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A visit to the Sacsayhuaman ruins is a must from Cusco and is a perfect short morning or afternoon trip.
Sacsayhuaman and its partner ruins of Qenko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay are the closest ruins to Cusco and easily accessible by taxi, bus, or even by foot from Plaza de Armas in Cusco’s city center.
If you want to check them out, this guide to visiting the Sacsayhuaman ruins covers everything you need to know, including:
- How to get from Cusco to Sacsayhuaman
- How to get from Sacsayhuaman to Qenko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay
- How to return to Cusco by taxi or by bus
- How much does it cost to visit Sacsayhuaman?
- What to see at the Sacsayhuaman ruins
- What to see at the Qenko ruins
- What to see at the Puka Pukara ruins
- What to see at the Tambomachay ruins
- How to discover an extra set of secret ruins outside of the main circuit
- And much more!
Sacsayhuaman boasts groegous views of the city from high on the surrounding mountains – a visit here is not something you’ll soon forget. So, add a self-guided tour of Sacsayhuaman to your Cusco itinerary with this guide!
The Sacsayhuaman ruins are your destination – this Sacsayhuaman guide will take you there!
How To Get to Sacsayhuaman by Taxi
There are two popular ways to get from Cusco to Sacsayhuaman
You can go by taxi, which is the fastest and easiest way to reach the Sacsayhuaman ruins from Cusco, or you can walk to Sacsayhuaman, which is the most budget friendly way to reach the ruins from Cusco.
I’ll tell you how to do both.
The easiest way to get to the Sacsayhuaman ruins from Cusco is to grab a taxi from the city center. The drive is only about 10 minutes and should cost about 10 soles / 3 usd.
Many taxi drivers will try to convince you to hit all four ruins at once with them for a set price of 40 or 50 soles / 13 to 16 usd which is a good choice for convenience alone. If you don’t think you have it in you to climb hundreds of stairs to walk from Cusco to Sacsayhuaman, then the taxi is the best way for you to reach the ruins.
If you’re in a group of three or four, transportation for this whole outing can be done for 5 usd or less per person.
If you don’t want to walk to Sacsayhuaman from Cusco but also don’t want to spend ~15 usd on the taxi, it’s possible to visit all four ruins for a cheaper price by using separate taxis for the short trips between each one.
All of ruins are situated along the main highway to Pisac so it’s easy to grab a new taxi each time you’re ready to go to the next one.
If these stairs don’t scare you, you might be ready to walk to Sacsayhuaman
How to Walk to Sacsayhuaman from Cusco
I prefer the most scenic route (ok, and to save money) so Dan and I decided to walk from Cusco to Sacsayhuaman, which takes about 30 minutes.
The climb up hundreds of stairs was tough (especially in high altitude) but the views were insane and it was nice to get a little exercise on the weekend as well.
So, how do you walk to Sacsayhuaman from Cusco? Just follow these steps:
- Start at Plaza de Armas
- Walk down the road that runs along the right side of the Cathedral
- Turn left on Choqechaka road
- Turn right on the Atoc’sekuchi staircase
- Climb the staircase until you reach the main road, where you will turn left
- Walk along the road for a few minutes and you’ll see the Cristo Blanco (Jesus) statue
- Turn left on the gravel road just past the Cristo Blanco statue
- Continue along the gravel road and through a field to the entrance to Sacsayhuaman.
You can also put Cristo Blanco as your destination in Google Maps and it’ll lead you straight there on the route listed above. Then, after you enjoy the view, walk along the gravel road behind it (which you’ll also see on Google Maps) to continue to Sacsayhuaman.
Snappin’ a selfie at the Cristo Blanco view point
How to get from Sacsayhuaman to Qenko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay
These ruins are laid out in an easy-to-follow ‘circuit’ and the best order to visit them is:
- Puka Pukara
After visiting each ruin, you can go to the main road and wave down a taxi to take you to the next one.
A taxi from Sacsayhuaman to Qenko will cost about 5 soles/ $1.50 usd.
The taxi from Qenko to Puka Pukara will cost around 8 soles/ $2.25 usd more.
Then, from Puka Pukara you can walk to Tambomachay.
If you’re up for more adventure, you can rent a horse from vendors at the entrance to Sacsayhuaman to take you to the rest of the ruins as well.
How to get from the Sacsayhuaman Ruins to Cusco
If you follow the route from Sacsayhuaman to Qenko to Puka Pukara to Tambomachay, the last leg of your trip will be from the Tambomachay ruins back to Cusco.
The ruins are right on the main road between Cusco and Pisac so there are always taxis, buses, and colectivos (shared vans) passing by.
