Peru is home to countless things to experience, create, know, and feel. The whole country is a paradise for the senses. Wherever you step, you can find unparalleled entertainment. Magical sunsets, amazing archaeological ruins, great historical buildings, and gastronomy to envy will make your stay in Peru one of the best. And that is why together with the travel experts of Machu Travel Peru we have proposed an article with those things to do in Peru that you cannot miss for anything.
The 17 best things to do in Peru on your next vacation
- Explore the Amazon
- Try the Peruvian gastronomy
- Discover Machu Picchu
- Spot the Andean Condor
- Climb the main mountains
- Get to know Cusco
- Celebrate with the locals
- Investigate the Ballestas Islands
- Experience the Peruvian Pisco
- Cross the Colca Canyon
- Hike the popular Inca Trail
- Appreciate the Nazca lines
- Buy items at the local market
- Visit the surprising Arequipa
- Get to know Lake Titicaca
- Enjoy the Oasis of Huacachina
- Explore the Sacred Valley
1. EXPLORE THE AMAZON
Peru is the only South American country where you can experience each of the different Amazon regions that make up the jungle. The Peruvian region of the Amazon rainforest is potentially the most diverse and prolific section of all. A clear example of this is the Manu National Park, one of the areas with the greatest biodiversity in Peru, with at least 1,000 species of birds and more than 200 species of mammals. Another great area to mention is the Tambopata region, an ideal place to start getting to know the region. It is in Tambopata where you will have the option of visiting the macaw clay licks where hundreds of parrots and macaws converge daily to eat clay.
Or you can also visit the amazing Sandoval Lake, where dozens of alligators, piranhas, turtles, and giant otters coexist. As if that wasn’t enough, you can travel to Iquitos and get to know the wonderful exclusive luxury cruises. On the different cruises, you will have the availability to travel the waters of the Amazon River with all the services you would expect from a 5-star hotel. This all-inclusive experience offers an intimate opportunity to observe the wildlife of the Amazon. Within the different areas of the Amazonas, you will find many things to do in Peru.
2. TRY THE PERUVIAN GASTRONOMY
Peruvian cuisine is a mix of local practices and ingredients where numerous influences come together. Among the different traditions and influences that developed the current Peruvian cuisine, we can find indigenous, European, Asian, and African influences. In the absence of many of the familiar ingredients from the countries of origin, immigrants from Peru modified their recipes using ingredients available in the country. This is how the vast amount of traditional dishes and recipes was created.
And Lima is not only the capital of Peru, but it is also the gastronomic capital of all of South America. As evidence of this, you can visit the different and recognized high-end restaurants that are around. Within them, you can try the entire repertoire of Peruvian seafood. One of its most iconic and famous dishes is the Peruvian ceviche, a delicacy coveted by many newcomers.
3. DISCOVER MACHU PICCHU
No Peru vacations would be complete without first exploring the majestic Inca palace of Machu Picchu, one of the most famous ruins in South America and an example of Inca architecture at its finest. Fortunately, the Spanish conquerors never discovered the site. So when they discovered it in 1911 it was almost intact. Machu Picchu’s location is one of the highlights as it is perched on the side of the mountain. One of the most incredible things about Machu Picchu is that it cannot be seen from the river below.
Whether you take a day or two to explore the site, the beauty and brilliance of the Inca builders and architects will leave you in awe. Among the different Machu Picchu tours available, try to get a ticket to Huayna Picchu. This route offers some of the best views of the citadel and its surroundings. Being able to visit Machu Picchu is, among all the things to do in Peru, the best.
4. SPOT THE ANDEAN CONDOR
The condor is one of the largest birds on the planet and can be seen in Peru. In the Colca Canyon, condors visit the same cliff every day in unprecedented numbers. If you want to capture these incredible creatures in a photo postcard, do not hesitate to visit the Colca Canyon. Take advantage of the different tours in Peru and be sure to witness this majestic bird in flight.
