Cusco, Peru Travel Tips - How do I get to Sacsayhuaman?

Updated: 2 days ago

Set high above the Peruvian city of Cusco are the Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman. Loosely pronounced 'sexy-woman' the ruins are well worth a visit.


Even if Inca ruins aren't your cup of coca tea - the Sacsayhuaman archaeological site offers stunning views of Cusco which sits in the valley below.


Wooden Cusco sign
Signage near the entrance of Sacsayhuaman

When I was planning my trip to Cusco I had a hard time finding good information on what to expect when visiting Sacsayhuaman or tips on how to get there even though it often came up as a must see location.


There seemed to be even less information on how to get there if you wanted to walk - which was our preferred method of transportation for this adventure. Here's what we learned walking up to Sacsayhuaman from our AirBnb in Cusco.


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What's the Best Way to Reach Sacsayhuaman?


If you rented a car, then by all means, drive to Sacsayhuaman. For those of us without a vehicle, you'll need to get more creative.


My recommendation is to keep it simple and just walk there! From Plaza De Armas (the main square) you're looking at a 30-45 minute walk to Sacsayhuaman.


Normally this 30-45 minute trek would be easy enough, but the elevation in Cusco can make it a bit more difficult especially if you haven't had a day or two to acclimate. Take your time and you'll be fine. The journey back down will be significantly easier!



From Plaza De Armas you'll walk north towards the San Cristobal Church. Just passed the church area the path will shoot off from the road. You'll see some locals setup selling food and drinks where the walking path heads up the hill towards Sacsayhuaman.


I took the screenshots below to help you find the walking path up to Sacsayhuaman. On the close up screenshot it starts where 'CocaShop2' is located. You can see a walking path shoot off from Don Bosco road once you're zoomed in close enough on your map app of choice:



Once you reach this path you'll likely start to encounter locals offering tour guide services. We were a little confused at first, thinking this was where we needed to purchase our ticket. But that isn't until you reach the top.


If you're interested in hiring a guide this is a good spot to do so. When we visited we only had a little bit of time before embarking on our Salkantay Trek, so we passed on a guide since we planned on being quick. Generally speaking, we really enjoyed having guides at our disposal throughout our trip to Peru and would recommend you do so if it's in your budget.

 

How Much Does Sacsayhuaman Cost to Enter?


When we visited the entrance fee was 70 soles or about $20 USD. This cost is for a ticket that includes access to Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay.


These are the ruins and archaeological sites that surround Cusco. There are also separate tickets for visiting the museums of Cusco or archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley regions.


archaeological site
Views at the Sacsayhuaman archaeological site

This is a good time to think about what all you plan to visit during your stay in Peru. Separately the regional tourism tickets are 70 soles each, or you can buy a combination ticket for 130 soles (about $40 USD) that includes access to all three circuits.



I HIGHLY recommend visiting the ruins of Pisac (check out my post on that here) so even if that's the only other place you visit it's still cheaper to buy the 130 soles ticket for full access rather than paying 70 soles twice. The Pisac ticket also includes access to Moray which you can learn more about here!


Ancient stone doorway
Sacsayhuaman allows you to wander through ancient Inca structures

If you're stuck trying to decide between tickets here's a useful outline of the different options by TicketMachuPicchu.com. If you're looking for more ideas on what to do in Peru make sure to check out my full Peru Travel Guide.

 

What Should I Bring to Sacsayhuaman?


Definitely bring cash. You'll need some to purchase your ticket near the entrance. If you plan on purchasing any water or snacks from vendors along the way you'll need it for that as well.


vista overlooking cusco, peru
Views of Cusco from Sacsayhuaman are breathtaking

Speaking of water, make sure you bring some, especially if you walked up from Plaza De Armas. You'll have an opportunity to purchase water from street vendors near San Cristobal Church, around where the walking path forks from the main road.


panoramic views of Cusco
Enjoy panoramic views of Cusco from Sacsayhuaman

The weather in Cusco can be tricky - so dress in layers. When we left our AirBnB that morning I had a coat on. Once the overcast cleared and the high mountain sun came out, I was hot in a t-shirt. On other days it may be windy at the top, so dress for anything!


man standing atop sacsayhuaman
The vista makes for an excellent photo op!

Don't forget essentials like sunglasses, an umbrella on potentially rainy days or sunscreen. You're in the mountains and the weather can be unpredictable!

 

Is Visiting Sacsayhuaman Worth it?


Visiting Sacsayhuaman is absolutely worth it! Since you're probably visiting Machu Picchu during your Peru travels, consider this a warm up for experiencing the more popular Inca ruins.



Relative to Machu Picchu or Pisac, these ruins are the smallest. Once you reach the entrance I would budget about 1 hour to explore the ruins and to take in the stunning views from the vista overlooking Cusco.


This hour would be in addition to however much time you need to reach Sacsayhuaman.


large green cross above Cusco
A giant green cross overlooks Cusco

Be sure to venture over to the giant green cross to take in the best views of Cusco from the Sacsayhuaman archaeological site!

Cristo Blanco Peru
Views of Cristo Blanco from Sacsayhuaman

If you're staying in Cusco there's a good chance at some point you'll look up and notice Cristo Blanco. It's a giant Jesus statue perched above the city. I took the photo above from the Sacsayhuaman overlook.


Accessing Cristo Blanco is easy from the Sacsayhuaman site. There is no entrance fee or ticket required. The path to Cristo Blanco is located opposite of the Sacsayhuaman entrance.



If you have trouble finding it, the ticket window for Sacsayhuaman should be able to point you in the right direction.


We didn't visit Cristo Blanco since we were strapped for time. But if it interests you, it would make for a quick and easy detour from Sacsayhuaman.


Now would be a good time to mention that I also put together a YouTube video highlighting some of my favorite activities when visiting Cusco including the Salkantay Trek. Be sure to check that out when you're finished here.

 

Is Pisac Worth Visiting?


Pisac is well worth a visit! 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.


Pisac ruins
The ruins of Pisac are a must see for anyone staying in Cusco

If you're undecided on which tourism ticket you need when exploring Cusco and it's surrounding areas, be sure to check out our posts highlighting visits to Pisac and Moray!

 

Be sure to read our guide on reducing airfare costs


One of those most unavoidable and dreaded travel costs is airfare.


Even if you budget carefully for food, accommodations and find budget friendly activities the cost of airfare can make many destinations prohibitively expensive.



But if you're a savvy traveler like me then you know there are ways to beat the airlines! I have a full post dedicated to all of the tips and tricks I use to pay the absolute minimum for airfare when I travel.


Looking for quick advice on how to book your next trip?


It's easy to forget how much time, effort and planning can go into putting together a vacation.


Booking flights, shuttles, rental cars, hotels, activities and making sure you've packed everything you'll need for where you're going is no small task!


Man at indian nose lake Atitlan
Photo taken at the top of Indian Nose - Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Not to mention all of these things tend to add up in cost very quickly. With so many things that can go wrong what's a savvy traveler to do? Read my post on travel planning hacks that's what!


In that guide I will highlight all of the strategies I use to streamline the trip planning process while making sure I cover all of the tricks I use to save money along the way.