3 Great Markets in the Sacred Valley of Peru
One of the highlights of any visit to the Sacred Valley of Peru is shopping in the local markets. Regardless of which market you visit, be aware that bargaining is expected. Bargain hard, but respectfully. Another word to the wise: if you want to take a photo of a vendor or local person, always ask first and be prepared to pay a sole or two.
Day Trips from Cusco to 3 Peruvian Markets
1. Pisac Market
Pisac market is the granddaddy of the artisan markets and a popular day trip from Cusco. Despite the crowds, a visit to the Sacred Valley is not complete without a trip to the Pisac market. Just try and arrive by 9 am so you have some time to meander before the tour buses arrive. If at all possible, make your own arrangements to get to Pisac by taxi or bus from Cusco so that you have the freedom to arrive early and make a day of it.
The biggest market day is Sunday when people from the indigenous Quechua communities from all over the region travel to Pisac to sell their goods in the main square and do some shopping of their own. However, the handicraft stalls are open daily.
The handicraft market is a great place to purchase alpaca blankets and scarves, wood crafts, textiles and more. Avoid the mass-produced, cheap souvenirs (many are made in China), and look for quality products.
For lunch, avoid the touristy restaurants and look for a spot selling empanadas. You will know it’s the real deal if you see a big oven that looks like a pizza oven. For just a few bucks each, you’ll get an authentic, filling snack.
2. Chinchero Market
Chinchero is a small village in the Sacred Valley about an hour from Cusco. The town is the site for the region’s new international airport (to open in 2021) so expect many changes in the coming years. For now, the village is quaint and easy to navigate. The market is smaller scale than Pisac, but equally enjoyable, and held on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
If you are interested in learning about the textiles and how they are made, there are no shortages of free demonstrations. We visited a lovely spot not far from the main market that offered free weaving demonstrations called Centro Textil Acllas. If your kids like guinea pigs, they will love this place!
Chinchero is hands-down the best place to buy exquisite traditional weaving that is famous around the world. The best weaving to buy, however, is not necessarily for sale at the actual Chinchero market or any of the spots catering to tourists. Roam around town and look for the local women weaving and selling their wares. Expect to pay over $100 for these gorgeous creations. We own two, and they are among my most prized possessions.
Tip: Chinchero is located at over 12,000 feet (higher than Cusco) so be prepared to breathe heavy, especially if you take the bus from Cusco and need to climb up towards the market. Stay hydrated and pack on the sunscreen. If you are having trouble with the altitude, wait a few days before you visit.
3. Urubamba Market
For a more authentic experience, visit the indoor Urubamba market, open everyday and located a quick block away from the main plaza. You won’t find many crafts for sale, but there is no better way to get a taste for how people live in this bustling urban center. This is where the local people shop and where local restaurants source their food. Everything from fruits and vegetables to freshly butchered meat to local chocolate, household goods, clothing and flowers are for sale. You’ll find a dizzying assortment of potatoes and peppers. Fresh juices are made before your eyes, and vendors on the street sell grilled meat, popcorn and other street food.
For lunch, a great place to stop for lunch or dinner in Urubamba is Tres Keros which is a 15-minute walk from the market. The food is delicious, and the host Ricardo is a colorful character who speaks beautiful English and makes the best Lomo Saltado and Pisco Sours around.
You may also enjoy:
- 8 Fun Things to do in Peru’s Sacred Valley
- 5 Tips to Visit Machu Picchu On Your Own
- 6 Tips for Planning Your First Trip to Machu Picchu
- For friendly and familiar places to stay in Peru, check out Hilton Garden Inn Cusco, Hilton Lima Miraflores or the other Hilton hotels in Peru.
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A self-proclaimed Jersey Girl (with a soft spot for Jon Bon Jovi), Amy currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and 11-year old daughter. She picked…