Peru Travel Guide
From the majestic ruins of Machu Picchu to the bustling streets of Lima and the serene beauty of Lake Titicaca, our Peru Travel Guide will take you on an unforgettable journey through one of South America’s most captivating destinations.
Landscapes, culture, traditions, gastronomy, history, each region of Peru is truly unique, and we quickly realized that Peru was much more than Machu Picchu and the Incas. Here is the list of cities and sites that in my opinion are essential when you travel to Peru.
Peru is a country full of mysteries and surprises. It is also a destination where you can meet great people, and it is this kind of exchange that makes a trip unforgettable.
First, there are the big cities like Lima, Cuzco and Arequipa which bear witness to the cultural mix. These are the best destinations to discover the history of the country.
For the great classics, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca and Nazca will leave you speechless. Peru is also a country where the landscapes are as varied as they are sublime: from the beaches of Mancora to the dunes of Huacachina, passing through the jungle of the Amazonian forest, the Manu national park or the natural reserve of Isla Ballestas.
Finally, to discover our Peru travel guide for the most beautiful archaeological remains less frequented by tourists, visit Trujillo, Chachapoyas or Choquequirao.
Machu Picchu – a stunning Incan citadel located in the Andes Mountains and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
This iconic Incan citadel is a must-visit destination in Peru. Visitors can explore the ruins of this ancient city, hike the Inca Trail, and take in the stunning views of the surrounding Andes Mountains.
Top 10 visits and to do in Machu Picchu
- Explore the Lost City of the Incas: Machu Picchu is a fascinating ancient city that is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America. Take your time exploring the ruins and learn about the history of the Inca civilization.
- Hike Huayna Picchu: The hike up Huayna Picchu is a strenuous but rewarding experience. The view from the top offers a breathtaking panorama of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
- Walk the Inca Trail: The Inca Trail is a multi-day trek through stunning landscapes, ancient ruins, and traditional villages that culminates in a visit to Machu Picchu.
- Visit the Temple of the Sun: Located in the heart of Machu Picchu, the Temple of the Sun is a beautiful Inca structure with fascinating astronomical alignments.
- Check out the Temple of the Condor: This incredible rock formation is in the shape of a condor and is believed to have been used by the Incas for ceremonial purposes.
- Watch the sunrise: Seeing the sunrise over Machu Picchu is a breathtaking experience that should not be missed.
- Visit the Machu Picchu Museum: Learn more about the history and archaeology of Machu Picchu at this fascinating museum.
- Take a scenic train ride: The train ride from Cusco to Machu Picchu offers spectacular views of the Andes Mountains and the surrounding countryside.
- Enjoy a traditional Andean meal: Sample delicious Peruvian cuisine while enjoying the beautiful scenery of Machu Picchu.
- Take a hot springs bath: Relax your muscles after a long day of hiking by soaking in the natural hot springs near Machu Picchu.
Lima – Peru’s capital city located on the Pacific coast
Peru’s bustling capital city is located on the Pacific coast and offers a mix of modern and historic attractions. Visit the historic center, try some delicious Peruvian cuisine, and take in the vibrant cultural scene.
The Lima, our Peru Travel Guide provides a comprehensive overview of the country’s capital, including its rich history, vibrant culture, and must-visit attractions.
Top 10 visits and to do in Lima
- Visit the Historic Center: Lima’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to many beautiful colonial buildings and churches.
- Try the local cuisine: Lima is known for its incredible food scene, so be sure to try some ceviche, lomo saltado, and other Peruvian dishes.
- Explore the Museo Larco: This museum houses an impressive collection of pre-Columbian art, including pottery, textiles, and jewelry.
- Visit the Monastery of San Francisco: This beautiful monastery dates back to the 16th century and is home to a fascinating library and catacombs.
- Stroll through the Barranco neighborhood: Barranco is a bohemian neighborhood that is home to many art galleries, restaurants, and cafes.
- See the Huaca Pucllana ruins: This ancient pyramid was built by the Lima culture around 500 AD and is now a popular tourist attraction.
- Visit the Museo de Arte de Lima: This museum houses a large collection of Peruvian art, including works from the pre-Columbian period to the present day.
- Check out the Parque de la Reserva: This park is home to the famous Magic Water Circuit, a series of fountains that light up at night.
- Take a bike tour of the city: Explore Lima on two wheels and see the sights from a different perspective.