Wait on the side of the road and flag whatever passes by first.
A taxi will be the most expensive option so if you want to continue saving money, I recommend waiting for a colectivo, the second cheapest option, or the bus, which is the cheapest option at only 1 soles / .30 usd per person.
Sacsayhuaman entrance ticket – Dan and I bought the 10-day Boleto Turistico
How much does it cost to visit Sacsayhuaman?
The cost to visit the Sacsayhuaman ruins can be divided into two categories: the transportation cost, and the Sacsayhuaman entrance fee.
For transportation from Cusco to Sacsayhuaman and back we paid 15 soles / 4.50 usd total for two people (if you decide to take a taxi, this will go up).
The Sacsayhuaman admission price is a little more confusing because you need to buy the Boleto Turistico (tourist ticket). The Boleto Turistico is sold at the Sacsayhuaman entrance, but, Cusco is unique in that you can’t buy single entrance tickets to the surrounding ruins.
Instead, you have to buy the tourist ticket for one, two, or ten days. This tourist ticket then grants you entrance to multiple popular sites around Cusco, with Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay among them.
The one-day partial Cusco Tourist Ticket with only entrances to Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay costs 70 soles / 25 usd.
But if you’re planning to visit more sites in Cusco or the Sacred Valley, buying the two-day or even the ten-day tourist ticket might make more sense financially, so make sure to weigh your options and know which ticket you want before you go!
Another view of the Sacsayhuaman ruins
What to See at the Sacsayhuaman Ruins
Now you knnow how to get to Sacsayhuaman and how much it costs to see the four ruins, it’s time to dive into what you’ll see when you finally get there!
Sacsayhuaman is the first and largest of the four ruins. They are about 500 years old and were used as a fortress (due to thre strategic location on top of the hill) and had temples, storage, and more.
The Incan stone walls are massive and still well maintained, and you can wander through archways, see ceremonial altars, and much more. As a photographer, my favorite part of the Sacsayhuaman ruins was definitely the sweeping view of the city of Cusco laid out below my feet.
Plan to spend the most time at Sacsayhuaman because these are by far the largest ruins of the four on this route.
Qenko ruins and view of Cusco
What to See at the Qenko Ruins
Qenko is second on the list and the smallest of the four ruins. This is because it was built as a house and ceremonial site for an important Inca citizen.
The home is unique because it’s nestled into a large rock that you can still walk through today. Make sure you go all the way inside the ruins because you can still visit the cold and eerie ritual alter inside.
The Puka Pukara ruins
What to see at the Puka Pukara Ruins
Puka Pukara is the third ruin you’ll visit on your half-day trip to Sacsayhuaman.
This site was a military fortress, so its strategically located high above the Cusco valley.
Even though it’s small, Puka Pukara boasts beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and was my favorite of the four ruins.
Still-working Inca aquaducts at the Tambomacahy ruins
What to see at the Tambomachay Ruins
The final stop on your tour of the four ruins is Tambomachay.
These are set back from the road into a quiet mountainside retreat. The bubbling streams are one of the first things I noticed, and I quickly learned that Tambomachay is thought to have been built to worship the god of water.
Surprisingly, running water still flows through the aquaducts in this ancient and peaceful Incan ruin, which is pretty amazing!
Secret ruins near Qenko
How to visit the secret ruins on the Sacsayhuaman Circuit
If you haven’t had enough history in your day, visit this fifth bonus ruin on your day trip to Sacsayhuaman.
Just across the street from Qenko there’s another set of ruins hidden in the trees that are completely free to access.
After a quick walk through the forest, you’ll find a quiet but imposing ruin that makes a perfect place to enjoy a picnic away from the crowds.
Inside the Sacsayhuaman ruins
What to Pack for the Sacsayhuaman Day Trip from Cusco
- Water bottles
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Cash for the entrance tickets
Visit the Sacsayhuaman Ruins With This Complete Guide
Visiting Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay is an interesting and beautiful half day trip from Cusco.
Whether you decide to take a taxi to the ruins or hike to Sacsayhuaman, they’re easy and convenient to reach from the Cusco city center and should definitely be added to your Peru itinerary.
This city is an unforgettable vacation destination because it’s so full of Incan history. Of course, you can take a tour into the Sacred Valley or climb Machu Picchu to see amazing ruins, but there are also so many little pieces of the Incan puzzle right here in Cusco’s backyard just waiting to be explored.
Now, you can use this guide to walk from Cusco to Sacsayhuaman and see them all!
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 Cusco Hiking 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.
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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.