You can also take advantage of your stay in the Colca Canyon, where you can feel comfortable in one of the most peaceful and romantic environments in Peru. The Chonta Canyon located near Cusco is a great alternative in case you cannot reach the Colca Canyon, in its viewpoint you can observe the Andean condor in flight.
5. CLIMB THE MAIN MOUNTAINS
One of the great advantages of Peru is its extensive geographic diversity. One day you may be hiking on a mountain more than 4,000 meters above sea level and a couple of days later, you may be traveling to one of the most pristine areas of the Amazon. Those looking to enjoy trekking in Peru will have countless options such as the Peruvian Andes, the Cordillera Blanca, the Cordillera Huayhuash, and much more. To hike the Cordillera Blanca is one of the most amazing things to do in Peru.
6. GET TO KNOW CUSCO
If you plan to visit the Inca citadel, you will most likely pass through Cusco. The charming Imperial City is a must-see for many curious tourists. It is in Cusco where you can fall in love with the wide culture and the wonderful sunsets in Peru. The city of Cusco is located in a valley in the high Andes. Downtown Cusco has Spanish colonial churches built on ancient Inca temples. And the main square where they are located is one of the most beautiful you will see in South America. Cusco is full of markets to buy souvenirs and some fascinating museums.
Take the time to explore the cobbled streets of Cusco, where you will see Inca walls and terracotta roofs that will remind you of ancient European cities. Make sure to visit the Plaza de Armas of Cusco and the different historical buildings around it. The surrounding colonial churches such as the Church of the Company of Jesus and the Cathedral of Cusco are mandatory stops on any city tour. The Koricancha is another of the places that you cannot miss. This was the main Inca temple at the height of the Empire that was later destroyed by the conquerors.
7. CELEBRATE WITH LOCALS
But the landscapes of Peru are not the only thing to enjoy, you will find that the people who inhabit Peru are incredibly kind and affectionate with tourists. And Peruvians love to celebrate life and its different reasons. So you will be able to appreciate endless national and cultural celebrations throughout the year. Celebrate the Pachamama festivities with the locals and discover how Peruvians have fun.
8. INVESTIGATE THE BALLESTAS ISLANDS
The beautiful Ballestas Islands are the perfect place to spot colonies of sea lions, penguins, and countless seabirds. These Islands are part of an extensive protected reserve where you can enjoy many things to do in Peru. The Islands are composed of rock formations where an important marine fauna lives together with a large number of birds.
These are located in front of the Paracas National Reserve, in the department of Ica. The Ballestas Islands comprise of three different islands: Ballesta Norte, Ballesta Centro, and Ballesta Sur. The site is one of the privileged places to observe large concentrations of animals up close. Be sure to try the delicious Peruvian wine after a guided tour.
9. EXPERIENCE THE PERUVIAN PISCO
The liquor known as Peruvian Pisco is the main ingredient in one of the most emblematic and representative drinks of Peru, the Pisco Sour. Peruvian Pisco has different varieties of grapes authorized to make Pisco: Among them, you find the pure Pisco from Negra Criolla, from Mollar, from Quebranta, from Uvina, from Italy, from Torontel, from Moscatel, and from Albilla grape. They are all incredible options that you cannot ignore. If you are looking for things to do in Peru, be sure to try the wonderful cocktails of the Andean country.
10. CROSS THE COLCA CANYON
The Colca Canyon is very close to the city of Arequipa. The Colca Canyon could be considered one of the deepest canyons in the world. Its depth is twice that of the famous Grand Canyon. This magnificent canyon is not only naturally beautiful, but it is also the best place to see Andean condors. The Canyon has several trails to walk, incredibly hot springs where you can relax, and magnificent 5-star accommodations.
11. HIKE THE POPULAR INCA TRAIL
If you plan to hike to Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail is your best option. This unforgettable four-day hike is one of the most popular in the world. You will be able to walk through different Inca stairways and stone paths through deserted villages and terraced fields on steep Andean slopes. This experience is one of the best to get to appreciate the Inca citadel. For some, it may be a bit challenging, but the payoff is unmatched. You will have some of the best views of the citadel as a unique tour. One of the best things to do in Peru, but be sure to reserve permits in advance.
