On of our favourite day trips from Cusco was to the small town of Pisac to visit the Pisac ruins perched atop the hillside overlooking the town below.
The ruins are part of the sacred valley and offer one of the most extensive archeological sites of the Incas. We were blown away with how big and well-preserved they were. Due to the location and fact that there was no crowding, we agreed that they were some of the best ruins we saw during our time in Peru. If you have the time, they are definitely worth seeing and are easy to get to from Cusco without having to take a tour.
Getting to Pisac
Getting from Cusco to Pisac is relatively easy. Depending on your preferred style of travel you can either join a tour, use one of the public transport colectivos or get a private transfer. We generally like to travel to places independently so we can spend as long as we want wandering around, exploring and taking pictures so we went via public transport.
It turned out to be a really easy journey which takes about 45 minutes. To catch one of the colectivos you need to head out of Cusco main centre to Calle Puputi (find location on google maps here) which is about a 10-15minute walk. The colectivos come and go regularly so you don’t have to wait long to hop on one.
It costs us S/5 per person and the colectivo will stop by the bridge just outside of the town. Once you get there all you have to do is walk over the bridge and you’ll be in Pisac.
To visit the ruins you need to have a Boleto Turistico. This is a ticket that allows entry to parks, archeological sites and museums within the sacred valley and Cusco.
You can buy this ticket in advance or at the entry to the Pisac ruins. There are a few different options that you can choose from when purchasing your Tourist ticket. You can purchase a 1 day or 2 day ticket both of which cost S/70, or a 10 day ticket costing S/130 or S/70 for students.
We bought the 2 day ticket as we were planning to do the Inca trails and didn’t have much time explore the different sites. If you do decide to buy the 2 or 10 day ticket, bare in mind you will need to organise your own transport to each site – the ticket simply grants you access. Th easiest way to get around to different sites is likely the minibuses.
Bring plenty of water and some snacks with you as there is lots to explore and the ruins are spread across the mountain. You’ll likely be there for at least a few hours but if you have time you could dedicate a whole day to these vast ruins.
If you decide to hike to the ruins, the route up is easy to follow. The path is pretty much uphill the whole way with various sections of steeper steps. As long as you set your own pace, it isn’t a hard climb. It’ll likely take around 45-60 minutes of hiking before you reach the first ruin.
Pisac town sits at 2,972m above sea level so it is lower than Cusco. However, the ruins are about 3,300m above sea level so you may find the climb starts getting harder towards the ruins. An alternative is to get a taxi from the town up to the ruins and hike back down. Going up by taxi means you enter the ruins from a different entrance and hike over the mountain, moving from ruin to ruin.
We would recommend trying to hike at least one way so you can appreciate the full scale of the ruins. If you decide to hike up from the ticket office, on your way up to the ruins, you’ll see the farming terraces. These were built by the Incas, who inhabited the area, to allow them to farm the land. Across the rest of the hilltop you’ll discover temples, ceremonial baths, the sun dial and military area.
Do you need a tour?
In short, no. If you’re coming from Cusco, you can catch a minibus to Pisac and walk up yourself. Everything is quite straight forward from there meaning a tour would be a waste of money in our eyes. We didn’t feel like we missed out by not having a tour guide.