth it. An important tip we learned in our Lonely Planet guidebook is to really research the tour companies because of the treatment and pay for the porters. In the past, the porters have been treated and paid very poorly, and you will obviously want a reputable company who pays their guides well and treats them fairly.

Click here to find quality guides and tours for hiking the Inca Trail.

3. Experience some of the best bird watching in the world

Peru is home to 20% of the world's total bird species. That's amazing! As you might imagine, there are some really great spots to go birdwatching. North of Cusco is Manu National Park, known for having one of the highest diversities of any protected site.

Andean Cock of the Rock Peru

Andean Cock of the Rock PC:wikimedia commons

Peru is also home to the Andean Condor, the largest flying bird in the world and one of the most spectacular animals we've ever seen. You can get up close to them at the Sanctuario Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary near Cusco, which the kids loved.

Santuario Cochahuasi Andean Condor

Andean Condor at Sanctuario Cochahuasi Cusco

Want to stay in luxury?

If you are staying at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel in Aguas Calientes, they offer guided birding tours through the cloud forest right from the hotel.

Click here for the latest prices at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.

4. Enjoy a French pastry at La Boulangerie de Paris

Who would have thought we would find a little bit of France in the middle of the jungle? Aguas Calientes is the starting point for your journey up to Machu Picchu, and there are many things to see and places to eat, but our favorite was definitely the French bakery. They have everything from croissants to chocolate cake, and it all looks heavenly! We recommend the chocolate cake. (La Boulangerie de Paris - 4am-9pm)

Machu Picchu Pueblo Peru

Machu Picchu Pueblo/Aguas Calientes

5. Take a train ride through the Andes

If your destination is Machu Picchu, then taking a train is a must (unless you're hiking the Inca Trail), but it's such a gorgeous journey that we wouldn't recommend anything else.

Peru Rail to Machu Picchu Peru

Riding the train to Machu Picchu

There are train stations in Poroy (just outside Cusco), Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo, so finding a train to fit your schedule will be easy. We loved the Vistadome cars that offered up stunning views of the Andes along the way and some refreshments during the journey. It was truly one of the highlights of our trip.

Peru Rail trip to Machu Picchu Peru

Peru Rail trip to Machu Picchu

We wrote about all the details including schedules, types of service, and how to purchase tickets right here.

6. Soak your tired muscles at the hot springs in Aguas Calientes

With a name like Aguas Calientes, you'd be right to expect there to be a hot spring nearby. Sure enough, about 1 km from town, you can relax after a full day of hiking Machu Picchu in the soothing warm water of of the springs (Las Termas).

Machu Picchu Aguas Calientes Peru Hot Springs

Hot springs in Aguas Calientes, Peru PC:Ticket Machu Picchu

The temperature ranges from 100-115 degrees F, and the only way to the springs is on foot - no vehicles are allowed. Just follow the river and the signs.The baths are open from 5 am to 8 pm every day. Showers and changing rooms are provided. Make sure to bring your swimming suit, towel, and sandals. Admission is /S. 10 for adult tourists.

7. Shop for souvenirs in the market at Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes is a town built up entirely out of tourism. Since it caters to tourists exclusively, the local market is quite a spectacle. Naturally, it's the first thing you see when you step off the train and head into town.

Aquas Calientes Market Machu Picchu Pueblo

Aguas Calientes Market

Colorful stalls and shops are everywhere selling every type of trinket, shirt, and alpaca magnet you could imagine. It was fun for the kids to walk around and gawk at all of the stuff, but honestly, it's nothing special. It's great if all you want is a fun souvenir or a t-shirt. More serious shoppers will want to look elsewhere like Chinchero or Cusco for traditional garments and crafts.

Urubamba and Ollantaytambo

Many sites and museums require a Boleto Turistico

You will need to purchase an official Boleto Turistíco if you plan to visit many of the archaeological sites and historical museums in the region. They can be purchased at any of the sites in person, but not online. Prices are S130/70 adults/children, 9-17 respectively. Students under 26 with an ISIC card are also S70. Children ages 9 and under may enter free of charge. Popular sites include Saqsayhuaman, Tambomachay, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, Moray, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. There are 14 sites total, and the ticket is good for 10 days.

