The fieldtrip to the San Pedro Market in Cusco is one of the most popular outings for both Spanish students and teachers at AMAUTA. Most of our Spanish teachers love to take the students out of the classroom, to teach them the many unique locations and secrets of the city of Cusco. And one of their favorite places to go, is the San Pedro Market.
Are you learning Spanish in Cusco? Don’t miss it! The San Pedro Market may be the most famous market in Cusco – and for good reason! Where else can you find travelers and expats from all over the world buying products from flowers to lunch, rainbow scarfs to raw alpaca meat? El Mercado San Pedro is special for those two reasons. The first is that people from all over the world gather there for the same reasons. And second: here you can find almost anything you could possibly want while living in Cusco, somewhere in the giant maze of stalls, stands, tables, and shelves. Here is a virtual tour of San Pedro Market in Cusco.
Most people enter the market through the main entrance on the north side, or the side facing the road from the Plaza de Armas. Immediately upon entering you are surrounded by an overwhelming display of color and texture. This part of the market is where you can find traditional clothing, costumes, belts, hats, sweaters, pajamas, wallets, blankets, ties, bags, alpaca-wool socks, and probably anything else made out of textiles. As always around Cusco, make sure you make a counter offer to anyone trying to sell you something – usually you can bring the price down by at least 15% of the vendors’ original offer!
Keep strolling through the main aisle and you’ll soon reach a place where fruit seems to almost come alive. The colors, smells, and calls of the juice vendors are quite literally irresistible. The fruit and juice is fresh, organic, cheap, and delicious, and you can buy anything from papaya to guanábana, bananas to peaches, apples, granadillas, mandarins, grapes, strawberries, star fruit, lúcuma, and any number of other Peruvian fruits you’ve probably never heard of before.
Keep walking and you will find all kinds of Peruvian vegetables, snacks, chocolate, coffee, small souvenirs, an aisle for bread, rows of dried fruits and nuts, plenty of different kinds of raw meat, (get lucky and you might just see a cuy with a pepper in its mouth!) a section for flowers, and of course you’ll find the odd clothing stand mixed in as well. Follow the signs, printed in Spanish, Quechua, and English – or something that is supposed to be English – and you’ll find plenty to eat in the back of the market. Endless rows of vendors offering mouth-watering Peruvian dishes ranging from small appetizers, to ever-present Caldo de Gallina, and finally heaping portions of rice and chicken, potatoes, and steamed vegetables.
Hopefully by now you’ve realized that there is far more inside this semi open-air market than can be described in a few photos and a few lines of text.
San Pedro is a wonderful place to experience the richness of Peruvian and Cusqueñan culture and cuisine. It is a great place to learn about Peruvian daily life and culture when you are on a Spanish Immersion Course in Cusco. You can find souvenirs for nearly anyone on your list, try traditional food and drinks, buy the ingredients to cook a feast for dinner, and try your hand at a bit of Quechua.
Finally, look around and appreciate the fact that you’re standing between a tiny Peruvian lady and a giant German – who are both there to find the exact thing they were missing from their day, at just the right price!