Top Museums in Cusco | Unveil the best paid and free museums in Cusco to learn more about the former capital city of the Inca Empire instead of just wandering on your own, most of them have a tour guide at site keen to show the best of Cusco, some of them are even for free, check below a list of must-seen museums recommended by most tour guides, historians and serious travel guides.
Best Paid Museums in Cusco
This temple was a big ceremonial religious center for the Andean society, similar to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the Muslim people, as you may imagine the Indigenous people living in Cusco or on the Andes had a lot of sense of religion, therefore they would venerate may deities or living energies such as the sun, moon or even some animals. At this temple, we had the physical representation of the pre-Hispanic deities by using precious stones and metals; Nowadays you can still see the stone remains of the Temple of the Sun.
Qori (Quechua language) means Gold and Cancha (Quechua language) means a flat enclosed place, so we can say that this was a gold-plated temple and also many chroniclers have said the same thing.
- Address: Avenida el Sol with Santo Domingo Street, in front of Palacio del Inka hotel.
- Opening Hours: Monday thru Saturday from 9 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday from 2 pm until 5:30 pm.
- Entry price: 15 soles or 5 USD approx. per person.
Our Lady of Mercy Church or La Merced Church
The Church was built at the beginning of the 17th century but unfortunately destroyed by the earthquake in 1650, lucky rebuilt within 20 years. Completely decorated by using Andean Baroque as the main artistic theme for extravagancy and evangelization purposes, the benches in the main nave still dates back to the colonial period made out form cedarwood and both the church itself and the convent are fully decorated with canvases. Apart from this at this site, you will see the bone remains of Diego de Almagro father and also his Sun known at “El Mozo” both of them were Spanish conquerors who have been killed during the civil war between Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro back in 1542.
- Address: Calle Mantas 121 at Plazoleta Espinar.
- Opening Hours: Monday thru Saturday from 8 am to 12:20 pm and 2 pm to 5:30 pm.
- Service Hours: Monday thru Saturday from 5 pm to 8 pm and On Sundays from 6 am to 1 pm and 6pm to 8 pm.
- Entrance fee: 6 soles or 2 USD approx. per person.
The museum was implemented in one of the most notable colonial houses in Cusco city know as Casonas (Big Colonial Houses, some of them are mansion looking ones). The House was built at the beginning of the 17th and belonged to a very aristocratic Spanish family Don Francisco Aldrete Maldonado, however, the earthquake in 1650 really damaged most of the colonials buildings, therefore, Don Pedro Peralta de los Ríos rebuilt the house and once again destroyed by the earthquake in 1950 and it was rebuilt by the National University of Cusco city.
The house displays the best the Inca culture in terms of textilery, architecture, ceramic, astronomy, mommies, weapons and agriculture.
- Address: Calle Ataúd 154, close to the Plaza de Armas.
- Opening Hours: Monday thru Friday from 8 am to 6 pm | Saturdays and holidays from 8 am to 4 pm.
- Entrance fee: 10 soles or 3 USD approx. per person. | Students 5 soles per person.
Pre-Columbian art museum
Back at the Inca period, there were two high schools or learning houses, the first one was known as Yachay Wasi located next to the main square and the other one known as Amaru Cata which was located on the eastern side of the city, when the Spaniards arrived in the Inca city the converted the Amaru Cata high school into the Santa Cara Monastery. In the 17th century, the building was acquired by Luis Jeronimo Cabrera, whose surname remained with the building until today.
This historical monument was purchased in 1981 by the Continental Bank. Revived and packaged in its 2000 square meters by the Foundation, Cabrera House became the Pre-Columbian Art Museum of Cusco is the first and only museum dedicated to outstand the art of the ancient pre-Colombian cultures of Peru.
- Address: Plazolta Nazarenas 231.
- Opening Hours: Monday thru Sunday from 09 am to 10 pm.
