PLACES TO VISIT IN PERU

WHAT TO SEE IN PERU

Peru is an impressively large country, with regions that span the wonders of the Amazon, the enchanting beauty of the Highlands, and the spellbinding expanse of its Coast and Deserts. Consequently, it’s no wonder Peru is often touted as a land that may require multiple visits, especially for visitors hoping to see and do it all.  

Upon embarking on a tour of Peru, you’ll be delighted to find that the variety of activities available caters to just about every interest and desire. Archeological marvels, gastronomic delights, mesmerizing culture and communities, and exciting adventure sports. 

On this page, you’ll find a thorough breakdown of some of the biggest and best places to experience when you travel to Peru. 

Gastronomy, Culture And Landscapes Of Perú

Top 5 Places to Visit in peru

Based on feedback from our Expert Guides, Tour Operators, and Guests, we’ve identified the following as the most important places to visit in Peru. We recommend including at least one of these within your Peru tour itinerary.

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WHAT ARE PERU'S TOP VISITOR SITES?

Get acquainted with the fantastic visitor sites that several of the regions in Peru are home to.  

LIMA

Lima was founded in 1535 by the Conquistador Francisco Pizarro. Today it is the capital of the country and the gateway to the rest of Peru.

Due to its fascinating history, culture, and captivating colonial architecture was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is a modern metropolis with a population of over 8 million, making it an ideal place for conventions and international meetings. It is also a central spot for a fantastic array of fusion cuisine and an escape across its eclectic gastronomic scene. 

Furthermore, Lima offers tourists superb museums, dozens of art galleries, theater productions, top-notch cultural exhibitions, modern shopping malls, and recreational areas. All of these are in addition to the outstanding archeological and nature attractions. 

CUSCO

The city of Cusco was the “Navel of the World” for the Incas and the capital of their vast Empire. The city, known as the archeological center of the Americas, was one of the largest and most progressive cities in the New World by the time the Spanish arrived. Cusco is today a very cosmopolitan city and the gateway to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Its narrow cobblestone streets are still charged with the mysticism and energy that flows amongst its people.  

The architectural legacy of Cusco dates back to the 15th century and includes the following:

  • Fine stone carving.
  • Near-perfectly interlocked stone blocks.
  • The trapezoidal design of entryways.

 

With its vast landscapes, fascinating geography, and interwoven archeology, Cusco is, without a doubt, something all travelers won’t want to miss while taking their tour of Peru. 

MACHU PICCHU

The beautifully preserved lost city of the Incas was a mystic place of worship, a spot for stargazing, and the private hacienda of the Inca Pachacutec. Located four hours by train from Cusco, these astonishing ruins consist of a sprawling stone labyrinth hidden in a spectacular mountain plateau overlooking the deep canyon of the Urubamba River. 

Millions of online votes selected Machu Picchu in 2007 as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” and it’s easy to see why—it’s a remarkable jewel of architecture and engineering that amazes every visitor when walking around its different areas like the palaces, temples, and observatories. Opposite the citadel is Huayna Picchu Mountain, which can be reached via a winding stone walkway. 

PUNO & LAKE TITICACA

Up high in the windswept Andes is Lake Titicaca, one of Peru’s most fascinating destinations. Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and the cradle of many legends, such as the one that tells of how the lake gave birth to the Inca Empire.

Nowadays, the lake still shelters ancient cultures, such as the Uros community inhabiting floating islands made of reed and the Quechua people of Taquile Island, that still keep their traditions alive.  

The city of Puno is located on Lake Titicaca‘s shores, a festive town with many colorful celebrations throughout the year. 

ICA, PARACAS AND NAZCA

The sand deserts of Ica reveal treasures of ancestral civilizations, such as the famous Nazca Lines, carefully drawn in the sand and only visible from the air. On the other hand, there are the Paracas National Reserve and Ballestas Islands, both of which have incredible ecosystems and are home to magnificent fauna. A short distance away are the cities of Ica and Pisco, which function as the wine centers and home of the Peruvian national drink: the pisco sour!

