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The Sacred Valley is truly one of the highlights of Peru. It’s a valley in the Andes, so you know the views are incredible!
This is a place full of Inca ruins, including the famous Machu Picchu, but it’s also dotted with small villages, amazing hikes, and incredible once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I mean, have you ever stayed in a hotel room that’s literally on the side of a mountain?!
Besides the rich history, this area is also fun for the adventurous traveler, whether you’re taking on an epic hike, flying down a zipline, or white water rafting!
With so many different experiences in this unforgettable part of Peru, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s where I come in! I’ve compiled the best things to do in the Sacred Valley to make the most of your time here.
So, let’s get started!
Don’t have time to read the full article? Some of our favorite activities in Sacred Valley include:
- About the Sacred Valley, Peru
- Things to do in the Sacred Valley
- 1. Visit Machu Picchu
- 2. Explore Pisac
- 3. Visit Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary
- 4. Ride the Peru Rail Train
- 5. Moray Ruins
- 6. Tambomachay Ruins
- 7. Hike the Inca Trail
- 8. Salkantay Trek
- 9. Ollantaytambo
- 10. Spend the night in the Skylodge Adventure Suites
- 11. Ziplining
- 12. Visit the Museo Inkariy
- 13. Hike to Huchuy Qosqo
- 14. Whitewater rafting
- 15. Paragliding
- 16. Eat Cuy
- 17. Visit Baños Termales or Cocalmayo hot springs
- 18. Go weaving in Chinchero
- Best Tours to the Sacred Valley
- Where to Stay Near the Sacred Valley
- Thanks for reading!
- Why We Book Tours with Viator
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
About the Sacred Valley, Peru
The Sacred Valley was once the heart of the Inca Empire. It’s an area of Peru along the Urubamba River – which is why it’s sometimes called the Urubamba Valley.
This 100-kilometer-long (62-mile) stretch of land is surrounded by the striking Andes Mountains on all sides.
It’s believed that people have been living here for more than 3,000 years. It’s most famous for the Inca people who lived here from the years 1000 to 1400 CE.
This area was the center of food production and farming for the Incas with its ideal climate and rich soil. In fact, these were considered to be some of the best lands around, so they were the personal property of the Inca Emperor himself!
The Valley itself is home to historic Inca ruins with the most famous being Machu Picchu. But that isn’t all that’s here. There are ruins sites worth visiting throughout the valley along with Peruvian villages full of rich culture.
The Sacred Valley is one of my favorite places in Peru and is well worth exploring!
Things to do in the Sacred Valley
1. Visit Machu Picchu
By far one of the most famous things to do in the Sacred Valley is to visit the iconic Machu Picchu. These incredible ruins are the reason most people come to this part of Peru. In 2007 the site was even declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Machu Picchu is a city of stone with a collection of more than 150 buildings. It was built at the height of the Inca Empire in the mid-1400s as a large royal estate or religious site and functioned for about 100 years before it was abandoned. It stood untouched during the Spanish invasion, and while a few locals in the area knew about it, it was a secret to the world until American archaeologist Hiram Bingham found it in 1911.
What’s amazing about this site is how many structures are still standing today. The engineering used (without any modern tools) is mind-boggling. The entire ruins stretch 8 km (5 miles) with more than 3,000 steps made of stone that link the levels together.
The main Machu Picchu Citadel site itself is open every day and allows entry in only three different timeslots which are 6 am to 8 am, 9 am to 11 am, and 12 pm to 2 pm. Make sure you bring your passport as you’ll need it to enter, and you’ll get a special Machu Picchu stamp on it when you arrive! You also should pre-book your entrance ticket as this is a very busy attraction with daily number limits.
Getting to Machu Picchu on a tour:
Traveling to Machu Picchu involves a lot of steps! You must pre-buy an entrance ticket, which can book up weeks in advance. By booking a tour, it takes all the hassle out of organizing your trip to the ruins. These are a few of our favorite tours to Machu Picchu that leave from Cusco:
- Machu Picchu Day Trip – This one-day train tour takes you from your hotel in Cusco to Machu Picchu and back with all details taken care of. You’ll ride the train and can sit in the Vistadome car surrounded by glass, so you’ll have an incredible view of the mountains. You’ll have a guided tour through the ruins, including a few hours to explore before returning to Cusco. Tickets are around $349 USD. This tour is best for those short on time or who don’t want to hike.
