Located high in the Andes, Cusco is one of the most culturally significant cities in Peru. Once the capital of the Inca empire, Cusco is surrounded by the Inca ruins (including Machu Picchu) which are scattered in the Andes circumscribing the city.
Cusco is a city that can be what you want it to be. Any traveler can find a myriad of things to do around Cusco Peru as per her or his own taste.
During the 20 days I explored Cusco, I was never bored. Sometimes I was hiking in the uninhabited mountain valleys near Cusco, at other days I was in the plaza drinking chicha morada and soaking in the sun, while some evenings I was admiring the rainbows behind the baroque cathedrals only to end up drinking at a fun bar, some mornings you could find me elbowing the locals in collectivos on the way to the sacred ruins, once I was chatting up with fun Dutch and Argentinians in a minibus that drove us to a town near Machu Picchu, and the rest of the times I was packing my bag to visit the Parque Nacional Manu in the Amazon forest or to a random hike that I fancied.
Cusco was an amazing place, guys. Though many people say that they didn’t like the city or found it too touristy, I enjoyed the fusion of the past and present that thrives in Cusco at every turn. From Spanish boulevards, to cozy coffee shops and chocolate cafes, to centuries-old cathedrals standing tall at the plaza, to nearby ancient palaces and temples to escape to, to colorful carnival rendezvous in the cobbled streets, to local artisanal markets selling alpaca souvenirs and exquisite stone and abalone jewelry, and to hip restaurants and fun bars — Cusco has it all.
But having listed the many things to see in Cusco, let me tell you that I absolutely winged my Cusco trip. I traveled to Cusco from Puno and hadn’t planned where I will go, what hikes I would do, or if I would even visit Machu Picchu, the royal Inca citadel that 1 million people visited in 2017.
Then this 5000-years-old city of Cusco started introducing itself to me on its own. I stayed at the DragonFly hostel, which was about a five minutes walk from the main plaza and made friends with a French and a Mexican girl there. Together we hung out cooking quinoa in the hostel, visiting the sacred valley together, or relaxing at the plaza. I also ended up going to both the Amazon and Machu Picchu from Cusco, alone.
I assume that after reading my detailed travel guides to South America, you are expecting a full-fledged Cusco travel guide. Though I am penning down a long Cusco travel post, I am also leaving out a lot of things up to you.
Why am I doing that?
Because Cuzco is unique. In contrast to cities like Uyuni which are dull, scruffy, and appear as blocks of concrete put together, Cuzco is a thoughtfully planned city, which civilizations as old as Incas have been designing. On one hand, you would see families hanging out at the plaza donning their most traditional attires, Peruvian ladies selling cherimoya on the stone pavements, and local markets that though cater to travelers still sounding and looking as chaotic as they must have at the beginning of the times. But in a split second, you would face tour guides haggling with you to show Machu Picchu in the best way, girls offering massages in and around the plaza, or a Peruvian woman walking around with a decorated llama asking you to pet her llama in exchange of money.
But somehow these inconveniences still failed to take away the charm of this high city. Yes, Cusco is at a height of 3,500 meters and will make you quite breathless.
So though I always write extremely detailed travel guides, (if you do not agree please check out my Chile, Peru, and Bolivia travel guides), I wish that you explore Cuzco the way you want to for the city offers a lot to travelers and each one of us can choose what we like. This article would be more about giving you the idea of places to visit in Cusco and things to do but I won’t go into extreme details of the exact cafe you should drink coffee at or where you should spend your afternoon ( it is not like I tell you where to spend your afternoon but you understand me, hopefully).
Here are some of the amazing things to do in Cusco, Peru.
1. Walk around the main square or Plaza del Arma of Cusco—
I hope you haven’t yet gotten bored of walking around the Plaza de Armas or the central square of South American cities. In Cusco, it is no different, and you won’t miss any carnivals or the popular walking tours if you just go to the plaza once a day. In Cusco, not one but two churches sit at the main plaza for you to explore. Standing side by side are the Cusco cathedral or Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin and the church of the company of the Jesus or the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús.
