A Guide to the Sacred Valley: What to Do and See in 2024

A Guide to the Sacred Valley: What to Do and See in 2024

Known for its mind-boggling Andean peaks, stunning agricultural hills, and breathtaking Inca sites, the Sacred Valley is a must-visit for anyone traveling to Peru.

With so many things to see, though, deciding where to go and what to do can be a seriously challenging task even for the most experienced adventurers.

To help you get started, we’ve collected some of the top sights and activities in the Sacred Valley that are bound to meet, and even exceed, the expectations of even the pickiest of travelers.

Let’s take a look.

Table of contents:

Top Sights in the Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley is an area in the Peruvian Andes that stretches for about 60 km (37 mi). It’s famous for its luscious mountain landscapes, ancient Inca sites, and outdoor adventures.

In the Valley, you’ll also find plenty of picturesque villages such as Pisac and Ollantaytambo, and a visit to these remarkable places is rightfully one of the top things not to miss in the Sacred Valley.

Here’s a walkthrough of some of the best places to visit in the Sacred Valley.


Pisac Ruins

The Pisac ruins are one of the most extensive – and best-preserved – archaeological sites in the Valley. In fact, they are one of the must-visit ruins in Peru. Perched high on a mountain ridge, overlooking the charming little town of Pisac, the ruins offer some of the most spectacular sights in the area.

The Pisac ruins are spread apart but the sections can be easily accessed via several pathways.

The strategic location of the site suggests that it was used to guard Cusco and the southern entrance of the Sacred Valley. With numerous agricultural, religious, and military structures, however, the Pisac ruins likely used to serve more than one function.

Visiting the Pisac ruins is a wonderful little hike in and of itself, but it can also be a perfect way to prepare yourself for some of the longer treks you can do in the Andes, such as the Salkantay trek.

ollantaytambo ruins

Get ready to climb up various steps when visiting the Ollantaytambo ruins.



Ollantaytambo is an ancient Inca fortress and village located about 95 km (60 mi) away from the city of Cusco.

The site dazzles with spectacular stonework platforms and stunning buildings that reach 4 m (13 ft) in height. At the site, you’ll also find the Ollantaytambo temple – an engineering and architectural masterpiece. It is commonly believed that the temple was used as a refuge for Inca nobility and royalty.

Even more fascinating, the rocks found in the complex are incredibly well-preserved. Considering that the fortress at Ollantaytambo is built on a very steep slope, this is a remarkable accomplishment.

Maras and Moray

Maras and Moray are two small towns nestled in the middle of the Sacred Valley, between Ollantaytambo and Pisac.

Maras is home to some of the world’s most fascinating salt mines. Also known as the Salineras de Maras, the Maras Salt Mines stand out with their unique shades of beige, white, and pink. Maras hosts about 4,500 salt ponds placed in the form of stepped terraces in the middle slope of the Qaqawinay hill.

Did you know that the Mountain View Experience, one of the most trendy lodges in the Sacred Valley, is very close to Maras?

The Moray ruins near Cusco are an ancient Inca complex built to cultivate crops. There are multiple Inca ruins you can visit at Moray, but perhaps the most famous ones are the circular terraces carved into the ground.

maras salt mines

The Maras salt mines is the favorite site in the Sacred Valley of many of our travelers.


Huchuy Cusco

Huchuy Cusco is an Inca archaeological site north of Cusco and a great off-the-beaten-path destination.

The site, originally built as a royal estate, is called the small Cusco (Huchuy Qosqo in Quechua) because it’s said to mimic the exact shape of Cusco (but on a smaller scale).

Despite its incredible landscapes and proximity to Cusco, the hike to Huchuy Cusco is often skipped by tourists headed to the more famous sites.

That said, the one-day hike is beautiful and, once you reach the ruins, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Cordillera de Vilcanota mountain range. If you’re looking for a memorable hike, be sure to add Huchuy Qosqo to your Cusco’s must-visit sites.



Chinchero is a small Andean village between Cusco and Urubamba. Known to the Incas as the birthplace of the rainbow, the village is a wonderful way to get a better understanding of how important the area was to agricultural production in the Sacred Valley.

While often overlooked, Chinchero has many captivating terraces and aqueducts, some of which are still in use today.

Some of the best things to do at Chinchero include visiting the colonial church (built back in 1607 on top of the remains of an Incan palace), strolling through the town’s colorful market, and witnessing a weaving demonstration.

girls trying clothes in chinchero

In our tour, we visit a local textile center in Chinchero where you’ll see how these beautiful colors are made out of natural ingredients.


What to Do in the Sacred Valley

While the Cusco region is best known for its delicious cuisine and ancient archaeological treasures, it’s also an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

From water sports to sky-high experiences, the Sacred Valley has something to offer to any traveler. Before you go ahead and book your adventures, be sure to arm yourself with a comprehensive Cusco travel guide that’ll help you prepare and pack everything you need for your trip.