NORTHERN BEACHES

Although Peru is not a known beach destination, the north of Peru has several long white beaches washed by the Pacific Ocean waters that offer visitors perfect tranquility and privacy. Because of its year-round sunny weather, a visit to this region constitutes an optional break from the country’s many Andean and archeology-oriented sites. These beaches offer fine accommodations for entertainment, relaxation, and a wide range of water sports (deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, surfing, paddle boarding, and kitesurfing). 

The northern Peruvian coastline between Tumbes and Piura features superb beaches stretching 12 miles (20 kilometers), with pure white sand and bright blue seas uninterrupted by sand bars, capes, or islands. 

MORE PERU'S TOP
VISITOR SITES?

Sacred Valley

Just an hour’s drive from Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas (Urubamba Valley) is home to picturesque communities, impressive terraces, and several important archeological sites. In Inca times, the valley was the breadbasket of the Empire and is still essential for agriculture, as farmers worked the same fields and even grew the same crops used during Inca times. Its mild weather and particular geography make it the ideal place for outdoor activities.

Peru Sacred Valley

Arequipa & Colca

Declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO, this southern Peruvian city (also known as “The White City” due to being built out of white volcanic rock) is filled with beautiful convents, temples, and old colonial houses. Arequipa also holds a gastronomic wealth of a mixture of native products of the ancient Pre-Columbian cultures that have now been blended with modern-day culinary techniques. Additionally, two of the world’s deepest canyons (Colca and Cotahuasi Canyons) offer astonishing views that should not be missed.
Peru Arequipa Y Colca

HUARAZ

A land of snowcapped mountains and deep canyons, also known for its beautiful turquoise lagoons and long paths excellent for hiking. Huaraz is the main city, and it is located in the Huascaran National Park. The city is the starting point for a marvelous trip through traditional Andean towns, crystal clear lakes, and, of course, the ideal places to partake in adventure sports. Those who love mountain climbing, trekking, skiing, and other sports gather here to begin their adventure, surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Americas.
Peru Huaraz

Kuelap

Located in northeastern Peru in the Amazonas region, 44 miles (72 km) from the city of Chachapoyas, the regional capital, Kuelap is an ancient stone fortress built strategically on a mountaintop looking out over the Utcubamba Valley.
Peru Kuelap

LA GUAJIRA

The Moche and Chimu cultures are what Trujillo and Chiclayo share in common, as these were the creators of the marvelous Chan Chan Citadel and the Tomb of the Lord of Sipan. The latter is the tomb of the significant Mochica warrior priest, which holds fantastic gold and silver objects of incredible value. Chan Chan Citadel in Trujillo is the largest mud-brick citadel built by a pre-Hispanic civilization in the Americas and was the religious and administrative castle of the Chimu Culture until its conquest by the Incas. UNESCO listed it as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1986.
Peru Trujillo Y Chiclayo

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Vinicunca Cusco Peru

TravelandLeisure.com

Condé Nast Traveler ONLINE

This small, secret rooftop of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion peers over Plaza San Francisco in the center of Quito’s colonial Old Town, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Order a Cedrón Spritz, a refreshing mix of rum, lemon, sparkling wine, and fresh lemon verbena (cedrón) syrup and leaf, then revel in the mesmerizing, real-time montage of daily life in Ecuador’s capital as it parades past.

National Geographic Traveller

A Font of information, Klaus has spent decades in the field, leading tours in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos Islands. He hung up his guiding boots a few years back and now creates itineraries for the tour operator, Metropolitan Touring. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from mainland South America, Galapagos is one of the most biodiverse locales on Earth.

Cruise Critic

Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015.

Telegraph Ultra Travel: 50 Greatest Hotels in the World

When this modern, minimalist, glass-walled jungle lodge opened in 2012, it changed the accommodation game in South America. Arquitect Alfredo Ribadeneira’s “protective cocoon” would impress in a modern city; in the depths of an Andean cloudforest, it is wild, audacious and beautiful. Though only 70 miles from Quito, Maspi Lodge sits in splendid isolation, perched on a cliff at the end of an unsealed road.

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