In this article, we’ve outlined all of the best things to do in San Blas, Cusco. Home to an artistic crowd for centuries, San Blas is known for its beautiful architecture, cobblestone streets, and fun vibrant culture. Any visit to Cusco is incomplete without a stop in San Blas so keep on reading to learn more about the best things to do in the area!
San Blas in Cusco, Peru
Picture a maze of narrow cobblestone streets with quaint, colorful homes packed in tightly on all sides and small, local artisanal shops on each corner.
This is San Blas, Cusco, which is, in our opinion, the most picturesque neighborhood in the heart of the ancient Incan capital. You can spend days simply wandering around the labyrinth of undulating streets, finding small surprises, bursts of color, and local shops or restaurants around each corner.
If you’re spending any amount of time in Cusco, a visit to San Blas is a must!
Our experience in san blas
We spent two weeks in Peru in April/May 2022. While in Peru, Cusco served as our home base and while we were in Cusco, we spent the majority of our time in San Blas.
While we visited Peru mainly to explore the nearby Andes mountains, we also fell in love with the unique culture, impressive history, and beautiful architecture found throughout San Blas.
After some unexpected changes to our trip itinerary, we spent an entire day simply wandering through the streets of San Blas. It almost felt like we were being transported to a quaint European town!
Other Peru Resources
Looking for more to do in Peru?! We’ve got lots of resources to help you plan your trip!
history of San Blas, Cusco
San Blas, historically known as T’oqokachi by the Incan people, has long been an important area in Cusco. Historically, it was home to artsy types of folks, mainly architects and local artisans, and it maintains that reputation to this day.
We know that San Blas was an important area for the Incan people because the remains of Pachacuti, the Incan ruler who oversaw the construction of Machu Picchu and the creation of the Incan empire, were found in the neighborhood.
Many of the current architecture was built during the Spanish Colonial period, which is quite evident as you stroll around the cobblestone streets. It definitely has a European touch!
Where to stay in San Blas
If you’re spending a few days in Cusco, San Blas is the perfect area to base your stay.
There are tons of great places to stay in San Blas so we’ve narrowed it down to just a few choices that we’d recommend. We’re certainly more on the budget end of the travel budget spectrum and there are plenty of cheap options, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some nicer choices as well.
Luxury | Antigua Casona San Blas
- Rate | $183 per night
Featuring an onsite restaurant/bar, quaint courtyard, a spa, and an unbeatable location, there really isn’t anything more you could want in a hotel. If you’re looking for the best accommodations available in San Blas, Antigua Casona San Blas is your best bet.
Mid-tier | Hotel and Mirador Los Apus
- Rate | $59
With a homey and authentic vibe and spectacular location, Hotel and Mirado Los Apus is a great option for more budget-focused travelers who don’t mind spending a few extra dollars for additional commodities.
Budget | Hostel Pariwana
- Rate | $46 for a double room; under $20 for dorm beds
Hostel Pariwana has racked up all kinds of recognition for being one of the best hostels not only in Cusco but the entire world. As they say, it’s a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget!
With a great location, friendly staff, and tons of space to hang out and relax, Hostel Pariwana is our top recommendation for budget travelers.
Budget | TATA Hotel Boutique
- Rate | $32 for a double room
When our plans unexpectedly changed during our time in Peru and we couldn’t get a room at Hostel Pariwana, we found ourselves at TATA Hotel Boutique and it couldn’t have worked out better.
Smaller and much quieter than Hotel Pariwana, TATA Hotel Boutique was exactly what we needed after some unfortunate changes to our travel plans. The staff could not have been more accommodating, the rooms were immaculate, and the price is low!
15 Best things to do in San Blas Cusco
As we mentioned before, we spent about 2 full weeks in the Sacred Valley of Peru, with many days in the bustling capital of Cusco. We always found ourselves making our way back to San Blas!
Below we’ve listed 15 of the best things to do in San Blas, Cusco, in no particular order.
- Walk the San Blas Slope
- See the 12-Angle Stone
- Shop the local vendors and artisans
- Enjoy a break at Plaza San Blas
- Explore Iglesia del San Blas
- Take a chocolate making class at ChocoMuseo
- Enjoy the best views and drinks at Limbus Restobar
- Get lost wandering the narrow streets
- Grab a coffee and support local artists at Xapiri Grounds
- People watch at Plaza de Armas
- Learn about Incan history at the Qorikancha
- Watch the sunset at Mirador de San Blas
- Try the best pizza in Cusco at Nonna Trattoria
- Take a step back in time at Sacsayhuaman Ruins
- Expand your gastronomic boundaries at Kao, Thai-Peruvian fusion food
Before we get into the list of the best thing to do in San Blas, we have a few important notes.
First, we’ve done all the things on this list so you can rest assured that we are giving you accurate information based on our own experiences.
And second, some of the activities included in the list are not technically in San Blas. But they are all within a very short walk of San Blas. Honestly, we couldn’t find a good map or description of San Blas’ borders. We’re just rolling with the list below, even though we know some of the items aren’t technically in San Blas.
