Home » How to spend 48 hours in Cusco, Peru

How to spend 48 hours in Cusco, Peru

written by Jenna Hoare July 2, 2018
Plaza de Armas, Cusco. Peru

Cusco. The adventure capital of Peru. An up-and-coming foodie destination. Land of some seriously cool ponchos. The old Inca capital. Oh, and the first stop for many travellers before visiting Machu Picchu.

Not doing a hike? All aboard the train. There’s a bunch of activities to keep you busy with two days in Cusco.

Sample superfoods at San Pedro Market  

After arriving in the ancient capital of the Incas, Cusco, you’ll find a thriving city with a mixture of Peruvian traditions and Spanish colonial influences. Make your way to San Pedro Market, a 10-minute walk from Plaza de Armas (Cusco’s main square). Arriving early, you’ll see locals doing their shopping. Take your pick from some of the Peruvian dishes and learn about the products grown in the region. Keep an eye out for a few of the world’s organic super foods: quinoa (of all colours and varieties), camu camu (a small, cherry-like fruit) and maca (a pungent root) just to name a few. All big agricultural exports in Peru.

Local tip: Make sure you try one of the fresh fruit juices or a traditional Andean chicken soup.


Cusco, Peru

Image by Patrick O’Neil

Peruse pre-Columbian artwork at Museo de Arte Precolombino

Entirely dedicated to ancient Peruvian art, the museum can be found near the main square of Plaza de Armas. Housed in a Spanish colonial residence, you will find a collection of impressive archaeological artifacts and pre-Columbian artworks dating 1250 BC–1532 AD. These were selected from 45,000 pieces that were stored away from public viewing for a long time in Lima’s Larco Museum.


Taste the smooth flavours at the Choco Museum

Peru continues to rank in the top ten largest cacao producers in the world, and is the world’s largest organic cacao producer. Travelling with Intrepid, the Choco Museum tour (with tastings) is included in most of the Machu Picchu tours departing from Cusco – but you might want to go back again to get another chocolate fix! A visit to the Chocolate Museum takes you through the history of cacao in Peru; touch cacao pods and taste different types of quality chocolate while learning about production on site.

ChocoMuseo, Cusco, Peru

Image by Cliff Bielawski

Get the lowdown on all things coca at Museo de la Coca 

From coffee to coca, many Peruvians use the leaves of the coca plant as a traditional way to counteract the effects of altitude. Expect to be offered a cup of coca tea or the opportunity to try chewing coca leaves upon arriving in Cusco. Follow the history of the sacred plant at the Museo de la Coca, tucked away in San Blas square. Check out the coca-inspired artwork and learn more about how this plant has influenced the lives of indigenous populations throughout South America for centuries.


Find a piece that’s one of a kind  

You may not consider Peru to be a place for shopping but walking through the cobbled streets of Cusco, you’ll notice the number of beautiful handmade products available. Whether it’s a leather bag, boots, finely crafted silver jewellery or an alpaca poncho. Time can disappear wandering through the alleyways and tucked away market squares.

Local tip: Visit ‘El Sol’ Avenue called CTTC (Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco) for a selection of quality ponchos. The centre works with 10 weaving communities in the Cusco region.

Cusco, pisco, Peru

Image by Heather Kelly

Get out of town for half a day or take a tour locally  

Like many mountain towns, you’ll never run out of things to do in Cusco. Jump on a half-day tour to Moray, an archaeological site that takes crop circles to the next level. The site is made up of agricultural concentric terraces and has been used for centuries to control the temperature and grow a variety of plants.


Another option is a scenic walk visiting Cusco’s significant ruins: Tambomachay, Puka Pukara, Qeqgo and Sacsayhuaman. Had enough walking? You could try your hand at making a traditional Pisco sour, the national cocktail, at a workshop and tour in the bohemian area of Cusco.

Looking to fulfill your dream to see Machu Picchu? Check out Intrepid’s range of small group adventure tours to the famous site now. 

Feature image by Cliff Bielawski.

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Odysseus Solutions July 4, 2018 - 8:58 pm

He Jenna,

You have written a nice post.
If I’m going there and want to spend more time than do you have any suggestion where should I go to make my trip memorable?


Eldon Albertson July 2, 2018 - 11:32 am

Jenna. I visited Peru in 2012, being there from 20 May to 10 June. I wrote a 13 page narrative of my trip. I traveled by myself, using buses to make my way around the country. I had made hotel reservations beforehand. I did my bus reservations after I arrived. It was an extremely enjoyable trip. I was sick only once during my trip. That was in Cusco. After one day of downtime, I was back to my adventure. If you contact me by email, I can send you a copy of what I wrote. I think you would enjoy It. I was 72 at the time. Since then, I have traveled to Europe (a couple of times), India, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Cambodia, and China. As you see, I enjoy traveling. Eldon

Jenna Hoare July 3, 2018 - 11:40 am

Hi Eldon, thanks for sharing your adventures. That’s wonderful you had such a memorable experience and it sounds like you covered a lot of ground during your time in Peru! I travelled by myself while I was in South America as well. Such an amazing part of the world. Yes, there’s still so many countries to explore. Good luck with the rest of your endeavours! Jenna


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