Peru’s top four unmissable destinations

From the world-renowned Machu Picchu to the red-tiled roofs of Cusco, Peru has countless wonders to witness. See this pick of the country's best sites, plus three beautiful hotels to come back to after a hard day exploring.

By Marriott International
Published 10 Feb 2020, 15:00 GMT, Updated 30 Dec 2021, 16:09 GMT
Like Lima, Peru’s capital, the city of Cusco was founded by Conquistador Francisco Pizarro.
Like Lima, Peru’s capital, the city of Cusco was founded by Conquistador Francisco Pizarro.
Photograph by Getty

1. The Sacred Valley and Cusco

Kick things off in Urubamba's Sacred Valley, a peaceful patchwork of villages, steep terraces and Inca sites scattered across its looming hills that’s a good place to acclimatise before heading onto Cusco. This bustling ancient city is a rite of passage for adventure-seeking travellers. It’s from here you can explore the trails through the Andes and the Sacred Valley, white-water raft on thundering rivers, horse-ride among salt plains, and rummage through market stalls of shiny fruits, popcorn and alpaca-wool coats.

Where to stay

Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco
For a handsome pad with an intriguing backstory, this hotel strikes a fine balance of being reassuringly old-fashioned and sleekly chic. Its stone archways and nooks have seen more than 500 years of history, and its interiors have been jazzed up with Hispanic art, bold textiles and ornate antiques. Exceptional plates are dished up in its restaurant — a reason in itself to stay. There’s also an excellent spa and its central location in Cusco is close to all the sights.

Paracas is known for its beaches, like the beautiful El Chaco, set in sheltered Paracas Bay.
Photograph by Getty

2. Paracas

From Cusco head to Paracas; the place for coastal culture. Stretching beyond the village are miles of sweeping sands: perfect spots to catch your first wave. There’s also the offshore Ballestas Islands — where seals playfully dive into inky blue seas and bask on rocky outcrops — and the Paracas National Reserve, where remote beaches roll into desert, flamingos pick through glassy lagoons and dolphins leap in the waves.

Where to stay

Hotel Paracas, a Luxury Collection Resort, Paracas
This modern-luxe hotel combines serious attention to detail with drama beyond its doors: think honey-coloured dunes; wildlife rich pockets; and nautical adventures. Stay here and the Paracas National Reserve is your neighbour and the rippling sea is your outlook. Palms and purple-hued flowerbeds spread from its cool, white exterior; balconies unfold to giddying sea views; and its private pier casts travellers seawards.

Machu Pichu was never revealed to the conquering Spaniards, forgotten until the the early 20th century.
Photograph by Getty

3. Machu Picchu

There's still no getting away from those electrifying first glances of this once-hidden city, lorded over by looming mountains. Go with a guide to bring this sun-faded site to life, and for an alternative view, hike to the tip of Huayna Picchu. The setting, the mysticism, the impeccable masonry — it’s all part of the strangeness of this bamboozling site.

Where to stay

Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Valle Sagrado
This grand hotel — pitched in the Sacred Valley — has considerably upped the style stakes in this heady region. There’s an angular pool with staggering mountain views, a therapeutic spa and a private rail station connecting to Machu Picchu. After daily stints in the Andes, you’ll need feeding up, and it just so happens the hotel’s restaurant is a revelation, dishing up inventive and heart-warming Peruvian fare.

There are about 300 different figures to be found among the Nazca Lines.
Photograph by Getty

4. The Nazca Lines

Arriving at Nazca’s pint-sized airport is a fairly unassuming experience. But that all adds to the magic. Climb aboard your tiny plane and from on high, you’ll make out the unmissable sprawl of the Nazca Lines — perfectly formed geoglyphs etched in the desert floor. There’s a spider, a hummingbird, a monkey, and dozens more. But the craftmanship and the creators behind the lines continue to elude the experts, making this archaeological site one of Peru’s greatest mysteries.

Hotel Paracas is a Luxury Collection Resort looking out across miles of golden beach.
Photograph by Marriott International

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