San Blas Cusco Map
The map below displays the location of the best things to do in San Blas Cusco, along with restaurant recommendations and great places to stay.
- To view more details about each location, click on the marker on the map.
- To save this map for future use, click the star next to the title. From your phone, open the Google Maps app and click the “saved” tab, followed by the “Maps” icon. From your Gmail account, navigate to Maps –> “Saved” –> “My Maps” –> “Maps” tab.
- To email this map to yourself, click the three dots in the upper right corner.
1. Walk the San Blas Slope
One thing to know about San Blas is that it’s perched on a hill overlooking the Cusco city center, which means exploring the neighborhood requires a bit of a climb.
The Cuesta de San Blas (“Slope of San Blas”) is a famous street that runs from Cusco’s main square, Plaza de Armas, to the Plaza San Blas. As you may have inferred from the name, the street sits at an angle leading uphill from Plaza de Armas to Plaza San Blas.
The Cuesta de San Blas gives you a nice preview of the narrow, maze-like cobblestone streets that wind their way throughout the San Blas neighborhood.
2. See the 12 Angled Stone
One of the most photographed sites in San Blas, the 12-Angled Stone is testament to the perfection of Incan architecture.
Nestled into the side of an exterior wall of the palace of the Archbishop of Cusco, the 12-Angled Stone is a perfect example of the precise stonework of the Incas, which allowed them to leave behind ruins like Machu Picchu.
The 12-Angled stone is located between Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Blas.
3. Shop the local vendors and artisans
Throughout its history, San Blas has drawn an artistic crowd and served as a hub of art and architecture. To this day, it’s home to many local artisans making all sorts of craft and goods. We loved simply wandering the streets, popping into the little stores and eyeing the local fare.
Sarah ended up buying a new leather purse that she now uses every day!
4. Enjoy a break at Plaza San Blas
Like most neighborhoods throughout Latin America, San Blas is organized around a central square, serving as a communal meeting space and hub of local activity. While not as expansive as Plaza de Armas just down the hill, Plaza San Blas is quieter and more quaint.
When we passed through Plaza San Blas, it was filled with local vendors selling all types of art and crafts.
There are plenty of benches and a water fountain, making it a great place to stop and take a rest as you explore all the best things to do in San Blas.
- You can find Plaza San Blas here, but honestly, if you walk around for just a little bit you’ll surely run into it even if you aren’t trying to.
5. Explore Iglesia del San Blas
Located right next to Plaza San Blas, Iglesia del San Blas is another important historical site in the San Blas neighborhood.
Originally built in the 16th century, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1650 and was entirely rebuilt. This “new” church is what stands today.
Although it may appear simple from the outside, the inside of the Iglesia del San Blas will blow you away. It’s home to a number of historic paintings and an ornate altar, but the most impressive part of the Iglesia is the insanely intricate pulpit. Allegedly, it was made from a single piece of cedar wood and is considered one of the most impressive wooden carvings in colonial America.
Know before you go | The Iglesia is open to visitors from 10-6 everyday. Admission for adults is 15 soles, while students cost 7.5 soles.
6. Take a chocolate making class at the Choco Museo
If you’re a chocoholic (like Sarah!), you’ll love Peru! Chocolate has been an important part of the Incan gastronomic culture for centuries and today. Peru is one of the largest producers of high quality cacao in the world!
Choco Museo is located right in the heart of San Blas and offers a handful of fun chocolate-centric classes. We did the Bean to Bar workshop and loved it! You’ll learn all about how cacao is grown, harvested, and processed into different types of chocolate.
But best of all, the grand finale of the class is making your own fresh chocolate bars with toppings of your choice. You won’t leave here wanting for any chocolate!
7. Enjoy the best views and drinks at Limbus Restobar
We were surprised to learn that Peru is actually home to a delicious cuisine and impressive culinary culture! As such, you’ll be treated to wonderful meals almost anywhere you go in the area (although, just as a heads up, one of the local delicacies is guinea pig so just be careful on that front).
During our time in Peru, easily our favorite dining experience was at Limbus Restobar towards the top of San Blas.
Not only does Limbus feature tons of outdoor seating with epic views of the Cusco Valley and surrounding mountains, but it also serves an extensive cocktail list and tasty menu of classic Peruvian dishes.
Sarah swears that the cocktail she had at Limbus was the best drink she’s ever had in her life! I was pretty happy too with my pisco sour (the most popular drink in Peru) while watching the sunset!
Tip | Limbus Restobar is located on a narrow foot traffic-only street. It can be a bit tricky to find, so here is the exact location.
8. Get lost wandering the streets
We spent an entire morning simply wandering the streets of San Blas, enjoying the sites and sounds of the people, architecture and culture. Walking around the streets of San Blas is a great way to get a better sense of the city.
You’ll find tons of great photo ops, local artisans selling their goods, cafes, and food vendors. Slow down, take it all in, and enjoy everything San Blas has to offer with no predetermined destination or timeframe. Trust us, you’ll enjoy it!
