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Last updated: 23 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: Alex Robinson

Of all the Inca sights in Peru, only Machu Picchu is more impressive than this huge fortress. It’s cut into the mountain above the Sacred Valley, with massive cut stones and vast terraces.

Machu Picchu was never discovered by the Spanish – instead, it fell through neglect. By contrast, Ollantaytambo was the last stronghold of the Incas near Cusco and the site of a famous victory. In 1536, Manco Inca diverted the course of the River Patacancha to wash away the advancing Spanish and their Amazonian Indian allies.

It was another thirty years before the Incas finally fell and the ruins – with crumbling walls and astonishing views – have an even greater poignancy than Machu Picchu.

While you’re there 

Allow an hour or so for an exploration of Ollantaytambo village, and its textiles and souvenir market. It’s as touristy as an airport shop, but there are occasional bargains.

The Parwa restaurant in Lamay village, about 30 minutes’ drive from Ollantaytambo, serves authentic Quechua Andean food and is run by an indigenous co-operative.

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Ollantaytambo is well-served by transport – nowhere in the Sacred Valley is easier to reach. Trains run from Cusco, and you can catch the train to Machu Picchu for Ollantaytambo. Cab rides take around 90 minutes, bus rides 160 minutes. Most tour companies in Cusco offer bus visits. You can also see the ruins on a white-water rafting excursion.

For food & drink before or after, Apu in the heart of the village serves Peruvian staples with wonderful mountain views from the rooftop terrace.

When to do it

The site is open daily from April to October. During the peak July-August period, consider staying overnight in the village to avoid the busy tour bus crowds which arrive from Cusco after 10am. The light is spectacular in the early morning and late afternoon.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Pisac Inca Town, Artisan Market and Ollantaytambo Full-Day Tour from Cusco

Cusco

Pisac Inca Town, Artisan Market and Ollantaytambo Full-Day Tour from Cusco
Discover the Sacred Valley of the Incas on this full-day excursion from Cusco. Travel to the scenic town of Pisac where you'll visit the local market and see mass if traveling on a Sunday. Then, head over to the ruins of the Ollantayambo Fortress and the Temple of the Sun, a mysteriously built structure with massive 12 foot (3.5m) tall stones.

Price: $49

Min age: 0

Rating 4.36 / 5 [373 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Private Ollantaytambo, Pisac Ruins Tour with Farm Visit, Gourmet Picnic Lunch

Cusco

Private Ollantaytambo, Pisac Ruins Tour with Farm Visit, Gourmet Picnic Lunch
This tour visits two amazing Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley: Ollantaytambo and Pisac .You will have a private guided tour of these sites and will learn a tremendous amount about Inca history while taking in majestic views of the Sacred Valley. We will then visit a local farm where we will taste local fruits and vegetables fresh from the land and feed the guinea pigs that are kept in almost every local house as a source of heat and food. While you tour the farm, our private chef will prepare a gourmet, healthy organic lunch featuring local Peruviuan produce, including some of our own crops. We will then visit a local non-touristic market in Urubamba to see how the locals sell their produce and other goods. Finally, we will visit the terraced ruins at Pisac and learn about this amazing religious, astronomical and military site.

Price: $195

Min age: 18

Rating 5 / 5 [46 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Sacred Valley Private Tour: Chinchero, Ollantaytambo and Pisaq

Cusco

Sacred Valley Private Tour: Chinchero, Ollantaytambo and Pisaq
The Sacred Valley tour is one of the most popular tours in the region. The Sacred Valley of the Incas was a crucial area for the Inca empire and it functioned as both an agricultural, spiritual and political center for them. Throughout its length there are many Inca and Pre-Inca sites that can be found and the Sacred Valley tour visits the three of them; Chincheros, Ollantaytambo and Pisac.

Price: $109

Min age: 2

Rating 4.93 / 5 [33 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Sacred Valley Pisac Ollantaytambo and Chinchero Full-Day Tour

Cusco

Sacred Valley Pisac Ollantaytambo and Chinchero Full-Day Tour
The Sacred Valley of the Incas was certainly a key area of settlement to the Incas. This valley was appreciated by the Incas because of its special geographical and climatic qualities. It was one of the main production sites for the richness of their land and a place where it produces the best maize and potatoes. The tour includes a visit to the ruins and market of Pisac, a stop for lunch in Urubamba Province, and a visit to the beautiful Inca village and fortress of Ollantaytambo, known as a living Inca city. On the way back to Cusco, you will visit Chinchero Village accompanied by an official guide. The tours has a duration of 10 hours.

Price: $30

Min age: 0

Rating 4.25 / 5 [24 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Cusco

Cusco Region, Peru

Aerial view of the Cusco town in Peru

The heart of the old Inca empire has a wealth of Inca ruins, Spanish treasures and historic architecture to explore.

Peru

Peru

Peru

A land of spectacular deserts, high mountains and rainforests that teem with wildlife, Peru is also home to an array of dramatically situated pre-Colombian ruins, including Machu Picchu.