With a commanding spot at the center of the city, the Plaza de Armas is perhaps the best point from which to start exploring the city. From here you can access all of the Cuscoâ€™s major attractions, which spread out across the city along all four points of the compass. Within the Plaza de Armas you will find the Portal de Panes, Cusco Cathedral, Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, Chapel of El SeĂ±or de los Temblores, Museo Inka, and Iglesia de la CompaĂ±Ăa de JesĂşs.
Following CallejĂłn Loreto to the west of the Plaza de Armas will bring you to the spectacular stone walls of ancient Acclahuasi, or Temple of the Sun Virgins, where the Spanish built the Convent of Santa Catalina in 1610. Today about thirty sisters continue to live and worship here; inside is the Museo de Arte y Monasterio de Santa Catalina.
Southeast from the convent, at the intersection of Avenida El Sol and Calle Santa Domingo, is the complex of Qoricancha Templo del Sol and Santo Domingo, a wonderful example of the cityâ€™s characteristic mix of Spanish and Inca cultures. Within three minuteâ€™s walk of this architectural amalgamation is the Museo de Sitio Qoricancha, which offers an interesting display of various archeological artifacts.
To the southwest of the Plaza de Armas are the Iglesia y Convento de la Merced and the Plaza de San Francisco, where you will find the Museo y Convento de San Francisco. Further to the south is the Central Market, which is known for its quality alpaca goods and antique textiles. Another area of interest lies near the Plaza Regocijo, just a block southwest of the Plaza de Armas. In the southwest corner of the plaza stands the Museo HistĂłrico Regional, the residence of a prolific half-Inca, half-Spanish poet and author, and now the home to pre-Inca ceramics, Inca artifacts and numerous examples of Cuscoâ€™s historic art.
If youâ€™re in need of a drink but donâ€™t want to stray too far, then follow Calle Santa Teresa from Plaza Regocijo to the House of the Pumas, a small cafĂ© whose entrance sports six pumas carved by the Spanish during the rebuilding of Cusco. Not far from the cafĂ© is the Iglesia de Santa Teresa, which features beautiful paintings of St. Teresa, usually illuminated by candlelight.
Wander northeast of the Plaza de Armas, along Calle CĂłrdoba del TucmĂˇn, and youâ€™ll stumble across Plaza Nazarenas, a small and quiet section of town that boasts the Chapel of San Antonio Abad, Museo de CerĂˇmica, and Museo Taller Hilario Mendivil. This area also has four other important attractions: the Museo de Arte Religioso, Hathun Rumiyoq, the most famous Inca passageway in the city; and Iglesia San Blas and San Blas, a bustling artisan neighborhood whose steep cobblestone streets offer fantastic views of the city.
NOTE: Whether or not you plan to visit all the attractions in Cusco, it is worth purchasing the Cusco Tourist Ticket (Boleto TurĂstico), which covers many of the historic museums and ruins in the Cusco area.