There are also partial boletos for purchase (S70/35) that offer three different subsets of the larger ticket. They include sites in the vacinity of Cusco, Cusco museums, and the Sacred Valley ruins.These tickets are good for 1 day unless purchasing the Sacred Valley tickets, which are good for 2 days. You may not buy an entry fee to just one site - you must chose one of the boleto turistícos, so plan ahead for what you may like to visit.

8. Visit the Quechuan textile makers in Chinchero

Take a road trip to Chinchero to see these masterful craftswomen create beautiful garments from hand-dyed llama, sheep, and alpaca wool.

Chinchero Sacred Valley Peru

Quechuan weaving demonstration in Chinchero, Peru

At certain locations, you can even receive a crash course in how the wool is cleaned, spun, and dyed with natural products like flowers, seeds, dried leaves, cactus, and salt. Then, they will explain the intricate patterns and why they choose to work with certain colors. We visited the town as part of a tour with Venturia Tours, and our guide took us to a private home and workshop to meet the women and learn about their craft.

At the end of the lesson, we were able to shop for items that were made right there. And, we were so surprised at how reasonably priced everything was! We will be outfitted well this winter.

Quechuan Weaver Peru

Quechuan weaver

Click here to check prices and book tours to Chinchero.

Looking for a great hotel in Urubamba?

We stayed at the fabulous Tambo del Inka for 2 nights. If your budget allows, we highly recommend this one. It has a pool for the kids, the breakfast buffet is amazing, and our tours were easily arranged right at their activities desk. It was easy to see why this is considered one of the best hotels in Sacred Valley Peru.

Click here for the latest prices at the Tambo del Inka.

9. See Incan agriculture at work in Moray

Moray Sacred Valley Peru

Looking out on the incredible Moray, Peru

The Incan ruins at Moray are impressive, not only in size, but also in the history. It is an incredibly intelligent bit of agricultural development that the Incans used to test and alter their crops. Shaped like an amphitheater, this terraced bowl was thought to be many things from a Greek-like theater to a place of religious ritual, but archaeologists discovered its true purpose in the soil.

Our knowledgeable guide taught us about the different levels and how each one was at a different temperature, which allowed the Incan people to develop crops that would grow at different altitudes. Their knowledge of science and agriculture allowed them to be one of the most advanced and civilized societies in the world at that time. Because we had a guide to explain the history of this place, we were all completely enthralled with it.

Moray Terraces Peru

Moray Terraces Peru

Click here to check prices and book tours to Moray.

10. Taste ancient salt water in Maras

The salt mines at Maras were another part of our Sacred Valley tour with Venturia Tours. This place was simply amazing and fascinating for the whole family. It may not sound that entertaining, but with the help of our guide, we learned about the unique history of this place and how hard the families work on their individual plots of land within the salt mine. This is another example of Incan architecture and engineering. The terraced ponds are fed by a local underground stream of salt water (which we tasted!), and then as the water evaporates from the pods, layers of salt are scraped off for different uses.

Maras Salt Terrace Sacred Valley Peru tour

Maras Salt Mines - Peru

You can finish your tour of the salt mines by stopping at one of the many local vendors' stalls to purchase your own packet of salt to take home.

Check here for pricing on tours to Maras.

11. Tour the Sacred Valley on a Peruvian Paso Horse

Urubamba is a beautiful city to explore no matter how you do it, but on horseback may be one of the best ways. There are several tour companies that offer rides, including the one we used for a different tour - Venturia - so look around for specific rides that may interest you. 2-hour rides from the Hacienda del Chalán ranch run about $60. Longer rides to the salt mines in Salinas are available, as well as longer, overnight rides for the more experienced.

Check here for prices on horseback riding tours of the Sacred Valley

Hacienda del Chalán horseback riding Peru

PC: Hacienda del Chalán

12. Sleep on the side of a cliff in the Skylodge Adventure Suites

Located in the Sacred Valley near Urubamba, tour company Natura Viva offers up a truly unique experience if you've got the nerves to handle it. They have built 1-bedroom capsules that hang off the side of the mountains 1200 ft. above the Urubamba River below.

