Even if you’ve heard nothing else about Peru before, the name Machu Picchu quickens most travellers’ pulses and sends minds soaring across to this once long-forgotten city. Though many come here just to visit this iconic symbol of the Incan Empire, there is so much more to this unique and spectacularly beautiful country.
Whether you are just visiting Peru on its own, or are coming here as part of a bigger South American adventure, here are just a few places you don’t want to miss while you are here.
Okay, okay – but I couldn’t talk about Peru without at least giving this place a mention! This UNESCO World Heritage sight is without a doubt one of the most stunning sets of ruins in the world. Rediscovered in 1911 and located 1000 feet above the Urubamba river, this is the end point for many people who take on the crazily popular Inca Trail. Just to give you a sense of how big a deal this place is for travellers across the globe, it was named TripAdvisor’s 2016 #1 Landmark around the World. Pretty special, right?
Located on the Bolivian border, Lake Titicaca is known as being the world’s highest navigable lake. The lake is home to a number of both natural and man-made floating islands which are definitely worth paying a visit to. I recommend the Isla de la Luna where you can find the ancient ruins of the Temple of the Virgins. The locals are so friendly here and the atmosphere is incredibly peaceful and serene. Another must-visit spot on your Peru vacation!
A fantastic area for hikers and trekkers, Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world and the views you can experience from here are simply breathtaking. The best panoramas can be found at the Cruz del Condor viewpoint, but if you are planning a trek that takes several days, make sure you have plenty of space on your camera memory. Trust me, you’re going to need it!
Though it isn’t as well known as Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley is another important site for the Incan people which can also be found on the Urubamba river. One of the most unforgettable experiences you can have here is climbing the stone fortress of Ollantaytambo and taking in the views over the valley. While you’re here, it’s definitely worth taking the time to immerse yourself in the local customs and culture of the inhabitants too. You’ll certainly find your overall experience so much more rewarding if you do so.
Santa Catalina Monastery
To experience yet another side of Peru, take a trip over to the 16th century Santa Catalina Monastery which is home to a number of Dominican nuns. Make the most of your visit here by taking a guided tour. It only takes an hour, but will give you a great overview of the history and story behind this unique and incredible religious building.