- Entrance fee: 20 soles or 7 USD approx. per person. | Foreign Students 10 soles or 3 USD | Peruvian Students 5 soles or 2 USD
Santa Catalina Museum
Back at the Inca Period right at this place where the Museum is located nowadays, there was the Accallawasi building where Locals, mainly women were in charge of mass-producing weapons, uniforms, agricultural tools, ceramics and more according to Maria Rostworowski, a very famous historian, then there was a factory in the southern part of Cusco city plaza.
Once the Spaniards arrived, the monastery was established back in 1601 as part of the Dominican order, nowadays this is an awesome place to learn more about the evangelization process over the indigenous societies.
- Address: Santa Catalina 401.
- Opening Hours: Monday thru Saturday from 08:30 am to 5:30 pm. | Sundays from 2 pm to 5 pm.
- Entrance fee: 8 soles or 3 USD approx. per person | Students 4 soles or 1.50 USD.
Museum of Religious Art
Back in the pre-Inca period in 700 AD, there was a very advanced civilization known as Wari, who built a very well implemented city by also using as main material stones, one of them is the Inca Roca Palace, a green diorite stone-based building and belonged to a pre-Inca chief. In the 11 hundreds, a group of people from the Titicaca lake arrived at the valley of Cusco to conquer the locals which indeed this happen, this expedition was commanded by Manco Capac who later on became the first Inca King and by the 12 hundreds this pre-Inca resident became the palace of Inca Roca.
In 1534 the Spaniards arrived and the made the Inca palace into the Archbishop palace by still keeping the Inca stone foundations. The colonial religious palace has a beautiful renaissance patio with stone arches and tiles on the walls, and in the middle, the “stately pool” is adorned, located in a preferential place. It is recognized because among its walls there is the “The Stone of 12 Angles”
- Location: Herrajes 38, block from the Plaza de Armas.
- Opening Hours: Monday thru Saturday only from 10 am to 6 pm.
- Entrance fee: 15 soles or 5 USD approx. per person | Students 7.50 soles or 2 USD.
Best Free Museums in Cusco
Choco Museo Cusco
You can have a wonderful day without paying nothing, we invite you to the Choco Museo. They have very interactive Workshops about how to make chocolate from beans to bars.
You are parents, you don´t find many options for your kids, your kids really want to experience Cusco as kids(by not taking tours for adults), well the guys from choc museo have kids-friendly choco tours so that your little ones can also have a cool day!
- Location: Calle Garcilaso 210, one block from the Plaza de Armas.
- Opening Hours: every day from 8 am to 8:30 pm.
- Entrance fee: Free!
Museo del Café
Peru is the 3rd largest coffee producing country in Latin America, how came not to visit the Museum of Cafe in Cusco, considering that Cusco is a region that also has the Amazon or the Rainforest where lots of farmers, mainly indigenous families cultivate and produce top-quality coffee. At this museum, the friendly hosts will teach you about the cultivation, the harvest and how it is fermented and how locals do dry the coffee to obtain the best-selected coffee beans.
You will also take part in workshops where the experts will teach about what else can you prepare with coffee! (Not just expressos or lates but also desserts).
- Location: Calle Espaderos N° 136, next to the Plaza de Armas!
- Opening Hours: Monday thru Saturday from 10 am to 11 pm | Sundays from 9 am to 10:30 pm.
- Entrance fee: Free!
Museo del Pisco Cusco
Join the Pisco Museums in Cusco, a very educational and fun way of learning about Peru National drink: Pisco, the museums are operated by passionate and experts team in the arts of pisco elaboration. In general, pisco is to be savoured and appreciated among friends. It is a drink that brings smiles and happiness, camaraderie and spirit.
At this hot spot you will learn about the history of Pisco, where and how is Pisco made? What grapes are used? etc.
Your expert “Pisquero” will also recommend you the best brands of Pisco!
- Location: Santa Catalina Ancha 398, in front Marriot Hotel.
- Opening Hours: Monday thru Thursday from 10 am to 10 pm | Friday thru Saturday from10 am to 11 pm.
- Entrance fee: Free!
How to visit the best museums in Cusco city?
If you love, you can book a City Tour of Cusco that includes the some highlights of Cusco, such as the Qoricancha temple.
In any case, feel free to contact us in Cusco, we are here to help you!