Train between Cuzco and Machu Picchu Peru's Cuzco region is home to the country's crown jewels of tourism: Cuzco and Machu Picchu. The nearby Sacred Valley of the Incas, with its famous ruins at Ollantaytambo and Pisac, also features prominently on the tourist map. However, the region is a veritable gold mine of archaeological and other fascinating sites and there is a lot more in the surrounding area to explore than you may have imagined.
North of Cuzco along the two roads leading to the Sacred Valley there are some impressive Inca ruins and a colorful tourist market. The ruins of Tambomachay, Puca Pucara and Q'enqo lie along the easterly road, the first of these consisting of aqueducts and fountains amidst fine stonework. Puca Pucara was a fortress designed to defend Cuzco, while Q'enqo is an intriguing temple site with subterranean chambers, an amphitheater and zigzag canals carved out of stone. The westerly road, meanwhile, will take you to the Sunday tourist market of Chinchero, a small traditional mountain village with breathtaking views and a colonial church built on Inca ruins.
A visit to the enchanting places east of Cuzco requires a wide detour off the beaten tourist track, but they're worth the trip. Fourteen miles east of the city rest the painstakingly-built agricultural terraces of Tipón, an Inca complex so impressive it's nearly on a par with Ollantaytambo. Ten miles further on lie the ruins of Pikillacta and Rumicolca, the former being an enormous Wari ceremonial complex and the latter built by the Incas as a portal to the Sacred Valley. Beyond, in the remote mountain village of Paucartambo, the exuberant Virgen del Carmen festival is celebrated each July and the truly adventurous will make it all the way to the outlook at Tres Cruces. Considered a sacred site by the Incas for its incredible sunrises, Tres Cruces is a ridge on the edge of the Andes with an amazing panorama of the eastern jungle.
The famous hiking route to Machu Picchu, known as the Inca Trail, also has plenty of ruins for travelers to discover, not to mention beautiful flora and fauna and gorgeous mountain scenery. From Inca farming terraces to ceremonial baths there are historic ruins all along its length.