Cusco On The Cheap



Description:

Cusco and the Sacred Valley are one of the major attractions in all of South America, let alone Peru. Thousands of people visit the area every month, helping to drive up prices at hotels and restaurants, and encouraging officials to implement a tourist site seeing ticket called the boleta turistico which gives people access to all the area's major sites (excluding Machu Picchu ) and which is only good value if you intend to visit all of them. The ticket ($23 at time of writing) is valid for ten days and so might be worthwhile if you plan on returning to Cusco within that time, otherwise, the following guide sticks to sites and activities that are either free, or have a separate, lower entrance fee.

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Author: Matthew Barker


Day 1 - Cusco


Spend your first day acclimatising to the altitude with a gentle walking tour through some of Cusco's most important historical neighborhoods. The San Blas area is particularly beautiful where winding streets, historical houses and craft shops and the occasional beautiful view over the city and the Sacred Valley will keep you enthralled for hours. You can pay a visit to San Blas church for the brilliantly intricate carvings inside, although if asked at the entrance, insist on paying entrance for the church only ($2 at time of writing) rather than the full religious sites ticket which costs $10. When you're finished in SanBlas, head back down into central Cusco for a cheap bite at Cafe Varayoc before continuing your walk around the Plaza de Armas area. These sites are often as impressive from the outside as they are from the inside, meaning you don't have to pay an entrance fee to enjoy them. Most of the sites listed here charge an entrance fee, while some are incorporated in the boleto turistico or religious sites ticket. If you only want to pay for the most important site, choose the Cathedral ($5) which has an astonishing collection of art from the Cusco school, along with relics of Inca stonework and the city's oldest painting depicting the earthquake of 1650. For dinner, head to the Andes Grill, a perfect place to enjoy some typically Cusquenian delicacies that won't break the bank. If you've still got some wind in your sails, head to the Cross Keys, a local favorite for evening drinks. Spend the night in Loki's hostel, an historical building renovated by travelers with great atmosphere and a lively crowd at night.


1

San Blas District

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Location:

5 blocks north of Plaza de Armas
Begins roughly at Calle Choquechaca, as the neighborhood climbs into the hills
Cusco, Peru


2

San Blas Church

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Location:

Plazoleta San Blas
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

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3

Cafe Varayoc

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Location:

Espaderos 142
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

tel: 51 84 232404


4

Plaza de Armas

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Location:

Plaza de Armas
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

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5

Compañía de Jesús

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Location:

Plaza de Armas
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

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6

Catedral (La)

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Location:

Triunfo
Plaza de Armas (north side)
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

tel: 51 84222781
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7

Palacio del Arzobispado

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Location:

Hatun Rumiyoq s/n
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

tel: 51 84225211
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8

Santa Catalina

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Location:

Santa Catalina Angosta 190
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

tel: 51 8422 6032
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9

Andes Grill

Location:

Portal de Panes 147
2do. piso
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

tel: 51 84 243422
fax: 51 84 248020


10

The Cross Keys

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Location:

Portal Confiturías 233, 2do. piso
(Plaza de Armas)
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

tel: 51 84 233865
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11

Loki Backpacker's Hostel

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Location:

Cuesta Santa Ana 601
Centro Historico
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

tel: 84 243 705
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Day 2 - Cusco


Make the Cusco tourism office your first destination on the second day, the helpful staff will be able to guide you on any events that are occurring in or around the city during your trip. Some of the most famous include Cruz Velakuy, the beer festival and the festival of the sun. If there is nothing going on during your visit, head to Korikancha instead, some of the most impressive ruins in Cusco. This was a sacred Inka site where various rituals and rites took place, including occasionally bringing out the mummified remains previous rulers, who were offered food and drink through their (lucky) servants. This is one of the few sites in town that does not require entrance with the boleto turistico , and at time of research, entrance was $3.50. You can spend most of the day at this fascinating site but if you have some time remaining, head south of the central plaza down a narrow lane called Loreto to see some still standing Inca walls with interesting carvings, which lead up to Hatunrumiyoc, with its famous 12 sided stone. Have dinner at Tunupa, another good value restaurant with many Peruvian specialities and finish your day with a drink at Ukuku's, a lively and popular bar.


1

Oficina de Información al Turista

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Location:

Santa Catalina Ancha 333
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

tel: 51 8422 6711
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4

Festival of the Sun (The)

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Location:

Saqsaywaman Fortress, Koricancha Temple, Main Square of Cusco
Cusco, Peru


5

Korikancha

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Location:

Ahuacpinta
Plazoleta de Santo Domingo
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

tel: 51 84222071


6

Tunupa

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Location:

Portal de Confituria 233
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

tel: 84 252 936
fax: 84 235 370
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7

Ukuku's Bar

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Location:

Calle Plateros 316, 2nd floor
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

tel: 84 254 911; 984 759 686
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Day 3 - Urubamba, Cusco


Get out of town on the third day and catch a bus into the Sacred Valley itself. Use the functional town of Urubamba as your hub and head for one or more of the areas numerous towns and Andean villages that are dotted across this stunning landscape.Calca, Yucay, Salinas and Moray are popular destinations, as is Ollantaytambo, but perhaps the biggest draw is the beautiful town of Pisac which boasts an enormously popular market every Sunday with smaller craft fairs on Thursdays and Tuesdays. You can spend a day in Pisac and its surroundings, or walk up the hill to the town's famous ruins. Entrance is with boleto turistico only but you can get a reasonable idea of the scale of the site from the surrounding area. Once back in Cusco, try Plus Cafe for a good value meal and then get to bed early for your long day tomorrow!


1

Sacred Valley of the Incas (The)

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Location:

Sacred Valley of the Incas
Urubamba, Peru

Contact:

tel: 51 8426 3176 (Tourist Information)
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3

Plus Café

Location:

Portal de Panes 151
(2 do. piso)
Cusco, Peru

Contact:

tel: 51 84 23 2632


Day 4 - Machu Picchu


The major draw to Cusco and even Peru is obviously Machu Picchu and no trip to the Sacred Valley is complete without a visit to these astonishing wonders of the new world. Many visitors arrive in the citadel via an expensive Inca Trail trek or one of its alternatives. However, it is possible to get to the lost cloud city by more conventional means, catching a train to Aguas Calientes and a bus up to the site itself. Be aware that although it is possible to do this in one day, you will spend the entire day with large crowds of other visitors. If seeing the site with fewer crowds about is a priority for you, you might consider spending the night in Aguas Calientes (an ugly, disappointing town) and catching the very first bus up to Machu Picchu the following day. This will obviously add to your time and costs. Entrance to the site itself is also not cheap, $24 at time of writing, however you can spend a full day here marveling at the achievements of Inca engineers, being struck down by jaw dropping views and ambling round the labyrinthine passage ways. Eating on the site is expensive so consider bringing a packed lunch with you, which you can leave with guards at the entrance.


1

Macchu Picchu

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Location:

Machu Picchu, Peru

Contact:

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