Would you like to know the best things to do and see in Peru? From the mysterious Machu Picchu to the huge Amazonian forest, Peru is a country full of treasures and secrets. We have 52 of the best things to do in Peru and a lot more reasons you should plan a trip to Peru!
Peru is located in western South America along the continent’s west coast. The length of Peru’s western border is along side the Pacific ocean. The northern, southeastern and eastern boundaries are shared with Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and Ecuador.
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52 Best Things to Do and See in Peru
So, why travel to Peru? The Amazon River starts In Peru and of course the famous Machu Picchu & The Sacred Valley are located here. The mysterious Nazca Lines can also be seen in Peru.
Things to do in Lima, Peru
Lima, Peru is known as the “City of Kings” and is famous for it’s Peruvian catacombs, stellar surfing spots and home to one of the world’s smallest churches. It is also considered South America’s culinary capital.
1. Plaza de Armas
Go to the Plaza de Armas in the historic center of Lima and visit this place full of culture and history! At 12:00 am, don’t miss the changing of the guard in front of the Presidential Palace! Take a photo in front of the Cathedral and the imposing hotels of the place.
2. Visit the Beautiful Churches in Lima
Visit the many churches of the center: from the Cathedral of Lima and its religious art museum to the Santo Domingo church which contains San Martin de Porres and Santa Rosa de Lima relics. Moreover, in San Francisco church you can visit the very secret catacombs.
3. Visit the Literature House
Discover the most important Peruvian authors, from José Maria Arguedas, defender of the Indian and Quechua traditions to the famous Mario Vargas Llosa, the winner of the Nobel Prize 2010 at the Literature House. Try to learn Los Heraldos Negros from Cesar Vallejo, one of the most important poets of Latin America.
4. Explore the Miraflores Neighborhood
Miraflores is an upscale neighborhood south of downtown Lima. It has several hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and department stores.
Stroll through the borough of Miraflores, cross the beautiful Villena Bridge and enjoy the view! For a romantic escape, the Amor Park is perfect to for a peaceful walk to reach the huge sculpture El Beso from Victor Delfin.
If you want to go shopping, the Larcomar is one of the most important shopping centers in the capital.
5. Visit the Huaringas Bar in Miraflors
Celebrate the night in Miraflores! Head to the Huaringas Bar to listen to a live concert or drink pisco cocktails. Or Both!
The Bizarro Bar is also a must-see for those who love non-stop dance party! There you’ll listen to music from the 80’s! Let’s dance!
6. Visit the Bridge of Sights in Barranco
Admire the Bridge of Sights in Barranco. Barranco is the bohemian and romantic district of Lima. It’s situated on a cliff near the ocean. It’s both a good place to walk and to go out at night. Many intellectuals live there.
7. Take a Combi
A combi is a local bus in Lima. If you are ready for an adventure and wan to truly discover how crazy the traffic is in Lima use a Combi to get to your location of choice. But, first, you’ll need to figure out what bus you have to take and where your bus stop. And be weary of the bus driver, as he just might try to overcharge you.
Finally, make the choice to take a taxi because it’s safer.
8. Visit Callao Harbor
Check out Callao harbor. Enjoy numerous beaches such as La Punta or the fortress of King Philip built in 1747 to defend the city against pirates.
From Callao harbor, you can also sail to Palmino Island to see many sea lions.
9. Visit the San Isidro District
In the San Isidro district, you can walk into an olive grove with over 1,500 olive trees. The archaeological site of Huaca Huallamarca is also worth a visit. It’s very impressive to see this huge historic site in the heart of the city!
10. Visit the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI)
Have a cultural moment seeing the paintings at the Mali museum. Discover this impressive building from the architectural eclecticism of Lima.
There, enjoy the pieces of art from the numerous artistic currents from the colonial artists to the modern Peruvian.
11. Lord of Miracles Procession
One of the best things to do in Peru is participate in the Lord of miracles procession on the 18th and 19th of October in Lima. In the city center of Lima, you can take part in one of the most impressive processions in the world.
This painting was created by a slave in the XVIIth century and survived the huge earthquake which occurred in Lima and Callao in 1655. It has been a symbol for Peruvian people and an object of veneration since this date.
Each year, a huge procession with people dressed in purple color takes place in Lima and is worth a look!
12. Hike the Cerro San Cristobal
Cerro San Cristobal is the highest part of Lima at 1340 feet (409 meters). The hill is located in northeast Lima Centro has a mirador (lookout) at the top, with views of Lima stretching to the Pacific Ocean.
13. Visit the Beach
Relax at one of the beaches near Barranco on Miraflores! In summer, you’ll be able to sunbathe on the warm beaches. If you’re an adventurer, you can try to swim, but the Pacific Ocean is really cold! Good luck!
