Cusco’s Plaza de Armas is the city’s cultural center. When the sun goes down, the plaza hosts some of the liveliest nightlife in South America. Within walking distance of both hostels and five-star hotels, Cusco’s plaza includes a mix of rowdy dance clubs, ex-pat pubs and local favorites. Here’s our guide to the best bars in Cusco’s Plaza de Armas.
La Chupteria – The Shot Bar – encompasses the area’s party spirit. Inside the intimate venue patrons there are chalkboards filled with the bar’s menu of shots: crude names, flaming shots and delicious combinations fill the board.Enjoy the daily Happy Hour or try the shotski – a ski with 4 holes for group shots.
One of Cusco’s most popular clubs is a gathering of hostel-dwellers, students, and backpackers. Mama Africa’s plays a mix of reggae, electronic, and rock music. Good for the young solo traveler, Mama Africa is a place to meet fellow tourists in a party atmosphere. For a calmer way to start the night, enjoy the club’s free daily salsa classes.
Paddy’s holds the title of ‘Highest Irish-Owned Pub in the World,’ and, until recently, was the furthest locale from the Guinness factory to serve the beer on tap. Patrons can still buy Guinness in a can, as well as a range of imported European beers. For an Irish staple, enjoy the filling all-day breakfast including fried eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, fried tomatoes, fried onions, beans, chips, and toast.
At Indigo patrons can smoke hookah, sit next to the fireplace, enjoy a cocktail, and eat the best Thai food in Cusco all under one roof. The laid-back bar, particularly revered for its food, also serves curries and alpaca skewers. Best for posting-up on a cold Cusco night, Indigo has a warm atmosphere, board games, and an enticing all-day happy hour.
Bar, Peruvian, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Pub Grub, $$$
The American-owned Norton Rat’s Tavern is decorated in flags and busts of U.S. Presidents. Norton’s has all the dive bar essentials, including darts, pool and T.V.s playing football, rugby, and American football. The second-story balcony look out right across from the cathedral. Norton’s has a well-stocked bar, imported European beer and Peruvian beer on draft – a rare find – making for an ideal locale to have a drink and watch the sun-soaked plaza below.
This couch bar, owned by a Australian-Peruvian couple and featuring a daily ‘News From Australia’ blackboard, is a comfortable spot to hang out all day. The multiple rooms, strong coffee and book exchange make Los Perros feel like a cafe during the day. At night, Asian-fusion bar food, mixed drinks and a relaxed crowd of locals and tourists transform the spot into a proper lounge. On Sunday and Monday nights, Los Perros hosts live jazz. This laidback venue is ideal for couples, families and those seeking respite from late-night dancing.
Mushrooms is a lively bar that often serves as a precursor to the party upstairs at Mama Africa. The lounge revels in its namesake, from the furniture and bar shaped as mushrooms to the dominating, overhead mushroom light that fills the room with an electric red glow. Mushrooms’s reputation as an electronic music hotspot is well-deserved, as the bar plays host to international DJs throughout the year. Enjoy 2-for-1 happy hour drinks, which tend to be a daily special.
Rather than craft cocktails and fancy bar food, at Pepe Zeta patrons are likely to enjoy the omnipresent Cusqueña and Pilsen beers served in 650-ml bottles and poured into small glasses, fostering the custom of friends gathered around a single bottle. Live Andean and Latin music is plays at the weekends. Catching a show at Pepe Zeta and brushing elbows with Cusqueños is well worth a visit.
Ukukus is a staple of Cusco’s late-night dance craze, while also displaying local art and culture. Adorned with Peruvian art, including murals and masks along the walls, Ukukus is an intimate club experience. Nightly live acts play a variety of music including rock, reggae, salsa and Andean tunes. Ukukus is also a local favorite for its late-night internet cafe and pizza bar. Free cover passes are often handed out on the street during the day.
Restaurant, American, Peruvian, South American, Vegetarian, Fast Food, Street Food, $$$
Papacho’s showcases the best in bar food. Peru’s world-famous Gastón Acurio opened Papacho’s which serves delcious gourmet burgers with traditional Peruvian flavors and ingredients. Try the Pobre burger: a patty topped with egg, plantain, sweet potato fries from the Peruvian camote, and salsa rocoto – a hot pepper sauce. There’s also an array of cocktails, pisco punches, beer and wine. The menu also includes a range of gourmet milkshakes.