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Secrets of San Pedro Market: an insider’s guide to the most popular market in Cusco

Experience the best of Cusco’s traditional cuisine, vibrant crafts, and warm hospitality with our essential guide to San Pedro Market Cusco.

As you step into its bustling ambiance, you are immediately embraced by a colorful array of stalls, the aromatic scents of traditional foods, and the melodic haggling of buyers and sellers.

San Pedro Market Cusco serves as a testament to the rich tapestry of the region’s commerce and community, offering visitors a myriad of opportunities to explore, shop, and indulge in local cuisine and crafts.

In this guide, you will learn how to navigate the stalls, shopping, bargaining, cultural etiquette, and of course, what to eat in San Pedro Market Cusco.

See also:

Plan your trip to Peru with us! Get expert travel advice and customized trip-planning itinerary from our local experts on the ground.

🏺 Importance of San Pedro Market Cusco

san pedro market cusco
Some produce at the market travels from farms located at altitudes above 15,000 feet, ensuring you get some of the freshest high-altitude produce available! | Photo: DepositPhotos.com

The roots of San Pedro Market are deeply intertwined with Cusco’s rich history and heritage. Originating as a small gathering of traders and farmers, the market has blossomed over the centuries into a central hub of commerce and culture.

Serving as a living museum, it mirrors the evolution of Cusco’s society, economy, and culinary diversity.

It’s where ancient Inca practices meet contemporary Peruvian life, creating a dynamic interplay that fascinates historians, tourists, and locals alike.

A visit to San Pedro Market Cusco is a journey through time, providing insights into the endurance and transformation of Cusco’s commercial and cultural landscapes.

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🚌 How to get to San Pedro Market in Cusco

san pedro market cusco
Here’s a fun fact: San Pedro Market was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the architect behind the iconic Eiffel Tower! | Photo: DepositPhotos.com

San Pedro Market is conveniently located at the center of Cusco, making it easily accessible from various parts of the city.

If you’re staying in the historic center, walking could be the best option. The market is a short and scenic walk from Plaza de Armas, giving you an opportunity to see Cusco’s enchanting streets.

Taxis are readily available throughout Cusco but walking is way faster in Cusco than taking a taxi. You will save more time! Travelers usually take a taxi in Cusco when it rains.

Buses that pass near the market are frequent. Though affordable, the busses are always full and it will take more time.

Lastly, if you want a more structured or scheduled visit, you can book a San Pedro Market tour – we do this tour, just get in touch with us!

👨‍🍳 Combine your visit to San Pedro Market with a cooking class in Cusco! Christian, our local chef recommendation, will teach you how to easily make Peruvian food at home. You’ll love his cooking studio, too!

🗺️ Navigating San Pedro Market

san pedro market cusco
The vibrant colors of the umbrellas and awnings at San Pedro Market are not just for show—they help create a lively atmosphere that captivates every visitor’s eye! | Photo: DepositPhotos.com

San Pedro Market sprawls out in a labyrinth of aisles and sections (over 1,000 stalls), each bringing a distinct flavor of Cusco’s vibrant culture and commerce.

Here are the key areas of San Pedro Market Cusco:

Produce Section: Bursting with color and freshness, this area showcases the diversity of fruits, vegetables, and herbs indigenous to the region, as well as imported varieties.

Meat and Poultry: A section dedicated to a wide range of fresh meats, poultry, and even some exotic offerings, managed by skilled local butchers.

Artisan and Craft Stalls: Wander through aisles filled with handmade crafts, textiles, and souvenirs, each telling a story of the region’s artistic traditions.

Food Stalls: A delightful corner of the market where you can savor traditional Peruvian dishes, freshly prepared in front of you.

Bakery and Sweets: Explore an array of freshly baked bread, pastries, and sweet treats that captivate the essence of Peruvian baking traditions.

Cheese and Dairy: Dive into the world of regional cheeses, milk products, and more, providing a taste of the Andean dairy richness.

Flowers and Plants: A blooming section dedicated to fresh flowers, plants, and various related items, adding a touch of natural beauty to the market’s ambiance.

🍲 What to eat in San Pedro Market Cusco

san pedro market cusco
San Pedro Market is a gateway to experiencing the traditional flavors of Cusco, with some recipes that have been preserved and passed down through generations. | Photo: DepositPhotos.com

You will definitely come to San Pedro Market Cusco for food. This is the cheapest option of homemade food starting for as low as $1.50 USD! Below are some food stalls that you will find inside the market:

Ceviche: Even though it’s more common along the coast, you can find this quintessential Peruvian dish of marinated raw fish or seafood in the market, each stall imparting its unique touch.

Tamales: Experience the comforting flavors of these steamed corn dough parcels, filled with meats or cheeses and adorned with spices and herbs.

Chicharrón: Indulge in this deliciously fried pork, usually accompanied by corn or potatoes, a perfect treat for those craving something hearty and flavorful.

Juane: This exotic dish consists of rice, meat, olives, and eggs wrapped in a banana leaf, symbolizing the diverse influences in Peruvian cuisine.

Empanadas: Enjoy these delightful pastries, filled with a variety of ingredients such as meat, cheese, or vegetables, making for a perfect quick snack.

Fresh Juices and Smoothies: Explore the market’s refreshing array of fruit juices and smoothies, which utilize the diverse tropical fruits available, ensuring a burst of fresh flavors.

🛍️ Shopping at San Pedro Market

san pedro market cusco
The textiles found in the market are woven with ancient techniques and patterns, each thread telling tales of the Andean cultures and communities. | Photo: DepositPhotos.com

San Pedro Market is a treasure trove where a multitude of items, ranging from the common to the extraordinary, awaits discovery.

