Millions and millions of people arrive in Cusco every day. Most of them usually visit the wonderful Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and spend their time exploring the ancient culture, interesting history and the Inca-colonial architecture of the city and its surroundings. But the Inca city offers other fascinating things to do in Cusco that are unique and different from the typical tourist areas and circuits. One of those things is the local markets such as the San Pedro market.
Local markets are a significant feature of the Peruvian culture since they offer a great look at the day-to-day life of the local people and their traditions. You may be asking yourself “Why is San Pedro market unique?” Well, Cusco Peru Travel has many fascinating answers to your question with which all your senses will be assaulted. So, we will put together a handy guide of this stunning market. Let’s get started!
Where is the San Pedro market?
This famous and huge market is located in the heart of Cusco, very close to the Cusco Plaza de Armas. From there, you must head south along Calle Mantas and pass Plaza San Francisco. As you pass this plaza, you will see an archway (Arco de Santa Clara) in front of you. Then, walk straight for two minutes approx. The San Pedro market will be on your left-hand side. Easy peasy!
Besides, the building itself is one block long and three blocks wide, and it is open seven days a week. Well, in a market there is never rest, right? This is good for you as a tourist, you can buy any last-minute supplies or souvenirs for your family when backing home.
What can we expect?
First off, you must know that the locals have gathered in the San Pedro market since the immemorial times of the Incas. They obtain and sell items for their daily needs. Therefore, the market offers a bustling but charming atmosphere full of flavors, smells and products that are exotic to any foreign. This is for sure the true face of the popular city of Cusco. For this reason, lots of tourists enjoy a visit to the San Pedro market. Even when you don’t plan on buying anything, a visit there is a truly unique experience. There are full of fascinating attractions you will get when exploring this vast local market. We are sure you will wander the stalls for hours.
San Pedro market also expands to an outside market where you can find indigenous women and children selling herbs, foods and various items. They lay out on colorful blankets.
Unique things you can buy
At the time you enter to San Pedro market all your senses definitely will come in to play. All the colors, the smells, the sounds, even the curious faces of local children will make you smile.
1. Animal heads
This part of the market is probably the craziest one because you will see heads of different animals looking at you. But that is not all, you will also see testicles, visors, snouts, some blood. Yep, nothing is wasted, all these strange “cuts” are used. You may be asking yourself “Why?” Local people use to cook with them for extra flavor… Yummy… But if you are not into these local flavors you better visit some restaurants in Cusco Peru
2. Fruit juice stalls
When walking into the market, the first thing you will notice will be the rows of juice vendors. There are about 30 fresh juice stands in the San Pedro market where you will find delicious and unique combinations of local fruits such as lucuma, granadilla, and chirimoya (custard apple). The funny thing about this section is all vendors play a “game” that consists of who has the best sales pitch or who can shout louder at the market. Regardless of which stall you choose, all the vendors are super chatty and friendly. Unquestionably, a delicious way to enjoy Cusco and know its people.
3. Herbal remedies
According to history, the Incas believed in nature and all its powers. The remedies they used in the treatment of many diseases were made with herbs. As an illustration, the Coca leaf was used to mitigate the symptoms of altitude sickness.
4. Soup section
As we mentioned before, there is a meat section in the San Pedro market. Why do we mention this again? For the only reason that these two sections are related. But it doesn’t mean that all the soups are made with sheep eye boiled or made from the head of a cow. You can also try traditional soups of Cusco made with vegetables, potatoes, rice, chicken and more delicious ingredients.
5. Guinea pig A.K.A “cuy”
In many places around the world, guinea pigs are pets, but in Peru, cuy is one of the most traditional, delicious and unique dishes you can try. For this reason, open your mind, pick one and enjoy it! Your palate will definitely thank you.
6. Colorful corns
When we said that you would wrap yourself in an atmosphere of color, we talk about not only the impressive colors of the Andean mountains but also the variety of colors of the Andean corn. The San Pedro market offers you lots of corns of all colors and sizes such as the purple corn. It is one of the most popular corns, used to make the typical Peruvian drink Chicha Morada. Besides, the corn is the main ingredient of Chicha, the famous Inca beer. This special and tasty beverage can be found in almost any local market. Similarly, there are colorful, oddly shaped potatoes and tubers.
7. Frog extract
Not all people feel comfortable to see a frog inside a blender… Wait, what?! Exactly as you read it. The seller catches a small frog, hits it on the head, removes its skin and then puts in a blender with some water. According to local people, this powerful extract has medicinal properties. It is good for the brain and gives you energy.
8. Blood of degree
As you already know, the Incas believed in the healing power of the plants. Blood of degree is the sap from the bark of an Amazonian tree. It is used to calm bone pains, relieve wounds and help with blood clotting. Some people say that nature is the best medicine. Well, Cusco Peru Travel believes in its magic.
9. Round bread
Without a doubt, the people of Cusco have a spirit of greatness and this is not the exception. Chuta is the name of the traditional Cusco bread. This big, round yet relatively-flat bread is not only really tasty but also literally bigger than your head (around 30 centimeters in diameter and 5 centimeters in height). Its flavor and size are incomparable.
10. Local Food
There is no sincerer love than the love for food… Did you know Cusco is considered the second gastronomy city in Peru after Lima? In fact, it has the best cuisine in the Peruvian Andes. In the San Pedro market, there are a lot of dishes that are cooked right in front of you. This mix of smells and flavors will be an incredible experience if you are not only a foodie but also curious and adventurous. All the dishes are delicious and stem from Cusco’s geographic diversity and its traditions. You can try the famous Chiriuchu, Puchero, Adobo, Chairo soup… The list is endless.
Finally, without a doubt, the San Pedro market is a one-of-a-kind place. For this reason, Cusco Peru Travel invites you to find your off-the-beaten-tourism experience during your tours in Cusco and enjoy a mind-blowing experience in this picturesque market. So, what are you waiting for? Book a trip to Peru and discover it by yourself!
Peru has many wonders waiting for you to be discovered. Here in Cusco Peru Travel, our speciality is to make your trip an outstanding experience, fill-in this form and let your tailor-made luxury Peru vacation begin.