Ollantaytambo is not only an obligatory stop for those who want to visit Machu Picchu by train. Due to this transportations make stops there, but also it’s a living Inca village! Upon losing Cusco, the Incas gradually ran away from the Spanish invaders until they entered the jungle. Ollantaytambo was the last Inca bastion during this escape. And, today, the town still being inhabited by local people who kept the Inca original structure and architecture of their houses, streets, and temples. Therefore, together with the Machu Travel Peru team, we have prepared a small article about this remarkable place, including its fortress and its town.

Everything you need to know about this fantastic Inca archaeological park


ollantaytambo location

Ollantaytambo was a very important agricultural, military, and religious center during the time of the Inca Empire. It was built on the top of a namesake mountain with huge and beautiful well-carved rocks. The archaeological park is located on the northeast of Cusco, in the east extreme of Sacred Valley.

Nowadays, you can see the different terraces, squares, and majestic temples that make up the Inca complex, also known as Ollanta. Also, the town on the mountain slope hosted the Inca plebs of those times, and today the current inhabitants preserve its original Inca layout and architecture. Among the most visited points in tourism in Peru, this awesome and well-conserved archaeological park is an obligatory stop to know more about the fantastic Inca culture.

A. Name origin

ollantaytambo sign

Ollantaytambo (O-yan-tay-tombo) comes from the Aymara language “Ullanwtawi” which means “Viewpoint” or “Place to Look Down”. After the expansion of the Inca culture, the Quechua language predominated in the area and the name changed to “Ullantay”. Years later, the Incas added the Quechua term Tampu “City that offers food and accommodation”. This was due to the construction of a Tambo in the esplanade of the place.

Moreover, Victor Angles, a recognized Cusquenean historian, assures that the word Ollanta was the name of an ancient Inca captain, who mutinied in the fortress because he did not have the approval of the Inca Pachacutec to marry his daughter. (Read the Ollantay Drama)


ollantaytambo history

In pre-Columbian times, there was a little citadel in the current Ollantaytambo mountain that the Aymaras (1200 – 1400 B.C.) occupied and refurbished. Later, they sought to build a series of checkpoints to protect this citadel against the Inca’s expansion.

However, a warrior and determinate sovereign Inca called Pachacutec reached the conquest of Aymaras and Ollantaytambo, in the middle of the XV Century. And, he was the one who ordered strengthening the fortress with new buildings and watchtowers that we know today.

With the death of Pachacutec, the town passed to the domain of its Panaka (family of Inca sovereign that included wives, uncles, brothers, and numerous sons)

Later, during the Spanish conquest and after losing Cusco in 1537, the Inca king called Manco Inca Yupanqui was pushed by the Europeans, bit by bit, from Cusco to the deep jungle. During this escape, the Inca used Ollantaytambo as the last Inca refuge in the Andes before entering the jungle.

A. The Last Battle

ollantaytambo battle

Among several Inca defeats, this fortress was one of the few places where the Incas won a battle against the Spaniards, stopping their progress. From the top of the fortress terraces, the Inca resistance stopped the invaders’ progress of Hernando Pizarro’s army (brother of Francisco Pizarro conqueror) with a great victory since the Europeans flooded the plain with soldiers and cavalry. However, the Incas knew the Spanish would return with many more soldiers soon after. So, after the Inca victory, Manco Inca Yupanqui went into the jungle towards Vilcabamba abandoning the Inca fortress forever.

From that date, the fortress was uninhabited and the town was filled with Inca and mestizo descendants until today. Turning it into one of the most visited tourist sites in Peru. Also, despite having Spanish colonial constructions, the town knew how to maintain the distribution and structure of a typical Inca town until these days.

B. Ollantay drama

ollantay drama

A powerful general named Ollantay was the military governor of the namesake fortress. This general fell in love with Cusi Qoyllor, daughter of Pachacutec Inca. The problem? He came from a humble origin, she was noble, and the King, Pachacutec, did not approve of their union. Knowing this decision, Ollantay was enraged and rioted in the Inca fortress for years. Meanwhile, Pachacutec bored by the pleas of Cusi Qoyllor to approve her union, decided to confine her in the Acllawasi (A training center for noble Inca women destined for Sun worship, the most important among Inca gods). However, during the first months of boarding school, Cusi Qoyllor gave birth to the daughter of Ollantay, Imaq Sumaq.

