museums in cusco

Usually, the adjacent ruins and the Cusco main square are the main attractions that get all the attention in the magical Imperial City. They will even be some of the first things to visit when you take your first steps through Cusco. However, after having explored the most notable destinations in Cusco, it is advisable to stop by some of its distinguished museums. The museums in Cusco are many and varied, some of them show Incas objects found in excavations around the city, small models of the Inca archaeological sites, others show collections of “Cusco School” paintings, and others explain the production process of the local cacao, among others. If you are looking to better understand the attractions that surround you before visiting them, it is a good idea to know the history and ancestral customs of the majestic Incas, the local art and expressions, and the history of the most memorable characters from the history of Cusco. Therefore, together with the travel experts of Machu Travel Peru, we have prepared a small article about the best museums in Cusco. So that, on your next visit to the Imperial City, you can make the most of your stay.

The 10 greatest museums in Cusco

1. Museum of Pre-Columbian Art

museums in cusco pre columbian art museum
AddressPlaza Nazarenas 231. Cusco. Two blocks behind the Cathedral
Schedule of visitMonday to Sunday. From 09:00 – 22:00
Prices7 $ per adult and 4 $ per student
Tour time2 to 3 hours

During the Incas times, the empire had three main schools in its capital Cusco, the Ajlla Wasi, (it was destined to prepare future virgins of the sun), Yachay Wasi, and the Amaru Cata (Both destined to prepare for Inca Nobility. Even, many caciques, and chiefs of towns conquered by the Incas, sent their children to study there). Amaru Cata was founded in 1450 AD and worked until 1550 when the Spanish conquerors decided to settle at there the Santa Clara monastery. In the middle of the XVII century, once in the Colonia times, Luis Jerónimo Cabrera bought the colonial mansion, and it remained under his control until 1981 when a Peruvian bank called Continental bought the property to settle there a future museum.

In this form, the museum of Pre-Columbian Art is located in the current Plaza Nazarenas (Due to the extinct Nazarenas convent located aside from the museum). It was inaugurated in 2003 by BBVA Continental foundation bank with a collaboration of a Larco museum branch office in Lima. The museum has a big cobblestone courtyard crowned by an ornamental stone fountain, all these surrounded by four floors with two levels and stone arches. This museum is one of the best things to do in Cusco!

This amazing museum is one of the fewer in Peru dedicated to pre-Incas cultures or pre-Columbian cultures (Human settlements before the Incas). Inside you will find more than 450 ancient works of art along with hundreds of other archaeological pieces from all regions of Peru that go from 1250 BC until 1532 AC. The museum offers one of the best experiences, taking the visitor on a journey back in time 3,000 years ago. The experience begins in a permanent video salon that introduces an advance of each salon thematic to see. A wood salon, followed by Nazca, Mochica, Wari, Chimu, pre-Columbian cultures salons. Continue the Inca, Colonial age, gold and Silver salons.

Definitely, MAP is situated in the first place inside a list of the best museums in Cusco.

2. Inka museum

museums in cusco inka museum
AddressAtaud street 154. Cusco. Just 1 block behind the Cathedral
Schedule of visitMonday to Friday 09:30 – 18:00 / Saturdays 09:30 – 16:00
Prices3 $ per adult and 1.50 $ per student
Tour time03 hours

We couldn’t continue our list of museums in Cusco without mentioning the Inka museum, located just half a block from the main square. This was one of the first museums in Cusco and if you want to know better the history of the people who built attractions like Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman or Moray, you have to visit this museum. The Inca Museum is owned by the UNSAAC (the National University of Cusco, with more than 300 years of existence. The fifth oldest in all of America), which is also in charge of its administration. It is located in a large Spanish colonial mansion that was built and inhabited by the Spanish aristocrat Francisco Alderete Maldonado, called the Admiral, in the middle of the XVII century.

