48 Hours in Cusco: Plaza De Armas, San Pedro market and Pisco Sours

48 Hours in Cusco: Plaza De Armas, San Pedro market and Pisco Sours

48 Hours in Cusco

Cusco, Peru is such a charming and beautiful city, right in the south east of Peru at 3,400m above sea level in the Andes and is the starting point for the famous Machu Picchu treks. As we were to embark on our own Machu Picchu expedition, which we will cover in a different article, we decided to stay in Cusco for a few days and explore around - and we’re so happy we did!

From the best Peruvian restaurants to where to go and what to visit in the former capital of the Incan Empire, here is our guide to 48 hours in Cusco, Peru.

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  • Plaza De Armas

  • San Pedro Market

  • Blanco Cristo

  • Museum Maximo Laura

  • Cusco Cathedral

  • Plaza de las Nazarenas

  • Peruvian food

Our Picks

  • How to get to Cusco: Skyscanner 

  • Where to stay in Cusco: Kimsa Hotel / Las Quenas Hotel - check rates on Booking.com

  • Get around Cusco: Walking or registered taxis! Don't forget to fix a price before hopping in.

  • Safety in Cusco: We have found it safe, but as everywhere, be careful about your belongings!

48 Hours in Cusco | Day 1

48 Hours in Cusco: Plaza De Armas, San Pedro market and Pisco Sours

After our arrival in Cusco and check-in in our hotel Kimsa, perfectly located a stone throw away from the main plaza, we headed to Plaza De Armas to see the beautiful cathedrals we heard so much about. The old Hispanic colonial architecture of the Plaza and its surroundings left us speechless! Cusco is one of the most charming cities we’ve been.

Did you know? The place has witnessed several notable events associated with the city’s history including the declaration by Francisco Pizzaro and the death of the indigenous leader Tupac Amaru II.

Walking around and up isn’t the easiest sometimes, as we realise we are quite high in altitude!

Making our way through the plaza, discovering the little shops filled with the most beautiful coats and alpaca products ever (we had to remind ourselves that we’re traveling light!), we found the famous San Pedro Market.

Filled with meats, local products, cocoa, fruits, vegetables, souvenirs and clothes, the bustling market should definitely be on your must see list.

We then starting walking up to El Cristo Blanco - you can also take a taxi up, if you don’t feel like walking up the stairs!

Once on top, after a few stops to catch our breath, we visited the walled complex of Sacsayhuaman. The site is famed for its remarkable large dry stone walls with boulders carefully cut to fit together tightly without mortar.

Right by Sacsayhuaman, you can see the Cristo Blanco site and admire the beautiful view of all of Cusco from up there.

History relates that in the Inca time, this place was seemed to be a sacred place as it reunites lands from countries that were part of the Tahuantinsuyo as Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Tucuman in Argentina.

Did you know? El Cristo Blanco was created by the Cusco sculptor and filmmaker, Francisco Olazo Allende in 1945 and was donated to Cusco by the Palestinian Arab Colony

On the way back, we stopped for a bite to eat and a coca tea with a view at Luma Winay up in Barrio San Blas.

The afternoon was spent walking around the San Blas Neighborhood or the Neighborhood of Craftsmen, characterized by its narrow and pleasant streets, is just four blocks away from the Main Square. Its large white houses and charming neighborhoods hold plenty workshops where beautiful works in ceramic, wood, gold and stone are made.

We discovered what will become one of our favorite restaurants in Cusco - and will end up there multiple times! - Morena Peruvian Kitchen, in Calle Plateros.

Serving excellent dishes in a beautiful environment, this place is definitely to bookmark for a meal in Cusco!


48 Hours in Cusco | Day 2

Useful information

  • Currency: Peruvian Sol

  • Language: Spanish (English spoken in touristy places)

  • Time change: UTC/GMT -5 hours

  • Best time to visit: June - September

  • Dresscode: Casual, but better to keep it fairly conservative

Our second day in Cusco started off with an amazing breakfast at our hotel, Kimsa. We had our Machu Picchu tour starting the day after, so we wanted to soak in as much of Cusco as we could.

We headed back towards Plaza De Armas, and stumbled upon Museum Maximo Laura by the Plaza Mayor Del Cusco. An incredible collection of more than 200 tapestries representing Maximo Laura’s take on contemporary Peruvian textile art, the museum is free to enter and showcases some of the artist most impressive pieces.

We continued onto Plaza de las Nazarenas:  A square surrounded by museums, temples and luxury hotels located a few meters away from the Main Square of Cusco.

We got to admire its narrow winding colonial streets and relaxed for a bit, soaking in the atmosphere of Cusco, always bustling but never noisy.

If you walk downtown Cusco, you can’t miss the 12 Angle Stone:  Famous for its perfectly carved corners and sides, it’s part of a palace at the Hatun Rumiyoc Street. Its finish and edging show the architectural perfection of the Inca culture since there is no asymmetry in its joints - truly impressive and will leave you wondering HOW was this made possible!

48 Hours in Cusco: Plaza De Armas, San Pedro market and Pisco Sours

Finishing off our second day in Cusco, we went back to the main plaza to get into the Cathedral of Cusco. A wonderful piece of architecture with renaissance stye, the Cathedral is filled with more than 1,200 pieces of art. The Cathedral can be visited from Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and on Sundays and/or holidays from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

We headed for dinner to the restaurant Fuego Burgers and Barbecue, located in Calle Plateros, and we were not disappointed - the food was delicious, the Pisco Sours perfectly made and the waiter Michael was absolutely amazing.

We went to bed early as we had a 5am wake up call to start our Machu Picchu expedition the morning after, but Cusco is also a place to party! All around the main plaza you will find backpackers bars and clubs, so don’t hesitate to go explore if you have some time!

Our gear

Chances are, if you're the type of person to come all the way to Cusco you'll fit into one of two categories. Either you're an 80-year-old grandparent trying to tick off one of the world wonders before you croak, or you're an ambitious, adventurous, and young (no, not you Jeff...) world traveler who is on a trip in South America through more than one country - and what does this mean? It means you're probably, even if you don't know it, part of #teambackpack! Welcome to the club - a club which I finally joined after years of Jeff nagging me. If you're like us and want the best, Jeff thinks he looks coolest in his Eastpak gear, and I can't argue with him. I wear my bumbag every. single. day


Cusco facts

48 Hours in Cusco: Plaza De Armas, San Pedro market and Pisco Sours
  • Cusco is located in the valley of the Huatanay River in the south east Andean mountain range at an altitude of 3,350 meters or 11,200 feet above sea level.

  • The Spanish conquistadors conquered Cuzco in 1533, grafting new colonial architecture onto the sturdy foundations of indigenous sites.

  • The peak tourism season in Cuzco lasts from June to September. This is technically winter in the Peruvian highlands, which means drier weather. The rainy season runs from November to March.

  • Guinea pig, called cuy here in Cusco, is considered a delicacy. It was traditionally reserved for special occasions, but because of all the tourists wanting to try this “exotic” food, it’s often found in many restaurants.

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