The Sacred Valley in Peru is incredible, mind-blowing, magical, and simply unmissable. There are so many amazing things to do in the Sacred Valley, also known as Valle Sagrado. From grand Inca ruins in sprawling Archaeological Parks, snow-capped mountains, salt mines, and hundreds of hiking trails to explore there is no shortage of breathtaking and worthwhile experiences.
The Sacred Valley is only an hour away from Cusco, yet it feels as if you are stepping into another world, another realm. With whispers of dimensional portal and Inca ruins scattered along the hillside, the Sacred Valley of Peru is simply otherworldly, an experience that feels as if you’re stepping back in time.
This ultimate guide for the Sacred Valley focuses on both the popular highlights and hidden sites of the Urubamba Valley from the adorable villages of Pisac to Ollantaytambo, and everything in between. Get inspired for some serious wanderlust in this magical region. Find useful tips like how to reach Peru’s Sacred Valley, what to see, where to eat, how to use the convenient public transportation, and where to stay in the Sacred Valley in Peru. The main focus of this ultimate Sacred Valley guide is to help travelers create their own customized Sacred Valley tour.
Discover off-the-beaten-path Inca ruins, tackle some of the best Sacred Valley hikes, and fall in love with the Sacred Valley in Peru.
Table of Contents
- Useful Information About the Sacred Valley in Peru
- Planning Tips for Exploring the Sacred Valley in Peru
- Places to See in the Sacred Valley of Peru
- Beyond the Sacred Valley in Peru | Cusco & South Valley Resources
- Final Thoughts | The Incredible Highlights of the Sacred Valley in Peru
Useful Information About the Sacred Valley in Peru
Find all the logistics of the Sacred Valley in Peru, from where is the Sacred Valley, detailed directions how to reach it, where to base, and other useful tidbits.
Where is the Sacred Valley in Peru
Peru’s Sacred Valley lies just north of the Imperial City of Cusco. The Sacred Valley is the area usually referenced between the two village of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The Sacred Valley in Peru can also be referenced as Urubamba Valley, as the Urubamba River flows through the fertile valley. Be mindful, the Urubamba River changes names as it flows through the Valley.
The two villages of Pisac and Urubamba are the easiest ways to access the Sacred Valley from Cusco. While Pisac is less than 20 miles from Cusco, the Sacred Valley has quite a different climate than its neighboring city.
Cusco sit at a towering altitude of 11,152 ft. (3,400 m), whereas the villages in the valley hover closer to 9,000 ft. (2,743). The weather here is usually temperate and maybe it just feels that way, but the sun seems to shine a little more here than in Cusco.
✔ Travel Planning Resources | The Perfect Week in Cusco & the Sacred Valley
How to Reach the Sacred Valley in Peru
There are multiple ways to reach Peru’s Sacred Valley, with the two most popular access villages being Pisac or Urubamba. Collectivos, small mini buses service these popular destinations, and many places in-between. The collectivos are safe, fast, and luggage can be strapped on top of the roof. If visiting during rainy season, luggage is covered with a tarp.
Large and roomy buses also run from Cusco to Urubamba. Buses are cheaper, but take a little more time.
It’s important to note that prices may vary between drivers, so use these fares as a loose reference point. Be observants as to how much other drivers are charging and what other passengers are paying. Check the interior of the collectivo, as sometimes the fares are posted in the van. Generally speaking, pay for collectivos and buses upon exit.
How to Reach the Sacred Valley | Cusco to Pisac
Find the Collectivos in Cusco to Pisac on Puputi Street, near the Garcilaso Monument (roundabout). There are multiple vans departing from both sides of the street. Collectivos drop in Pisac near the main bridge, but some continue all the way to Calca or Urubamba for a higher fare
🚐 Collectivo Logistics | Average Fare: 4 PEN ($1 USD) | Duration: 45 minutes | Depart: frequently, when collectivo is full | Hours: 6:00 – 19:00
How to Reach the Sacred Valley | Cusco to Urubamba
Collectivos and buses depart frequently from Cusco to Urubamba’s primary bus station. Both forms of transportation pass by the popular villages of Chinchero and the busy Maras Transit Hub.
🚐 Collectivo Logistics | Average Fare: 8 PEN ($2 USD) | Duration: 1 hour | Depart: frequently, when collectivo is full | Departure Location: Av. Grau 510 | Hours: 6:00 – 19:00
🚌Bus Logistics | Average Fare: 6 PEN ($1.50 USD) | Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes | Depart: frequently from Jirón 21 de Mayo 944 | Hours: 6:00 – 19:00
Which Village is the Best to Explore Peru’s Sacred Valley?
There are no shortage of adorable villages in the Sacred Valley in Peru. Each village offers its own unique charm. Personally, Urubamba was my favorite village to explore all the highlights of the Sacred Valley.
Urubamba is centrally located in the Sacred Valley and has a slick main bus terminal. This makes it super easy and convenient to explore all the highlights of the Sacred Valley! Not only is it centrally located, but some of the best Sacred Valley hikes like Saywa and the hidden alpine lake of Laguna Juchuycocha are right in Urubamba’s backyard!
A Quick Overview of Urubamba’s Bus Terminal
All of the popular destinations of the Sacred Valley in Peru are reachable via public transportation from Urubamba. Buses and collectivos run frequently from the main terminal in Urubamba from 6:00 – 19:00. There are taxis and motos, but the public transportation in the valley runs so efficiently and is cheap. So, save your money, and enjoy the local mode of transportation.
There are two departure sides of the main terminal. One side mostly services buses while the other side is filled with collectivos.
Don’t worry, there will be plenty of eager drivers shouting out their destinations, just listen!