The building suffered severe damage during the 1650 earthquake, and it was refurbished and later bought by Don Pedro Peralta de Los Rios. The mansion remained under his management until a new earthquake in 1950. This time the refurbishing and subsequent purchase of the property were in charge of the UNSAAC, until these days.

Nowadays, thanks to its strategic location, it is usually a stop on our private tours in Peru. The Inka museum has an important collection of pre-Hispanic ceramics, textiles, goldsmiths, jewelry, and even mummies and skulls from the Inca period. Get ready to know the civilization responsible for building the incomparable Machu Picchu. The museum houses some of the best collections of gold, metal, textiles, pottery, mummies, and drinking vessels. This is without mentioning other numerous archaeological finds in the Cusco area.

Be sure to appreciate the ornate ceilings and see the local weavers in the building’s courtyard. This museum can be a bit more expensive than some other museums in Cusco. But we think the admission price is worth every penny due to the high quality of the museum. You can also hire a Cusco travel guide to accompany you to learn a little more about the history of the pieces.

3. Regional Historical museum

museums in cusco regional historical museum
AddressCorner of Garcilaso Street and Heladeros Street
Schedule of visitMonday to Sunday from 08:00 – 17:00
PricesTicket included in the General Cusco Tourist Ticket (36 $)
Tour time03 hours

The interesting regional historical museum of Cusco is located inside the former home of one of the most famous colonial poets, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega Chimpu Ocllo. Garcilaso de la Vega was a famous Inca-Spanish historian who wrote one of the most influential chronicles about the conquest of the Inca territory, “The royal comments of the Incas” famous in all of Europe and the Americas. He was the son of a Spanish aristocrat captain, (from the dukedom of Feria) Sebastían Garcilaso de la Vega and the Inca princess Isabel Chimpu Ocllo, granddaughter of the Inca Túpac Yupanqui and niece of the Inca Huayna Cápac. The colonial mansion was built over an ancient “Ceque” situated in an Incas square called “Cusipata” or Place of Rejoicing in English.

According to the Chronicles of Bernabé Cobo (Jesuit priest and chronicler who arrived with the first Spaniards in Cusco and recorded for the first time the daily life of the Incas), the Ceques were lines or stripes that, starting from the city of Cusco, served to organize the surrounding sanctuaries or Huacas, constituting a complex religious spatial system, which gave the capital of Tahuantinsuyo an eminently sacred character. In this sense, the Spanish conqueror Pedro de Oñate built there its mansion in 1534. Years later, after his death, the property was acquired by the father of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega lived there until his migration to Europe in 1560. The colonial mansion is an Andalusian civil building, with a large cobbled patio, crowned by an ornamental stone fountain and surrounded by 4 floors with 2 levels with stone arches.

Among the many museums in Cusco, this one is strongly oriented to giving an alternative look at the history, architecture, and politics of the place. An incredible alternative to enjoy before undertaking any of the different Machu Picchu tours.

It has an incredible and eclectic collection of “Cusco School” paintings. These are belonging to three maximum representatives of the style like Diego Quispe Titto, Pablo Chillitupa, and Bernardo Bitti. Also, the salons have archaeological objects of pre-Incas cultures and Incas culture, arranged chronologically. You will be able to find Nazca mummies, Incas fabrics, pre-Incas ceramics, ancient artifacts, Andean musical instruments, numerous pieces of Incas pottery, gold ornaments and utensils, pens, papers, and furniture that the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega used. You can also enjoy exhibitions of different photos of Cusco after its two great earthquakes of 1650 and 1950. Entrance to this museum is completely free if you have the Cusco Tourist Ticket. Within our Cusco travel tips, we recommend the purchase of the ticket since it will allow you to enter many attractions of the city.