- Luxury Train Tour Day Trip – Take the Hiram Bingham Luxury Train tour to Machu Picchu. You’ll feel like a real VIP aboard this elegant train as you travel through the Andes with live Peruvian music and a three-course lunch, including wine. You’ll also have an expert guide at the ruins as well as free time to explore. If high-end traveling is for you, tickets for this are $1,215 USD per person.
- Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu 2-Day Trip – To see even more of this incredible area, book this two-day train tour of Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. The ticket is only $479 USD and includes all transportation as well as your overnight stay in Aguas Calientes – the town at the base of Machu Picchu. You’ll see amazing archaeological sites in the Sacred Valley and catch the sunrise at Machu Picchu the next day.
- Machu Picchu Adventure Tour 4-Day Hike– Make your adventurous spirit happy with a four-day tour that includes biking, rafting, and ziplining! This all-inclusive trip includes meals and accommodations as you hike to mountain summits, visit Machu Picchu and explore this fascinating part of the world. Tickets for this are $499 USD.
- Inca Trail 4-Day Hike – If you want to get to Machu Picchu the most famous way, then you simply have to hike the Inca Trail. I’ve included more detailed info about the Inca Trail further down in this blog (#7!).
- Salkantay Trek 5-Day Hike – The Salkantay Trek is becoming one of the most popular ways to get to Machu Picchu. This is the tour we did and loved! We’ve written all about this popular hike on #8 below in this blog.
Getting to Machu Picchu on your own:
If joining a tour isn’t for you, it’s completely possible to plan your own visit. If you’re staying in Cusco, you’ll need to take a train or bus from Cusco to the small town of Aguas Calientes and plan to leave at dawn. The train ride is about 3.5 hours.
From Aguas Calientes (or if you’re staying right in that small town), you’ll need to take a public bus to the site – these leave constantly but often have long lines (1-2 hour waits) to get to the site and then to get back down. Alternatively, you can hike up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes but it isn’t an easy trail by any means.
The most popular train companies are Inca Rail and Peru Rail. What I like about Inca Rail is it offers tickets that include things like transportation from your hotel and to the ruins site as well as the entrance fee for Machu Picchu. The all-inclusive package is around $314 USD, whereas a roundtrip ticket only is typically $60-90 USD. Make sure you book early, as tickets can sell out weeks in advance if you’re coming during a popular time like the summer months of June, July, and August.
If you choose to get to Machu Picchu on your own, you’ll need to buy a ticket online in advance. The official tickets are sold on the government website, and we recommend buying them MONTHS in advance to secure your spot.
There are different types of tickets, including the basic ticket to see Machu Picchu as well as options that include the chance to hike one of the mountains in the area like Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Remember, there are no tickets sold once you arrive at the ruins.
Related Read: If you’re heading to Cusco to hike Machu Picchu, check out our guide to the 5 best backpackers hostels in Cusco.
2. Explore Pisac
Pisac is a small village in the Sacred Valley about 28 km (17 miles) from Cusco. It’s often a quick stop for tour buses on their way to Machu Picchu, but if you can, spend a bit more time here!
This small town has a ton to offer. Every day from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm the town has a huge market where you will find beautiful goods such as hats, ponchos, jewelry, ceramics, and other souvenirs. If you find yourself in the area on a Sunday, the market expands as local Quechua communities join in and sell fruits, vegetables, and textiles.
The main draw to Pisac is the Pisac ruins which cost $25 USD to enter. These Inca ruins sit on top of a hill overlooking the valley.
The ruins here contain houses, ceremonial buildings, waterways, and awe-inspiring agricultural terraces. These terraces were used by Inca farmers to grow crops and are built into the side of the mountain! In fact, the terraces along the hillside are still used for agriculture to this day.
If you’re spending some time here and want to soothe some achy muscles, I highly recommend stopping at the Unucha Spa inside the Pisac Inn. You will get the full Instagram-worthy spa experience including floral baths in the garden and relaxing massages.
Pisac is a central location that is a great starting point for many places in the area. If you’d like to get a good glimpse of all the area has to offer, including the fortress of Ollantaytambo and the Temple of the Sun, booking a tour is a great way to do that. This full-day tour through Pisac costs $79 USD and includes round trip transfer from your hotel in Cusco, a buffet lunch, a trip to the Pisac Market, and an entrance ticket to the Ollantaytambo Archeological Site.
