the best things to do in peru

Since visiting the great Machu Picchu or enjoying the rainbow mountains in the south, passing by exotic gastronomy and beautiful beaches in the center, to get to swimming with turtles in the north. Therefore, you can enjoy a wide variety of things to do in Peru. All these places and activities can form unforgettable memories and make your vacation a fantastic one. And precisely, with so much to enjoy and have fun with, Machu Travel Peru has listed some great things that you cannot miss. Therefore, if you are planning a trip to Peru, first check all those activities here!

The 20 best things to do in Peru on your next vacation

1. Discover Machu Picchu

things to do in peru machu picchu

No Peru vacation would be complete without first exploring the majestic Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, without doubt, the most famous archaeological rest in South America and an example of Inca architecture at its finest. Fortunately, the Spanish conquerors never found the site. So, when the archaeologists rediscovered it in 1911 it was almost intact, remaining like this to this day. Machu Picchu’s location is one of the highlights as it is perched on the side of a rainforest mountain, at 2438 m.a.s.l. To 75 km from the Incas capital, Cusco.

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 (The mountain behind the citadel). 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 first and the best on our list.

2. Choquequirao, the other Machu Picchu

things to do in peru and choquequirao

Located 44 km southwest of Machu Picchu, at the jungle eyebrow of the Cusco region, over 3033 m.a.s.l. On the top of a mountain is located Choquequirao, the famous twin-city of Machu Picchu. This stone citadel is other jewelry that the Incas left to later generations. Despite having a different architectural style from Machu Picchu, this citadel is so well-preserved like the wonder of the world. Awesome Andean terraces, enclosures, squares, and temples will be waiting for you. The archaeologists and historians are still at the site conducting excavations and have the hypothesis that Choquequirao could have been an administrative center, food warehouse, and lookout point of the northern Cusco region. Even some believe that Choquequirao was a ceremonial center for the Pachamama and the other Inca deities.

Definitely, visiting it is one of the best things to do in Peru. And, finding it free of tourists or crowds will be the best of all. Of course, every reward takes effort and to get to Choquequirao, first, the visitant will have to be trekking for 2 days and 1 night. Who said that everything was easy in this life?

3. Get to know Cusco

things to do in cusco peru

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 since the city is a starting point for tours to Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, and even the Peruvian Amazon. It is in Cusco where you can fall in love with the wide culture and a wonderful sunset in Peru. The city of Cusco is located in the Huatanay valley, over 3450 m.a.s.l. in the high Andes. Cusco was the capital of the Incas empire (called Tawantinsuyo) and its downtown hosted 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 Qoricancha is another place that you cannot miss. This was the main Inca temple at the height of the Empire that was later destroyed by the conquerors.

third day Inca trail, best time to visit peru

If you plan to hike to Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail is your best option. This unforgettable four-day hike of 43 kilometers 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. The Inca Trail is just a little part of a large and ancient path network called Qapaq Ñam; this one connected the most important places around all Tawantinsuyo in the Incas times.

Also, 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. At least 6 or 7 months in advance.

An additional note: For those who want to take it easy, there is an option of 1-day trekking, beginning the trek on km 104 of railways to Machu Picchu. There are options for all tastes!

5. Explore the Sacred Valley

things to do in peru and 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 the Urubamba or Vilcanota river that eroded the mountains over thousands of years to form the current valley. Its tributaries descend through ravines, forming other small basins. 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 will check its pleasant climate, temperate and warm. Also, you have to know about the surprising Pisac handicraft market with its amazing Peruvian souvenirs as well as its archaeological site with the most complete Incas cemetery. Besides the fortress of Ollantaytambo and its town, the only one that maintains the original Inca structure of streets and houses, even some current people live there without modifying anything!

Also, Here you will see an impressive collection of salt pools, dating back to the time of the Incas. Today, the salt is still harvested by local families, so you can buy it on the spot. Maras are named, and it is close to other awesome attractions like Moray, the giant circles that go into the earth. Recent studies affirm that the Incas cultivated in each circle a different type of corn seed to see the type of corn they produced at different altitudes from the ground. An authentic Agriculture research center in Incas time.