Years later, the son of Pachacutec, the new king Tupac Inca Yupanqui decided to recover the Inca fortress and set a trap for Ollantay. He sent to Rumiñahui general to the complex, this general had to pretend to flee from Cusco and ask for refuge from Ollantay, and the rebel fell into the trap. After a welcome dinner, while all were asleep, Rumiñahui opened the doors of the fortress, allowing the entrance of the Inca army. In this form, Ollantay was captured and brought to Cusco.

All thought that Ollantay was going to the gallow. However, Imaq Sumaq appeared in the scene asking forgiveness for the life of his father, telling the true love story of her parents. The moved Inca spared Ollantay’s life and freed his sister, allowing the union of the family.


1. The Sun Real House

ollantaytambo points to see

17 large Andean terraces that overlook the esplanade, belowing to the base of the hill. Many scholars affirm that the Andean terraces had two functions. The first one contained the slopes on which the Inca fortress was built. The second one was being suitable zones to cultivate Andean grains and take advantage of the rough but nutrient-rich soil.

2. The Solid Chocana


This was an administrative center, checkpoint, and little fortress located 2 kilometers from Ollantaytambo. Its name means “where you knock down or throw”. Its construction possibly dates back to pre-Inca times, from the Aymara era. Let us remember that the Aymaras considered it as one of its more important constructions.

3. The Kuychipunku


Plaza Mañay Rakay (Square of Petitions) is its other name. It is a little esplanade located over the right bank of the Patacancha River, parallel to the entrance of the archaeological site. Its walls conserve small openings that are believed to have been doors or entrances to the enclosure.

4. The Sun Temple

ollantaytambo inca sun temple

Once you reach the top after having climbed the 200 steps, you will be able to appreciate an unparalleled view of the Sacred Valley from the Temple of the Sun. Six colossal stone blocks of rectangular shape made up this temple. These are located at the top of the site and appear as if they had been an unfinished construction. The largest monolith is over two meters wide and about four meters high.

5. Main gate and the temple of 10 niches

ollantaytambo door

This part is one of the most famous in the entire complex, it appears in postcards and representative images of the archaeological site. It is located at the top of the Andean terraces group and is made up of a giant stone portal that leads to a wall with 10 niches perfect and well-carved. During the great battle of the Incas against the Spanish, this sector suffered the greatest damage.

6. Ñusta bathtub

ollantaytambo nusta bathtub

This was a beautiful water font, and which interior was stocked with three water outlets. This font water was considered liturgical and religious. And, these kinds of fonts were common in Incas buildings.

7. Cachicata Stone quarry

cachicata quarry

Cachicata is the name of the stone quarry that provided giant blocks to the Inca complex. According to a Sacred Valley map, the quarries are located on the opposite coast of the Vilcanota River, on the west side of the Inca fortress, 5 kilometers from its main square. The route passes over a slope that begins at 2750 meters above sea level until 3200 m.a.s.l.

Throughout the route, the visitor can see semi-carved stones abandoned halfway. It is presumed that their sculptors abandoned these due to the attacks of the Spaniards in the area. In the same quarry, other giant semi-carved stones can be appreciated.

The Incas moved them to the Inca fortress with ingenious movement techniques, like rolling them on reeds of logs and pushing them with thick ropes.

8. Quellorakay park


Quellorakay is a beautiful archaeological zone next to the Urubamba River and very close to the Inca cemetery of the Inca complex. This area includes a series of enclosures and courts through which the visitor can walk. In it, you can see the distribution that the Inca complexes used to have. Also, this is another of the places affected after the battle of the Incas against the Spanish in 1540.

What to visit

1. Qolqas of Pinkuylluna


Pinkuylluna is a series of Qolcas that Incas built on top of the hill of the same name, northeast of the current town. By the way, Qolqa in the Quechua language means food and grain stores. The Incas built Qolqas in the upper parts of the hills to take advantage of the cold and strong gusts of wind to preserve their food such as corn, wheat, and jerky, among others. The hiking to this place lasts 1 hour and the descent another hour, from there you will have other views of the beautiful Inca fortress.

