The San Pedro Market in Cusco is the perfect place to immerse yourself in true Peruvian culture. It’s loud, it’s smelly, and it’s chaotic, but underneath these overwhelming aspects of the market, you’ll find a glimpse into authentic Peruvian life, fresh fruits and vegetables, and delicious street food. No visit to Cusco is complete without a visit to the San Pedro Market!

Visiting the colorful markets in Cusco, a highlight of any Peru intinerary

Two Outliers may contain affiliate links – we only recommend products we personally use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. For more information, see our privacy policy.

About the San Pedro Market in Cusco

The pungent smell of unrefrigerated meat, stall after stall of women waving menus in your face in an overly-conspicuous attempt to entice you to purchase a glass of fresh squeezed juice, steaming bowls of sopa de gallina served up next to macabre vessels of sheep’s head soup (and yes, there are actually parts of the sheep’s head in the stew), local vendors selling handmade textiles, fresh produce, cheese, and mysterious herbal remedies with dubious claims of increase mental and sexual vigor.

These are just a few of the overwhelming, disorienting, delicious, and stomach-clenching sights, smells, and sounds throughout the San Pedro Market in the heart of Cusco. 

Cusco is a city focused on its long history as the capital of the mysterious Incan empire and subsequent Spanish colonization. It’s a place where the most popular tourist attractions are hundreds of years old, impressive remnants of a foregone era of empires, conquest, and conflict.

And while understanding and exploring this unique history is necessary to appreciate the full cultural beauty of Cusco, it’s just as important to understand what the city is like today. And there is no better place to take a glimpse into the beating heart of Cusco than the San Pedro Market. 

why you should visit the San Pedro Market

Entering the labyrinth of vendors, stalls, tastes, sights, and smells in San Pedro Market is like taking a drink from the proverbial fire hose, if the fire hose were spewing out Peruvian culinary culture rather than water at an excessive speed.

Bluntly, San Pedro Market is an overwhelming experience for most international visitors. It’s beautiful, semi-organized chaos. But  visiting San Pedro Market in Cusco is an incredible experience and one you should not miss.

Whether you just wander through without stopping, buy a souvenir for home, sample fresh produce, purchase ingredients to make your own meal, or dine at one of the many vendors hawking classic Peruvian dishes, you’ll be glad you visited the San Pedro Market in Cusco. 

Other Cusco Resources

Looking for more to do in and around Cusco?! We’ve got lots of resources to help you plan your trip!

History of San Pedro Market Cusco

The San Pedro Market is the oldest market in the city of Cusco.

The current structure housing the market was built in 1925 and was designed by a certain fellow named Gustav Eiffel, who, you guessed it, also designed the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris. If you look closely at the San Pedro Market, you’ll notice metal columns that seem similar to the Eiffel Tower! 

Today, the San Pedro market spans an entire city block, with many more vendors setting up shop on the streets surrounding the market. 

Bright colors of the textiles and souvenirs at the San Pedro Market

How to get to the San Pedro market in cusco

Located just southwest of the Plaza de Armas, which is the main square in Cusco, the San Pedro Market is easily accessible from anywhere in the city, but it’s especially close to the main historical and tourist areas, like San Blas. The market is about a 10 minute walk from Plaza de Armas. 

You’ll know you’re getting closer to the market once you begin seeing independent vendors selling snacks like popcorn and peanuts on the sidewalk and small shops selling all sorts of goods from electronics to household supplies becoming more and more frequent.

San Pedro Market with guide

We’ll be honest, the San Pedro Market in Cusco can be extremely overwhelming as a first-time visitor! A great way to get the most out the cultural experience is to visit with a local guide who can show you around, explain what everything is and help you find the best food!

Tours of San Pedro Market are typically paired with a Cusco walking tour. Alternatively, you can take a cooking class that includes a trip to the market to gather all the ingredients for your meal!

Below are a few options for guided tours of the San Pedro Market in Cusco.

When the San Pedro Market is Open?

The San Pedro Market is open every day of the week. From Monday through Saturday, it’s open from 6:30am to 6:30pm. On Sundays, it’s open from 6:30am to noon.

Juice isle at the San Pedro Market in Cusco

Guide to San Pedro Market Cusco

In the sections below, we’ve provided all the information we wish we had before we entered the San Pedro Market Cusco for the first time. And, while some background information is certainly helpful, we wouldn’t worry too much about the details.

The San Pedro Market is a place that is enjoyed best without a plan, wandering through the maze of people and produce, being surprised by whatever you find around each corner, be it delicious, beautiful, rancid, or downright disgusting. 

What to expect in the San Pedro Market Cusco 

Here’s what to expect in the San Pedro Market in Cusco: chaos. Beautiful, beautiful chaos. 

You’ll enter through one of the open doors on the side or one of the ends and immediately be hit in the face with an overwhelming combination of smells, sounds, energy and amazement. Take a deep breath and take it all in. 

As chaotic as it may seem, the market is organized into different sections, with vendors all selling similar items grouped together. There is the fresh produce section, the meat section, cheese section, juice section, and so on and so forth.

We’ll walk you through some of those sections in the paragraphs below. 

Strolling through the San Pedro Market in Cusco

Fresh produce

Pretty simple and pretty amazing. Fresh fruits and vegetables from all over Peru, right at your fingertips.

We only bought a couple bananas, as we were stuffed from already eating, but you should try some of the more unique Peruvian fruits and vegetables, like the lucuma, cherimoya, or aguyamanto. You can also very many more common fruits and vegetables like avocados, tomatoes, peppers, oranges, and apples. 

Peru is also known for having a wide variety of starches, especially squash, potatoes, and grains. I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many different types and breeds of potatoes as I did in the San Pedro Market! 