Skylodge Peru Urubamba

PC:Skylodge

Guests hike or climb the mountain with a guide who then shows your to your room and explains the details to you. Once your gourmet dinner is served, enjoy the 300-degree view of the valley below. After breakfast the next morning, guest check out by zip-lining to the valley floor where they catch a shuttle back to Cusco. (Skylodge Adventure Suites - S./1425 pp. for Via Ferrata, Zipline, and 1 night)

Click here for prices and booking a Skylodge Adventure.

13. Explore the Incan ruins at Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is home to some of the most well-preserved ruins in all of the Sacred Valley. Exploring the ruins is a perfect half-day trip for families and kids will love scaling the steep staircases and rambling around the rocks and boulders. Views from the ruins are also impressive, so bring good shoes and your camera. Entry into the ruins is available via the boleto turistico which is good for 10 days and allows access to several other sites in the region.

Ollantaytambo Incan Ruins

Ollantaytambo Incan Ruins PC:Wikimedia Commons

Click here for prices on day trips to Ollantaytambo and other areas in the Sacred Valley.

14. Shoot the rapids on the Urubamba River

The Urubamba River is feisty and powerful, which is evident when you are following it up the mountains to Machu Picchu. This is what makes it a great river to raft, and there are several tour companies in the Sacred Valley that will take you out for an awesome rafting adventure. Enjoy a half or full-day excursion on Class I and II rapids suitable for all skill levels and experience. For the thrill seekers and those with more experience, class III and IV can also be found.

Check here for prices on rafting tours in the Sacred Valley.

15. Ride a mountain bike around Ollantaytambo

Bike tours of Ollantaytambo and the surrounding sites are popular, and we saw lots of them while we were out exploring. Although these won't be appropriate for families with small children, those with teenagers may find it to be the perfect way to explore the area. There are several tour operators that offer bike tours. We used Venturia for our tours and were very pleased with our experience.

Check here for prices on great bike tours around Ollantaytambo.

16. Walk a llama through the Andes with the Llama Pack Project

The Llama Pack Project is an initiative to pair locals with few work opportunities with underutilized resources to help them earn a wage in an eco-friendly way and provide economic development to their communities. Their mission statement reads:

"The Llama Pack Project works to recover traditional uses and breeding of carrier llamas as a tool for sustainable rural development and conservation of mountain ecosystems in the highlands surrounding the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Multiple treks are offered and range from a half-day through the sacred valley, longer treks to see Incan ruins and rural Andean communities high in the mountains, to multi-day treks that go through the Urubamba Mountain range. What a great way to see the country, support eco-friendly tourism, and get up close with its most famous animal! Click here to learn more about the Llama Pack Project. Half-Day treks are $75 US for adults, $63.75 US for students, and $37.50 for kids 6-17. Children 0-5 go free.

17. Kayak on Huaypo Lake

When people think of Peru and the Sacred Valley, they may not immediately think of water sports, but the area has two beautiful lakes where you can do just that - Huaypo or Piuray lakes. Stand-up paddle-boarding and kayaking are both great options and are available from various tour and adventure companies operating in the region. At nearly 12,500 feet above sea level, it's quite literally a breathtaking experience that you'll love telling all your friends about.

Click here for kayaking tour options on the lakes of the Sacred Valley.

Looking for a great boutique hotel in the Sacred Valley?

We stayed one night at Hotel Lizzy Wasi and it was incredible. The views are breathtaking, breakfast and wi-fi are included, and Elizabeth and her staff couldn't have been more accommodating. We would stay with them again in a heartbeat.

Hotel Lizzy Wasi Urubamba Sacred Valley Peru Hotels

Click here to find the latest prices at Hotel Lizzy Wasi.

18. Soar on one of the longest ziplines in the world

Clocking in at just under 7000 ft. long, the Eye of the Jaguar Zipline near Maras is one to put on your to-do list. This line will have you zooming over the Sacred Valley at speeds approaching 60 mph. At $35, also a pretty good deal. For a little bit more, you can go on guided ATV tours of the area before you zip across the valley. We saw several tours out while we were there, and it looked awesome! (Eye of the Jaguar Maras - $35 US fir Zipline/$50 US for Zipline and ATV tour)

Eye of the Jaguar Zipline - Cusco, Peru

Eye of the Jaguar Zipline - Cusco, Peru PC: eyeofhejaguarmaras.com

Pisac and areas near Cusco

19. Pet the furry locals at Santuario Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary

This unique animal sanctuary just outside of Cusco is a family run private organization which rescues and rehabilitates mistreated and endangered animals. Many of the animals in the sanctuary were either illegally owned or hunted and injured. Whenever possible, they try to rehabilitate and release the animals, but some will never be able to return to the wild and will have a permanent home at the sanctuary.

