San Pedro market is a must-see for everyone passing through Cusco. It is one of the largest markets in the city, and you can get almost anything from here. Clothes, food, souvenirs – it can all be found in San Pedro! Although it has become a tourist attraction in recent years, the market is still used by locals as a place to buy all of their groceries, and spend time socializing.
If you want to experience all that the market has to offer, it is best to take your time. Set aside an hour or two to browse the stalls, and find gems in between all the trinkets. Here you will be able to find sweaters made from llama and alpaca wool, jewellery made from silver and gold, as well as local artwork. There are a number of different stalls that sell the same thing, so make sure you look around before you make any purchases. There are also a number of stalls that sell fresh bread and other bakery goods, spices and herbs, as well as all of the fruits and vegetables you can find in Cusco. If you are interested, look closely at the fresh meat stalls and you can see cuy, the Peruvian guinea pig delicacy, and often a cow head or two. There are a couple of stalls that also sell local beers and liquors, for something new to drink.
San Pedro is one of the best places to practice your bartering skills! Although it might seem foreign and rude to people who are used to set prices, this is just a way of life here in Cusco, and within the market. When someone offers you a price, it is fine to haggle to lower it. While it is always fun to try and score a great bargain, you will probably be the most successful if you can speak Spanish. If you can’t, don’t worry – most of the shopkeepers can speak enough English to communicate with tourists.
If taking in that everything San Pedro has to offer feels a little tiring, don’t worry, you can always stop for a snack. There are a number of different vendors in the middle of the market and towards the back, that offer food to eat and a place to sit and relax. You can’t go wrong with a freshly-squeezed fruit juice, and a little empanada, but if you are feeling a little more hungry you could go for a traditional meal like lomo saltado (stir-fried strips of beef). Prices are cheap, and you can enjoy your food in the middle of the hustle and bustle.
When you visit this market, make sure you have cash on you – none of the stalls will accept bank cards. It is also useful to have smaller notes, because many of the stalls will also not have change for 100 soles.
The market opens at 6am every morning. If you are interested in buying some fresh fruit or produce, the morning would be the best time to go, in order to have first pick of all the best items. But if you are just going for a browse, or specifically for non-food items, the market stays open until 7pm.
How to get to San Pedro Market:
From Plaza de Armas (the main city square), head southwest along Portal de Carnes, which turns into Calle Manta. The road names change on each block, but as long as you continue in a straight line for four or five blocks, past Plaza San Francisco and through a large stone archway, you cannot miss it on your left.