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4 Best Places To Go in the Sacred Valley of Peru

If you’re going to Peru to see Machu Picchu you definitely don’t want to miss the Sacred Valley of Peru.

Below are the 4 best places to visit in the Sacred Valley Peru. You can do this itinerary in 2 days as day trips from Cusco Peru, or you can stay in the Sacred Valley itself.

Sacred Valley Peru


Day 1 — Pisac & Ollantaytambo

Sacred Valley Peru

Sacred Valley Peru Site #1 — Pisac

Pisac was one of the most important cities in the Incan empire. It’s known today for the ancient ruins that sit high on a hilltop above steep terraces. Among the ruins are a citadel, temples, and stone structure thought to have been a sundial. The panoramic views of the valley below are breathtaking. In the modern city of Pisac there’s a vibrant handcrafts market in the main square.

Sacred Valley Peru

Where Is the Sacred Valley Peru?

Pisac is a short drive from Cusco, about 1 hour. You can do Pisac & Ollantaytambo as a day trip from Cusco, but I highly recommend staying in Ollantaytambo for 2 nights to visit the Sacred Valley Peru. Ollantaytambo is a super charming village surrounded by mountains and ancient Inca ruins.

Keep reading below for where to stay in Ollantaytambo. This was honestly one of my favorite places we stayed in Peru!

Sacred Valley Peru

How to Get To the Sacred Valley Peru

From Cusco, you can hire a taxi for the day to take you to visit Pisac and drop you off in Ollantaytambo for around 200 soles ($60 USD). You’ll need to negotiate for that price.

Read More: Best Things To Do In Cusco Peru

Sacred Valley Peru

Tickets for the Sacred Valley Peru

You’ll need a ticket to enter all 4 archeological sites mentioned in this post. When you get to Pisac, you can buy a 2-day combo ticket for 3 of the 4 sites for 70 sols. For the 4th site you’ll need to buy a separate ticket when you get there.

Sacred Valley Peru

Best Views of the Sacred Valley Peru

For the best views, have your taxi drop you off at the ruins in Pisac. You’ll spend about 1 hour exploring the ruins, then you can hike down to the modern city and the market.

Just before you go up to the ruins, you’ll see a small wooden sign that says “To Pisac”. The trail goes to the left of the ruins.

Read More: Hiking the famous Rainbow Mountain Peru

Sacred Valley Peru

Bring snacks, sunscreen, and water!!!

I had a big breakfast that morning in Cusco, but by the time we started the hike it’d been over 3 hours since breakfast and I was STARVING. I almost skipped the hike, because I was so hungry and just wanted to get to the town and EAT. I’m SO glad I didn’t skip the hike, but I would’ve been so much happier if I’d had a little snack before starting!

Sacred Valley Peru

Best Hikes in the Sacred Valley Peru

It will take about 1 hour to hike down. The beginning is a bit steep, but don’t let that deter you — it evens out and gets much easier very quickly. It’s an easy hike, downhill the entire way. The views are absolutely incredible, totally worth the hike!! You’ll see ruins that most others don’t, and you’ll have them all to yourself. I wore these waterproof hiking shoes.

Sacred Valley Peru

Best Market in the Sacred Valley Peru

The trail ends right at the market. The market is huge and actually very nice. Plan to spend some time wandering through the market. We saw markets everywhere we went in Bolivia and Peru and they all have the exact same things: sweaters, blankets, hats, scarves, and other handmade items made out of baby alpaca wool. They even all have the exact same designs. But the quality of the items here were the best we’d seen. At first I thought, “Yawn, just another market” but I was actually super impressed! Wait to buy your souvenirs here.

Sacred Valley Peru

Where to Eat in the Sacred Valley Peru

Right at the end of the market there’s a cafe called the Blue Llama. I got a chicken teriyaki sandwich and a mango smoothie with ice cream (basically a mango milkshake with fresh mango). It was SO GOOD! After a big hike that mango milkshake was amazing. I am still dreaming about it! The prices were a bit expensive for Peru, but it was super good, and exactly what I was looking for. We took the sandwich to go and ate it on the way to Ollantaytambo. It’s about 1.5 hours from Pisac to Ollantaytambo.

Sacred Valley Peru

Sacred Valley Peru Site #2 — Ollantaytambo

We had our taxi driver drop us off at our hotel in Ollantaytambo. We dropped off our luggage and walked to the ruins at the Ollantaytambo Sanctuary. If you’re doing this as a day trip, just have you driver take you straight to the ruins and wait for you there. It will take about 1 hour to visit the ruins.

Read More: Humantay Lake — An Amazing Day Trip from Cusco

Sacred Valley Peru

You can enter the Ollantaytambo ruins with the Sacred Valley Peru combo ticket you purchased at Pisac. Be sure to hang on to this ticket! You’ll need it for one more site the next day.

