More than Machu Picchu: delve into historic Cuzco; Josephine Parr; Lonely Planet

Peru – City of Cuzco

As the famous launching off point for many trips to Machu Picchu, Cuzco often serves as a convenient stop for travelers as they acclimate to Peru’s high altitude. At 11,000 feet, Cuzco is a wonderful place to get your body ready for trekking the Inca Trail or the Sacred Valley, but it’s also a city full of historic and modern charms.

As the oldest city in Peru and perhaps the second oldest city in South America (behind Quito, Ecuador), Cuzco’s mix of Inca and Spanish architecture, burgeoning culinary scene and world-class museums and archaeology sites make it a destination worth exploring.

Visit archeological sites

Saqsaywamán, an UNESCO World Heritage Site thought to have been the historic capital of the Inca Empire, overlooks all of Cuzco. The oldest sections of the site are believed to have been built by the Kilke culture, predating the Inca; the Inca later turned the site into a fortress. Jokingly called “Sexy Woman” by the locals, the site’s walls are made of giant stones with rounded edges that fit together perfectly, without space for even a piece of paper to fit.

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