Peru Vacation: 3 Fascinating Places to Go in Peru

When you think of Peru, you probably think of Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca city that's the most famous site in Peru.

But there's a lot more to Peru than that! Here are a few other fascinating places to consider if you're thinking of a Peru vacation.

Cuzco

Cuzco is probably best known as the gateway to Machu Picchu. That's a bit unfortunate, because the city itself has many attractions that make it worth visiting for its own sake. Fortunately, though, most travelers who go there on their way to Machu Picchu also get the opportunity to explore this fascinating city.

When you visit Cuzco, you can see everything from Incan ruins to Spanish style cathedrals, occasionally both at the same time! Downtown at the Plaza de Armas, is the Renaissance cathedral, completed in 1669. Just ten minutes away from the Plaza, you'll find Incan and Spanish cultures mixed at the same site. The Spanish built Santo Domingo, a Dominican convent, on the site of Korikancha, the ancient Incan Temple of the Sun. The literal translation of Korikancha is "Place of Gold", and stories tell of a time when it was entirely covered in gold leaf.

These are just a couple of Cuzco's dozens of fascinating attractions. Make it a point to purchase an inexpensive tourist ticket (bolito turistico), so you don't miss any of them. And be sure to give yourself a couple of extra days here before you move on to Machu Picchu. Not only will you have a wonderful time, it also gives you an opportunity to acclimatize to the altitude - a good idea if you are planning on hiking the Inca Trail. The air is thin up here - the elevation of Cuzco is over 11,000 feet!

Cusco Peru. Photo by lanz (flickr)
Cusco Peru. Photo by lanz (flickr)
Islas Flotantes, Peru. Photo by Christian Haugen (flickr)
Islas Flotantes, Peru. Photo by Christian Haugen (flickr)

Lake Titicaca

Straddling Bolivia and Peru, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake on the planet. Even higher than Cuzco, the altitude here is a breathtaking 12,500 feet. To the ancient Incans, this was the birthplace of the world. According to Incan lore, Viracocha emerged from the lake and created the sun, stars and the first humans. Consequently, Lake Titicaca was one of the most sacred places in the Incan world. It is much easier to identify with the legend when you are actually there at Lake Titicaca in person. There is something quite magical about it.

Puno, the largest city on Lake Titicaca and also the capital city of the region, is often called the "Folklore Capital of Peru." At first glance, it's nothing to write home about, but the city comes alive during the monthly festivals. If you're lucky enough to be there in February, you won't want to miss the Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria. This festival is held every year in Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, Chile and Venezuela, but the 10 day festival in Puno is one of the most spectacular.

Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca, Peru. Photo by Emmanuel Dyan (flickr)
Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca, Peru. Photo by Emmanuel Dyan (flickr)

Pachacamac

When you think of pyramids and Incan ruins in Peru, Machu Picchu is probably the first place you think of, if not the only one. However, Peru has the largest number of ancient archaeological sites in all of South America. Pachacamac is one of these. There are several very good reasons for putting Pachacamac high on your list of must-see places to go in Peru. For one thing, the ruins here were originally built even before the time of the Incas. For another, they are conveniently located just 25 miles or so southeast of Peru's capital, Lima. Finally, and most importantly, they are fascinating!

The word "Pachacamac" is a combination of two words, which translate roughly as "the animator of the world." Pachacamac, the deity, was in charge of creating and maintaining the balance of the entire world. This gives you an idea of just how sacred this site was to the indigenous cultures of the Central Andes. Construction here began at the site in the early part of the 3rd century AD. At that time, the Incas had not yet arrived on the scene. Beginning with complex stone walls that served as a base for adobe structures, construction continued for another 1300 years, culminating in the spectacular Incan "Temple of the Sun" and other Incan temples.

For hundreds of years, it was one of the most sacred centers in the Incan world until Pizarro brought about its demise when he sacked it in 1532. Today, Pachacamac is enjoying a renaissance as travelers who appreciate the fascinating mysteries of ancient Incan culture flock there to experience its magical atmosphere.

Peru’s Fascinating Places

show route and directions
A markerCuzco, Peru -
Cuzco, Peru
[get directions]

B markerLake Titicaca, Peru -
Lake Titicaca
[get directions]

C markerPachacamac, Peru -
Pachacamac, Lima District, Peru
[get directions]

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Uros and Lake Titicaca , Peru. Photo by MauriceValle Del Cuzco, Peru. Photo by transportandotvCusco Peru. Photo by lanz (flickr)Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca, Peru. Photo by Emmanuel Dyan (flickr)Lake Titicaca, Peru. Photo by Christian Haugen (flickr)
Uros and Lake Titicaca , Peru. Photo by Maurice
Uros and Lake Titicaca , Peru. Photo by Maurice
Valle Del Cuzco, Peru. Photo by transportandotv
Valle Del Cuzco, Peru. Photo by transportandotv
Cusco Peru. Photo by lanz (flickr)
Cusco Peru. Photo by lanz (flickr)
Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca, Peru. Photo by Emmanuel Dyan (flickr)
Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca, Peru. Photo by Emmanuel Dyan (flickr)
Lake Titicaca, Peru. Photo by Christian Haugen (flickr)
Lake Titicaca, Peru. Photo by Christian Haugen (flickr)

You may have noticed that we've talked about more than 3 fascinating places to go in Peru. That's the amazing thing about this country. It is one of the most fascinating countries on earth and you can't pin its attractions down to just a few.

Between Peru's long coastline and Andean heights is a nation rich in history, culture and mystery. Go there, and discover some of its wonders in person. A Peru vacation just might change your life.

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Comments? 6 comments

worldtravelexpert profile image

worldtravelexpert 5 years ago from London, UK

Thanks for this infomative hub. I've always wanted to get to South America on my travels (I'm from the UK) and this has made me want to go even more!


happyexplorer profile image

happyexplorer 5 years ago from Mostly USA, sometimes elsewhere Author

Hi worldtravelexpert,

I'm glad that you enjoyed this hub! If you'll write regarding your trips to South America, I'm sure eager to read it!


andrewwilliams63 profile image

andrewwilliams63 5 years ago

I love Peru, one of my favorite places in the world..thanks


happyexplorer profile image

happyexplorer 5 years ago from Mostly USA, sometimes elsewhere Author

Hi andrewwilliams63,

Peru is such a great place to go to and I always find wanting to go back. Thanks for dropping by!


SATravel profile image

SATravel 4 years ago

Nice introduction to Peru. Anyone heading to Machu Picchu should really spend a few days in Cuzco along the way, and Lake Titicaca is an added bonus if you have the time.


happyexplorer profile image

happyexplorer 4 years ago from Mostly USA, sometimes elsewhere Author

Hi SATravel - Thanks! It's hard to narrow it down, isn't it? There's so much variety in Peru, and such fascinating places. I'd love to spend a month there, next time!

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