Since Cusco plays hub for travelers tackling Machu Picchu and a variety of other Andean adventures, it has sparked the emergence of a surprisingly vibrant nightlife scene: a mixture of hike-victorious foreigners and energetic locals that bring this quaint, colonial city to life as soon as the sun goes down. Granted the selection of establishments isn’t phenomenal (it’s a pretty small city, after all); but for its size, Cusco can definitely pack a wallop when it comes to a night on the town. Let’s investigate.
The overwhelming majority of the action revolves around the beautiful Plaza de Armas, which is flanked on all sides by restaurants, clubs, pubs and cafes all competing for a share of this highly concentrated market. For this reason, you’ll usually find a wealth of attractive girls handing out free drink tickets in an effort to coerce you into this bar or that. Don’t shy away from taking them up on the offer! As all these establishments are in such close proximity of one another, you really can’t go wrong investigating multiple locations throughout the night (though you’ll probably end up at the always-thumping Mama Africa come the wee hours of the morning).
If you’re looking for alternatives, your best bet is the bohemian San Blas quarter. A few blocks’ hike north and east of P de A, this cool section of old Cusco has transformed into the city’s hip, artist friendly neighborhood, complete with a selection of bars and cafes that, while not quite equaling the intensity of Armas, still provide some fantastic late night atmospheres. Look for names like the live music friendly 7 Angelitos or the colorful pub/café La Taberna de San Blas to get your night off to a great start. It all adds up to a great way to unwind after a few days of hiking and raucous good time in Peru’s cultural epicenter.