Inca Ruins of Peru

Discover the most famous and lesser known Inca Ruins in Peru

Over 500 years ago, the Inca Empire built a road system that consisted of 40,000 kilometres (25,000 miles) of trail spanning north to south through Chile, Ecuador and Peru. This Inca road system connected villages throughout the Andean mountains. 500 years later, we see a living testament to the engineering capabilities of the Incas, as we see perfectly preserved homes, farmhouses and fortresses throughout Peru. But not only have the buildings stood the test of time, but so has the Inca road system… commonly known today as the Inca Trail network.

Machu Picchu – the most famous Inca Ruin in Peru

Inca Trail Hikers enjoying a Sunny day at Machu Picchu on the 4th day Inca Trail Guided Tour

Photo: Happy hikers enjoying a sunny day at Machu Picchu after hiking the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Without a doubt, the most famous of Peru’s ancient Inca Ruins is Machu Picchu. Hiram Bingham’s discovery of the ruins in 1911 shot it to fame and in 2007 Machu Picchu became one of the new Seven Wonders of the World… while hiking to Machu Picchu on the Classic Inca Trail, or Lares Inca Trail has become one of the greatest hiking experiences in the world.



The lesser known ruins of Peru:

Cuzco’s Sacsayhuaman Fortress

Translated to 'House of the Sun', the Sacsayhuaman Fortress is situated on the hillside overlooking Cuzco’s main Plaza and Cuzco Valley. This magnificent archaeological site represents a set of jaguar’s teeth with massive, perfectly fitted stones weighing up to 130 tons each, and was the place where the Incas made their final stand against the Spanish conquistadores. No one really knows what the Incas used Sacsayhuaman for – some say it was a sanctuary and temple of the sun, others say it was a granary. No matter who’s right, you’ll have a lot of fun hearing all the stories this amazing area inspires.

Sacsayhuaman Fortress Cusco

Photo: Sacsayhuaman Fortress, Cuzco. Visit it on our 'Jaguar', 'Alpaca', 'Chinchilla', and 'Iguana' trips.


Formerly the royal palace of Emperor Pachacuti, this palace and fortress also served as an Incan stronghold as they resisted the Spanish conquistadors. Remnants of storehouses, quarries, terraces, and temples are still incredibly well preserved today. It’s arguably among the most impressive ruins in the Sacred Valley and it's situated near the starting point of the Classic Inca Trail.

Ollantaytambo Ruins Peru

Photo: Ollantaytambo Ruins, Peru

Pisac Ruins

Pisac is a village situated in the Sacred Valley. The name Pisac (sometimes referred to as Pisaq) means partridge (a type of bird) in the local Quechua language. It was customary in Inca architecture to design cities in the shape of an animal, and in the case of Pisac, it’s built in the shape of a partridge!

The other main attraction for visiting Pisac is to hike to the Pisac Ruins, which sit high above the village on a triangular plateau – you can find the start of this trail near the church in town. It’s a steep 610 meter climb (2000 feet) but the views of the Urubamba Valley, the close up detail of the terraces, the ancient footpaths and tunnels make the climb well worthwhile. You can hike to the Pisac Ruins on our 'Jaguar', 'Alpaca', 'Chinchilla', 'Iguana', and 'Capybara'.

Beautiful Pisac Ruins Peru

Photo: Beautiful Pisac Ruins, Peru


This unique oval structure is sometimes colloquially known as the “Egg Hut”. It’s believed to have been a kind of rest stop for Incan travelers (called a Tambo) providing them with a place to spend the night and rest their animals. You’ll discover the Runkuracay ruins on the Classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu; it is the perfect place to enjoy a mid-hike break and marvel at the beauty of Incan architecture.

Runkuracay Ruins Peru - Classic Inca Trail

Photo: Runkuracay Ruins, on Peru's Classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu


Dubbed “La Ciudad entre la Niebla” (“The City above the Clouds”), this major archeological site is situated a staggering 3,720 meters above sea level. Contrary to its nickname, Phuyupatamarca is often surrounded by dense, white clouds. The ruins, dramatically constructed into a steep cliff-side, contain five stone baths that fill up with freshwater during the rainy season. It’s believed that these baths were used for religious ceremonies back in the Inca times.

Visitors can also check out the site’s elaborate hydraulic system, a true testament to impressive capabilities of Incan engineering. Of all of the Incan ruins in the region, Phuyupatamarca is arguably the most intact and therefore a truly spectacular site for trekkers passing through.