Planning Tips for Exploring the Sacred Valley in Peru
Create your own self-guided Sacred Valley tour.
It is totally feasible to explore the Sacred Valley without a tour or guide. In fact, a self-guided Sacred Valley tour allows you to personally explore places that interest you the most. Want more nature? Perfect! Focus on the multiple hiking trails in the Sacred Valley! Fascinated by the Incas? Get off the beaten path and visit free Inca sacred sites in the form of Archaeological Parks!
Purchase the Cusco Tourist Ticket
In the Sacred Valley of Peru are the four notable Archaeological Parks of Pisac, Chinchero, Moray, and Ollantaytambo. These four parks are included on the Cusco Tourist Ticket, or the Cusco Boleto Turistico. If interested in touring these sprawling parks, it’s best to purchase the 10 day ticket.
There are 16 sites in total on the Cusco Tourist Ticket. All sites can be found between Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
Rainy vs. Dry Season | Sacred Valley Cusco
When is the best time to explore the Sacred Valley in Peru? Well, there are two very distinctive seasons, rainy and dry. Rainy season typically runs from November to April, while dry season is from May to October.
During rainy season, many of the hiking trails can be muddy and unmaintained. The nights are warmer than the dry season, but expect rain. Sometimes rain comes in the form of a simple drizzle, while other times it can be a torrential downpour. The weather is inconsistent. There are chances of dangerous mudslides and trails and roads can completely shutdown. However, the Sacred Valley is so green and lush. There are wild flowers everywhere and a lot less tourists.
The dry season is busy and many of the trails are filled with independent hikers and tour groups. The skies are usually vivid blue and conditions are dry and fair. Although it’s dry season, the nights become much colder.
Places to See in the Sacred Valley of Peru
Now that all of the logistics are out of the way, here are all the amazing places to see Peru’s Sacred Valley.
Each village is detailed into things to do, where to eat, how to reach the village, and of course where to sleep!
Want more information on each specific village?
Pisac is a favorite village on the Sacred Valley circuit and only 45 minutes from Cusco. The Pisac Archaeological Park is often a favorite highlight of the Cusco Tourist Ticket. In Pisac, find a large expat community, bringing plenty of meditation and spiritual work shops, plant medicine retreats, cute coffeeshops, garden cafes, and vegan eateries. There is still a local feeling, but the expat community adds a thriving bohemian spirit.
Things to Do in Pisac
- Artisanal Market in the Plaza de Armas
- Pisac Peru Market
- Pisac Archaeological Park
- Kinsa Cocha Hike
- Stroll by Pisac’s Other Church
Pisac Plaza de Armas & Artisanal Market
In the Plaza de Armas, find a daily artisanal market. This market is a great place to snag some Peruvian souvenirs from sweaters, pillowcases, jewelry, and wallhangings.
On Sundays, the market is booming and has more of a local feel. Villagers that live up in the mountains come down to sell. Find women in traditional clothing selling fresh fruits, veggies, and gorgeous flowers. In the square, vendors set-up pop-up food stands serving up traditional food. Locals come here to stock up on supplies for the week.
Pisac Peru Market
Pisac’s main market is small, but has plenty of vendors selling produce, chocolate, coffee, flowers, juices, and every day food items. Upstairs, find a few stalls selling sweaters and other souvenirs. On the outside of the market are food stands that serve up delicious menu del dia. Most of these hearty meals comes with a starter, main plate, and tea and are under s/10. The last stall (across from Antica Osteria) is always packed and served up some of my favorite meals in Pisac.
🚐 Public Transportation Tip | Near these food stalls is where to catch the buses to Mask’a (the back entrance to the Pisac Archaeological Park).
Pisac Archaeological Park
In addition to the lovely artisanal market, Pisac’s main draw is the massive hilltop ruins, which are included in the Boleto Turístico Cusco. This park can usually be accessed behind the Plaza de Armas; however, this main pathway can be closed due to damage from mudslides. It’s best to use the back entrance near Mask’a and walk down to the Plaza.
The Pisac Archaeological Park is large and takes at least a half-day to explore. Upon entrance, there is signage and information boards for a self-guided tour. The Pisac ruins have four main sectors: P’isaqa, Inti Watana, Qalla Q’asa, and Kinchiraqay. These ruins also have their own Temple of the Sun, some possible ceremonial baths, and terraces that line the mountain. Look out the hillside cliffs for old Inca tombs, don’t forget to savor those epic mountain views. The Pisac ruins are really quite spectacular!
Kinsa Cocha is a stunning natural area located above Pisac that boasts three scenic lakes. It’s kind of a small mountain community that opens its doors to tourists. The taxi ride takes around 45 minutes from Pisac and winds up the bumpy mountain road.
Although it’s not a direct hiking circuit, it’s a magical place that offers a few trails that can be explore leisurely. There are many alpacas roaming around. If you’re lucky, you may spot some children playing with their dogs around the lake. There are usually a few women at the entrance selling authentic handicrafts from bracelets, wallets, to belts.
Kinsa Cocha Logistics | Entrance Fee: 3 PEN (75¢ USD) | Duration: 3 hours
How to Reach Kinsa Cocha
Taxi Logistics | Average Fare: 150 PEN for roundtrip fare, up to 5 people can share a taxi | Taxis wait a few hours while you explore, make sure to negotiate this part!
Stroll by Pisac’s Other Church
Tucked away a few blocks from Pisac’s main Plaza de Armas is another small church, which offers a lovely dirt path that makes a perfect morning or evening stroll. Follow along with an old Inca water canal, past the rolling corn fields, and get another perspective of this sleepy village, away from the tourist shops.
Pisac has a large expat community, which has brought is some lovely cafes, coffeeshops, and restaurants. Here’s a few different ideas when looking for some different Pisac Restaurants.
