Pisac, Peru is slowly becoming one of the most popular destinations for day trips in the Sacred Valley– and with good reason. Just one hour from the city of Cusco, heart of the Inca capital and gateway to Machu Picchu, the sunny village of Pisac offers incredible artisan shopping, some of the most remarkable Inca ruins outside of Machu Picchu, and a chance to step into the local way of life for a day as you explore the tiny, winding streets. Here’s our list of all of the best things you can see and do in Pisac, and a look into why it’s such a unique destination in Cusco (and crowd favorite!). Make sure to go soon, before all of the other travelers find out about it!
Mercado de Artesania
Often listed as one of the best things to do in all of Cusco, this is the biggest artisan craft market in the region and the perfect place to peruse beautiful Peruvian crafts and interact with the locals who make them (and the prices are incredible). Every traveler leaves Cusco with unique, hand-made treasures and souvenirs to take home- and you’re guaranteed to find the best of them here.
Wander through the pop-up style market through the rows and rows of vibrant woven blankets, handmade alpaca sweaters and scarves, carved souvenirs and everything else under the sun. You’ll smell delicious homestyle food cooking on the streets, meet friendly locals, and have plenty of chances to practice your bartering in Spanish. Consider it your one-stop-shop for all of your shopping while in Peru!
Pisac Inca Ruins
Named by National Geographic as one of the best Inca ruins to see outside of Machu Picchu, the Pisac ruins warrant at least a few hours of any traveler’s Cusco exploring. Long believed to have been the guarding point for the Sacred Urubamba Valley, the ruins of Pisac consist of a hilltop citadel including agricultural terracing, temples with fantastic masonry, ancient astronomical tools and water channels that work to this day. Make sure to go with a knowledgeable tour guide who can explain the different features you see and help guide you through the large site! Those who want to train for an upcoming Machu Picchu trek can hike up to the ruins; those wanting a more leisurely experience can arrange transportation through their tour. However you go, make you don’t miss the ruins of Pisac- a whole new look into the Inca empire!
La Virgen del Carmen Festival
If you’re able to visit Pisac between July 15th-18th, don’t miss this renowned cultural event! One of Peru’s best festivals and the most incredible things to see in Pisac, this festival involves processions through the town’s streets, masked dancers moving wildly to the music, and tributes to the Virgin of Carmen! It takes over Pisac during this time, and provides the counterpart of modern tradition to the many artifacts of ancient Inca culture throughout the town.
This weaving community higher up in the hills is perfect for anyone interested in Peruvian textiles. Watch the artisans continue this tradition- or join in yourself in a weaving workshop. With several other ruins of it’s own, this extension to your visit to Pisac will be a unique one. (The community, while considered part of Pisac, is a 40-minute drive. Make sure to arrange this with your tour guide in advance: you can book a tour, only book transportation, or get assistance with simply booking a taxi cab).
The main church is a beautiful sight to see, but is also a living part of Pisac culture that you won’t see elsewhere. Recently reconstructed in colonial style, try to arrange your visit around a mass- there’s much more to see than just the exterior. On Sunday you can observe the 11am mass which in held in Quechua (the language of the highlands), and locals descend from their homes in hillside communities in full traditional attire. And unlike many other attractions in Cusco, this one is hardly known to tourists.
Eating at an Horno
Like most of the Cusco region, Pisac offers hearty traditional food that you can’t miss! “Hornos”, “ovens” in Spanish, are staples in this town. These large clay ovens add a rich smoky flavor to meats, empanadas and more. Horno Colonial San Francisco is a popular one, dating back to 1830. You’ll see them on every street corner- make sure to stop for a quick snack at least!
How to Visit Pisac
Only an hour from Cusco, Pisac is most commonly visited on a day tour from the city. You can book it individually, or book package tours to Machu Picchu and Cusco that include this excursion. Make sure to discuss with the tour operator beforehand if you are interested in hiking to the ruins (rather than driving) or visiting Amaru as you’ll need to allow enough time.
Our travel specialists are happy to help you with making these arrangements! You can contact them here for quick and easy help. Or, browse our current tours visiting Pisac!