3. Visit Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary
If you’re looking to do some good while on your trip to Peru, I highly recommend stopping at the Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary.
Here you will find a number of different rescued animals that call this sanctuary home from llamas and alpacas to parrots and the incredible Andean condor.
Your tour will include a guide, and I was truly impressed by how kind and compassionate these workers are towards the rescued animals. If you want to stay here longer and help with the care of the animals, you can choose to volunteer for a day, week, or even a month.
4. Ride the Peru Rail Train
If you’re looking for the best way to get to Machu Picchu, we really enjoyed riding on the PeruRail system. It allows you to see the Peruvian countryside without worrying about getting lost or asking for directions!
The trains are designed with Incan culture as the focus and will take you from Cusco to the small town of Aguas Calientes (also called Machu Picchu Pueblo). They don’t include the trip to Machu Picchu or the entrance fee, so make sure you buy those separately!
This PeruRail Expedition Train tour costs $65 USD and takes 3-5 hours to get you to the town close to Machu Picchu. The journey along the river and amongst the mountains is beautiful and so much more relaxing than a bus or car.
For an even better view, this PeruRail Observatory Train tour has panoramic windows allowing for stunning views of the Sacred Valley. You’ll be able to wander through the train to see the spectacular panoramic car and elegant observatory car as well as enjoy live music and dance performances on board. Tickets are $95 USD.
For a truly luxurious experience with everything included, this Belmond Hiram Bingham Train tour to Machu Picchu is a great choice. The tour costs $560 USD and is all-inclusive including lunch, dinner, and even alcoholic drinks. You can expect live music on board the train and a VIP lounge. You will be transferred via bus from the train station to Machu Picchu where your entrance fee into Machu Picchu is included along with a guide who will take you through the citadel.
Related Read: For more ideas and travel tips, we have a one-stop-shop for you with the complete guide to traveling in Peru!
5. Moray Ruins
If you are looking to get off the tourist path to see some stunning ruins, the Moray Ruins are a fantastic choice. This important site, located roughly 50 km (31 miles) from Cusco, is impressive in size and beauty.
The Moray ruins are deep, circular-shaped hollows that tier off in many different levels of terraces. The site was thought to be used as agricultural research grounds by the Incas.
The design of these terraces works with the orientation of the sun and wind patterns to create differences in temperature from the top to the bottom. Creating micro-climates on various levels is thought to have allowed for the testing of various crops growing in different temperatures.
If you combine a trip to the Moray ruins with the nearby Salineras de Maras, it also makes for a great day trip from Cusco. The Maras salt wells are an impressive historical site that pre-dates the Inca civilization. The natural salt pools across the side of the valley are seriously amazing!
You can get to the Moray ruins by taking a private taxi, which will cost you around $20 USD each way, or you can take a guided tour.
If you’d like a guided experience, this half-day Maras Moray tour costs $59 USD and includes a guide who will teach you about the history of the area. This tour includes round trip transfer from Cusco and will allow you to visit the Moray ruins, the salt pools, and the quiet town of Maras.
6. Tambomachay Ruins
When in the Sacred Valley and exploring the many different Inca sites, I highly recommend visiting the Tambomachay ruins.
The Tambomachay ruins are thought to have been used as ceremonial grounds centered around the worship of water. The ruins are known by some as the Banos del Inca or the Incas bathhouse. Other archaeologists believe the site was used as an Inca military post.
No matter what their origin story, the ruins are beautiful as they’re separated into 3 different levels built directly over a natural spring.
You have a few different options for getting to the Tambomachay ruins. You can choose to hire a private car for the 25-minute drive from Cusco, commit to a 2-hour hike each way, or book a guided tour of the area.
If you choose to hike, be sure to take into account the impressive altitude of the ruins located 12,150 feet (3,750 meters) above sea level. Be sure to hike slowly and account for the change in elevation by giving yourself time to acclimatize so you avoid altitude sickness.