4. Casa Concha museum

museums in cusco casa concha museum
AddressSanta Catalina Ancha 320 Street. Half a block from the main square
Schedule of visitMondays – Saturday. From 09:00 – 17:00 pm
Prices$ 6 per Adult and $ 3 per Student
Tour time02 hours

It could be considered one of the most recent museums in Cusco. Also known as the Machu Picchu museum, Casa Concha is one of the most complete museums in Cusco. It was the former residence of José de Santiago Concha, an important Spanish aristocrat who lived in the times of the conquest. His descendant, Pio Concha Martin, was the last Spanish governor in the Colonial Cusco in the middle of XIX. This incredible site stands out for its picturesque balconies. Today this museum is managed and belongs to the San Antonio Abad University of Cusco.

If you have Machu Picchu included in your next destination, then a visit to this museum can deepen your knowledge about the citadel a little more. There are nearly 400 archaeological pieces on display within the museum, including Hiram Bingham’s finds that were won in the decades-long battle with Yale University.

The history is simple, after the news of the existence of Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham in 1911 (9 years before, the Inca’s citadel had been really discovered by a Cusco agriculture called Agustin Lizarraga, who didn’t have the necessary resources to show his discovery to the entire world) The pieces found there, were sent directly to the United States, specify to Yale University (Institution that financed Bingham’s expedition to the jungle of southern Peru, among others). Supposedly, they had to carry out different investigations on the pieces and then return them to the Peruvian State. However, the pieces took time to be returned, starting a trial in which the Peruvian state was the winner after many years. Some pieces were not even returned, remaining forever in the American university. However, the majority were returned and are exposed to the Casa Concha.

You will also find on display some metallic, lithic, ceramic and bone remains. These are exposed in display cabinets and pedestals.

Also on display are certain Inca artifacts discovered during the excavations of the Casa Concha, where the current museum is located. To get to the museum, you can walk from Cusco Cathedral, another attraction of great importance. Either before or after your visit to the Inca citadel, a tour of this museum is a mandatory stop to understand the lifestyle of the ancient Incas.

5. Museum of Religious Art

museums in cusco religious art museum
AddressHerrajes 38 Street, corner with Hatunrumioc Street
Schedule of visitMonday – Saturday. From 08:00 – 18:00 
PricesTicket included in the General Cusco Tourist Ticket (36 $)
Tour time01 hour

Among the different museums in Cusco, this was built on what was once the palace of Inca Roca from the fourteenth century, even part of its outer wall boasts the unique 12-angle stone. After the Inca regent and his descendants and after the Spanish invasion, the building passed to the Spanish hand, being inhabited by numerous influent Iberian, mestizo families, and renowned landowners until the middle of the XX century, when the Archbishop of Cuzco Felipe Hermoza y Sarmiento bought the building to use it as Archbishop’s Palace. In 1966, another local Archbishop, Ricardo Durand Flores decided to donate part of the infrastructure for the creation of a religious art museum, where art pieces made in colonial times by locals would be exhibited, with religious thematic. Between them, are paintings with the famous “Cusco school” art style.

The collection of sculptures and paintings was donated by the different Cusco Archbishops through the years and by a recognized art collector, deputy, and politician from Cusco, José Orihuela Yábar.

In this form, the museum has a perimeter wall made of stone, well known because it is where the “Stone of the 12 angles” is found. It also has a beautiful and extensive Renaissance patio with tiles on the walls and stone arches. In the middle of the courtyard is a stately pool.

Inside, you will see an incredible collection of colonial religious paintings like the collection of 12 canvas prints of Corpus Christi (an important religious procession developed in the main square of Cusco every second Thursday of June, when Saint sculptures are taken in procession around the Cusco Plaza) brought from Santa Ana church or the collection of 9 canvas prints of Zodiac series made by local painter Diego Quispe Ttito. You can also admire its beautiful carved cedar ceilings, impressive stained-glass windows, and Moorish-style doors. It is quite easy to locate within the Cusco tourist map. Just by finding the Stone of the 12 angles, you can enjoy a visit to this museum.

