Peru is a unique travel destination in South America. Culture, history, adventure, exquisite cuisine and more, all combined provide a broad spectrum of reasons why one should definitely plan a visit there. From the coast to the Andes and the jungle, there are countless places that will leave you in awe. And exactly that makes planning vacation in Peru so difficult: Where to start? First, check out Peru´s capital: Lima or go straight to the Amazon! But you definitely also want to see Machu Picchu while you are there, is it better to start with it in case you run out of time or save it for last?
Here are some things that you cannot miss while your stay and that might help you organize your tours in Peru.
Best Peru Tourist Spots
The Peruvian Coast
When traveling by plane to Peru, you will most likely first arrive in Lima. Instead of taking a connecting flight, take your time to explore the vibrant city, it has a lot to offer. It has a beautiful historical center with the best museums in Peru, pre-Hispanic archeological sites, lovely parks with a great view of the ocean and the charming artistic district Barranco. And as if it would not be enough, you can find some of the best food in the world there. That is right, three of Lima’s restaurants are under the top 50 best restaurants in the world. What a great city to start your tours in Peru.
Not far from Lima, you can find the spectacular Nazca Lines. It is really easy to go there by bus from Lima, they leave on a daily basis. The famous Nazca Lines, a UNESCO World Heritage, can be best seen from high above. Book a flight either in advance or directly there, based on the “first come first serve” principle. On the same day, you can visit the Paracas National Reserve along with the Ballestas Islands. The Islands are decorated with arches, tunnels and its sandbanks filled with sea lions and other animal species that can be found there like the Humboldt Penguins and pelicans.
Just a short bus ride from Paracas or Nazca will take you to a small town called Ica. For anyone who loves snowboarding, now you can try sandboarding. Right next to Ica lies the magnificent oasis of Huacachina. Surrounded by the highest dunes in South America it is truly an amazing sight. Once there you can either hike up the dunes for an incredible view or book your sandboarding experience together with an exciting ride in a sand buggy. For an adrenaline junkie: this is the place to go for your tours in Peru.
Further in the north of Lima lies the city of Trujillo, home to the biggest city made out of mud Chan Chan. Since 1986 it is considered as a UNESCO World Heritage. But not only did Trujillo inherit interesting archeological sites, but you can also enjoy the delicious northern Peruvian cuisine. It is known as “The city of eternal spring” where you can participate in numerous festivities, such as the Festival of Eternal Spring.
From Lima, it is only an approximately 1-hour flight to the former Inca capital Cusco. With its cobblestoned alleys and charming flair, it is definitely worth spending a few days there and explore the surroundings. Colonial cathedrals built over ancient Inca temples, the Temple of the Sun Qoricancha and the Inca site Sacsayhuaman offer a lot to see in one day. Only around 40 minutes from Cusco lies the scenic Sacred Valley, with its fertile land and the mighty Andes that surround it. It is not only a great destination for your tours in Peru to dive into the Andean culture but also to witness plenty of Inca heritage.
Probably the main reason for anyone planning to embark on tours in Peru is the “Lost city of the Incas”, Machu Picchu. From Cusco, you can book different tours to visit the ancient citadel. The most famous is the Inca Trail where you walk along the original path the Incas once used. While it is a really stunning trek it gets incredibly crowded in busy season (May – September) and is completely closed in February. For anyone seeking an alternative might want to check out the Salkantay or the Lares Trek. Featuring breathtaking views and fascinating archeological sites it is, surprisingly, not as popular as the above mentioned Inca Trail. It is also possible to reach Machu Picchu by train and car. The sanctuary alone fascinates millions of people every year, but there are actually two mountains, Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain that you can climb to get an extraordinary view over the whole citadel. It is recommendable to buy tickets in advance as they are limited.
Did you know that Peru is home to the deepest canyons in the world? One of them is the Colca Canyon, an around 4-hour drive from the “white city” Arequipa, where you can observe condors gliding through the air. Arequipa alone is an interesting city itself, surrounded by numerous volcanoes and home to a beautiful monastery as well as to Juanita, an Inca mummy that was found at the summit of a volcano. The warm climate to spend the afternoon in the cozy cafés and admire the colonial architecture of the city center.
Another must-see destination of tours in Peru is Puno close to the border with Bolivia. From there all tours along the highest navigable lake in the world, the Lake Titicaca, start. Visit the floating islands of Uros and get to know the traditional lifestyle of its inhabitants and learn how they build their homes, boats and even their beds out of totora reeds. You should also go to Taquile Island the same day to enjoy a breathtaking view over the Lake Titicaca that will leave you speechless.
The biggest part of the Amazon, after Brazil, can actually be found in Peru. There are two main destinations that you should definitely visit. Number one is Iquitos in the north of Peru which can be reached from Lima by plane. There are, in fact, no roads that go to Iquitos. There you can either enjoy a luxurious cruise along the Amazon admiring the surrounding rainforest or stay at a lodge. Lodges offer excursions into the local flora and fauna. You can also meet with native people there who will teach you their traditions and knowledge about a plant’s properties. Before making a booking, make sure to check out all the options you have. Each lodge might offer different excursions that will possibly interest you more.
For your tours in Peru, as number two, you should definitely consider Puerto Maldonado in the south-east you should definitely consider for your tours in Peru is Puerto Maldonado in the south-east, only a short flight away from Cusco. The main attraction there is the Tambopata National Reserve where you can stay in lodges. Similar to Iquitos, tours through the local wildlife and rainforest are programmed to offer a closer look. Monkeys, parrots, turtles and even caimans are inhabitants that you can spot during your stay and on your cruises on the Madre de Dios river.
As you can see, there are quite a lot of things to do in Peru. You could spend weeks there and wouldn’t have seen everything there is. It is quite a vast spectrum to choose for tours in Peru and might seems a bit overwhelming in the beginning. If you feel like you need help, there are countless agencies like Machu Travel Peru that are happy to support you to organize an unforgettable trip to South America’s dream destination.
You may also like:
Get your monthly (and funny) dose of adventures! Subscribe now! #YesPlease
Disclaimer: This post may include affiliate links. Happy travels!