Viewpoints of Cusco – 5 options before the trip to Machu Picchu

Cusco is one of the favorite destinations for many tourists. One of the main reasons is that to get to Machu Picchu you have to pass through this place. The activities in Cusco are multiple and can be done before or after visiting the wonder of the world. It is for that reason, that today we want to talk about a somewhat different activity because, it can be done in different ways such as moving on foot or taking public or private transport. The viewpoints of Cusco allow an afternoon of fun and is even ideal for a short walk as a couple or with friends. Let’s learn more about the main viewpoints of Cusco.

Sacsayhuaman Inca fortress

The viewpoints of Cusco

Santa Ana hill

Cusco, more than 500 years ago was the capital of one of the most important civilizations of humanity. Today, thanks to the particularity of its constructions, different viewpoints can be observed. The Inca culture managed to expand from Cusco to the north and reach the current territories of Ecuador and Colombia and to the south to Bolivia, Chile and even Argentina. In this sense it was a city of great dimensions. Something that characterized them greatly was the construction of terraces so that the most important buildings were built in high areas.

This particularity, allowed us to have incredible views of the city today. The Spaniards, unlike the Incas, preferred to build on flat land, so the center of the city began to develop in the lowlands. As can be seen today, the presence of the mountains was left aside to expand the city to the south. Leaving the past behind, today we can find beautiful views of all of Cusco, although as in the case of Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu, there are beautiful landscapes where the presence of nature expressed in the flow of the river, the green valleys and the exclusive views of the mountain range is highlighted.

In this blog we want to talk about the viewpoints of Cusco, these are an incredible option or alternative for people who have just arrived in Cusco or for those who will say goodbye. It is also highly recommended for those who have already toured the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Because they will better understand everything we mentioned because the Inca citadels were built on the tops of the mountains. Most of the viewpoints that we will visit have a close relationship with ancient Inca constructions and even of predecessor cultures. Also, it is worth mentioning that all of them have vehicle access. It is even possible to reach these destinations economically, thanks to public transportation. However, a safer option may be to make the trip by cab or private vehicle.

Also mention that we will prioritize some aspects of its history or details that occurred in the current viewpoints of Cusco. We also want to talk about the importance of visiting this place, where we will comment on the reasons for visiting the viewpoints. We will learn more about the viewpoints of San Cristobal, the viewpoint of Santa Ana, among others. We will also see the case of a viewpoint that probably served the same purpose during the heyday of Sacsayhuaman. So let’s start by answering the following question.

Why go to the viewpoints of Cusco?

Monument of White Christ – Cusco

When visiting the main viewpoints of Cusco we can find several reasons. However, we believe that the main reason to visit these options is simply to make the most of your stay in Cusco, your vacation or the trip itself. We are fortunate that Cusco is a safe city and that it is possible to do several activities on foot normally. Below, we leave you more reasons for more people to visit the viewpoints.

Beautiful views – Cusco is a really beautiful destination, the syncretism of Andean and Spanish culture can be seen in different aspects of the city. Something that characterizes Cusco is that most of the buildings still have the colonial style, that is, they were roofed with handmade tiles. This offers a beautiful view from any of the viewpoints. You can also see the Main Square and the imposing Cathedral of Cusco. In case you make the ascent at night, the city lights decorate the tranquility of the viewpoints.

To know historical details – As we mentioned some of the viewpoints are closely linked to Inca constructions. By taking the tour you can learn historical details of Sacsayhuaman, the viewpoint of San Cristobal and other enclosures that we will detail later. The viewpoints of Cusco have really interesting data that allows you to learn more about the history of Cusco and the ancient inhabitants of the Tawantinsuyo or Inca empire. All this we will specify in their corresponding sections.

These are economic destinations – A little known factor of the viewpoints is that they are usually inexpensive destinations, especially the viewpoints. Four of our options are completely free and only two of them charge entrance fees. However, we may have the possibility of additional tours. As, for example, other services such as the option of a brief guided tour through multimedia museums where important information is provided. While the other destinations are completely free of charge. The only cost will be transportation or in the best case scenario to get there on foot. All are located very close to the Main Square.

The viewpoints of Cusco, has an easy accessibility – Thanks to the urbanization of these places, it is possible to reach all of them with transportation. The most economical option is to travel by public transportation, but it is also possible to arrive on foot or by private cab services. You can even tour the viewpoints with some agencies that offer this tour. You can also guide you with applications such as Google Maps that will show you the best routes to get there with peace of mind.

Ideal for a pleasant acclimatization – Finally, we can say that these simple routes do not require a great physical effort and will allow you to have an ideal activity to acclimatize. This will be useful because it is ideal for those who have just arrived in Cusco and come from places or geographical areas close to the sea. This geographical change can cause some discomfort such as headaches. Therefore, visiting the viewpoints will allow you to have one more option to acclimatize.

San Cristóbal viewpoint

Views from the temple of San Cristóbal

This first option is one of the traditional viewpoints of Cusco. We say this because since the formation of colonial Cusco, it began to have an important value. Even much earlier. It is understood that during the Inca Empire, the panaca of the first Inca was distributed throughout this sector. According to chronicles and anthropologists, the first Inca was Manco Capac. In this sense, it can be estimated that the temple of veneration of this Inca could be found there. Surely his cult was one of the most important during the Inca Empire.

