Peru travel: Ten things to do in Trujillo


1 Stroll along Pizarro Street and sit in Plaza de Armas

Recently closed to traffic and lined with fresh cobblestones, Pizarro Avenue is an ideal alley for travelers, and is home to banks, grocery stores, restaurants and cafés. Demarco Café (Pizarro 725) features many fine selections of pies and cakes – my recommendation is the Mousse de Guindones! Also for a sense of Trujillo’s urban evolution, wander through the complementary “Old Trujillo Photograph Exhibition” at the Galería del Club Central (located on Pizarro Avenue close to Colon Avenue). Finally, there are plenty of benches in Plaza de Armes to relax and people-watch before popping your head into Trujillo’s most famous church, the statuesque (and lemon-looking) BasílicaMenor.

Trujillo’s Plaza de Armas.

2 Visit the ruins

Peru is famous for its ancient Inca civilization. But there are many other significant archeological locations, including two sites just minutes from Trujillo’s center. A 15-minute cab ride from downtown will take you to two fascinating pre-Inca historical sites. The first, Chan Chan, has been declared as a UNSESCO World Heritage Site and is considered the largest adobe city in the world. The second, Huaca de la Luna, was constructed by the fascinating Moche people, and features a unique narrative of human sacrifice.There are museums at both locations to help unpack the richness in tradition, religion, art, agriculture and architecture. If you aren’t familiar with the textured saga of either site, guided tours are a must. Guides are free at Huaca de la Luna; expect to pay around 30 Soles at Chan Chan for a small group.

3 Take a surf lesson in Huanchaco

Because of its ideal ocean-side location, many folks opt to stay in Huanchaco when visiting the Trujillo area. The little town isno Tamarindo (Costa Rica) or North Shore (Oahu). But the waves are reliable, the ceviche is cheap and the cervezas flow abundantly. La Casa Suiza and Hostal Naylamp are two cheap, reliable accommodation options. Buses are available from central Trujillo. Or take a taxi for around 15 soles.

Sunset at Huanchaco Beach.

4 Sip coffee at Café Museo

Okay, so sipping a latte in a French-style Bistro isn’t the most “Trujillo-ian” thing you could do. But you’re a traveler, and as such, will need to unplug at times. After wandering the streets of downtown Trujillo, Café Museo has become my preferred place to write in my journal, charge up on some caffeine and munch of some tapas. In city that has delicious food that is all-too-often served on plastic tables, this bistro is an aesthetically pleasing diamond in the rough.

Trujillo cevichería scene.

5 Eat at a cevichería

The nation dish of Peru is unarguably ceviche. You can sample this fish dish on every corner of the city. But if you’re wondering whether or not a Cevichería will be of quality, take a look inside. If it’s filled with happy Peruvians, you’re safe. I had a great Ceviche Pescado at Cevichería El Paisa (Sta. Teresa De Avila) complete with a slushy iced lemonade and dance-inducing live music.

6 Wander through a Mercado

Markets are always a fantastic way to taste local culture. Trujillo has many markets throughout the city, but while you’re downtown, the Mercado Central is home to a couple hundred vendors with products as colorful as the Incan flag. Whether you need something sweet to nibble, a cheap pair of flip-flops for the shower or even your hair trimmed, you’ll find entrepreneurial locals ready to make you a deal. Bartering encouraged. (Located on Ayachucho Avenue between Gamarra and Orbegoso).

7 Teach English

If you’re looking for an authentic way to engage with Trujillo (and you have a bit of time to hang around), a volunteer stint with Horizon Peru will provide the opportunity to go into a local primary school and help the children improve their English language skills. A one-month minimum commitment is required, but that provides the perfect time frame to perfect your own Spanish speaking abilities. Plus, if you’re a nut for local food trends, the organization employs a
woman named Estella to make daily Peruvian lunches which are composed of ingredients bought at the farmer’s market three blocks away.

8 Ride in a MotoTaxi

It’s normal to feel like you are setting forth on an exploit when bouncing in a rickshaw! If you are in one of the Trujillo neighborhoods and needing only to go a short distance, you may wish to opt for a three-wheeled scooter taxi. It’s cheaper and the adventure-factor is augmented. And as with any taxi ride in Peru, it’s important to negotiate the price before setting forth.

Cerro Blanco peaking up behind Huaca de la Luna.

9 Climb a Mountain

The mountains jutting up around the peripheral of Trujillo provide the best vantage points for vistas of the city, the desert and the ocean. While visiting the Moche ruins of Huacade la Luna (see my #2 suggestion), you might opt to tackle the accessible peak of Cerro Blanco (two hours minimum). Ask for route suggestions at the reception. A second option is Cerro Cabras, which is rugged hill east of La Esperanza neighborhood. Find a local guide or go in a group of at least four people to optimize safety on this hill (four hours minimum).

10 Watch the Marinera

Trujillo is home to Marinera, the traditional dance of coastal Peru. The performance is a reenactment of courtship and desire, featuring beautiful costuming and handkerchiefs as props. The annual national Marinera competition takes place in January each year. But if you can’t make a visit at that point, there are regular events happening throughout the year. Inquire with your hotel reception; they’ll know where to point you.

Daniel Baylis is spending 2011 traveling the world. Each month he’ll explore a new destination where he’ll volunteer his services in exchange for food and accommodation. In March he volunteered as an English Teacher in Trujillo. Where will he travel next? Check out his travel blog, The Conversationalist,  and stay up-to-date with his reporting via Facebook and Twitter.