Peru is packed with astonishing landscapes, a melting pot of cultures and a myriad of landmarks and ruins to visit. Peru has something for many types of traveller, whether you are an adventurer, history buff or a foodie. But where do you start and which are the best places to visit? Here is a list we think you should consider when planning your trip to Peru.
Image: Plaza de Armas in Arequipa
Peru’s second largest city set in the stunning backdrop of the ice capped Misti Volcano. One of the main attractions in Arequipa is the awe inspiring Colca Valley – one of the world’s deepest canyons and home of the majestic Andean Condor. It is dubbed the ‘White City’ since its colonial buildings were built from pearl coloured volcanic stone.
Our must-do’s in Arequipa
- Tour or trek the Colca Canyon – one of the best places to see the Andean Condor
- Tour the Historic Centre – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, explore Plaza De Armas and marvel at the stunning architecture such as the Basilica Cathedral
- Eat your heart out – try the local cuisine such as the ‘Picanterias’
Image: Plaze de Armas in Cusco
Situated in Andes of Peru is Cusco, the former epicentre of the Inca Empire. The Incan and Spanish influences are evident in the architecture, people and the cuisine. The biggest attraction in Cusco is Machu Picchu but this vibrant city has so much more to offer. There are more (less crowded) Inca ruins to explore, temples to visit or experience the energetic nightlife.
Our must-do’s in Cusco
- Visit the multi-coloured beauty that is the Rainbow Mountain
- For the adventurer’s heart visit Ollantaytambo – visit a plethora of Inca ruins and heart racing activities such as river rafting, paragliding, bunjee jumping or quad biking.
- Visit the 15th century fortress of Sacsayhuaman for the best views of Cusco
Image: View of Puno from Lake Titicaca
Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca is the charming town of Puno. Known as folklórica del Perú meaning the capital of folklore. Puno is packed with legends, ancient customs and, enchanting islands.
Our must-do’s in Puno
- Take a boat trip across Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake.
- Visit the fascinating floating Uros Islands made from Totora reeds.
- Witness the well-preserved customs and traditions of Taquile Island as well as the remarkable handmade textiles.
Tucked away on the northern coast of Peru is the small fishing town of Máncora. Dubbed as Peru’s secret surfing paradise, Máncora is the hotspot for big waves, sun-drenched skies and buzzing nightlife. Aside from the surfing culture and the nightlife scene, you can enjoy other activities such as horseback riding, take a mud bath, go whale watching or kitesurfing.
Our must-do’s in Mancora
- Try out the surf – there are many classes and beach waves suited for all levels of experience (or lack thereof)
- Taste test the local Ceviche – a national dish and is said to be the freshest in Peru
- Go whale watching – head to Los Organos between July and October to observe humpback whales. If you’re lucky, you may be able to spot them breaching out of the water.
Image: The main square in Trujillo
Trujillo is known as Peru’s ‘City of Eternal Spring’ home to some of the country’s most elegant colonial buildings and uncrowded stellar beaches, ideal for surfing. Walk the streets of the Historic Centre and visit the are nearby archaeological sites.
Our must-do’s in Trujillo
- Explore the pre-Columbian walled city of Chan Chan. Walkthrough the maze-like passageways to find tombs, temples, palaces and art.
- Venture inside the brick temple of Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon). Inside you will find murals and rooms filled with ceramic objects an precious metals.
- Tour the Historic Centre – admire the Trujillo Cathedral recognisable by its iconic yellow building. There is also Plaza de Armas, mansions, plentiful of churches and museums
Image: View of “the Condor” from above
Etched into the dry Peruvian desert are the mysterious and world-famous Nazca Lines. They are an incredible collection of geoglyphs which are at least 1500 years old and spread over 80km of desert. The geometric lines range from simple to complex forms and are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our tip for seeing the Nazca Lines
- The best way to view the Nazca lines is flying over them. This way you get to see the enormity of the lines. There are hundreds of them scattered all over the desert which are visible by flight.
Image: View of the main square and the cathedral church in Lima
Lima is the capital and the largest city in Peru. It is also the political, cultural and commercial hub of the country. This metropolis city is full of treasures and hidden gems. There are archaeological sites, valleys, exquisite gastronomy, parks, colonial architecture and more.
Our must-do’s in Lima
- Walk in Plaza de Armas to observe the breathtaking colonial buildings which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Explore Miraflores, a neighbourhood set on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Expect to see hang gliders in the air and surfers below.
- Explore pre-Inca ruins of Huaca Pucllana which light up at night.
Image: View of the Sacred Valley
Visiting the Sacred Valley is like stepping back to ancient times. There are archaeological ruins, green terraces and Andean women in traditional dress walking the cobblestone streets. Tucked between the towns of Ollantaytambo and Pisac, the Sacred Valley is considered one of the most important historic sites in South America.
Our must-do’s in the Sacred Valley
- Maras – visit the impressive complex of salt pools. These patchwork of salt pools were used to mine salt since Inca times.
- Explore the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo – strategically built on two mountains overlooking the valley, Ollantaytambo was the centre for religious, military and agricultural hub.
- Pisac – walk through the famous Sunday market to taste and view the valleys freshest fruit and vegetables. There are also large Inca ruins and terraces to explore.
Image: Cruz Del Condor viewpoint at Colca Canyon
Thanks to its extreme topography, the Colca Canyon is said to be the second deepest canyon in the world. Whether you tour it or trek it, you will be surrounded by Andean peaks, sweeping valleys below, natural hot springs, pre-Incan ruins and more.
Our tip for visiting the Colca Canyon
- Although there are no guarantees of seeing one, the Colca Canyon is the best place to spot the majestic Andean Condor. There are one to three-day tours depending on your preferences. There is also an option to horse ride.
Image: Machu Picchu
High up in Andes shrouded by mist is the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. It is by far one of South America’s popular treasures attracting people all over the world.
Our tips for visiting Machu Picchu
- Prepare for crowds during peak season between July and October, after all this is the world-famous Machu Picchu.
- In order to enter the site of the ruins you must purchase tickets. We recommend buying your tickets well in advance as there are limited tourists allowed to visit the site each day. These often sell out during peak season.
- A licensed guide is mandatory
- Bring your passport to enter the ruins. You can also get your passport stamped as a cool souvenir.