Pisac – A day trip from Cusco Peru

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

As I was spending over 3 weeks in Cusco I decided to get the tourist ticket for 130 soles (40 USD) so that I could go and see all the Inca Ruins in Cusco and the Sacred Valley.  I had already seen them all 4 years previously on a tour but this time I wanted the option of spending more time and being able to fully explore them.  I decided the first ruin I would visit was Pisac (or Pisaq in the local Quechua language), it is located 33km east of Cusco.

I decided to get the local bus so that I could spend as much time as I wanted there.  The bus to Pisac leaves from calle Puputi which is just off Recoleta.  It is about a 15 minute walk from the Plaza de Armas.  The bus also passes Sacsayhuaman and the other Inca Ruins near Cusco if you want to get a bus to them.  On Puputi street you will hear lots of men shouting “Pisac, Pisac”, these are the minibuses to Pisac which go quite frequently or when they are full.  It should cost around 6 soles (2 USD) to Pisac and you can negotiate less if you are not going that far.  The journey is normally around 45 minutes and they drop you off by the river in Pisac and it is just a 5 minutes walk to the entrance of the ruins.  The minibuses return to Cusco from the same place.  I love getting the local buses and meeting the local people, there normally isn’t any seat belts so maybe not too safe and you are crammed in with everyone but for me it feels like I am experiencing life there rather than being a tourist!!

As you get near to Pisac and are driving down the valley towards the river you can see Pisac high up on the mountain in front of you.  It is an amazing site, you can see the farming terraces cut into the side of the mountain.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

The town of Pisac is located at 2,900 metres with the highest point of the ruins at 3,400 metres, it is quite a hard walk up to see “Inti Watana” which is where the ceremonial platform and temple of the sun are, but you can rest, take lots of pictures and enjoy the amazing views.

Once you have walked through all the markets and parted with all your cash from buying some of the amazing clothes and trinkets they have in Peru, you will see the welcome to Pisac sign. The large market is open Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday though you will find a smaller market open on other days.   You carry on up this path, where you will have your ticket checked before finally entering Pisac.  It is open from 7am to 6pm so you have lots of time to explore this huge site.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

It is not known when Pisac was built but it is not earlier than 1440 and it was destroyed by the Spanish in the 1530’s.  It was a royal estate and as you are climbing up you can see the agricultural terraces that were built into the side of the mountain.  The fertile soil was brought from the valley so that the crops would grow.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

As I was walking up the mountain the views down into the valley were amazing, despite the rainy and cloudy day.  I kept stopping to look and enjoy the views of the town and the river snaking through the valley.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

As you are walking up the mountain you can see the towers from the citadel (the military part) above you.  I continued upward not realising that these towers would mean I was only halfway up the mountain.  It was around this time that the heavens opened and we had a heavy downpour.   It is something I would get used to while being in Cusco, as it was the rainy season it would rain most days in the afternoon!!  Generally between 12 and 2 which is not great timing when you want to go exploring!!

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

When I reached the military sector I had a walk around as there are lots of ruins in this section, though it is hard to work out what the buildings were used for if you are not with a guide!!  There are people walking around who are guides but as I had done a previous tour I didn’t want to do another guided tour.  It is thought that Pisac defended the southern entrance of the sacred valley, with Choquequirao the west and Ollantaytambo the northern entrance.  The views looking down on the citadel are spectacular, even when it’s pouring down!!

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

As you are walking up the hill from the citadel you can see the main ceremonial plaza, so it was head down as it was raining so hard and a trek up another steep hill to the top.

At the top I had reached Inti Watana the religious part of the site.  Here you can see baths, water fountains, altars, the temple of the sun.  Though for me the higher section was closed off, I think because it was raining so hard.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

After I had had a look around I had a sit down in a little covered area, the only area after the agricultural terraces with shelter, and tried drying off a little, reading my book and just enjoying the view.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

After this it was back on with the waterproofs and down the mountain in the rain.  There are a few paths so you can go down a different way to how you came up and see different parts of the ruins while you are going down.  It would of been amazing to have been able to sit up here and enjoy the amazing views for a few hours but it wasn’t meant to be!! Maybe next time!!

Once I was back at the bottom it was a short walk through the town and back to the bus for the journey back to Cusco.

Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

It is a great site to visit and the views are stunning and will be even more so on a sunny day, though you will need sun cream and a hat as there is very little shelter!!  If you get a chance it’s worth a visit!!

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Pisac Sacred Valley Cusco Peru

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47 thoughts on “Pisac – A day trip from Cusco Peru

  1. The places you visited looked wonderful even in dull conditions. The builder’s must have been extremely skillfull to have created the structures that have endured weather for the many centuries. Thanks for letting me see the sites not usually shown in travel books.

  2. It’s great that you got to spend some time in and around Cusco and really explore the area. It’s amazing how many Mayan ruins there are — not just Machu Picchu. Pisac looks amazing, especially the Inti Watana part.

  3. I think I’d prefer to visit during the time that you did. I can imagine how the hike would be more difficult if it’s too hot and the sun’s shining specially since there’s no shelter.

    Love the terraces, we have the same in the Philippines and it’s just breathtaking! 🙂

  4. Wow. Amazing photos. I don’t think we’ll have time to go here when we are in Cusco! It does look like a wonderful place to sneak away to and enjoy some solitary reading time.

