Everything you need to know about the Cusco boleto turistico (Cusco tourist ticket), why you need it and how to get your hands on one.
There’s no question about it, if you’re planning a trip to Peru then you’re going to be spending at least a day in Cusco. And if you’re not then man, what are you doing with your life?!
The birthplace of the Inca Empire and epicentre of all things tourism in Peru, Cusco is Peru’s second most visited city. Spend just one hour there and you’ll understand why! I’m yet to meet someone speak a bad word about Cusco, which is a rarity for a South American city.
As well as just being a pretty fantastic city overall, Cusco and the surrounding area is home to a vast array of historically important Inca ruins and interesting museums, all of which can be reached within an hour or so.
There is a catch, though.
If you want to visit them all, you’ll need to purchase Cusco’s Boleto Turistico.
What is the Cusco Boleto Turistico?
The Boleto Turistico is a one-size-fits-all type pass that grants you access to 16 of the most interesting archaeological sites and museums in and around Cusco and the Sacred Valley, valid for up to 10 days, depending which ticket you purchase.
The literal translation of boleto turistico is “tourist ticket”, but in this case it’s more commonly known as the Cusco Tourist Ticket or the Boleto Turistico de Cusco.
It’s important that you know and understand the purpose and permissions of the boleto turistico before you head off on your exploration of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, as you don’t want to find yourself showing up somewhere and being refused entry for having the wrong ticket.
Which sites can I visit with the Boleto Turistico?
The 16 archaeological sites and museums you can visit with the boleto turistico are:
- Puka Pukara
- Pachacuteq Monument
- Qosqo Native Art Centre
- Pisac Ruins
- Ollantaytambo Ruins
- Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Cusco)
- Museo de Arte Popular (Cusco)
- Museo de Sitio Qorikancha
- Museo Histórico Regional de Cusco
The full boleto turistico grants you access to all of the above, once per site, across 10 days. Then there are three different boleto parciales (partial tickets) that allow you to access a select few of the sites, organised by area, across a shorter time period.
Why is there more than one type of Boleto Turistico?
To put it simply: not everybody is lucky enough to spend 10 full days in Cusco!
In fact, many people only spend a quick day or two in Cusco, and simply don’t have the time to visit every site they want to. Which is why the fantastic people over at the Comité de Servicios Integrados Turísticos Culturales del Cusco came up with the brilliant idea to offer smaller, more compact versions of the boleto turistico, enabling you to almost pick and choose which sites you really want to see.
What are the different types of Boleto Turistico?
There are two different types of boleto turistico – the boleto turistico general and the boleto turistico parcial.
Boleto Turistico General (Main Cusco Tourist Ticket)
The main boleto is called the Boleto Turistico General (BTG – also known as the boleto integral), and this is the big guy, the jefe, the Don. This is the Golden Ticket that gives you 10 days to visit all 16 of the sites mentioned above. Whether or not you choose to visit all 16 is up to you, but even if you only intend on hitting up a few of the sites, it can work out a lot more cost efficient to simply buy the main Cusco tourist ticket.
Boleto Parcial (Partial ticket)
As well as the Boleto Turistico General, there are also three different boleto parcial (partial ticket) that grant you access to a select few of the sites, with each ‘circuit‘ focusing on a different area.
Circuit I (BTCPI) – Sacsayhuamán
Validity: 1 Day
Sites: Sacsayhuamán, Q’enqo, Puka Pukara, Tambomachay
Circuit II (BTCPII) – The City & South Valley
Validity: 2 Days
Sites: Tipón, Pikillaqta, Pachacuteq Monument, Qosqo Native Art Centre, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Cusco), Museo de Arte Popular (Cusco), Museo de Sitio Qorikancha, Museo Histórico Regional de Cusco
Circuit III (BTCPIII) – The Sacred Valley
Validity: 2 Days
Sites: Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Chinchero, Moray
Each circuit is designed, and the sites selected in a way that makes it easier for you to hit them all up.
How much is the Boleto Turistico?
As of 2018, the cost of the full Boleto Turistico General is S/130.00.
Children aged between 10-17 and students under the age of 25 of any nationality who present an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) are eligible for an almost 50% discount, with the price of a ticket being S/70.00
There are no concessions for students over 25, the elderly or those with disabilities. Children under 10 are free.
