While Lima claims its own share of historical sites, it’s more contemporary, whereas Cuzco is more traditional. Andean culture and its influences appear in everything Cuzco, from food to how locals dress in colorful knits. Additionally, it serves as the jump-off point for Peru’s Sacred Valley, which includes Machu Picchu.
You’ll get the best views of the one-time capital of the Incan empire from the cluster of ruins at Sacsayhuamán. Be prepared for the most dizzying altitudes of the trip in Cuzco, though—it’s even higher up here than at Machu Picchu. Keep chomping on coca leaves and sucking down coca tea, since they fight altitude sickness, and you'll be pretty high. And yes, coca is the same stuff cocaine's made from, but you won't actually be getting high from leaves or tea. You'll be "high" as in altitude-wise, silly.