Even before Peru became a nation, Cusco was an important city. Five centuries ago, it was the heart of the Incas. During its prime, the Incas used Cusco as the capital of their ever-growing empire and actually viewed it as more important than Machu Picchu. It is where the Spanish established their power which lead to the decline in the Inca empire and the rise of Spanish control over Peru. Nowadays, Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a place that nearly two million visitors embark on each year.
For these reasons Cusco, and the surrounding area known as el Valle Sagrado, contain a wealth of history, museums and archaeological sites.
Tourist Tickets (to Cusco)
One of the best ways to really experience Cusco and the Sacred Valley is to buy a boleto turístico, or tourist ticket. It provides entry into 16 of the highlights found in the Cusco region and gives insight into what Pre-Colombian, Incan and Spanish colonial life was like in the 1500s and the many centuries leading up to it. In fact, the boleto is actually required to visit some of sites and museums as single-entry tickets are not available to some attractions.
Jim Kane, the owner of sustainable travel company Culture Xplorers, advises that curious travelers seeking a deeper understanding of Peru buy the ticket so they can discover the Inca ruins beyond Machu Picchu.
“Of the 16 included sites and museums on the [boleto turistico], a couple of my favorites are Chinchero, the ruins above Cusco, and Pisac,” Kane explained. “In Chinchero, the views over the Sacred Valley are magnificent from the grounds of its colonial church. The series of ruins from Tambomachay to Saqsaywaman above Cusco make for a terrific half-day downhill trek. And the agricultural terraces of Pisac are spectacular and [also] make for a superb downhill trek from the ruins to the market town below.”
The Complete Visit
If you want to experience nearly everything Cusco and the Sacred Valley have to offer and you want to do it over more than one or two days, the best option is the boleto general. For S/.130 (~US$45), you can meander through a variety of archaeological sites, cultural locales and museums over a 10-day period. Visiting all 16 sites comes out to less than US$3 per site. Spotlights include the Inca ruins of Saqsaywaman, Pisac and Moray.
The Tailored Visit
While visiting all the sites is a must-do for some travelers, others may not have the desire or the time to do so. In this case, buying a boleto parcial, or partial ticket, might be a better option.
There are three partial ticket options broken down into circuits. While the boleto general includes all of the below offerings, the circuits give travelers a tailor-made taste of Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Each circuit costs S/.70 (~US$24).
Circuit 1 – good for one day
Circuit 2 – good for two days
- Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo (native art and folkloric dance)
- Monumento a Pachacuteq (Pachacuteq Statue)
- Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Musum of Contemporary Art)
- Museo de Arte Popular (Museum of Popular Art)
- Museo Historico Regional (Regional Historic Museum)
- Museo de Sitio del Qoricancha (museum only, not the Qoricancha site)
Circuit 3 – good for two days
Where to Buy the Boleto Turístico
Comite de Servicios Integrados Turistico Culturales Cusco (COSITUC) distributes the tickets, which you can buy at the COSITUC office: Avenida El Sol 103, Cusco. Additionally, some authorized travel agencies also sell the tickets as do some of the sites themselves.
Important Notes About the Boleto Turístico
- Whether you buy the whole shebang with the boleto general, or one of the more tailored circuits, each ticket is only good for one person and it is non-transferable.
- Students can buy the boleto general for S/.70 (US$24), so if you qualify, be sure to bring your ID. The partial tickets are not available at a discounted rate.
- The Turismo Interno Nacional tickets are only available to residents of Peru. A national ID card is required to purchase these discounted tickets.
- The boleto turístico does not include the following: Machu Picchu, the Maras salt mines, the Cusco Cathedral, the Pre-Columbian Art Museum, the Religious Circuit (temples), the Inka Museum, the site of Qoricancha or the Casa Concha museum.
- Theboleto turístico does not include transportation or guides.
- Read more about the tickets on COSITUC’s website, the official site for all things boleto turístico.
Pro tip: If you’re going all the way to Cusco, chances are you also plan to see Machu Picchu. Be sure to read our guides for the latest tips and tricks on how to prevent altitude sickness in the entire Cusco region and how to buy tickets to Machu Picchu.