Machu Picchu is the most popular destination in Peru.

But it only requires a day or two to fully explore.

If you’re traveling from Lima to Machu Picchu, there are some great stops on the way.

Check out these places to see on your journey to Machu Picchu.

Also read:

1. Lima

Lima is a sprawling metropolis with colorful and fascinating attractions to explore.

If you have a couple of extra days in Lima, you’re in luck.

The Peruvian capital is full of outstanding art galleries, museums, and shops to pass your time.

You can also take a cooking class or book a table at one of the innovative restaurants to sample Lima’s thriving food scene.

Admire the colonial architecture of beautiful Baroque buildings dotting the cityscape.

You could also take a stroll in spacious green parks or relax in a lively ocean suburb.


2. Cusco

Most visitors to Cusco head straight to Machu Picchu.

However, it’s worth spending some time exploring the city and its many attractions.

Walking the streets of Cusco is like wandering through a museum.

Most of the points of interest are located around the Plaza de Armas and its surroundings.

The main square is an ideal base to begin a walking tour, grab a bite to eat or people watch.

Here you will find an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and shops.

The Plaza is also home to La Compania and the Cathedral, two equally impressive buildings.

Another must-see is the church of Santo Domingo which rests on the ruins of the Coricancha Inca site.

Next, leave the square and go uphill into the stone-paved streets of San Blas district.

This picturesque little neighborhood is home to restaurants and small shops popular with the locals.

Visitors also enjoy staying here for the panoramic views over the city.


3. Sacsayhuaman

A massive fortified complex, Sacsayhuaman is the most important of Cusco’s ruins.

Most tourists stop to explore it on their way to Pisac.

The site is believed to have both religious and military significance.

It’s not just its massive size that makes this ruin fascinating.

There’s also the size of the stones used to build it, along with the complexity of the stonework.

The stones fit together so perfectly that modern engineers remain puzzled at how the Incas managed such a great feat.


4. Maras

Maras is the true hidden beauty of the Sacred Valley.

Nestled among green mountains, the stunning salt flats stand out like white gold.

Depending on when you visit, you may see pools of water in each section shimmering like mirrors in the sunlight.

Visitors to Maras can admire the white salt rocks against a backdrop of beautiful green mountains.

This provides a fantastic natural contrast that also makes for a great photo.

The area is also a great destination for hikers with trails cutting through great scenery.


5. Moray

The Sacred Valley boasts numerous Inca ruins worth seeing.

But it’s also a tranquil place to spend time wandering through markets and indulging in local culture.

From Maras, follow a small path to the other marvel of the Sacred Valley: Moray.

This small town is a testament to the architectural genius of the Incas.

Here you can admire an incredible set of terraced circular platforms that resemble a giant green amphitheater.

The terraces are covered in lush green grass, synonymous with the fertile Sacred Valley.

With most tourists crowding Ollantaytambo and Pisac’s sites, you could enjoy exploring Moray almost by yourself.

Be sure to capture the magnitude of the site with beautiful photos taken from both the top and bottom.


6. Pisac

Nestled within a beautiful area in the Sacred Valley, Pisac is an ideal stop for visitors hoping to escape the tourist crowds.

Pisac is a one-of-a-kind town that fuses mysticism and Andean tradition like no other place in Peru.

Cobblestone streets play host to Inca architecture, glimpses of traditional costume and rural life, and one of the most popular markets in southern Peru.

If you’re up for a fantastic hike, the breathtaking hill-top ruins in the clouds are a must-see.


7. Ollantaytambo

Less than an hour’s drive north of Cusco lies the breathtaking Sacred Valley and its notable town of Ollantaytambo.

Ollantaytambo is home to some of the most impressive remains of the Incan empire.

Its dramatic setting features a narrowing valley and mountains drawing closer on both sides.

The ruined fortress then appears rising in steep terraces from the town.

Climb the stone stairways to marvel at the intricate stonework that remains perfect to this day.

At the top of the terracing, you’ll come into the temple area.

Pause at the top of the temple to admire the quarries from which the stones of Ollantaytambo were sourced.


8. Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes is the last town before you get to Machu Picchu.

The tiny town is home to several attractions that are worthy of your consideration.

Aguas Calientes pulses to a lively tourist beat with hot springs, restaurants, and hotels.

It’s also a great base from which you can wander the high jungle.

Here you can admire several hummingbird species and many varieties of orchids.

Visitors can also stroll to the Mandor Waterfalls or hike up Putucusi Mountain.


9. Uros

The sparkling blue waters of Lake Titicaca are surrounded by rolling hills and small traditional villages.

This setting offers a mix of breathtaking scenery and culture that makes it distinct from other regions of Peru.

Situated 3,820 meters above sea level, Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world.

But it’s also a scenic spot where travelers can relax in tranquility.

The best way to appreciate Lake Titicaca is via a boating trip to the islands and surrounding villages.

One of the major attractions here is the Uros Floating Islands.

These man-made islands are constructed out of buoyant reeds which are also used in building boats, homes, and crafts.

The islands sustain small communities of Uros Indians who have largely maintained their traditional way of life since the time of the Incas.


10. Taquile Islands

Follow the reed channels of the Uros islands to your next stop: the island of Taquile.

Famed for its weaving and knitting, the remote island is home to Indians who continue to live traditionally.

The island is largely untouched by modernity with no cars to be seen.

Here visitors can enjoy scenic hikes on the rugged landscape.

Get a scoop on the beauty and size of Taquile on a boat ride.

As the sun descends on Lake Titicaca, the island affords visitors some of the most memorable sunsets in Peru.


11. Nazca Lines

The mysterious Nazca Lines are an unusual sight that leaves visitors awestruck.

The massive images on the desert floor are so huge that they can only be appreciated with an aerial view.

From the air, you can see that the lines form distinct images and patterns.

There are seventy different plant and animal drawings, along with hundreds of other geometrical shapes.

Spread out over hundreds of square kilometers, some lines stretch as far as ten kilometers.

Notable figures include the lizard, a condor, a monkey, hummingbird, killer whale, and spider.

Located just outside of Nazca and also worth visiting are the Cantalloc Aqueducts.

Built around AD 300-600, these aqueducts were constructed to provide water for the area year-round.

Also of interest in the area is the Cemetery of Chauchilla which houses mummies and Nazca remains.

12. Paracas

Paracas is a peninsula jutting out into the Pacific Ocean just south of Pisco.

Home to the Reserva Nacional Paracas, the peninsula boasts the largest section of protected coastline in Peru.

The Paracas shoreline sustains a diversity of wildlife.

Animal lovers can admire over 200 seabird species, sea lions, otters, and penguins.

Nearby is the Islas Ballestas which are home to hundreds of thousands of birds, pelicans, and dolphins.

A boat tour to the islands will take you past the Candelabra, a hillside geoglyph best admired from the coast.


13. Machu Picchu

Perched high upon a ridge, 300 meters above the Urubamba River is the magnificent Machu Picchu.

The Inca Citadel boasts one of the most dramatic settings of a ruined city in the world.

It is almost as impressive as the ruins themselves are the breathtaking backdrop of lush, steep, and often cloud-covered mountains.

Looking out over the Lost City, the jungle-covered mountains, and the river below, it’s clear why the Incas chose to settle here.

The journey to get there is also part of the experience of visiting Machu Picchu.

Hike the Inca Trail or see the route via train.

Either way, you are bound to be awe-inspired by the scenic beauty.

echo
For all new cities, I go overboard on my itinerary, just to see every major attraction. Countries I've visited include New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Japan and Thailand. Mostly Asian countries. Next target - Europe!