- Visit the Miraflores neighborhood: Miraflores is a trendy neighborhood that is home to many shops, restaurants, and bars, as well as a beautiful coastline.
Cusco – a beautiful colonial city located in the Andes Mountains and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
This charming colonial city located in the Andes Mountains is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a hub for tourists exploring Machu Picchu and other nearby attractions. Explore the city’s historic architecture and bustling markets, and take part in cultural events and festivals.
Top 10 visits and to do in Cusco
- Visit the historic center of Cusco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and explore its narrow streets, ancient buildings, and beautiful squares.
- Tour the iconic Inca site of Sacsayhuaman, located on a hill overlooking Cusco, and marvel at the impressive stone structures and panoramic views of the city.
- Explore the colorful San Pedro Market, where you can find traditional handicrafts, fresh produce, and delicious local food.
- Visit the Qorikancha, an ancient Inca temple that was later converted into a colonial church, and admire the impressive stonework and gold-plated walls.
- Take a walking tour of the bohemian San Blas neighborhood, known for its artsy vibe, quaint streets, and lively nightlife.
- Experience the traditional Andean culture at the Cusco Center for Traditional Textiles, where you can learn about the ancient weaving techniques and buy high-quality textiles made by local artisans.
- Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, a 4-day trek that takes you through stunning mountain landscapes, remote villages, and ancient Inca ruins.
- Visit the Maras salt mines, a series of terraced salt ponds that have been used since Inca times and offer breathtaking views of the surrounding Andes.
- Take a day trip to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a lush valley filled with ancient ruins, traditional villages, and stunning landscapes.
- Enjoy the nightlife in Cusco, which offers a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants, as well as live music, cultural performances, and festivals throughout the year.
Lake Titicaca – a stunning lake located on the border with Bolivia and the highest navigable lake in the world
This stunning lake located on the border with Bolivia is the highest navigable lake in the world. Visitors can take boat tours to the floating Uros Islands, explore the local culture and traditions, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Top 10 visits and to do in Lake Titicaca
- Explore the Uros Floating Islands, a unique community of islands made entirely of reeds that have been inhabited for centuries by the Uros people.
- Visit the island of Taquile, a tranquil and picturesque island known for its traditional textile art and ancient Inca ruins.
- Take a boat tour of the lake and enjoy the stunning views of the Andean mountains, the floating islands, and the crystal-clear waters.
- Learn about the ancient history and culture of the lake at the Titicaca National Reserve, which features museums, archaeological sites, and cultural events.
- Visit the charming town of Puno, located on the shores of the lake, and explore its colonial architecture, lively markets, and rich cultural heritage.
- Take a scenic train ride from Puno to Cusco, which offers spectacular views of the lake and the Andean highlands.
- Hike to the top of Amantani Island, the highest island on the lake, and enjoy the panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
- Go kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding on the lake and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and natural beauty of the area.
- Take a homestay with a local family on one of the islands and experience the traditional lifestyle and culture of the indigenous communities.
- Attend one of the colorful and vibrant festivals that take place throughout the year, such as the Feast of the Virgen de la Candelaria, which features music, dance, and traditional costumes.
Sacred Valley – a stunning valley located in the Andes Mountains known for its Incan ruins and traditional communities
This beautiful valley located in the Andes Mountains is known for its Incan ruins and traditional communities. Visitors can hike the scenic trails, explore ancient Incan sites like Ollantaytambo and Pisac, and immerse themselves in the local culture.
Top 10 visits and to do in Sacred Valley
- Visit Machu Picchu – This stunning Incan citadel is one of the most famous and popular tourist attractions in the world.
- Explore Ollantaytambo – This town is known for its well-preserved Incan ruins and its beautiful cobblestone streets.
- Visit the Maras Salt Mines – These salt mines have been in use since Incan times and are a unique and beautiful sight to behold.
- Take a train ride through the Sacred Valley – This is a great way to see the beautiful scenery of the valley.
- Visit the Pisac Market – This market is known for its handicrafts, textiles, and jewelry, and is a great place to buy souvenirs.
- Hike the Inca Trail – This famous trail is a challenging but rewarding experience that takes you through beautiful mountain scenery.
- Visit the Moray Terraces – These terraces were used by the Incas for agricultural experiments and are a unique and beautiful sight to see.
