Although we specialize in full trips with activities, visits, and tours organized for each day, there is always room for some free time in any itinerary. We are flexible with our planning and can put together a plan with as many free days as activities, if that is what you are after. And it is something that is recommended throughout Peru, as it is always nice to have a day or two to explore by yourself and find something that perhaps wasn’t included on your guided tour. Each of the major cities in Peru are great for a free day and there are always interesting little places for you to discover. City tours are perfect for giving you an overview of the area and a better understanding of the culture and history of a particular city, but there is nothing better than setting off by yourself and finding something that is not included in any guidebook or tourist website.
Cusco in particular lends itself to some free time, and in my opinion you should always try and include at least two days in the city, one for a comprehensive tour, and one for you to grab your bag and go exploring. The city tour will take in all the major sites such as the Cathedral and the Temple of Qorikancha, and will give you a great understanding about the area and its culture. And the perfect way to use this base of knowledge is to head out by yourself the next day and see the city as a working place, not just a tourist attraction. Hundreds of thousands of people live and work in Cusco and it is a place teeming with life, noise, and color. In other words, a fascinating place to wander around! You don’t have to have a specific plan, so just head out of your hotel and see where the day takes you. Follow the beautiful colonial streets to markets filled with the noise of bartering, to street vendors selling all manner of things, to fine squares and plazas and eventually back to your hotel. It is a way to experience the city as it is nowadays and to immerse yourself in the cultural life of this great place. You can compare what you see to what you have already learned about the history and in my opinion some time walking around a city is the best way to enjoy and get to know it.
As well as just exploring and wandering the streets there are all sorts of great activities and things to see in Cusco that can make a free day that much more interesting. The city is littered with fascinating museums, and it is just not possible to include them all on a city tour. So if you haven’t quite had your fill of the Incas, the Museo Inca is always worth a look. It offers all manner of exhibits detailing the history and culture of the Incas, and you will come away a fully-fledged expert! The Museo de Arte Precolombino offers a great selection of archeological artifacts, and the church of San Blas is one of the most beautiful examples of colonial architecture in the whole country. Look out for the exquisitely carved wooden pulpit. But getting away from all that history, the Choco Museum provides something different and is a truly memorable day for all the family. Here you can learn about the history of cacao, the cacao tree through all manner of fantastic activities. It is a great experience for families as you can explore the museums own artisanal factory and see how chocolate is made, as well as enjoying the workshops that the museum organizes. And at night, for your chance to see the beautiful night sky at its best, just head to the Planetarium. This relatively new attraction, and one of Peru’s lesser known treasures, is open to the public during the evening and describes itself as a cultural interpretation center designed to teach visitors how Andean people understand the skies. Well worth a look. As you can see, there’s loads to keep you busy in Cusco.
So if you have a little bit of extra time that you don’t know quite what to do with, why not include some free days in your plan. Cusco is probably the perfect city to explore by yourself but throughout Peru there are fascinating cities that really open themselves up to you when you take the time to get off the tourist track and just wander. A free day is a great compliment to a city tour, and with them both you will be able to get to know the area and its people. You never know what you might find!