Best Free Things to Do in Cusco
Cusco (Cuzco or Qosq’o) is the mountain city in Peru, which is nowadays best known as the gateway to Machu Picchu, was once upon a time the very center of the Inca Empire. Being the oldest constantly inhabited city in the Americas, Cusco offers many wonders to be explored and enjoyed. Nevertheless, visiting this stunning city can be quite pricey; it is the second most expensive city in Peru, just after Lima, the capital. There are, though, ways to enjoy the mountain city of Cusco without spending a fortune. Here are the best free things to do in Cusco!
Free Walking Tour
Whenever I travel to a major city, I look for a free walking tour. These tours are a convenient way to get some useful information on history and customs, as well as the transport system. Usually, you get helpful tips on where to eat, where to go and what to avoid. Thus, I recommend finding the best free walking tour Cusco has to offer and you’ll both discover the city in an exciting way and support impassioned local guides.
The visual appeal of Cusco will mesmerize you as soon as you enter the city. Sloping Andean mountains are the city’s greatest feature offering breathtaking panoramic views. What’s more, you can admire the stunning setting of the city of Cusco for free.
Climb the stony stairways to reach the top of San Blas neighborhood for the picturesque view across Cusco’s red rooftops and the mountains far on the horizon. Come here just after the sunset for the best view.
For those wanting more, I suggest heading to the statue of Jesus Christ (Cristo Blanco). Not only is the statue itself impressive, but the view over the entire city is absolutely magnificent. The statue can be reached by foot; it’s approx. 30 minutes away from the historic center of the town. Keep in mind that the ascent is, nonetheless, rather steep.
Sightseeing and Wandering Around
As you’ve probably heard, the historic center of Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Plaza de Armas, the main square, is built on the foundation of the ceremonial square from the period of the Inca Empire, Huakaypata. The iconic buildings around the square, such as the Cathedral and the historic Jesuit church, look splendid. You don’t have to enter those buildings (to avoid paying fees), but only to look them from outside and to enjoy their Spanish colonial exterior. The main square is also a nice spot to spend some time in the gardens people-watching, reading a book or simply enjoying the moment.
Above mentioned neighborhood of San Blas is at the walking distance from Plaza de Armas. With its cobblestone streets, artists’ and artisans’ studios, bars, restaurants and cafes, this charming neighborhood is a popular tourist attraction. Wandering around colorful and vibrant San Blas is free, yet it can be fun and relaxing!
Even though the majority of museums charge for entry, some of them are both interesting and free. For example, you can visit Museo Quechua, a small museum that shows over 3 millenniums of Quechua culture, customs, paintings and craftwork. Choco Museo, a place that provides an insight into the history of the Peruvian chocolate production, is also free to enter. Plus, you can taste some free samples too!