2. Virgen Asunta market

virgen asunta market

A famous Peruvian writer said once: “To know very well a city, the visitor should visit its stadium, main square, and market” In this sense, the traditional market of Virgen Asunta in the current town is the perfect place to know the lifestyle of the locals. Happily, this remained unchanged since the Republican era and, now, you can find fresh fruits, meats, milk products among others in their first level. On the second floor, the visitor will find delicious local and national dishes, too!

3. Streets and Alleys

ollantaytambo street

The particularity of Ollantaytambo’s current town is the inhabitants kept the original Inca structure of each house of the town, besides the streets and their disposition. In this form, nowadays the visitor can enjoy the charming narrow cobbled streets with boulders, Inca walls, and a little water channel in the middle of the streets where the water of an ancient spring runs until it reaches the Urubamba river itself.

4. Souvenir market

ollantaytambo handicraft market

This market is very close to the archaeological park entrance, over a long esplanade. On this point, diverse handicraft stands offer charming and various Andean crafts for all tastes. From clothes with Alpaca fabrics to quartz pieces of jewelry. Also, the prices are competitive and in line with other artisan markets in Cusco.

5. Strawberry fields

strawberry fields ollantaytambo

The strawberry fields located very close to the archaeological park are unique and visiting them represents a particular experience if you are in Ollantaytambo. Being very close to the equator and at a suitable altitude, strawberry production is practically all year round and you will be able to see fields full of red fruit, with a perfect climate, very close to the archaeological park.

6. Maras

maras and ollantaytambo

Maras are salt wells located 10 minutes by car from Ollantaytambo. These white wells are located on the slopes of a mountain which makes it look like a snow-capped mountain. To get there, head to the front of the Ollantaytambo central market and take one of the shared vans stationed in front of the market. Inform the driver that your destination is Las Salineras (salt mines) or Terrabamba.

The Van trip lasts 15 minutes. At a certain point, the driver will tell you to get out of the Van. The cost of transportation is 2.00 Soles ($0.50). Then you will have to take a path to your right and begin a walk of another 15 minutes. At this point, you will arrive at the entrance to Maras and you will have to pay a 15 Soles ($4) entrance fee. Then after another 10-minute walk, you will find the beautiful Inca salt mines. There you can walk among the wells, and even buy salt, excellent for grills. The return is the same way.

Best time to visit

ollantaytambo best time

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, which hosts the Inca fortress, has a hot and dry climate, with frequent solar presence most of the year, clear skies, and warm breezes (Dry season. April – November)

Otherwise, the rainy season begins in December and finishes in March. Rains are frequent, with cold breezes and cloudy skies. If you like to walk in the rain, this is your time.

Our recommendation? If you want to enjoy most of the possible things to do in Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo, the Dry Season is the perfect time for you!

Getting There

ollantaytambo visitors

This archaeological park is located in the northwest extreme of Sacred Valley, just in the frontier of the Peruvian Andes and the jungle. At 2792 m.a.s.l. and 90 kilometers from northwest Cusco. In the province of Urubamba. In 2024, getting there is relatively easy. Once arrive at the Cusco airport, you can take a taxi outside the terminal to go directly to Ollantaytambo. The car trip lasts 02 hours and the cost is around 50 soles ($14). But, pay attention, there is no taximeter in Peru, so you will have to bargain the price with the driver before taking the taxi.

Of course, there are taxis inside the Cusco airport terminal. However, for the same route, these work with rates over 50 soles up to 100 Soles. Taxi applications usually work with similar rates.

On the other hand. If you have already been in Cusco for some days and are in a hotel inside the historic center, you can take a taxi to Pavitos Street, in Grau Avenue. From there depart shared vans and cars to Ollantaytambo. The taxi up to Pavitos Street costs around 7 soles ($2). If you take a taxi from Cusco airport to Pavitos Street, the cost will be around 10 soles ($3). Again, bargain the price with the driver before taking one.