Sacred Valley Peru

Do You Need a Guide for the Sacred Valley Peru?

At all the Sacred Valley Peru archeological sites you visit, when you first enter, you’ll be greeted by someone offering to be your guide. This is optional, so don’t be afraid to say “no thank you” and keep walking, but it might be a good idea if you want to know more about the history of the places you’re visiting. Just be sure to settle on a price first.

Sacred Valley Peru

Ollantaytambo was an ancient Incan city with a fortress, royal estate, steep terraces, sun temple, water temple, and ceremonial grounds.

Sacred Valley Peru

Why You Should Stay in the Sacred Valley Peru

We chose to stay in Ollantaytambo because we were going to Machu Picchu next, and the trains to Machu Picchu depart from Ollantaytambo.

Sacred Valley Peru

It’s also the most common starting point for the famous 4-day Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu.

Sacred Valley Peru

Hiking in the Sacred Valley Peru

If you have time in Ollantaytambo, definitely also do the Pinkuylluna hike. We didn’t have time to do it the first day, but you can do it the next morning. The lighting will be better in the morning anyway. If you are visiting Ollantaytambo as a day trip, you might not have time for this hike, because the trail closes at 4 PM.

Going as a day trip? Skip the crowds!

Typically everyone goes to Pisac first and then Ollantaytambo, so Pisac is more crowded in the morning and Ollantaytambo is more crowded in the afternoon. If you’re just visiting as a day trip from Cusco, you could go to Ollantaytambo first and then Pisac to miss some of the crowds.

Sacred Valley Peru

Pinkuylluna is a short hike, although steep. You can get to the main ruins pictured above in 20-30 minutes. You can keep going up for about 10-15 more minutes to some smaller ruins if you want.

Sacred Valley Peru

The views of Ollantaytambo on the hike are amazing!


Day 2 — Maras and Moray

Sacred Valley Peru

Sacred Valley Peru Site #3 — Salineras de Maras

For our second day in the Sacred Valley, we arranged a taxi from our hotel in Ollantaytambo. The price was 200 soles ($60 USD) for around 6 hours. We started at the Salineras de Maras. You’ll need a separate ticket to visit this site. These ancient salt terraces of the Incas are still in use by the local community today. Each family owns and maintains their own individual pond.

Souvenir Tip!

The Cusqueño brand Maras salted chocolate you can buy in the gift shop is SO SO good! Don’t leave Maras without buying one!

Sacred Valley Peru

Sacred Valley Peru Site #4 — Moray

Next we visited the archeological site of Moray. This is the final site where you will use your Sacred Valley Peru 2-day combo ticket.

Sacred Valley Peru

Moray is known for its very unusual circular Inca ruins.

Sacred Valley Peru

These circular terraces were an agricultural experiment for the Incas. They grew corn, potatoes, and medicinal plants here.

Sacred Valley Peru

The depth, design, and orientation of the terraces with respect to wind and sun creates a temperature difference of as much as 60 degrees F between the top and the bottom. The largest terrace is 98 feet deep.


Where to Stay in the Sacred Valley Peru

Sacred Valley Peru

Ollantaytambo is a super charming town along the Urubamba river in the Peruvian countryside, with mountains and ancient ruins all around. There’s even a covered bridge over the river.

Sacred Valley Peru

As I mentioned earlier in the post, I highly recommend staying 2 nights in Ollantaytambo to explore the Sacred Valley Peru. You can definitely visit all the sites mentioned as day trips from Cusco, but obviously you’ll be much closer in Ollantaytambo.

Sacred Valley Peru
And if you’re going to Machu Picchu, the train departs from Ollantaytambo. You can walk to the train station from your hotel. You can also store your luggage at the hotel — you can only bring a backpack with you on the train to Machu Picchu.

Sacred Valley Peru

Sacred Valley Peru Hotel

We stayed at the Apu Lodge in Ollantaytambo. I LOVED our hotel! Look at this gorgeous room!!

Sacred Valley Peru
View from our room at Apu Lodge in Ollantaytambo

The bed and pillows are super comfy and the water pressure in the shower is AMAZING. The staff is super friendly and helpful. They had great advice for where to go, what to do, and what to see!

Sacred Valley Peru

The Apu Lodge is on a quiet, narrow, cobblestone, pedestrian street. As soon as you step into the beautiful courtyard you’re greeted by sweet, fresh summery flowers.

Sacred Valley Peru

You’re literally right at the base of the ruins! We had such a wonderful stay at the Apu Lodge in Ollantaytambo. It was so nice to get out of the city for a few days and fall asleep to the sounds of the river at night.

After our second day in the Sacred Valley Peru, we left first thing the next morning for Machu Picchu.