Day Trips from Lima
14. Pachamac Day Trip
If you leave the city, you can go to Pachamac, a small town 31 km from Lima. It’s the most important archaeological location near Lima. It was a ceremonial and religious center for Lima culture in the year 400.
It was transformed by the Incas into a real syncretism between many different cultures. It’s really interesting for those who like history!
15. Visit Pucusana Harbor
Go to the harbor of Pucusana. It’s a quiet typical fishing port located one hour from Lima. If you are looking for beaches, calm, and peace; this place is perfect. You just might be the only tourist in this isolated part of Peru.
Peruvian Foods You Must Try
From Peru’s national dish of Ceviche to Lomo Saltado (Stir Fried Beef), which is a fusion of Chinese stir-frying and classic Peruvian ingredients to the popular street vendor treat of the Peru donut, Picarones.
16. Cuy (Guinea Pig)
Taste cuy (Guinea Pig), the lomo saltado or the ají de gallina! Delightful for the taste buds!
17. Eat Ceviche
Eat a ceviche in Barranco in Canta Rana or in La Trastienda, two typical seafood restaurants in Barranco. The ceviche is one of the most famous food of Peru: it’s raw fish marinated in lemon. It’s exceptional!
18. Drink Pisco in Peru
You’ll find in the Paracas historic center many vineyards make this alcohol which is similar to cognac. Some people say that Pisco is Chilean but this city is proof that Pisco is Peruvian alcohol! Today, it’s still a controversy.
Peru Outdoor Adventure
19. Visit the Nor Yovos Caucho Reserve
Plan a trip to the Nor Yovos Caucho reserve and the beautiful Cañete River Basin with its turquoise lakes. You may catch the trout and observe the birds. There are also many archaeological ruins like pre-Columbian terraces and a part of the Inca Trail from Pachacamac to Jauja.
20. Visit the Paracas Reserve
The Paracas reserve is the most important protected landscape area in Peru. It protects the sea coasts wildlife of this region. Indeed, here there are 216 birds’ species and 186 fish species on the beaches. You may take this opportunity to visit the ruins of Paracas which are not too far away.
21. Sandboard at the Huacachina Oasis
Do you like sandboarding? You’ll adore Ica and its desert which is a paradise for those who are looking for extreme sensations. This beautiful site is famous for its quad excursion and sandboarding areas. Moreover, the numerous green oases like the Huacachina lagoons with palm plantations give to this place an exotic taste!
22. Climb the Cerro Blanco
Also known as Duna Grande, the Cerro Blanco rises up in the deserts to the southeast of the city of Nazca.
The Cerro Blanco is the highest dune on the continent at 3860 feet above sea level. It is one of the most famous places to do sandboarding.
23. Visit Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon is located near the town of Arequipa. It’s the fourth deepest canyon in the world at 3,400 meters in depth. There, you’ll see many mountains and volcanoes, from the Patapampa Pass (4,910 meters high) to Ubinas, Chachani, Ampato and Sabancaya Volcanoes.
The Ocolli amphitheater and its pre-Columbian terraces are worth a visit too. The desert arid landscapes provide you with an astonishing sight.
24. See the Lines of Nasca
Drive to Nasca and head up one of the watchtowers to have a great viewpoint of the Lines of Nasca.
These mysterious line forms of dogs, monkeys or birds come from the Nasca civilization (300 BC). Try to unlock the mysteries of these very technical people. Indeed, the Nasca created a system of aqueducts that was really sophisticated.
Visit Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is located on the border between Peru and Bolivia in the Andes Mountain. It is one of South America’s largest lakes. It is known as the “highest lake” in the world because it is the world’s highest navigable body of water. It is also said to be the birthplace of the Incas, thus home to numerous ruins.
25. Sail on the Titicaca Lake
Sail on the Titicaca Lake, the highest navigable lake on the world. Discover the Uros floating islands made with reeds. There, 2,500 Aymaras Indians live in an old traditional lifestyle. Try to learn their ancestral fishing methods and artisanal know-how.
26. Visit the City of Puno
Go to Puno, the city of Titicaca Lake. It contains many architectural jewels like the monuments in the city center and places like the cathedral: built in the mestizo art which is a syncretism of Jesuit, Aymaras and Quechua art.
Pass through the majestic Deustua Arch and climb all 620 steps of the Kuntur Wasi watchtower built to celebrate the condor king. The view over the lake offers you breathtaking scenery.
27. Visit Sillustani Necropolis
Stop at the Sillustani necropolis on a peninsula on the Umayo Lake and look at this spectacular view on the cliffs. This pre-Inca cemetery is just 21 miles from Puno on the shores of Lake Umayo.
