Peru is a country rich in diversity; it has stunning landscapes, the Andean mountain range, tropical jungles, beautiful coastlines, beaches, and desert. It is also rich in archaeological sites, colonial architecture, and plenty of history and culture to absorb.
Peru makes a popular travel destination for all travelers, and whether you stay 7 days or several weeks, Peru has it all.
Here are the 10 best destinations to visit in Peru, the ‘Land of the Incas.’
Arequipa – Colca Valley
Arequipa is known as the White City (Ciudad Blanca) for its quaint colonial houses, churches, and monasteries built from a white ashlar unique to the area. Its historical center is also recognized by UNESCO as a Cultural World Heritage Site.
Near Arequipa is Colca Valley where you can find one of the world’s deepest canyons. Take a hike in the Valley of Volcanoes, or visit the salt mines (Salinas) and various lagoons nestled in protected natural areas.
With plenty of outdoor adventure and appreciation of colonial architecture, Arequipa is ideal to experience a diverse city and surrounding countryside.
Historically, Chiclayo was a simple, small town on the road between Lambayeque and Zana in the Northwest of Peru during colonial times.
What makes it unique, however, is that it is home to some pre-Inca ruins which make it a hot spot in terms of archaeological and historical interest. The pyramids of Tucume are fascinating, along with the sites of Batán Grande and Huaca Rajada.
The tomb of Lord Sipan was discovered close to Chiclayo, adorned with gold, silver, and lots of jewels. The Museo de Tumbas Reales de Sipan (Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum) and Sican National Museum also house an impressive collection of valuable discoveries well worth to see.
Cusco was once the biggest city and the capital of the Inca Empire before it came under Spanish rule. Nowadays, you can see the influence and fusion of both civilizations in its architecture. Located in southeastern Peru and serving as a popular base for the world-famous Machu Picchu, Cusco remains one of Peru’s most important destinations.
The heart of the city lies in the Plaza de Armas, which is surrounded by colonial churches, balconies housing cafes, restaurants and bars. The central market in San Pedro is a delight to the senses and a great opportunity to observe local life.
On the outskirts of the city is the Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman, an enormous walled complex built from large limestone boulders.
If you love nature and want to experience the diversity of the Amazon jungle, Iquitos should be included in hyour itinerary. From the city of Iquitos you can take tours into the jungle, stay in lodges, and venture into the heart of the Amazon rainforest.
The protected areas of Pacaya Samiria National Reserve and the Allpahuayo Mishana National Reserve have abundant flora and fauna, and you can enjoy a cruise down the Amazon river, or meet local tribes to experience their way of life.
Iquitos is only accessible by plane or boat.
Lake Titicaca and Puno
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. It is inhabited by the Uros people. The popular islands to visit on the lake are the Amantani and Taquile islands, as well as the floating islands made from totora reeds.
Puno is a port town located on the shores of Lake Titicaca on the Altiplano of Peru. It serves as a base to visit the lake and the floating islands.
Lima is Peru’s capital and is a sprawling metropolis, consisting of an architectural blend of pre-Hispanic, colonial, and modern buildings. The historical center hosts the main attractions of the city, with plazas, churches, monasteries, museums, markets, restaurants, and shops.
The size and beauty of these colonial constructions are impressive and provide an opportunity to wind your way through the streets admiring the architecture. The city also offers live concerts, music, cultural shows and is rich in culinary tradition and variety. Trying the national dish of Peru ceviche is a must.
Home to the Nazca lines, this city offers the chance to see figures etched into the desert by ancient civilizations by air. Taking a plane ride over this Cultural World Heritage site will be an experience of wonder and mysticism as you view these spectacular works of art.
Aside from the Nazca lines, there are pre-Inca complexes such as Cahuachi, Estaqueria, Chauchilla, Cantayoc and the geoglyphs of Palpa to visit also.
Paracas is the place where the sea meets the desert, creating stunning landscapes and making it an ideal destination for bird and nature lovers.
The Paracas National Reserve is situated on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and lend opportunity for travelers to relax and soak up both the flora and fauna. A visit to the nearby Ballestas Islands is also highly recommended for spotting marine life and wildlife.
For water sports enthusiasts, windsurfing, kite-surfing, scuba diving and deep sea fishing are among the aqua activities available.
The Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley offers some of the best Inca ruins in Peru; including the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ – Machu Picchu. Whether you choose to embark on the Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu or take alternative travel options such as the train or a combination of local transport and independent hiking, the adventure will be memorable for all.
The beautiful and peaceful towns of Ollantaytambo and Pisac, with large Inca ruins built into a hilltop, are also waiting to be explored. Both have central plazas, markets, and plenty of opportunity to hike in the stunning valleys and surrounding countryside.
Choquequirao, Maras, Moray, and the Salineros (salt plains) are also trips to take on the road between Cusco and Ollantaytambo.
Located in the Northwest of Peru near the coast, Trujillo is one of the biggest cites in Peru. The pre-Colombian archaeological site of Chan Chan, one of the largest adobe cities in the world is situated just outside of Trujillo.
Declared Cultural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, the sites of Huaca La Luna and Huaca El Sol (Temples of the Moon and Sun) are also very impressive in terms of seeing original and well preserved ancient ruins.
Trujillo is indeed an excellent destination to appreciate the archaeological and historical significance of Peru.
Have you been to Peru? Which places can you add here?