12. APPRECIATE THE NAZCA LINES
The mysterious and ancient Nazca lines are another attraction that is worth knowing. The Nazca lines are located south of Lima, about 5 hours by car. The city of Nazca is quiet and has many restaurants and hotels designed for tourists. There are two main options to enjoy the Nazca lines. The first option is the most popular of all, being able to fly over them.
In general, flights are not that expensive and it is the best way to appreciate the different geoglyphs. Also, there is the option to see them through the observation tower. This is practically free although you only get to appreciate a few geoglyphs. These incredible geoglyphs have puzzled and confused numerous academics, historians, and archaeologists for years. Today they are considered one of the best things to do in Peru.
13. BUY ITEMS AT THE LOCAL MARKET
If you are going to visit Peru, then you are obliged to visit one of its traditional markets. Fruits, vegetables, antiques, textiles, and alpaca clothing are some of the examples that you can find. Within Cusco, you can find a great variety of local markets that are worth visiting. Wanchaq Market, Huancaro Market, San Blas Market, and San Pedro Market are some of the main markets that you cannot miss.
In Lima, there are also a large number of important markets not to miss. The Central Market of Lima and the Surquillo market are just a few examples to name. The truth is that in any Peruvian destination, you will find a traditional market where you can do your shopping. Make sure to buy some Peruvian souvenirs to give to your relatives on your return.
14. VISIT THE SURPRISING AREQUIPA
Also known as La Ciudad Blanca or “White City”, it is the second-largest city in Peru after Lima. This charming colonial city is a sight to behold. The buildings in the center of Arequipa are made of white volcanic stone which gives Arequipa the name of the white city. Arequipa’s food is different from the other regions of Peru and must be tried. The climate of the area is temperate, and it is a charming place to spend a few days. Visit its different restaurants and cafes with terraces while enjoying a Peruvian coffee.
15. GET TO KNOW LAKE TITICACA
Besides being one of the most popular destinations in Peru, Lake Titicaca is recognized for being one of the highest navigable lakes in the world. This majestic destination is full of activities and things to do in Peru. However, what Lake Titicaca is most famous for are the Uros Islands. These man-made islands are home to the Uros who made these islands from the reeds that grow around the shores of Lake Titicaca. If you are planning a trip to Peru, you cannot miss visiting one of the most impressive places. Don’t miss the birthplace of the Sun.
16. ENJOY THE OASIS OF HUACACHINA
If you have an adventurous soul, you have to know the beautiful oasis of Huacachina. The small town of Huacachina is built around a small natural desert oasis. To this oasis, healing properties are attributed. According to legend, the mud from the lagoon has therapeutic properties. Both tourists and locals dive into the waters or cover themselves with mud in an attempt to cure their ailments.
But what tourists really travel to this place for, is to enjoy different sports activities such as sandboarding. Sandboarding in Huacachina is one of the most unique experiences in Peru. Being able to slide in the different sand dunes is a sensation that you cannot miss. There are even buggy riding tours where you can enjoy breathtaking views and sunrises straight out of a movie.
17. EXPLORE THE SACRED VALLEY
If you are going to know Cusco, you have to visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Located in the middle of the Peruvian Andes, the Sacred Valley is made up of a few rivers that descend through ravines and other small valleys. Inside the Valley, you will be able to meet some beautiful traditional indigenous towns surrounded by amazing archaeological monuments. This Valley was highly valued by the ancient Incas due to its special climatic and geographical qualities. If you are going to visit this beautiful place, you have to know the surprising Pisac market as well as the archaeological site of Pisac.
“WE TRAVEL FOR ROMANCE, WE TRAVEL FOR ARCHITECTURE, AND WE TRAVEL TO BE LOST.”
As you can see, getting bored in Peru is not an option. With so much to offer and experience, it is a matter of decisions more than anything else. Together with the experts of Machu Travel Peru hope to have explained a little of everything you can enjoy. What are you waiting for to organize your next trip?