Phuyupatamarca Ruins Peru - Classic Inca Trail Guided Tour

Photo: Phuyupatamarca Ruins, on Peru's Classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu


First discovered by Hiram Bingham (Bingham also discovered Machu Picchu) when he wandered along a road extending from Machu Picchu, the dramatic Sayacmarca is situated at a fork in an old Incan road, in a dense subtropical forest full of butterflies and hummingbirds. Quechua for “Dominant Town,” these unique ruins have a mystical air about them and are among the most impressive along the Classic Inca Trail (except for Machu Picchu itself, of course!). It’s believed that Sayacmarca was actually built by the Colla, a major enemy of the Incas, and that the Incas took over the site following their conquest of the group.

Sayacmarca Ruins Peru - Classic Inca Trail

Photo: Sayacmarca Ruins, on Peru's Classic Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu

Huiñay Huayna (Wiñay Wayna)

Huiñay Huayna (traditionally spelled Wiñay Wayna in Quechua, the language of the Incas) was constructed into a steep hillside overlooking the Urubamba River. In addition to the site’s ancient houses and temples, it also boasts an incredibly complex system of Incan terraces, formerly used for agriculture. The name of the site roughly translates to “Forever Young,” and many trekkers report that these ruins are the most beautiful found along the Classic Inca Trail.

Winay Wayna Ruins Peru Classic Inca Trail

Photo: Winay Wayna Ruins, Peru


The endpoint of the first day’s trek along the Classic Inca Trail, Wayllabamba (which means “grassy plain” in Quechua) is the perfect spot to watch the sunset behind the dramatic Andean peaks. This grassy plain overlooks stunning Andean scenery, with centuries-old Incan terraces winding through the surrounding mountainsides. There is even a village nearby where travellers can mingle with local villagers.

Wayllabamba Ruins Peru

Photo: Wayllabamba Ruins, Peru

Related Links:

Hiking to Machu Picchu

The Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu

 Peru Adventure Tours

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

    7 Day Jaguar Adventure

    I have nothing but positive reviews for this week-long adventure of a lifetime (I would have loved to stay on for the full 14 day experience, but unfortunately work responsibilities limited my time away). As a seasoned solo traveler/hiker, and it being my 30th birthday week, I must rank this trip as my top guided-tour experience. Everything from the Lares Inca Trail experience (with its less crowded characteristics making it a much more attractive alternative to the Classic Inca Trail, at least to me), to the accommodations, the food (which can be catered to most anyone’s dietary needs, at least from what I experienced both first hand and from others in the group...still not sure how the chef/porters can transport all that fresh food and whip up such fantastic meals miles and miles from the nearest town!?), our tour leader Daniel and other affiliated guides and porters...quite honestly above and beyond what my original expectations were for the trip! I met several fellow hikers from around the world with whom I bonded and would now call lifelong friends, and have numerous photos and memories to last a lifetime! I would also like to mention that during our 4 day/3 night hike, we encountered several other hikers along the trail who were with various other tour companies (some of which I had researched prior to booking with Active Adventures), and were told several stories about various mishaps and/or negative experiences they were having with their tour leaders...perhaps we lucked out with our fantastic tour leader, but I definitely do not regret for a second my decision to ring in the third decade of my life with Active Adventures! I can’t thank you guys enough and will definitely keep you in mind for my next hiking adventure, wherever that may be :)
    Kevin Bui Review Image
    – New Hampshire, United States
    Jaguar 2017, October 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

    It rocked!

    Awesome group trip, especially from someone who likes to do it on their own. Guides, travel arrangements, ease of it all was incredible-- perfect.
    Harold Johnson Review Image
    – Florida, United States
    Condor, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

    Great trip!

    We had a smart, funny, and skilled guide who showed us beautiful and amazing things. Peru was incredible, it was a great trip.
    Kevin O'Brien Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Jaguar 2017, August 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

    Fantastic Adventure!

    This trip was wonderful on so many levels. It was a perfect experience for our family of three college "kids", my husband and me. We traveled with two other families- a total of eight kids and six adults, a good group size. There was lots to see and do and we appreciated the opportunity to be active! Seeing the wildlife and learning about the Galapagos Islands was fantastic!! Zambo, our naturalist was terrific and related well to children and the adults. One of the unexpected pleasures my husband and I experienced was hearing our children utilize their seven years of middle and high school Spanish as they communicated with locals. Also, needless to say, they were pleased that the drinking age on the Islands is 18. We all enjoyed having a beer at the end of each wonderful day. The December weather was lovely. Comfortably warm and the water was beautiful!! We took full advantage of any extra snorkeling and swimming opportunities.

    Our family had an extra day in Quito. We took the opportunity to hire a guide to take us around the city. What a great opportunity it was to learn about so many aspects of Ecuador's capital city. The Equator Museum was great and we enjoyed walking around the Plaza and seeing a couple of churches. Walking to the edge of the Pululhua crater was awesome! Lenin was a terrific guide!
    Katherine Babbott Review Image
    – Massachusetts, United States
    Tortuga, January 2017



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