Remember, the market is always a great place to eat traditional Peruvian cuisine.
Bon Appetit Cafe Paris
Bon Appetit is an incredible little coffeeshop that specializes in French pastries and baked goods. It’s run by a local woman who puts her love into cakes, croissants, quiches, and more! Find them here.
La Ruta del Sabor
La Ruta del Sabor is a cozy and authentic restaurant that serves up hearty plates of food made from scratch. Everything is made fresh, right down to the sauces that are served with the main course. A true gem in the middle of town, but with a nice outdoor area closish to the river. Find them here.
Antica Osteria Pisac
One of the best Pisac restaurants hands down is Antica Osteria, a cozy pizzeria boasting incredible overall Italian food. The interior of this restaurant is inviting, the service on par, and the desserts a must. Find them across from the main Mercado de Pisac here.
Sacred Sushi & Curry
Sacred Sushi & Curry is a vegan hotspot that only opens on Sundays. This Pisac restaurant has a beautiful garden, low tables, hippy vibe, and homemade vegan goodies, making it a popular spot with the expat community. A must-visit for those looking for something a little different, but still seeking delicious food. Find them here.
Pisac Public Transportation Tips for the Sacred Valley in Peru
Collectivos run frequently to Pisac not only from Cusco, but also between Calca and Urubamba.
Collectivos from Cusco drop at the orange bridge in Pisac before they continue onwards into the Sacred Valley. Pay upon exit. The Plaza de Armas of Pisac is a few blocks from the bridge.
Pisac to Calca
🚐 Collectivo Logistics | Average Fare: 3 PEN (75¢ USD) | Duration: 40 minutes | Depart: frequently, when collectivo is full on the main road towards Calca
Collectivos drop in front of the main terminal of Calca where buses frequently depart to Pisac. There are two terminals in Calca. The main terminal is located on the primary road, whereas, the other terminal is located more in town, next to the stadium.
Some collectivos continue onto Urubamba (total fare 5 PEN, $1.25 USD), or make a quick transfer at the Calca terminal.
Calca to Urubamba
🚐 Collectivo Logistics | Average Fare: 2 PEN (50¢ USD) | Duration: 20 minutes | Depart: frequently
Where to Sleep in Pisac
Pisac is truly an adorable hamlet which is best explored in the early morning and afternoon, when all the day trippers from Cusco return to the Imperial City. The city is quiet in the evenings with the soft flow of the Urubamba River in the backdrop.
There are plenty of guesthouses and hostels to sleep at in Pisac, but El Parche Rutero Hostel, is a great hostel option a little outside of the city. There’s an excellent rooftop terrace with plenty of hammocks, a kitchen, hot showers, and lots of nice common spaces.
On the backroad to the Pisac Archaeological Park are a ton of awesome places to stay. The first small neighborhood farther past the popular Royal Inca Hotel is nicknamed “Gringoville” and there are a wide range of guesthouses to stay in. For a great local guesthouse with tons of green space, stay at Casa Camacho Hostel.
Calca is one of the most overlooked villages in the Sacred Valley of Peru. The town itself has two lovely main plazas which are a delight to relax in. Calca has some peculiar ruins, Urqo, that are an easy half hour stroll from the center. If up for a challenging hike, village has its very own mystical mountain, Pitusiary in the backdrop that can be climbed by experienced hikers.
Calca has two busy bus terminals that make it easily connected to the entire Sacred Valley in Peru and also the nearby Lares Valley. Just down the road, it’s possible to access one of the routes to Huchuy Qosqo, or “Little Cusco.” This hilltop Archaeological Park is often overlooked, but played a significant role in the Inca empire. The village of Lares is three hours from Calca, but en-route find stunning Inca ruins, unlimited hiking trails, and stunning scenery. At the end of the road, find the local Lares hot springs.
Things to Do in Calca
- Relax in Calca’s Main Plazas
- Visit the Peculiar Urqo Ruins
- Climb the Challenging Apu Pitusiray
- Huchuy Qosqo Trek
- Explore the Lares Valley
Relax in Calca’s Main Plazas
Calca’s two main bustling plazas, Plaza de Armas and Plaza Sondor are beautiful. The thoughtful gardening and landscaping, the lovely fountain, and that backdrop of the surrounding mountain, make sure to grab a bench and relax. The plaza has lots of street food vendors selling goodies, and both plazas are surrounded by cafes and restaurants. Both of the plazas surround the main church. Take a moment to appreciate Calca, one of the least visited villages in the Sacred Valley of Peru.
Visit the Peculiar Urqo Ruins
Urqo, or Urco, is a sacred site that is rarely frequented by tourists and is less than a half hour walk from Calca’s main bus terminal. The Urqo Archaeological Park boasts a peculiar and unusual carving on one of the main rocks. Although some say this “figure” may be the head of a snake or a puma, it appears to resemble more of an alien…. What do you think? Besides the main draw of the figure, there are some small buildings still standing. It’s unsure what Urqo was officially used for, but it is apparent that it had strong ties with water.
The trail of Urqo can be completed as a 2.25 mile loop, or as a simple stroll from Calca or from the Inkariy Museum, via the back trail.
Climb the Challenging Apu Pitusiray
There’s a lot of mysticism and buzz around the jagged Apu (God of the Indigenous) Pitusiray Mountain. Experienced hikers may wish to spend the whole day climbing up the mountain where a stunning alpine lake sits. Pitusiray is a tough climb and it should be noted that many people have gone missing while hiking this trail. Hire a guide, or hike with a buddy. If looking for a hiking companion, try searching in Hike Club Cusco.
