I visited every ruin on the Tourist Ticket and I can easily say that the Pisac Ruins are the best.
If you’re thinking about skipping this ancient Incan site on your trip to Cusco, you definitely need to reconsider. They are easy to get to without a guided tour, situated high on a mountain with stunning views, and right outside an awesome little hippy town that’s definitely worth exploring.
Even better, the Pisac Ruins are in four different groups, and the farther you walk into them the more isolated and empty they become. It really feels like stepping back in time. Once you reach the third set, you can follow the path down the mountain and back into Pisac for a relaxing lunch. Seriously a perfect day!
How to Get to the Pisac Ruins Without a Guided Tour
Getting to the Pisac Ruins from Cusco is quick and cheap. Collectivos (shared vans) leave regularly from the top of Puputi street. They’re fast, comfortable, and only cost 4 soles / $1.25 usd. The drive takes around 45 minutes and drops you off right in the middle of the small town of Pisac.
Once you’re there, you’ll have to take a taxi up the mountain to the ruin. You can grab a taxi right where you get out on the street, and they cost 25 soles / $8 usd each for the one-way trip up the mountain.
The Pisac Ruins
These ruins are amazing. The first group you walk into has an incredible view of the Incan terraces flowing smoothly down the mountain. Once we passed through and explored them, we crossed the terraces to the second community. This set crawls even higher up the mountain, meaning more stairs, but also stunning panoramas of the ruins and valley below.
Afterward, we were one of the few to venture onward to the third cluster in the Pisac ruins, about ten minutes away on a path on the side of the mountain. We had these all to ourselves, and promptly sat down to enjoy a picnic on the terraces.
Finally, we continued to cross through and followed the path that goes downward and wraps around the mountain back to the town of Pisac. While on the path, up above us we could see the fourth and final ruins, a hospital and citadel, balanced precariously on the side of the mountain top.
Getting Back to Pisac From the Ruins
You can exit the Pisac ruins in two ways.
The first is by doubling back and taking another taxi from the entrance back down the mountain. The second choice, which we opted for, is to walk down and take the scenic route. More switchbacks, more cliff sides, and more terraces await on this 30 minute walk, but it was enjoyable and dropped us off right in Pisac’s main market.
The market weaves through multiple streets and squares and has beautiful sweaters, art, alpaca blankets, and more. While we found that the prices were a little higher in the markets in Cusco, their selection was larger and better too. If you want to check it out, though, just make sure you visit on a Sunday, Tuesday, or Thursday, because the market is not open every day.
Finally, we decided to grab a late lunch and head home.
We went to Ulrike’s Cafe and I’m so glad we did because they have BAGELS! After seven months in South America, bagels are one of the American foods I miss the most. Seeing homemade bagels and cream cheese on the menu was such an amazing surprise, and they were so good we even took some home for breakfast the next day. YUM.
How to Get Back to Cusco
Stuffed with good food and hot coffee, were ready to end our day at the Pisac Ruins and get back to Cusco.
To do so we just had to head back to the main road where we got off the collectivo when we arrived. After about one minute of waiting, another inevitably came by and stopped to pick us up. We were heading back at just the right time in the late afternoon, and the setting sun over the valley made for beautiful views all the way home.
All in all, the Pisac Ruins are definitely one of my favorite sites on the tourist ticket. They are easily accessible from Cusco, and the town of Pisac is a destination on its own. If you don’t have much time in Cusco, I suggest making sure you find the time to squeeze this piece of history onto your to-do list!
Looking for more hikes you can do on your own in Cusco? Trek to Huchuy Qosqo without a guide, visit Kinsa Cocha to see Pisac’s three lakes, or take this easy hike in Cusco that you can start right inside the city center!