Welcome to Tour Leaders Peru! places to visit in Peru besides Machu Picchu We are your go-to resource for all things Peru travel. Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage site situated atop a misty mountain, is a sought-after destination that many travelers aspire to visit.
Thousands of visitors come each day to witness the ruins of the former Inca civilization. However, Peru has so much more to offer beyond these remarkable ruins. Once you’ve explored Machu Picchu, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley, twelve hidden gems will take you off the beaten path and immerse you in the beauty of this captivating country.
Peru is an incredibly diverse country with a wealth of attractions beyond Machu Picchu. Here are some notable places and experiences worth exploring
Let us take you on a journey through some of the best places to visit in Peru besides Machu Picchu.
Peru is a country with countless jewels waiting to be discovered beyond Machu Picchu.
As one of the most iconic tourist attractions worldwide, the lost Incan city of Machu Picchu requires no introduction. Perched high in the mystical Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is Peru’s greatest gem, surpassing all expectations.
Our Peru vacation Package involves the unforgettable Inca Trail hike leading to Machu Picchu. This exhilarating 4-day Inca Trail trek remains one of the most remarkable travel experiences you will ever have. We invite you to Travel with us on the Inca Trail adventure with Tour Leadersp Peru.
The moment you arose through the Sun Gate and caught your first glimpse of Machu Picchu will forever be etched in your memories. It’s an extraordinary place.
While Machu Picchu rightfully steals the spotlight, Peru offers so much more. From the arid Pacific coast of The Nazca Lines to the lush Amazon Rainforest, Peru stands as one of the world’s most diverse countries.
In this post, we share a few of the other things to do in Peru for first-time visitors.
Lima City Culinary Scene
Peru’s capital city is truly a gem, with its rich history, stunning colonial architecture, culture, and renowned culinary scene. Often overshadowed as a mere layover en route to Cusco, Lima deserves more recognition. Despite its undeserved safety concerns, Lima is a treasure trove of history and culture.
Lima offers a delightful mix of attractions, from fascinating museums and beautiful cathedrals to eerie catacombs and electrifying nightlife. Retail therapy enthusiasts will find endless shopping opportunities, and foodies must not miss the chance to savor the delectable traditional Peruvian cuisine, particularly the fresh ceviche.
At the top of the must-see list is the Plaza Mayor, also known as Plaza de Armas, located in the Historic Centre of Lima. Surrounding the plaza are impressive landmarks such as the Government Palace, the Cathedral of Lima, the Archbishop’s Palace of Lima, and the Palace of the Union.
Let’s not forget the enchanting San Francisco Church, built in the exquisite baroque style of the late 1600s. This church is famous for its captivating catacombs that add an extra layer of intrigue to its history.
Make sure to visit the breathtaking bluffs of Miraflores, offering spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. While there, explore the pre-Columbian adobe-and-clay pyramid known as Huaca Pucllana.
It’s worth noting that the Historic Centre of Lima is collectively designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a testament to its cultural significance and architectural beauty.
Lima has so much to offer, and it’s time to discover its wonders for yourself!
Huacachina Ica Peru
A desert oasis near the city of Ica, famous for its towering dunes ideal for sandboarding and dune buggy rides Giant dunes in Peru? Yup, Peru does have a little bit of everything.
Huacachina is a unique desert oasis in South America located just outside the city of Ica. The massive dunes that surround the small desert village are a playground for adrenaline-seeking tourists.
The most popular things to do in Huacachina are sandboarding and high-speed dune buggy rides (we highly recommend both). Most dune buggy tours will include sandboarding and sand skiing. You can rent sandboarding equipment from most hostels and hotels.
Dune buggy tours are typically 2 hours. Departure times are later in the afternoon (around 4:00 PM) because the sand is too hot during the middle of the day. It also lines up well with the sunset. Witnessing the sunset from the peak of a giant dune is a bucket list experience you will never forget.
Huacachina is located 4 hours south of Lima and 11 hours from Arequipa. We provide Private Transportation from Lima to Ica along the way you can sleep or enjoy the Ica desert.
Nazca Lines Southern of Peru
Mysterious geoglyphs etched into the desert plains of Nazca are best viewed from the air to appreciate their intricate designs and enormous scale. You can easily book a flight from Lima or take a bus to the nearby town of Nazca.
The Nazca Lines are one of Peru’s biggest mysteries and most fascinating attractions. These giant geoglyphs, some measuring up to 1,200 feet long, were created by the Nazca civilization between 500 BC and 500 AD. The purpose of these lines is still unknown, adding to their enigma.
