The gateway to Machu Picchu
The Ollantaytambo archeological site is my favorite in the Sacred Valley for the Sun Temple at the top and for its role in Inca history. During the Spanish invasion, Manco Inca won the only major Inca victory in Ollantaytambo.
The archeological site only partially qualifies as ruins, since the construction was still in progress when the Spanish arrived. They defaced the Sun Temple at the top, but otherwise didn’t much damage the site.
The town of Ollantaytambo is small, geographically restricted in the narrow end of the Sacred Valley. There are lots of lodging options, from cheap hostels up to 3 star hotels. Restaurants are more limited, but the choices are improving every year.
Ollantaytambo is where you’ll catch the train to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. Check out my guide for buying train tickets if you want to organize your own trip from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu.
If you would like to get to Ollantaytambo on your own, there are many shared vans and taxis in Cusco at Puente Grau. It’s the same place as transportation to Urubamba, but everybody will ask you where you’re going, so it’s difficult to get in a van going to the wrong place. A spot in a van is around s/10 and in a taxi it’s usually s/15.
Read more information about Ollantaytambo in my article about 15 archeological sites near Cusco.