Cusco cathedral was once Kiswarkancha temple which was built by the popular Incan ruler Viracocha. But when Spanish invaded, they destroyed the temple, like many others, and built a baroque church over it which you know see as the Cusco cathedral. The company of Jesus church, which also stands on a destroyed Incan temple, is exquisite from inside and is covered in gold leaves and detailed wooden carvings.
You would also see the colonial stone arcades surrounding the plaza which are now stuffed with tour companies, restaurants, souvenir shops, and cafes.
If you like historical architecture, you should walk to the ruins of the Coricancha temple, a significant temple of the Sun God from the Incan times, and the convent of Santo Domingo that stands on it now. The ruins are only 600 meters away from the plaza. This temple was once covered in gold and gold statues filled its courtyard which was all looted by the Spanish conquistadores. But the stone walls that are a particularly impressive style of the Incas were taken into the church for they are robust, and no one knows till date how the Incas fitted the massive monoliths together without using any mortar.
Drink chicha morada at the plaza (a guy stands there with a cart and you can even ask him to fill your bottle), buy the precious stones including the amethyst at the plaza(from an old man who sells juices and snacks on a pushable cart and underneath holds a stone treasure), or just soak in the rich golden sun at this alive square.
2. Eat at the San Pedro market and shop in the Centro Artesenal Cusco—
I don’t know for how long have you been traveling in South America but irrespective of the time you have spent in the continent I am sure that you must have visited some of the local grocery and artisanal markets. San Pedro is your go-to market in Cusco if you want to see the authentic grocery shopping of the city and look at the colorful fruits and vegetables, drool at the cheeses, taste some chocolate, buy some purple corn, admire the colored potatoes, drink a fresh papaya juice or eat “aji de gallina” – a Peruvian chicken dish. Another less touristy market to eat is Wanchaq Market.
For your souvenir shopping, I suggest you go to the Centro Artesenal Cusco. Even though I am not a big shopper, I went to this huge complex (a few minutes walk down the main plaza) and was lost in the various colorful alpaca sweaters, stone and silver rings, beautiful bags and scarfs, and so much more that I cannot list it all.
If you are only visiting Peru on this trip then leave some room in your bag for some of the things there are really worth buying, and your purchase might help the local community, too.
You can also consider this night tour with pisco sour lessons and dinner to understand the city and its dining life from a local.
3. Enjoy a cultural festival in Cusco —
Cusco has a festival almost every month so it is hard that you don’t even see one parade when you are there. I happened to be in Cusco when the “happiness” Carnival is taken out on the streets of Cusco in full colors and glory. One morning, I walked to the plaza and stumbled onto this festival and what followed was half a day of dance and music by men, women, and children of all ages dressed up in the most colorful Andean clothes. Cars decorated with fruits followed along while community groups performed perfectly choreographed classic dances.
If you are in Cusco and happen to see one of these (indigenous, Catholic, or food) festivals, take out your camera, keep a check on your belongings, and enjoy the festivities. You can look at a list of the festivals held in Peru every year here.
4. Take a Peruvian cooking class when in Cuzco —
Taking a Peruvian cooking class is a must do activity in Peru.
I have written a lot about Peruvian food in my massive Peru travel guide so I won’t go into details but I will say that sometimes taking a cooking class is the best way to understand what goes into those dishes that make your palate dance. (Though I admit I have to do a lot more of these). Unlike many other South-American cuisines, Peruvian food is well-thought and rich in vegetables, spices, and nuts.
If you want to take a cooking class in a more local setting, Puno or Arequipa could be better. But as you will spend a lot of time in Cusco recuperating from hikes or acclimatizing to the altitude, you can use that time to prepare delicious and colorful aji de gallina or mango Pisco Sours – a yummy drink over whose copyrights both Chile and Peru fight. The class would mostly come along with a trip to the San Pedro market for purchasing ingredients. This class seems to be exactly what I am describing.