If you’re wanting to take a guided tour, this guided 4-hour horseback riding tour skips the crowded tour buses and lets you see the amazing landscapes by horseback. You will start with brief riding instructions before heading to the four impressive archaeological sites in the area – Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Puca Pucara, and Tambomachay. This fun-filled, authentic Peruvian adventure is only $95 USD and includes round trip transport from your Cusco hotel,
To ensure you don’t have to rush through these amazing sites, a private guided tour like one is our pick. You’ll visit three Inca sites starting at Puka Pukara then to the Tambomachay ruins and finally to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sacsayhuaman. Your tour will end with a guided tour through Cusco where you can stop for lunch and visit the San Pedro market. This tour is really affordable for a private tour at only $125 USD – just bring along cash for entrance fees as those are extra.
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
7. Hike the Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is, without a doubt, the most popular hike in all of Peru. In fact, this is one of the most famous things to do in all of South America. That’s because not only is the hike itself incredibly scenic with jaw-dropping mountain terrain all around you, but you will also pass through 500-year-old villages once inhabited by the Inca people.
Of course, the legendary Machu Picchu is the main drawcard for hikers hiking this challenging route!
This incredible hike is 42 kilometers (26 miles)and is quite challenging because you are gaining 13,828 feet (4,215 meters) in elevation, so a good level of fitness is definitely needed. On average, the classic Inca Trail takes most hikers 4 days to complete.
Because of its popularity, you need to book to hike the Inca Trail well in advance, ideally 9-12 months before! You can’t hike the Inca Trail on your own. Instead, you must book with an authorized tourism agency. Keep in mind that only 500 permits are released daily, and that figure includes the trekking support teams, which are typically around 300 permits per day. This means that only 200 hikers can hike the Inca Trail daily!
This 4-day, 3-night guided hike of the Inca Trail is highly recommended and ethically run. What’s good too is that they offer a true camping experience with comfortable tents and hot showers. This particular tour costs around $798 USD per person.
Related Read: Another popular hike and unique hike is up the colorful Rainbow Mountain in Peru!
8. Salkantay Trek
Instead of just driving or taking the train to Machu Picchu, we hiked for four days on the Salkantay Trek! This is one of the top hikes in South America and a great alternative to the Inca Trail because it is cheaper and easier to book.
The Salkantay Trek actually travels along the same route the Inca spiritual leaders took to Machu Picchu. The trail was said to bring them closer to the gods. It climbs to over 13,000 feet/4,000 meters in elevation and offers spectacular mountain views. It’s more challenging than the Inca Trail but totally worth it!
On the organized tour I did, we actually spent a night at Llactapata, an ancient ruin that sits across from Machu Picchu. This is not the usual route, but the route I recommend taking.
Plus, after hiking for four days straight, finally making it to Machu Picchu feels that much more rewarding and amazing!
The ancient town of Ollantaytambo is known as the final portion of the Sacred Valley you can get to by car. There are lots of hiking trails that start here and finish at Machu Picchu.
This is the only Inca town that is still inhabited today, more than 500 years after its original construction in the 1400s. The site itself houses some impressive ruins, including a fortress and a temple.
This spot was used as a fortress during the Spanish conquest and is famous for being the only place in the country where the Inca actually fought off the Spanish army which was forced to return with additional resources.
When visiting you will want to see the Temple of the Sun. It’s an impressive monolith of 6 huge rocks and one of the most famous sites in the area.
As the tourist demand for the area, and nearby Machu Picchu, increases, there are a lot of popular amenities in the area including hotels, restaurants, bars, and cafes.
10. Spend the night in the Skylodge Adventure Suites
The Skylodge Adventure Suites has to be one of the most unique places to stay in the world. Your room here is a transparent capsule that hangs from the top of a mountain in the Sacred Valley! As you can imagine the views from your capsule/room are astounding!
Getting to the Skylodge Adventure Suites is quite a challenge, you must either climb up 1,300 feet/400 meters of Via Ferrata or hike a difficult trail. Getting down after your stay is a lot easier though because you can zipline down!
Each weather-resistant capsule is surprisingly large at 24 feet by 8 feet and comes with four beds, a dining area, and a private bathroom. A one-night stay here includes breakfast, dinner, and transportation from Cusco as well as the zipline down. It is priced from $470 USD per person.
While you can zipline down after your stay at the hotel above, there are other options for a fun ziplining adventure.
Ziplining through the Sacred Valley in Peru is stunning as you will see all the natural beauty of the area whizzing by as you enjoy an unobstructed view of the Andes Mountains.
