Ollantaytambo – A day trip from Cusco Peru

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

Ollantaytambo is probably one of my favourite day trips from Cusco, Peru.  It is 72 kilometres from Cusco which is about 2 hours away by minibus.

The buses from Cusco go from Calle Pavitos with Calle Belen, which is about a 10 minutes walk from the Plaza de Armas and it costs about 10 soles (3 USD).  You will find buses going to Urubamaba (you can change in the bus station) or directly to Ollantaytambo.

If you have done the Inca Trail then this is the place where you will have stopped to stock up on last minute snacks, water or walking sticks.  It is also a popular day tour from Cusco but it is also easy to do independently as there are plently of buses that go from Cusco.

This would be my 3rd visit to the ruins here and I decided to get the bus and stay overnight as there is a second set of ruins that you can see from Ollantaytambo which I have never visited and I keep saying I must go see them, so I decided to stay overnight and see both.

I got the bus in the morning and checked straight into my hostel, the Ollantaytampu Hostel, located 50 metres from the Plaza de Armas.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

It’s a nice clean little hostel, in a great location with great views from the roof terrace.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

I then decided to go to the main ruins that was included within the tourist ticket I had bought in Cusco.  As I was walking there it started raining as it was doing most days between 12 and 2, so again it was out with the rain jacket to see another set of ruins in the rain!!

Ollantaytambo town is 2,800 metres above sea level with the ruins climbing several hundred more metres up the mountain.

I entered the ruins and this is the first view you get, there were lots of tourists already inside and a lot more groups would be around later too.  It is one of the most popular ruins in the region.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

Ollantaytambo was the royal estate for the Emperor Pachacuti.  The main ruins visited by tourists is the ceremonial site, referred to as temple hill.  Above the terraces there is a sun temple and the wall of the Six Monoliths (see pic below).  These are unfinished and it shows evidence that the site was still being constructed when it was abandoned.

Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Cusco, Peru

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley, Cusco, Peru

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

As I was exploring I saw an open door with a path up the mountain and so I decided to explore as I had hours left before it shut.  By this time the rain was easing.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

I climbed up the mountain another 20 minutes where I found more ruins, I then climbed a bit higher, found a rock to sit on and had the most amazing views.  As most tourists have a limited amount of time in Ollantaytambo, this part of the ruins was empty and I had the place to myself.  The views from here are amazing.  I decided to stay here, relax, read my kindle and enjoy the views for a while.  I think I now understand why the Inca’s built there settlements on mountains, it wasn’t for a defensive reason but to enjoy these views!!

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

When it was getting close to 4pm I decided to climb back down, as the gate to the ruins shut at 4pm, and I explored the rest of the ruins.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

After visiting the ruins I went into the town and had dinner and a few drinks on the way back to the hostel.

The next day I was up early so that I could go visit the other set of ruins you can see on the other mountain. To get there you walk along calle Principal away from the Plaza de Armas until you reach Lares Calle which is just a little alleyway.

Ollyantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

After the first alleyway on the left, the entrance to the other set of ruins is just through a door on your right that will be open with a little sign showing the ruins are that way.  It is between Calle 1 & 2 in the alleyway.

There are ruins all over the mountain at this side too, mainly there are storehouses, where they would store the products from the terraces.  The high altitude and climate helped against the decay.

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

I then climbed to the highest part of the ruins and once again, spent a few hours sat looking at the amazing views and reading my kindle.  I even somehow managed to get wifi from my hostel at the top of the mountain!! How does that work?

Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

After a few hours exploring this side of the valley it was back down the mountain to get my bags and return to Cusco.  You can get a combi from either the Plaza de Armas direct to Cusco or just around the corner, near the market are combi’s to Urubamba where you can change buses (this way does take a little longer) to get to Cusco.

Ollantaytambo is a great day trip from Cusco, or a great little town to visit for a few days if you have time, and its an easy option to do on your own.

Have you visited here? What did you think of these ruins?

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Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley Cusco Peru


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26 thoughts on “Ollantaytambo – A day trip from Cusco Peru

  1. It is so cool there are more ruins nearby to explore. The big sights are great, like the Inca trail, but there are so many wonderful side trips. This is a wonderful day trip to add to the Peru experience.

