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 overpriced restaurants serving mediocre fare.
Even in the less touristy parts of town, such as the main drag down by the river, the streets are crowded with aggressive taxi drivers trolling for fares, and restaurants double their prices for tourists, even in one case handing you a menu full of options ranging from S/. 6 to S/.12 and announcing that now every dish is S/. 18. Even bottled water is overpriced, with the 2.5l bottles that sell for anywhere from S/. 2 to 3 in Cusco going for S/. 3.5.
The only attraction left unspoiled in town is the new river-side promenade, which is fairly pleasant and uncrowded. But it's not enough to make the short trip from Cusco worthwhile.
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 decente vegetarian 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 17 soles, or with a brownie and ice cream for 14. You can also inquire about local lodging here. A word of caution: the waiters in this restaurant have, as of late, on several occasions been found to be unpleasant and intolerant to foreigners. Similar value and food can be found at several other restaurants and with a warmer reception. edit
- Prasada Vegeterian Restaurant, Arequipa Street (1 block below Plaza de armas, next to Hospedaje Kinsa Ccocha). Delicious vegeterian food served by great and friendly cook who cooks with love. You will see the sign on the corner of the street while walking up to Plaza de Armas from Av. Amazonas edit
- 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
On the way to Pisac from Ollantaytambo or as a day excursion from the city, visit Moray, the agricultural laboratory of the Incas.