6. Coricancha museum

museums in cusco qoricancha
AddressEl Sol Avenue, 3º Block. Just in front of Coricancha temple
Schedule of visitMonday -Saturday 09:00 – 17:00 / Sundays 14:00 – 16:00
PricesTicket included in the General Cusco Tourist Ticket (36 $)
Tour time45 min

If Cusco was the most important and sacred city of all Tawantinsuyo (The large Incas’ territory covered lands from current Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru), the Coricancha was the most sacred place inside Cusco. In other words, the center of everything. This temple was magnificent and was destined for the worship of the Sun God, its most important deity. According to the first  Spanish chronicles, the Coricancha walls were covered by Gold and silver sheets, besides gold sculptures of little llamas and Andean animals over the temple garden. Once Spanish conquerors arrived in Cusco, they were amazed at the temple and began to dismantle it, taking possession of the gold and silver that was in the place. At the same time, they built the Santo Domingo Convent over the ruins of this magnificent temple, as a form to impose quickly the new Catholic religion over the pagan one.

Happily, the current Santo Domingo convent has one of the most complete underground archaeological museums in Cusco city. The Coricancha Site Museum that sits just below what was once the temple’s beautiful Sacred Garden. Inside, you can see mummies, sacred idols, textiles, and many other things.

It has numerous exhibits presenting the Inca and Pre Inca cultures, ceramics, fragments, textiles, paintings, sculptures, musical instruments, and much more replicas of objects found in excavations at the site. Also, you will be able to see an exhibition presented chronologically of the civilizations that lived in Cusco. You can enter the museum from the “Avenida Sol” avenue. You will notice how this is an underground museum that has about five rooms where the history of our ancestors is explained.

7. Chocolate museum

museums in cusco and chocomuseo
AddressRegocijo Square 216, Historic Center of Cusco
Schedule of visitMonday – Saturday 09:00 – 19:30 pm
Tour time02 hours

After a complete tour of most of the museums in Cusco, you can enjoy an entertaining alternative experience. This is a very interesting suggestion to explore after having seen all that the different museums have to offer. You can detach yourself a bit from the historical site of the city and recall the many traditions of Cusco. The Chocomuseo does not necessarily have large archaeological collections on display, but it does offer an educational and entertaining experience like no other about the local Chocolate, its grown, production, varieties, exports, and flavors. The museum is dedicated to Cusco Cacao, its history, and the art related to the creation of this quality chocolate recognized around the world and has won many awards.

It is located on Garcilaso street, and not only can you learn about the history of chocolate, but you can also participate in a wide variety of workshops and cooking classes. We recommend the “Bean to Bar” experience, developed as a workshop every day in the museum. Also, the on-site staff will offer you a tour for free, but you can also take part in the amazing alternative workshops like cooking classes with chocolate among others. Finally, within the workshops and classes offered by the museum, you will have the possibility of creating your own Cusco chocolate bar. Not mentioning the possibility of buying craft chocolate bars, liqueurs, and even health soaps in a base on cacao.

8. Maximo Laura museum

museums in cusco maximo laura
AddressSanta Catalina Ancha Street 304, Historic Center of Cusco
Schedule of visitMonday – Saturday 09:00 – 13:00 / 14:00 – 18:00 pm
Tour time01 hour

Again, resting of archaeological and historic museums, we have the Maximo Laura museum. This is an art contemporary museum located in the historic center of Cusco, where tapestry art pieces are shown in a little building of two levels. The first level is an art market of Maximo Laura art pieces, and on the second floor is the museum. But, Who is Maximo Laura?

Maximo Laura is a Peruvian master of tapestry art who was born in Ayacucho in 1959, his love for tapestry art was inherited from his father. In this form, from 1988 began to develop his technique in this art style, rapidly achieving worldwide recognition. Nowadays, he is a famous Peruvian art master whose works are exhibited in art museums in the United States, Europe, and Central America. Some of them have even been acquired by hospitals and American museums. Its new style of representing lines, figures of Andean thematic with colors associated with the Peruvian high mountains, and its innovative style in the upholstery technique, make Maximo Laura’s work unique. We invite you to take a look.