Discover the chullpas; funeral towers where the Aymaras, the Collas and the Incas dignitaries themselves were buried. This fascinating place is a must-see as the sun is rising.
Things to do in Cusco
Cusco is the principal gate to the Sacred Valley; the cradle of the Incas Civilization. This syncretic city, full of history and legends is a showcase for those who want to discover a mix between Spanish colonial art and Incas art.
28. Visit the Church of the Society of Jesus
The Church of the Society of Jesus (The Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús) was built on the foundation of Amarucancha Incas palace. It is located in the Plaza de Armas de Cusco in the city center and is one of the best examples of Spanish Baroque architecture in Peru.
29. Visit the Mercado of Cusco
Try to negotiate with merchants at Mercado of Cusco. Buy typical panpipes, traditional embroideries or the famous Peruvian woolly hat! Wander the Santa Ana neighborhood and let yourself be guided by your senses through the back alleys of the city.
30. Visit the Sacsayhuaman Fortress
The Sacsayhuaman fortress was a military fort of the Inca Empire. It was built in 15th century and has been compared with the Roman Colosseum for its greatness. It was the northern access point to the city of Cusco.
The fortress is a marvel of architectural achievement. The stones were perfectly cut for this monument and fit into each other with pinpoint precision.
Today, there is still a mystery about the methods the Incas used to bring these stones there while they didn’t even invent the wheel. Moreover, this place is very peaceful and calm and you’ll appreciate this atmosphere.
31. Explore the Ruins of Ollantaytambo
Located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, this 15th-century Inca fortress is one of Peru’s best well-preserved ruins. The ruins of Ollantaytambo are located in the Sacred Valley about one hour by taxi from Cusco.
Ollantaytambo was a fortress where there were many fierce fights between Incas and Spanish conquistadors. There, you’ll observe many terraces and the very famous Temple of the Sun where the Incas used to worship the Sun-God.
Aguas Calientes is the gateway to the nearby Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. The town center is full of restaurants, shops, and a wonderful craft market.
32. Take a Train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes
Take the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, the closest town to Machu Picchu (6 miles or 10 kilometers). It’s such a beautiful way to see the Urubamba valley and it gives you an unforgettable experience with astonishing landscapes. Enjoy the panoramic view, observe the Pampa of Anta and follow the Urubamba River and its luxurious vegetation.
33. Enjoy a Natural Thermal Bath
The natural thermal baths of Aguas Calientes are 100 degrees Fahrenheit and famous for their medicinal qualities. You’ll be able to rest and to relax with amazing views of the Andes Mountains. Go to the market of Aguas Calientes and buy some souvenirs of Machu Picchu!
34. Visit Machu Picchu. Enter the mystery.
Machu Picchu is a 15th-century (built around 1450 AD) Inca citadel and the most visited tourist destination in Peru. Machu Picchu is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
If you want to take the Inca Trail, the last part ends in Machu Picchu. It is a very practical 40 km road of the larger 25,000 km trail along the Andes Mountains. It was built by the Incas and was used for the messengers of the empire. You’ll see many Incas ruins and vestiges all the way.
35. Prepare for Machu Picchu Altitude
Machu Picchu is 2,430 meters above sea level (7,972 ft). Because of this, it is normal for tourists to suffer from ‘altitude sickness’ (also known as mountain sickness or soroche). Although the symptoms usually disappear on their own, there are effective ways to combat this discomfort.
‘Sorojchi Pills’, also known as altitude sickness pills, is a medicine that prevents and alleviates the symptoms of altitude sickness. It can be found in any pharmacy in Cusco without the need for a prescription.
More Towns in Peru Worth a Visit
36. Visit Arequipa
Also known as the White City, Arequipa is the second most important city in the country. Here you can visit many churches such as the Cathedral, Santo Domingo, San Francisco or La Merced church.
All these monuments are built with white stone extracted from the Misti volcano which is still an active volcano. This city enables you to enjoy canyons and volcanoes in beautiful desert landscapes.
37. Take a Trip to Cajamarca
Located at 2,750 meters high, Cajamarca is very famous in the Incas history. Indeed, it’s the city where Atahualpa, the last Inca was captured by the conquistadores of Pizarro in 1532. This event precipitated the fall of the Inca Empire.
There, you may visit many churches which remind us of the Spanish presence in this region. Near the city, you can visit the milk farms which are a specialty of the region.
38. Visit Huaraz
Huaraz is the second most populated city in the country. This city is surrounded by the snowy summits of the White Cordillera. Go to the Rataquena watchtower and enjoy a beautiful view at the crossroad between the White and the Black Cordillera.
From Huascar, you can walk to the beautiful Huascaran Park and its marvelous mountains.
39. Trek in the White Andes Mountains
While in Huaraz, trek in the White Andes Mountains and Huascaran Park.
