Cuzco is a historic Peruvian city that draws millions of tourists each year due to its unique location, colonial architecture and ancient monuments. Nestled in the Andes Mountains at a height of 11,200 ft (3,400 m), it’s a picturesque city that was once the capital of the Inca Empire. At its centre is the Plaza de Armas, the main square dominated by Spanish colonial buildings and great cathedrals that provide a beautiful backdrop for the bustling restaurants, bars and markets. This small city can be explored on foot and is full of shops selling colourful handicrafts and souvenirs. Here visitors can sample local delicacies like alpaca and guinea pig or purchase bright woven goods in the traditional Peruvian style. Cuzco’s close proximity to major Inca sights is one of the reasons why so many visitors stay here. By far the most famous of these is Machu Picchu, a lost Inca city atop a mountain peak that was only rediscovered in 1911. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is in a challenging location, but you can access the ruins by booking with a tour company, travelling by train or attempting the Inca Trail on foot. Other significant Inca sites within the area include Ollantaytambo, the ruins of a religious centre and fortress, and Saksaywaman, a walled complex on the edge of the city. For the curious traveller, Cuzco offers the unique experience of becoming immersed in traditional Peruvian life, both ancient and modern and the opportunity to see some of the most isolated ancient monuments in the world.
The small size of Cuzco makes walking the best way of exploring the city, however there are a variety of transportation options. Trams run from Plaza de Armas and offer a 90-minute tour of the city and its attractions. Alternatively you can jump on one of the city’s colectivos, which are buses that provide short journeys within the city. Taxis are available for hire, but should be booked with an official taxi company that displays a black and gold sticker. To venture further afield you can hire your own car or take the four hour train to visit Machu Picchu.