At present, the San Cristóbal viewpoint is located in the neighborhood of the same name. A curious fact is that from the Main Square of Cusco you can see the entire Temple of San Francisco, where the viewpoint is located. This viewpoint and temple have the same name and in the case of the temple or church, at present, houses one of the most important saints for the citizens of Cusco. This saint is quite venerated and is part of the saints that take to the streets during the Corpus Christi.

From this viewpoint you can appreciate with greater emphasis every detail of the Cathedral and the Church of the Company. In this sense, it is possible to have a better view of the entire Main Square of Cusco and how the streets are formed in a straight line. During the night it also offers a beautiful view of Cusco at night. The way to get there is simple, it is recommended to make the walk from the Main Square to also appreciate the 7 borreguitos street and other peculiar streets. Another more comfortable option is to arrive by cab or with the public transportation companies Ttio la Florida, Correcaminos, C4M, Batman, Expreso Zorro, Liebre and Pegaso. The cost is only 1 PEN.

The Corpus Christi.
It is a Catholic festival, but in Cusco it achieved a syncretism with ancient traditions of the Inca Empire. That is why from different churches and temples throughout Cusco go out 60 days after Easter Sunday. That is, at the end of Holy Week. The Corpus Christi in Cusco has the particularity that it is very different from other celebrations precisely because of the presence of the Saints and Virgins that walk through the streets, accompanied by dancers and musicians.

Sacsayhuamán viewpoint

Sacsayhuaman, one of the Inca fortresses of the Cusco

It is a viewpoint that surely many did not notice. Especially those who made the tours without an agency. The viewpoint of Sacsayhuaman is very close to the archaeological site, in addition, it is part of the whole enclosure. Although it seems to be slightly farther away. It can also lead to confusion because there are two viewpoints in this enclosure. One of them is located at a considerable distance. While the other is very close to where the towers were found. These towers were used to better appreciate the puma shape that Cusco had during the Inca period.

The easiest and cheapest way to get there is through the company Transporte Sr. Huanca. These buses will leave you very close to the place at a comfortable price. It is also possible to get there walking, but it will be quite a heavy climb. To enter Sacsayhuaman it is necessary to carry the Cusco 1 Tourist Ticket, that will allow the entrance to Tambomachay, Qenqo and other places. Of course, for this you will need a private transportation to not do the tour with tranquility. The cost of this ticket is 70 soles for foreigners and 40 for national tourists.

White Christ viewpoint

View from the White Christ viewpoint

It is likely that more than one has been able to appreciate the figure of the White Christ when arriving at Sacsayhuaman or leaving Cusco towards the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This monument is located in the Pukamoqo mountain and has an approximate altitude of 3600 masl. So it offers a spectacular view of all of Cusco, that is, you can see much of the downtown area and even appreciate in the distance the exit to the South Valley. It is ideal to arrive with a private transport in couple or with friends to have a pleasant moment in the tranquility of the place.

The monument of the White Christ was a donation from the Arab-Palestinian colony. The sculpture was finished in 1945. The artist in charge of this work was the Cusquenian sculptor Ernesto Olazo Allende. Due to its location, it is also possible to appreciate part of Sacsayhuamán since they are very close. If you decide to walk to the site, it is recommended to follow Hatunrumiyoc Street, where the Stone of 12 angles is located. You will arrive at the San Blas neighborhood, where you will continue until you reach the main avenue and continue along it to the left. The approximate distance is 1.5 kilometers on an ascending road. The average time is approximately one hour.

Santa Ana viewpoint

Santa Ana arc viewpoint

It is a place quite similar to the San Cristobal viewpoint, just as the Mirador de Santa Ana is also located in a traditional neighborhood of Cusco. The Mirador de Santa Ana allows you to appreciate Cusco from another perspective. There are many who mention that the entire city of Cusco is better visualized. Since it allows to appreciate, practically the whole city. In addition, it is quite close to the Main Square. The walking time is only 20 minutes, although it is 1.1 kilometer away, it is easier to walk because only the climb is presented in the last part of the walk.

The Santa Ana viewpoint is completely free and as we saw it is easy to get there. Therefore, we recommend walking to get there. The neighborhood of Santa Ana, on the other hand, has an urban distribution typical of the Inca period. It has narrow streets and some of them have stone walls as can be seen in the Historic Center. You can also find a pleasant square decorated with a fountain with water fountains and lights. The spectacle of seeing the city of Cusco from the viewpoint of Santa Ana, can be seen during the day or at night.

Pachacutec viewpoint

Pachacutec Monument

Probably the viewpoint of Pachacutec, is closer to the Main Square and do not have to make great efforts to get there. Walking from the historic center of Cusco is about 15 to 20 minutes. Depending on the pace at which you travel, getting to this place by cab or public transport is also easy. You only have to go down the Avenido el Sol. The stop or final point is in the Ovalo Pachacutec, precisely the viewpoint is located there and is named for the presence of the monument.

The monument is located on top of a tower. Inside you can find a small museum. You can also find some multimedia rooms with a lot of information about this important Inca and the history of Cusco. The viewpoint as such does not offer panoramic views of all of Cusco, but it does offer beautiful views of the streets and other places. This destination is special and requires a cost that will not exceed 5 PEN. Now that you know more about the viewpoints of Cusco, decide to know more destinations and visit them accompanied by your partner, along with a camera and the best aptitude to have beautiful memories.


By Imachupicchu – Last updated, March 19, 2024

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