Best Places to Visit in Peru

On Peru’s spellbinding lands, there are myriad attractions to visit from the iconic Machu Picchu to the darkest corners of the Amazon.

visit Machu Picchu

Uncover Ancient Wonders on the Inca Trail

Arguably the primary allure of the South American hotspot, Inca Trail draws flocks of visitors each year for days filled with adventure. The emerald blanketed Sacred Valley is its cradle, boasting the greatest hits of the best places to visit in Peru. Sprinkled among the verdant hills are countless archeological sites, hospitable villages reviving the Inca legacy, and some of the best views in Peru. The sheer wow factor is indisputably the phenomenal Machu Picchu. It makes an impression as a majestic remnant of the Inca’s improbable history. Several other ruin complexes like Runkurakay and Winaywayna often fly under the radar. But, they will have you wondering where to look first with surprising details of the Inca architectural feat. To see the best of Peru, take a hike on its spellbinding Inca Trail and breathe in the magical atmosphere at your own pace.

Revel in Peruvian Culture in the Cities

Looking for the best places to visit in Peru? The breezy Lima, the country’s trendy capital, is one of them. Set foot in the city, and it will feel like a giant metropolis compared to the mountainous villages and towns in the Sacred Valley. It boasts attractions scripted for the modern-day traveler like the hopping Miraflores district. It also keeps the sophisticated type satisfied with a motley collection of cathedrals and buildings. The Cathedral of Lima is an absolute must-visit. Further inland in the Peruvian Andes, Cusco offers an attractive mix of the traditional and the modern. It is the home of the Incan masonry and Peru’s precious alpine traditions. But beyond that, the city will satisfy your aesthetic taste buds with its bohemian backstreets and elegant center.

visit Cusco
Inca & Amazon Adventure - Puerto Maldonado

Set Out on a Journey in the Amazon

Life in Peru unfolds far beyond the sheer walls of the Andes, where the scene is left to things more uncharted. This is the Peruvian Amazon, a treasure trove of exhilarating adventures and unique experiences for travelers. The area is prime for jungle exploration via boat tours on the sinuous Madre de Dios. There, you will get to observe the lively tropical creatures of the forest at their best. For the most vivid photos of its epic flora, visit Lake Apu Victor. The natural wonder is one of the best places to visit in Peru to capture wildlife at its most active, as animals gather around to drink and socialize. The wild expressions in its character make trips to the Amazon worthwhile for the complete Peruvian experience. But if you wish for a change in scenery, there is always the legendary Andes with its hidden towns and boundless adventure opportunities.

Must-See Sights in Peru

Here is everything you need to know about the best places to visit in Peru.

the best places to visit in Peru

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, above the Urubamba River valley. Built in the 15th century and later abandoned.

Why You Should Visit:

Experience the wonder of Machu Picchu, one of the most iconic historical sites in the world, and marvel at its breathtaking views and ancient ruins.


Don’t Miss:

-Hike to Huayna Picchu. This strenuous hike is worth it for the stunning views of Machu Picchu from above.

-Explore the Temple of the Sun. This impressive structure is one of the largest in Machu Picchu and is dedicated to the Inca sun god, Inti.

-A knowledgeable guide can help you understand the history and significance of this incredible archaeological site.


Keep in Mind:

-Machu Picchu is located at a high altitude, so visitors should take time to acclimate themselves before undertaking any strenuous activity.

-Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visitors should be respectful of the ruins and avoid damaging or removing anything.

-The weather at Machu Picchu can be unpredictable, so visitors should be prepared for rain, wind, and cold temperatures.

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visit the Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley is in Peru’s Andean highlands. Along with the nearby town of Cusco and the ancient city of Machu Picchu, it formed the heart of the Inca Empire.

Why You Should Visit:

Discover the enchanting Sacred Valley, where you can immerse yourself in the rich Incan culture and explore the stunning natural landscapes.


Don’t Miss:

-Visit the Pisac Market. This colorful market is a great place to buy handmade crafts and souvenirs.

-See the Moray Terraces. These circular terraces were used for agricultural experiments by the Incas and offer stunning views of the valley.

-Take a llama trek. You can explore the Sacred Valley on foot with a friendly llama as your companion.


Keep in Mind:

-The Sacred Valley is home to many indigenous communities, and visitors should be respectful of their customs and traditions.

-The Sacred Valley offers many opportunities for hiking and outdoor activities, but visitors should be aware of their physical limitations and take appropriate safety precautions.

-The markets in the Sacred Valley are great places to find souvenirs, but visitors should be prepared to bargain and negotiate prices with vendors.

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Inca & Amazon Adventure - Puerto Maldonado

Puerto Maldonado

Puerto Maldonado is the capital city of the Madre de Dios region in southeast Peru. It’s also known as a gateway to the southern Amazon jungle.