5. Wander in the sacred valley near Cusco —
The day you arrive in Peru, travel agents and tourists will start talking about Inca ruins and the sacred valley. I assume that you have read the introduction of this post, else please read the first few paragraphs or read my guide to backpacking in Peru which explains who were Incas and what do these ruins signify.
But if you still do not understand, let me repeat that Inca rules over a big empire in South America, before Spanish invaded the continent. Then Spanish took over, defeated the Incas, most of whom also died naturally due to smallpox, and colonized Latin America after destroying the palaces, temples, and cities of the Incan empire and the ones before them.
Cusco is the city with the most number of ruins, as it was the capital of the Inca empire in the 13th century until the 1500s when Spanish invaded. Incas lived in Cuzco and were supposed to build and expand the city of Cuzco as per the empire rules. Nobody knows how the huge stones that the Cusco city and all the ancient ruins are made of were quarried from the mountains and put together without any mortar to form these buildings that stand most of the time on the summits of tall peaks. And that is what makes these ruins special.
Historians predict that the lower temperatures of the Sacred Valley, also known as the Urubamba river valley for the river flows through the valley, must have encouraged the Incas to use it as a retreat from the cold Cusco city. The distance of the Cusco city from the valley is about 20 kilometers.
Some of the popular ruins of the valley are Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Moray, Maras Salt Mines, and Machu Picchu. Visiting these ruins make for some of the most historical things to do near Cusco.
Ollantaytambo — This is the town where the Incas once defeated the Spanish, it is also known as the royal city of emperor Pachacuti, and comprises of stone terraced roofs for crops built by cutting through the sprawling Urubamba valley. Many tourists now go to Ollantaytambo town for a day or two to stay and explore the sacred valley from there. Then they take the train to Machu Picchu.
Moray —Concentric agricultural terraces, seven levels to middle and then seven more until the bottom. Incas were agriculturally rich and used Moray as a crop laboratory for each level represented the geographical features of different regions of the valley. Though all the levels look the same and the whole thing looks like a green bowl, the temperature falls as much as 15 degrees from the top to the bottom. Geologists say that Incas tested their potato and maize seeds in this natural laboratory and understood how the crop behaved in each region as the sunlight and rainfall changed. (do see the beautiful purple corn in Peruvian markets and the 4000 different varieties of potatoes.)
Pisac —A town famous for its Sunday souvenir market, but more for the Incan fortress that is perched on a high hill and overlooks the town below and the perfectly carved rice terraces cutting through the valley surrounding the town.
Maras Salt Mines— Cascading salt pools that fall down the hill slopes of the Andes mountains to form a network of terraced salt roofs on the mountains. I couldn’t go there but I recommend you see Maras for the whole chemistry of the things is mind-blowing.
Except for Machu Picchu, you need to buy a ticket also known as boleto touristico to enter most of these ruins. I talk about the Boleto at the end of this article. You can choose between the full and partial versions of the tickets depending on how many and which ruins you want to see.
To visit these ruins you can take separate collectives or buses from Cuzco. I would suggest you ask your hostel for the best place to board the collectivo or the bus near you. As you can see, Ollantaytambo was far, and we first took a bus to Moray, explored Moray, and then took another bus to Ollantaytambo. For Pisac, I went by the local bus with two other friends.
You can also take a tour with a local guide who would explain the history of the ruins, and everything will make more sense(saying from experience). Here is a six-hour Moray and Maras salt mines tour on which you also get to drive quad bikes. Or you can go for a full-day sacred valley tour on which you will see Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Chinchero village.
Please note: Although I am a DIY traveler, I am suggesting these tours because commuting in the sacred valley was hard as mostly only taxis functioned between some ruins. Also, having a guide really helped at the historic places else you only look around and don’t understand much. So the combined price of the taxis, buses, and guides would add up to be more than a pre-booked tour. If you are like me – who find the hassle of finding it all the best part of the DIY activities, don’t take a tour. But if you are not, don’t shy away from booking one and taking it easy.
