Often referred to as the gateway to Machu Picchu, Cusco is not to be overlooked when planning your trip to Peru. Home to a number of Inca ruins in and around the city, Cusco lives and breathes history. With a mix of colonial architecture and older structures that still show traces of original Inca histories – and you don’t have to go far from Cusco’s city centre before stumbling across remnants of the old Inca empire.
To help plan your next adventure, Tucan Travel has compiled a list of some of the best Inca ruins in and around Cusco.
Travel to: Peru
Best Inca ruins in and around Cusco
Located in the heart of the city, Coricancha can be found within close reach of most hotels. During the Inca Empire, Coricancha was undoubtedly one of the most important sites and was dedicated to Inti, the Sun God, and the walls were once covered in gold. Here, the site was also the location where revered Incas were laid to rest inside.
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Today, the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo sit above the Coricancha site, and the curved Inca wall is the only remaining feature.
The Ollantaytambo Ruins consist of a steep fortress and were previously used to protect the Incas from the Spanish conquistadors. Reaching the top of the fortress will literally take your breath away, and its location allows for impressive views down the length of the valley. While you’re there, you can visit the nearby ancient Inca temple that was built from huge stone pieces and features ancient symbols carved into the stone walls.
Pisac is a small town that boasts a colourful market along with narrow cobbled streets. Nearby are the Ruins of Pisac; a huge Inca citadel that boasts incredible views of the Urubamba Valley. It’s famous for the spectacular terracing which curves around the hill and at the top, you will see preserved temples, baths and the ceremonial centre.
4. Moray Ruins
The archaeological site of Moray is found on a plateau approximately 50 kilometres outside of Cusco in the Sacred Valley. It is more remote than Ollantaytambo and Pisac so receive fewer visitors than it’s popular neighbours. The ruins feature a circular terrace, shaped like a bowl which you are free to climb. It is believed that this was once used as an agricultural research base for the Incas used to experiment with crop growing.
From Cusco, you can easily walk to Sacsayhuaman. Translated to Royal Eagle, this is another jaw-dropping fortress temple and one of the largest structures built by the Incas. It offers incredible views of the city and is near the Cristo Blanco statue.
Sacsayhuaman is the final site of the Inti Raymi parade which happens every year. Dressed in full Inca costume, the Inca perform a prayer to the Sun God before sacrificing a llama. The festivities are ticketed but many locals choose to watch from two hills overlooking the site.
6. Wiñay Wayna
These ruins can be found on the Inca Trail itself, and they are thought to be the ruins of a town en-route to Machu Picchu. They sit elevated overlooking the Urubamba River, made up of a number of houses and baths.
7. Machu Picchu
It is easy to see why Machu Picchu is one of the seven new wonders of the world. Nestled high up in the Andes, Machu Picchu has continually lured avid travellers and explorers since 1911 when Hiram Bingham was led there by a local Quechua boy. It was designed by the Incas to be completely self-contained and watered by nearby natural springs.
Here you can see ruins of palaces, temples, houses, and baths which are very well-preserved.
No trip to Peru would be complete without seeing these incredible ruins. The one thing that defines them is how they have all been built without concrete. Everything was designed to fit together and everything was hand-carved.