Sacred Valley Peru Video

The Sacred Valley of Peru is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and honestly pictures just can’t do it justice. I made this video to show you the breathtaking, sweeping views everywhere you look. Watch the video above to see just how incredible the Sacred Valley of Peru really is.

Sacred Valley Peru

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67 Responses
  1. Megan

    Hi Kevin & Amanda,
    I loved reading all your posts. It was so helpful and informative ?. I am curious where you went after Machu Picchu. Did you stay another night in Ollantaytambo? I’m wondering because you said you left your luggage at the hotel while you visited Machu Picchu but did you go back to the hotel to collect your stuff and go somewhere else or did you stay over? My friend and I will have to go back to Cusco after Machu Picchu to get a flight the very next morning and wondering how to save time with all the travel. Sorry for the long message.
    And can i please get your driver’s contact info as well?
    Thank you in advance!

  2. Béatrice Soucy

    Hi! Thank you very much for your post.
    I am only going to have one day for the Sacred Valley unfortunately, and I need to leave from Cusco and arrive in Ollantayambo.
    What would you recommend we go see?

    Thanks!

  3. Shelia

    Hi,  We are leaving for Peru in two weeks and would also appreciate your drives name.  Thanks so much for sharing your itinerary. 

  4. Erin Khorram

    Hi Amanda.

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and informative post. It was the exact information I was in search of.

    I know you will be surprised to hear, but I’d love your driver’s contact info. ?

    Thanks!
    Erin

  5. Nina

    Hi I’ll be going to Peru  next week.. I really love ur 2 weeks tips in Peru..  how often u see alpaca in Peru? I really love the picture with alpaca at rainbow mountain.. I hope I can get pic with the cute animal on top of rainbow mountain.. anyway is it possible to rent a car or should we use the taxi? Can u share the taxi number as well.. thanks a lot! 

    1. Amanda

      Hi Nina! Alpaca are everywhere in Peru! I have no doubt that you’ll see them! ?? For the alpaca at the top of rainbow mountain, be sure to bring a small tip for the caretaker. Yes, I’m pretty sure you can rent a car. I will email you our drivers info! Have a great trip!!

  6. Martha Jacob

    Amanda, your video is fabulous and the info you provide makes the planning of our May 2020 a little less daunting! Planning on following your exact itinerary!  Can I have the name of your driver as well? From what I can see he will be a busy person from all your referrals!  Thank you! 

  7. Alexa

    Hi Amanda! Loving all your helpful blog posts on Peru – they’re getting me so excited for our trip! Can you share the contact info for your driver? Thanks again!

  8. Starr S.

    HI Amanda, great post and great photos! I must have missed the part in your post where you extolled the qualities of your driver, but based on the comment section I’m compelled to request his/her info as well… headed to Peru in October. I’m looking forward to Peruvian food. Cheers!

  9. Morgan

    Hi there! 

    Your posts have been super helpful:). We are traveling to Peru this weekend. Would love the information of your driver. Was he the same one you used for Lake Humantay? Thanks so much!

    1. Amanda

      Of course, I will email you! We used him for Rainbow Mountain and the Sacred Valley, but I’m almost certain he would take you to Lake Humantay also. Have a great trip!

  10. Jessica

    Hello! Thank you for the detailed Peru guides! Like most of the other commenters, I’m heading to Peru soon and would love your driver’s info, if you’d please share! Did you find the sites were interesting/educational/engaging even without a professional ‘guide’ explaining as you visited? Thanks so much! 

    1. Amanda

      Yes, we enjoyed the sites without a guide. However if you prefer having a guide, there are always guides available to hire at the entrance at each site. Just be sure to agree on a price before you start and remember that some will still expect a tip on top of that at the end. I will email you our driver’s info! Have a great trip! :)

  11. Dana Andrea

    Great blog …. can I also get the name and contact of the driver you used in the sacred valley…. was he the same driver you used for all the day trips from Cusco 

  12. Guillermina

    Hola Amanda!, muy útil su información, voy a Perú en septiembre y me podría pasar el contacto de WhatsApp de su conductor?. Muchas gracias!

    Guillermina

  13. vilma lamparas

    Hello!
    We will be going to Peru end of this month, June.
    I would like to use the same driver that you had for your Sacred Valley tour.
    May I please get his e-mail address?

    Thank you!

  14. Heather Gillon

    Hello Amanda,

    My parents and I will be arriving in Cuzco around 3:40pm in September and then immediately traveling to Urubamba. On the way, I hear we should see  Sacsayhuaman and Pisac. We also hear that we should see Moray, Maras and Ollantaytambo AMF would like to do so the next day. Would you recommend any specific drivers or private tour operators and would you suggest seeing anything else?  
    We have two nights in Urubamba and then two nights in Machu Picchu, with a final day in Cuzco. 

    I look forward to hearing from you. 

