Sacred Valley Highlights + Making the Most of Cusco City
The Sacred Valley is FULL of history and archaeology. With SO many different sites to see, it’s difficult to decide how to spend your time. Below is a list of some of those in the area near Cusco, followed by descriptions of those we visited and a link to our own itinerary.
- Machu Picchu + Aguas Calientes (3 hour train from Cusco)
- Ollantaytambo (1.5 hour train from Cusco on the way to Machu Picchu)
- The Sacred Valley / The Urubamba Valley (includes the above two sites)
- Salinas de Maras
- Capilla Sixtina de Andahuaylillas
- Sacsayhuaman (within walking distance of Cusco, albeit the walk is a long one)
TIP: don’t get too caught up in trying to see all of the archaeological sites. There are far too many and you may begin to lose appreciation for all that you are seeing. We chose a few and allowed ourselves to really enjoy each one.
The ones we visited:
Salinas de Maras
TIP: Purchase the Boleto Parcial Turistico for 70 soles at the sites themselves or in Cusco beforehand. The partial ticket gives you access to 4 sites: Moray, Pisac, Chinchero & Ollantaytambo. You can also purchase the full ticket if you’d like to see more.
Places to eat in Cusco & Aguas Calientes:
- Lunch @ Green Point
- Dinner @ A Mi Manera
- Dinner @ Asiri (delicious food that supports a local orphanage)
- Waffles @ The Meeting Place Café (food for a cause)
- Lunch @ Restaurante Pachamama’s (Plaza San Blas)
- Dinner @ La Bodega 138 for delicious pizza and salads
- The BEST sandwiches at Juanito’s
- Tapas Dinner at Cicciolina
- Eat dinner @ Chicha
- Burgers @ Papachos on Plaza de Armas
- Fancy Buffet Lunch @ Maki in the Inkaterra Hotel (AGUAS CALIENTES)
- Dinner @ The Tree House for VEGGIES! (AGUAS CALIENTES)
Places to stay:
- Taypikala Boutique Machupicchu (AGUAS CALIENTES) ($120/night)
- Hotel R House (price depends on the season but we found a great deal on AirBnB. The staff were really what made the difference for us, they were so kind and accommodating. The location of the hotel was not exactly what we expected but after a few days, we realized how easy it was to walk to San Blas and we appreciated being about 15 minutes from the crowds).
Things to do and try:
- Street Massages @ Spa Hampi Maki: 250 Marquez Street, on the 2nd floor of the “Artesanias El Solar Dorado” (but you can get 60-minute, full-body massages from ANY of the women selling massages on the street for 15-30 soles = $5-10 USD depending on whether you want hot stones or deep tissue)
- MACHU PICCHU + HUYAYNA PICCHU (see itinerary below for details)
- Vinyasa Flow + Yin Yoga Class @ Yoga Room Cusco
- Plaza de Armas (see La Cathedral and other ornate churches on the square)
- House of the Sun / Quorikancha: now known as the Convent of Santo Domingo
- Palacio Del Inka (across from Temple/House of the Sun)
- San Pedro Market for fresh fruit smoothies and local Maca & Quinoa (read up on these popular superfoods)
- Plaza San Blas (can walk past this on your way down from Sacasayhuaman. You’ll find The Meeting Place restaurant along with crafts and goods for sale.
- Walk even further from Plaza San Blas to Plaza de Armas: this is one of the original Inca “highways” and today you’ll find local Peruvian women offering photos with their llamas and sheep for a small fee, more goods for sale, and the famous 12-sided stone (you’ll know it because it looks like a normal wall, except tons of people are hovering around taking photos).
- Massages @ Paramatma Holistic Healing (amazing, book in advance!)
- Yin Yoga Class at The Healing House
- Drink Chicha, a local corn beer (it's an acquired taste for some but we had a strawberry flavored one and thought it was pretty good!)