Walking Tour: Cuzco

  • Start Plaza de Armas
  • End Saqsaywamán
  • Length 4km; three hours

Start from the stunning Plaza de Armas, stroll up Calle del Medio and head southwest across Plaza Regocijo. On your left, a beautiful building, once a hotel, houses restaurants and chic boutiques. Head up Calle Garcilaso, named for the Inca chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, whose childhood home now houses the Museo Histórico Regional. It sits amid colonial mansions – Hotel los Marqueses is particularly stunning.

On Sundays, Quechua-speaking country folk meet in Plaza San Francisco. Drop in to the church and museum of San Francisco if you’re so inclined. Past the colonial archway is the church and convent of Santa Clara. If it’s open, peek inside at the mirrors, used in colonial times to entice curious indigenous people into the church for worship.

Just beyond is the bustling Mercado San Pedro. Order a juice at one of the many stalls, then step out onto Calle Nueva and follow to Av El Sol opposite the Palacio de Justicia, a big white building with llamas mowing the back garden. Head up Maruri and take a left into Loreto, a walkway with Inca walls on both sides. The west wall belongs to Amaruqancha (Courtyard of the Serpents). The east wall is one of the best and oldest in Cuzco, belonging to the Acllahuasi (House of the Chosen Women). Postconquest, it became part of the closed convent of Santa Catalina.

Loreto returns you to the Plaza de Armas. Turn right up Triunfo (signposted as Sunturwasi) and across Palacio into Hatunrumiyoc, another alley named after the 12-sided stone. This belongs to a wall of the palace of the sixth inca, Roca, which now houses the Museo de Arte Religioso.

Hatunrumiyoc ends at Choquechaca. From here it’s only a short puff up to Plaza San Blas, Cuzco’s bohemian HQ. Head left along Tandapata for the classic cobblestone experience. Inca irrigation channels run down ancient stairways, and rock carvings adorn walls and stones in the path.

If you wish, forge uphill to Saqsaywamán.