The cost of each boleto parcial is S/70.00 and there are NO discounts or concessions on the partial tickets. So, if you’re a French student with an ISIC you’ll still have to pay the same as that 50 year old Australian. Sorry, dude.
Peruvian nationals get discounted tickets no matter which ticket they buy.
Where can I purchase my Boleto Turistico?
The boleto turistico (both general admission and partial tickets) can be bought at the entrance of any of the sites it’s valid for! Which is great, as it just means you can rock up to whichever one picks your fancy and go from there.
If you’re not sure which awesome attraction to start with, you can also pick up a ticket from any of the three authorised vendors in Cusco:
COSITUC Administrative Office
Calle Arequipa A-2 (behind the Colegio Inca Garcilaso de la Vega)
Business hours: 8am-4pm
Dircettur Tourist Information Office
Calle Mantas 117-A
Business hours: 9am-1pm / 2pm-5:30pm Monday to Saturday
Counter Galerias Turisticas
Av. El Sol 103
Business hours: 8am to 5:30pm Monday-Saturday, limited hours on Sundays
It’s important to note that as well as the actual sites, these are the only three official vendors of the Cusco Boleto Turistico. A lot of tour agencies around the Plaza de Armas will claim to be able to get one for you for even cheaper than the advertised price, but this is a scam, and you should politely decline.
Also, tickets cannot be purchased in advance and your time starts ticking the day you buy it.
However, sometimes if you purchase one of the partial tickets later on in the day, they will validate it from the next day. This happened to me when I rocked up to Sacsayhuamán at 4:30 in the afternoon and bought one of the partial Cusco tourist tickets. Sacsayhuamán is included in the Circuit I ticket, which is valid for just one day. The guide did something (not sure what!) that made my ticket start the next day, which gave me extra time to check out the other three sites included in the ticket.
With that being said, I don’t think this is the “done thing” and is entirely at the discretion of whoever sells you your ticket. If I were you, I wouldn’t risk it, so make sure you start early!
Which ticket should I buy?
When deciding which of the Cusco tourist tickets to buy, first ask yourself two questions.
- How long do you have in Cusco?
- What do you want to see?
If the answer to question 1 is 3 days or more then you should definitely go for the full Boleto Turistico. Even if you only end up seeing 3 or 4 of the sites and museums, you will have definitely got your money’s worth!
If you only have a limited amount of time in Cusco, that’s where it gets tricky to decide!
If you don’t want to stray too far from the main city itself, or think of yourself as somewhat of a museum buff, Circuit II is the one you want. As well as 5 incredibly interesting museums right in the heart of Cusco, it also gives you entry to some of the most underrated ruins just outside of Cusco: Tipón and Pikillaqta.
For those who really want to dive into the history of the Inca Empire and check out some incredible ruins, Circuit III (The Sacred Valley) is for you. This ticket lasts for 2 days, so you could easily combine a trip to the four sites (Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Chinchero, Maras) with some more of the fantastic things to see and do in the Sacred Valley.
And lastly, Circuit I. The Sacsayhuamán circuit. In all my travels around Peru, I’m yet to meet somebody who bought the Circuit I boleto for any reason other than Sacsayhuamán. Which is fair enough, as Sacsayhuamán is an incredible piece of history that is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Cusco (you can read more about it here). So if one of the main things you want to see in Cusco is Sacsayhuamán (perhaps you’ll be there for the Inti Raymi festival?) and you’re not bothered about much else, try Circuit I.
If there’s some inner turmoil going on right now and you can’t quite decide which sites you want to prioritise, just relax, take a breath and do the only thing that makes sense… buy the full boleto turistico! It’ll inevitably end up working in your favour as you’ll be able to visit so many incredible sites in and around Cusco that you otherwise wouldn’t have bothered with.
What are the best places to see with the Cusco Tourist Ticket?
Would it be an absolute cop out for me to say all of them?!
My personal favourites are Pikillaqta, everywhere in the Sacred Valley and the Cusco Native Art Centre. But if you want one quintessential
cusqueño experience then you really can’t miss a trip to Sacsayhuamán!
What Cusco sites aren’t included with the Boleto Turistico?
