High in the South American Andes, the Peruvian city of Cuzco is a living monument to Inca history. Once the heart of the Inca Empire, Cuzco now draws thousands of tourists lured by the city’s archaeological relics of a once-powerful civilization, including the “lost” city of Macchu Picchu, perched on an isolated mountain. But travel to Cuzco – which means “Center of the World” in the native South American language of Quechua – is remarkable not only for the ancient city’s history and architecture but also for its colorful fiestas and carnivals. Spirited South American culture collides with Catholic ritual and iconography and the topography boasts cloud forests and lush underbrush of the Amazon jungle. Visit Cuzco to experience the rich tapestry of interweaving histories. Spanish colonial homes are built atop Inca walls, indigenous Quechua culture mixes freely with modern tourist attractions and nightlife, and centuries-old rainforest juts onto the dizzying altitudes of the Andean peaks. Our Cuzco travel guide will point you to the archeological and geographical gems of this sacred city.
Things Not to Miss in Cuzco
• The Sacred Valley of the Río Urubamba
• The Inca ruins of Qorikancha
• La Catedral
• The military and religious ruin of Sacsaywamán
• The Pisac Ruins
• The Museo Inka
• Machu Picchu
• Piquillacta, the only pre-Inca ruin in the region
When to Go to Cuzco
Cuzco's most distinct climatic feature is a sharp contrast between the dry and wet seasons. The dry season, which is bright and sunny and mild in temperature, lasts from about June through mid-September and is the preferred time to make Cuzco travel plans. However, the summer months bring a crush of tourists, so visit Cuzco during May or between late September and early November for thinner crowds. Nights can be cool to freezing in both summer and winter, so when you travel to Cuzco, be sure to pack for the plunging temperatures at night. Avoid visiting Cuzco in November through April, when heavy rainfalls might delay your exploration.