If you're traveling to Peru then there's a good chance that your list of must see places includes Machu Picchu and Cusco.
These two destinations are a great starting point for your Peru travel plans. Cusco serves as an excellent jumping off point for exploring Peru's mountainous regions and many Inca ruin sites. That's where the beautiful ruins of Pisac come into play!
The Peruvian town of Pisac sits at the base of well preserved Inca ruins complete with an incredible amount of farming terraces like those 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 about Pisac, be sure to check out my full Peru Travel Guide as well. I highlight a bunch of great activities you can do with Cusco serving as the jumping off point.
How do I get to Pisac?
The town of Pisac is about 1 hour driving from Cusco. Your best options to get to Pisac include rented car, bus, taxi, colectivo or tour company.
Traveling to Pisac from Cusco is incredibly scenic as you will drive through the mountains to the Sacred Valley region. 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.
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?
When we visited the ticket cost us 70 soles (about $20 USD) but also grants you access to Ollantaytambo, Moray and Chinchero.
This ticket is different from the one needed to access 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.
Budget About 90 Minutes to Explore The Ruins of Pisac
How long does it take to visit Pisac? The site where the ruins reside isn't too large. Ninety minutes or so should be plenty of time to explore 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, 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!
Don't Forget About The Elevation at Pisac!
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.
Planning a trip to Peru? Don't forget to check out my video guide on YouTube that highlights all of my favorite experiences!
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 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 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
Looking for tips to save on airfare? Check out a full post I wrote on the subject here!
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.
I hope you found this guide helpful. I love hearing from readers so don't forget to drop a comment below!