Ollantaytambo Ruins Travel Guide: uncovering the ancient history of Ollantaytambo in Peru

A helpful travel guide to Ollantaytambo Ruins with tour information, prices, best time to go, and more!

The Ollantaytambo Ruins in Peru is a testament to the Inca civilization’s incredible engineering and architectural prowess. Located in the heart of the Sacred Valley, this archaeological site dates back to the 15th century and was once a military, religious, and agricultural center.

The ruins consist of several well-preserved terraces, temples, and other structures that offer a glimpse into the daily life of the Incas.

cusco

Visiting the Ollantaytambo Ruins is undoubtedly worth it for travelers interested in history, archaeology, and experience the region’s rich culture. The site provides a fascinating insight into Inca society and engineering, while Ollantaytambo retains much of its original Inca layout and charm.

The ruins are also conveniently located along the popular tourist route to Machu Picchu, making it an ideal stop for those exploring the Sacred Valley.

With breathtaking views of the surrounding Andean landscape and numerous opportunities to engage with the local community, a visit to Ollantaytambo Ruins is a memorable experience that should not be missed.

👉🏽 See also: Cusco Travel Guide for first-timers

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🗺️ Ollantaytambo Ruins Map

🚌 How to get to Ollantaytambo from Cuzco

There are several ways to travel from Cuzco to the Ollantaytambo Ruins, depending on your preferences, budget, and time constraints. Here are the most common options:

Train to Ollantaytambo from Cuzco

PeruRail and Inca Rail operate trains between Cusco and Ollantaytambo, offering a comfortable and scenic journey through the Sacred Valley.

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The journey takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, and the train stations in Cusco are either Poroy (about 20-30 minutes from the city center) or Ollantaytambo.

Train tickets range from $60 to $100 USD one-way, depending on the class and time of travel. Remember that train schedules can be limited, so booking your tickets in advance is essential.

Bus or Colectivo to Ollantaytambo from Cuzco

A more budget-friendly option is to take a local bus or colectivo (shared minivan) from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. Colectivos can be found at the Terminal Terrestre on Calle Pavitos in Cusco.

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Mistubishi Fuso

Buses and colectivos usually depart when they’re full and operate from early morning until early evening. The journey takes around 2 to 2.5 hours and costs about $2 to $4 USD per person.

While this option is more affordable, it may be less comfortable and unreliable than taking a train.

Private Taxi or Transfer to Ollantaytambo from Cuzco

You can hire a private taxi or arrange a transfer service through your hotel or a tour agency for more convenience and flexibility. A private taxi or transfer allows you to travel directly to Ollantaytambo at your own pace, and you can stop at other attractions in the Sacred Valley along the way.

The journey takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and any stops you make. The cost for a private taxi or transfer typically ranges from $50 to $100 USD, depending on the vehicle type and negotiation skills.

Guided Tour to Ollantaytambo from Cuzco

Another option is to join a guided tour from Cusco that includes visiting Ollantaytambo and other nearby attractions, such as Pisac and Moray.

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Guided tours often provide transportation, a knowledgeable guide, and entrance fees. Full-day tours typically cost around $40 to $100 USD per person, depending on the tour operator and inclusions.

🧭 Things to do in Ollantaytambo Ruins

Explore the Temple Hill (Templo de la Luna)

The Temple Hill in Ollantaytambo Ruins is an archaeological site located in the Sacred Valley of Peru. It was an important Inca stronghold during the Spanish conquest of Peru and is now considered one of the best-preserved examples of Incan urban planning and architecture.

Temple Hill is a complex of terraces, walls, and buildings that stretch up the steep mountainside. It is believed that the site was originally used for religious and ceremonial purposes, as it contains a number of temples, shrines, and other sacred structures.

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During the Spanish conquest, Temple Hill served as a stronghold for the Incan resistance. The fortress-like design of the site allowed the defenders to hold off the Spanish forces for a time, but ultimately the Incas were defeated and the site fell into disuse.

Despite the passing of centuries, Temple Hill remains a remarkable example of Incan craftsmanship and engineering. The site features intricate stonework and terraced landscaping that is both beautiful and functional. You can still see evidence of the site’s water management systems, which allowed the Incas to grow crops and sustain their population in the arid environment of the Andes Mountains.