Sanctuario Cochahuasi near Cusco Peru

Sanctuario Cochahuasi near Cusco

They are home to many species from black bears to pumas, but the highlights for our family were the llamas and alpacas that we were able to love on (dream come true for a certain little girl in our family!), and also the Flight of the Condor. First, knowing that Peru was known for alpacas and llamas, our little animal lovers were anxious to get their hands on one throughout our entire trip. Needless to say, they were thrilled. The sanctuary also rehabilitates Andean condors, and after a brief lesson about these magnificent birds, we got to experience one flying right over our heads.

Santuario Cochahuasi Andean Condors Cusco Peru

Santuario Cochahuasi Andean Condors flying overhead

There are some free roaming animals you will see at the sanctuary as well, including the Peruvian hairless dog, a breed that dates back to pre-Incan times, and the sweetest kitty you'll ever meet.

Santuario Cochahuasi kitty - Cusco Peru

Santuario Cochahuasi kitty with our animal whisperer.

As with many places in Peru, your purchases at the gift shop really do have a direct impact on their work at the sanctuary, so be sure to let the kids have a few extra soles to spend on a t-shirt here. The sanctuary is located about halfway between Cusco and Pisac, so it would be possible to visit both in the same trip. (Santuario Cochahuasi - admission is free.)

Explore the many Incan sites around Cusco

Many tourss are available that will take you to several sites in a half-day to full-day tour. If you want to see most of them in a day, click here for the latest prices and several tour options from Viator.

20. Sacsaywaman

This ancient citadel overlooks the city of Cusco, and you will find it on the way to the animal sanctuary, so visiting both in the same day is completely doable. The citadel dates back to about 900, and then it was added on to by the Incans. Not only would the ruin itself be interesting to explore, but it also offers breathtaking views of Cusco below. For a real treat, book your visit on June 24 to celebrate Inti Raymi, the Inca festival of the sun. If you're up for a hike, the site can be reached on foot from Cusco's Plaza de Armas in less than an hour each direction.

Credit: Wikimedia

21. Tambomachay

Locally known as El Baño del Inka, this Incan ruin just outside of Cusco is a series of aqueducts, canals, and waterfalls that run through terraced rocks. The fountains still function, and legend has it that the spring water here has never run dry, leaving many to believe this is a possible "fountain of youth." Like many Incan ruins, the original purpose of the baths is up for debate, but it was definitely important to the Incans no matter its purpose. This site is about 8km north of Cusco.

22. Tipón

Located southeast of Cusco, Tipon is an Incan ruin similar to Moray in that it has terraces which were probably once used for agricultural experimentation. It is also fed by a natural spring and includes a large irrigation complex. The site was put on the list of Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks and is considered to be one of the most important ruins in the region. (7am-6pm - admission - S130/70 - boleto turistíco)

23. Temple of Wiracocha (Raqch'i in Quechuan)

Dedicated to the creator god of Incan beliefs, this enormous Incan ruin has seen a drastic increase in popularity in recent years. Much of the original structure was destroyed by Spanish conquistadors, and as always, some of its intended purpose remains a mystery. The site contains buildings, storehouses, an artificial lake fed by a natural spring, and fountains. Located close to the village of San Pedro de Cacha, this ruin is also known as Raqchi, and the festival of Raqchi is celebrated there by locals in June. This site is further away than many of the others (~2 hours each way) so plan accordingly.