Huchuy Qosqo Trek
The Huchuy Qosqo trek has many routes, but one of the most “straight forward,” and possibly straight up routes can be accessed just down the road from Calca in the tiny village of Lamay. The climb will take a few hours, but the reward at the top is truly spectacular. This may have been the palace grounds of the Inca Emperor Viracocha and there are terraces, a ceremonial fountain, and views for days from “Little Cusco.”
Those travelers who want to explore a little deeper should head towards the community of Puca Marca. This add-on out and back trail is 4 miles in total, but one of my favorite hiking trails in the Sacred Valley.
Lares is a little bit of a haul from Calca, but the Lares Valley has its own special charm. Most people venture here to soak in their authentic and sizzling hot springs. The journey is a long, just shy of 2 hours for a one way trip, but the stunning views of the valley make it completely worthwhile. Grab a window seat to see ruins scattered. Get out and explore the Ancasmarca ruins covering the hillside, or just enjoy the stunning scenery of waterfalls gushing down the hills at every corner. There are thousands of alpacas and llamas running wild and glaciers showing off their beautiful snow-capped peaks.
✈ Travel Planning | 14 of the Best Hot Springs in Peru
Hiking in the Lares Valley
There are multiple routes in the Lares Valley, including the “Weaver’s Way.” This hike is gaining more popularity as an alternative route to Machu Picchu. The trek begins near Lares and finishes in 3 or 4 days in Ollantaytambo. However, there are tons of trails that can be explored.
Calca has many restaurants surrounding the two main plazas. These two I kept coming back to.
Kawsaytika is an amazing little cafe serving up a rotating vegetarian or vegan menu del dia. The ambiance is inviting and don’t miss the lovely garden in the back. There’s an extensive coffee list and pastries available! Find them here.
El Huarique del Negro
El Huarique del Negro is an authentic Peruvian restaurant that serves up traditional plates of food. This establishment boasts a wide range menu including ceviche and in the afternoons homemade pizzas. The portions are huge and the price is more than fair. Find them here.
Calca Public Transportation Tips for the Sacred Valley in Peru
Calca has two main bus terminals. The main connects Calca to Pisac and Urubamba and can be found here. To reach the tiny hamlet of Lamay for the Huchuy Qosqo trek, head in the direction of Pisac.
Calca to Urubamba
🚐 Collectivo Logistics | Average Fare: 2 PEN (50¢ USD) | Duration: 20 minutes | Depart: frequently
Calca to Lares
Collectivos to Lares depart from Calca’s other terminal that can be found at Mariano de los Santos Street. Note: During the Covid Pandemic the collectivos and cars were temporarily departing from Calca’s main terminal. Double check before walking in towards the stadium.
🚐 Collectivo Logistics | Average Fare: 10 PEN ($2.50 USD) | Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes | Depart: frequently
- Collectivos drop at the Plaza de Armas in Lares AND the entrance of the Termales
- Hours: 6:00-18:00. From Lares, the final departure time back to Calca is at 18:00!!
- Collectivos and small cars run alternatively for the same price.
- Departures from Lares are only from the Plaza de Armas.
Where to Sleep in Calca
Calca is a very authentic town in the Sacred Valley in Peru. It is centrally located and also boasts two well connected bus terminals. This would make an ideal place to base if you’re searching for something a little more off the beaten path.
Chinchero is a popular stop for those with the Boleto Turístico Cusco. At this Archeological Park find Inca ruins and a small museum onsite. The main focal point is the colonial church, which requires an additional fee.
Jump to | Public Transportation Tips
Things to Do in Chinchero
- Chinchero Archaeological Park
- Chinchero Handicraft Market
- Follow the Old Inca Road of Chinchero to Urquillos
Chinchero Archaeological Park
The Chinchero ruins are included on the popular Cusco Tourist Ticket. This sacred site is believed to be the former palace of Tupac Inca Yupanqui, the Inca’s most notable conqueror. The Chinchero ruins include some terraces and on the outskirts of the park some interesting stonework. To appreciate this site, it’s best to arrive early in the morning before the tour buses show up at around 9:00. There is a small but informative museum onsite.
The main focal point is the colonial church that was built on top of the main site of Chinchero. This church can be visited for an additional 3 PEN (75¢ USD).
Due to the activities surrounding the Chinchero ruins, it’s best to visit independently.
Chinchero Weaving Handicraft Market
The small community of Chinchero is best known for their weaving capabilities and handicrafts. In the main plaza of the Chinchero ruins, find local women proudly setting up their work. This is a great place to score an authentic souvenir that helps support the Chinchero weaving community.
Chinchero to Urquillos Hike
From the Chinchero ruins there’s a chance to follow an old Inca Road. This hike starts from the Chinchero ruins near the Waka Chincana sector, an area that sees little foot-traffic. Look for a faint footpath below and follow the trail away from the main site of Chinchero. This old Inca Road goes downhill along a scenic path through the Sacred Valley in Peru. Continue down to the tiny hamlet of Urquillos. From here, it’s possible to walk down to the main road that connects the entire Sacred Valley.
Chinchero Public Transportation Tips for Maneuvering the Sacred Valley in Peru
🚐 Collectivos from Cusco | Fare: 4 PEN ($1) | Duration: 35 minutes | Collectivos run frequently | Catch the mini vans on Av. Grau 510 | Depart when full and exit in the Village of Chinchero
🚐 Buses and Colletivos from Urubamba | Fare: 3 PEN (75¢) | Duration: 50 minutes | Public Transportation runs frequently | Depart when full from Urubamba main bus terminal | Exit at the Village of Chinchero, after the Maras Transit Hub
Buses drop off on the main road of Chinchero. Tell the bus driver that you would like to go to the Chinchero ruins. They are usually great at yelling out the stop, but it’s smart to follow along with an offline map.