Today, the Temple Hill is a popular tourist destination and remains an important part of Peruvian cultural heritage. It serves as a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of the Incan people, who were able to create complex and sophisticated systems of infrastructure and architecture without the use of modern technology.

Visit the Princess Baths (Baños de la Ñusta)

The Princess Baths in Ollantaytambo Ruins are an important historical site in Peru. According to local legend, the site was built during the reign of the Incan emperor Pachacuti. It is said that Pachacuti built the baths for his daughter, who suffered from a skin condition. The location of the baths was specifically chosen for its natural spring water, which was believed to have healing properties.

Over the years, the Princess Baths were also used for ceremonial and religious purposes. The Incas believed that water was sacred and used it in various rituals to honor their deities. The Princess Baths were no exception; they were used for purification ceremonies before major religious events.

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Despite the passage of time, the Princess Baths remain remarkably well preserved. You can still see the intricate stonework that was used to channel water from the spring into the baths. The site is a testament to the skill and ingenuity of the Incan people, who were able to engineer advanced water systems without the use of modern technology.

Today, the Princess Baths are a popular tourist destination and attract tourists from around the world. They serve as a reminder of the rich cultural heritage of Peru and the important role that water has played in the country’s history.

Stroll through the Inca Storehouses (Qollqas)

The Qollqas are a series of Incan storehouses located in the Ollantaytambo Ruins, which served as a key administrative center and transportation hub for the Incan Empire. The name “Qollqas” in Quechua, the language of the Incas, means “depository” or “warehouse”.

It is believed that the Qollqas were used to store crops and other goods that were produced in the fertile agricultural region surrounding Ollantaytambo. These goods were then transported to other parts of the Incan Empire, including the capital city of Cusco.

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In addition to serving as storage facilities, the Qollqas also played a strategic role in Incan military operations. The storehouses were used to stockpile weapons, supplies, and food for soldiers on the move.

The design of the Qollqas is characteristic of Incan architecture, featuring solid stone walls and a symmetrical layout. Despite the passage of time, many of the Qollqas remain remarkably well preserved and offer a unique glimpse into the daily lives of the Incan people.

Today, the Qollqas serve as a reminder of the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Incan people, who were able to create complex systems of agriculture, transportation, and military strategy without the use of modern technology. They are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Peru and continue to attract visitors from all over the world.

Wander through the Ollantaytambo town

The town of Ollantaytambo is a living example of an Inca settlement, as it still retains its original grid layout and many traditional stone buildings.

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Take a leisurely walk through the narrow cobblestone streets, explore local markets, and interact with the local Quechua-speaking people to get a feel for the rich history and culture of the region.

Hike to the Pinkuylluna Granaries

For those who enjoy a bit of a challenge, the hike to the Pinkuylluna Granaries is highly recommended. These Inca granaries are perched high on a hillside overlooking the town of Ollantaytambo, and the hike rewards with stunning views of the ruins and the surrounding valley.

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Dennis Jarvis

The hike takes about 1-2 hours round trip, and the trails are well-marked but can be steep and narrow at times, so proper footwear is essential.

Remember to take your time while exploring the Ollantaytambo Ruins, as the high altitude may cause some to experience altitude sickness. Drink plenty of water and take breaks as needed to fully enjoy this fascinating archaeological site.

🛏️ Hotels near Ollantaytambo Ruins

El Albergue Ollantaytambo

💲 from $107 USD

El Albergue Ollantaytambo is a charming, historic hotel located just a short walk from the ruins and the town’s main square. The hotel offers a range of accommodations, from standard rooms to spacious suites, all with a mix of traditional and modern decor.

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You can enjoy the on-site organic garden, a farm-to-table restaurant, and a café that roasts its own coffee. Prices for a standard double room typically start at around $90 USD per night, while suites can go up to $180 USD per night.

Hotel Sol Natura

💲 from $95 USD

Hotel Sol Natura is a cozy, eco-friendly hotel located within walking distance of the Ollantaytambo ruins. It offers comfortable rooms with views of the surrounding mountains, and each room is equipped with a private bathroom and free Wi-Fi.