Why You Should Visit:

Embark on an unforgettable adventure in Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to the Amazon rainforest, and discover its diverse wildlife and lush vegetation.


Don’t Miss:

-Go on a jungle tour. This area is home to incredible biodiversity, and a guided tour can help you spot exotic animals like monkeys, macaws, and jaguars.

-Visit Lake Sandoval. This beautiful lake is surrounded by rainforest and is a great spot for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.

-There are many indigenous communities in the Puerto Maldonado area, and tours can help you learn about their traditional ways of life.

Keep in Mind:

-Puerto Maldonado is located in the Amazon rainforest, so visitors should take precautions against mosquito-borne illnesses by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing.

-Visitors to Puerto Maldonado may have the opportunity to see exotic wildlife, but should be respectful of their habitats and avoid disturbing them.

-Puerto Maldonado is a popular ecotourism destination, and visitors should be mindful of their impact on the environment by following sustainable tourism practices.

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best time to visit Peru

Cusco

Cusco, a city in the Peruvian Andes, was once capital of the Inca Empire, and is now known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture.

Why You Should Visit:

Explore the charming city of Cusco, known for its well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant local markets, and fascinating history.


Don’t Miss:

-Explore the Plaza de Armas. This central square is surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings and is a great place to people-watch and soak up the atmosphere.

-Visit Sacsayhuaman. This impressive Inca fortress overlooks the city and offers great views of Cusco and the surrounding mountains.

-Cusco is known for its beautiful textiles, and there are many workshops and museums where you can learn about the traditional weaving techniques.


Keep in Mind:

-Cusco is located at a high altitude, so visitors should take time to acclimate themselves before undertaking any strenuous activity.

-Cusco was once the capital of the Inca Empire, and visitors should take the time to appreciate its rich cultural and historical significance.

-While Cusco is generally a safe city, visitors should still exercise caution and be aware of their surroundings, particularly at night.

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visit Lima

Lima

Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the ChillĂłn, RĂ­mac and LurĂ­n rivers, in the central coastal part of the country

Why You Should Visit:

Indulge in the culinary delights of Lima, a gastronomic paradise with a thriving food scene and a rich cultural heritage.


Don’t Miss:

-Explore the historic center. Lima’s historic center is full of colonial architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

-Visit the Larco Museum. This excellent museum houses a large collection of pre-Columbian art, including ceramics, textiles, and metalwork.

-Lima is known for its incredible cuisine, and there are many great restaurants where you can try traditional Peruvian dishes like ceviche and lomo saltado.


Keep in Mind:

-Lima is a large and congested city, so visitors should be prepared for heavy traffic and long commutes.

-Lima is known for its world-class cuisine, and visitors should take the opportunity to sample some of the city’s many restaurants and food markets.

-Lima has many museums, art galleries, and historic landmarks, and visitors should take the time to explore its rich cultural offerings.

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Puno

Puno is a city in southern Peru on Lake Titicaca, one of South America’s largest lakes and the world’s highest navigable body of water.

Why You Should Visit:

Experience the beauty of Puno, home to the world-famous Lake Titicaca, where you can witness stunning sunsets, unique floating islands, and ancient Incan traditions.


Don’t Miss:

-Visit Lake Titicaca. Puno is the gateway to this beautiful lake, which is the highest navigable lake in the world.

-Explore the Uros Islands. These man-made islands are constructed from reeds and are home to indigenous communities who live traditional lifestyles.

-Puno is known for its vibrant folklore traditions, and there are many festivals and dances throughout the year that showcase the local culture.


Keep in Mind:

-Puno is located at a high altitude and can experience extreme temperatures, so visitors should be prepared for cold weather, particularly at night.

-Puno is located near Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, and visitors should take the opportunity to explore the lake’s many islands and cultural attractions.

-Puno is known for its colorful festivals, particularly the Fiesta de la Candelaria in February, and visitors should try to attend these events to experience the city’s vibrant culture.

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Peru FAQ

What are the best times of year to visit Machu Picchu?

The best times of year to visit Machu Picchu are during the dry season, which runs from May to September. This is generally considered the peak season for tourism in Peru, and during this time, the weather is usually sunny and clear, with little chance of rain. The shoulder seasons, which are April and October, can also be good times to visit as they offer a balance between fewer crowds and still good weather. However, it’s important to note that Machu Picchu is a popular destination year-round, so it’s always best to book your trip well in advance and plan accordingly.

What are some other Inca ruins to visit in Peru besides Machu Picchu?