This half-day zipline tour delivers gorgeous views of the Andes Mountains and the Sacred Valley along with quite the adrenaline rush! You can choose to meet in the Main Square in Cusco, or organize pick-up directly from your hotel.
You’ll be transported to a beautiful area in the mountains where you will be given a brief rundown of what to expect and how to safely harness yourself in. You will then gear up and take to soaring through the sky to enjoy those panoramic views. The entire experience comes in at $80 USD.
12. Visit the Museo Inkariy
The Museo Inkariy is the first experiential museum in Peru. It’s where you can get a crash course on ancient Peru while traveling through the Sacred Valley.
Cover 10,000 years of history in one trip to this museum where you will see the many different civilizations that called this area home through the years.
The museum is divided into 8 different sections showcasing the different cultures including the Caral, Chavín, Paracas, Moche, Nasca, Wari, Lambayeque, Chimu, and finally, the Inca civilizations that existed prior to the Spanish conquest of the area.
This museum is geared towards all age groups making it a fun and informative family-friendly activity in Sacred Valley. Also, if you don’t speak Spanish, there are English descriptions throughout the museum which is super helpful. There’s also a cafe if you get hungry.
The museum costs $11 USD to enter and is open 7 days a week between 9 am and 5 pm.
13. Hike to Huchuy Qosqo
One of the top things to do in this area of the world is hiking and trekking along the mountains! Huchuy Qosqo, also known as Juchuy Coscco, is an archaeological site with Incan ruins.
What makes this an out-of-this-world hike is the payoff with some incredible scenery. The ruins are surrounded by lush green grass perched on a mountain which gives spectacular views of the Sacred Valley.
The best way to see Huchuy Qosqo is by hiking and this 3 Day hike from Huchuy Qosqo to Machu Picchu is one of those spectacular multi-day hikes that’s worth the sore feet! It’s not as popular as some of the other hikes, so it’s a nice way to enjoy the sights without the same kind of crowds.
The first day will be Cusco to Tambomchay to Huchuy Qosqo. The second day involves travel to Lamay village, then Ollantaytambo and you’ll reach your destination for the night at Aguas Calientes. Day 3 will be hiking from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, getting a guided tour of Machu Picchu, and heading back to Cusco. The tour includes accommodation (camping and hotel) along with some meals for around $733 USD.
14. Whitewater rafting
If you want a break from seeing all the historical beauty of the area, go on a heart-pumping adventure on the Urubamba River! This river is perfect for whitewater rafting and we had a blast on our tour!
This 8 hour whitewater rafting and ziplining combo tour is a great way to spend a thrilling day in the Sacred Valley! You will take on the Class 3 rapids as you raft down the Urubamba River. No prior experience is needed either, so beginners and families are welcome!
After you dry off, you’ll relax with some lunch and a trip to a sauna to warm up. To top off the experience, you will enjoy a zipline course that will take you across the river.
The tour is affordable at $69 USD and includes lunch and round-trip transportation to your hotel or Airbnb in Cusco.
Related Read: For more adventures in Peru, check out the best tours and day trips from Lima!
The adrenaline junkie in me always loves recommending some thrilling adventure activities!
If paragliding in Peru is not on your bucket list, go ahead and add it to the top of your list as it was one of my favorite things to do in Peru (although I did my flight in Lima). Getting an aerial view of the area is a great way to see all the impressive sites and take in all the natural beauty the area has to offer.
For $150 USD you can take this Paragliding adventure tour in the Sacred Valley. The tour will have you flying close to the Andes Mountain and give you a full view of the entire area.
All safety gear is included in the cost as well as an experienced pilot to ensure the experience is fun and safe. I love that this tour also includes an HD video of your thrilling experience.
16. Eat Cuy
One of the best ways to experience a culture is to try its most famous food dishes. The most famous Peruvian delicacy is something called “Cuy” and has been around since Inca times.
Cuy is Spanish for Guinea Pig if you hadn’t figured that out. It’s not seen as a household pet in Peru and is actually bred for food, similar to cows in North America.
Cuy, a member of the rodent family, tastes kind of like chicken (yes, really!) but fattier. It’s usually served with potatoes and salsa in a traditional dish and is a high source of protein. This tasty Peruvian delicacy is prepared as chicken and served as fish (but usually with the head still attached) would be in other parts of the world.