Quinoa is another Peruvian staple, served in dishes across the country, that you can find in abundance in San Pedro. 

Fresh produce and juice at the San Pedro Market in Cusco

Meat and Cheese

I’m not going to beat around the bush here, you won’t want to spend much, if any, time in this section. The smell is terrible. Like really, really terrible. The problem is that the meat is left out all day, in the hot humid air, without any refrigeration.

And we’re not talking about a few chicken breasts, pork chops, and sirloins lying around. We’re talking about the whole enchilada. Pigs head served up on platters, lamb innards strung up like they’re laundry flapping in the breeze, and cow parts I can’t even pronounce or name.

The pervasive smell of all this room temperature carnage is so stomach-churning it’s beyond description. 

Prepared Foods

This is my favorite section of San Pedro Market, where the clank of spatulas on hot pans punches through the buzz of the patrons enjoying cheap, delicious street food, squeezed in like sardines in tightly packed tables. The smell of simmering meats, sizzling noodles, deeply fried potatoes and roasting vegetables floats through the air, enticing your taste buds to dig in. 

There are countless stands and stalls selling all sorts of meals in San Pedro Market and it would be impossible for us to list all the different dishes available. 

Some popular dishes include lomo saltado, the classic Peruvian dish of soy-marinated beef strips, stir-fried with peppers and onions, served over rice and fried potatoes or caldo de pollo, a simple and traditional chicken soup that’s perfectly hardy and filling. You can also find Peruvian classics, such as aji de gallina (a creamy, slightly-spicy chicken stew), anticuchos (grilled meat skewers, typically beef heart), baked cuy (guinea pig, a Peruvian delicacy), empanadas, and tamales. 

We stopped at San Pedro one morning for lunch and ordered some rice dish on a whim that included fried plantains, hot dog, avocado, fried potatoes, egg, tomato, onion, cucumber, and a punchy, herbaceous green sauce that somehow made the weird combination of ingredients come together perfectly.

I couldn’t tell you the name of the dish (pictured left below), but the point is that you can always get a delicious meal at San Pedro Market. 

fresh Juices

One of the most popular areas in San Pedro Market is the row of vendors selling fresh-squeezed juice.

To set the stage a little bit, there is a single row of stalls each selling fresh squeezed juice. As you approach the stalls, the women working at each booth will start aggressively waving menus and calling to get your attention and convince you to purchase a juice from their booth.

It all feels a bit intimidating but don’t fret. From what we can tell, each vendor sells very similar options at the same price. So just pick a booth with some open seats and go for it. 

The juices themselves are as fresh as can be (you’ll see them squeeze the fruit right in front of you) and include every possible combination of fruits you could imagine. There are menus available listing all the different combinations of fruits you can include in your juice, but honestly, the menus aren’t really needed.

Just point to the fruit you want in your juice and the woman will grab them and throw them together in the juicer! 

A freshly squeezed juice at the San Pedro Market!


In addition to all the food options at San Pedro Market in Cusco, there is a large section of stalls selling typical Peruvian collectibles, such as keychains, fridge magnets, blankets, sweaters, dolls, stuffed alpaca toys and other clothing and textiles.

This area of San Pedro Market is one of the largest selections of Peruvian souvenirs we found anywhere in the Sacred Valley, but it’s also probably a bit more expensive than smaller, less-visited markets throughout the area. 

Odds and Ends

Okay, now that we’ve made it through the different sections of the market, I also felt like I needed to give you a heads up about some of the other odds and ends you can find at San Pedro Market, with an emphasis on the “odds,” because some of these items are truly confounding.

Now you might be saying to yourself, “You already told me about baked guinea pigs, grilled beef hearts, and unrefrigerated pig innards, what could we weirder than that?” 

Sheep head stew

Well let me tell you about sheep’s head soup. Yes, you read that correctly, I said sheep’s head soup, and yes, it is exactly what it sounds like it is. One of the most popular delicacies in San Pedro Market, sheep’s head stew is perhaps the most disturbing dish I’ve ever seen.

It’s actually a pretty simple concoction, a light broth with rice, potatoes, carrots, and whatever remaining parts of the sheep are lying around. Don’t be surprised to see eyeballs, tongues, jawbones with teeth still attached, and other indeterminate body parts floating in your bowl!

Dried alpaca fetus

But it gets weirder. Can I interest you in a dried alpaca fetus? Luckily, these are not for human consumption (from what I can tell) but rather are used as offerings to different Incan deities and are supposed to bring good luck and prosperity. No judgment from me, but if I need a dried alpaca fetus outside my house for good luck, I think I’ll take my chances with whatever bad omen is coming my way. 

frog soup

Oh you thought we were done? Nope, not without a big bowl of frog soup, which in and of itself doesn’t sound too repulsive but just hold on for a second. You see, it’s not just frog that you’ll find in traditional Peruvian frog soup, but a collection of ingredients so far beyond what you’d possibly imagine that you’ll think I made this up entirely. 

In addition to whole frogs, you’ll also find crab, octopus, squid, trout, bull innards, and last but not least, bull penis. Allegedly, frog soup is supposed to have major health benefits, and the bull penis increases virility and serves as an aphrodisiac. We weren’t brave enough to give the stew a try so I can’t personally speak to its effects, but you’ll just need to try it for yourself and let us know!

Other Peru Resources

Looking for more information about Cusco and Peru’s Sacred Valley?! We’ve compiled a list of other useful resources here:

In addition to everything listed above, there is so much more to explore inside and outside of San Pedro Market. Truly, it is one of the most popular places in Cusco for local residents and tourists alike, making it a unique culinary and cultural experience. If you’re heading to Cusco on your way to Machu Picchu, make sure you stop at the San Pedro Market!

Save this article on Pinterest!

Leave a Reply