Pay upon exit. The main ruins and market of Chinchero are a few blocks up the hill. To return to Cusco or the Sacred Valley, simply wave down a bus or collectivo in the direction you wish to go.
Maras Peru is a small village that acts as the gateway to the impressive Moray ruins, another highlight on the Boleto Turístico Cusco. In Maras, find a lovely church with incredible views of the Sacred Valley of Peru. The Maras Salt Mines, or salineras de maras are another wildly popular spot on a Sacred Valley tour.
Things to Do in Maras Peru
- Moray Archaeological Park
- Maras Salt Mines
- Lovely hiking trails in the Sacred Valley Peru that connect Maras & Moray
- Maras Peru Church
These interesting terraces were used by the Incas with the most accepted idea was that these terraces were used as an exploratory agricultural site. With all Inca ruins, this is just speculation. Maras is also home to the famous Peru salt mines. The Moray ruins can be combined with a trip to the Maras Salt Mines, or salineras de maras, for a full adventure packed day trip.
Moray Archaeological Park
The Moray ruins are three large and peculiar terraces. This fascinating site is included on the Cusco Tourist Ticket and is a highlight of Peru’s Sacred Valley. The terraces include an easy to follow circuit. While most people relate these terraces to agriculture, it really can’t be certain what they were used for.
There are no direct buses from Maras to the Moray ruins. The only options from the village of Maras is to take a taxi, a guided tour, or hike a mostly flat and enjoyable 3.5 mile trail. A popular guided tour includes 4 wheelers.
Maras Salt Mines
The Maras Salt Ponds are another popular excursion in the Sacred Valley in Peru. Although the mines can no longer be walked through, there are some nice viewpoints and plenty of women selling the popular Maras salt.
The easiest way to access the hike is from the back entrance. This includes a short half hour hike from the small hamlet of Media Luna.
Maras Salt Mines | Admission Ticket: 10 PEN ($2.75 USD) | *Not included on the Cusco Tourist Ticket
Full on Adventure Day | Maras Peru
Combine the Maras Salt Mines and the Moray ruins for a full day of hiking in the Sacred Valley Peru. Start out early and hike to the Maras Salt Mines. Exit out the main entrance and continue through the hillside to Maras. From here it’s easy to to hike from the village of Maras to Moray.
➯ Detailed Guide | The Maras Salt Mines to Moray ruins Sacred Valley hike
Before departing from Maras, stop at the large Colonial church. The views here of the Sacred Valley are mind blowing and free!
Where to Eat in Maras
On the road that leads to the trailhead to Moray is a large restaurant complex. Restaurant Mama Mecha is a great place to snag a beverage or food before or after the trek to the Moray ruins. There are a few different options, but make sure to grab an outdoor table that has excellent views of the Maras church. There’s more than one restaurant to choose from here.
Maras Public Transportation Tips for the Sacred Valley in Peru
Collectivos and buses run frequently from Cusco to Urubamba and will stop at the Maras Transit Hub. At the Maras Transit Center, taxis run frequently to the village of Maras. For an extra fare, taxis will drop at the Moray ruins. Always make sure to negotiate the fare.
🚐 Collectivos from Cusco | Fare: 6 PEN ($1.75 USD) | Duration: 50 minutes | Collectivos run frequently | Catch the mini vans on Av. Grau 510 | Depart when full and exit at the Maras Transit Hub | Take a Taxi to Maras for 1 PEN (30¢) / 5 minutes
🚐 Collectivos from Urubamba | Fare: 2 PEN (50¢) | Duration: 30 minutes | Collectivos run frequently | Depart when full from Urubamba main bus terminal | Exit at the Maras Transit Hub & take a Taxi to Maras for 1 PEN (30¢) / 5 minutes
Maras Transfer Hub Information: How to reach the actual village of Maras
- Taxis from this transportation hub to Maras village should only cost 1 PEN (30¢)
- Reach the Plaza de Armas of Maras in under 5 minutes
- There are no public buses that run past the Moray Archaeological Site. There are two options to reach Maras.
- Take a TAXI from the Maras Plaza de Armas for 20 PEN ($5.25 USD) for the entire taxi
- HIKE the 3.5 mile flat and enjoyable pathway.
Urubamba Peru is an excellent village to discover all the highlights of the Sacred Valley in Peru and is my absolute favorite village to base from and explore all the treasure of the Urubamba Valley.
From here, it’s possible to independently tour the four impressive Archaeological Parks of valley that are included on the Cusco Tourist Ticket. On top of the Inca Sites, Urubamba boasts some of the best hikes in the Sacred Valley.
Urubamba has an authentic market, artisanal shops, delicious restaurants, and the popular salt ponds are just a few minutes away via collectivo.
Things to Do in Urubamba Peru
- Authentic Urubamba Market
- Top Secret Sacred Valley Hikes
- Saywa Archaeological Park
- Laguna Juchuycocha
- Secret Valley
- Free Inca Ruins
Psst…. There are so many incredible things to do in Urubamba, check out my “loveletter” to this magical village.
Authentic Urubamba Market
Urubamba is home to one of the most bustling markets in the Sacred Valley in Peru. The Urubamba market runs on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Wednesday is the busiest day where many local people from the mountain communities come in to sell their goods, including livestock. The people of the mountain communities are always dressed in their beautiful and colorful traditional clothing.
Even if you miss the market day, head to Urubamba’s central Market. This is a large and bountiful market that is worth a peak. Across the street from Central Market is a smaller market with vendors, flower stands, and lots of women selling fresh juice.