Raqchi Temple Cusco Peru

Raqchi Temple Cusco Credit: Creative Commons

24. Explore pre-Columbian history at Museo Inkariy

Museo Inkariy is a small, privately-owned museum between Pisac and Urubamba that showcases pre-Columbian Incan culture and societies. The museum is grouped into small buildings, and each one plays host to an individual society in pre-Columbian Peru. Designed by archaeologists and artists, the exhibits contain life-sized representations of each civilization with information to help understand each one. It's a perfect side trip for families wanting a reprieve from climbing around ruins all day. (Museo Inkariy - admission S/.35 for tourists over 6 - 9am-5:30pm)

Museo Inkariy Cusco Peru

PC: Museo Inkariy

25. Tour the ancient ruins at Pisac

About an hour's drive northeast of Cusco is the village of Pisac. Overlooking the town is the Pisaq Archaeological Park, Inca P'isaq, where you will find more amazing Incan ruins to explore. There are architectural terraces like those found at Moray, along with towers, aqueducts, and a temple complex that rivals that of Machu Picchu. Pisac can be reached by taxi from Cusco or as part of a tour. Entrance to the ruins requires a Boleto Turistica del Cusco and they are open year round from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Make sure you pack sunscreen and water for your trip, and figure 2 hours or so to make the hike from the very top back down to the market in Pisac village. (Pisac Ruins - admission - S130/70 - boleto turistíco - dawn until dusk)

26. Haggle at the Pisac market

If you're visiting Pisac for the ruins, make time to also visit the vibrant market in the Plaza de Armas or main square of town. Pisac has long been a traditional center for agriculture in the Sacred Valley, and the market has been going strong for centuries. Today, it's a place to see not only food, but also artisanal crafts, food, and souvenirs for tourists passing by to see the ruins. For the full experience, be sure to visit on a Sunday when the market is at its busiest.

Pisac Market - Sacred Valley Peru

Credit: Flickr

27. Stargaze at the Cusco Planetarium

Situated in the hills near Sacsaywaman, the Cusco Planetarium will introduce visitors to the ways in which the Incans used the stars, sun, and moon for agricultural purposes. The Incans were very serious about studying astronomy, and some of Cusco's main streets purposely align with the stars during certain times of the year. During your visit to the planetarium, you will see constellations projected on the domed ceiling, and then you can head out to do some stargazing of Cusco's night sky. A trip to the planetarium will further enhance your understanding of the Incan people and their culture, so put this on the top of your to-do list. Reservations are required. (Planetarium Cusco - admission S50 per person and includes transportation from Cusco City)

28. Take a taxi tour of Valle Sagrado

If you're short on time, or want to customize your tour a bit, consider hiring a driver for the day and doing a tour of the sites in a van or taxi. You'll get to visit some amazing sites in a short amount of time, see the incredible scenery, and it's affordable. Depending on your itinerary, you could see much of the Sacred Valley for less than $200 for the entire car.

Views of Peru Sacred Valley

Breathtaking views of the Peruvian countryside

For tour options leaving from Cusco, click here.

 

Cusco City

29. Create your own chocolate masterpiece at The Choco Museo

Choco Museo Cusco Peru

Choco Museo - Cusco Peru

The Choco Museo in Cusco is a unique experience for families, and we guarantee that your sweet tooth kids will love it. You will learn about the history and the importance of the cocoa bean to the Peruvian people, as well as the many health benefits of cocoa beans (I KNEW chocolate was good for me!). After the brief history lesson and a taste of that bitter raw cocoa, you will learn how to make your very own Peruvian chocolate treats. We took the shorter class, so some of the steps were already completed for us, but we were able to do a few parts of the process ourselves.

Making chocolate at the Choco Museo Cusco Peru

Making chocolate at the Choco Museo

Most importantly, we were able to flavor our chocolates any way we wanted with sweet cookies or spicy chili powder, among other flavors. We mixed our chocolate in the molds, and within an hour they were set up and ready to devour! Delicious! (Choco Museo Cusco - 2hr workshops S75/55 12+/kids 8-12. Other locations in Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and Lima)

30. Savor Cusco's Asian influences

Cusco has a pretty amazing food scene, and what interested us the most was the Asian cuisine. Cusco is home to many Chinese immigrants, and they brought their awesome cooking with them. We ate at Kion Peruvian Chinese, and their family style dishes were more than we could eat. We loved trying some new things, but we also found some favorite items (noodles and dumplings!) on the menu as well.

Kion Peruvian Chinese Cusco Peru

Kion Peruvian Chinese restaurant in Cusco

Everything was absolutely delicious. If you have more time to spend in Cusco, be sure to check out some of the other local flavors. You can try everything from traditional Peruvian food to Irish cuisine and more. There is no shortage of great restaurants in this capital of the Sacred Valley. (Kion - 11:30am 11pm)

31. Have your picture made with a lamb...or a llama...or a baby alpaca

We usually aren't the type to be taken in by gimmicky tourist traps on street corners, but in Cusco, it just seemed different. The Quechuan women in their brightly colored skirts and traditional hats literally shoved a lamb into Cadence's arms and offered to pose for a picture.

