Highlights of Cuzco
All of the guidebooks and travel blogs that I came across, mentioned that you need to acclimatize yourself to the altitude by staying in Cuzco. Coming from a rather high elevation at home, we only noticed difficulty when running.
But honestly, even without the need for acclimatization...Cuzco is a charming city and definitely worth spending at least a day.
We booked a flight from Lima into Cuzco and arrived in the late afternoon. One thing that I really appreciated about our stay in Peru, was that every city we went, someone from our accommodations met us at the airport or train station.
Waiting for us at the Cuzco airport was a driver from our hotel. We stayed at the Orquidea Real Hostal (www.orquida.net). The room was rustic, but suited our needs. Breakfast was also provided in a room that overlooked the city. If returning to Cuzco, I'd stay there again.
After checking in and freshening up, we spent the evening by walking just a few blocks to the Plaza de Armas, Cuzco's central square surrounded by colonial arcades and churches. Following our induction into Cuzco's atmosphere, we had the most incredible dinner at Marcela Batata (located at Palacio 121 - the street behind La Catedral on Plaza de Armas). We all tried a different Peruvian specialty, and each dish was equally delicious. If you're feeling like really experiencing the local cuisine...order the alpaca tenderloin.
We awoke the next morning to head to the tourist office to purchase our entry tickets for Machu Picchu. You'll need your passport for this step. At the time of my trip in 2013, purchasing tickets online was not recommended. Check to see if their system has improved...you might have a better chance of securing a ticket to also climb Wayna Picchu in advance.
We successfully obtained our general entry tickets and went off to explore more of Cuzco. I wish we would have taken the opportunity to explore more outside of Cuzco, but you live, you learn. We wandered the Mercado San Pedro, Iglesia y Monasterio de Santa Catalina, and found ourselves in the local food market.
We had another delightful dinner at Inka Grill, right on the Plaza de Armas. I highly recommend the beef saltado.
With a morning train to Aquas Calientes, that ended our time in Cuzco. The train station from central Cuzco, was just a cheap taxi ride away.