Living in the Sacred Valley of Peru was one the biggest highpoints of my travels. The unique culture, atmosphere, and activities to do in Cusco make this a great place for anybody to stop for some nightlife. The culture in Peru has a tendency to live for the moment, and not for tomorrow, which makes Cusco a great place to go out and party. One great thing that you will realize about Peru is that alcohol, both at stores and bars, is much more reasonably priced than in bigger countries. I’m sure you will be able to find your way to Machu Picchu from Cusco, but it can be hard to navigate around a foreign city looking for a place to unwind, so I decided to make a comprehensive nightlife guide to Cusco.
Down to Basics
Cusco is not a city where you will find a mega club that is reminiscent of Vegas, but it does offer alternative solutions that wouldn’t be available otherwise. For example, there is a thriving live music scene and a large group of underground DJs which drive up the competition among the many different venues.
The popular drinks in Cusco are the Cusqueña and the Pisco Sour. Generally anywhere you go, you should expect to be able to get a reasonably priced deal on either of these. Of course, pre-gaming would be even more affordable. Just be sure to limit your drinks, because Cusco’s altitude of over 11,000 feet makes it one of the most punishing places in the world to experience a hangover!
Also, many of the best venues for dancing, disco, karaoke, and live music will be congregated near the Plaza de Armas in Cusco. If you are specifically looking for a venue for dancing and live DJs, you should expect to find these at or near the backpacker hostels near the Plaza de Armas.
The Biggest Clubs
Mama Africa in Cusco is one of the most popular dancing destinations. It is located right on the Plaza de Armas.
Perhaps the most popular club you should expect to find in Cusco is a place called Mama Africa. It is located right on the Plaza de Armas, and is popular to tourists and locals alike. DJs cater to all of these crowds by playing a mixture of disco, salsa, samba, and EDM music.
If you are looking for an EDM dance scene, you have two great options, Sky Discoteca, Caos, and Mythology
Keep in mind that many of the local hostels also offer great dancing atmosphere for travelers. One place in particular that I would recommend in The Point Hostel, where I once found myself jamming to reggae music until the early hours of the morning.
Don’t skip this one! Rock House Cafe may come across as a place that you only drink coffee at in the morning, but it is also has a large cult following of locals who come here to enjoy the live rock music. Much of this music is 80s American rock n’ roll, but you can also see some more modern music performed by the tribute bands. Rock House Cafe is open during the weekdays and weekends, and is a great place to relax and listen to some music during the late hours.
Procuradores: “Gringo Alley”
This street in Cusco receives the name “Gringo Alley” because of the many backpacker hostels, expensive restaurants, massage ladies, bars, and drug dealers all located on one small street. The locals that work in this area receive most of their business from gringos, thus the name “Gringo Alley.”
By the time you reach the Hostel Backpacker Felix, you will start to see several places for you consider unwinding. Most of these places are open every night, and stay open until the wee hours of the morning. Keep in mind that many of the best bars and clubs for backpackers are (at the time of writing) not actually available on Google Maps. Trust me, you will find them simply by walking through this area.
Cheapest Drinks in Cusco
You will usually be able to find drinks in Cusco starting at $2 for a pisco sour at many of the backpacker bars located off the Plaza de Armas in Gringo Alley. Start by inquiring at the Hostel Backpacker Felix. You should be able to find drinks at this price at any of the bars in this area. Of course, if this is not cheap enough you can always go out to a local liquor store and buy a 750 ML of pisco for less than $6.
Bars with a view
(View from Limbus Resto Bar)
Unless you want a nice view of the Plaza de Armas, you should walk up the mountain to San Blas, where you will find the best view of Cusco at Limbus Resto Bar. For the rest of you who just want a nice view of the Plaza de Armas, just go back to Mama Africa where you will have a balcony view of the plaza.
Timing is Crucial
Inti Raymi Celebration at the Plaza de Armas in 2016
Cusco’s nightlife scene can be dependent on the time of year you arrive. During the months of March – August the city sees an increase in tourism. The month of June in particular is highly esteemed because of the solstice, and the local celebration of Inti Raymi (The Sun Festival).
During Inti Raymi, you can expect to see a parade every day, with locals drinking Cusqueñas day and night around town. However, BE WARNED: a hangover at the altitude of Cusco, Peru will be incredibly painful. Make sure to counter this by drinking a coca tea in the morning. Many tourists use coca to counter altitude sickness in general, and is also a common replacement for coffee used by the locals.
Have you been to Cusco? Share your favorite bar or club below!