To be honest, I didn’t overly enjoy it. It’s not that it tasted bad but seeing an entire guinea pig on my plate was a little weird. But if you eat meat, don’t shy away!
Related Read: I have to say I did enjoy the churros in Peru more! Eating churros at a cute cafe is one of the highlights of visiting Miraflores, Peru.
17. Visit Baños Termales or Cocalmayo hot springs
One of the top things to do in Peru is to visit some hot springs. These are one of our favorite ways to relax, especially after a long day of hiking and there are some great ones in the Sacred Valley.
Baños Termales by Machu Picchu is located at the bottom of Machu Picchu in the north part of town. This Peruvian hot spring is a local favorite but we didn’t enjoy it quite as much. It costs around $5.50 USD for around an hour which includes hiking to see a waterfall and some sculptures.
Cocalmayo hot springs are located close to the small town of Santa Teresa. The large pools here are clean and filled by ancient waterways that direct the hot water to you. The location is set in-between two mountains – you’ll spend hours enjoying the view.
It definitely eased our sore muscles and at only $2.60 USD to enter for 1.5 hours, it paid for itself pretty quickly! Of the two hot springs in the Sacred Valley, we went to, Cocalmayo was definitely our favorite.
18. Go weaving in Chinchero
Weaving is a traditional practice that has been used by the Peruvian people for generations. These textiles are done in a way that they have a beautiful double-sided design.
Chinchero, the city of weaving, is a gorgeous city in the Sacred Valley and is known as the birthplace of the rainbow. The city is filled with color following rainfall and these colors are represented by weaving them into stunning fabrics.
If you want to try your hand at this cultural practice, a private full day tour gives you that chance. You start in Chincheros to learn about weaving in the Andean textile design. Next will be a visit to Ollantaytambo to see the impressive archeological site, and then finish your tour by visiting the Inca city of Pisac which will have you visiting historic ruins and busy markets.
For $109 USD, this tour includes a private round-trip transfer from your Cusco hotel and an English-speaking tour guide. It doesn’t include entrance fees to the archeological sites (so be sure to bring some cash with you).
Best Tours to the Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley is one of the most famous and visited areas of Peru. An area rich in historical importance and culture, the best way to experience the Sacred Valley is with a guided tour.
These are especially nice as your tour guide will be well versed in the history of the area and help you to get the most information and enjoyment from your visit. Plus it takes the worry out of transportation and how you’ll get here.
These are some of the top tours of the Sacred Valley, depending on how much time you have to explore.
2 Day Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley
If you only have two days scheduled to see Machu Picchu and are wanting a unique way to see it this 2 Day Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley tour is the way to go.
The first day includes 9 stops in the Sacred Valley as you make your way from Cusco to Aguas Calientes – first by car and then by scenic train. You’ll see so many of the highlights we’ve detailed in this blog from Pisac to Ollantaytambo that it’s easily one of the best Sacred Valley tours from Cusco.
You’ll spend the night in Aguas Calientes so you’re all set to catch the sunrise at Machu Picchu the next morning – trust me, it’s worth getting up early for!
The second day is all about Machu Picchu – first with a guided tour followed by free time to explore this marvel. All your transportation, accommodation for the night, and guided tours are included for the $479 USD cost.
1 Day Sacred Valley Tour
If you only have one day to spend in this magical place, the ultimate Sacred Valley tour packs so much in during approximately 12 hours! You’ll visit Maras, Moray, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo in an unconventional order so you can avoid other tour groups. One of the highlights is seeing traditional weaving (and the alpacas!) with a local.
This still feels like a really personal tour with a maximum of 8 people and no rushing from spot to spot – you’re encouraged to take your time.
A yummy buffet lunch and transportation are included from Cusco in the affordable $129 USD cost.
Half-Day Sacred Valley Tour
If you’re looking for a shorter tour but still want to explore the Sacred Valley, this half day Sacred Valley tour will take you to some of the main attractions in the area.
You’ll start by wandering the streets of Maras and sampling “Chicha” – a Peruvian corn drink. You’ll also get stops at Moray, the salt flats of Salinas de Maras and the village of Chinchero.