There are various theories about the meaning behind the Nazca Lines – some say they were used for agricultural or astronomical purposes, others believe they held religious significance. Whatever their true purpose may be, one thing is for sure: a flight over the Nazca Lines will leave you in awe and wonder.
If you’re visiting Huacachina, don’t miss the opportunity to take a detour to see the Nazca Lines. It’s well worth the trip and will add another layer of intrigue to your Peru experience. Just make sure to book your flight in advance as they can get quite busy during peak season.
Colca Canyon Arequipa Peru
Located in the southern region of Peru, Colca Canyon Arequipa is one of the deepest canyons in the world. It’s a popular destination for hiking and trekking, with stunning views of snow-capped mountains, traditional villages, and ancient terraced agriculture.
One of the main attractions in Colca Canyon is spotting the Andean condor, one of the largest flying birds in the world. These majestic creatures can often be seen soaring through the canyon and are a sight to behold.
Aside from its natural beauty, Colca Canyon also offers a glimpse into the traditional Andean culture. Local communities still maintain their traditional way of life, with farming being a main source of income. You can also visit Yanque hot springs, museums, and markets to learn more about the rich cultural heritage of this region.
For adventure seekers, Colca Canyon offers adrenaline-pumping activities such as white water rafting and zip lining. With its diverse landscape and range of activities, Colca Canyon is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Peru.
Iquitos Amazon River Cruise
Explore the Amazon Rainforest by embarking on a river cruise from Iquitos, a gateway to the Peruvian Amazon, to discover diverse wildlife, indigenous communities, and the lush jungle.
The cruise offers a unique way to experience the rainforest, with comfortable accommodations and expert guides. You’ll have the opportunity to spot pretty animals such as monkeys, sloths, pink dolphins, and various bird species. You can also visit local villages and learn about their traditional customs and ways of life.
Aside from wildlife sightings, the Amazon River Cruise also includes activities such as hiking, fishing, and canoeing, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the rainforest. At night, you can relax on deck and stargaze while listening to the sounds of the jungle.
The cruise also offers opportunities for eco-tourism and sustainable travel. You can visit conservation projects and learn about efforts to protect the fragile ecosystem of the Amazon. By choosing an eco-friendly cruise, you can help support the preservation of this important and biodiverse region.
In addition to the adventure and cultural experiences, the Iquitos Amazon River Cruise also offers a chance for relaxation and rejuvenation. You can indulge in spa treatments and enjoy delicious local cuisine while surrounded by stunning views of the rainforest.
Ancascocha Trek to Machu Picchu – New Trek Destination
A less-traveled alternative trek to Machu Picchu, offering stunning views, remote Andean landscapes, and a chance to experience Incan ruins This trek takes 5 days/4 nights and ends in Machu Picchu. Ancascocha is very strenuous and challenging due to the altitude gain, high altitudes, 7 steep summits, and length of hiking: 56 km/34.8 miles and goes up to 4,959 m/16,270ft.
The trek starts and ends in Cusco, taking you through beautiful valleys, remote villages, and ancient Incan sites. You’ll also have the opportunity to see traditional Andean farming practices and interact with locals along the way.
What makes the Ancascocha Trek unique is its breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes, and waterfalls. The highest point of the trek, Huayanay Pass, offers panoramic views of the Vilcabamba mountain range.
Along the way, you’ll also have a chance to visit and explore ruins such as Tarawasi and Llactapata, which are less crowded compared to other Incan sites. These ruins provide a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Incas.
The Ancascocha trek is also a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and diverse wildlife of Peru. You may spot various species of birds, llamas, alpacas, and even spectacled bears.
If you’re looking for a challenging and rewarding trek that takes you off the beaten path to Machu Picchu, then the Ancascocha trek is the perfect choice. It offers a unique and authentic experience, connecting with the Andean landscape and culture.
Choquequirao Trek The Sister of Machu Picchu
Often referred to as “sister” or “twin” to Machu Picchu, this archaeological site features impressive terraces and structures. Accessible by a challenging trek, it’s a rewarding adventure for history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Choquequirao is believed to have been an important religious and administrative center for the Incas. It’s estimated that only 30% of the site has been excavated, making it an ongoing archaeological project.
The trek to Choquequirao takes about 4-5 days and covers a distance of approximately 62 km/38.5 miles. The trail passes through diverse landscapes, including lush valleys, mountain peaks, and cloud forests.
Along the way, you’ll encounter small Andean communities where you can learn about their traditional way of life and even try local cuisine. The highlight of the trek is reaching Choquequirao and exploring its various terraces, temples, and ceremonial platforms.
The journey to Choquequirao may be challenging, but the stunning views and rich history make it all worth it. Plus, you’ll have a chance to avoid the crowds at Machu Picchu and experience a lesser-known archaeological gem.