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The hotel features a beautiful garden where guests can relax, as well as a restaurant serving local and international cuisine. Prices for a double room typically start at around $60 USD per night.

Tierra Viva

💲 from $74 USD

Tierra Viva is a modern hotel located in the heart of Ollantaytambo, a short distance from the ruins. The hotel offers well-appointed rooms with en-suite bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi.

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Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast buffet and relax in the hotel’s courtyard or terrace, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Prices for a standard double room usually start at around $80 USD per night.

🍲 Best restaurants near Ollantaytambo Ruins

Apu Veronica Restaurant

📍 Calle Ventiderio, 08675, Peru
💲 from $8 USD

Apu Veronica is a family-run restaurant located near the Ollantaytambo ruins, offering a warm atmosphere and traditional Peruvian cuisine.

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The menu features a variety of dishes, such as alpaca steak, cuy (guinea pig), and ceviche, along with vegetarian options like quinoa risotto. Portions are generous, and the average price for a main dish is around $8-15 USD. Make sure to try their chicha morada, a refreshing purple corn drink.

Puka Rumi Restaurant

📍 PPRP+J9C, Ollantaytambo 08676, Peru
💲 from $7 USD

Puka Rumi is a small, charming restaurant known for its beautiful garden setting and delicious wood-fired pizzas.

Located within walking distance of the Ollantaytambo ruins, this restaurant also offers a range of traditional Peruvian dishes, such as causa rellena (stuffed potato) and aji de gallina (chicken in a creamy sauce).

Prices for main dishes range from $7-12 USD, with pizzas starting at around $10 USD. Enjoy your meal surrounded by lush greenery and the sound of a bubbling stream.

✨ Travel tips for visiting Ollantaytambo Ruins

Acclimate to the altitude

Ollantaytambo is located at an altitude of around 9,160 feet (2,792 meters) above sea level. To prevent altitude sickness, spend a day or two in Cusco or the Sacred Valley before visiting the ruins. Keep yourself hydrated and consider taking altitude sickness medication if you’re prone to it.

Choose the right time to visit

The best time to visit Ollantaytambo is during the dry season, which runs from May to September. The weather is more predictable, and you’ll have a better chance of clear skies and sunshine. Visiting in the early morning or late afternoon is also recommended, as there are fewer crowds and the lighting is better for photography.

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Hire a local guide

While you can explore Ollantaytambo on your own, hiring a local guide will provide you with valuable insights into the history and significance of the site. Guides can be found in the town or arranged through tour agencies. They will not only explain the archaeological aspects but also share local stories and legends.

Wear appropriate clothing and footwear

The weather in Ollantaytambo can be unpredictable, so dress in layers to accommodate temperature changes. Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes with good grip for navigating the uneven stone steps and trails. Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.

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Respect the archaeological site

Help preserve Ollantaytambo’s cultural heritage by not touching or climbing on the structures. Avoid littering and stay on designated paths to minimize the impact on the environment. If you see others behaving irresponsibly, remind them to be respectful of the site.

Use local transportation

Ollantaytambo can be reached by train, bus, or taxi from Cusco or other towns in the Sacred Valley. Using local transportation is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to travel. Colectivos (shared minivans) are a popular option among locals and tourists alike.

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Engage with the local community

Support the local community by staying in family-run guesthouses, eating at local restaurants, and purchasing handmade crafts and souvenirs from the artisans. Learning a few basic phrases in Quechua or Spanish will help you connect with the locals and show your appreciation for their culture and hospitality.

