Above: Pinkuylluna ruins, Ollantaytambo - ADOBE STOCK

6 Dramatic Lesser-Known Ancient Sites in Peru

Pinkuylluna ruins, Ollantaytambo, Peru - Adobe Stock

One of the most common “bucket list” musts is Machu Picchu, and indeed, the first sight of this city in the sky can surpass even the highest expectations. Peru itineraries also usually include other major Inca ruins such as Ollantaytambo, with terraces rising in spectacular fashion above the Sacred Valley; Pisac, a three-part town with its own magnificent terraces and panoramic views; and Sacsayhuamán, a religious citadel outside Cusco famous for its walls of massive stones fit together with exquisite precision. All these sites are worthwhile.

I returned to each on my most recent visit to Peru, eager to see them with reduced crowds. But I also made a point of supplementing these top attractions with lesser-known places, in the hopes of discovering a gem or two. In fact, I discovered six. I highly recommend including some of the following Inca and pre-Inca sites in a Peruvian itinerary. Once visitors return to Peru in greater numbers, the following suggestions will become even more appealing to those seeking a quieter and more atmospheric experience.


View from the Pinkuylluna ruins over Ollantaytambo - Andrew Harper editor
Pinkuylluna ruins (grain storehouses) - Andrew Harper editor

Our guide was quite excited to hike up to Pinkuylluna from the unspoiled Sacred Valley town of Ollantaytambo. “I only come up here maybe once or twice a year,” he explained. The trail to this Inca site, the ruins of former granaries, is steep and rocky but mercifully short. We passed just four or five other travelers en route. Once we made it to the rows of tall, roofless buildings, we had the stupendous views of the town of Ollantaytambo and the imposing terraces on the far side of the valley all to ourselves. The private panorama was well worth the effort of the climb.

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