- Take a hot air balloon ride over the valley – This is a great way to see the stunning landscape from above.
- Visit the Chinchero Market – This market is known for its textiles and is a great place to see traditional weaving techniques.
- Visit the town of Urubamba – This town is a great base for exploring the Sacred Valley and is known for its beautiful scenery and local cuisine.
Arequipa – a beautiful colonial city located in southern Peru and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
This colonial city located in southern Peru is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and known for its beautiful architecture, rich history, and cultural attractions. Visit the stunning Santa Catalina Monastery, explore the local markets, and sample some of the region’s delicious cuisine.
Top 10 visits and to do in Arequipa
- Visit the Santa Catalina Monastery – This beautiful monastery is a must-visit attraction in Arequipa, known for its vibrant colors and unique architecture.
- Explore the Historic Center of Arequipa – This area of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is filled with colonial architecture, churches, and museums.
- Visit the Museo Santuarios Andinos – This museum houses the remains of the Inca Ice Maiden, a mummy discovered on Mount Ampato in 1995.
- Take a walking tour of the city – Walking tours are a great way to get to know the city and learn about its history and culture.
- Enjoy local cuisine – Arequipa is known for its delicious food, including dishes like rocoto relleno and chuño colado.
- Visit the Yanahuara neighborhood – This neighborhood is known for its beautiful views of the city and its iconic arches.
- Hike in the nearby mountains – Arequipa is surrounded by stunning mountain ranges, including the Misti, Chachani, and Pichu Pichu volcanoes.
- Relax in the hot springs – There are several hot springs located near Arequipa, including the La Calera and La Gruta hot springs.
- Attend a cultural event or festival – Arequipa is known for its vibrant cultural scene, with events and festivals happening throughout the year.
- Visit the Sabandia Mill – This historic mill dates back to the 18th century and is a popular tourist attraction.
Huayna Picchu – a stunning mountain located near Machu Picchu known for its hiking trails
This stunning mountain located near Machu Picchu is known for its hiking trails and panoramic views of the surrounding area. Visitors can take guided tours or hike on their own to the summit, where they can see the famous Incan citadel from above.
Top 10 visits and to do in Huayna Picchu
- Hike to the summit: One of the main attractions of Huayna Picchu is the hike to the summit. The trail is steep and narrow, but the views of Machu Picchu from the top are breathtaking.
- Visit the Temple of the Moon: This ancient Inca temple is located on the side of Huayna Picchu and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
- Explore the ruins of Machu Picchu: After hiking Huayna Picchu, take the time to explore the fascinating ruins of Machu Picchu.
- Take a guided tour: Learn more about the history and significance of Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu by taking a guided tour.
- Watch the sunrise or sunset: The views from Huayna Picchu are even more stunning at sunrise or sunset.
- Take a break at the Inca Bridge: After hiking Huayna Picchu, stop at the Inca Bridge for a rest and to admire the engineering feat that is this ancient bridge.
- Explore the Temple of the Condor: This unique temple at Machu Picchu is shaped like a condor and is believed to have been used for sacrificial rituals.
- Visit the Intihuatana Stone: This carved stone is believed to have been used by the Incas for astronomical observations and is a fascinating piece of ancient history.
- Take a photo at the Sun Gate: Located at the entrance to Machu Picchu, the Sun Gate is a great spot to take a photo with Machu Picchu in the background.
- Enjoy the natural beauty: The surrounding mountains and valleys of Huayna Picchu offer some of the most stunning natural beauty in the world.
Nazca Lines – a mysterious group of geoglyphs located in the southern desert of Peru
These mysterious geoglyphs located in the southern desert of Peru are a must-visit for those interested in ancient history and archaeology. Visitors can take scenic flights over the lines and marvel at the intricate designs etched into the earth.
Top 10 visits and to do in Nazca Lines
- Take a scenic flight: The best way to see the Nazca Lines is by taking a scenic flight over the area.
- Visit the Nazca Lines Interpretation Center: Learn more about the history and mystery of the Nazca Lines at this informative center.
- Explore the Palpa Lines: While not as well-known as the Nazca Lines, the Palpa Lines are also worth a visit and offer a different perspective on the ancient geoglyphs.
- Visit the Chauchilla Cemetery: This ancient cemetery is home to well-preserved mummies and is a fascinating glimpse into the lives and beliefs of the ancient Nazca people.
