There are two open top bus tours in Cusco; Bus Panoramico Sightseeing Bus (yellow and blue) and Panoramic Cusco (yellow). Very original names, ay?! Both buses take in the same sights but just leave in different directions away from the main square. These are not hop, on hop off buses, you remain on the bus for most of the journey. Only on two occasions do passengers get off the bus. If you have a free morning in Cusco, or don’t fancy the climb to Cristo Blanco, then jump on board. If you’ve been here a few days and know your way, kind of, around the place you’ve probably seen what the tour has to offer. If you leave Cusco without doing it….not to worry!!
The bus leaves from Calle Espinar, roughly two minutes walking from Plaza de Armas. You can buy a ticket at the bus for the next departure or you can buy in advance from one of the sales representatives that can be found on Calle Espinar, Plaza de Armas or Calle Medio. Tickets cost $10. The tour is said to last 1 hour and 30 minutes but actually lasts 2 hours. The guided tour is given in Spanish and English. The guide could speak good English but was hard to hear and understand at times. There was a lot more information given in Spanish compared to the English commentary. However, the tour was informative and helpful for those who have just arrived to Cusco.
Bottled water and soda are sold on board. And to make the trip even more interesting they also sell Cusqueña beer! While the guide is resting his/her voice your ears will be entertained with traditional panpipe music. You might even recognize a song or two from The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. The CD is also for sale at the end of tour.
The bus route takes in some of the major historical points in the main city of Cusco in the first part. The buses generally leave and do a short three minute loop back to the starting point to check if there are more passengers to join the tour. Firstly, you will pass and hear about Iglesia de la Merced on Calle Mantas, from here the bus loops around on to Calle San Bernardo and passes Plaza Regocijo which holds markets on some days of the week. Plaza San Francisco is the next main attraction. In this square you will hear about Iglesia San Francisco (San Francisco Church), Colegio de Ciencias (College of Sciences) and in the far corner you will see Arco Santa Clara (The Santo Clara Arch). The bus then travels down Calle Garcilaso where you will see colonial balconies one of which was the home of Garcilaso de la Vega, a famous chronicler.
Next you will travel down one of Cusco´s nicest avenues, Avenida del Sol. Qoricancha, the Inca Temple of the Sun, and the surrounding grounds can be seen from the bus as well as the famous historical mural by Juan Bravo. This mural was created in 1992 and depicts the battle between the Incas and the Spanish. Before you turn onto Avenida Tullumayo you will see a monument of a famous Inca, Pachacutec. Across from this is Cusco´s biggest artisanal market. The bus tour continues up to Limacpampa. In the middle of the junction there is another Inca monument dedicated to another famous Incan and his wife. Avenida de la Cultura isn’t the prettiest of avenues but houses some important buildings like hospitals, banks and universities. As the bus turns off left and starts to climb you will see one of the oldest and most important universities in Peru. For the next 15 minutes or so you will have some of the best panoramic views of all of Cusco. The bus stops at Cristo Blanco for 10 minutes. This is a great opportunity to take photos and take in the remarkable views of the sprawling city below you. This statue was donated to Cusco by a group of Palestinians that took refuge in Cusco years ago. The tour´s next stop is a small fábrica, a small textile manufacturer. Here a local woman will explain how they use alpaca wool to create fabrics. You will see and feel the difference between natural and synthetic materials and even get to feel baby alpaca wool. You can purchase clothing and other handmade alpaca items here. Bus passengers get a discount of 25-30% here.
From here the bus begins to make its way back to the city. Fortunately, the bus passes the famous archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman on the way. The guide gives a brief insight in to the historical site and the bus does stop momentarily for some photos, only form the bus though. Getting one of the bus tours in Cusco doesn’t give you accesss to thesehistorical sites. A Cusco Tourist Ticket (BTG) is required for entrance to the site. After the great sight of Sacsayhuaman, the bus tour passes San Cristobal, a church high above and overlooking the main square. The last interesting thing pointed out by the guide is an old, uninhabited house that is said to have paranormal activity. Apparently bus ticket holders have free entry to the house at midnight. However, I would take this with a pinch of salt!!
There are plenty of ways to see the sights of the city instead of doing the open top bus tours in Cusco. Don’t go out of your way to get one, most sites in Cusco are accessible by foot and more enjoyable.
Bus Panoramico Tours
Departures every 30 mins from Calle Espinar – 2 minute walk from Plaza de Armas.
Ticket sales from Plaza de Armas and Calle Medio from sales representatives on the street.
1 hour 30 mins
Telephone: (+51) 976 239575
Panoramic Cusco Bus Tours
This bus leaves from around the same place as the one above. There is no website for this bus company.
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