Peru is home to numerous Inca ruins, each with its unique history and architectural style. One popular destination is the Sacred Valley, which encompasses several sites, including Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and Moray. Ollantaytambo is an impressive fortress built on a mountainside, while Pisac is a sprawling complex with agricultural terraces and ceremonial temples. Moray, on the other hand, features an impressive circular agricultural terrace system that was used for experimentation with different crops. Other notable Inca ruins in Peru include Choquequirao, also known as the “sister” of Machu Picchu, and the city of Cusco, which was once the capital of the Inca Empire and contains many ruins within its boundaries.

What are some must-see attractions in Cusco besides Machu Picchu?

Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, is a city rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Aside from the world-renowned Machu Picchu, there are several other must-see attractions in Cusco. The Plaza de Armas, also known as the Main Square, is a beautiful and bustling central square surrounded by colonial architecture and churches, including the impressive Cusco Cathedral. The Qorikancha, once the most important temple in the Inca Empire, is a fascinating mix of Inca and Spanish architecture. The San Pedro Market is a vibrant and colorful market where visitors can try local foods, buy handmade crafts, and experience the daily life of Cusco. Sacsayhuaman, a massive Inca fortress located on a hill overlooking the city, offers stunning views and impressive stone structures. Finally, the Sacred Valley, located just outside of Cusco, is a stunning natural landscape dotted with Inca ruins, traditional villages, and agricultural terraces.

What is Lake Titicaca, and what can I do there?

Lake Titicaca is a large, deep lake located in the Andes Mountains on the border of Peru and Bolivia. It is known for its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, as it is home to several indigenous communities who have lived in the region for centuries. Visitors to Lake Titicaca can take boat tours to explore the lake’s islands and ancient ruins, learn about traditional weaving and farming practices from local residents, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and landscapes. Additionally, the lake is a popular destination for adventure sports like kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking.

What are the best hiking trails in Peru?

Peru is a hiker’s paradise, with stunning natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage. One of the most popular hiking trails in Peru is the Inca Trail, which leads to the iconic Machu Picchu. The trail takes four days to complete and offers breathtaking views of the Andean mountains, as well as fascinating Inca ruins along the way. Other great hiking trails in Peru include the Huayhuash Circuit, which takes hikers through remote Andean villages and past sparkling glacial lakes, and the Santa Cruz Trek, which traverses the Cordillera Blanca range and offers stunning views of snow-capped peaks and lush valleys.

What is the Amazon Rainforest, and how can I visit it?

The Amazon Rainforest is a vast and biodiverse region that spans nine countries in South America, with the majority of it located in Brazil. It is home to countless plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. To visit the Amazon, you can book a guided tour through a reputable travel agency or book a stay at a lodge located within the rainforest. There are also many ways to explore the rainforest, including hiking, canoeing, and wildlife watching. However, it’s important to be mindful of the potential environmental impact of tourism on this fragile ecosystem and to prioritize responsible and sustainable travel practices.

What are some traditional Peruvian dishes to try while traveling in Peru?

Peruvian cuisine is known for its diverse flavors, influenced by the country’s indigenous, Spanish, African, and Asian cultures. One popular dish is ceviche, a refreshing seafood dish made with raw fish marinated in citrus juices and spiced with chili peppers. Another classic dish is lomo saltado, stir-fried beef with onions, tomatoes, and French fries, often served with rice. Other must-try dishes include ajĂ­ de gallina, a creamy chicken stew with chili peppers and bread, and causa, a layered potato dish filled with chicken or seafood. For dessert, try the sweet, creamy suspiro a la limeña or the alfajores, buttery cookies filled with dulce de leche.

What are some safety tips for traveling in Peru?

-Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas like markets or tourist attractions.
-Use registered taxi services or ride-sharing apps instead of hailing a taxi on the street.
-Keep your valuables (money, passport, etc.) in a secure place, like a hotel safe or a hidden money belt.
-Avoid walking alone at night, especially in unfamiliar areas.
-Be cautious when accepting drinks from strangers, as they may be spiked with drugs.
-Research the areas you plan to visit and the routes you will take beforehand.
-Learn a few basic phrases in Spanish to communicate with locals and ask for help if needed.
-Always carry a copy of your passport and important documents in case of an emergency.

What are some cultural customs and etiquette tips to keep in mind while traveling in Peru?

When traveling to Peru, it is important to be aware of some cultural customs and etiquette to avoid offending locals. Dress modestly and conservatively, especially when visiting religious sites. Always greet people with a handshake and a smile, and avoid pointing with your finger, instead, use your entire hand or nod in the direction you want to indicate. In Peru, it is also considered rude to refuse food or drink that is offered to you, so be prepared to accept graciously. Additionally, try to learn some basic Spanish phrases to communicate effectively with locals and show your interest in their culture. Finally, bargaining is common in markets, but always do so respectfully and with a smile.

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