After completing the trek, many travelers choose to continue their journey to Machu Picchu by taking a bus or train from nearby Cusco. This allows for a diverse and immersive experience of the Andean region.
Rainbow Mountain Peru (Vinicunca)
A colorful mountain range featuring vibrant stripes created by mineral deposits, offering a challenging yet breathtaking hike amidst stunning natural scenery.
Located in the Andes, Rainbow Mountain Peru (also known as Vinicunca) has become a popular destination for travelers seeking unique and off-the-beaten-path adventures. The hike to the summit takes approximately 6-7 hours round trip and reaches an altitude of over 5,000 meters/16,400 feet.
As you make your way up the mountain, you’ll be surrounded by snow-capped peaks and expansive valleys, making for a truly picturesque journey. Along the way, keep an eye out for local wildlife such as alpacas and condors.
The highlight of the hike is reaching the top and taking in the breathtaking views of Rainbow Mountain’s vibrant colors. The unique striations are caused by various minerals present in the soil, creating a stunning blend of reds, yellows, and greens.
While the hike can be physically demanding due to the high altitude and steep terrain, it is a must-do for any avid hiker or nature enthusiast. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the local culture and interact with indigenous communities along the way.
Lake Titicaca Puno
Shared with Bolivia, this high-altitude lake offers cultural insights into indigenous communities living on floating islands made of reeds. It’s the largest lake in South America and is considered a sacred place by the Incas. With its crystal clear waters, vibrant flora and fauna, and stunning views of the Andean mountains, Lake Titicaca is a must-visit destination in Peru.
Visitors can take a boat tour to explore the Uros floating islands and learn about the traditional lifestyle of the indigenous Uros people. They can also visit the island of Taquile, known for its exquisite textiles and traditional weaving techniques.
In addition to cultural experiences, Lake Titicaca offers a range of outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking, and birdwatching. You can also find ancient ruins and archaeological sites on the islands surrounding the lake, adding a touch of history to your visit.
Ausangate Trekking Adventure
Located in southern Peru, Ausangate is a massive mountain peak reaching an elevation of 6,384 meters/20,945 feet. Considered a sacred site by the Andean people, it’s also home to one of the most challenging treks in the country.
The Ausangate trek takes about 5-6 days to complete and covers a distance of approximately 69 km/43 miles. Along the way, you’ll pass through high-altitude landscapes, including colorful rainbow mountains, glacial lakes, and lush valleys.
One of the main highlights of this trek is the opportunity to encounter traditional Andean communities. These communities are known for their weaving and textile skills, and you may have a chance to purchase unique handcrafted items directly from the makers.
In addition to the stunning natural scenery, the Ausangate trek also offers cultural insights into the local way of life. From traditional ceremonies to learning about ancient Inca traditions, this trek is a truly immersive experience.
For those seeking an even more challenging adventure, some tour companies offer a longer route that includes climbing the summit of Ausangate. This is only recommended for experienced hikers and mountaineers, as it requires technical skills and proper acclimatization.
Huayna Picchu Mountain
Known as the towering peak in the background of Machu Picchu’s iconic photos, Huayna Picchu (also spelled Wayna Picchu) is a popular hiking destination for visitors to the ancient Incan site.
The trek to Huayna Picchu takes about 2-3 hours roundtrip and is not for the faint of heart. The trail is steep and narrow, with sections that require climbing up steep stairs and gripping onto cables for support.
However, the views from the top are well worth the effort. From the summit, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains.
As a popular attraction, permits are required to hike Huayna Picchu and must be purchased in advance. Only 400 visitors are allowed per day, divided into two time slots – 7 am-8 am and 10 am-11 am. It’s recommended to book your permit at least 3 months in advance, especially during peak tourist season.
In addition to the hike, there are also several temples and ancient structures located on Huayna Picchu that visitors can explore. These include the Temple of the Moon, the Great Cavern, and the Grand Cavern. These ruins offer a unique insight into the spiritual beliefs and rituals of the Incas.
While hiking Huayna Picchu may not be for everyone, it is a challenging and rewarding experience that adds another layer to your visit to Machu Picchu. Just make sure to plan and come prepared with proper gear and plenty of water. And don’t forget your camera – the views from the top are truly breathtaking. So go ahead, conquer Huayna Picchu, and make unforgettable memories at this incredible archaeological wonder.
Machu Picchu Montana
Another hiking opportunity near Machu Picchu provides a different perspective and panoramic views of the citadel and surrounding landscapes. The Machu Picchu Montana hike is around 1.5 miles round trip and takes approximately 3 hours to complete.
