Spend one day exploring the city of Cuzco, starting with an early jugo (fruit juice) in Mercado San Pedro, then getting cultural with some of the city’s many museums. Museo Quijote and the Museo Histórico Regional are highly recommended for fine art; El Museo de Arte Popular andMuseo Irq’i Yachay for folksy art; and the Museo Inka for preconquest Peruvian artifacts. After lunch, gawk at the most imposing relics left by the Incas and the Spanish conquistadors, respectively, at Qorikancha and La Catedral (opposite). At 6:45pm check out the nightly music and dance show at the Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo (opposite). The next day, get up early and board a train to Machu Picchu , Peru’s most renowned ancient site.
Follow the Cuzco day of the two-day itinerary. On the second day join a ‘backdoor’ or ‘Inca jungle’ alternative tour to Machu Picchu. Spend the day descending by mountain bike to the cloud forest frontier town of Santa Teresa, then soaking in its 24-hour hot springs. On Day 3, get up early and hike to Machu Picchu . Spend the night in Aguas Calientes , then catch the train to ancient, cobbled Ollantaytambo . There’s still time to take local buses to the spectacular salt pans ofSalinas (p263) on the way back to Cuzco.
Follow the Cuzco day of the two-day itinerary. On the second day, follow the walking tour up through arty San Blas to the impressive fortress of Sacsaywamán. Flag down local buses to the nearby ruins of Tambomachay , Q’enqo andPukapukara. On the third day, start trekking the spectacular, rugged Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu.