While Machu Picchu receives tons of hype, the Inca ruins of Pisac Peru are another one of the country's must see cultural sites. It's also considered one of the best things to do in the Sacred Valley region.
The Peruvian city of Cusco serves as an excellent jumping off point for exploring Peru's mountainous regions and many Inca ruin sites. That includes the beautiful ruins of Pisac Peru!
The town of Pisac sits at the base of well preserved Inca ruins that are complete with an incredible series of farming terraces like the one shown here.
A journey to Pisac is a great way to transition from the hustle and bustle of Cusco to experience what the more mountainous regions of Peru have to offer.
After you're done reading this post, be sure to check out my post covering the best things to do in Cusco as well. I highlight a bunch of great activities you can do in and around the city.
If video is more your thing, watch my Peru Video Travel Guide available on YouTube that will cover many of the same activities.
You'll notice some links and advertisements from partner or affiliate sites throughout this post. I typically earn a small commission on any purchases made through those links at no additional cost to you. If you check those out, great. If not, I'm still happy you're here!
Where is Pisac Peru located?
The town of Pisac is located to the northeast of Cusco in the Sacred Valley region of Peru and take about 1 hour to reach by car. Your best options to get to Pisac include rented car, bus, taxi, colectivo or tour company.
Most travelers to Cusco will connect through the Peruvian capital city of Lima.
During our visit we had a 5 day Salkantay Trek arranged with local tour company Alpaca Expeditions. Since we didn't have a rental car and already had dialogue going with Alpaca Expeditions we went with their guided tour of Pisac leaving from Cusco on our free day before the Salkantay Trek.
If you're still looking for accommodations you can browse deals on hotels in Cusco here.
Can I drive to Pisac From Cusco?
While some parts of Peru can be pretty isolated and only accessible via somewhat sketchy single lane mountain dirt roads, our journey to Pisac was more comfortable and mostly along well maintained roads.
While we thoroughly enjoyed our day trip with Alpaca (it also included stops at Maras and Moray) a visit to Pisac should be easy enough to navigate for someone renting a car and doing the trip on their own if that is your preference.
Do you need a ticket to enter Pisac?
To enter the ruins of Pisac you'll need a tourism ticket for the area.
How much does Pisac cost to enter?
This ticket is different from the one needed to visit Sacsayhuaman and the other Inca ruins located closer to Cusco. We were able to purchase our ticket near the Pisac entrance.
Be sure to have cash on hand to purchase your ticket and if you plan to purchase souvenirs from the local vendors.
How long do I need to visit the ruins of Pisac Peru?
The site where the ruins reside isn't too large. Ninety minutes or so should be plenty of time to explore the ruins of Pisac.
You'll also find a plethora of locals selling crafts near the parking lot before you enter the actual ruins. This is a great place outside of Cusco to do some souvenir hunting while supporting locals.
Once you make your way into the official park area you'll stumble upon the remains of numerous Inca buildings that overlook the well preserved farming terraces.
Look closely along the terrace walls and you'll spot some of the steps sticking out that the Incas once used to climb between levels, as our local guide Robinzon pointed out.
Depending on what you hope to get out of your experience visiting Pisac Peru, I'd recommend hiring a local guide.
While the ruins and their mountainous backdrop is beautiful, to get the most out of your experience it helps to have someone explain what it is you're actually looking at!
At most cultural sites in Peru (such as Pisac or Machu Picchu) you'll encounter knowledgable locals offering up their services for a small fee at the entrances.
Not only will a guide make your experience more immersive, but you'll also be helping out a local who depends on tourism to make a living!
What is the elevation at the ruins of Pisac Peru?
The ruins of Pisac sit at roughly 10,000 feet or over 3,000 meters. This is about 1,000 feet lower than Cusco, but the altitude can still have adverse affects on people who aren't properly acclimated or are over-exerting themselves.
The ruin area isn't too large, so you shouldn't have any issues exploring the entire area even if you aren't in the best shape.
If you're climbing to the top (which you definitely should, the views are epic) be sure to pace yourself to avoid encountering altitude sickness symptoms.
Traveling to the top offers the opportunity to see more of the structures up close and the views of the Sacred Valley are spectacular!
Pair your visit with The Maras Salt Mines or Ruins of Moray
I mentioned earlier that we booked our trip to Pisac through Alpaca Expeditions and that they were able to pair stops at Maras and Moray as part of the trip.
Adding Maras and the Ruins of Moray to your itinerary for the day is very manageable and will help round out a full day of exploring Cusco's surrounding area. I would probably only add these stops to your agenda if you have your own vehicle or are exploring with a guide.
If you only have time to add one additional stop to your Pisac visit I'd recommend the Maras Salt Mines.
While Moray was interesting to experience firsthand, it added quite a bit of driving to our afternoon and wasn't considerably different than seeing the farming terraces at Pisac. Moray also felt much more like a 'see it and leave it' type activity.
Moray is a circular set of farming terraces that is believed to have been used for agricultural experiments by the Incas.
The unique design of Moray results in different micro climates across the terraces.
It is also believed that soils were brought here from different regions, further strengthening the case that this once used as a giant agricultural science experiment.
Learn more about The Maras Salt Mines
While I would rank Pisac ahead of Maras in terms of priority, if you have the time then The Maras Salt Mines are well worth the visit. The locals have come up with an ingenious way to direct water flowing from a salt water spring down into the mining pans.
Once trapped in the pans they harness the power of the sun to evaporate the water, leaving behind delicious pink salt!
Not only is the process practical but the whole operation is extremely cool to observe firsthand.
The Maras Salt Mines are an important piece of the local economy here. The people living here benefit not only from entrance fees paid to view the mines up close, but they also harvest the salt and sell it for consumption or as souvenirs
If you're looking for something unique to remember your trip to Peru, be sure to stop by Maras and pick up some salt!
Not only can you purchase packaged and ready to consume Peruvian pink salt but some vendors sell large hunks of unprocessed salt taken directly from the salt mine terraces.
These hunks make for more timeless souvenirs and decorations.
Is Pisac Peru worth visiting
The Inca Ruins of Pisac Peru are definitely worth visiting. Looking back on this trip as a whole our trip to Pisac felt like a miniature version of the experience we had at Machu Picchu. Once you factor in its affordability and proximity to Cusco, a visit here is a no brainer.
We learned a ton about the history of the Sacred Valley area from our guide during our visit and I'd recommend hiring one yourself to ensure you get the most out of your experience. While the area is beautiful, you won't get the full effect from visiting without understanding the history between the Inca and their Spanish invaders.
For anyone looking for a bit more Peru travel inspiration consider checking out my experience during the Salkantay Trek (complete with packing list suggestions). During that adventure we visited Humantay Lake, learned about the coffee farming process from a local family and ended with an epic sunrise tour of Machu Picchu which you can enjoy on my YouTube channel.
I hope you'll find some of the information from this post useful in planning your trip to the Inca Ruins of Pisac Peru!