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Cusco on a Budget

Short on cash? We're here to help, with 10 free things to do in Cusco!

Free Activities in Cusco

By In Blog @en On 1 April, 2016


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Cusco isn’t known for being a cheap destination.  Unfortunately, the vast number of people visiting the city pushes prices up on food, accommodation and activities.  However, there are still bargains to be found, and we will help you make the most of Cusco, no matter how small your budget!

This week have scoured the city to find the cheapest activities, in fact, free activities in Cusco!

1. Free City Tour – Free Walking Tour Peru offers tours of Cusco everyday for free.  They have 2 daily departures, one at 10.30am, and one at 12.30pm that includes a bus to Sacsayhuaman.  The meeting point is in Plaza Regocijo, just one block from the Plaza de Armas.  Although this tour is advertised as free, if you feel your tour guides did a good job it is nice to tip them!  Check out their website here for more information.

2. Cristo Blanco – a large white statue of Jesus Christ that can be seen from Plaza de Armas and other parts of the city. You can take a taxi up there (about $15 soles) or you can walk for free! There is no entrance fee. It takes about 30-40 minutes to walk up the statue, and you are rewarded with stunning views of the city below.  Ask your hostel for directions so you don’t get lost along the way.

San Pedro Market in Cusco  - Free to roam around bargain hunting!

3. Local Markets – Mercado Central de San Pedro, Mercado de San Blas or Centro Mercado are all worth exploring.  Mercado San Pedro is by far the most impressive but each of these markets are swarming with locals, so dive right in and experience the Cosqueña life!  Sample local foods, buy clothes, herbal remedies and hunt for unusual souvenirs amid the hustle and bustle.  Read more about the San Pedro Market in our previous post here.

4. San Blas Artisan Market – Held every Saturday from 9am-6pm in Plaza San Blas, this wonderful market has a variety of stalls offering an impressive display of local art, jewellry, wool products and other gifts.  Hang out here for a while, browse to your heart’s content then go to eat one of the restaurants in Plazoleta San Blas (recommended: Pachapapa for traditional cuisine and Green Point for vegetarian/vegans)

5. Hiking – Cusco is surrounded by mountains, so there are plenty of places to hike if you venture outside the city.  From San Blas you can simply keep climbing upwards and see what you find – You might end up surrounded by trees in the ¨forest,¨or standing next to Inca ruins no one told you about. Either way, you’ll get great views of the city and a little peace and quiet. NOTE: make sure you are properly acclimatized to the altitude (1-2 days in the city), & bring water and coca candies or leaves with you.

Some of the views you can enjoy hiking for free around Cusco

6. Salsa lessons– many bars/clubs offer free salsa lessons during happy hour like Uptown (Suecia, 302) or Inka Team (Portal de Panes 298).  So sip on a Pisco Sour, get your dancing shoes on and enjoy a great night, Latino style!

7. ChocoMuseo (Garsilaso 210) – ChocoMuseo is a free entrance museum, where you can learn about everyone’s favourite treat.  They also offer paid workshops, and if you want to try some samples it costs around $15 soles for multiple tastings.

8. Churches – the Catedral requires an entrance fee but many of the other churches in Cusco only require you to pay during the day. At night, sometimes they have signs that say ¨No turistas¨or ¨No tourists¨ but the doors are open and if you sneak a respectful peek inside, no one will say anything.

People watching is one of the best free activities in Cusco!

9. People Watching – Cusco offers fantastic people watching, from Andean Cholitas going about their business, to hapless tourists getting lost, sometimes just taking a seat on a bench can offer the best entertainment!  Always be respectful when taking photographs though, and ask permission if you would like to take photos of the local people.

10. Architecture – Unless you walk around with your eyes closed, you can’t miss Cusco’s spectacular buildings, a stunning blend of Incan stonework and colonial designs, make sure you look up every once in a while to appreciate the stunning buildings!

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About the Author

Claire

Also known as Tales of a Backpacker, I am travelling solo around South America, eating and drinking my way through the continent and making new friends along the way!

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