They don't ask for much. You can pretty much pay them whatever you think is fair, and you won't find a better photo opportunity on any other vacation. So, we say go for it. Have some fun, and find yourself an alpaca or two. Don't worry. They probably won't spit on you. 😉

32. Test your intestinal fortitude at Action Valley Adventure Park

If you like activities that get your adrenaline pumping, then be sure to check out Action Valley. Their bungee jump in Cusco is 400 ft. tall - the tallest in Latin America. The $74 fee ($80 with a credit card) includes round trip transportation from Cusco, jumping lessons, and a gift to take home. If you don't like jumping off a perfectly good platform, they also have a slingshot, climbing wall, or paintball course. (Action Valley - 8am-5pm)

Action Valley Adventure Park Cusco Peru

Action Valley Adventure Park Cusco Peru Credit: Action Valley

33. Learn to make a pisco sour

The pisco sour is the official cocktail of Peru. It's made from 2 parts pisco (a type of grape brandy), 1 part simple syrup, and 1 part lime juice and has a little egg white for a foamy texture. Top it off with a few drops of bitters, and you're good to go!

Pisco sour class in Cusco

Pisco sour class in Cusco

Don't take my word for it though. See if your hotel or hostel offers a class. I had a great time with some fellow travelers at the Palacio del Inka in Cusco learning about the history and ingredients of Peru's national drink. We loved them so much, we brought a bottle of Pisco home from the airport duty-free shop. ¡Salud!

Pisco sour class at the Palacio del Inka Cusco Peru

Pisco sour class at the Palacio del Inka

Looking for a great hotel in Cusco?

Our stay at the Palacio del Inka was fantastic, and it's considered to be one of the finest hotels in Cusco. The staff was pleasant and helpful, and the concierge worked with us via e-mail to have our tours set up and ready to go when we arrived. Plus, Spanish conquistadors used to live here. How cool is tha?t! Highly recommended.

Click here for the latest prices at the Palacio del Inka.

34. People watch at the Plaza de Armas, Cusco

This is the main square in Cusco, and though it is built on the foundations of parts of the original Great Inca Square, most of the architecture is Spanish colonial.

Cusco Peru Plaza de Armas

Looking out towards the Plaza de Armas

This busy square is full of history, shopping, and restaurants, and with its beautiful fountain and shady areas, it is the perfect place to relax or people-watch.

35. Discover Incan culture at Museo Inka

Located a block away from the Plaza de Armas, the Museo Inka is home to a collection of Incan artifacts, pottery, jewelry, mummies, textiles, and the world's largest collection of ceremonial drinking vessels. The building itself is a beautiful colonial home. It offers great views of the Plaza, and in the courtyard, you can see weavers demonstrating how they make their textiles. You can purchase some as well! (Museo Inka - S10 - 8am-6pm)

36. Snap some photos of the lovely Cusco Cathedral

Also known as the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin, Cusco Cathedral is the first thing you notice in the Plaza de Armas.

Cusco Cathedral Plaza de Armas Cusco Peru

Cusco Cathedral - Plaza de Armas

The cathedral was completed in 1654, almost 100 years after construction began. Not only is this a place of worship, but it is also home to colonial art and artifacts. Worth noting also is that many of the stones used in the construction of the cathedral came from the Sacsaywaman citadel. This is definitely an important historical site worth visiting. (La Basílica Catedral del Cusco - Plaza de Armas - admission S25 - 10am-5:45pm)

37. Pop into the Museo de Historia Natural

This university-run natural history museum is on the Plaza de Armas and is home to over 150 snakes from the Amazon. The collection is small, and the admission is inexpensive, so if you have an extra half an hour and want to see some interesting items like a mastodon tusk, pay this little museum a visit. This is right next to the Iglesia de La Compañia de Jesús in the Plaza de Armas. (Museo de Historia Natural - admission S3 - 9am-5pm)

Cusco Museo de Historia Natural Peru

Cusco Museo de Historia Natural

38. Take a walking tour of Cusco

We love getting to know a city with a good walking tour, and Cusco is a great city to explore on foot. The blend of modern and colonial is fascinating, and there is always something interesting to see. Even if you don't have the time for an organized tour, hit the streets and have a look around, because you'll surely find something unique and fun to take a picture of.