6. Go to Machu Picchu on your own or book a hiking trail —
Machu Picchu, the royal city of the Incas, is situated close to Cusco in the Urubamba valley and is the reason why most people visit Peru. Though I will soon publish a do-it-yourself guide to Machu Picchu, let me tell you that you can go up to Machu Picchu by as many as 14 different ways. Update – My do-it-yourself guide to Machu Picchu for 2020.
Some of them are popular such as the short and the classic Inca trail, an organized or do-it-yourself Salkantay trek, a completely-planned tour, or by first taking a train to the Aguas Calientes and then either taking a bus to the top of walking up.
I took a bus to Hydro Electrica (a town near Machu Picchu), then walked along a railway line to reach Aguas Calientes(the nearest boarding and lodging to Machu Picchu), stayed for a night, and then hiked up the more than 3,500 stairs the next day. This was one of the cheapest and adventurous ways.
Book the Inca trail beforehand, if you are interested, for only 500 people are allowed on the trail per day. But the tickets to Machu Picchu itself are available until a few days before, and you can buy them in Cusco.
Now some guided help: If you are going on your own, you can book a two-hour guided tour where you get to know the history of Machu Picchu from here. But if you want to get into a comfortable tour that takes you from Cusco via a train, bus, and the guide and tickets are included, consider this one. Or if you are visiting on your own but also don’t want to walk the 4000 stairs from Aguas Calientes to the top of Machu Picchu, both ways, get bus tickets here.
The ones who are interested in doing the long hikes can look at the Lares trek. (I was not able to find GetYourGuide tours for Inca or other trails.)
7. Can’t go to Iquitos? Visit the Manu National Park in the Amazon jungle —
You don’t necessarily go to Amazon from Cusco but it is an option otherwise why would tour companies thrust the Visit-the-Amazonas pamphlets in your face all along the Cusco squares. While most people think that Iquitos is the only way to dive into the deep Amazonas, which covers half of the Peruvian land, Cusco is also a gateway to the Manu National park, part of the Amazon forest.
Manu National park is fairly deep inside the jungle as you drive for a day to arrive at the city of Puerto Maldonado, which is the base to explore the park. Consider this option of exploring the Amazonas if you cannot go to Iquitos (maybe you don’t have the time or don’t want to fly so far).
When I was in the national park along with three other travelers on a guided tour that I booked in Cusco, we spotted many poisonous snakes, colorful frogs, exquisite owls, eagles, and birds, and watched a rainbow of macaws eating clay in the early morning.
I went to the Amazon in February when the rain is beating down on entire Peru which killed my chances of seeing the big cats and many other animals, but we did see the footsteps of a mother and baby leopard near our huts when we were leaving the jungle on the last day. That’s close, eh?
To book the Amazon tour walk to the many travel shops near the plaza and book after comparing the prices. I also asked many questions about the guides, the animals we might spot, and how deep we would go. And only paid for the tour when the company convinced me that the guides were well-trained and professional.
8. Visit the secret Templo de La Luna or the Moon temple near Cuzco, Perú (one of the best things to do in Cusco)—
A travel friend of mine told me about this secluded temple near Cuzco, and he said that not many people visit it. On the five-six days he went there, the temple and the surrounding hills were peaceful and there were no tourists. As hiking alone in the mountains could have been dangerous, one day I took my hosel girlfriend along, plonked into a bus, and arrived at the Templo de La Luna.
When we got down from the bus, we asked someone for the directions to the temple, walked for a little, and found some carvings on a hilltop. Though by that time I was quite bored by exploring ruins(hey I had been doing it for months), so I focused on the Andes landscapes and oh my, that was some scenery.
Miles and miles of Andean trails to be explored, a few thatched huts on the hillsides with women working in the terraced roofs, dogs running freely, water streams gently flowing, and an open blue sky to rest under. I frolicked around in the pastures for hours, crossed the streams naked feet, had a picnic with my girlfriend, talked to the locals, and ran around like little girl.
