The 14 Must-Visit Ruins in Peru

The 14 Must-Visit Ruins in Peru

Peru is not only one of the few megadiverse countries but also one that’s incredibly rich in fascinating history. Thus, there are also many impressive ruins in Peru from the time of the Incas that are worth discovering.

Without a doubt, the first place that will come to mind when talking about archaeological sites in the country of the Incas is Machu Picchu. However, there’s a lot more than that. So, let’s begin. Here are the 14 must-visit ruins in Peru!

Table of contents:

Ruins in Lima

Huaca Pucllana

ruins in pyramid form

This clay pyramid, also known as Huaca Pucllana, is located centrally in the Miraflores district. It once served as an important ceremonial and administrative center for the advancement of the Limca culture and was built in 500 AD. Nowadays, Huaca Pucllana is surrounded by modern office buildings and apartment complexes.

Tips for visiting: The best – and only – way of exploring those ancient ruins is by taking a tour which usually takes 1 hour. There is also a small restaurant next to the ruins that offers an excellent culinary experience and unbeatable views of the Huaca. We recommend you visit the Huaca Pucllana restaurant at night when the ruins are illuminated.



walls of ruins and ancient buildings

These ancient ruins are a 24.85 miles (40 km) journey south of Lima. Once there, you’ll be impressed by the archaeological complex that covers nearly 500 hectares and has a modern onsite museum. The site, Pachacamac, was named after the god who created the Earth, Pacha Kamaq (“Earth Maker”) and contains several temples and some of the best preserved ancient mud-brick architecture in the world.

Tips for visiting: Make sure to visit the museum where some ancient artifacts are on display and learn more about the history and the life of the Incas.


Ruins in Cusco

Machu Picchu

machu picchu ruins surrounded by jungle

The impressive ruins were built on top of a mountain with an outstanding view of the surrounding jungle, the Urubamba river and the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountain. Machu Picchu is made up of more than 150 buildings ranging from baths and houses to temples and sanctuaries. There are many interesting facts about this magical site, one being that in Quechua “Machu Picchu” means “Old Mountain” or “Old Peak”.

Tips for visiting: You can do a Machu Picchu tour all year round, but the best time to visit is from April – September entering in the morning or in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. In case you want to hike one of the two mountains mentioned above, make sure to book your tickets a couple months in advance.


Qorikancha (Korichanca)

old inca temple

Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, was called the navel of the world as it represented the center of the world of the Incas. Qorikancha is the most important temple of the Incas, where they expressed their devotion to the sun god Inti. The name, Qorikancha, means “the golden temple”, as it used to be covered with Inca gold.

However, when the Spanish conquered the city in the 16th century they demolished most of the site and melted its gold. Then they built a cathedral, the Santo Domingo Monastery on the site, maintaining the temple’s stone foundations.

Tips for visiting: Relax in the garden of the Santo Domingo Monastery and take pictures during sunset. The entrance price to Qorikancha as well as to the church costs 15 Soles (about $5).



ancient inca stone walls

Sacsayhuaman is located on the northern outskirts of Cusco and was built by the Incas in the 15th century. This is a must-see archaeological complex featuring many impressive zigzagging Inca walls that took nearly 90 years to complete. Sacsayhuaman was the most important military base of the Inca empire. Nowadays, the Inti Raymi, an ancient religious Inca celebration, takes place at Sacsayhuaman each June in a theatrical setting and attracts thousands of visitors.

Tips for visiting: Our recommendation is to visit this place upon your arrival when exploring the city. It’s best to discover this site with a guide so you learn more about the history and discover the best viewpoints for pictures. The entrance fee is 70 Soles, which is the cost of the partial Cusco tourist ticket.


ancient terraces surrounded by mountains

Did you know that the ruins of Ollantaytambo are some of the best preserved ruins in all of Peru? The site was used as a strategic military, religious and agricultural center that leaves us speechless with its impressive stonework reaching 13 ft (4 m) in height until today. One of the most interesting facts about this site is that the stones for the wall of the six monoliths had to be carried for 3.7 miles (6 km) from a river to the top of the mountain. And all of that without a wheel – impressive, isn’t it?

Tips for visiting: The best way to visit Ollantaytambo is during a Sacred Valley tour, where you’ll also see other sites, such as Moray and the salt mines of Maras. As Ollantaytambo is the last stop of most Sacred Valley tours, we recommend you take the train to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town) and spend the night there.



terraces surrounded by mountains and jungle

From the Pisac ruins, you get some of the most picturesque views of the Sacred Valley. It’s a combination of impressive terraces at the mountain and ruins on top of it. Its strategic location suggests that it was used to guard Cusco and the southern part of the Sacred Valley. Once there, you’ll discover numerous religious, agricultural and military structures.

Tips for visiting: Apart from the ruins, it’s also worth visiting the small charming town of Pisac and strolling through its street while trying the delicious bread that they bake in their traditional ovens.



several terraced circular depressions

The ruins of Moray were built somewhere between the 6th and 10th centuries and are nestled in the breathtaking Andes mountains. They are best known for its three groups of circular terraces. Can you imagine that these terraces have been used for agricultural experiments? In fact, this site used to be a laboratory for the Incas that made use of the extensive temperature difference of the various levels to plant different crops.

From the highest to the lowest level, the temperature differs 41°F (5°C) and the sun hits each terrace at a different angle and intensity. That’s how the Incas have been able to do agricultural research and identify the best conditions for crops to thrive.

