What should you not miss when travelling to Peru?
Peru’s enticing array of attractions, landmarks and natural wonders are infinite. Celebrated for its textured landscapes, ancient cultural heritage, and delicious globally-recognised cuisine, this must-visit destination has something for every avid traveller.
With so much on offer, it’s best to plan your trip accordingly to ensure that you get the most out of your travels. What you decide to see and do all depends on your bucket list and travel times, as what to do in Peru for a week is very different to what you can do if you are travelling or a month, and so forth.
To help get you started, we’ve put together a list of some of the unmissable destinations when travelling to Peru:
Travel to Peru’s city of kings
Shrouded by beautiful colonial vestiges bestowed by the Spanish, the bustling capital city of Lima is flanked by picturesque hills and valleys as well as pristine beaches that outline the Pacific Ocean. From its colonial-style architecture and historic monuments to its thriving nightlife and an array of outdoor adventures, this Peruvian gem offers something for every traveller. Further hailed as the gastronomic centre of South America, Lima too boasts an array of world-class eateries and authentic local gems, aptly reflecting its rich tradition and cultural diversity. Must-try Peruvian specialties include ceviche, a marinated raw fresh fish dish.
Uncover Machu Picchu’s iconic ruins
Celebrated as one of the world’s most significant archaeological sites, this enigmatic stone fortress is tangible evidence of the Inca Empire at its peak of power. Surrounded by towering peaks and seemingly bottomless valleys, the view form Machu Picchu (situated 2 430 m (7 972 ft) above sea-level) is breathtaking. Its rich history engulfed in diverse flora and fauna makes Machu Picchu an unforgettable travel destination. Named as one of the 7 Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu is one of the world’s top tourist destinations with over one million visitors annually. It was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
Walk through the ancient city of Cusco
Situated in southeastern Peru near the Urubamba Valley nestled amongst dramatic Andean panoramas, the rich cultural history city of Cusco, built of ancient Inca temples and monuments, colonial architecture and modern buildings, is one of Peru’s most popular destinations. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city serves as both a base to explore the nearby Inca destinations, such as the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, as well as an eclectic city attraction in its own right.
Discover the mystifying Nazca Lines
Covering a staggering 1 000 square kilometres (386 square miles), this UNESCO World Heritage Site, described as ‘the most outstanding group of geoglyphs anywhere in the world’, is one enigmatic phenomena not to be missed. Featuring more than 800 straight lines, 300 geometric shapes and 70 animal, plant and human designs drawn into Nazca’s chalk over a 1 000-year period, the Nazca Lines are a true mystery even to this day. With many of the figured drawings stretching up to 365 m (1 200 ft) in length, the best way to view and appreciate the sheer scale of the Nazca Lines is from above on a scenic flight.
Become immersed in the Amazon rainforest
For nature lovers, a journey to Peru is not complete without exploring the world’s largest rainforest. Home to some of the most pristine vegetation in the world, the immense biodiversity (approximately 10% of the planet’s total biodiversity) of the Peruvian Amazon provides endless opportunities for wildlife spotting, rainforest treks and riverboat cruises. Covering nearly 60% of Peru’s landscape, these magical forests are home to hundreds of indigenous communities, who rely solely on this land to survive, as well as a remarkable 40,000 plant species (with 16,000 types of trees alone) and over 5,000 animal species.
Relish in the ‘birthplace of the sun’
As Andean legend has it, the first Inca king, Manco Capac, was born at Lake Titicaca, hence its name ‘The Birthplace of the Incas’ or the ‘The Birthplace of the Sun’. It is said that he and his wife founded the tribe now known as the Inca Empire. Recognised as the largest freshwater lake in South America, straddling the border between Peru to the west and Bolivia to the east in the Andes Mountains, Lake Titicaca boasts over 40 islands across its crystal-clear turquoise waters. On the lake’s largest island, Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun), visitors can explore over 180 ancient Incan ruins. Other major islands include Amantani, Taquile, and Suriki as well as the famous artificial floating island of the Uros people made entirely of totora reeds. What’s more, approximately 90% of the fish found in Lake Titicaca are endemic species to the region and can be found anywhere else in the world.
Explore Peru’s epic Colca Canyon
Based approximately 210 km (130 mi) northwest from the beautiful city of Arequipa, home to some of Peru’s most impressive scenery and captivating landscapes, lies the majestic Colca Canyon. Formed as a result of seismic activity of two nearby volcanoes, Sabancaya and Hualca Hualca, the canyon is recognised as one of the deepest in the world. The Sbanacaya volcano has been active since 1993, and can be spotted on your way to Colca Canyon. Intrepid travellers are spoilt for choice with epic valley viewpoints, secret thermal waters, whitewater rafting adventures, and climbing and hiking trails, plus the opportunity to spot soaring Andean condors and other typical highland animals in their natural habitat, including alpacas, vizcachas and pumas.