Basically, if it’s not mentioned above then it ain’t included.
A lot of first-time visitors from Peru get easily confused with the conflicting information available online about what does and doesn’t need the Cusco Boleto Turistico to enter.
These are a few of the most frequently visited sites in and around Cusco that are not included with the Cusco Tourist Ticket:
- Salinas de Maras – a popular site to visit when coupled with a trip to Moray (which is included in the boleto turistico de Cusco), the Maras salt mines are not included. To visit these you will need to pay at the entrance (it’s normally between 10-15 Soles).
- Cusco Cathedral – an impressive example of colonial architecture with an incredibly beautiful interior, the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin is definitely worth a visit if you’re into that kind of stuff, but it’s not included in the Boleto Turistico. You can purchase tickets to the Cathedral on the door for 25 Soles.
- Santo Domingo Church – I’m guilty of this one. Although entry to the Museo Sitio de Qorikancha is included with the Cusco Tourist Ticket, the actual church built on the foundations of Qorikancha itself is not. Entry is S/15.00, payable at the door.
- Temple of the Moon – situated near Q’enqo, the Temple of the Moon isactually free to enter with or without the tourist ticket.
- Machu Picchu – Machu Picchu isn’t in Cusco. It’s nowhere near Cusco, so it beggars belief that some people actually think that entry to Machu Picchu is included in a $40 Cusco tourist ticket. I don’t think it’s a common mistake, but I’ve witnessed this myself (at the gates of Machu Picchu, would you believe?!) so yeah, Machu Picchu is not included in the boleto turistico.
How does the Boleto Turistico work?
Okay, so we’ve gone through what it is, where to get it, what’s included and what’s not. Now I bet you’re wondering how does the boleto turistico even work?
How do they know which ones you’ve been to and which ones you haven’t? How can you keep track yourself? I mean, there are a lot of Quechua names included that are very confusing to keep up with! Do the guards scan your fingerprints? Eyeballs? Do they quiz you on your way in like you’re at Immigration Control?
It’s actually a lot simpler than that.
Two words: hole punches.
Yep, just like the not very jolly train conductors on First Great Western trains, at each site you enter the guard will punch your ticket. Each of the 16 sites (or however many are included if you get the partial ticket) has its own little colour-coded section on your ticket. When you visit the site, the guard will punch a hole in this section to show that you’ve already visited and can’t come back until you have a new ticket.
Cusco tourist tickets are non-transferable, and when you purchase them you will be expected to write your name on the back.
Make sure your name matches your passport, as it could causesome problems otherwise!
When I purchased the boleto turistico the first time, the guard asked to see my passport and then wrote my name down himself. This would have been fine if it weren’t for the fact that my name (Rhiannon) is somewhat of an anomaly outside of the UK and Fleetwood Mac fanbase. Because of this, a lot of people especially in the Spanish-speaking world choose to call me Sarah (my middle name) instead, this guard included. So, he wrote down “Sarah Surname” and handed it back. I didn’t check it until I showed up at the next site, they asked for my ticket and passport, and then questioned why the name wasn’t the same.
After about 10 minutes of back and forth they let me in without having to pay for a new ticket. But the moral of the story is a) spell your name right and b) always take a copy of your passport as the entrance guards at all sites may ask for it.
How to make the most out of the Cusco Tourist Ticket
Nobody likes paying full price for something and only getting minimal use out of it! If you’re particularly short on time but really want to get the most out of your Cusco boleto turistico, you may want to consider an organised tour.
These are a selection of the best organised tours that cover some of the sites on the boleto turistico (you will still need to purchase the boleto in addition to the tour):
- Full Day Sacred Valley Tour with Lunch (Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero – Circuit III)
- Cusco Half-Day City Tour with Inca Site Visits (Sacsayhuamán, Q’enqo, Tambomachay and Puka Pukara – Circuit I)
- Moray, Maras & Salt Mines Half-Day Tour (Moray – Circuit III)
And if you have some extra time in Cusco after seeing everything you can with the boleto turistico, you might want to check out these unmissable day trips from Cusco for a little bit of added inspiration!
If you have any questions about the Cusco tourist ticket, any of the sites or just Cusco or Peru in general, let me know in the comments!