Tips for visiting: The best time to visit Moray is in the dry season and to combine it with the salt mines of Maras, as they are only 13 minutes away.


Other Ruins


ancient ruins surrounded by jungle

Choquequirao is also known as Machu Picchu’s sacred sister, due to its impressive and remote location in the mountains as well as the numerous ruins and sectors. The ruins located at 10,010 ft (3,050 m) can be reached by doing the typical 4-8-day hiking tours. The interesting fact about Choquequirao is that only 40% is exposed and it is supposed to be 4 times bigger than Machu Picchu. At the site itself, you’ll be able to see a large archaeological complex with different buildings, such as temples, terraces and more.

Tips for visiting: The best time to visit Choquequirao is from April to October. We highly recommend doing this tour with an experienced tour operator as this route is hardly visited and you’ll need a guide that really knows it well.



big ancient stone wall surrounded by jungle

The ancient ruins of Kuelap are near the city of Chachapoyas in the northern part of the Amazon region. As this archaeological site is located at more than 10,006 ft (3,000 m), it offers a picturesque view that combines the magnificent Amazon rainforest of Peru and ancient ruins. Kuelap was known as the political center of the Chachapoya civilization and at its height, the city had up to 300,000 inhabitants, mostly warriors, farmers, merchants and shamans.

Tips for visiting: Think about taking the old route where you will walk past local communities, instead of taking the gondola. That will help you connect deeper with the culture and learn more about the local communities.


Chan Chan

ancient paintings on ruins

Since 1986, Chan Chan has been a UNESCO site and used to be the largest adobe city in South America. The ancient ruins are located on the desert coast near the city of Trujillo. Once visiting, you’ll be impressed by the entire complex that covers more than 20 square kilometers and served as an administrative, political and commercial center for the pre-Inca culture Chimu. It is estimated that at its peak more than 60.000 inhabitants lived in Chan Chan before the Incas captured the city.

Tips for visiting: Make sure to visit the nearby Chan Chan museum, where you can learn more about the Chimu civilization.



ancient ruin buildings

In Caral you can find some of South America’s oldest ruins. In fact, it is considered the oldest city in the Americas and one of the oldest ones in the world. The highlights of your trip to Caral will be the six pyramids, one being almost 59 ft (18 m) high, the obelisk at the center which was used to determine the time of the day as well as a gigantic amphitheater.

Tips for visiting: The ruins of Caral are 124 miles (200 km) away from Lima which is why we recommend hiring a tour operator that offers a day tour to visit this site.


Nazca Lines

geoglyphs etched in the desert

The Nazca Lines are a collection of more than 350 ancient geoglyphs engraved into the earth and found in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. Simple geometric patterns to detailed pictures of people, animals, and plants can all be found in the desert.

Regardless of their purpose, the Nazca Lines are an amazing sight to witness. A small plane tour over the desert is the best way to see them. Without a doubt, these ruins are a must-visit site for everyone with a passion for archeology or ancient cultures.

Tips for visiting:  Select an experienced tour company when making reservations for a flight over the Nazca Lines. Be sure to pick a company with an excellent record for safety by reading reviews and seeking out suggestions from other travelers online.


Embrace your incredible time at Peru’s ruins

As you can see, in Peru you’ll find outstanding ruins that not only have an interesting history, but are also located in some of the most beautiful and mysterious places of the country. We are sure that you will collect unforgettable moments at Peru’s ruins and spend an incredible time in the land of the Incas.

As you’ve read above, depending on the month in which you visit Peru, your experience might differ substantially. That’s why we recommend you inform yourself about the best time to visit Peru when planning your vacation.

  • 9 September, 2023 at 5:44 am

    I have heard about Caral in the news! Is it worth going there? Are you offering any tours for that one?

    • 9 September, 2023 at 11:45 am

      Hey Connor! Absolutely, if you have the time to go there and if you’re interested in ancient cultures and history, it’s definitely worth it.

      I just forwarded your mail to one of our travel experts that will get in touch with you soon with more info about our tour.

      Have a great weekend,

  • 8 September, 2023 at 9:08 pm

    Great article, thank you so much! Which ruins would you recommend for a half-day tour in Cusco?

    • 9 September, 2023 at 11:44 am

      Hey Olivia, glad to hear that you got some value out of it! For a half-day tour, we’d recommend visiting Sacsayhuaman for sure, and if you also have the time check out Puka Pukara, Qenqo and Tambomachay. If you need any help with this feel free to email us at

      Saludos from Peru,

  • 2 January, 2023 at 7:10 am

    Peru is such a wonderful country and there incredible places that I would like to visit. I wasn’t aware of Huaca Pucclana and that there is also a restaurant. Thanks for creating this post.

    • 4 January, 2023 at 9:30 am

      Hi Maite,
      thanks for your feedback! Huaca Pucclana is a very beautiful place and seeing the ruins surrounded by the modern buildings is unique.
      Enjoy the Peruvian food and let us know how it was.


Leave a comment

Let’s plan your
dream trip to Peru

Let’s plan your
dream trip to Peru

All of our tour itineraries are 100% customizable. Just let us know your preferences below and we’ll get back to you within 24-48 hours.

  • Hotels
    (Optional, multiple choices possible)
    Best Value
  • Trip Length
    Not sure yet