Exploring the Sacred Valley of the Incas: A highlight of the Cusco Region in Peru

If you’ve chosen Peru as your next holiday destination, you are probably eager to create the perfect travel itinerary. Considering how many beautiful things to see there, you’ll need to be a bit organized, and have an idea of Peru’s most exciting locations.

Among your Peru explorations, traveling to Machu Picchu is probably at the top of your to-do list. Well, as long as you’re heading to Machu Picchu, and going through the Cusco region, you shouldn’t miss out on the Sacred Valley. Popularly known in Peru as the ‘Río Urubamba Valley’ the Sacred Valley of the Incas was an essential site of the Inca Empire and is still considered today quite a popular spot for tourists all over the world.

Many travelers who land in Cusco for the first time experience altitude sickness. The area stands at 3,400 meters, so a day tour at the Sacred Valley allows more natural acclimatization. The altitude is much lower there.

But what exactly should you know about this famous Cusco highlight? Here are some details that will help you travel to Peru prepared and ready to make the most of your first Sacred Valley experience:

Pisac Market

The first archaeological gem you’ll probably discover is Pisac. The town of Pisac was founded by Spanish Conquistador Viceroy Toledo, alongside the river Urubamba’ banks, as a strategic Inca settlement. What you’ll probably be drawn to first is the town’s well-known market.

Considered the best market out of the entire Cusco region, here you will find an impressive variety of local produce, as well as exciting crafts, produced by locals. If you want to get some souvenirs to remember your Peru vacation, this is undoubtedly the perfect spot for that. If you wish to get your hands on a unique piece of pottery or a thematic clothing item, you’ll find precisely those traditional elements you’re looking for.

The market is open every day, but you’ll discover a more extensive selection of vendors if you visit it on Sundays.

Cusco Region Peru

The Inca ruins of Pisac

While the market might be fun to check out, the ruins found at a 20-minute drive away from the town are what triggers tourists’ interest in the first place. The ruins are situated on the top of the hill, and you’ll need to pay an entrance fee to explore them freely.

You will get a glimpse of what the former agriculture, religious and military buildings stood for. The ruin site spreads across a wide distance, so you should consider going on a guided Sacred Valley tour if you want to get to see everything. Also, learn some interesting historical facts about the site and how it used to look like in the past.

The “Royal Sector,” discovered while walking across the agricultural terraces, is one of the tourists’ favorite spots, and once you get there, you’ll clearly understand why. The ancient feel of the place makes the area quite exciting to see in person.

Ollantaytambo Town and Ruins

Let’s move on to the next big site in the Valley, and that is the Ollantaytambo town. This is usually found in any tour circuit of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, so as long as you’ve booked one, you’ll be able to explore this particular area as well.

Small cafes, shops, beautiful cobbled pathways, and streets – the little Ollantaytambo town will impress you as soon as you arrive there. A walk around the tight streets will take you back in time, making you imagine how this small town used to look like back in history.

Ollantaytambo is one of the best-preserved towns in the region, serving as a historical example of what Inca city planning used to stand for in the past. The town has been inhabited continuously ever since the 1200s, which is undoubtedly fantastic.

The ruins in Ollantaytambo have a reputation all across Peru, being one of the country’s most impressive. You will be presented with the ruins of a temple and fortress, the residence of the Emperor Pachacuti. You’re your guide will probably tell you exciting stories about the Spanish defeat that took place at the fort, while this was still not entirely constructed.


Amazing circular terraces, resembling amphitheaters, local shaman performances of old earth-honoring rituals, local ceremonies. In Moray, you’ll be able to engage in the type of travel experience you’ve never lived before. Moray remains one of the most popular sites in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and one of the most popular and mysterious places in the entire Cusco region. Today’s scientists are stilled slightly baffled by the site’s terraced levels, carved from the ground. Presumptions have been made that suggest the site was used for agricultural purposes. You will find three structures with the same amphitheatric appearance, and although the site is somewhat isolated, it’s worth including it in your Incas circuit.

Chinchero Village

Let’s not forget about the Chinchero village, which stands at 3,762 meters altitude, and displays some breathtaking views and scenery. The life around town is still extremely traditional, many of the locals still wearing usual attires and speaking the primary language of the Incan Empire.

Besides the mountain scenery, you will also get to see a few Inca ruins placed across the village. So even just a casual walk around the area will be quite interesting. If you visit the local Chinchero market on Sundays as well, you’ll benefit from a more authentic local experience than the market from Pisac offers.

As you can see, the Sacred Valley of the Incas does have a lot to offer to travelers. Regardless of your other plans for your Peru vacation, you should make the time for at least a one-day tour around these parts of the Cusco region. Each of the four sites is fascinating on its own, and once you get started with your explorations, you will be able to reach the same conclusion. Start planning your trip early.

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