6. Get to know Lake Titicaca

things to do in peru and lake titicaca

In addition to being part of the list of the best things to do in Peru, Lake Titicaca is recognized for being the highest navigable lake in the world, 3812 m.a.s.l., located between Peru and Bolivia border. This majestic destination is full of activities and awesome experiences like Uros, Taquile, Sillustani islands visit, sailing activities, fishing, paddle surf, hiking around the lake, and birdwatching, among others.

However, what Lake Titicaca is also most famous for are the Uros Islands. These floating man-made islands are home to the Uros, who built each island from the reeds that grew around the shores of Lake Titicaca. Taquile and Sillustani are islands that will surprise you, each one has local people who kept their traditions along the time. For example, the men knit handmade hats with different colors according to their marital status, married or single. The women do the same knitting handmade belts. Therefore, If you are planning a trip to Peru, you cannot miss visiting one of the most impressive places in the Andean country, Lake Titicaca. Don’t miss the birthplace of the Sun!

7. Explore the Amazon

things to do in peru and amazon

Having fun things to do in Peru is not the difficult part, if not choosing them. And among all the destinations to choose from, the Peruvian Amazon is one of the richest areas in the country. 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. To give you an idea, within a walk you will have the possibility of seeing abundant wildlife. Parrots, macaws, monkeys and if you are very lucky you will see the jaguar!

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. The Amazon in Peru covers a large area of ​​the country, about 60% to be exact. And within the different areas of the Amazonas, you will find many things to do in Peru.

8. Appreciate the Nazca lines

things to do in peru and nazca

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. Besides, 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. Close to them, the Nazca pre-Inca culture (to whom the Nazca lines are attributed) was developed. Today, they are considered one of the best things to do in Peru.

9. Visit the surprising Arequipa

best things to do in peru and arequipa

Also known as La Ciudad Blanca (White city), it is the second-largest city in Peru after Lima. This charming colonial city is a sight to behold as it stands in front of a volcano that adorns its background. the Misti. It is located in the south of Peru, close to Cusco and Tacna. The buildings in the center of Arequipa are made of white volcanic stone called “Sillar” which gives Arequipa the name of the “white city”, these white buildings combined with the yellow light of the public headlights by night, converting the Arequipa in a European city lost in South America.

On the other hand, 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 Peruvian coffee and the magic of the traditional south city historic center. The monastery of Santa Catalina seems to be a Seville little town, and it is the most representative attraction in the city.

10. Condors in the Colca canyon

things to do in colca canyon and condors

The Colca Canyon is very close to the city of Arequipa. Explore one of the deepest and most fascinating canyons in the world (4160 meters deep). Of course, we are referring to the Colca Canyon. This amazing canyon is just a few hours’ drives from the city of Arequipa (the second-largest city in the country). So while you enjoy your stay within the White City, be sure to take advantage of a one-day tour. It cannot be denied that the Colca Valley is one of the most famous places in Peru. And this is reflected in its beautiful landscapes, agricultural terraces, and different traditional villages. 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 walk several treks, swim in incredibly hot springs, host hotels 5 stars, and even enjoy the condor sighting.

Condors are one of the largest birds on the planet, and these can be seen in Peru. Inside the Colca Canyon, condors visit the same cliff every day in numbers you won’t see anywhere else. If you are looking to catch these incredible creatures in a photographic postcard, do not hesitate to visit the Colca Canyon. Take advantage of the different tours in Peru that offer this experience and be sure to witness this majestic bird in flight.

11. Dunes in Huacachina Oasis

things to do in peru and huacachina

Get ready for a fun day! Just four hours from Lima is the incredible oasis town known as Huacachina, among Peruvian desserts, situated between Tacna and Lima. 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. And 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. The lagoon located here, combined with the beautiful surroundings, creates an unforgettable experience for thrill-seekers and resort enthusiasts alike. This wonderful site is a charming place that attracts hundreds of tourists. During the last years, it has had growing popularity among foreign tourists, especially for those who want to spend the most entertainment honeymoon in Peru.

