Ollantaytambo: one of the world’s top destinations
Friday February 24, 2023 | Tours | Posted by Team About Cusco
Ollantaytambo is a small and picturesque town located in the Sacred Valley of Peru – about 60 kilometers northwest of Cusco. Ollantaytambo has a rich history, and it is an important site if you want to explore the Inca ruins and learn about the fascinating history and culture of the Inca civilization. Ollantaytambo has some of the oldest continuously-occupied buildings in South America. Once a stronghold of Inca resistance to Spanish colonization, it’s remarkably well-preserved. Ollantaytambo has won awards for its preservation efforts, making it a must-visit destination for travelers who want to experience the best of Peruvian history and culture. In 2022, Condé Nast Traveler even selected Ollantaytambo as one of the world’s best travel places in 2023. Ollantaytambo is a top destination in Peru.
Most travelers visit Ollantaytambo because it’s the starting point of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or because they catch the train to Machu Picchu. Still, the beautiful town is becoming more popular as it has much to offer. Both the ruins and the old town are fascinating. The charming village boasts picturesque cobblestone streets lined with Inca canals still flowing with water. Ollantaytambo was included in this important list of the renowned British media and is considered one of the best destinations for international tourism and Ollantaytambo is a top destination in Peru.
Ollantaytambo is a top destination in Peru
Different criteria determined the choice of “best destination for international travel’. Particular attention was given to sites that offer the possibility of interacting with local communities through a “meaningful style of travel” where human contact can be achieved. Condé Nast Traveler also highlighted the cultural value of the fiesta del Señor de Choquekillka (festival of the Lord of Choquekillka).
In December last year, Ollantaytambo was also chosen as one of the best tourism villages at the 24th General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), held in Madrid, Spain. This recognition is called “Best Tourism Village.” It seeks to distinguish villages around the world that have demonstrated their commitment to promoting and conserving their cultural heritage and sustainable development through tourism.
Short History of Ollantaytambo
The town of Ollantaytambo was built by the Inca civilization around the 15th century. It was an important religious, agricultural, and administrative center that played an essential role in the Inca Empire. Ollantaytambo was built around the fortress meant to protect the valley from invaders. The fortress was also used as a storage center for the Inca army due to its excellent location along the main trade route to the Amazon rainforest.
Ollantaytambo also served as a religious center for the Inca people. There were temples and shrines, including the Temple of the Sun, dedicated to the sun god Inti. Ollantaytambo was a sacred place where various vital events in Inca mythology took place.
Things to do and see in Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo is a popular tourist destination, Ollantaytambo is a top destination in Peru, that attracts visitors from all over the world who come to Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley to explore Peru’s rich history and culture. Here are a few things to do and see in Ollantaytambo – apart from hopping on the train to Aguas Calientes at Ollantaytambo train station.
Explore the city center.
Ollantaytambo showcases the urban planning design of the Incas perfectly. Some theories suggest that Ollantaytambo is one of the “oldest continuously inhabited human settlements in the Americas.” Go for a stroll on the picturesque cobblestone streets of Ollantaytambo, Peru, and listen to the water in the channels that line the streets.
Explore the Inca ruins:
The fortress at Ollantaytambo is one of Peru’s most impressive Inca ruins. You can explore the ruins and climb the steep stone steps to get a panoramic view of the valley below. In addition, the site boasts highlights like the Temple of the Sun – an impressive megalithic stone – the Water Temple, and Inkawatana.
Visit the Temple of the Sun:
The Temple of the Sun is one of Ollantaytambo’s most important Inca sites. It was built using massive stone blocks and features a series of interlocking terraces used for agricultural purposes.
Visit the Ollantaytambo market
The town of Ollantaytambo is home to an artisans market, where visitors can buy traditional Peruvian handicrafts, including textiles, ceramics, and jewelry. You can visit the local market, Mercado San Pedro, only a block from the central plaza.
Hike to the Pinkuylluna ruins
The Pinkuylluna ruins are located on a hill overlooking the town of Ollantaytambo. Visitors can take a short hike to reach the ruins, which offer stunning views of the town and the surrounding mountains. The Pinkuylluna Granaries are free to explore, and you can find the train to the Pinkullana ruins at Calle Lares.
A few minute walk from the Ollantaytambo cemetery, find Quellorakay. This small Inca site looks out over the Urubamba River. Quellorakay is best to visit at sunset. Not far from the far end of the Quellorakay ruins, you can find beautiful ancient Ollantaytambo steps that lead into the village.
Hike to the Pumamarca Ruins
The Pumamarca ruins showcase a mixture of Inca and Wari (Pre-Incan) cultures. The trail to the Puma Archaeological Park is beautiful. It’s easy to find the trailhead to Pumamarca near the Plaza de Armas in Ollantaytambo. The scenic hike to Pumamarca goes through a beautiful eucalyptus forest with small waterfalls and stunning views. You can also take a taxi from the Plaza de Armas. You have to pay a small entrance fee.
Go for beer
Visit the Cerveceria Valle del Sagrado in the village of Pachar. This brewpub has a lovely garden to relax and enjoy the delicious brews. They also opened a small café in Ollantaytambo.
The Chinchero ruins are about 30 minutes from Ollantaytambo. They offer a fascinating glimpse into the history of the Inca civilization and are well worth a visit. Somewhere between Urubamba, and Chincheros in Ollantaytambo, you can find Inca Salt pans in Maras and the amphitheater in Moray, an Inca archaeological site with circular terraces, located on a high plateau; the deepest circle is 30 meters below ground level.
How to get from Cusco to Ollantaytambo (Peru)
- Take a colectivo from Cusco to Ollantaytambo or Urubamba at Avda Grau.
The price is around 10 soles and it takes 1,45 hr.
- Take a bus from Cusco to Urubamba via Chincheros at Jirón 21 de Mayo 944, Cusco
The price is around 6 soles and it takes 1,15 hr.
In Urubamba you can take a colectivo to Ollantaytambo for aprox. 2 – 3 soles.
Taxis from Cusco to Ollantaytambo costs between $35 – $50 USD; the trip takes over an hour, between an hour and hour and a half.