  2. I have always wanted to go to Peru to do the trail but a side day trip to Cusco Peru looks amazing. I love ruins and history and this is definitely something I would really love to see.

  3. I’ve always wanted to go to Peru!! Great info here and I love your photos. What a great idea to hang out at the ruins and read on your kindle for a bit – I bet that was really peaceful. I try to do that with my journal while traveling but I always fall way behind. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Loved reading your post. It looks picturesque. It seemed really fascinating to explore the ruins. It is definitely a must visit for history lovers. Yes the name Ollantaytambo is a tongu twister and makes the place more intriguing!

  5. Wow, it looks amazing especially how the tiny village is embedded between these big mountains. And I love taking my kindle when travelling as well. Peru is high on my bucket list, first Russia though. 🙂
    xx finja

  6. This is such a great post, I never visited Ollantaytambo when in Peru but now that I have read this I am kicking myself, the ruins look incredible and so quiet!!! I’m also amazed that you could get your hostel wi-fi from on top of that mountain, clearly wi-fi has improved greatly since I was there, I can’t even get good connection on the other side of my apartment haha.

  7. I love the photos. The mountains are amazing. Visiting those ruins sounds like an incredible experience! I’ve never been to Peru. It’s on my bucketlist. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Looks absolutely stunning, a true hidden jewel. The ruins look beautiful. Glad you got to visit both both locations. Nice pictures as usual clare.

  9. I can define you understand kicking back with the kindle for a while and enjoying those views. 2 hours definitely makes it accessible for a day trip and the bus is so cheap! Great hat you even scored views form the roof terrace of your hostel!

  10. Ollantaytambo makes me giggle a little every time I say the word (can’t be sure if I am pronouncing it correct) in my mind. Thanks for all the details. This entire region remains a mystery to me and it’s always fascinating to read about it and marvel at the sights and history of the region which in a way is the history of civilization. Just looking at all the ruins on the mountains can’t help but imagine how people lived here at one time. Beautifully explained and captured.

  11. Some really interesting ruins here. We don’t have Peru on our travel list for the near future, but if we ever hit the area we will keep Ollantaytambo in mind, thanks to your tips and information. Love the selfie pic 🙂 Some of those views are truly stunning!

  12. It is so nice to hear about your time to relax and really savor the spot. So often it is easy to fall into a trap of seeing as much as humanly possible. That does allow for you to see a lot of things, but not to sit and really savor and there is great value in that, too!

    We always travel with the kids and needless to say that travel has changed for us. It is still wonderful, but just different. We do a lot more preplanning and researching so that we will be like tour guides for the kids. Full of information they’ll find interesting and be able to boil it down to their level. It has also forced us to slow down and we do more smelling the roses and appreciating the views than we used to – all good!

    We came close to a Peru visit last year but ventured off in another direction instead. It is still high on the list!

  13. I loved Ollantaytambo…probably because I loved saying the word…made my mouth move in a funny way.
    I took a collectivo from Cusco to Ollantytambo because it was cheaper to ride the train from there to Agua Calientes plus I got to “hitch-hike” in my collectivo and see the sacred valley.
    It was a cute town and I stayed in a great hostel I found there that was a villa! Loved seeing the ruins there from the town square too

  14. Those are some pretty impressive views! Never been to Peru (and never heard of Ollantaytambo before if I am honest) but will keep this place in mind when I do – you had me at that roof terrace. And it’s always great to have a chance to hang around when most of the tourists are gone! Bookmarking this for the future 🙂

  15. I went to South America in December but didn’t have time for Peru. I never knew there is more to see from Cusco that Machu Pichu. Thanks for sharing… I am going to budget a couple of days more for trips besides the Machu Pichu when I there next.

  16. It didn’t look like it was raining from the photos you’ve posted, I guess photos can be deceiving. :p I probably wouldn’t be able to sit still and enjoy the views as you did as I’d be too worried that I won’t be able to go back down before the site closes.

    Also, that’s one strong wifi signal of the hostel. Haha!

  17. Peru is very much on our lost for the future, we are just waiting for the girls to be old enough to tackle the Inca Trail. I am glad to see it is both accessible by the trail as well as it’s own day trip. The views from the ruins are spectacular!

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