Why You Need To Visit Pisac
The perfect place to start exploring the Sacred Valley is at Pisac.
Cusco is your home base for exploring the Machu Picchu area. But, if you only spend 1-2 days in Cusco, you've made a mistake. There is so much to see and do. So much to experience.
For starters, you need to travel ~45 minutes outside of Cusco to the Sacred Valley. A great way to start your exploration would be in Pisac, a beautiful village spread out on the banks of the Urubamba River. A mix between modern-day Quechuan culture and ancient Inca, this is a must see during your time in the Cusco area.
START AT THE TOP
Pisac Archaeological Complex. At the top of a windy road, terraces start to appear. You may see a family carrying enormous amounts of choclo (corn) on their backs as they progress from terrace to terrace, harvesting the season's work. As you climb the mountain you will start to catch glimpses of Incan structures. Temples, terraces, tombs, homes, walls, and an intihuatana, one of only 2 remaining sacred astronomical stones, all call Pisac home. This is one of the least-visited ruins and should definitely be on your itinerary.
The site is perched on top of the jagged mountain looming above Pisac city at the bottom of the Sacred Valley. You can get there via paved road, or by taking 2.5 mile hike up the side of the mountain. Give yourself 4-5 total hours if you plan on hiking up the ruins and back.
THE WORLD FAMOUS PISAC MARKET
Pisac Artisan Market. This is the most famous market in the area. Built in the main square of Pisac city, this market offers everything from baby alpaca scarves to Incan v Spaniard chess sets, carved by hand. It is also touristy. That doesn't mean you should skip this market, just be aware that it may not be the best place to get a good deal and is usually always a little crowded.
Supposedly the market days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday but I've been by on off days and it was open just the same. This is a "must stop" for all visitors. I find that I most enjoy the market when I take a walk out of the main square into the side streets of Pisac to get an idea of what it's like to live in this colonial village.
This is the perfect introduction to the Sacred Valley. Pisac will charm you with all it has to offer and leave you wanting more. See you there.