Chinchero is a small Andean village, off the beaten tourist track, that lies along the shortest driving route between Cusco  and the Sacred Valley . Chinchero is perched on the high plains at 3,800 meters above sea level and has great views over the snowcapped Urubamba range. It is nearly 400 meters above Cusco, so visitors should be aware of altitude sickness.
Past Chinchero’s less-than-appealing street front is the main square, where a handicrafts market is held on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. A number of talented weavers in Chinchero exhibit their wares at this market, which is smaller and less touristy than the Pisac Market .
The highlight of the square is an Inca wall with huge niches, which probably formed part of an Inca palace. Above the square is a 17th-century adobe church that was built on Inca foundations, which has deteriorated floral designs painted on its interior. It is open for visitors on market days only.
On market days, you can also catch a weaving demonstration at one of the local workshops. Starting as young as age five, girls learn to wash wool; a couple of years later they are spinning the wool into thread, and finally by 12 or 15, they are weaving actual pieces.
To understand the complexity and incredible skill that goes into creating these pieces, we recommend stopping by Exposición de Artesanías Mink’a Chinchero (Albergue 22, tel. 084/30-6035, minka [at] hotmail [dot] com, hours vary).
If you’re looking for a more active day, and you can leave Chinchero by noon, you’ll have time for a nice four-hour hike that drops along an old Inca trail into this valley and ends at Huayllabamba, where combis pass in the late afternoon for Urubamba  or Pisac .
From the church, a wide trail leads up the opposite side of the valley and then gradually descends into the Sacred Valley . Once you arrive at the Río Urubamba, the Sacred Valley’s main river, head right (downstream) toward the bridge at Huayllabamba.
There’s a hostel or two in Chinchero, but they are very basic and the town’s high altitude and bone-chilling nights make the Sacred Valley—almost 1,000 meters lower—a much better option. In Cusco , colectivos for Chinchero can be taken from the first block of Grau near the bridge (US$0.75, 45 minutes).