Top Secret Sacred Valley Hikes
Urubamba has some of the best hiking trails in the Sacred Valley in Peru, right in their backyard. See why Urubamba makes a perfect playground for those looking to hike in the Sacred Valley.
Saywa Archaeological Park
On of the best hikes in the Sacred Valley in Peru can be found in the backdrop of Urubamba, Saywa Mountain. On top of Saywa, find two ancient pillars, remnants of the mighty Inca dynasty, or maybe before. Saywa Archaeological Park is free to enjoy and sees little foot traffic. This hike showcases some of the best views of Urubamba and the entire Sacred Valley.
Also, from Urubamba, take the challenging climb to Laguna Juchuycocha. This alpine lake sits at over 15,200 feet and offers jaw dropping views of Mt. Chicón and its glaciers. This is a full day climb that can be reached from the small village of San Isidro.
There are multiple hiking trails throughout Urubamba. If visiting during the dry season, head out of Urubamba and find Secret Valley. This is an adventurous trek and is best done with a guide or someone who knows the area, since you must literally cross a waterfall. Hence, why it can only be done during the dry season. The path includes bushwhacking, but eventually overlooks Chupani ruins.
Visit Free Inca Ruins in Urubamba
Besides the free Inca ruins of Saywa and Chupani, there are other interesting Inca sites that are scattered nearby Urubamba and aren’t as hard to reach. Head up to Las Chullpas, which are located on the hillside closer to the community of Moccopata. The Sacred Valley is literally littered with free Inca ruins!
One of the more unique free Inca ruins in Urubamba is actually the cemetery. The Urubamba cemetery is worth a visit as it’s built on top of an Old Inca Site. See the remnants of Palacio de Huayna Capac and the fusion of the beautiful cemetery.
➯ Detailed Guide | 35+ Inca Sites to Visit in Peru (20+ are FREE!)
Urubamba is filled with incredible places to eat. Here are a few Urubamba restaurants you’ll want to check out. Also, on the main street of Avenue Mariscal Castilla there are wide range of local restaurants, bakeries, and pizza places.
For a truly authentic menu del dia, head to Colmeiras. It’s a few blocks out of town, but it’s worth the walk. This place gets crazy busy during lunch, where locals fill the tables to eat a reasonably price menu in a garden setting. There are a few menu items to choose from and all the portions are large. Find them here.
Da Colektor is a hip cafe serving up delicious food made with love. The whole cafe is decorated with funky art in cozy open air building. They also sell purses and unique clothing. On top of their delicious sandwiches, salads, find an extensive coffee, juice, and cocktail menu. Find them here.
Migas del Valle
One of the best bakeries in the entire Valley is Migas del Valle. There is one in Pisac, but this one in Urubamba also offers a menu del dia. This is THE place to come for sourdough bread, or any bread in general. Find them here.
Another great place to score a menu del dia (10 PEN) is Pizzeria Quinua. There’s a simple garden setting and the food is simple, fast, and delicious. At night, this is a popular place to grab a Pizza. Find them here.
Pakakuna Posada Gourmet
Although they have recently moved a little out of Urubamba, those looking for some delicious food and excellent pastries should seek out Pakakuna Posada Gourmet. They served me one of the best burgers I had in my entire year in Peru. Find their new location here.
Visit an Authentic Chicharia
Notice all those make-shift red flags lining the streets of Urubamba and other Sacred Valley villages? These are home to authentic Chicharías, a small establishment that serves up the fermented beverage corn beverage, chicha.
Urubamba Public Transportation Tips for the Sacred Valley in Peru
Again, Urubamba is one of the easiest villages to access from Cusco. Multiple collectivos and buses run from Cusco to Urubamba. Urubamba connects the entire Sacred Valley of Peru with a busy main bus terminal which has frequent bus and collectivo departures.
Refresher | Cusco to Urubamba
🚐 Collectivo Logistics | Average Fare: 8 PEN ($2 USD) | Duration: 1 hour | Depart: frequently, when collectivo is full | Departure Location: Av. Grau 510 | Hours: 6:00 – 19:00
🚌 Bus Logistics | Average Fare: 6 PEN ($1.50 USD) | Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes | Depart: frequently from Jirón 21 de Mayo 944 | Hours: 6:00 – 19:00
Where to Stay in Urubamba
Urubamba has some diverse places to stay from budget hostels, guesthouses, to even luxury hotels.
Some of my favorite places in Urubamba.
- Las Chullpas Eco Lodge
- Hampuy Valle Sagrado
In between Urubamba and Ollantaytambo is the tiny village of Pachar. The village is small, but it’s an awesome place to access some of the best adventure Sacred Valley hikes.
There’s the popular and small microbrewery of Cerveceria del Valle Sagrado. Cross the bridge to reach Ñaupa Iglesia. This powerful site houses some unique and interesting ruins, that may actually predate the Inca dynasty. Some even say there’s a dimensional portal carved into the side of the cave.
Pachar, Peru also is the gateway to the stunning Perolniyoc waterfall. Start this hike from the small village of Soqma. On top of the falls find the Raqaypata ruins. Adventure trekkers can take the two day trek to the stunning Laguna Ancascocha.
Jump to | Public Transportation Tips
Things to Do in Pachar Peru
- Cerveceria del Valle Sagrado
- Follow the Old Inca Road to Ollantaytambo
- Ñaupa Iglesia
- Perolniyoc Waterfall & Raqaypata Ruins
- Laguna Ancascocha | 2 Day Trek
- Vilcanota Hike
Cerveceria del Valle Sagrado
One of the most popular microbreweries in the Sacred Valley in Peru is located right at the main bus station of Pachar. Cerveceria del Valle Sagrado has a lovely beer garden that sits right next to the river. The outdoor space is spectacular, the beer delicious, and the brewery does so much for the surrounding villages. There are bites of food to eat and appetizers to share with friends. Don’t miss this awesome little gem in Pachar. Find them here.
