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I visited every ruin on Cusco’s 10-day 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 should reconsider. They’re easy to get to without a guided tour and sit high on a mountain with stunning views of the valley below.
Plus, they’re 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, so it really feels like stepping back in time.
After we explored to our heart’s content, we followed the path down the mountain and back into Pisac for a relaxing lunch. It was a really great day, and this is everything you need to know to make it happen!
How to Get from Cusco to Pisac Without a Tour
Getting from Cusco to Pisac is quick and cheap.
Collectivos (shared vans) leave regularly from the top of Puputi street in Cusco.
They’re fast, comfortable, and only cost 4 soles / $1.25 usd. The drive takes around 45 minutes and will drop 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.
Taxis are everywhere because it’s such a popular tourist site so you can grab one right where you get out of the collectivo on the street. It’s a little pricey at 25 soles / $8 usd each for the one-way trip up the mountain, but you can walk back down to save money on the return trip.
View of the Pisac Valley from the road leading up to the ruins
What to See at 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 the third set and followed the path that goes down 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.
You can also exit the Pisac ruins by doubling back and taking another taxi from the entrance back down the mountain, but we opted for the more scenic route.
Of course, the 30-minute walk also had more switchbacks and cliffsides, but it was enjoyable and dropped us off right in Pisac’s main market.
Very satisfying Incan terraces in the first set of ruins in Pisac, Peru
What to Do in Pisac, Peru
Try to visit the Pisac market before heading back to Cusco!
It weaves through multiple streets and squares and has beautiful sweaters, art, alpaca blankets, and more. While we found that the prices in the Pisac market were a little higher in the markets in Cusco, the selection was larger and better too.
After a nice stroll through the stalls, we decided to grab a late lunch at Ulrike’s Cafe 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!
Colorful street market in the Pisac, Peru
How to Get from Pisac to Cusco
Stuffed with good food and hot coffee, were ready to end our day trip to Pisac, Peru and get back to home base in 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 a minute of waiting (seriously), a van 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.
Spend a Day in Pisac, Peru With This Guide
All in all, the Pisac Ruins are definitely one of my favorite sites on the tourist ticket.
They’re easily accessible from Cusco, and the Pisac market and cute little town is a destination on its own. When you come to Cusco, make sure you find the time to squeeze this amazing piece of history onto your Peru to-do list.
Ready to go? Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Cusco and then explore accommodation like unique stays on Airbnb or the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in the city.
This article is part of the Sacred Valley Series. Read the rest below:
Then, explore the complete Peru series for more tips on what to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in Cusco and beyond.
I’ve been traveling full-time for three years, these are the resources that make it happen:
➤ I exclusively use Airbnb for savings and security on long-term stays in furnished apartments.
➤ I use Booking.com for short-term stays in hostels and hotels on weekend trips.
➤ Upwork allowed me to take the leap to travel full-time because they make it so easy to find freelance clients in any field.
➤ The Superstar Blogging Travel Writing Course launched my travel writing career and helped me become a contributor at sites like Cincinnati Refined and International Living, and even get published in the Boston Globe.