Walking the streets of Cusco Peru

She couldn't resist the baby alpaca.

Alley in Cusco Peru

A peek from the alley at a market in Cusco.

For some guided walikng tour options in Cusco, click here.

39. Grab a Butifarra sandwich for lunch

While exploring Cusco, you're sure to spot a street vendor making one of these sandwiches. Arguably the national sandwich of Peru, the Butifarra is made with a crusty French roll, jamon del pais or country ham, and topped with a chili-onion relish. You can find locals selling them pretty much all hours of the day and and all over the city. For only /S4 or so (a couple of $US dollars) you can have a delicious meal in Cusco. Throw in some chica morada - a traditional beverage made from purple corn - to round out your traditional Peruvian lunch.

40. Explore Coricancha (The Sun Temple)

Located in the old Incan capital of Cusco, Coricancha was the most important temple in the Incan Empire. After the Spanish conquered the area, they tore down most of the original structure and built the Church of Santo Domingo there. Earthquakes later damaged much of the church, but the original Incan foundations remained intact. (Qorikancha - admission S10 - 8:30am-5:30pm)

41. Take in the views high above Cusco at Cristo Blanco

Similar to Rio's Christ the Redeemer, only smaller, Cristo Blanco overlooks the center of Cusco. Incan legend says that the site of Cristo Blanco, Pukamoqo Hill, holds soil samples from all the four quarters of the Incan Empire. Just a 10 minute walk from Sacsaywaman, Cristo Blanco offers panoramic views of the Plaza de Armas.

Cristo Blanco Cusco Peru

Cristo Blanco - Cusco Peru

42. Get lost for awhile in the San Blas District of Cusco

A quieter, more artsy district north of the city center of Cusco, here you will find narrow cobblestone streets, beautiful neighborhoods, and some of the best free views of the city below. Not only that, but the area boasts some of the best bars and restaurants in Cusco. Don't miss the Iglesia de San Blas, said to be the oldest parish in Cusco.

Cobblestone streets in Cusco Peru

Exploring the cobblestone streets in Cusco.

43. Do some shopping at the San Pedro Market

The San Pedro Market is less than a 10 minute walk from the Plaza de Armas and is well worth a visit. There you will find a variety of local foods, fresh squeezed juices, crafts, and souvenirs. Be sure to take your time and enjoy all of the distinctly Peruvian sights, sounds, and flavors.

Peru Chinchero keychain souvenirs

Fun keychain souvenirs at the markets

44. Take a drive by the Pachacuteq Monument

Standing tall in the middle of Avenida del Sol in Cusco is the Pachacuteq Monument. It is dedicated to the great Incan emperor who built Cusco and expanded the empire throughout the Sacred Valley.

Pachacuteq Monument Cusco Peru

Pachacuteq Monument - Cusco Peru

As one of the greatest visionaries of his time, he is the central figure in Peruvian history. The monument sits atop a tower which is home to a museum with exhibits that tell the story of Incan history. (admission - S130/70 - admission boleto turistíco - 9am-7pm)

45. Discover pre-Columbian art at the El Museo de Arte Pre-Colombino (MAP Museum)

Located in the San Blas district in Cusco, the MAP museum displays artifacts and artwork from all regions of pre-Colombian Peru. The works therefore date from about 1250 BC to AD 1532. Though the collection is small, it is nonetheless beautiful and fascinating. (El Museo de Arte Pre-Colombino - admission S20 - 9am-10pm)

Exhibit at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art in Cusco Peru

Exhibit at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art in Cusco. PC: MAP Museum

46. Tour La Casa Concha Museum (Museo Machu Picchu)

This museum is the home of the largest collection of Machu Picchu artifacts in the world, most of which was returned from Yale University as part of Hiram Bingham's massive expedition. Located in the restored Casa Concha about five minutes from the Plaza de Armas, the house itself is as beautiful and interesting as the collection within. One thing visitors will see in the main patio area is a glass-covered excavation pit. Six feet below the surface is the original Inca floor.

