Are you planning a short visit to Peru and can’t decide where to go? Below we give you the must-visit places in the country, and what you should do in each.
Note: Tourism travel in Peru will most likely start in 2021. Read our updates on authorized international travel to Peru here, and the safety protocols to expect here. if you have any questions, you can contact us at [email protected].
Machu Picchu is the first place on the itinerary for almost every traveler visiting Peru. But, there is more to see in Cusco and you should take advantage of your visit to add on a few other places.
The soaring Inca fortress amidst the clouds is one of the most impressive architectural wonders of the world. Learn how to get to Machu Picchu, and read our definitive guide of what to see in the ancient fortress (like the many terraced houses, temples, alters and splendid sculpture).
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is a superb spot to explore ancient sites of past civilizations while surrounded by the spiritual energy of the Apus, or mountain gods. This area is also the best place to immerse yourself in the cultural practices of locals: eat locally grown and made cuisine; get a taste for how chicha de jora (fermented corn beer) is made or learn about the intricate weaving techniques that have been passed down through generations.
There are also many outdoor activities to partake in, including horseback riding, mountain biking, rafting, hiking and even yoga. You will want to spend at least a night or two, so why not stay in a homey villa, indulge in one of Peru’s most luxurious lodges, or stay right above the valley on the side of a mountain.
No trip to Peru is complete without a well-done visit to the capital city. Known as the City of Kings, Lima is rich in colonial flare, pre-Hispanic sites and of course, ample number of places to enjoy Peruvian food. Indeed, Lima has earned the title of Food Capital of Latin America because of the vast, high-quality and unique gastronomic options, whether its street food or dining at five-star restaurants.
What are some of Lima’s must dos? Visiting the various pre-Hispanic huacas; enjoy the artistic offerings of Barranco; take a walk along the ocean-front malecon in Miraflores; and take a scenic route of Lima’s historic center.
Tip: the street food in Lima is spectacular, but also make room for these Peruvian drinks.
The White City should not be overlooked when you start planning your trip to Peru. Hugged by three volcanoes and full of colonial charm, Arequipa is a rare gem in southern Peru.
Visitors are drawn to the area to get a taste of its famed cuisine at local picanterías, and the historical convents and clusters that encircle the city’s historical center (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). You can also stay at a historic colonial Catholic guest house.
A visit to Arequipa is not complete until you make it to the Colca Canyon, where you will be immersed in the natural beauty of the area.
Perhaps the strangest city of all, Iquitos is captured and imprisoned in the middle of the Amazon undergrowth. Since there are no roadways, the city is only accessible by air or by water. The city is bustling with life, especially at the local market where locals from across the jungle region come to sell produce, fish and other goods.
Make sure to get a taste for Iquitos before and after embarking on a cruise expedition down the Amazon River and visiting one of the most important natural reserves in Peru, Pacaya-Samiria. Do you want to visit both Machu Picchu and the Amazon? This is the travel package for you.
It’s hard to stop at just five destinations to visit in Peru. We want to add one more that is slowly gaining traction amongst travelers visiting the country: Chachapoyas. Not only will you find the Gocta waterfall, one of the tallest in the world, but also Kuelap, a pre-Inca gem built by the Chachapoyas culture. These are the other reasons why you should visit Chachapoyas.
Second bonus: Do you want to visit the places that no one else goes to? Check out these underrated destinations in Peru.
Cover photo: Bill Damon/Flickr
We help you find yourself in Peru. Since 2003, we have led the way as an authoritative and reliable English-language resource for those interested in traveling, living, working, and investing in Peru. We are a team of dedicated individuals who are passionate about delivering reliable and unbiased content and providing amazing experiences for people visiting Peru.