Picture yourself inhaling fresh mountain air and soaking up the sunlight from the soaring peaks of the Andes. With its narrow cobblestone streets and the merging of Inca and Spanish cultures, the Peruvian city of Cusco provides a gateway to a historical journey made modern by cafés and restaurants, handicraft shops and hotels for every taste. Follow this plan to get the most out of your trip to one of the globe's most breathtaking World Heritage sites.
Inkaterra La Cascona: in the lap of luxuryInkaterra La Casona will charm you. Enormous carved doors, stone fireplaces, Andean textiles and a lavish courtyard make La Casona one of the finest places to stay during your visit to Cusco. Located minutes from the Plaza de Armas, at the tiny Plazoleta Nazarenas, the hotel is within easy reach of the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, MAP café and cobblestone streets. If you are lucky enough to experience breakfast through dinner here, try the crispy guinea pig confit with Andean ratatouille and sweet pears cooked in purple corn and pisco. — Plaza las Nazarenas, Cusco. +511 610 0400; inkaterra.com
Cusco City: start hereCusco Tourist Ticket (Boleto Turístico) allows you to see the most important places in the city as well as major archaeological sites. Since this is your first day (at more than 11,000 feet above sea level), sip your mate de coca (herbal tea made with coca leaves) and take a slow stroll through Qorikancha, one of the richest temples in the Inca empire. Legend says it was once covered in gold. — BTG Ticket Office, Avenida el Sol, Galerías Turísticas. cosituc.gob.pe. You can also buy tickets in any of the attractions listed on the ticket.
Sacsayhumán and more: circuit two
Greens Organic: down to earthGreens Organic is a gourmet restaurant featuring ingredients from the restaurant's own farm in the Sacred Valley. Order the house garden salad to start and you'll instanly feel your energy revive. It may take several minutes to decide among the main courses, but if you order the locally raised trout we promise you'll be delighted as it's set before you. — Santa Catalina Angosta 135, second flr., Plaza de Armas, Cusco. +51 84 243379; cuscorestaurants.com
Los Perros: relax on the couch
Písac Market: heading to the Sacred Valley
Urubamba Villas: Welcome to HiguspucroDo you believe in love at first sight? You will once you cross the main entrance of Urubamba Villas - Higuspucro. Charming gardens ensconced in mountain mist join tall eucalyptus trees to envelop each adobe-style casita, where inside a cozy fireplace awaits. Each villa has distinctive decor and character; woven tapestries, antique artcrafts and brilliant textiles brighten the houses. If you've been longing to spend a day or two in the serene natural atmosphere before stepping into the touristy cluster of the ruins, this is where to stay. The most you'll do is take a stroll through the gleaming meadow or walk a few steps to the nearest bodega, where you can pick up Cusqueñan bread and cheese for a satisfying snack. — +51 999 705 270; villahigus.comSusana Lay
Maroma: adventure timeWrap up your Sacred Valley excursion with a thrill thanks to Maroma Experience. Jump on a buggy or a four-wheeled motorcycle and head to the salt pans of Maras, located two miles above sea level with panoramic views of the snowcapped Andes. Then get back on track to head to Laguna Huaypo, where you can rest and regroup with a snack surrounded by the peaceful scenery. Don't worry about getting dirty: Just get comfortable and Maroma will take care of the rest. — Av. Berriozabal 106, Sacred Valley, Urubamba. + 51 964 102463; maromaexperienceperu.com
El Huacatay: perk upEl Huacatay is a stimulating spot for any meal. Expect Peruvian fusion cuisine, such as a Pumahuanca trout tartare to start, followed by an alpaca tenderloin in Oporto sauce. Do we need to say more? Didn't think so. — Jirón Arica 620, Urubamba, Sacred Valley. +51 84 20 17 90; facebook.com
Ollantaytambo: step back in timetrain to Machu Picchu. But wait! Before you head to the train station there's plenty to do. And you may want to spend a whole day (perhaps a night, too) wandering the narrow coblestone streets of Ollanta. Take in the fortress and temple of the Inca ruins, where Manco Inca retreated after his defeat at Sacsayhuaman. Go for hikes and ride bikes, explore restaurants and bars, and wander down narrow trails. You made it all the way here. Don't miss a thing.
Machu Picchu: you made itarchaeological site within minutes. No matter how you arrive to the "Old Peak" (its name in the native Quechua language), the result is astounding: You'll feel a sublime combination of reverence, wonder and appreciation. A sense of mystery that invites you to go beyond what you already know. (You may want to spend a full 48 hours here: Check out our Perfect Weekend in Inkaterra Machu Picchu for your itinerary.)
Hilo: one of a kind
This post was originally published on Savoteur. Savoteur is a digital publication celebrating what makes the world rich and unique - the food, music, art, culture, nightlife, style and travel.
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