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Beyond Machu Picchu - Other Fascinating Heritage Sites to Visit in Peru

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 18-07-2023

Peru is a treasure trove of rich cultural heritage and historical wonders that extend far beyond the iconic Machu Picchu. While Machu Picchu is undoubtedly one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, there are numerous other captivating destinations in Peru that offer equally immersive experiences. From ancient ruins to vibrant colonial cities, let's explore some of the other heritage sites that deserve your attention on a trip to Peru.


The Plaza de Armas in Lima, Peru is a cultural heritage site. When you visit Peru you will arrive in Lima. Head out to see the Government Palace, the Cathedral of Lima, the Archbishop's Palace of Lima, and the Municipal Palace of Lima, all of which are significant to Lima's history and architecture.  They can all be found on The Plaza de Armas.

Lima Government Palace


Chan Chan

Located near the city of Trujillo, in the North of Peru, Chan Chan is the largest adobe city in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. This sprawling archaeological complex was once the capital of the ancient Chimú civilization and showcases impressive adobe structures, intricate carvings, and fascinating murals. Exploring this vast ancient city allows visitors to step back in time and witness the grandeur of a bygone era.


Chan Chan is another Peruvian UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was inscribed on the list in 1986 due to its outstanding universal value as an exceptional example of a traditional pre-Columbian earthen city. The site is recognized for its achievements of the Chimú civilization.  Visit Chan Chan on your Moche route Peru trip to Trujillo!

Chan Chan


Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines are mysterious geoglyphs etched into the arid desert floor, dating back to the Nazca civilization between 500 BCE and 500 CE. These enormous figures and geometric shapes, visible only from the air, have puzzled researchers for decades. Taking a scenic flight over the Nazca Lines offers a unique perspective on these enigmatic designs, leaving visitors in awe of the ancient people who created them.


The Nazca Lines were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert. They can be visited on our Sacred Land of The Incas Peru tour package. The site continues to be a subject of fascination and study for archaeologists, historians, and tourists alike.

Nazca Lines



While often overshadowed by its famous neighbor Machu Picchu, the city of Cusco itself is a remarkable heritage site. Once the capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco blends Inca and Spanish colonial architecture seamlessly. The historical center, with its well-preserved buildings, cobblestone streets, and ancient Inca walls, is a UNESCO World Heritage site in its own right. Exploring Cusco offers a glimpse into Peru's rich cultural heritage and provides a gateway to other nearby attractions.


Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca Empire and is the focal point on a Cusco city tour. The plaza has a rich history blending Inca and Spanish colonial architecture and culture. The designation as a World Heritage Site recognizes the city's outstanding universal value and its unique heritage.

Plaza de Armas, Cusco



Situated in northern Peru, Kuélap is a pre-Inca fortress that rivals the grandeur of Machu Picchu. This ancient walled city was constructed by the Chachapoyas civilization and perched high in the cloud forest. The site is adorned with intricate stone carvings and houses over 400 buildings. Accessible by cable car or hiking, Kuélap offers a unique opportunity to explore a lesser-known but equally captivating archaeological wonder.


Kuelap was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and is one of the most important archaeological sites in Peru.  It was built by the Chachapoyas culture, also known as the "Warriors of the Clouds," who inhabited the region from around the 6th century AD until their conquest by the Inca Empire in the late 15th century. Visit on Kuelap Peru tours!




Arequipa, also known as the "White City," is a colonial gem nestled in the Andes. Its historic center boasts magnificent colonial-era architecture, including the iconic Santa Catalina Monastery, a vibrant city within a city. The historic center of Arequipa is a UNESCO World Heritage site and features beautiful churches, charming plazas, and well-preserved buildings made of volcanic stone. Exploring this enchanting city allows visitors to immerse themselves in Peru's colonial past.


 You will usually visit the historic center and the central plaza on Arequipa tours. Arequipa is often called the "White City." The historic center of Arequipa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its well-preserved colonial buildings and architecture.

Plaza de Armas in Arequipa



Choquequirao is an ancient Inca archaeological site located in the Vilcabamba mountain range. Often referred to as the "sister city" of Machu Picchu, Choquequirao is a significant cultural and historical site. Although it is not officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it holds immense archaeological and historical value. Choquequirao showcases impressive terraces, plazas, and stone structures, providing insights into the Inca civilization. The site is situated on a remote mountaintop, and reaching it requires a multi-day trek. This adds to the sense of adventure and exclusivity for visitors who are willing to hike the trail.


Choquequirao is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can only be reached by a challenging multi-day trek, called the Choquequirao Trek. The Choquequirao Archaeological Park was built by the Inca civilization in the late 15th or early 16th century and served as a religious, administrative, and agricultural center.



Lake Titicaca and the Floating Islands of Uros

Lake Titicaca, located on the border of Peru and Bolivia, is the highest navigable lake in the world and holds great cultural significance. The lake itself is considered a natural and cultural heritage site. Its pristine waters and surrounding landscapes offer a stunning backdrop for exploration. On Lake Titicaca, the Uros people inhabit a group of artificial islands made entirely of totora reeds. Known as the Floating Islands of Uros, these unique structures have been constructed and maintained by the Uros community for centuries. Visiting the islands provides a rare opportunity to witness traditional Uros culture, interact with the friendly locals, and gain insights into their traditional way of life.


The Uros Islands are a group of floating islands located on Lake Titicaca, which straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia. Lake Titicaca is a cultural heritage site and you can visit on Lake Titicaca tours from Puno. The Uros Islands offer a unique glimpse into a culture that has thrived on Lake Titicaca for centuries.

Uros Islands



Located near Lake Umayo, about 22 miles (35 kilometers) from Puno, Sillustani is yet another Peruvian archaeological site, known for its towering funerary towers or "chullpas." These cylindrical stone structures were built by the ancient Colla civilization and later by the Inca civilization. The chullpas served as burial sites for nobles and important individuals. The site offers a fascinating glimpse into the pre-Columbian cultures that inhabited the region. The architectural precision and intricate carvings on the chullpas showcase the advanced craftsmanship of these ancient civilizations. Additionally, the location of Sillustani provides breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, including Lake Umayo.


Sillustani has been designated a Cultural Heritage Site by the Peruvian government. This recognizes its importance as a testament to the architectural and funerary traditions of the ancient Andean cultures that once inhabited the area. Visit Sillustani on Puno tours.


Peru's cultural heritage extends far beyond the renowned Machu Picchu. Exploring other heritage sites such as those previously mentioned sites, unveils the diverse history and architectural marvels of this captivating country. By venturing off the beaten path and discovering these lesser-known gems, travelers can deepen their understanding of Peru's rich past and create unforgettable memories. So, the next time you plan a trip to Peru, make sure to include these extraordinary sites on your itinerary. Find out more here.