This is a 5-hour tour from Cusco which costs $65 USD. There is a minimum of 2 people per booking and this tour stays small with a maximum of 8 people. You also have the option to upgrade to a private tour for an additional $34 USD.
Pisac, Artisan Market, and Ollantaytambo 1-Day tour
If you’re interested in seeing some of the top cultural sites in the Sacred Valley, this full day tour is our pick.
You’ll visit the local market in Pisac, get a guided look through Ollantaytambo and the Temple of the Sun, and enjoy a typical Peruvian lunch. This 10-hour tour costs $79 USD and starts at 8 am with round-trip transportation from your hotel.
1 Week Inca Tour
If you want to get the most from your trip to the Sacred Valley, spending an unforgettable week here is the way to do it!
The best tours are ones that include lots of activities and sights – that means less planning for you! This 7 day all-inclusive tour is one of the most extensive tours offered in the area. It covers all of the main tourist attractions in the Sacred Valley, the transportation in between, along with a tour guide, hotel room, and some meals.
It starts in Cusco with a pickup from the airport or a hotel. You’ll be whisked away to see 5 sites including Koricancha, Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, and Puca Pucara (red fortress) before being brought back to your hotel around 7 pm.
The second day includes a visit to Pisac where you’ll spend around an hour on a guided tour. Next is Urubamba where a buffet lunch will be waiting for you before you head to Ollantaytambo to see the Princess Baths and terraces. You’ll then take the train to Aguas Calientes.
Machu Picchu is the highlight of the third day. You’ll have a 2-and-a-half-hour guided tour and free time to explore before lunch back in Aguas Calientes. You’ll then take the train back to Ollantaytambo and drive to a hotel in Cusco.
On the fourth day, you’ll head to Maras on the way to Moray and the salt mines. The fifth day comes with an early morning starting at 4 am where you’ll be picked up and driven to Cusipata for breakfast on your way to the Montana de Siete Colores (mountain of colors).
Day 6 features a trip to Humantay Lake and Day 7 is a day of rest before being driven to the airport. This extensive tour is action-packed showcasing all the best things to do in Sacred Valley Peru and is ideal for those looking to get the most from their trip. It costs around $810 USD per person.
Book this one-week tour online here to avoid missing out!
Where to Stay Near the Sacred Valley
We recommend planning to stay at least a few days in Cusco because of all the things to do in the city and leaving enough time to explore the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. There are plenty of options for accommodations, from reasonably priced hostels to more luxurious hotels, depending on your budget. These are the places that top our list of recommendations!
Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco – $$$
If you can spend a bit more during your stay, soak up the incredible architecture and location at Palacio del Inka located in the city center. This luxurious hotel offers delightful amenities like an internal courtyard perfect for stargazing, excellent dining options, and onsite staff who go above and beyond. There is also an indoor swimming pool and fitness center for an additional fee. The interior design combines bold, traditional works of art with modern-day comforts like wifi and cable TV. If you’re feeling the altitude, oxygen and coca tea are available by request. The price tag here starts at around $380 USD per night. You can check availability and book Palacio del Inka online here.
Casa Matara Boutique – $$
For a mid-range option, we love Casa Matara Boutique for its central location – it’s within walking distance to the main square and lots of top attractions. The breakfast here is excellent, the staff is amazing and so willing to help with everything, and the whole place gives off a cozy and charming atmosphere.
Rooms here are around $90 USD a night. To snag this deal, check availability and book Casa Matara Boutique online here.
Selina Plaza De Armas – $
The Selina Plaza De Armas is a budget-friendly option that offers shared dorm rooms, private rooms, or even unique outdoor tent accommodations. It’s only a short walk from Plaza De Armas and the cathedral, so you’re staying right in the action. The hotel also has a beautiful lobby with a glass-covered patio you can relax in.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
The Sacred Valley in Peru is one of my favorite areas in South America to visit! While Machu Picchu is by far the most famous spot here, there are so many other things to see and do while you’re here. The Sacred Valley is the perfect blend of authentic Peruvian culture, stunning natural views, and a lot of great surrounding amenities.
I hope this list of all the best things to do in Sacred Valley, Peru has helped you plan your dream trip here! If exploring Peru and other amazing countries nearby is on your agenda, have a peek around at our other South American blogs. We have lots of travel tips and ideas for tons of destinations so you can make the most of your vacation.