  5. 3400 meters is pretty high up, I’m sure you’ll get fantastic shots from up there. Although you had wet weather, you still got good photos, sometimes the rain makes the old buildings shine. It’s good they have different paths to go up and down making a nice round trip with new things to see the whole time.

  6. My boyfriend is a huge history buff, so he would love this. I need to keep it in mind for future trips.Plus we love a good walk around the countryside. Thank you for sharing!

  7. I would love to get to Peru at some stage. Pisac looks incredible! I definitely would be leaving all my money at the markets as I love getting things wherever I travel, I guess you could say i’m a travelshopaholic. The ruins do look beautiful and just how I would imagine them in Peru.

  8. I’ve always wanted to visit Machu Picchu when I do get to visit Peru someday. However, hearing about other Inca ruins is exciting since there are actually more to explore in the country. It is amazing to imagine how much time and manual labor it took to build those structures. And those agricultural terraces are quite impressive too!!

  9. This is so interesting! What made you spend 3 weeks in Cuzco? Pizac looks simply stunning – even in the rain. I love the terraces and the view of the city below. I’d love to go and spend the entire day exploring the ruins!

    • I went to Cusco for Christmas and New Year so I was partying for a week. It was my 4th visit to Cusco so It was nice to have more of a chilled time visiting places!!

  10. My sister-in-law is from Peru so it a country that I have always wanted to visit. I think I would much prefer to do the solo travel as you have done this time rather than the tour. Those vendors would do doubt have been able to coax me to part with all of my money at the markets along the way lol

  11. The town of Pisac seems to be beautiful, sparsely populated and unexplored. it also seems to be right in the lap of nature. This is the kind of place I totally love. Thanks for sharing it

  12. Looks a great place to explore and must be good it you went back for a 2nd viewing. I have mobility issues so wouldn’t be able to walk around here but love seeing other peoples photos so thank you for sharing.

  13. One hardly ever hears about the other ruins in Peru besides Macchu Picchu so it’s great to learn about places like Pisac. The views from above are amazing. I’d love to visit there someday.

  14. I love taking day trips to see more unexplored cities! I’d definitely take this one, with all the adventure-driven activities such as hiking and for all the lovely views. So glad you shared about Cusco — I’ll have to add it to my list!

  15. I must say you are utilizing your time in Cusco really well. The places look really scenic and weather too seems fine. I am glad you got this opportunity. The landscapes are beautiful.

  16. I love that you went there the local way. It’s always a different experience and different perspective that way. And with those views, I would agree that the place is amazing even on a rainy day.

  17. Peru gives an impression of being so exotic and untouched, even though it is no longer a rare destination. It was interesting to learn that Pisac was destroyed by the Spanish in the 1500s. Trying to imagine it minus the destruction.

  18. Wow this was some trip, it looks amazing! 3,400 metres is seriously high! I’ve never been to S.America yet, and its the only continent I haven’t been to, but definitely saving it up and writing down great places to visit like Pisac in Peru! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  19. Even in the not-so-perfect conditions, the site looks amazing and the views are incredible. And being able to take a bus there and back so you could explore at your own pace is such a bonus.

  20. I am very impressed by the efforts of the people of Pisac to bring the soil from the valley for growing crops! It is very commendable that you are visiting such lesser known places despite of the weather there! Keep up the spirit!

  21. I love hiking and trekking and have experienced hiking at 3400m in Nepal, and know it can be heavy going, especially in the rain The history of the Incas has always fascinated me also. With the mountains and the history, Peru is definitely on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Such a beautiful town. The fact that it was built around 1440 and it was destroyed by the Spanish in the 1530’s means it didn’t live for very long, which I feel sad about. When I visit South America, I will definitely visit here

  23. Hat’s off to you trekking up and down in the rain must have been hard work, but all worth it in the end for the fantastic views. I am a bit of a history buff and will keep your post in mind when I go on my travels.

  24. We took the bus tour to Pisac, but I wish we’d just done it on our own like you did. It looks so much more peaceful. We did go to the market, which was so colorful and fun. I loved it.

  25. What a great idea to buy a pass that lets you see all the ruins in the area. And 40 USD is super affordable for this. I love the idea that you can take your time to explore the ruins…especially if you are spending 3 weeks in Cusco. Oh my goodness – I can’t believe it was heavy downpour while you were climbing up. But glad that you were still able to explore anyways. It looks so incredibly beautiful and green!

  26. This looks honestly so beautiful! I will be going through south america next year so I definitely can’t wait to visit this place too. The showers were a bit of a shame, but then again, you’re in a gorgeous country exploring like a local. Not too bad haha.

  27. That place looks so beautiful….a little hike took you to such amazing views and the weather made it even more exciting…wish you could have reached the top which was not possible due to heavy rain

  28. Pisac looks spectacular! I love finding little hidden gems like this. The view and the hike are just so cool. I had no idea Pisac even existed until reading this!

  29. It’s good to see how the ruins from the top of the mountain look like. I have visited Pisac too when I was in Peru but for a different reason: a full moon ceremony, so I didn’t have time to go up. Did you like the market? I loved it, I ended up buying a big alpaca toy which I carried with me for the next 3 weeks. 🙂

    • I bet the ceremony was interesting. I did go to the market but didn’t buy anything as had already spent up in Cusco!!

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