- Take a guided tour: A guided tour can provide additional information and context about the Nazca Lines and their significance.
- Visit the Maria Reiche Museum: This museum is dedicated to the work of Maria Reiche, the German mathematician and archaeologist who devoted her life to studying and preserving the Nazca Lines.
- Explore the surrounding area: The Nazca region is full of other interesting sites and attractions, including ancient ruins, hot springs, and more.
- Enjoy the local cuisine: The Nazca region is known for its delicious cuisine, including dishes like ceviche, lomo saltado, and rocoto relleno.
- Shop for souvenirs: The town of Nazca is a great place to pick up souvenirs like hand-woven textiles, pottery, and other handicrafts.
- Take a break at the Oasis of Huacachina: Located just outside Nazca, the Oasis of Huacachina is a beautiful desert oasis surrounded by sand dunes and is a great place to relax and unwind.
Chan Chan – a stunning archaeological site located on the northern coast of Peru and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
This stunning archaeological site located on the northern coast of Peru is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest adobe cities in the world. Visitors can explore the ancient ruins and learn about the history of the Chimu civilization.
Top 10 visits and to do in Chan Chan
- Visit the Tschudi Palace: This is the largest and most impressive palace in Chan Chan. It features intricate carvings and decorations.
- Explore the Huaca Arco Iris: This is a colorful pyramid-shaped temple that is well-preserved and features beautiful murals.
- Visit the Huaca del Dragon: This is a unique temple that features a dragon-like figure carved into the adobe bricks.
- Tour the Chan Chan Museum: This museum provides a comprehensive overview of the history and culture of the Chimú people who built Chan Chan.
- See the Huaca Esmeralda: This temple features a green jewel-like stone that has been incorporated into its design.
- Learn about the Chimú civilization: Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimú civilization, and a visit to the site provides insight into their culture and way of life.
- Visit the Tello Obelisk: This monument honors Julio C. Tello, a famous Peruvian archaeologist who excavated Chan Chan in the early 20th century.
- See the Huaca Toledo: This temple features intricate carvings and decorations, and is one of the best-preserved structures in Chan Chan.
- Explore the Huaca de la Luna: While not technically part of Chan Chan, this temple complex is located nearby and is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of the region.
- Walk the Chan Chan Archaeological Trail: This trail leads visitors through the various sectors of Chan Chan and provides a glimpse into the layout and organization of the ancient city.
Colca Canyon – a stunning canyon located in southern Peru and one of the deepest canyons in the world
This stunning canyon located in southern Peru is one of the deepest canyons in the world and offers breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains. Visitors can hike the scenic trails, take in the beautiful natural scenery, and spot wildlife like condors and llamas.
Top 10 visits and to do in Colca Canyon
- Take a Condor Watching Tour: The Colca Canyon is one of the best places in the world to see the Andean condor, and there are several tour operators that offer guided tours to see them up close.
- Visit the Cruz del Condor: This viewpoint offers stunning views of the canyon and is one of the best places to see the condors in flight.
- Hike to the Oasis: The Colca Canyon features several oases that are accessible via hiking trails. The most popular is the Sangalle Oasis, which features a refreshing swimming pool and comfortable accommodations.
- Explore the pre-Incan ruins: The Colca Canyon was home to several pre-Incan civilizations, and there are several ruins that are accessible via hiking trails. The most impressive is the Uyo Uyo ruins, which feature stone terraces and a stunning view of the canyon.
- Go white-water rafting: The Colca River offers excellent opportunities for white-water rafting, with rapids ranging from Class III to Class V.
- Visit the thermal baths: The Colca Canyon is home to several hot springs and thermal baths, which offer a relaxing way to soak in the natural beauty of the region.
- Learn about traditional weaving: The Colca Canyon is home to several indigenous communities that are known for their traditional weaving techniques. Visitors can learn about these techniques and purchase handmade textiles directly from the artisans.
- Go mountain biking: The Colca Canyon features several trails that are perfect for mountain biking, with stunning views and challenging terrain.
- Visit the town of Chivay: This is the largest town in the Colca Canyon region, and is a great place to experience the local culture and cuisine.
- Take a cultural tour: The Colca Canyon is home to several indigenous communities that have preserved their traditional way of life. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about their customs, traditions, and daily life.
Our Peru Travel Guide provides comprehensive information on the best attractions, activities, and destinations to explore in this beautiful South American country.