Old Inca Road to Ollantaytambo
Just across the bridge in Pachar is an Old Inca road that connects to the lovely village of Ollantaytambo. This ancient road is part of the Qhapaq Ñan, which was an advanced road system that connected the massive stretches of the Inca Empire. This section of road passes by the riverside Choqana ruins right before entering Ollantaytambo.
Ñaupa Iglesia, also known as Choquequilla, is a hidden Inca site just down the road from Pachar. This casual half day hike showcases ruins that are built into an old cave. Ñaupa Iglesia translates from both Quechua and Spanish to “ancient church.” This magical place contains a peculiar alter, and some even say, a dimensional portal that has ties to Egypt. There is lots of energy at this Inca site and locals say that it may even predate the Incas. Don’t miss this incredible site in the Sacred Valley in Peru.
Perolniyoc Waterfall & Raqaypata Ruins
Farther down from Ñaupa Iglesia is the village of Soqma. From Soqma it’s possible to reach two awesome places in the Sacred Valley in Peru, the Perolniyoc Waterfall (Catarata Perolniyoc) and the Inca ruins on top of the waterfall, Raqaypata.
One of the most off-the-beaten path Sacred Valley Hikes is the Ancascocha Trek. This stunning multi-day trek twists and turns you through the mighty Andes to the untouched Laguna Ancascocha. This is one of the most challenging hikes in the Sacred Valley, but the rewards are incredible.
Coming Soon: Everything you need to know about tackling the Ancascocha Trek
Close to Pachar is the small hamlet of Yanahuara. From here, it’s possible to hike almost 7.5 miles through the village and towards the base of one of my favorite mountains, Apu Pumahuanca. The hike winds through the mountainside up to a stunning lake. Keep going farther and there’s another lake, and another…
This trail is in a small reserve called Mantanay and is part of the Vilcanota trek. The Vilcanota trek will lead you all the way to Lares in a few days if you wish. I only went as far as the Lake, but the trail is beautiful and is quite off the beaten path. Make sure to have an offline map and be prepared for the weather to change drastically.
Pachar Public Transportation Tips for the Sacred Valley in Peru
Pachar is conveniently located between Urubamba and Ollantaytambo and collectivos run frequently! The Pachar station is conveniently right in front of the Cervezeria.
Urubamba to Pachar
🚐 Collectivo Logistics | Average Fare: 2 PEN (50¢ USD) | Duration: 25 minutes
Ollantaytambo to Pachar
🚐 Collectivo Logistics | Average Fare: 1 PEN (25¢ USD) | Duration: 5 minutes
Ollantaytambo is a lovely, picturesque Inca village. The biggest draw to this adorable hamlets are the Ollantaytambo ruins, which are included on the Boleto Turístico Cusco. However, there are plenty of free Inca ruins that can be explored right within the cobblestone streets of this adorable hamlet.
Ollantaytambo has some of the best Sacred Valley hikes including Pumamarca and Inti Punku, or the sun gate. The inviting cobblestone streets are a treat, with their Inca water canals chiseled perfectly through them. This little village has plenty of coffee shops, artisanal craft shops, and modern restaurants.
Ultimately, Ollantaytambo is THE gateway to Machu Picchu. Hop on a train, catch a shared collectivo, or start the official Inca Trail. All these are options from the village of Ollantaytambo.
Things to Do in Ollantaytambo
- Ollantaytambo Archaeological Park
- Free Inca Ruins
- Qellorajay (Quellorakay)
- Sacred Valley Hikes from Ollantaytambo
- Puma Marca
- Inti Punku (Sun Gate)
- Wander the Cobblestone Streets
- The Gateway to Machu Picchu
With all the excitement to reach Machu Picchu, so many people simply breeze past Ollantaytambo and the Sacred Valley in Peru in general. Don’t make this mistake!
Things to Do in Ollantaytambo
Ruins, mountains, hiking trails, and more ruins. There are so many stunning Inca ruins Ollantaytambo. This town is a delight to stroll while appreciating the surrounding Inca runs and mountains.
Ollantaytambo Archaeological Park
Perched on the hillside and lined with terraces, the Ollantaytambo ruins are a must see while visiting the village. The Ollantaytambo ruins are part of the Cusco Tourist Ticket and include sites like Temple of the Sun, Water Temple, and the viewpoint of Inkawatana.
Free Inca Ruins in Ollantaytambo
There are many free Inca ruins to enjoy in Ollantaytambo. The most popular are the old hillside granaries of Pinkuylluna. It’s possible to walk right next to these structures and access them for free via a small tienda. There’s awesome vistas of Ollantaytambo and the main site.
A few minutes walk from the Ollantaytambo cemetery is the Quellorakay site. This free site looks out over the Urubamba River and sees little foot traffic. It’s a tranquil place that you will probably share with a few grazing cows. At sunset there’s great views of the hillside mountains.
The Choqana ruins sit along the rive across the Orange Inca Bridge. This small site can be included in peaceful walk to Pachar.
✔ Travel Resources | More Hidden Gem & Free Inca Sites in Peru
Sacred Valley Hikes from Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo also boasts jaw-dropping hiking in the Sacred Valley Peru.
Wind along the Patacancha River, walk next to Old Inca terraces, and reach the grand Pumamarca ruins. This site is said to resemble the shape of a Puma and boasts both Inca and Pre-Inca ruins. The scenic trail to Pumamarca is an enjoyable half-day hike from Ollantaytambo.
