This blog post was updated on June 27, 2022.
There’s nothing cooler than checking out ancient ruins while traveling though a foreign land. From the Colosseum in Rome to the Great Wall in China (and some bits of Scottish castle in between). And while all those locals and leftover shells of buildings from long ago are amazing, there’s a whole OTHER continent filled with remnants of ancient cultures that doesn’t seem to get as much attention: South America.
“But wait!” you’re probably thinking, with images of a boxy stacked pyramids in your mind, “what about…” But those are Mayan ruins located in Mexico and Latin America.
So here are three ruins that are worth visiting on your next trip to South America:
Machu Picchu — Peru
THE location when it comes to visiting ancient ruins in South America. This icon of the once great Incan empire was built in the 15th century as an estate for the emperor and then abandoned during the time of Spanish conquest and wasn’t found again until 1911. Sitting nearly 2,500 meters (almost 8,000 feet) above sea level in the Andes Mountains, it’s now a historical site with some reconstructed section that visitors can explore.
The Lost City — Colombia
First discovered by treasure hunters in the early 1970s, the spot known as the Cuidad Perdid (“The Lost City” in Spanish) is believed to have been built over 600 years BEFORE Machu Picchu. Called Teyuna by the local tribes, whose forbearers are believed to have founded the ancient town, the Lost City is pretty remote and reportedly requires a nearly weeklong hike to get there and back that’s supposedly can get pretty grueling…which kind of makes it cooler, right?
Easter Island — Chile
Okay, while the giant stone heads of Easter Island (known as moai) are pretty iconic, the association with South America isn’t so well known. The fact is that even though Easter Island is one of the most remote islands in the world — it’s technically part of Chile (which is over 2,000 miles from the island). In fact, the only way to really get to the island is to take flight from Santiago, Chile. Once there, visitors can explore the roughly 63 square mile isle, see the grandeur of its nearly 900 moai, and learn of the culture that settled there around a thousand years ago and lived in isolation until European explorers landed in 1722.