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 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. Spend the day climbing the dunes or racing through the desert in buggies before relaxing in the city! The sand dunes in Huacachina offer some of the best activities to enjoy with friends. This is an exciting alternative to fun things to do in Peru.

12. Investigate the Ballestas Islands

ballestas islands best things to do in peru

The beautiful Ballestas Islands are the perfect place to spot colonies of sea lions, seals, penguins, and countless seabirds. These Islands are part of an extensive protected reserve called Paracas where you can enjoy experiences like sighting marine animals, bird watching, and swimming with turtles, among others. The Islands are composed of rock formations where an important marine fauna lives together with numerous birds and the famous Humbolt’s penguins that followed the Humboldt ocean current from the Antarctic, passing by the entire Chilean coast until the Ballestas Islands on Peruvian coasts.

As we mentioned before, these islands are located in front of the Paracas National Reserve, in the department of Ica, south of Lima, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The Ballestas Islands comprise 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.

13. Taste the Peruvian Pisco

best things to do in peru with 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, a fresh alcoholic beverage, of white color, and tastes refreshing and pleasant. Peruvian Pisco (alcoholic grape distillate) has different varieties of grapes adequate 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 Albilla grape. They are all incredible options that you cannot ignore and pay tribute to the country where the grape distillate was first produced, the Peruvian city of Pisco (founded in 1832). For this reason, if you are looking for things to do in Peru, be sure to try the wonderful cocktails of the Andean country.

14. Try the Peruvian gastronomy

things to do in peru gastronomy

Peruvian food 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, this is due to the great immigration flow that the country had in past years. Consequently, 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 Incas country. This is how the vast amount of traditional dishes and Peruvian desserts recipes were created.

Nowadays, Lima is not only the capital of Peru, but it is also the gastronomic capital of all of South America, representing great Peruvian cuisine. Even, in many countries, this cuisine achieved situated together with worldwide-recognized options like Mexican, Italian or Indian cuisine. As evidence of this, you can visit the different and recognized high-end restaurants that are along the Lima and Peru territory. Many of them, are located in the top ten best restaurants around the world for many years. Also, 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.

15. Get to glacial lagoons

things to do in peru and humantay

The Andean country is crossed north to south by the Cordillera de Los Andes (Mountain range). These mountains create giant rugged peaks, deep canyons, large abysses, and quaint snowy. This last one, in turn, forms awesome glacial lagoons located over the slopes of these snows, converting in a factor more of the amazing landscapes of the Peruvian mountain range. Lagoons like Humantay (over a slope of Salkantay snow), 69 lagoon (over a slope of Chacraraju slope) are two of the most representative in the country. With more than 8355 glacial lagoons, Peru is a Menu as far as glacial lagoons are concerned. Of course, to get them, different adventure sports like trekking, hiking, and rappelling have to be developed before. A complete package for some who want to experience adventure and beauty in their Peru trips.

16. Climb the main mountains

things to do in peru and mountains

One of the great advantages of Peru is its extensive geographic diversity. One-day you may be hiking on a mountain more than 6,000 meters above sea level and a couple of days later, you may be traveling to one of the most pristine areas of the Amazon or resting on a paradise beach in northern Peru. Those looking to enjoy the first option, and also 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, with more than 17 peaks, located over 6000 m.a.s.l, and 700 lagoons, is one of the most amazing things to do in Peru. There is located the famous Huascaran National park, where activities like rappelling, trekking, and hiking are practiced. Special mention deserves the Salkantay, La Veronica, Ausangate snows close to Cusco and Machu Picchu. Definitely,  Peru has great mountains and snow to be discovered by those adventurous souls.