This is one of the best day trips from Cusco you can take(but sshh). Here is a beautiful guide that someone has written to arrive at the temple.
9. Chill at the intriguing cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants in the colonial arcades —
Cute coffee shops, chocolate boutiques, and restaurants surround the plaza. Some are on the second and third floor of the plaza arcade while some are in the streets that run parallel and perpendicular to the plaza. Find yourself some good coffee and chocolate and local Peruvian food (Cusco even has some great Indian restaurants) for Peru makes great coffee and chocolate.
10. Take a free Cusco city tour from Plaza de Armas —
I discovered these free city tours in Arequipa for the first time. You can walk to the central square, wait for a Peruvian tour guide while snacking up on local treats, and when the guide turns up, follow him obediently and he will show you the historical and fun places of the city. I generally take a free tour, if available, during the first two days of arriving in a city so that I understand the place and can then decide what I want to do.
Cusco has a free city tour lasting for about three hours and you can figure out about it from your hostel or just ask at the tourist information center or go here. The tour guide expects a tip at the end, so the tour is not completely free but still worth it for this tour will also give you a good idea of what to see in Cusco city at your own time.
Or you can pre-book this six-hour city tour with a local guide by GetYourGuide if you want to be sure about the dates.
11. Enjoy the Cuzco nightlife —
Cusco city is where the modern blends with the traditional for when the young of Cusco people work at hotels or restaurants during the day, they drink and party at night, even on weekdays. I am that girl who wanders all day long and gets tired by the night but only on days when I don’t laze around in the day reading at the plaza or writing in my room.
One day in Cusco I went to a pub at night and danced with my girlfriends. The pubs were decent, and the music was nice. The cool pubs are all around the main plaza but some secure and fun ones to go drinking and dancing are Mama Africa, Inka Team and Mythology, The Temple, Mushrooms, Norton’s Rat Taverns.
Do you know that some of these pubs even give free salsa classes at night?
Or if you are not the dancing type, go have a beer at Paddy’s Irish Pub.
12. Explore the ruins of Sacsayhuaman and mirador Cristo Blanco —
I know more ruins. Let me keep this short.
These ruins are about 8 kilometers away from Cusco. You can take a taxi or get on the bus going to Pisac and get off at Tambomachay. I spent a few hours there, hired a lady guide, and walked back while enjoying the magnificent views of the city of Cusco from above. You can also take any bus going to Cusco while on your way back. The entry is covered in boleto touristico. Cristo Blanco is a Christ statue perched above a hill just next to the Sacsayhuaman which just comes out of the mouth like “sexy woman.”
The best part of these ruins was walking back to the town for me and the views of Cusco. You can make a day of it by hiking both ways.
An Insider Tip: Walk up to a nearby hill or a popular mirador (viewpoint) to see the city of Cusco from the top. Or you will also get to see the whole city from Cristo Blanco or while walking back from Sacsayhuaman. You won’t regret the walk for the views will keep getting better.
13. Do some unusual treks in the Andes, not necessarily ending at Machu Picchu —
To name a few – Choquequirao Trek, Vilcabamba Trek, Ausangate trek, Rainbow mountain hike, or an alternative to the Rainbow mountain. Peru is a land of mountains, and Cusco is a great place to start a hike.
You can also find a long but good hiking tour to the popular Rainbow mountain near Cusco here. You will hike with local guides and local breakfast and lunch are included.
14. Some other things to do in Cusco Peru if you have the time —
You can go to the various museums in Cuzco. Some of the good ones are Museo Histórico Regional de Cuzco, Museo Quechua or the Quechua Museum – for Quechua culture, Inka Museum – for you know what, Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cuzco or Center of the Traditional Textiles of Cusco — to understand the clothing industry of Cusco and shop, and ChocoMuseo – to understand the chocolate production. If you are interested in art, Cusco has awesome art museums and two art galleries.
