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Peru’s Best Family-Friendly Historical Destinations

Peru is a country of immense culture, history, and beauty. Known best for Machu Picchu (the ancient Incan citadel site), Peru has so much more to discover. We’ve curated a list of the top 5 family-friendly destinations to help celebrate Peru’s upcoming Independence Day, July 28th, called Fiestas Patrias.  It’s the perfect time of year to experience Peru – explore with us!

1. The Sacred Valley

Just about an hour north of Cusco lies the enchanting Sacred Valley. This farming community is home to the towns of Pisac, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo. Not only will you find this lush green valley captivating, you can also explore many Inca ruins as well. It’s a little out of the way, but if you can find the time, check out the village of Moray, which continues to use a circular terracing technique that was previously a testing grounds for the Incas. If a more peaceful venture is what you and your family are looking forward to, then check out the Sunday Market in Pisac to immerse yourselves in some of the local culture and crafts that have been perfected over generations.

2. Colca Canyon (Canon del Colca)

With depths twice the size of the Grand Canyon, Colca Canyon was inhabited by small traditional villages for thousands of years.  The canyon shows signs of stonewall terraces that date to around 800 AD. It was home to the Collagua, Cabana, and eventually the Inca people. The canyon, which lies between two volcanoes and surrounds the Colca River, is not only home to many traditional villages, but also the giant Andean Condor. You can check out the spectacular views at Cruz del Condor, which for many will be the highlight of the trip to Colca Canyon.

3. Lake Titicaca

Yes, this is the same lake we all joked about as school children, but with crystal clear blue water, against a backdrop of rolling hills and small villages, it does not short on beauty. As you appreciate the natural landscapes, many visitors choose to take a trip to the Uros floating islands (Islas Flotantes), which are man-made islands that are constructed of reeds. These islands have continued a traditional way of life since the time of the Incas, and visiting is like taking a trip back in time to a simpler way of life.

4. Cusco

Walking through the city of Cusco is like walking through a living museum. Amazingly, many of the city’s colonial buildings are still using Inca ruins as their foundations. As you walk the narrow roads and head to the main Plaza de Armas (pictured, on the right) to visit the Cathedral, La Compania de Jesus, or the church of Santo Domingo, look for the ruins of Coricancha, which was the center of the Incan world. Much of it was destroyed by the Spanish Conquistadores and earthquakes, but the remains of the stonework still standing is in part due to the Incan people’s incredible masonry skills.

5. Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail

Hanging high above the Urubamba River valley is one of the most well known ruined cities in the world. Not only does it captivate with levels and levels of terraces, but the majestic backdrop of jungle-covered mountains make it easier to understand why the Inca settled here. Although the hike is well worth it, it can be challenging for younger kids – but not to worry, there are plenty of ways to bring the family up to the ‘city in the clouds.’ If the four-day hiking trek seems too daunting, you can opt for shorter versions and/or assisted versions of the trip. Along the trail, you will be able to see 30 different Inca ruins, along with some spectacular scenery, but it is often more demanding than what people expect. If you choose to visit Machu Picchu just for the day, you can take a train, or ride the 20-minute bus ride from the city of Cusco. The train and the bus are the more popular options, so book early if you and your family would prefer this option.

Peru is an amazing place to teach kids about ancient cultures, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s absolutely beautiful! But if you can’t make it to Peru, live vicariously through Sam and Sofia’s adventures in the World Edition!  Blogger Amanda Shaw once said it was “in our family’s top 3 World packages of all time.”