17. Appreciate the rainbow mountains

things to do in peru and rainbow mountain

Sure, there are a lot of fun things to do in Peru. But one of the ones you can’t overlook would be the amazing Rainbow Mountains. Quechua, the ancient language in Peru, Rainbow is translated as “K’uychi”. If you consider yourself an adventurous person, and you love unspoiled nature, this is the right choice for you! These beautiful mountains are 5’200 meters above sea level. These are located in the Peruvian Andes, just in the opposite location from where Machu Picchu is located, in southern Cusco. One of them receives the name of the community situated close to it, Vinincunca, the other one is called Palcoyo. Both mountains reflect their mineralized grounds to the sunlight, showing an amazing spectacle.

Tours usually start early in the morning but fear not. On the tour, you will be delighted with the beautiful mountains, amazing landscapes, and many cute llamas and alpacas that you can see along the way. After about three hours of hiking, you will finally reach the tops of the magnificent Rainbow Mountains. We recommend doing this incredible trek from April to October. Because during those months it is the dry season in Peru. So, you will have sunny days at your disposal, great for good photos!

18. Enjoy the north beaches

things to do in peru and beaches

As we mentioned in a previous post, Peru is catalogized as the world climate synthesis, because one day you can sail through the Amazon River looking for caimans, jaguars, and monkeys, the other one, you can be hiking an elevated snowy over 4500 m.a.s.l. The next day, you can be sliding down a giant dune in the middle of a desert and close to an oasis (Sandboarding) and, finally, you can rest, taking the sun on the paradise beaches of Peru north. Precisely, the north Peru beaches offer white and fine sand grains, perfect blue skies, soft winds, contoured and permanent waves, and warm waters. There, the visitors can practice surfing, waterskiing, paddling, motor-ski, fishing, and sailing, among others. Real paradises are distributed along the north coast of Peru, like Vichayito, Mancora, Zorrito, Cabo Blanco, Punta Sal, Pocitas, Lobitos beaches, among others. Not in vain, there the Surf was born!

19. Swimming with turtles

things to do in peru swimming with turtles

Continuing on the Peruvian coast and reviewing our list of the best things to do in Peru, we find the amazing aquatic fauna that lives in the place and the turtles are the main hostesses there. Happily, our friends with shells are used to human contact and let themselves be seen. Many of them even make room for you to dive and swim between them. Inviting you to be one of them. As you can imagine, the experience is so meaningful and profound that many visitors consider it the best part of their Peru vacation. Usually, the tour last half a day, and many groups meet at the Mancora port to begin the experience. Definitely, swimming with turtles is one of the best things to do in Peru, and it is a crime to miss this experience.

20. Fascinating whale watching

things to do in peru whale watching

If you think that whales could only be seen on the Austral sea (close to Antarctica and in front of the Chilean south coast), you are mistaken. Every year, the whales migrate from the cold waters of the Antarctic to the warm waters of the north of Peru to reproduce or give birth to their young. If you are lucky, you will see them from the same coast or beaches. However, the best form to look at them is to take a tour on a boat or yacht, entering some kilometers.

Usually, these tours offer the assistance of a qualified guide (Biologists), sonars that allow you to listen to the song of the whales, and other security implements. We recommended taking this tour between August to October (whale watching season). During this period, you will have a high possibility of seeing some whales. It is estimated that up to 2,000 whales arrive per season at the beaches of Órganos, Cabo Blanco, and Punta Sal. So, What are you waiting for? Take advantage to do this amazing activity in Peru.


As you can see, Peru is home to endless fun activities. As we said before, the difficult thing is not to find fun things to do in Peru, but to choose them. And this list only offers a glimpse of everything you can do in the Andean country. So, 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. If you want to know more about everything you can have fun in Peru, you can contact our advisors. Together with Machu Travel Peru and our long years of experience, we know how to have a fun time. We invite you to rest, savor, refresh and venture the treasures of Peru “The Land of the Incas” with us! What are you waiting for to organize your next trip?

Peru has so much to offer, that it can be hard to know where to start. With many years of experience in the tourism sector, Machu Travel Peru is happy to help with anything regarding your trip to Machu Picchu and any tours around it. Make your Machu Picchu experience an unforgettable one!