Most larger cities have a Bohemian, artist area, and Cusco is no different. In the San Blas neighborhood, you will find lots of hidden gems, full of charm and whimsy. From unique shops selling singular items to charming coffee shops, and some of the best views of Cusco, you’ll want to budget some time to explore this vibrant neighborhood.
Hilo – This unique shop can be found on Carmen Alto, one of the streets that branches from the San Blas Plaza. When you step into Eibhlin Cassidy’s extraordinary store, you get a sense of her creative genius. “Each collection is a journey into another realm from post-apocalyptic visions to subtle sensuality and gender play, to ethereal shadows of the past,” according to their website.
L’atelier – This funky little shop is also on Carmen Alto in the San Blas neighborhood, and worth a visit. Inside you’ll find alluring and modern handbags, jewelry next to fun, vintage shirts, jackets, dresses, and more! It’s a great place to find an exciting and unique souvenir or gift for your hip friends back home!
A La Lau! – This fun little store is located on Cuesta San Blas, which is the street that you walk up when going from the Plaza de Armas up to the Plaza San Blas. A La Lau! focuses on sustainable fashion and empowerment of women, so all of the items for sale are made locally, including beautiful sweaters, ponchos, purses, jewelry, and so much more! You don’t want to miss the chance to shop here.
Saturdays – Artisan fair in the plazoleta – If you find yourself in Cusco on a Saturday, and are looking to buy some delightful artisan pieces, then the San Blas Plaza is where you will want to go! Every Saturday, artisans set up stalls to sell their wares, including extraordinary woven belts and scarves, handbags, statues, paintings, and even little chess sets where instead of white vs. black, you will find the Incas facing off against Spanish conquistadors.
The Meeting Place – This lovely little coffee shop is located right in the San Blas Plaza, offering delicious coffee, tasty milkshakes, and excellent light meals, perfect for the high altitude of Cusco. They are also a non-profit business, committed to putting 100% of their profits back into the local community. For example, one of their projects includes providing backpacks and school supplies for children who otherwise would not be able to afford them.
Laggart Café – One of the larger coffee shops in Cusco, the Laggart has two large, comfortable rooms with walls covered in unique art, and some of the tastiest baked goods you will find, including vegan and gluten-free items! And they not only have delicious coffee, but tasty teas, chai lattes, and hot chocolate to die for.
Siete y Siete – If you want a coffee with a view, this is the perfect place! This coffee shop is at the top of a hill in the San Blas neighborhood, right on the corner of 7 Angelitos and 7 Diablitos (from where it gets its name). While you enjoy your latte and the incredible views, you can also take in the décor celebrating the seven angels and seven devils from which the streets get their names.
Green Point – One of the first vegan restaurants in Cusco, Green Point has an extensive and delicious plant-based menu full of delicious dishes that even the most hard-core meat eater will enjoy. If you’re vegan or just looking for a light, healthy, meat-free meal, Green Point is the perfect place to try.
La Bo’M Creperie – Crepes are a great, light meal option for when you’re getting used to the altitude. La Bo’m offers great French-Peruvian crepes, with a fusion of flavors, both sweet and savory, using local ingredients such as avocado, sauco (elderberry), aguaymanto (golden berries), Andean cheese, and much more! If you’re feeling hungry, the perfect meal is a savory crepe for your entrée and a sweet crepe for dessert.
Pachapapa – This restaurant is located in an old mansion in the San Blas plaza, just across from the Church of San Blas. Offering delicious local flavors, Pachapapa pays tribute to the region’s traditions, customs, art, and, most importantly, cuisine. If you are interested in trying Andean dishes in a beautiful setting, this is a great choice. And if you’re looking to try cuy (guinea pig), this is the perfect place to do so! (Just let us know in advance, as this dish takes about an hour – hour and a half to prepare.)
Km .0 – If you’re looking for a fun place with live music, Km 0 is a great place to visit. They also have craft beers and tasty cocktails that you can enjoy while you listen to the wide variety of music they play. The main drawback is that it can get crowded, so if you decide to check this place out, you’ll want to get there early to get a comfortable table.
Limbus Restobar – Though it’s a bit of a hike to get here (there aren’t any taxis that can take you up the stairs, unfortunately), the effort is definitely worth it. Situated on the hill above San Blas, Limbus offers one of the best views of the city, as well as imaginative and innovative cocktails and tasty appetizers. The balcony of Limbus is the perfect place to watch the sunset over the Imperial city of Cusco, and the lights start to twinkle in the surrounding mountains as darkness falls.
If you have built some free time in Cusco during your personalized trip to Peru, the San Blas neighborhood of Cusco is a great place to use it. You can shop in the unique little shops or artisan stalls, enjoy a coffee and a snack at one of the lovely coffee shops, savor a great, locally inspired meal, or watch the sunset over the city with a delicious cocktail or local craft beer. No matter what you are looking for, San Blas has something for everyone to enjoy!