There’s no doubt that TripAdvisor is one of the most popular and widely-known travel websites in the world. Its users fill the site with their votes, opinions and reviews about touristic destinations. They also express their level of satisfaction with the tourism services they receive. Because of this, there’s have a database of the best (and worst) places to visit, restaurants to eat at and museums to see. TripAdvisor is a useful and simple guide to help you have the best time on every one of your trips.
Every year, there are different rankings of preferred places to visit from TripAdvisor reviewers, and this year, Cusco has been recognized as the most popular destination in South America and the preferred destination #23 of 25 in the whole world.
In the first list (the most popular destinations in South America), the metropolis of Lima is also listed in 6th place, the city of Urubamba in 18th, Arequipa in 23rd and Machu Picchu in 25th. On the global list, Cusco is the only Latin American destination listed except for Playa del Carmen in Mexico, which is in 17th place.
We’re sure that members of TripAdvisor haven’t made a mistake in choosing Cusco as their preferred destination, and with these photos, we want to show you why they’re right.
1. The Plaza de Armas of Cusco from the sky
The Plaza de Armas is one of the main stages of this beautiful city. In the epoch of the Incas, this place was much bigger; it also occupied the space of the Plaza Regocijo. Although it’s outlined by stunning architecture, the Plaza de Armas of Cusco has a complex significance. The temples of the Incas that were there were destroyed to construct Catholic temples. Besides that, Spaniards tortured the last rebel Inca, Tupac Amaru II, there.
2. Cusco is always partying
Cusco must be one of the most festive cities on the whole continent. On one side, there are traditional celebrations where joy is displayed colorfully on all the public streets. Sometimes you can hear fireworks in the early hours of the morning! On the other side, Cusco is one of the few cities in Peru were clubs are open until sunrise. If you’re lucky, you’ll cross paths with one of the many concerts held in the Plaza de Armas. Fun and excess to be experienced with caution.
3. Urban architecture full of history
Visiting the ancient streets of Cusco is a lesson in architecture and history. Cusco is considered as the oldest consistently inhabited city on the entire American continent. That means that people have never abandoned it, and it was transformed like no other. In the Historical Center, you can see how the buildings have bases of Inca constructions holding up “modern” constructions. Building on top of Inca palaces and temples was a symbolic way the Spanish dominated and marked these territories.
4. Inca architecture is surprising!
Andean culture has a peculiar characteristic. It’s intimately spliced with nature. Because of this, the majestic (and unexplainable) Inca architecture was developed by taking advantage of natural formations. Not only this, but all over the place, you’ll see immense stones that were put together without any type of mortar and in very striking and beautiful ways like the ones in this wall of the archeological site of Saqsayhuamán. You can visit it by walking 45 minutes from the Plaza de Armas.
5. Cinematografic streets
The street we’re looking at is called Loreto or Inti k’ikllu (Street of the sun in Quechua) and goes directly to the Plaza de Armas. When will a filmmaker take advantage of the special beauty of these streets for a movie?
6. Living culture among the young people
Remember when we said that Cusco is a city that loves to party? Well, if you come to Cusco, you’ll surely see huge, colorful parades. Young people happily participate in these traditional festivals as they dance that which their ancestors certainly danced, as well.
7. Make new friends!
If you’re humble and affectionate, the people of Cusco are extremely friendly and talkative. There are many things we can learn from people who live in small Andean towns and their culture. In this photo, we see a traditional musician playing a unique and extraordinary blue bandurria.
8. The Sacred Valley of the Incas is waiting for you with its wonders
You only need 1 or 2 hours in a car to get to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. In this dazzling place, you’ll find the sacred river Vilcanota which irrigates the countryside where the best corn in Peru grows. Have you seen it? It’s gigantic! In the Sacred Valley, the climate is warmer and more pleasant than in the city of Cusco, itself, and there, you can visit one gorgeous location after another. In these pictures, you can see small pools used for pink salt extraction close to the community of Maras and a beautiful sunset in the city of Urubamba. Besides that, in the Sacred Valley, you can visit Chinchero to learn more about sophisticated textile arts, Pisac, Yucay and Ollantaytambo.
9. High-altitude mountain trekking
From the city of Cusco, you can access many of the best treks in Latin America. There are hikes of all kinds. If you have the time, you can visit the world-famous city-state of Machu Picchu at the end of a 5-day trek on the Salkantay Trail where the beauty of the mountains will astound you. On the other hand, if you don’t have much time, you can do a day hike to Humantay Lake or the fabulous Rainbow Mountain.
10. The ultimate jewel: Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is one of the touristic attractions that stands out most in all of South America and, obviously, is the most visited place in Peru. This impressive construction of the mid-15th century is in between the Andes and the Amazon. Its architecture is impressive, especially when we think about the fact that its stones were linked eternally only by some precise carving. You can get to Machu Picchu by train, car (and then walking 3 hours) or trekking the Inca Trail, considered the most famous trekking route in South America.