As we mentioned, you can take a shared van from Pavitos Street. These usually are modern and have a cost of 10 soles ($3) per person. On the other side, the shared cars have a cost of 30 soles ($8) per person. In both cases, the trip lasts 02 hours approx. but it will depend on the route that they take. Some take the longest route that passes by Pisac (located at the southeast extreme of Sacred Valley) and Urubamba. The other one is shorter and passes by Maras and Moray and takes around 01:30 hrs. of trip.

Entrance Ticket

entrance to ollantaytambo

The entrance to visit Ollantaytambo is not sold separately. On the contrary, it is included in the General Tourist Ticket (General CTT) and the Partial Tourist Ticket (Partial CTT). Both are managed and sold by the Municipality of Cusco.

  • General CTT: With it, you can visit museums in Cusco, beside viewpoints and Incas archaeological parks located in Cusco, the south valley of Cusco, and the Sacred Valley (Ollantaytambo included). It has a cost of 130 Soles ($35) per person.
  • Sacred Valley Partial CTT: It is useful to visit only the Sacred Valley zone and its archaeological parks like Pisac, Moray, Chinchero and the Ollanta zone . It has a cost of 70 soles ($19)

Both tickets can be purchased at the central office of the municipality of Cusco, in Av. El Sol 103, in the historic center of Cusco, or at the Checkpoint of every Archaeological site. The counter only accepts cash, not credit or debit cards, consider it.


apu veronica restaurant

1. Apu Veronica

This restaurant is known for its delicious food and its large windows overlooking the Apu Veronica. The menu is a delicate balance of international, Peruvian, and vegetarian dishes, made up of fresh ingredients brought from the same local market. The taste of the dishes is recognized even nationally. The owner is a local woman with a taste for good service.

Address: Ventidero Street w/n.

2. El Albergue

The restaurant receives the same name as its hotel. El Albergue restaurant offers an Andean culinary proposal with the most select and fresh ingredients. These are cultivated in the same garden of the hotel. Luxury and taste you’ll find in this restaurant, located very close to the local train station. (3 meters of distance!) This is the best place to eat in Ollantaytambo.

Address: Ferrocarril Avenue w/n, train station.

3. Chuncho

If El Albergue is focused on Andean cuisine, the Chuncho is destined to offer the most delicious Local (Cusco) dishes with an artistic touch. The owners are the same as El Albergue, so the quality service, the good taste, and the tradition of local cuisine are guaranteed. We encourage you to try it!

Address: Ferrocarril Avenue w/n, train station.

4. Amanto

Amanto is the best new restaurant in Ollantaytambo. The restaurant is specialized in International, Peruvian, and Novo Andean Cuisine. The last one means a mix of local ingredients combined with techniques of international cuisines. In this form, the visitor will find delicious and highly elaborate dishes. Definitely, the best of the new proposal in restaurants.

Address: Corner of the main street with the main square.

5. Mijuna Wasi

The restaurant has capacity for 90 people, they offer a varied menu with novo Andean, Creole, international, vegetarian and vegan options. They work with high quality products from farmers in the Sacred Valley. In addition, they offer Buffet breakfast included in the accommodation rate or as an extra service, from 4:45 am to 9:30 am. They also offer a lunch box with ecological packaging, ideal for walks. Buffet lunches and dinners (with a minimum of 20 people)

Address: Av Ferrocarril s/n Hotel Pakaritampu.


ollantaytambo pakaritampu hotel

1. Pakaritampu – Luxury

Maybe, Pakaritampu can be the second-best hotel in Ollantaytambo, only after El Albergue. The hotel has 18 rooms in well-equipped, large areas of gardens, and a high-quality restaurant. The common areas and the houses, where are located the rooms, retain this rustic air of Andean houses. It is located on the same Ferrocarril Avenue, only 15 meters from the local train station.

Address: Ferrocarril Ave. 852.

2. El Albergue – Luxury

The Albergue Hotel is the oldest in the town. Since 1929 El Albergue developed a quality service in hospitality with well-decorated and comfortable rooms with balconies to a large garden and courtyard. Its 16 rooms are located inside a train station, which makes it perfect for those travelers who have trains that leave very early in the morning. Its restaurant offers gourmet dishes with an open kitchen nationally recognized.