9. Santa Catalina museum

AddressSanta Catalina Ancha Street 401, Historic Center of Cusco
Schedule of visitMonday – Saturday 08:30 – 17:30
Prices$ 3 per Adult and $ 1.5 per Student
Tour time01 hour

This cloistered monastery museum is located a few steps from the Plaza de Armas of Cusco, in the Plaza Santa Catalina. The museum is located where the Acllahuasi once was situated. It was also known as the “House of the Chosen” or “Casa de las Elegidas”. This ancient Inca site recruited some of the most beautiful and virgin women in the entire Empire. They had to dedicate themselves to the cult of the Sun or to the service of the Inca nobility. Some women even dedicated themselves to cooking, textile work, mass production of clothing and weapons for the Inca army, agricultural tools and even becoming strong warriors for the Empire, in case the occasion calls for it.

The Santa Catalina Monastery was founded in 1601, in Arequipa. But due to a series of natural disasters in the city, this was moved in the early seventeenth century to Cusco. The initiative of the foundation came from the widow Lucía Rivera de Padilla. The widow had extensive wealth and fortune, and in February 1605 the first 25 professed nuns arrived in Cusco, which situated inside the old churches in Cusco list.

This museum has truly exquisite colonial architecture. It corresponds to the last stages of the Renaissance and has the presence of Roman-style arches in its building. Current, a part of this closure Convent is open to the public in form of a museum. There you’ll see the mortuary,  the workroom, the refectory, the study, the church, the sleeping quarters, and the chapter house among representations of the style of life of nuns inside a closure monastery, from colonial times until these days. In addition, you can enjoy paintings of the Cusco School from the 17th and 18th centuries belonging to Diego Quispe Ttito, a famous Peruvian artist in Colonial times, perfect representing of this local art style. You will even find huge tapestries from the colonial era and other no less surprising colonial paintings.

10. Contemporary Art museum

museums in cusco municipal palace
AddressMunicipal Palace, Espinar 270 Street. Historic Center of Cusco
Schedule of visitMonday – Saturday   09:00 – 18:30
PricesTicket included in the General Cusco Tourist Ticket (36 $)
Tour time30 minutes

This is one of the museums in Cusco that you need to visit. It is located in the Plaza del Regocijo, the square adjacent to the Plaza de Armas. This museum was founded in 1995 by the Cusco major of that year, Dr. Daniel Estrada Perez, with the donation of 280 artworks by local artists belonging to the local art collector, Dr. Luis Rivera Dávalos. Today it has more than 300 artworks belonging to renowned local artists such as Antonio Olave and  Hilario Mendivil. Besides a great variety of international artists’ artworks. This museum has three rooms inside the Municipal Palace.

You will be able to enjoy the collection permanently, as more than 50 temporary exhibitions are held throughout the year in these three salons. Both collectively and individually. And whether they are from recognized national and foreign artists, so there is a wide variety of options. The art in the Imperial City does not only go back to our Inca and colonial ancestors. The art of Cusco is revived and remembered through its contemporary artists, who strive to produce and reproduce a great variety of styles.


We hope together with Machu Travel Peru to have shown you a bit of the best museums in Cusco, although these are not all that you can find within the Imperial City. There are other museums available that are also worth visiting, we try to show you here those that you cannot miss. And, if you are wondering about the security of the city, let me inform you that Cusco is safe to travel to. The municipality put security cameras, police officers, and even patrol cars on every corner of the historic city center for your safety.

In the same way, if you want to visit some of these places, you can consult Machu Travel Peru to organize a quick guided tour of the place. Our team of qualified consultants will be delighted to organize the trip of your dreams. We can include in your itinerary the visit to some of these incredible museums in Cusco. Do not miss it and start organizing with us from now on!