La Casa del las Conchas Museo Machu Picchu

La Casa del las Conchas - Museo Machu Picchu PC:wikimedia

With interactive maps and displays, videos, and a model of Machu Picchu, this museum would be a great way to learn more about the site before you go. Or, if like us you choose to visit Machu Picchu first, it will help you to more fully understand and appreciate the things you saw in person. (Museo Machu Picchu - admission S20/10 adult/child - 8am-5pm).

47. Explore the Historical Museum of Cusco

One of the most visited museums in Cusco, the History Museum of Cusco is located in the Casa Garcilaso, and like many museums in our list, it was once a colonial home, this one belonging to the writer Garcilaso de la Vega. The collection is arranged chronologically, and includes art and artifacts important to Incan culture. You will find ceramics, textiles, and paintings, as well as mummies in this museum. (Museo Histórico Regional - admission S130/70 - boleto turistíco - 8am-5pm)

48. Visit the Contemporary Art Museum of Cusco

Founded in 1995, this small museum is located in Cusco's municipal building. This collection of 280 works by Peruvian and foreign artists is perfect for fans of contemporary art who may be short on time. After viewing all the pieces of ancient history in this amazing city, some more modern artwork may be just what the family is in the mood to see! (Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo - S130/70 - admission boleto turistíco - 9am-6pm)

49. Sample Peruvian delicacies

We never miss an opportunity to sample the local fare, and in the Andean highlands that means guinea pig. Yup, that childhood pet of yours is also supper in Peru. It has a gamy flavor and reminded me quite a lot of dark-meat turkey which I found to be delicious. (Note: This article is a joint effort, and this portion was written by Carrick...Carrie would never eat someone's pet, especially since she is acquainted with quite a few guinea pig classroom pets in the elementary education world).

Cuy Guinea Pig

Yes, this is guinea pig. Fancy, no?

Mine was prepared as a fillet with scalloped potatoes and a beet puree, but in many places, it's simply roasted on a skewer, head and all. I suspect the hotel caters to a slightly more North American and European crowd and spares its guests from the shock at dinner on purpose.

The kids were particularly fond of the Inka Kola which you can find anywhere in Peru. It has a faint butterscotch flavor, and with the neon-yellow color, I couldn't help but think of it as Peruvian Mountain Dew. Our son loved the Inka Corn, which are similar to Corn Nuts we have in the US. Other things to try are alpaca steaks, chichas (a drink made from purple maize), and ceviche, particularly if you're traveling near the coast.

Other popular dishes are anticucho (beef heart on a stick with potato), Lechón (suckling pig) and Chicharrones (deep-fried pork with corn, mint, fried potato, and onion).

Want to make some of your own? Cusco has several cooking classes available. Click here for tours and prices.

50. Find Paddington Bear

"'You're a very small bear,' said Mrs. Brown. 'Where are you from?' The bear looked around carefully before replying. 'Darkest Peru. I'm not really supposed to be here at all. I'm a stowaway.' 'You don't mean to say you've come all the way from South America on your own?' exclaimed Mrs. Brown. 'Whatever did you do for food?' Unlocking his suitcase, the bear took out an almost empty glass jar. 'I ate marmalade,' it said. 'Bears like marmalade.'" -Michael Bond, Paddington

Paddington Bear Peru

On the hunt for Paddington Bear

As a children's librarian, one of my Aunt Frances's favorite characters was Paddington Bear, who is associated most frequently with London. But, did you remember that this adorable bear was actually from Peru? That's right. This beloved character came from darkest Peru, and you just might find him on your trip to this amazing country. So, keep your eyes peeled on your journey, and let us know if you find him or his relatives.

Before you head out, read the book or watch the movie, or both!

A Bear Called Paddington (Book)

Paddington (Movie)

This trip was truly one of our favorite vacations thus far. Not only was it incredibly educational, but it put us out of our comfort zones in the best way possible. We grew as travelers and as a family on this great adventure, and we encourage all of you to take a chance on this or a similar vacation as soon as you can!

Sacred Valley Peru Map

Help us out and pin this post to your favorite Pinterest board!We loved Peru for it's history, scenery, and charming people and you will too! From Machu Picchu, Quechuan textiles, alpacas, and pisco sours, enjoy the 50 best things to do in Cusco and Sacred Valley Peru.

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