Cusco planetarium is another place you can stop by at night to see the stars. Remember Cuzco is high up in the Andes, and we know the connection between stars and the mountains. Incas predicted the entire calendars based on the movements of stars and planets.
Go to the Almudena cemetery and see how the people in Cusco put the dead to rest by putting their pictures in the cemetery along with the member’s favorites such as Inca cola, biscuits, and cigarettes among flowers and other traditional things.
If you are adventurous, you can also bungee jump, do river rafting or zip lining near Cusco.
You ask for it, Cusco has it.
What is the best time to travel to Cusco Peru?
As Peru received heavy downpour during the months of December to March, the best time to visit Cusco if you want to do the hikes is from May to September. But these are winter months, and Cusco will get cold as it is at an altitude of 3,500 meters. So carry woolen clothes (or buy in Peru) and thick jackets.
I went to Cusco in March and loved the Peruvian monsoon. But it was definitely a bit more difficult to hike in the countryside and also spotting animals in Amazon would be tricky.
An Insider Tip: The Inca festival of Sun or the Inti festival, a week of music and dance through Cusco streets, is in June. Do check out the celebration if you are traveling to Cusco at that time.
How long to stay in Cusco?
Some travelers visit Cusco for a few months, some travel to Cusco for a few weeks, a few come to Cusco for a few days and think of it as an escape to the nearby ruins, and some settle in Cusco.
The time you spent in Cusco depends on how much time you have and what you like to do.
I was traveling in Cusco for two weeks and could have easily stayed for one more as there are so many things to do in Cusco on your own. But even in two weeks, I managed to do a lot. The extra one or two weeks would be to go for a Salkantay trek, and the rest one week to eat and relax in the Cusco city.
How to get to Cusco Peru?
If you travel from Lima to Cusco, you can take a 90-minutes flight or sit in a 23-hour-long bus ride. If you get headaches at high altitudes, the bus journey might get a bit messy for many people get dizzy or nauseated while approaching Cusco in a twisty-curvy bus raising towards an altitude of almost 3,500 meters. But I understand that taking a bus might be the only option if you do not want to spend extra on the flight tickets. Though various airlines run the Lima-Cusco route and have tickets as cheap as 50 USD. Do check the flights on Skyscanner and see the best deal. But there are no international flights to Cusco.
Or if you have the time or if you are on a strict budget and want to travel to Cusco by bus while avoiding falling sick, board a bus, hop-off at Huacachina or the Colca Canyon/Arequipa in between and go to Cusco later. The journey would be thus divided into parts and will give you time to acclimatize. There is also a direct bus to Cusco from Lima which takes 23 hours. You can also take a night bus from Arequipa to Cusco.
The buses drop you at the bus station Terminal Terrestre, which is three kilometers from the Plaza del Armas or a 12-minute taxi drive away. You can book a bus while RedBus, and the buses are amazing in Peru. PeruHop is the more tourist assured way of traveling, but PeruHop is expensive and I mostly used Cruz del Sur and was pretty comfortable.
I took a bus from Puno to Cusco and enjoyed the views. I love bus journeys and never face the altitude sickness problems so I always board the bus no matter how long the journey is.
What is the best way of traveling within Cusco city?
Uber, local taxis, collectivos (shared taxis), and buses all carry hundreds of passengers every day around Cusco. Collectivos are for longer journeys else you will have the frequent trouble of conveying in Spanish where you want to go and where you want to get down et cetera.
Taxis are known to be generally safe in Cusco, and I didn’t hear any cases of abduction or other notorious things for Cusco taxis that people say about taxis in Latin America. That said, always make sure you don’t take a taxi alone late at night. If you have to, maybe call an Uber. Most of the time your hotel or hostel can also hook you up with a trusted taxi.
Must Read: Latin-American Spanish guide – All important phrases and words that you would ever need in South America.
Where to stay in Cusco?
