Ancient Ruins in Peru that aren’t Machu Picchu
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Ancient Ruins in Peru that aren’t Machu Picchu

5 min read

Oct 22, 2020


By Clara Tort

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Last updated on March 18th, 2021 at 12:00 pm

The Most Impressive Ancient Ruins in Peru

Most travelers planning a tour to Peru have their eyes set on the ancient ruins scattered around the country. Specifically, visiting the world-famous Machu Picchu citadel. Although this is deservingly Peru’s number one tourist destination for many reasons, Peru holds a large number of archeological sites outside Machu Picchu worth visiting all year around. Here we list the most important ancient ruins in Peru, that can be easily added to any of our custom Peru travel packages.

1. Moray

First on our list of ancient ruins in Peru is Moray. Located in the Sacred Valley area (about 30 miles from Cusco), this agricultural site was also a research center for the Incas. Here, they built an impressive complex of terraces resembling a Roman amphitheater. This design can be seen in Machu Picchu as well. Visitors can add a visit to Moray in any Sacred Valley tour from Cusco or Ollantaytambo. We also recommend adding a trip to the salt mines in Maras to your Moray adventure.

Insider Tip: Make sure to overnight in the Sacred Valley, to avoid any issues with altitude, and to have sufficient time to visit this site, as well as others of importance in the valley.

the moray ruins in peru
maras salt mines in peru

Last updated on March 18th, 2021 at 12:00 pm

2. Nazca Lines

One of the most mysterious ancient ruins in Peru are the Nazca Lines. The Nazca Lines are a group of around 1300 shapes, lines, and different figures “drawn” in the desert. They were created by the ancient Nazca civilization. On your Nazca Lines tour, view the site from above by airplane. This the best view. There’s a nearby airport located in the south of Peru, around 250 miles from Lima.

Insider Tip: There are day tours to the Nazca Lines available from Lima. However, it is best to visit Nazca while staying in the city of Nazca or the nearby towns of Paracas and Ica.

aerial view of the nazca lines
aerial view of the owl nazca lines

Last updated on March 18th, 2021 at 12:00 pm

3. Chan Chan

Chan Chan tours are a great add-on to your Peru tour. Located in the north of Peru, between the cities of Trujillo and Huancayo, Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimu Kingdom. This was the largest citadel of the pre-Columbian American continent, once home to 60000 people and is nowadays the biggest pre-Incan ruin in the country.

Insider Tip: Due to its location, Chan Chan is easy to combine with other highlights of the North of Peru, as the archeological sites of Kuelap, Sipan, Sican and Moche, best visited in this tour

aerival view of ancient chan chan ruins
the chan chan ruins of peru

Last updated on March 18th, 2021 at 12:00 pm

4. Koricancha – Sun Temple

Fourth on our list of ancient ruins in Peru is the gorgeous Koricancha temple. Within the beautiful colonial town of Cusco, we find the Inca ruins of Koricancha, once a complex of temples that displayed the wealth and royalty of the empire. All of our city tours in Cusco include a short visit to the ancient ruins, which are also worth a second visit, which you can do easily on your own, as Koricancha is centrally located, nearby most of the main hotels in the city.

koricancha temple in cusco
outside the koricancha ruins

Last updated on March 18th, 2021 at 12:00 pm

5. Sacsayhuaman

Another archeological site visited in any city tour of Cusco, Sacsayhuaman is a complex of temples and a fortress and considered the greatest architectural work of the Incas. Located in the north of the city, above what nowadays is the Cusco town center.

Insider tip: Sacsayhuaman is also the main venue for the Inti Raymi celebrations. These take place each 24th of June, with the winter solstice. This is one of South America’s most important cultural events, and Peru’s most popular celebration.

aerial view of sacsahuayman ruins
sacsahuayaman ruins in peru

Last updated on March 18th, 2021 at 12:00 pm

6. Kuelap

Kuelap is known by many as the “Machu Picchu of the North”. This is one of the most important off the beaten path destinations in Peru. It is also the most important ancient ruin in the North of the country. This walled settlement was built by the Chachapoyas culture in the 6th century AD. On our Kuelap Fortress tour, you’ll see this ancient ruin in all its glory.

Insider Tip: Interested in Kuelap and other archeological sites in the North of Peru? Please check our North of Peru tours

view of kuelap fortress ruins
horsegrazing near kuelap fortress

Last updated on March 18th, 2021 at 12:00 pm

7. Machu Picchu

We weren’t going to mention Machu Picchu… but it does deserve to be on this list of ancient ruins in Peru. Considered by many as the greatest ancient ruins in South America, Machu Picchu is the must-see place for any travelers visiting Peru. This royal citadel was built by the Incas in the 15th century. Then it was discovered in 1911 by the explorer Hiram Bingham. View our Machu Picchu tours and discover how you can see this amazing site.

Insider Tip: Make sure to overnight in Aguas Calientes after your first-day visit. That way, you can hike any of the surrounding mountains (Machu Picchu Montana or Huayna Picchu). Or visit the main site for a second time.

tourist sitting at machu picchu ruins
view of machu picchu on a sunny day

Last updated on March 18th, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Contact Us About Ancient Ruins in Peru

Are you ready to travel to Peru? Contact an expert Travel Consultant for more information on the sites of Peru. Find out which ancient ruins you want to visit and craft the perfect tour around your decision. Start planning today!

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Last updated on March 18th, 2021 at 12:00 pm

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