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Sacred Valley

  • Cusco Region, Peru

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 31 March, 2024

Towering snow-capped mountains, myriad Inca ruins, time-forgotten villages – the landscapes of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which lies some 15km north of Cusco, are magnificent. Spending time here is a must.

The best way to appreciate this beautiful place is by getting active. Hike to the Inca ruins at Pisac for astonishing views; white-water raft on the Urubamba past the vast fortress at Ollantaytambo, horseback ride, mountain bike or zip-line over the valley; stay in a hotel room stapled to the side of a vertiginous cliff.

There’s a wealth of excursions – easily organised from Cusco as a day trip or multi-day stay.

Where to eat or drink

There are no Novoandino gourmet eateries in the Sacred Valley but most villages have simple café restaurants. In Pisac, Kula serve healthy and hearty veggie options.

The Parwa Restaurant in Lamay village about 15 minutes’ drive from Pisac and 30 minutes’ drive from Ollantaytambo, serves authentic Quechua Andean food and is run by an indigenous cooperative.

There are no Novoandino gourmet eateries in the Sacred Valley but most villages have simple café restaurants. In Pisac, Kula serve healthy and hearty veggie options.

The Parwa Restaurant in Lamay village about 15 minutes’ drive from Pisac and 30 minutes’ drive from Ollantaytambo, serves authentic Quechua Andean food and is run by an indigenous cooperative.

Logistics

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

Getting there & doing it

The upper Sacred Valley is easy to reach from Cusco – lying just 15km north. Taxis from the city are inexpensive and myriad Cusco agencies offer archaeology or light adventure trips.

The best day hike is from Pisac village (45 mins from Cusco) to the ruins, a six-hour walk which is great for views, acclimatisation and which is clearly signposted. The best spot for white-water rafting is the stretch of Class III rapids between Ollantaytambo and Chilca.

All-inclusive day excursions from Cusco typically leave around 8am, returning after dark.

You can mountain bike pretty much anywhere, but the route between the Inca terraces at Moray and Chinchero village (via the hilltop ruins at Machu Colca) is particularly spectacular and can be cycled in a day.

If you have time, it’s well worth staying over in the valley. Urubamba, Pisac and Ollantaytambo villages have plenty of places to stay from backpacker to luxury. Or try the (Ed: terrifying) Skylodge Suites…

You can take the train to Machu Picchu from Ollantaytambo rather than Cusco; all services also leave from the village so there’s no need to double-back.

When to do it

Activities are good all year round. However, the best months to visit the Sacred Valley are April to October, when there is less chance of rain, and skies are generally blue; especially in August and September, though it can be cold at this time. June is also a good month, when there is the Inti Raymi festival.

White-water rafting is best May-September. The Urubamba river is too rough at other times; even for advanced rafting.

Who to go with: organised tours

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

2-Day Tour: Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu by Train

  • Cusco

Explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas on this 2-day tour, which leaves Cusco to visit a lively market town and two Incan archaeological sites. Board a train to Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Town and spend the night in a 3-star hotel.

Price $479

Min age 0

Rating 4.85 / 5 [798 ratings]

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Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu 2-Day Tour

  • Cusco

Tucked under the tawny skirts of formidable foothills about 15kms/9.3 miles north of Cusco as the condor flies, via a narrow road and hairpin turns, the Sacred Valley holds its head high. The valley has long been the home of attractive colonial towns, handicraft markets and lofty 10th and 11th century Inca Citadels of Pisac, Ollyantaytambo and Urubumba. Visiting the Salt Mines and Moray terraces which were made by building containment walls filled with fertile earth. They were watered through a complex irrigation system. At the base of the terraces, there is a rain water storage system. Explore amazing ruins and the fabled Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. The Inca City of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is the articulating center of its surroundings, a masterpiece of art, urbanism, architecture and engineering of the Inca Civilization.

Price $667

Min age 3

Rating 4.97 / 5 [689 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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The Ultimate Sacred Valley tour: 1 day of Inca history, lifestyle, landscapes

  • Cusco

Beat the Crowds: Experience the magic without the masses. We've meticulously planned our itinerary to ensure you arrive before the crowds at each destination. Deep Dive Exploration: Enjoy a leisurely 40-50 minutes at each site. While many touristic tours rush through in 20-30 minutes, we give you ample time to fully absorb the beauty, take photographs, and immerse in the history. 4 Wonders, One Day: Explore the weaving magic of Chinchero, the shimmering Maras Salt Mines, the agricultural marvel of Moray, and the majestic Ollantaytambo fortress. Personal Touch: Dive deeper into the wonders of the Andes with a more personalized touch. Our group is limited to just 8 travelers, ensuring everyone gets a front-row view of history. Seamless Comfort: Travel in style and comfort. We prioritize your ease with our top-notch transportation, ensuring every journey between sites is as remarkable as the destination itself.

Price $129

Min age 3

Rating 4.90 / 5 [425 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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ATV Tour to Moray & Maras Salt Mines the Sacred Valley from Cusco

  • Cusco

What better way to explore the the Sacred Valley then on a Quad Bike ATV? We offer this exciting trip, designed for adventure lovers like you to explore the Andean mountains of Cusco. We provide daily departures to go ATVing and visit Maras, Moray and the Salineras (salt flats). This tour on ATV is designed for families group, friends etc, whose look for adventure Feel the adrenaline of having total control of your Atv.

Price $37

Min age 12

Rating 4.58 / 5 [411 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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The Best Private Sacred Valley Tour

  • Cusco

We know very well each place of this tour, since we have been grown in this area and we studied over 3 years to get a guide license. as well, our vehicles have all the permits to operate. We know when and where to go first to avoid the crowds. We want you enjoy the beauty and peace of each place, but some times it is not possible, specially when you want to start and finish in different places, however, we could fix it managing the starting time. Our tours are PRIVATE, so we are very flexible. We can stay in each place as long as you want, but do not forget that we have to be inside of the last archaeological párk before 4pm. We are honest, it means we are always going to tell you the true about the sites, places to eat, shops, etc. We are no gonna make you waste your time in shopping places, unless you are really interested to buy something, You can bring your own snacks or we can stop in a restaurant for lunch. We can suggest the best places for eating and shopping.

Price $120

Min age 1

Rating 4.98 / 5 [93 ratings]

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