Pumamarca Logistics | Entrance Fee: 10 PEN ($2.50 USD) | This money goes to the surrounding communities | Hours: Daily, 8:00 – 17:00
Inti Punku Sun Gate
Take the steep climb up to Inti Punku, the inspiring Sun Gate of Ollantaytambo. This may be the most epic hike in the entire Sacred Valley. Inti Punku follows along the old Inca Quarry trails and leads to a small Sun Gate that has breathtaking views of Apu Veronica.
Note | This is a completely different sun gate than Inti Punku Machu Picchu. The latter is the entrance to Machu Picchu via the Classic Inca trail. Ollantaytambo’s Sun Gate can be reached right from the village and is free.
Wander the Cobblestone Streets
Those streets though! Ollantaytambo may be Peru’s most charming village. The cobblestone streets are lined with Inca canals. Keep your eye peeled for the little bikes that help transport goods throughout the village.
The charming Plaza de Armas of Ollantaytambo is encircled by green lush mountains and makes the perfect spot to watch the world go by. Only a block from the plaza, is a great little local market. The first floor has excellent fresh produce. Head upstairs to catch women serving up heaping plates full of traditional food.
The Gateway to Machu Picchu
Ollantaytambo is the gateway to Machu Picchu. Most people only pass through this quaint little village to either jump on the train that leads to Aguas Calientes, which is the base village to reach Machu Picchu. Two rail companies make the journey to Machu Picchu, both IncaRail and PeruRail.
Adventure seekers also depart from Ollantaytambo to start the famous Inca trail. Keep in mind, the Inca Trail is highly regulated and a guide and tour is required to complete the most famous trek to Machu Picchu.
Alternative Treks to Machu Picchu
While the Inca Trails is the most popular (and most expensive) route to Machu Picchu, there are many ways to reach the “Lost City.” All roads really do lead to Machu Picchu!
Intrepid hikers will love the 9 day Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu! This alternative trek to Machu Picchu sees little tourists and feel like a real expedition. This trek can be completed without a guide and passes through the impressive Choquequirao ruins and eventually meets up with the Salkantay trek.
✔ Pack Like a Pro | The Best Peru Packing Guide for Multi-Day Treks
If you don’t have 9 days to complete the Choquequirao trek to Machu Picchu, consider simply taking the worthwhile out and back hike to Choquequirao.
While the Choquequirao trek may be one of the most challenging way to reach Machu Picchu, there are shorter trekking options like the Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, or a 1 Day Inca Trail option.
There is no shortage of awesome Ollantaytambo restaurants. Besides the main market, here are a few places to enjoy in Ollantaytambo.
Located near the train station, El Albergue is a totally unique and top culinary experience in the Andes. Many of the ingredients are fresh and come directly from their very own farm. El Albergue also boasts its own distillery and has ties to the popular Chuncho in town. Find them here.
Psst… El Albergue Ollantaytambo also rents rooms. Book here.
Apu Veronica Restaurant
Apu Veronica Restaurant is locally run by a sweet woman who serves up huge portions of food for a reasonable price. The food is presented in a fun and unique way. Dishes are thoughtfully prepared and there’s a daily menu. If you’re lucky, she may tell you the Quechua legend behind Apu Veronica. Find them here.
Ollantaytambo Public Transportation Tips for the Sacred Valley in Peru
Collectivos run frequently from Urubamba to Ollantaytambo. They depart from the main terminal in Urubamba and pass by Yanahuara and Pachar. Collectivos arriving in Ollantaytambo drop in the Plaza de Armas of Ollantaytambo or in a gravel lot a few blocks from the Plaza. Pay upon exit.
🚐 Collectivo Logistics | Average Fare: 2 PEN (50¢ USD) | Duration: 25 minutes
Where to Stay in Ollantaytambo
A little off the main drag of Ollantaytambo find Casa Quechua Hostel Camping. This simple guesthouse offers private and shared rooms in a lovely garden space. The owners are incredibly sweet, breakfast is included, rooms are clean, and the showers hot. They also provide places to set up a tent.
Beyond the Sacred Valley in Peru | Cusco & South Valley Resources
The Sacred Valley in Peru is amazing, but there are so many other cool things to see and do in Cusco and the overlooked South Valley.
The Imperial City of Cusco warrants at least 3 days. Within the city limits, there are so many lovely plazas, markets, Inca sites, and charming streets to wander. Don’t miss the hip barrio of San Blas. The best views of the city can be seen at the top of Cerro Picol. Take a self-guided hike to other Inca ruins that aren’t included on the city’s popular Boleto del Turistico Cusco. From Cusco’s bustling markets, beautiful squares, and colorful people, it’s hard not to fall in love with this enchanting city.
✈ Peru Trip Planning | The Ultimate One Week Itinerary for Cusco & the Sacred Valley
Cusco South Valley
Head deeper into the South Valley by tackling the stunning Ausangate trek. This circuit trip can includes a pit-stop at the must-see Rainbow Mountain. Don’t forget about the Waqrapukara trek, this “horned fortress” is South of Cusco and is double the height of Machu Picchu. Trust me, it will leave you breathless.
Final Thoughts | The Incredible Highlights of the Sacred Valley in Peru
The Sacred Valley in Peru is seriously a bountiful region filled with so many treasures. The lush Urubamba Valley has a wide range of highlights stretching from Pisac to the hamlet of Ollantaytambo. This magical place should not be missed on any trip to Peru! From incredible hikes, stunning views, to Inca Sacred sites this ultimate guide shows all the highlights of a self-guided Sacred Valley tour.
Have you visited any of these places in the Sacred Valley in Peru? Did you discover these places independently or did you take a Sacred Valley tour? What was your favorite place in the Sacred Valley in Peru? Do you plan on adding some different to your Sacred Valley itinerary? Let me know in the comments below!
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