The ruins of Pisac are among the most impressive in Peru. In fact, I’d rank them just a notch below the iconic world wonder of Machu Picchu. My experience at Pisac Archaeological Site rivaled my experience at Machu Picchu. It was much less touristy and boasted just as much incredible beauty. For travelers passing through Cusco, you cannot go wrong with a visit to the Sacred Valley’s finest archaeological site.
Here is everything you need to know about this impressive Incan masterpiece tucked away in one of Peru’s most beautiful regions.
How To Get To Pisac Archaeological Site
There are a number of different ways you can enter the ruins of Pisac.
By Foot From Pisac Town
To me, the best way to reach Pisac Archaeological Site is by taking the challenging but scenic walk from Pisac town. It takes about an hour to reach the first set of ruins from Pisac’s Plaza de Armas. However, there are plenty of stunning viewpoints to rest and relax at. I recommend leaving in the morning to make sure you have plenty of time to explore and enjoy these ruins.
You can start the hike by going to the Plaza de Armas of Pisac and then following the road up to the mountains. You’ll see a big red sign noting the beginning of Pisaq Archaeological Site. About two minutes later, you’ll pass the control gate where you’ll have to show your ticket or buy one from the control officers. From here, it’s all uphill. Thankfully, the higher up you go, the more beautiful the scenery gets. You’ll be able to catch views of the Sacred Valley in every direction, as well as a birds-eye-view of the quaint little town of Pisac.
You’ll pass Incan ruins all the way up. Trust me, your burning calves will be able to tell when you’re on those Incan stairways. You’ll run into a lot of amazing things to see, but you’ll officially know you’ve made it to the site once you’ve made it to Intihuatani.
By Taxi or By Guided Tour
For those who don’t want to make the hour-long hike up from town, the other option is to take a taxi to the entrance. This will cost you about 20-30 soles depending on your haggling skills but it will drop you off right at the entrance. You’ll get some incredible views right away, without the effort of hiking. Don’t worry, though. You’ll get your fair share of burning calves as you explore the vast complex of Pisac.
Likewise, if you’re doing a guided tour, they’ll drop you off here.
By Bus or Colectivo
I’m not actually sure if buses run to Pisac Archaeological Site but I know colectivos at least come close. Colectivos would be by far the cheapest and easiest way to get to the ruins of Pisaq. It will cost 1 sol, and at the very least, will get you close enough to the entrance where it won’t be too much of a trek. There’s really only one main road running from the ruins to Pisac town, so any colectivo headed towards that direction will be the right one. If you’ve got an offline map, keep track of your location and make sure you get off at the right spot. Tell your driver you’re headed to the ruins and they should let you know whether or not you’re on the right van.
How Much Time Do You Need For Pisac Archaeological Park?
Oh boy. This is a tough question to answer. I’m the take it slow type. I’ll sit down when the view is nice and stop for photos whenever possible. Including the hike up and back down, I spent close to six hours exploring the vast ruins of Pisac. But like I said, this was at a very slow pace. I stopped frequently to take photos and definitely gave myself sufficient rest in between the often grueling staircases of the Inca era.
Although guided tours do make things much easier, I hate being restricted by time and I hate being restricted by groups. I would imagine that at most, a guided tour would allow you two hours at Pisac. Most of those two hours will be spent sticking with the group listening to the guide. There is a lot to explore in these ruins. If possible, go it solo or with a few friends and just take your sweet time taking it all in. There are so many detours and nooks and crannies that it would take all day to see it all. A quick guided tour surely wouldn’t give you enough time or freedom.
In short, I’d estimate a minimum of two hours if you explore at a fast pace. If you’re like me, I would recommend a minimum of four hours. I spent closer to six, but hey, not everyone is as lazy as I am.
How Much Does It Cost To Visit Pisac?
There are a number of different ticket options to visit Pisac. The one I recommend is the 10-day all-inclusive ticket that allows you access to 16 different archaeological sites in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. This is ideal for people who are spending a lot of time in Cusco and want to see it all. However, this ticket is also quite expensive. It costs 130 soles for foreigners, or 70 soles for students with their ID card. It is only worth it if you have an active travel style and make an effort to get your money’s worth out of it.
For those who are only interested in seeing Pisac and not much else, the cost to enter will be 70 soles. This gets you a two-day ticket that includes 4 sites. If you only care about Pisac, this will save you a bit of money compared to the 10-day, 130 soles option.
Highlights of Pisac Archaeological Site
Pisac is pretty massive. The ruins stretch out seemingly forever. As soon as you start the trek from Pisac town, you’ll already be encountering terraces and Incan architecture. Once you get to the top, you’ll encounter various districts and neighborhoods of the Incan ruins. P’isaqa, Inti Watana, Qalla Q’asa, and Kinchiraqay are the four main groups of ruins that you’ll encounter along the ridge.
The Hike Up
The Terrazas Andenes
How To Get Back From The Ruins of Pisac
Now that you’re done with your visit, you’ve gotta get out and get home. If you took a guided tour or had a taxi driver wait for you outside, this should be easy enough. If you are like me and went on foot, then it gets a bit more complicated. If you came in from the main entrance that the cars drop you off at, then you can finish your Pisac visit by going down the Incan path back into town. No sweat.
If you came in through the entrance from Pisac town, then you’re in a bit of a pickle. This is what I did. I entered through one side and the ended up at the other entrance, at least an hour and a half’s walk back into town. I ignored the taxi driver asking for 25 soles for a ride back and decided to walk down the road a little bit. It took about a mile before a colectivo passed me by and I hopped on and got a ride back into town for 1 sol. The walk back into town otherwise would be a good 5 miles. However, that walk is quite scenic and if the weather was nice, I would have just walked the whole way. But after battling through Incan staircases for the better part of 5 hours, I decided that my legs could use a little break.
It was one hell of an adventure visiting Pisac Archaeological Site. They are among my favorite ruins that I have ever explored and deserve as much attention as its much more popular neighbor of Machu Picchu. If you are contemplating whether to pay a visit to Pisac, the answer is yes. It’s a no-brainer. Pisac is amazing and beyond worth the visit.