Have you heard?
Peru is among the most beautiful and adventurous destinations on the planet.
It’s not hard to imagine why. It’s packed full of destinations and hotspots for unique tourism and unforgettable journeys. From mountains as tall as the sky, to crystal clear lakes, to places that take a little extra work to get to, you won’t be disappointed.
Join the rest of those who have been lucky enough to visit, and experience a truly beautiful place that will stick out in your mind for the rest of your life. Here’s our list of the 10 best places to visit in Peru:
Experience the City of Cusco
Cusco is where indigenous people gather(ed), and has been referred to as the capital of the Inca Empire. No list is complete without this city in Peru and is a hotspot tourist attraction, still full of olden day vibes. Go for the colonial buildings, tasty food, great access to the rest of the country, markets, cathedrals, and museums.
See the Chan Chan Ruins
Let’s start with a destination that possibly hasn’t crossed your radar yet, shall we? The Chan Chan Ruins is the largest pre-Columbian era dig site in the Americas. Some statues are believed to be over 750 years old! You will find it on the Northern coast of Peru, near the city of Trujillo. If you’re looking for interesting and deep history, this site is for you.
Taste the Cuisine
The food isn’t a place in Peru per say, but considering the extent of its national dishes (over 500!), you will feel like you’ve got to travel in order to experience a multitude of those. You will find so many influences in Peruvian food today, including Asian and indigenous (Inca), but there’s one bet you can count on: uniqueness. You’ve heard the ceviche in Peru is amazing right? Well there’s also lomo saltado, various types of seafood, cuy (yep, that’s the guinea pig you’ve been hearing about!), quinoa, and so much more!
Define the Nazca Lines
Mysterious and open to interpretation, the Nazca Lines are geoglyphs of shapes, lines, and animals out in the Nazca Desert in Southern Peru. While some of the lines are best seen from the air, you can still get a glimpse of their enormity and complexity from the ground. Certainly religious in nature to the Nazca culture, you might be surprised by the information you receive in tours of the landscape.
Think you’ll want to stay awhile? Consider teaching English in Peru with our premium TEFL Peru Program.
Take the Climb up to Lake Titicaca
Resting at over 12,000 feet, Lake Titicaca sits in the Andes mountains near the border of Bolivia. The altitude and size alone are worth mentioning, but it’s the Incan culture that has been preserved there that should peak your interest. From underwater temples, to other ruins, to its wildlife, to its infamous reeds made into floating islands dotting the lake–nothing about it will be like anything you’ve seen before.
Don’t forget Machu Picchu
Speaking of the Inca Sacred Valley, no peru list is complete without Machu Picchu! There’s no shame in sticking with the classics and when the classics are as amazing as what Machu Picchu has to offer, go with it! There’s a variety of options for visiting the ruins, from overnight stays on hiking trails in the area, visiting the park on a day pass, to staying in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes and visiting more than once. Whatever you’re able to accomplish, be sure to get that classic photo (you know the one I mean) for your memory, because the sheer enormity of everything might overwhelm you in real time.
Don’t Skip the Capital, Lima
Lima is a giant metropolitan city full of rich history, yummy cuisine, gorgeous sea views of the Pacific, museums, and so much more! If you’re thinking there’s not a lot to do there or that you can get away with flying in and out of it without a closer look–think again!
Feel the Magic of Sacred Valley
The highlands of the Andes Mountains in Peru, Sacred Valley is a lot a like its name, and feels like a special place. Within the valley itself you will find Machu Picchu and the Urubamba River, but there are also other archaeological sites to explore. Don’t miss Pisac and countless hiking opportunities with incredible views
Switch it up with Tarapoto
Tarapoto is a city in Northern Peru known for its cloud forests, palm trees, waterfalls, and jungle atmosphere. If that sounds like a change of pace from the other dryer parts of Peru, that’s because it is! You’ll still get the culture and cuisine from the rest of the country, and the surrounding area of the city has numerous attractions like pottery, thermal baths, dancing, and more!
Hike Rainbow Mountain
Rainbow Mountain is receiving a lot of attention in the past few years, but keep in mind that this hike is at over 14,000 feet, so preparation is necessary before deciding to visit. It’s best to adjust to Cusco for a couple days before attempting, but it’s worth the altitude agony! In truth, the “mountain” is really a rock formation, but the details won’t matter once you get that incredible view.
Were you expecting to hear about llamas or alpacas in this article? Perhaps you were hoping to hear where to get gorgeous textiles or crafts?
Don’t worry! Each of these 10 places gives you opportunity to take advantage of the more classic Peru you may have heard about, but each place offers its own unique flare, too.
Peru is a country teeming with unreal beauty, deep culture, tasty cuisine, and an unlimited amount of attractions.
Don’t wait any longer! Make Peru happen.
And if you fall in love and want to stay longer, you can always learn how to teach English in Peru!
Words by Jayla Rae Ardelean