💡 Fun facts about Ollantaytambo Ruins

  • Ollantaytambo served as a royal estate for the Inca Emperor Pachacuti, who is credited with expanding the Inca Empire and initiating the construction of the Ollantaytambo complex.
  • The name “Ollantaytambo” is derived from the Quechua words “Ollanta,” which refers to a mythical Inca warrior named Ollantay, and “tambo,” meaning resting place or lodging. The site was a strategic military, agricultural, and religious center in the Inca Empire.
  • Ollantaytambo is one of the few places in the Sacred Valley where the Incas won a significant battle against the Spanish conquistadors. Under the leadership of Manco Inca Yupanqui, the Incas successfully defended the town using ingenious tactics, such as flooding the plain to hinder the Spanish cavalry.
  • The Ollantaytambo ruins feature impressive terraces that were not only used for agriculture but also served as a defensive measure. These terraces made it difficult for invading forces to advance towards the upper sections of the complex.
  • The Temple of the Sun, located at the top of the terraces, features six massive monoliths made of pink granite, each weighing around 50 tons. The stones were transported from a quarry about 4 miles (6 kilometers) away, across the Urubamba River, which remains an incredible feat of engineering.
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  • Ollantaytambo town is one of the best-preserved Inca settlements, retaining much of its original urban layout, including narrow cobblestone streets, water channels, and stone buildings. Many of the current residents are direct descendants of the original Inca inhabitants.
  • The ruins are home to the Baños de la Ñusta, or Princess Baths, a series of ceremonial fountains fed by a natural spring. The fountains showcase the Incas’ advanced hydraulic engineering skills and their ability to control and manipulate water flow.
  • Ollantaytambo features a fascinating “Wall of the Six Monoliths,” which is an unfinished section of the Temple of the Sun. It’s believed that construction was halted abruptly, possibly due to the arrival of the Spanish or a major natural disaster.
  • The ruins are also home to the Pinkuylluna granaries, which were built high up on the mountain’s steep slopes. This strategic location helped to regulate the temperature and humidity inside the granaries, ensuring optimal conditions for preserving food and other supplies.
  • Ollantaytambo is considered a “living museum” because of the rich cultural heritage that can be experienced in the town, with residents still practicing traditional Andean customs, agriculture, and weaving techniques. This vibrant local culture adds a unique dimension to the experience of visiting the ruins.
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⁉️ FAQ: Ollantaytambo Ruins

Are the Ollantaytambo ruins worth visiting?

Yes, the Ollantaytambo ruins in Peru are worth visiting. The majestic stone walls and terraces at this archaeological site offer incredible views of the surrounding valley and insight into Inca culture and ingenuity.

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Many guided tours will help you explore the ruins and learn more about the history and significance of Ollantaytambo. For a truly unique experience, stay overnight in a nearby hostel or hotel to explore the ruins in depth.

What is Ollantaytambo famous for?

Ollantaytambo is an archaeological site in Peru renowned for its impressive stone walls and terraces. Built by the Inca Empire, the ruins offer an incredible insight into pre-Columbian engineering skills and are believed to have been used as an administrative and religious center.

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Visitors can explore the ruins, including the main temple and royal tomb while learning more about Inca culture and the importance of this archaeological site. Ollantaytambo also offers stunning views of the surrounding valley and provides an excellent base for exploring other nearby attractions.

How long does it take to see the ruins of Ollantaytambo?

Depending on how much time you want to spend exploring the ruins, it can take anywhere from a few hours to an entire day. Guided tours typically last two to four hours and provide insight into Ollantaytambo’s history and the various exciting features of this site.

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If you’d like to explore more in-depth and take your time, plan to stay overnight at one of the nearby accommodations to get the most out of your visit.

How much does it cost to go to Ollantaytambo ruins?

Entry to Ollantaytambo ruins is currently free, however, visitors must pay a fee to enter the local archaeological park. The cost of entry to Ollantaytambo Ruins depends on the type of ticket you purchase – adults can buy either a full-day or half-day pass.

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Prices range from around US$5 ($15 Soles) for a half-day pass up to US$10 ($30 Soles) for a full-day pass.

Is it better to stay in Urubamba or Ollantaytambo?

It really depends on your preferences. Urubamba has a more vibrant nightlife and is closer to many attractions, while Ollantaytambo is smaller and more traditional.

Ollantaytambo can be especially appealing if you plan to visit the nearby ruins, as it’s much closer than Urubamba. Both cities offer plenty of accommodation options for every budget.

Trisha Velarmino (43)

Trisha Velarmino is the Global Editor-in-Chief of the Insider Media Group operating in Europe, Asia, and North America. She lived in Peru for 1.5 years and has helped thousands of expats, digital nomads, and solo travelers easily visit Peru. Trisha has traveled Peru extensively from North to South.

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