Among the popular items are traditional Peruvian textiles, adorned with intricate patterns and vibrant colors that reflect the nation’s rich cultural tapestry.

Alpaca wool products, renowned for their softness and quality, are also a coveted find, available in forms such as sweaters, scarves, and blankets.

For culinary enthusiasts, the market offers an array of spices, herbs, and unique Peruvian ingredients, enabling one to take a piece of the country’s exquisite cuisine back home.

san pedro market cusco
The market’s flower section bursts with colors and fragrances, embodying the floral diversity and beauty of the Andean landscapes. | Photo: DepositPhotos.com

Exotic fruits, some of which are unique to the Andean region, present a delightful exploration of new tastes and textures.

Note that some fruits from Peru cannot be transported or taken to your home country. Better to ask your airline before buying.

San Pedro Market Cusco also houses a variety of artisan crafts, including pottery, jewelry, and handmade souvenirs, each piece narrating a story of the local craftsmanship and traditions.

💵 Bargaining and Payment Options

san pedro market cusco
Dive into the diversity of Andean cheese available at the market, from fresh to aged varieties, each telling a unique story of local dairy traditions. | Photo: DepositPhotos.com

Start negotiations with a price lower than what you’re willing to pay, and be prepared for a back-and-forth discussion until a mutual agreement is reached.

Maintain a friendly demeanor and respect the vendors, remembering that this is their livelihood.

In terms of payment, many stalls at San Pedro Market primarily deal in cash (Peruvian Soles). Make sure to withdraw smaller bills.

The acceptance of credit and debit cards in San Pedro Market Cusco has been increasing, but most of them would rather take cash.

If you forgot to bring cash or need some more, ATMs and money exchange services are available in the vicinity of the market.

🇵🇪 Observing and Respecting Local Traditions

san pedro market cusco
San Pedro Market offers more than 20 different types of fruits from the Amazon and Andean regions, making it a tropical and exotic fruit paradise. | Photo: DepositPhotos.com

When interacting with vendors or local customers, maintain a respectful and friendly demeanor, especially if you don’t speak Spanish. Peruvians are friendly to tourists but most of the market sellers do not speak English.

Always ask for permission before taking photos of people, their stalls, or their products. Respect their wishes if they prefer not to be photographed.

Be mindful of the cultural significance behind certain products or practices observed within the market.

Understanding and respecting these aspects enrich the visitor experience and promote a harmonious interaction with the local community.

ℹ️ San Pedro Market Cusco Practical Information

san pedro market cusco
Walking through the market is a sensory feast—with the sights of vibrant textiles, the scents of fresh herbs, and the sounds of lively vendor calls filling the air. | Photo: DepositPhotos.com

San Pedro Market Cusco is open 7 days a week, including Sundays, from 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM.

Morning hours tend to be bustling with activity, with fresh produce on abundant display and the market buzzing with local shoppers. They also serve breakfast!

Midday is a busy time for lunch as everyone intends to eat here. It’s really cheap and tasty! Late afternoons are relatively calmer, providing a more leisurely shopping experience but with the possibility of some stalls beginning to close.

✅ Safety and Hygiene in San Pedro Market

san pedro market cusco
Within the market, you can find ingredients that have been staples since Inca times, such as quinoa, maize, and hundreds of potato varieties. | Photo: DepositPhotos.com

While you really should visit San Pedro Market Cusco, you should also be mindful of safety and hygiene during your visit.

Keep your belongings, like wallets and cameras, secure and be mindful of pickpockets, especially during the market’s busier hours.

Most of the stalls in San Pedro Market maintain cleanliness and the food they serve is safe. However, if you already were sick in other parts of Peru, just be cautious when choosing the stall you want to dine in this market.

There are restrooms available within the market, but it might be advisable to carry your own hand sanitizer and toilet paper/tissue.

🌿 Tips for Responsible Tourism

Carry a reusable shopping bag to minimize the use of plastic bags. Also, you might want to have a reusable water bottle and avoid purchasing single-use plastic bottles.

Ensure that waste, like food wrappers or plastic containers, is properly disposed of in designated waste bins, helping to maintain the cleanliness and hygiene of the market.

Be thoughtful in your consumption choices, opting for products or foods that align with sustainable practices, such as locally sourced or organic options.

Consider buying directly from local artisans and producers, ensuring that the revenue generated supports their livelihoods and crafts.

Spread your purchases across various stalls and vendors, enabling a broader distribution of economic benefits within the market community.

Don’t hesitate to ask vendors about the origins of their products. This not only enriches your understanding but also promotes transparency. So far, there are no fake products in San Pedro Market but ask questions before purchasing!

While bargaining is a common practice, make sure that your negotiated prices are fair and reflective of the value and effort invested in the products or services offered.

Many Peruvian textiles take weeks (or even months!) to create by hand so take that into consideration.

⏭️ What’s next after San Pedro Market?

San Pedro Market is surrounded by a tapestry of historical, cultural attractions. If you are looking for a place to visit next (within walking distance), here are a few places to check out:

  • Cusco Cathedral: a stunning representation of colonial architecture, laden with historical and artistic treasures.
  • Plaza de Armas: an expansive square surrounded by picturesque buildings, gardens, and a vibrant atmosphere, making it a must-visit site.
  • Qorikancha: an ancient Inca temple that stands as a testament to the rich historical tapestry of the city.

Trisha Velarmino (43)

Trisha Velarmino is the Global Editor-in-Chief of the Insider Media Group operating in Europe, Asia, and North America. She lived in Peru for 1.5 years and has helped thousands of expats, digital nomads, and solo travelers easily visit Peru. Trisha has traveled Peru extensively from North to South.

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