The Huascaran Park is part of the World Natural Heritage: admire the spectacular Callejon de Conchucos, climb up on the Huascaran or Huandoy summit, and explore the impressive Quuilcayhaunca and Carhuascancha quebradas. There are many beautiful landscapes to discover!
40. Discover Chachapoyas
Discover Chachapoyas, this strange city in the northeast of Cajamarca which is located between both jungle and mountains. Go to the Gocta falls in the jungle or visit the ancient Chachapoyas Kuelap citadel to discover the old civilization known as the “people of clouds”.
41. Go to Puerto Maldonado
Go down to Puerto Maldonado and discover this city at the heart of the jungle. Enjoy a tropical climate and go on an excursion on the Rio Tambopata or go up on the watchtower to have an incredible view of the Amazonian forest.
42. Discover the Gateway to the Amazon Forest in Iquitos
Go North to Iquitos, the gateway to the Amazonian forest. This is the last civilized place or town before the mysteries and adventure of the Amazon.
Sleep in the small lodges at the heart of the Amazonian forest. Enjoy your stay in this city with a real tropical atmosphere. Walk to the Casa de Fierro which was designed by Gustave Eiffel’s firm. It is worth a visit!
43. Explore the Amazonian Forest
Enter the Amazonian forest. The Peruvian Amazon is the second-largest area of the Amazon, after Brazil. It covers nearly 60% of Peru’s landscape and includes 3,940 unique and sometimes threatened species.
Discover luxurious vegetation and a lot of strange animals. From the pink dolphins of the Quistococha Lake to the marmosets of Monkey’s Island, it’s a pleasant change of scenery! Climb up the Amazon River and look at the caimans! The Manu Park and the Tambopata reserve are huge natural reserves.
44. Meet Indian Tribes in the Heart of the Amazonian forest
Learn about the primitive life of the Indian tribes in the heart of the Amazonian forest. Find the best guide to teach you of these traditional lifestyles. Meet the Shaman (the chief of the tribes) and live a spiritual experience drinking the famous ayahuasca, this strange potion made with creepers.
45. Visit the Beaches of Mancora
Enjoy the white sand beaches of Mancora in the north littoral. Mancora is a wonderful fishermen city. It’s famous for the turquoise sea and for the big waves. It’s a paradise for surfers and for those who are looking for a calm and peaceful atmosphere without too many tourists.
46. Discover the City of Friendship: Chiclayo
Welcome to the city of friendship: Chiclayo, the fourth most important city in the country of Peru. Don’t miss the cathedral which is designed by Gustave Eiffel and hides an impressive metallic structure. Visit the many pre-Columbian sites surrounding the city like the pyramids of the Sican culture for example.
47. Explore the Manglares Tumbes sanctuary
Be quiet! You are now entering the Manglares Tumbes sanctuary; a protected area that is unique in the world. The whole ecosystem focuses on the mangroves.
Sail with a kayak between swamps and observe the wildlife which is very diverse in this region: you’ll find 10 mammal species, 9 caiman species, and 148 bird species.
48. Visit Trujillo & the Pampa Desert
Trujillo is a fresh green oasis in the desert of Pampa. It’s a cultural center of Peru. Go to the Chan Chan site to discover the Chimu culture or just wander on the Plaza de Armas and observe the Liberty monument sculpted by the German Edmundo Moeller.
Then, stroll on the street and raise your head: the Spanish style of the multicolor houses is really impressive!
More Fun Things to do in Peru
49. Take a selfie with a Llama
Try to distinguish between the llama, the alpaca, and the vicuña. Take a selfie with a llama. And realize that all the llamas don’t spit. Post it on Facebook. Laugh when your friends say that there is a family resemblance (true story)!
50. Dance to Peruvian Music
Learn how to dance to typical Peruvian music: from the Huayno, the sierra dance to the African festejo, each dance has its own rhythm, instruments and identity. Dance the marinera norteña, a seductive parade that used to be danced with horses in the past.
51. Take part in the Qoyllur Rit’i Pilgrimage
Take part to the Qoyllur Rit’i pilgrimage. This incredible event occurs at the beginning of June and brings together more than 50,000 Peruvian people in the astonishing Andes Mountains near Cusco.
It’s a real syncretism between Catholic worship and Indian traditions with traditional costumes and many colors! It’s an authentic experience!
52. Meet Peruvian People
And finally, meet Peruvian people. Discover the real meaning of sense of hospitality. See really generous people who are very proud of their traditions and culture. Share a meal with a Peruvian and live one of the most convivial moments of your life!
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Follow us at the luxury travel agency Argentina Excepcion to discover this intriguing part of the world. You’ll also find more information about these attractions and recommendations for other restaurants and lodging.
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