Cusco has all kinds of places to stay ranging from affordable and expensive homestays, hostels, hotels, resorts, and Airbnb. I stayed at many hostels in Cuzco because every time I came back from the sacred valleys and Machu Picchu or the Amazons to the DragonFly hostel, I never got a room or a bed for the hostel was entirely booked beforehand. Guys, Cuzco gets really busy so make sure you book two-three nights in advance, always. Or else you would be shuttling between hostels at night with a rucksack on your back trying to find yourself a bed to sleep (not that I mind).
I loved my stay at DragonFly. The hostel provided breakfast, internet, hot showers, a bar, and a good common area to hang out. The dorm rooms were comfortable. You can book your stay at the Dragonfly here.
Here is the general list of places to stay on Booking which included some really nice hostels, hotels, and homestays. Choose a place near the plaza (works in all South-American cities), with breakfast, and internet.
Though I didn’t stay at any Airbnb, when I check now I see that Airbnb has beautiful apartments right in the center of the city for as cheap as 10 USD a day. Check out Airbnb apartments and use my invitation link to get a discount of about USD 40 on your first trip.
Where to eat in Cusco?
I have already written a lot about cafes and restaurants and the local markets of Cusco. I will not repeat, but let me tell you a few general things about food in Cusco.
You will never fall short of food in Cusco. Many local eating joints offer a set menu, which includes soup, a main course of chicken or some other meat, and a drink, for 3 to 8 soles. The main course generally includes fried fish or chicken, fried bananas on top of the fish, quinoa soup, and rice or bread. Drink mostly would be a chicha morada, a tangy juice made out of purple corn after adding pineapple or other fruits, lime, cinnamon, and cloves.
For specific Peruvian dishes, please refer to my massive guide to Peru where I describe each dish in detail. Here it is.
Enjoy Peruvian food.
Do you need to buy the Boleto Touristico Cusco?
Boleto Turistico is a combined ticket that allows entry to many historical sites within and nearby Cusco.
I bought this tourist ticket because I wanted to visit quite a few ruins and the entry to those places were included in the Boleto Touristico. Though the ticket isn’t cheap, it does give you a combined entry to many of the ruins. You can’t buy this ticket online on any official website. The full ticket costs 130 soles, and the price of the ticket for students is 70 soles. There are 3 main circuits or collection of sites that the ticket allows entry to— the full ticket allows entry to all the 3 circuits and is valid for ten days. Then further three partial tickets give entry to each one of the partial circuits. The partial tickets cost 70 soles each and are valid for one or two days only. Choose as per where you want to go.
Here is an image to show you what is included in each circuit.
You can buy boleto touristico on the tourist information center at Avenida El Sol 103 or at the first attraction you visit.
Please note- Maras Salt Mines and Machu Picchu are not included in the boleto turistico.
What to pack for Cusco?
- Warm jackets for men and for women.
- A rain jacket
- Yoga pants for women and for men – For hiking around the Andes around Cusco.
- Hiking socks for women and for men.
- A hat for the sun – Too much direct sun at those heights isn’t good while hiking.
- Strong sunscreen – Andean mountains can be pretty sunny, and you would burn in a minute
- Lifestraw water bottle – This reusable filtered water bottle comes with an inbuilt filter, and you can fill it anywhere. A filter water bottle is essential for you cannot drink tap water everywhere in Peru.
- Good hiking shoes for women and good hiking shoes for men – A must-have.
- Flip flops
- A travel towel – Carry a light travel towel like this one for it will save you a lot of space.
- A day hiking backpack – As there are plenty of places to walk around Cusco, you would definitely need a sturdy backpack to take for the day with you. I used to stuff this day pack with basic medicines, rain jacket, water bottle, bananas, wallet, power bank, and other essentials.
- Altitude sickness pills
- Regular use clothes such as shirts and t-shirts
These are the most important things you would need on your Cusco trip. For a detailed list of things to bring to Peru, please see my Peru travel guide.
Excited to visit Cusco now?
Follow Up Reads:
- Planning South America travel – A complete guide
- Best places to visit in Peru – Along with the best things to do
Did you enjoy my travel guide to Cusco, Peru? Let me know in the comments.
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