a small colonial Peruvian village
Just north of Cuzco
Pisac is situated at the base of a majestic Incan fortress. For some time it has been the home of backpacking expats, wandering souls and pleasantly surprised passers-by. Home to a distinct charm, its free-spirited lure has made waves among the wanderlusting, gaining more popularity in recent years. The townspeople are welcoming and warm, inviting you into their town to learn and be a part of who they are. Give yourself time here – there is much to see and find in this little gem.
Location: 33 kilometers northwest of Cusco in the Sacred Valley of the Incas along Río Vilcanota, a segment of the Río Urumbama.
Coordinates: 3°25′27′′S 71°51′28′′W
Currency: Soles (S./)
Home to a distinct charm, its free-spirited lure has made waves among the wanderlusting, gaining more popularity in recent years.
Where to Eat
Ulrike’s Café, complete with a great rooftop and outdoor deck dining, is the perfect blend of local flavor, traveller and wanderer. The light energy and mix of cultures create a welcoming atmosphere, a kind of home away from home.
Run by a husband and wife team, the warmth of a family run business and environment filled with local art sets the tone at Ayahuasca Arte Café on Calle Bolognesi.
Fusing together local ingredients with the flavors and techniques found from traveling the world, mullu offers a new and unexpected menu worth exploring!
A short walk from the center of town, Horno Colonial Empanadas is home to a huge clay oven dating back to 1830. If only given a few minutes to spare, surely spend them there — for S./2.50, enjoy a homemade and freshly baked queso or carne empanada.
What To Do
Hike up to the Inca citadel that sits atop the village on a triangular plateau with fantastic terraces. In the center of town, walk up the path to the left of the main church and keep climbing up a clearly marked path. Be careful of the entrance fee, as one ticket for four of the ruins sites is only good for 2 days. Some choose to take a taxi up to the ruins, but nothing can replace the panoramic views seen on foot.
Tourists flock to the town’s well-known Sunday market. While it is true that Sunday brings all of the town’s vendors, any day of the week you’ll find a surplus of unique artists, craftsmen and local weavers to choose from. Don’t wait out thinking you’ll get a better price or quality somewhere else. If you like it, go for it and always negotiate!
If you find yourself here in mid-July, stick around for la Fiesta de la Virgen de Carmen. Pisac comes alive during this 4 day stretch, igniting colorful celebration and dance throughout the town. Don’t be startled by a 5am brass band parade wakeup call; this is only just the start.
On the edge of town, a wonderful local man stables Paso horses, a Peruvian breed known for their smooth rides. He offers rides through the beautiful valley along the river, two hours for S./75. Walking along the right side of the It’s a beautiful afternoon activity and gives a tiny peek at what a day of life in Pisac is truly about.
Where to Stay
Chaska Pisac is a serene oasis, run by the wonderful Christina. The hostel is home to a meditation room and community kitchen, offering solace on the road. It’s right next to the colectivo stations at the entrance to town, making it easily accessible.
The cozy Hotel Pisac Inca is run by sisters Tatiana and Claudia with a small courtyard and comfortable rooms, attracting backpackers with its affordable options. Kitchen use is extra.
For something a bit more upscale, the Pisac Inn is an adobe building with balconies overlooking the market square. It is covered in bright, unmistakeable murals and offers private bathrooms, complimentary breakfast and wifi.