Sacred Valley: What to Do
The Sacred Valley of the Incas nearby Cusco is a popular destination because of the ancient Incan ruins, the traditional markets, picturesque villages, and beautiful scenery. The Sacred Valley is a place to be explored! Things to do and see in the Sacred Valley include:
Visit the Incan ruins.
The Sacred Valley is home to a number of ancient Incan ruins, including Pisac, Urubamba, Chinchero, Moray, and Ollantaytambo. Each site offers unique insights into the Incan civilization and its architectural achievements.
Explore traditional markets
The Sacred Valley is known for its traditional markets, where you can find a variety of handmade crafts, textiles, and souvenirs – apart from fruits, vegetables, and more. The markets are a great place to interact with local Peruvian people and learn about their culture and traditions.
Take a guided tour of the valley
A guided tour of the Sacred Valley is a great way to learn about the history and significance of the sites you visit, as well as to get an in-depth understanding of the Inca civilization. A tour to the Sacred Valley includes a visit to Pisac, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo, and Chincheros, while a Sacred Valley Vip tour makes a visit to the salt mines in Maras too.
Go hiking in the Sacred Valley.
The Sacred Valley is home to many beautiful hiking trails that offer stunning views of the Andean mountains. Hiking in the Sacred Valley is great preparation for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and you’ll hike through the most beautiful landscapes of the Inca Empire.
Visit a local community.
There are many local communities in the Sacred Valley that are open to visitors, where you can learn about traditional farming techniques, textiles, and pottery and even participate in activities such as weaving and farming.
Visit Maras salt mines.
These salt mines are a unique site to visit; they consist of a series of terraced ponds that are filled with salt water from a nearby spring; the water is evaporated by the sun, leaving behind the salt, which is then harvested by local families.
Go to a local restaurant or café:
There are many local restaurants and cafes in the Sacred Valley that serve traditional Peruvian cuisines, such as cuy (guinea pig) and alpaca meat, as well as local fruits and vegetables. Also, the Sacred Valley has become a popular place for backpackers that want to settle in Peru for some time, and there are many small trendy places to go for a drink in villages like Urubamba, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo.
Pisac is a small town located at the beginning of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The town is famous for its Incan ruins, which are located on a hill overlooking the town and the surrounding valley. The ruins include several terraced agricultural areas, an Incan cemetery, and a temple complex. The most impressive feature of the ruins is the Intihuatana, a large stone structure that is thought to have been used for astronomical observations.
Pisac is also known for its traditional market, which is held every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. The Pisac market is held on the main square, and it is a great place for visitors to buy traditional Peruvian crafts and textiles. You’ll find a variety of local food and souvenirs in the market. To get to Pisac, take a bus or taxi from Cusco. The journey takes about an hour. A guided tour of the Sacred Valley typically includes a visit to Pisac.
Urubamba is a small town situated in the heart of the Sacred Valley in between Pisac and Ollantaytambo, surrounded by Andean mountains, making it a popular destination for travelers visiting the region. Urubamba is also known for its traditional market, which is held every day. The covered market is a great place to buy and see local products. In Urubamba, you can find traditional Peruvian restaurants as well as local fruits and vegetables.
To get to Urubamba, take a bus or taxi from Cusco. The journey takes about an hour and a half. Visitors can also take a guided tour of the Sacred Valley, which typically includes a visit to Urubamba.
Chinchero is another beautiful town in the Sacred Valley, known for its well-preserved Incan ruins, church, and its traditional market, where visitors can find a variety of handmade crafts, textiles, and souvenirs. The main attraction of the town is the Incan ruins of Chinchero, which include terraced agricultural areas, an Incan palace, and a temple complex. The palace and temple are considered to be some of the best-preserved Incan ruins in the region and offer stunning views of the surrounding Andean mountains.
Chinchero is also known for its traditional textile production, which is still done using ancient techniques passed down through generations. Local families offer demonstrations of the process of spinning and weaving, and you can purchase their handmade textiles.
To get to Chinchero, take a bus or taxi from Cusco. The journey takes about an hour. The Sacred Valley Tour includes a visit to Chinchero.
The village of Maras is known for its unique salt mines, which have been in use for over 500 years. The salt mines consist of a series of terraced ponds that are filled with salt water from a nearby spring. The water is evaporated by the sun, leaving behind salt, which is then harvested by local families.
Maras salt mines are the main attraction of the town, where you can learn about the traditional methods of salt production. The view of the terraced ponds is quite unique, and the contrast of white salt and the red-brown mountains surrounding it is a must-see.
You can go to Maras by bus from Cusco, but you’ll have to change bus in Urubamba and do some hiking.
Moray is an archaeological site located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas that consists of a series of terraced circular depressions, which are thought to have been used as an agricultural experimental station by the Incas. The terraces are carved into a natural depression in the earth and were used to study the effects of different microclimates on crops. The architecture is impressive, with the terraces descending down in a spiral form, creating a unique and impressive view.
Moray is one of the most mysterious Inca sites, and its purpose is still debated among scholars; some suggest it was used for agricultural experimentation, others for astronomical observation, and others for ceremonial purposes.
Most people combine a visit to the salt mines in Maras with a visit to Moray.
Ollantaytambo is located on the opposite side of the Valley as Pisac; here is where the Valley ends. Ollantaytambo has a small train station where you can jump on the train to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu.
Ollantaytambo is probably the most beautiful town of the Sacred Valley, known for its well-preserved Inca fortress. The town itself is also considered one of the best examples of Inca urban planning and is thought to have served as both a military fortress and a religious center.
Visitors to Ollantaytambo can explore the impressive ruins, which include terraced hillsides, monumental stone structures, and a large central plaza. One of the most notable features of the site is the Temple of the Sun, which is believed to have served as a solar observatory. The Temple is surrounded by large walls and offers stunning views of the surrounding valley.
Another popular activity in Ollantaytambo is to hike the nearby mountains, which offer stunning views of the valley and the surrounding scenery. There are a variety of trails available, ranging from easy walks to challenging day hikes.