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.

HOW TO GET TO MACHU PICCHU

HIKE PERU'S CLASSIC OR LARES INCA TRAILS TO MACHU PICCHU

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.

Ollantaytambo

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

Runkuracay

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

Phuyupatamarca

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

Sayacmarca

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

Wayllabamba

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 16211 reviews)

    Like A Postcard

    The mountains, glaciers and icebergs of Patagonia were some of the most incredible sites I have ever seen. Many days were like walking into a postcard. "Am I really here?" Active took the worry out of the travel and planning and our guides were incredible! Arturo made the trip and our local guides were knowledgeable and skilled - Cem and Juan were great! Thanks Active for an amazing journey!
    Sarah Lundeen Review Image
    – Wisconsin, United States
    Condor, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Amazing Trip

    The Peru Jaguar trip we took in May, was the most exciting and adventurous trip we have ever made in our lives! At 70, I was skeptical as to whether I could complete the Inca Trail or not. With Johan's help and support, I not only accomplished my goal, but was extremely satisfied with our total active adventure trip. It seemed as if every time I turned my head, there was another exhilarating scene to photograph. The rest of the trip included the amazon rainforest, and spending the night with a local family on Lake Titicaca which was great. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone wishing to explore the world's unknown places that only a few select get to experience. Our guide Erick Farfan was an exceptional young man who went out of his way not just for us, but the entire group. I've never had someone so attentive to every detail to make all of us happy. His choice of restaurants allowed all of us to experience the local foods and were all very tasty. Kudos to Erick, Johan and the rest of the crew for making my experience once in a lifetime which I will never stop talking about.
    Bob Rosson Review Image
    – Texas, United States
    Jaguar 2017, June 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Ecuador

    We had an amazing week in Ecuador. Each day was a new adventure, and the scenery was beautiful. The best part was Jhayro, our tour guide. He was knowledgable, personable, and genuine. We could tell that he wanted us to experience how special Ecuador is.
    Ryan Quale Review Image
    – Minnesota, United States
    Tapir, September 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    Barb's Review

    Our guides (we had 2 because of the split of trail that the team choose to take) were very knowledgeable, attentive, and extremely personable and made the trip wonderful!
    Barb Calhoun Review Image
    – California, United States
    Jaguar 2017, May 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16211 reviews)

    The trip of my dreams!

    The Iguana trip was better than was advertised! I had prepared for the trip to Peru by reading about the history of the area in the book, The Last Days of the Incas, by Kim MacQuarrie. When we visited the many different Inca sites, the history came alive for me. I could picture the great battles, and the capture of the Inca rulers, and the narrow escapes. It was wonderful! Cuzco was a beautiful city surrounded by mountain peaks and full of many good places to eat. After Peru, going to the Galapagos was like a beach vacation in the most beautiful place in the world. We loved snorkeling and seeing the giant land tortoises. We saw every animal associated with the Galapagos and more! I still can't believe I was lucky enough to find this trip with Active Adventures. Top notch all the way around. Thank you to our wonderful guides who we loved!
    Brenda Peterson Review Image
    – Texas, United States
    Iguana, April 2017

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