9. Grab a coffee while supporting local artists at Xapiri Ground
After a morning spent wandering the streets of San Blas, we were craving a good cup of coffee. So, we stumbled our way into a fun looking cafe right on the Plaza San Blas, expecting to grab a few quick coffees for the road.
But luckily for us, we actually wandered into Xapiri Ground. Xapiri Ground is not only a cafe, but also a non-profit focused on sharing the art and culture of the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest.
The coffee was amazing, but you can also stroll through the gallery of indigenous artists and purchase something for home knowing it’s going to a good cause.
10. People watch in Plaza de Armas
Although technically not in San Blas, Plaza de Armas is the heart of the historic center of Cusco and sits just outside San Blas. If you spend even one day exploring Cusco, you’ll almost assuredly pass through the Plaza de Armas, with its perfectly manicured grass and flowers, ample park benches, historic architecture, and throngs of local people and visitors alike.
After a long day of exploring, snag a park bench and watch the interesting people stroll by or head to one of the many restaurants surrounding the plaza for a cold beer and delectable food.
11. Learn about Incan history at the Qorikancha
No visit to Cusco is complete without admiring the history and importance of the Qorikancha, one of the most important temples in Incan religion. Originally built as a temple to the sun god, Inti, it has long been the center of Peruvian religious life.
Accounts detail the awe the Spaniards felt when they laid eyes on the Qorikancha for the first time. According to legend, not only was it filled to the brim with statues and figures made from gold and other precious metals, but apparently the walls themselves were covered in gold. The Spaniards had never seen anything like it!
Perhaps predictably, the Spaniards looted the gold, destroyed the temple, and built their own church on its foundation.
Luckily, the impeccable Incan stonework has stood the test of time. The foundation of the original temple still stands today.
Currently, you can enjoy a visit to the Qorikancha to learn more about the incredible history of Cusco.
Know before you go | Qorikancha is open for visitors from 8:30-5:30 PM Monday through Saturday and from 2:00-5:00 on Sunday. Admission cost 10 soles.
12. Watch the sunset at Mirador de San Blas
Located just uphill from Limbus Restobar, the Mirador de San Blas (a.k.a. San Blas Viewpoint), offers stunning views overlooking San Blas and the Cusco city center. Check out the viewpoint at sunset, or better yet, just after sundown to see the city lit up!
If you’re planning to enjoy a cocktail at Limbus Restobar, the view from the deck is pretty similar to what you’ll see at the Mirador de San Blas.
13. Try the best pizza in Cusco at Nonna Trattoria
Nonna Trattoria is hands down the best pizza in Cusco!
After a long day of travel from the US, we arrived in Cusco, checked into our hostel, and with empty stomachs, set out in search of something to eat.
We quickly stumbled upon Nonna Trattoria and were easily sold based on the homy, cozy atmosphere and wood-fired oven in the middle of the dining room. What more could you want!
The pizza is simple, yet perfectly cooked, the beer is cold, and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.
If you’re craving some pizza while exploring San Blas, make sure you stop at Nonna Trattoria, located here.
14. Take a step back in time at Sacsayhuaman Ruins
Obviously, Peru and the Sacred Valley are known for their incredible Incan ruins like Machu Picchu, but did you know there are ruins within walking distance of San Blas?
That’s right, the Sacsayhuaman Ruins are located within the city of Cusco and can be reached with just a short walk or taxi from San Blas. The structures were built in the 15th century as a fortress and are another prime example of the impeccable Incan stonework.
Tip | You’re almost assuredly going to need the boleto turistico when visiting the Sacred Valley. We’ve got a full post dedicated to all the details you need to know about the Cusco boleto turistico here.
15. Expand your gastronomic boundaries at Kao, Thai-Peruvian fusion food
Yep, you read that right: Thai-Peruvian fusion. It’s the culinary combination your tastebuds didn’t know they needed.
By incorporating classic Peruvian ingredients into Thai dishes, Kao packs tons of unique flavors into their dishes. With fresh ingredients and fun, vibrant plating, Kao is sure to leave your taste buds satisfied and belly full.
Kao is located in the heart of San Blas just a few minutes from the 12-angled stone, right of the Slope of San Blas.
Other Peru Resources
Looking for more great things to do in Cusco and Peru’s Sacred Valley?! We’ve compiled a list of other useful resources here:
- Cusco | 23 Best Things to Do in Cusco
- Machu Picchu | Hike to Huayna Picchu: Machu Picchu’s Mountain
- Machu Picchu | How to Get to Machu Picchu from Cusco: Everything You Need to Know
- Cusco | Complete Guide to the Huchuy Qosqo Trek
- Cusco | How to Visit the Stunning Laguna Humantay from Cusco
- Sacred Valley | Maras & Moray: Incredible Incan Ruins and Salt Mines
Questions about how to spend your time in San Blas, Cusco?! Drop us a comment in the section below.