Although shorter in distance, the hike up Machu Picchu Montana can be just as challenging as Huayna Picchu due to its steep incline and uneven terrain. But once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the entire Machu Picchu site and surrounding mountains.
Similar to Huayna Picchu, permits are required for this hike and must be purchased in advance. Only 800 visitors are allowed per day, divided into two time slots – 7 am-8 am and 9 am-10 am. It’s recommended to book your permit at least 3 months in advance, especially during peak season.
But the effort and planning are well worth it for the chance to take in some of the most stunning views of Machu Picchu from a different angle. And with fewer crowds compared to Huayna Picchu, you’ll have more opportunities to fully enjoy this incredible experience.
Whether you choose to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Montana, both options will provide a unique and unforgettable experience at one of the most iconic and mysterious destinations in the world. So lace up your hiking shoes, grab your camera, and get ready to conquer Machu Picchu in a whole new way! The result will be memories that you will cherish for a lifetime.
Cusco City And Attractions
The historic capital of the Inca Empire, features impressive archaeological sites, Spanish colonial architecture, and a lively atmosphere. Located in the Andes Mountains of Peru, Cusco is often a starting point for many travelers on their journey to Machu Picchu.
But Cusco is also a destination worth exploring in its own right. From wandering through the cobblestone streets and colorful markets to sampling traditional Peruvian cuisine and visiting ancient ruins, there’s no shortage of things to do in this vibrant city.
One of the must-see attractions in Cusco is the Plaza de Armas, a central square lined with beautiful colonial buildings and bustling with activity. This is also where you can find the impressive Cathedral of Santo Domingo, which was built on top of an Inca temple.
Cusco is also home to several stunning archaeological sites such as Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, and Tambomachay. These sites offer a glimpse into the incredible engineering and architectural skills of the Inca civilization.
For those interested in learning more about Inca history and culture, a visit to the Museo de Arte Precolombino or the Inka Museum is highly recommended. These museums feature an impressive collection of artifacts and exhibits that provide insight into the customs and traditions of the Inca people.
Traditional Peruvian Dishes
And no visit to Cusco is complete without trying some traditional Peruvian dishes such as ceviche, lomo saltado, and cuy (guinea pig). The city also has a lively nightlife scene with plenty of bars, clubs, and live music venues to choose from.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Cusco offers plenty of opportunities for adventure. Whether it’s hiking the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, mountain biking in the Sacred Valley, or white water rafting on the Urubamba River, there’s something for everyone.
And of course, no trip to Cusco would be complete without a visit to Machu Picchu. This ancient Inca citadel is one of the most famous and iconic sites in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. Surrounded by breathtaking mountain views and steeped in rich history, Machu Picchu is a must-visit for anyone traveling to Cusco.
But aside from all the tourist attractions, what truly makes Cusco special is its people. The locals, known as Cusqueños, are warm, friendly, and proud of their city’s rich history and culture. They are always happy to share their knowledge and stories with visitors, making Cusco a truly unique and unforgettable destination.
Exploring Peru’s diverse landscapes, ancient ruins, and rich cultural heritage beyond Machu Picchu can provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of this fascinating country.
Additional Tips for Visiting Machu Picchu
- To preserve the ancient site, there is a limit of 2500 visitors per day to Machu Picchu. Book your entrance ticket in advance to secure your spot.
- The best time to visit Machu Picchu is during the dry season, which runs from May to October. This will ensure clear views and comfortable temperatures for exploring.
- For a more challenging and less crowded experience, consider hiking one of the alternative routes to Machu Picchu instead of the classic Inca Trail.
- Remember to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and insect repellent for your visit. Altitude sickness can also be a concern, so take it slow and drink plenty of water to acclimate.
- Guided tours are available at Machu Picchu, and they can provide valuable insight and information about the site’s history and significance.
- Be respectful when visiting Machu Picchu by not touching or climbing on any of the ancient structures. It is also important to properly dispose of any trash and not disturb the local wildlife.
- To truly immerse yourself in the culture and history of Machu Picchu, consider staying overnight in Aguas Calientes or one of the nearby towns. This will allow you to experience the peacefulness and mystery of the site after most visitors have left for the day.
- Lastly, don’t forget to take the time to simply sit and absorb the beauty and wonder of Machu Picchu. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should be savored and appreciated.
Have you ever traveled off-the-beaten-path in Peru, exploring the hidden gems and lesser-known destinations that this beautiful country has to offer? From the mystical ruins of Choquequirao to the breathtaking landscapes of the Colca Canyon, Peru is a treasure trove of unique experiences waiting to be discovered. Share your unforgettable stories and memorable moments in the comments below. Let’s inspire each other to embark on new adventures and uncover the hidden wonders of Peru!