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Peru in Pictures: 15 Beautiful Places to Photograph

Written by Lana Law
Feb 4, 2020

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The landscape, historic cities, and colorful culture of Peru make it one of the best places to photograph in South America. The snow-covered peaks of the Andes Mountains are a stark contrast to the dry coastal areas. In Cusco, where history is built upon history, old and new come together to create their own unique contrast.

The deep blue waters of Lake Titicaca, along with the islands and villages around the lake, are well worth a visit. And of course, Machu Picchu is one of the most impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the ultimate destination for most travelers coming to Peru. No one should miss a chance to see this site.

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1. Machu Picchu

Llama at Machu Picchu
Llama at Machu Picchu

Perched high above the Urubama River, this ancient Inca city is one of the top attractions in Peru. There is much more to photographing Machu Picchu than the typical view over the ruins. The llamas wandering through the site, the stone walls and doorways framing up the lush mountains in the background, and the often cloud-covered setting are perfect for creating dramatic photos.

For more great opportunities to capture beautiful mountain scenery and ruins, hike the Inca Trail.

2. Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley
Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley, not far from Cusco, holds a number of interesting attractions. Terraced mountainsides and scattered ruins are found around the valley, but the small towns and villages are some of the most memorable sights. Daily life in the Sacred Valley, set against the backdrop of the mountains, offers wonderful opportunities for photography.

3. Ollantaytambo

Street in Ollantaytambo
Street in Ollantaytambo

One of the most scenic places in the Sacred Valley is Ollantaytambo. The streets, surrounding hills, and villagers make this a unique and special place. Shops selling brightly colored textiles and souvenirs line the stone roads. Impressive ruins grace a hillside above the town.

4. Lake Titicaca's Floating Islands

Floating Islands in Lake Titicaca
Floating Islands in Lake Titicaca

The floating islands made of reeds on Lake Titicaca are one of the main tourist attractions. Although what tourists see today on tours is designed specifically for tourists and may not feel completely authentic, they make for beautiful photographs. The locals dressed in bright colors, the straw colored huts and ground, and the mountainous background offer a variety of photographic possibilities.

5. Cusco

Cusco
Cusco

Cusco is a picturesque city with lovely old architecture and surrounding hills and mountains. The cathedral, churches, fountains, and plazas are just some of what make this city special. The remains of Inca structures form the foundations of some of the colonial architecture in the city. Simply wander the streets with a clear mind to find inspiration and photo ideas.

6. Salinas de Maras

Salt ponds in the Sacred Valley
Salt ponds in the Sacred Valley

Thousands of salt evaporation ponds line the hillside near the town of Maras, in the Sacred Valley. The white and brown-tinged ponds make fantastic photo subjects. The surrounding hills and mountains in the distance offer an interesting backdrop. Zoom in and crop a section of the scene. This is particularly effective if someone is walking along the edge of the ponds, as is sometimes the case.

7. Moray

Moray
Moray

Moray is an Inca ruin in the Sacred Valley that many travelers miss when traveling through the area. You can combine a visit to Moray with a visit to the nearby salt ponds (Salinas). The land here has been shaped into circular terraces, which were likely used for farming. Again, try zooming in on a section of the terracing, and if possible add in a person for perspective.

8. Lima

Lima's historic district
Lima's historic district

The capital of Peru, Lima is a vibrant city full of life and color. The grand colonial architecture in the old city center is one of the main highlights. Don't miss the Plaza de Armas. Fountains, palm trees, and colorful buildings make for interesting images.

When you've had your fill of the city center, take in the views from the top of the cliff walls overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

9. Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines
Nazca Lines

One of Peru's most intriguing sights, the Nazca Lines must be viewed from the sky to be fully appreciated. Lines carved into the desert floor form images of shapes of plants, animals, and other geometric shapes, but they are so large that the full picture only becomes clear from great heights. Flight tours are available.

Some of the shapes are 130 to 180 meters wide. The lines are thought to have been created by the Paracas and Nazca cultures between 900 BC and AD 600.

10. Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon

Head to Colca Canyon for impressive views over the second deepest canyon in the world. You may also see condors soaring overhead while you gaze out on the rugged canyon walls. Most people visit the Colca Canyon on a day trip from Arequipa, another wonderful city for photography.

11. Barranco

Barranco, Lima
Barranco, Lima

Barranco is a colorful suburb of Lima, known for colorful buildings, beautiful sunsets, and the Bridge of Sighs. Head out here in the late afternoon to photograph the architecture and then take in the sunset from a hillside overlooking the ocean.

12. Cordillera Blanca, Andes Mountains

Mountain scenery on the Cordillera Huayhush Trek
Mountain scenery on the Cordillera Huayhush Trek

For incredible mountain scenery take a trip to the Cordillera Blanca. One great option for adventurous souls is the Cordillera Huayhuash Trek. Experience some of the most awesome alpine landscapes in the world on this hike.

13. Vinicunca

Vinicunca
Vinicunca

Vinicunca, or the Rainbow Mountain as it is also known, is a popular tourist area and photography spot, just a couple of hours drive from Cusco. The color flows down the sides of the mountain in shades of red, orange, turquoise, and purple.

14. Amantani and Tequile Islands on Lake Titicaca

Tequile Island on Lake Titicaca
Tequile Island on Lake Titicaca

While a visit to the Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca is the most popular quick trip from Puno, you can also visit some of the lake's larger islands. Amantani and Tequile Island both offer beautiful scenery with great views over the lake. Find stone archways to frame your shots, or capture images of locals going about daily life.

15. Arequipa

Arequipa
Arequipa

The beautiful city of Arequipa is another incredible spot for photography. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known as the "white city," much of the colonial architecture is made of sillar stone, which almost seems to glow in the bright sunlight. In the background, you can see the sometimes snowcapped peak of the volcano that towers over Arequipa.

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