Peru in Pictures: 19 Beautiful Places to Photograph
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.
- 1. Machu Picchu
- 2. Sacred Valley
- 3. Ollantaytambo
- 4. Lake Titicaca's Floating Islands
- 5. Cusco
- 6. Salinas de Maras
- 7. Moray
- 8. Lima
- 9. Nazca Lines
- 10. Colca Canyon
- 11. Barranco
- 12. Cordillera Blanca, Andes Mountains
- 13. Vinicunca
- 14. Amantani and Tequile Islands on Lake Titicaca
- 15. Arequipa
- 16. Oasis of Huacachina
- 17. The Amazon Rainforest
- 18. Iquitos
- 19. Tambopata National Reserve
1. 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
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.
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
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.
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.
- Read More: Top Tourist Attractions in Cusco
6. Salinas de Maras
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.
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.
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.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Lima
9. 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
16. Oasis of Huacachina
The small Oasis of Huacachina is a worthwhile photo stop. The small, calm lake with the backdrop of the towering sand dunes and the palm trees in the forefront make for interesting photos. While you are visiting, be sure to climb the nearby sand dunes and run down or sign up for a dune buggy tour.
17. The Amazon Rainforest
Just over the Andes from the Pacific Ocean lies the hot and steamy Amazon rainforest, one of Peru's best kept secrets. Easily reached by a short, but usually bumpy flight, this area is a treasure trove of animals and lush scenery just waiting to be photographed.
The frontier city of Iquitos is an interesting photography spot for its historical colonial buildings downtown, its bustling and chaotic Belem area, along with the traditional river homes of the local Indigenous population.
19. Tambopata National Reserve
Home to a very diverse and healthy ecosystem, the Tambopata National Reserve is one of the top spots in Peru for wildlife photography. Birds, large mammals, river otters, and all kinds of large insects make for beautiful pictures as well as interesting experiences.