Of all the ruins in Cusco, Sacsayhuaman is by far the most impressive. Totally accessible from Cusco on foot or by car, the fortress of Sacsayhuaman is indeed a sight to inspire. What is so amazing about the structure is the size of the rocks which fit precisely together without any mortar. Sacsayhuaman was added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1983. Qenko, Puka Pukara and Tambo Machay are also a short distance away from Sacsayhuaman and worth visiting if you have the time.
Tipon is located towards Oropesa and solidifies the Inca knowledge of water management. The waterwork constructions are fascinating to view and the site is a joy to walk around. It does not seem to be as crowded as some of the other ruins so pack a picnic and take a moment to embrace the surroundings. Built around a water spring, the irrigation channels still function today.
Pisac is worth visiting regardless of how little time you have to spend in the Sacred Valley and the ruins which sit atop the hills provide stunning view of the valley and the Urubamba River below. The ruins can be split into four groups: P’isaqa, Inti Watan, Qalla Q’asa and Kinchiraqay. With temples, alters, ceremonial platforms and more, walking around the ruins are a fine way to spend the day.
Ollantaytambo is the gateway to Machu Picchu whether you are hiking or taking the train so it makes sense to view the ruins while you are here. Surrounded by Inca walls, storehouses and terraces, venturing to Ollantaytambo is like stepping back in time. The wall of the six monoliths, an incomplete building provides a stunning backdrop and make you realise what a difficult task it must have been to carry these slabs from the nearby quarry.
Not so much a ruin as an agricultural structure, the circular terraces are definitely worth a look. Thought to be some kind of experimental agricultural area, it is clear that the Incas knew their stuff. The temperature from the top to the bottom terraces differ by as much as 20 degrees and is sophisticated in its methods. Extreme Inca landscaping springs to mind for sure. Make sure you visit the nearby salt fields as well.