For those heading to Cusco with kids, know that there is plenty to see and do so the kids don’t get bored. Here are some of our favourites.
Plaza de Armas: Sitting in the plaza and watching the world go by is a great way to spend an hour or two, especially as there are plenty of eateries and coffee shops nearby to please the kids. The smaller plaza in San Blas is also fun to while away the afternoon, particularly as one of our favourite eateries, The Meeting Place is nearby.
Open top bus ride: Leaving from the central plaza, the bus ride is a fun way to see the city without tiring out the kids too much. It takes you all around the city and up to Cristo Blanco (the white Christ) where you can get an amazing bird’s eye view of the city below. Definitely a must if you are only in the city for a short period of time.
Local Markets: There are many fun and interesting markets to explore in Cusco from the food markets such as San Pedro, the clothing markets at El Molino, the second hand market known as the Baratillo or the Centro Artesenal market where you can pick up your souvenirs for the folks back at home. Or there is always the local mall if you are in the need of a shopping spree closer to home.
Museo Inka: There are a number of museums and art galleries around town however Museo Inka was by far our favourite. You are greeted at the door by a fun musical photo opportunity followed by artifacts and displays which will help keep the kids amused. The grand finale is the small collection of mummies at the end, your kids will either love them or hate them (I had one of each).
Lanlacuyoq (Zona X): While the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay will provide plenty of historical education, the caves at Lanlacuyoq (also known as Zona X) allow the kids to get up close and personal in amongst the stones and explore. And there are plenty of horse riding opportunities in and around the ruins as well if the kids are feeling up to it.
Faces of Cusco: The Faces of Cusco Family-Fun workshop is the perfect way to acclimate or take a break from the outdoors. The all-age workshops are available every day, and in the end you will go home with delicious chocolates and typical local souvenirs!
Planetarium Cusco: There aren’t many kids that don’t have a fascination with the night sky or the planets and it is a wonderful experience for them to realise it from the Inca civilisation’s point of view. Planetarium Cusco is recommended for kids 7 and up, and you definitely want to take a jacket for this one as the nights in Cusco can get pretty cool.
Parque Urpicha: There are plenty of parks scattered around the city for the kids to play in, although by far the biggest one is Parque Urpicha. It is filled with a colourful mix of slides, swings and old fairground rides and even a small ferris wheel and trampoline which open on the weekends. The stores inside the park selling drinks and snacks definitely make it a stress free outing. Another fun park for the young ones is the Dinosaur Park which features statues of dinosaurs small and large. It is situated in Oropesa, 30 minutes outside of the city.
Awana Kancha: While not in Cusco itself, Awana Kancha is situated about 30 minutes outside of Cusco. It is a great way to see the llamas, alpacas and vicunas up close and personal and the kids will definitely enjoy being able to feed them. Cochahuasi, the nearby animal sanctuary is worth visiting in the same trip. Watch out for those Andean Condors however, we had an extremely personal encounter and are still recovering. And for something a little closer to Cusco, the Universidad de San Antonio Abad del Cusco off Avenida de la Cultura also features a small zoo at the back featuring monkeys and spectacled bears (Paddington anyone?).
Of course there are many other fun things to do in and around Cusco, depending on the age and interest of your child or children. Those without children will undoubtedly benefit from visiting many of these places listed above as well. So whether you are in Cusco for one day or three, make sure you take some time out to do at least one or two of the things on the list to make sure your visit to Cusco is a fun and enjoyable one.