You must have guessed by now that I fell in love with Peru during my visit! From our incredible hike to Rainbow Mountain, climbing the amazing Huayna Picchu and taking the Andean Explorer from Puno to Cusco. The country holds some of the most ancient and top places in Peru that are dotted all around.
I’ve got to be honest, before going around Peru, I really didn’t appreciate how varied the whole country is.
It’s damn easy to know of one place (For me, that was Machu Picchu,) and to assume that’s what the rest of the country will look like. I hadn’t really considered all the other incredibly wonderful and some of the top places in Peru that are a bit more ‘off the grid’.
One thing that quickly stood out to me was the amazing history and how the best places in Peru seem to be revolving around its incredible history.
With lots of Inca citadels and ancient sites than you can put a stick at, you could spend your life flitting through the country (pisco sour in hand, obviously) and still have very less time to see everything.
Anyway, choose the places you want to visit, make sure to check out some of these amazing and best places in Peru. It really is a special place.
Visit the Chachapoyas site of Kuélap
Nestled away in the awesome cloud forests of northern Peru lies Kuélap, a pre-Inca settlement that was made by the Chachapoyans.
It’s easy to forget at times that Machu Picchu is far from the oldest site in Peru, with Kuélap being approximately 3 times older than the country’s most popular ancient site.
Quite a bit off the traveler trail, If you decide to visit the Kuelap Fortress you will have (almost) the entire complex to yourself so that you can freely stroll around this ancient city.
Climb Huayna Picchu for views of Machu Picchu
Let’s face it, Machu Picchu is arguably one of the most iconic and top places in Peru to see.
The picture of vast Inca ruins, offset by majestic Andean peaks is one that is firmly drilled in most peoples minds (well, mine anyway) and a historical site that is on lots of traveler’s itineraries. And rightly so.
Discovered in the early parts of the nineteenth century, Machu Picchu is one beautiful (albeit busier) site to see. Make sure to get your tickets well in advance before your trip (especially if you want to hike the mountains too).
Only a few hundred tickets are available every day, so bag yours fast. It’s an astonishing vista across the region and the view of Machu Picchu is amazing.
Explore Chavín de Huántar
Situated high up in the Andes, around the trekking hub of Huaraz, Chavín de Huántar is a high-altitude archaeological place you should see.
It is proof of the wonderful architectural and cultural varieties of the Chavin culture, a pre-Inca civilization who mastered in growing crops by using the earth’s electromagnetic field.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is well worth a visit, though expect irregular access as some structures are being safely protected.
Saksaywaman (pronounced saxy-waman) is a historical citadel on the outskirts of Cusco, which were both declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1983.
If you have an afternoon to spend delving into this site then it’s well worth your time. It’s so easy to see from Cusco and is easily one of the top places in Peru to get a taste of its varied history.
Besides its rich historical interest as an old pre-Inca fortress, the sights across the Andes are spellbinding.
As you stroll about the place you’ll notice that the stones used to build the citadel, they are all big and perfectly formed, leading to differences amongst the world’s top archaeologists about how the stones were cut. Still, to this day, there’s no actual truth known.
Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna
In the arid coastal deserts of northern Peru, lies a wealth of historical archaeological sites that see very few visits than Machu Picchu.
One of these sites is the incredible Huaca del Sol, an ancient adobe pyramid, with its sister pyramid, the Huaca de Luna perched nearby. It really is one of the top places in Peru to watch a pyramid.
Discover the Sillustani Tomb
Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest passable lake, is on lots of travelers planners when visiting Peru.
Sillustani has situated approximately 30 km from the main town of Puno itself and very easy to see if you’re in the area.
You might see lots of Chullpas (created by the Qulla people) placed around the landscape for sure. It’s one of the best ways to experience the long history of how they become part of the Inca civilization.
See the Nazca Lines
Okay, so if we are being honest, the Nazca Lines are scientifically geoglyphs rather than ruins – but that doesn’t make them any less important to see.
These magical formations are a series of large historical drawings set in the sand of the Nazca desert in southern Peru.
Holding hundreds of vast lines and geometric shapes like birds, fish, llamas, monkeys, and jaguars.
It’s one of the top places in Peru that’s most emblematic from the air.
If you’ve got a few extra days to experience the Lima area, then Caral is well worth a visit.
Although it is not that popular it deserves to be as it is the most historical known city in the Americas. Around 200km north of Lima, you can head over for a day trip to reach the ruins (though be ready for some pretty long days with the roads in Peru).
Find the impressive Moray
Moray is one incredible site that’s well worth a visit when in Peru and specifically in the Cusco region.
Apparently, historians still wonder the reason behind the deep depressions but that shouldn’t stop you from traveling there.
Though, they have got one interesting thing, to say the least. What has been found is that this shape creates a huge cooling effect which might have been good for the crops. Who knows?
It’s roughly 50 km or so from the city of Cusco and can be easily experienced within a day.
Discover Chan Chan
Now, Chan Chan is popular for being the biggest adobe complex in the Americas. Apparently, it once covered over 20km and had a complex urban center of approximately 6 km, which is huge.
Built by the Chimu people in 850 AD, it’s one of the most historical and best places in Peru you should really see.
It was the Chimor Empire’s capital city with an estimated population of about 50,000 people. The Incas captured the city in around 1470 AD after which it slowly fell down.