Let’s take a look at 5 Sacred Valley activities that are sure to add even more excitement to your Peruvian adventure.



If you’re wondering what the Sacred Valley looks like from above – and are ready for a serious adrenaline boost – paragliding should definitely be on your to-do list.

Paragliding has been gaining momentum all over the world, and Peru is no exception. By experiencing paragliding in the Sacred Valley, you’ll get an unparalleled view of the area’s scenery and undoubtedly one of the most exciting experiences in the region.

Most paragliding experiences launch near Pisac and Chinchero. In general, you don’t need any previous experience as all paragliding tours in the Valley are tandem flights that should be operated by trained paragliders.

sacred valley view while paragliding

When paragliding in the Sacred Valley, you’ll always be rewarded with incredible views of the surrounding mountains.


White River Rafting

Rafting is one of the most exciting water activities in the Sacred Valley, and one of the top places to do that is the Urubamba River.

The river extends from high in the Andes and flows through the Sacred Valley, passing through Machu Picchu and into the jungle.

While there is often no experience required, it’s good to remember that this may vary depending on the section of the river. In addition, note that white river rafting is typically only available during the drier months (April to October/November) as the water level during the rest of the year is too high.


ATV Tours

Another adventure-filled activity you can do in the Sacred Valley is an organized ATV tour.

During these fast-paced tours, you’ll get to operate an ATV quad bike yourself while witnessing archaeological sites and scenic territory.

Operating an ATV is exciting but, before you book a tour, make sure the company you choose is certified and has expert guides. This way, you ensure that you know everything you need about operating the bikes, including safety instructions.

girl on atv in sacred valley

An ATV tour in the Sacred Valley is the ideal mix of adventure and culture.


Mountain Biking

With some of the world’s most spectacular mountain terrains, it comes as no surprise that Peru has plenty of adrenaline-pumping bike trails to offer.

Mountain biking in the Sacred Valley is one of the best ways to combine your love of cycling with a trip to some of Peru’s most pristine areas and Inca ruins.

To make the most out of your mountain biking trip, you’ll need to have adequate experience with biking on rocky, steep terrains.


Skylodge Aventure Suites

Staying here is a once in a lifetime experience. Imagine sleeping in space-like capsules suspended at 1.312 ft. (400 m) above sea level with a beautiful view of the Sacred Valley.

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? More info about this place in our article about the Skylodge Adventure Suites in Peru.


Llama Trekking

Llama trekking in the Sacred Valley is a more relaxed, yet just as unique adventure. It’s a great way to explore the region while being accompanied by one of Peru’s friendliest animals.

Domesticated centuries ago, these animals have been the perfect companion for Andean dwellers for thousands of years. Today, hiking with llamas helps protect the mountain ecosystems, generates opportunities for sustainable development in the local communities, and, of course, offers travelers an unforgettable experience.

Many Sacred Valley activities start at Cusco, the old capital of the Inca empire and the biggest town in the area. If you’re curious to learn more and discover local gems, be sure to take a look at the top 10 things you can do in Cusco.

llama being fed

Don’t be shy to feed the llamas, as this is probably one of the best moments to take pictures of them.


Sacred Valley Tour with Exploor

A great way to make sure that you visit all of the best highlights, learn more about the area, and have an expert guide help you every step of the way is by joining a Sacred Valley tour from Cusco.

Kick-starting your Peruvian experience in the Sacred Valley when coming to Cusco will help you get acclimated in order to avoid altitude sickness but still pack in some adventure. This can be especially beneficial if you plan on hiking the Inca Trail or visiting Machu Picchu.

During the Sacred Valley tour, you’ll get to explore Pisac and its ruins (or Chinchero), the stunning salt mines of Maras, Moray and Ollantaytambo.

Ready to uncover the secrets of the Sacred Valley? Check out the itinerary of our Sacred Valley Day Tour!

  • 13 August, 2022 at 6:25 pm

    Hey Team Exploor, very interesting article! My friend recommended me to buy the chocolate con sal de Maras; is this only available in Maras or can I also buy it in Cusco?

    • 14 August, 2022 at 1:15 pm

      Hey Carolyn! You can buy the chocolate with salt from Maras in Cusco as well. In fact, you can even find it in Supermarkets, such as Wong or Vivanda, in Lima. Hope this helps 🙂

  • 4 May, 2022 at 11:58 pm

    Buenas noches, le sugiero que en vez de decir ruinas diga CENTROS ARQUEOLÓGICO. GRACIAS

    • 5 May, 2022 at 1:35 pm

      Hola Gustavo, muchas gracias por la sugerencia. Lo acabamos de ajustar en varias partes del artículo. Muchas gracias y que tengas un bonito día!:)

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