    Thanks,
    Heather

    1. Amanda

      Hi Heather! I can send you our driver’s information. Sounds like a great itinerary, have a great trip!

  15. Daryl Ann Jones

    I came across your post as I am planning my trip to Peru. I am going to take your advice and stay in Ollantaytambo for 2 nights. Everyone has been asking for your driver’s info. May I get that info also? Thank you for sharing your experiences and tips.

    1. Judy Bergman

      Hi, It’s great to hear of your travels to Pru and the Sacred Valley. I and a sister and her hubbie ( all mid 60’s) , are going in January 2020. Do you have any other info we should be aware of? I am not able to hike for super long any more or too steep.
      Could one take longer to stroll, sit and enjoy the ruins and the views? It looks amazing.
      Thanks! Judy

    2. Amanda

      Hi Judy! Yes, for all 4 sites in the Sacred Valley you should be able to enjoy the views without having to hike too much. Have a great trip! :)

  16. joyce

    Hi Amanda and Kevin

    Very useful and handy information for my upcoming south america trip! I would be grateful if you could let me know whether doing both pisac ruins and ollantaytambo ruins on the same day would be very hectic/ exhausting, we are also deciding whether to stay a night in urumbaba or ollantaytambo. If it is too hectic, we may do pisc ruins + moray + maras on day 1 and spend the night in urumbaba then do ollantaytambo in the next morning before we take the train to agua calientes. Would you be able to tell us how much time we should spend in moray and maras? Many thanks!

    1. Amanda

      Hi Joyce! We did both Pisac ruins and Ollantaytambo ruins on the same day. I don’t think it’s too much. Moray and Maras you will spend about 1 hour at each place. Maybe a bit longer at Moray. Have a great trip!

  17. Denise

    Thank you for such awesome travel blogs written for Peru! Based on your experience, do you think is it possible to do all the 4 places in one day? Will it be too rush? We only have 2 days in Cusco and we are planning to do spend the other day in Humantay Lake.

    1. Amanda

      Hi Denise! Yes, it’s probably possible to do all 4 in one day, but it will be a very busy day! Start early! You will probably spend 1 hour at each place. Have a great trip!

  18. Nicole

    Hey! My sister and I will be in Peru at the beginning of June and would love to use your driver! Could you please send me his info?! Thanks!!

  19. Nara

    Hi Amanda, I loved reading your posts! We are leaving for Peru in three days, can you share your driver’s WhatsApp number? Cheers

  20. Frances Lee

    Hi Amanda, Thank you for the very informative post! We are leaving for Peru next week and would also love your driver’s WhatsApp number if you wouldn’t mind sharing!!

  21. Deana Hanson

    Hello! Thank for wonderful post. Would you kindly send me your drivers contact info? I am traveling to Sacred Valley in July with 2 teenagers and would love a safe, reliable driver.

  22. Haley

    I am loving your information on Peru, it has been so helpful! So when your driver dropped you off at the Pisac ruins, and you walked down, did he then pick you up in the city? Would also love his information! We are heading to the area in September.

    1. Amanda

      Hi Haley! Thank you so much for your sweet comment! Yes, he picked us up at the market in the city. I will email you his contact information! Have a great trip! :)

  23. Ramona

    hi! I am going to peru in a week too. Can I please have his contact info as we intend to do things on our own too? also you said you left your bags at the hotel here? we are staying in aguas calientes for a night so no trolleys on the train to machu picchu?

    1. Amanda

      Hi Ramona!

      I will email you our driver’s contact info! :)

      Yes, all of the hotels will be very familiar with leaving your bags/suitcases there to take the train, no worries there!

      It was a bit unclear whether suitcases were allowed on the train, but we didn’t see ANYONE with suitcases… Backpacks or small, soft bags only. Better to bring a backpack just in case than be turned away at the train!

      Hope this helps!! Enjoy your trip!! :)

  24. Macy

    When exploring Pisac, where did you leave your luggage? My itinerary is similar to yours but I’m wondering if it is safe to leave luggage with driver or if I need to carry it around while exploring? Thanks! 

    1. Amanda

      Hi Macy! Yes we left our luggage with our driver. We felt totally comfortable with him. We got his WhatsApp number and ended up using him again, he took us to Rainbow Mountain also. I’m happy to share his contact information!

  25. Michelle

    Thank you for all the great tips! We are going here in 4 weeks, so this is extremely helpful! How long did it take to go from Ollanytambo to Moray-salt mines?

    1. Amanda

      It’s about 2.5 hours of travel (1 hour there, 1 hour back, and 30 mins in between) and you will probably spend about 1 hour at each place, so it’s about 5 hours to do and see both from Ollantaytambo. :)

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Meet Kevin & Amanda

Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes for busy weeknight dinners, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. Meet our Boston Terriers. Take a tour of our house. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.

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