Address: Ferrocarril Avenue w/n, train station.

3. Apu Lodge Ollantaytambo – Mid-range

This lodge is located over the feet of Pinkuylluna Mountain. But, rest assured that the lodge is very close to the main square, with a distance of only 250 meters. The hotel offers extra services that almost no hotel in town offers like luggage storage service, pick-up service from Cusco airport, and Machu Picchu tours among others. Despite to have with only 8 rooms, these are very comfortable, for both short and long stays.

Address: Lariscalle Street w/n.

4. Be free Ollantaytambo – Budget

This is the best economical option for those who want to spend nights in the current town, without experiencing other types of services. The owners are very friendly, and the rooms are comfortable with all you need, a spacious garden and common areas and abundant breakfast are included. Quality and price in a single lodging.

Address: Calle del Horno 618.

Packing list

Ollantaytambo packing list

As you can read, Ollantaytambo is located in the South Andean zone of Peru. In the Sacred Valley, Ollanta town has warm, dry, and sunny weather. For these reasons, if you are planning a trip to Peru, specifically to the Ollanta zone, we recommend wearing and carrying the following things.

  • Comfortable sneakers with structured rubber soles. (You will walk over stones)
  • Trekking pants.
  • T-shirts.
  • Windbreaker.
  • Hat. (strong sun rays)
  • Sun block.
  • Daybag.

Of course, we consider an extra things in case of adverse weather conditions such as rain.

  • Trekking sticks.
  • Quilted jacket.
  • Umbrella.

From Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu

from ollantaytambo to ollantaytambo

This mythical Inca town is the starting point of three important ways to get to Machu Picchu. Let us remember that the distance between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu is 26 km. So depending on the transportation type that you are going to take, your trip can last from 2 hours to 4 days to the world marvel.

A. By train

The train is the most common, faster, and old way to get to the famous Inca citadel (reality, to its modern town named Aguas Calientes), the train to Machu Picchu is a short trip that lasts 01:50 hrs approx, and happily, the two Cusco train companies like Peru Rail and Inca Rail offer competitive prices, many frequencies per day, and good quality of service on board. The prices can vary depending on the class of train that the tourist takes; Expedition, Vistadome, and the luxury Hiram Bingham (In the case of Peru Rail), and the Voyager, the 360º and the Luxury First Class (In the case of Inca Rail). However, the price in the case of the most basic class of service is around $70, one way.

B. The Inca Trail

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is an unparalleled experience because is the same footpath that the Incas used centuries ago to get to the famous Incas citadel. In this sense, if you tour it, you will feel the same sensation of pace, calm, and beauty that the ancient Inca people felt. This Inca Trail to Machupicchu lasts 03 nights and 04 days. The advantage of doing it is that, during the route, you will find other unique Inca archaeological remains, amazing flora and fauna, and adventure. The disadvantage is that you cannot do it alone, you must always hire a travel agency authorized by the Peruvian government.

C. By bus and train

This way to get to Machu Picchu is the most recent and consists of taking a bus from the town main square heading to Santa Teresa town, 142 km northwest of Ollantaytambo, the road is not paved and the bus trip lasts around 03:30 hrs. Once in Santa Teresa, the visitor will have to another bus to the “Hydroelectric” train station (30 minutes of the trip) where finally, he will have to take the local train (not tourist class) and head to Machu Picchu (30 minutes more of the trip)


Ollantaytambo will be one of those destinations that will live forever in your memory. We hope together with the Machu Travel Peru team to have been helpful. We seek to tell you the main aspects of this incredible historical destination. And, If you want to know more about our tours to this awesome Inca fortress, you can consult with our team of qualified advisers. They will be happy to help you organize the trip of your dreams.

Peru has so much to offer, it can be hard to know where to start. With many years of experience in the tourism sector, Machu Travel Peru is happy to help with anything regarding your trip to Machu Picchu and any tours around it. Make your Machu Picchu experience an unforgettable one!