In this corner of Peru, you’ll find everything you need for a once in a lifetime adventure. Peru’s top destinations for travel, Cusco and Machu Picchu, rarely disappoints visitors in search of the unforgettable. Enjoy the gorgeous colonial churches and vibrant festivals of Cusco before standing in a sea of cloud forest mountains and marvel at Machu Picchu. Then, discover in the lesser-known enigmatic Inca ruins and thriving Andean towns of the Sacred Valley.
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Destination Cusco City
Cusco was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and currently ranks among Peru’s most popular destinations. As a requisite stop before Machu Picchu, the city draws its fair share of visitors. But take the time to find your own pace amid the bustle and Cusco may prove to be the unexpected highlight of your trip to Peru.
Tantalizing remnants of South America’s greatest civilization are scattered in and around the former imperial capital. You won’t want to miss the gargantuan stones of Sacsayhuaman or the impressive hydraulic engineering on display in Tipon.
Witness living traditions in action when you travel to Cusco for one of the city’s festivals. Among them, Inti Raymi, Corpus Christi and Señor de los Temblores are sure to take your breath away with sensational costumes and dance rhythms representing hundreds of years of Peruvian history.
Machu Picchu inspires awe and elation at first sight. This marvel of Inca engineering straddles a mountain ridge at the meeting point of the Andes and the Amazon. Forgotten after the fall of the Inca Empire, and then re-discovered 400 years later, Machu Picchu is without a doubt Peru’s top attraction.
Find a quiet spot and gaze at the seamless integration between ruins and landscape. Or spend hours discovering the exquisite details of Incan stonemasonry. Whichever path you take has its rewards. Learn more about Machu Picchu sites.
The principal gateway to Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes is a required stop for all travelers on the way to or from Peru’s greatest ruins. Train station, shuttle bus, hotels, restaurants, and hot springs are all gathered here. Learn more about Machu Picchu Pueblo.
Tucked between Cusco and Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley feels like a special place. A slightly warmer climate, the gentle presence of guardian mountains, a sprinkling of ancient fortresses, and villages steeped in age-old traditions is what you’ll experience on a tour to the Inca heartland. Browse our destination guide for essential facts, travel tips, and top attractions on a Sacred Valley tour.
The living Inca city of Ollantaytambo boasts spectacular fortress ruins and a small town with streets laid out by Inca urban planners in the 15th century. It’s also a great place to spend the night before catching the train to Machu Picchu.
Central hub of the Sacred Valley, bustling Urubamba is a point of transit on the way to and from Ollantaytambo. Sample Peruvian cuisine at one of the many restaurants or enjoy the tranquility of an overnight stay in a nearby resort.
Two of the Sacred Valley’s less-visited sites are also among its most intriguing. The centuries-old salt pans at Maras are still productive in today, while the 500-foot-deep circular terraces at Moray will cause you to scratch your head in wonder.