Cusco, gateway to Machu Picchu is a beautiful city. With a trace of history at every turn, this city was once the capital of Incas. Needless to mention Cusco has a lot to offer to its visitors.
This is a place where modernity meets antiquity. Cusco is one of te few South American cities where people still proudly preserve their language, traditions and customs.
This charismatic city is on every traveller’s bucket list, most however end up spending more time in the city than they have planned.
We have listed our favourite five free things to do in Cusco.
Plaza De Armas is the main square of Cusco. Rimmed with restaurants, coffee shops and bars the plaza is one of the favourite sites of many in Cusco. Most people spend their afternoons in the wooden benches, soaking in the sun.
It represents the history of Cusco. At the centre of the plaza you will see the statue of Pachacutec perched on top of a fountain. Pachacutec was the ninth Incan ruler. Both Machu Picchu and Choquequirao were built by him. Right in front of the Plaza stands the Cathedral of Cusco.
Get to know more about Cusco’s history on our Cusco City Tour.
This is the best place to get a local flavour. San Pedro market is roughly eight minutes by walk from the main square. It is one of the largest markets. As you enter the market you will be amazed with the captivating colours of chompas (typical sweaters) and other handicrafts. The market houses over 30 stalls where local women blend almost any fruit and vegetable under the sun.
If you are travelling on a budget and are looking for a cheap and authentic lunch, its in San Pedro. At the far end of the market, you will find many stalls. You can grab a two course meal here for 5 Soles (USD 1.5).
Narrow cobble stoned streets, colonial houses and the bohemian neighbourhood of Cusco. San Blas has a distinct beauty. It is one of those places in Cusco where you will see the antiquity meeting modernity. Calle Tandapata is one of the main streets of the neighbourhood. It houses many small cafes and restaurants where you can sit and sip a traditional Peruvian coffee while enjoying a birds eye view of Cusco.
Just below Calle Choquechaka you will see a narrow alleyway that goes to the main square, the 12 angle stone is down that alley. To most, this may not seem as an important place to visit. But this is one of the archeological artefacts in Cusco. Even today nobody knows how the Incas meticulously cut these stones that are fitted accurately without using mortar. Infact, they are joined so accurately that you won’t be able to slide a piece of paper in between them.
Perched high up in the hill is the massive white statue of Jesus Christ with open arms. This is something similar to Christ the redeemer in Rio De Janeiro. This 8 meters statue was as a gift from the Arabic Palestinian refugees who sought asylum in Cusco after the second world war.
It is one of the best places to get a birds eye view of the former capital of Incas.