No matter what you like to do most when you travel, no doubt that finding the most beautiful places in a country or city you’re visiting is worth the effort. Recent studies have even shown that the more “instagrammable” a place is, the more people will want to travel there. Even better, sometimes a trip to a lesser-known destination yields amazing scenic spots without all the crowds of more famous destinations. If you’re ready for a trip off the beaten path, check out these top scenic places in Peru.
1. Machu Picchu
Are you even surprised? Obviously, this UNESCO world-heritage site tops the list. These famous Incan ruins top the list not because we know they’re already on your bucket list, but because they really are worth the trek to see them.
2. Rainbow Mountains
If you’ve spent any time thinking about where to go in Peru, Rainbow Mountain might have come across your radar. The colorful sand in these mountains is caused by a variety of rare minerals. The most famous of these mountains, Vinicunca, is already becoming over-touristed due to the beautiful views, so we recommend Palcoyo as an alternative (with no shortage of great views still).
3. The Natural Pools of Millpu, Ayucucho
These natural pools are filled with bright turquoise water and are perfect for swimming in on a hot day. They’re squeezed right in between the canyon walls and are definitely worth a day-trip!
4. Laguna Paron, Caraz
This little-known lake is hands-down one of the most scenic places in Peru and is definitely worth a trip if you’re in the area. Located in Huascaran National Park, the backdrop of the snow-capped mountains makes for some perfect scenery. Hike around the lake (there’s several short walks you can do) or just chill out and enjoy the views.
5. Laguna Humantay, Cusco
If you need more mountainous lake views in your life (or on your Insta feed), check out Humantay Lagoon in Cusco, Peru. A hidden gem near the Machu Picchu area, the hike up to this lagoon is challenging but worth the trek!
6. The Maras Salt Mines, Urubamba Valley
Another non-touristy hidden gem that’s also close to Machu Picchu is the Maras Salt Mines, or Salineras de Maras. These salt mines have been in use since the time of the Incas, and are still in use today!
7. Colca Canyon, Puno
With these dizzying heights, Colca Canyon is not for the faint of heart (or vertigo-prone!). In fact, it’s one of the deepest canyons in the world (yes, easily trumping the Grand Canyon) and has stunning views all the way through.
8. Gotca Waterfall
Although this waterfall can be seen from miles away, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the trek out to see it up close. Gotca Falls are a two-level waterfall dropping over 2,500 ft. You’ll definitely need more than a few pics to capture the enormous falls!
This small village is the definition of a desert oasis. This scenic spot is built around a lagoon dotted with palm trees, but the village itself is surrounded by massive sand dunes and desert as far as you can see. It’s a great place to go sandboarding and ride a dune buggy or just relax for a few days.
10. Playa Roja, Paracas
If you’ve gotten enough of Peru’s lakes and mountains and are ready for some beach views, this is your place. The red sand of this beach contrasts sharply with brown cliffs and blue oceans surrounding it, making it a must-see stop if you’re in the area.