Pisac (or Pisaq in Quechua-spelling) is a small town about 35 km from Cuzco. Pisac is best known for its Sunday market, but is also known for some ruins dating from about the same time as Machu Picchu.
Whatever charm Pisac may once have had, however, is long gone.
The main plaza is filled to overflowing with a hundred or more stalls selling the same forgettable tourist junk available all over Peru, with more stalls spilling over onto the surrounding streets and the area in front of the church. The nearby streets are lined with restaurants aimed at foreign tourists, serving standard tourist food—pizza, lasagna, cakes, etc. There are also many vegetarian and vegan options available. If you're on a budget, head for the food market, where meals can be had for as little as S/. 4, or S/. 5 for soup and a main meal. As in other places, go where the locals go if you want low prices.
The main attractions are:
1) The impressive Inka ruins above town. These can be reached by walking—if you're reasonably fit and accustomed to the thin air—or by taking a taxi from town.
2) Other travellers. Písac is a great magnet on the hippie/alternative crowd, and its streets, restaurants and hotels are full of them, some on short visits, some staying long-term. If you feel like spending time in the company of other travellers, and if this is the kind of crowd you like to hang out with, then you might enjoy Písac very much; if not, then maybe head somewhere else.
3) Ayahuasca and San Pedro ceremonies. If this is something you are looking to participate in while in Peru, then Písac might be the place for you. There are a variety of options in the surrounding area catering primarily to foreign visitors, most of which are within easy access. Be aware that providers of these ceremonies are not regulated by the government, so it is each participant's responsibility to do his or her homework to ensure they're dealing with bona fide operators.
From Cuzco there are frequent busses leaving at Av. Tullumayo 207 (S/ 2.50).
Also you can catch any bus, passing by circunvalación. You can get to this highway, going up these enormous stairways.
Though the safest, the quickest and the most comfortable way is take a colectivo in Puputi street (3-4 soles).
The town is small enough for walking. Taxis are available for a ride to the ruins for 20-25 soles as arranged by the local tourism office.
A boleto turistico is required for access to some of the sights in and around Cuzco. It can be bought at the Oficina Ejecutiva del Comité (OFEC), Av Sol 103, Cuzco, ☎ +51 84 227037.
There are three different kind of tickets:
- A full ticket (valid for ten days and for all sites) for PEN130;
- A student ticket (ISIC sudentcard required as proof) for PEN70;
- A partial ticket (only valid for one day and a limited number of sites)
Tickets give access to the following sites in Cuzco: Santa Cataline Monastery,
Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo, Museo Historico Regional, Museo del Sitio del Qoricancha, Museo de Arte Popular, Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo Danzas Folklórico
and Monumento Pachacuteq.
They also allow access to other sites around Cuzco: Sacsayhuamán, Qénqo, Pukapukara, Tambomachay, Chinchero and the ruins of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Tipon and Pikillacta.
- Spread out on the mountains above the town are the Inca ruins of Pisac. There is a large agricultural section with terraces and several ruins. Allow for at least a couple of hours to visit. You can take an exhausting climb up there or take a taxi up to the site (s/. 15-25). Admission is by boleto turistico.
- Although very small, it is worth putting several hours to a whole Sunday aside for the Pisac market. People are coming down from the highlands with their products, including some very fresh food, raw materials, tomatoes, rice, potatoes. It is worth sitting down with the locals for a lunch eating just that, along with trout clearly just pulled from the river. It costs about 5 soles, but is a meal to remember.
- The Virgin del Carmen festival is in July, and includes colorful costumed dancers and a parade. There are few foreign tourists, and it's definitely worth a day trip via bus from Cusco if you like a little culture and history. As usual, beware of skilled pick-pockets.
- There are bazaars along the streets of Pisac, if you want to buy local handcrafts, it is worth checking them out here.
Silver jewelry combined with gemstone work is common here. Alpaca goods, musical instruments, rugs, and knick-knackery of all kinds can be bought at this market.
- Sit down with the locals and try some of the typical food of the region at one of the food stands at the market.
- Ulrike's Cafe. Ulrike's Cafe is has decent vegetarian and non-veg options, filling meals, local experiences such as Chicha Morada, and deserts such as Kahlua cheesecake. The three plate meal with soup (pumpkin soup is especially tasty), entree (try the veg. lasagna), and cheesecake is 18 soles, or with a brownie and ice cream for 15. You can also inquire about local lodging here. Friendly, prompt service. edit
- Apu Organic on Calle Grau serves fresh vegetarian dishes. Next door, the Sunday afternoon "Sacred Sushi" lunch (noon-5 pm) draws hordes of local expats for sushi, curry and chai.
- Ayahuasca Art Cafe at 555 Calle Bolognesi (main road leading to the Plaza), a small tasty place that serves vegetarian and meat Menu Del Dia for 15 soles. Plenty of food and great dessert.
- Food Market at San Francisco Street, at the eastern edge of town. Here there are several outlets serving meals (breakfast and lunch) for as little as 4 or 5 soles.
- Mohana Lodging, Arequipa Street (1 block below Plaza de Armas, on street Arequipa, next to Hospedaje Kinsa Ccocha). (today is 22.11.2012) 20 soles day/person, 120 soles week/person, 400 soles month/person. Very friendly owner has also a vegeterian restaurant below, named Prasada. edit
- Pisac Inca Guest House, Calle Vigil 245 (2 block down from the main square), ☎ +51 84 436 921, . Beautiful mountain views, tranquil setting. Two locations available. Discounts for extended stays. start at $18/night for a shared bath up to $44/night for a deluxe double with kitchenette. edit
- Hospedaje Juqui, Calle Espinar 646 (between Vigil and Arequipa streets). 40 soles for a double room (Jan 2013). Also hosts the small museo del maiz sara wasi edit
- CHASKAWASI, (Avenida Amazonas s/n – Pisac), ☎ +51 985 03 32 88. Affordable guesthouse overlooking the river. edit
- La Casa de Los Camachos (Macchu-wasi), KM3, Canapata (Take a moto about 3KM past the Royal Inca Hotel. tell the driver you want to go to the house of the camachos. shouldn't be more than 5 soles.). Awesome little peruvian couple, Juan and Inez have private and shared rooms as well as camping sites. It's a little bit outside of town, up on the hill with a great view of the ruins. This is seriously a diamond in the rough, great people and great facilities. edit
- Hatuchay Restaurant and Hostel, Arequipa Street (One block south of Plaza de Armas, just west of Bolognesi Street). checkout: 1000. Nice little hostel in the middle of town, on a fairly quiet street. For its price range, it's relatively clean and pleasant. Friendly staff, who speak only Spanish. Cooking facilities, wifi, hot showers. Clothes can be washed and hung to dry on roof. Off-season: 20 soles for dorm bed (in the off-season you'll probably have the room to yourself); 25 soles for single room (January 2017). edit
On the way to Pisac from Ollantaytambo or as a day excursion from the city, visit Moray, the agricultural laboratory of the Incas.