When you're planning a trip, the sheer number of tourist attractions in Peru can seem daunting. From thrill-seeking adventures to untouched wilderness to museums to nightlife, Peru has something to amaze even the most seasoned travelers. But, be warned, there's a lot to keep you occupied!
When most people plan their trips to Peru, Lima is most likely top on the list. The capital city of Lima is the second-largest on the continent, and although there are many world-class things to do in Lima, the rest of Peru is also worth exploring! This blog will be focusing on the cool hidden-gem itineraries you can be exploring around Peru that most people don't know about.
Where else can you surf a sand dune, visit key archaeological sites, climb colorful mountains, and relax at a breathtaking beach all on the same vacation? Keep reading to find out what you can do in Peru, starting with what the country's best known for.
What is Peru best known for?
It would be impossible to talk about Peru without mentioning Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. There are important archaeological sites scattered all over the country in addition to Machu Picchu, like the ones at Moray and the Nazca Lines.
The northern coast of Peru receives almost year-round sunshine, making it an ideal destination to cure the winter blues. In fact, whatever weather you're looking for, you can likely get it here. The country boasts 30 of the 32 climate types.
Peru has three official languages, of which Spanish is the most prevalent by a wide margin, and the traditional cuisine might leave you wondering. The country is known for preparing guinea pigs with potatoes and salsa for important events and ceremonies. It's certainly worth a try if you can stomach it!
8 Top Things to do in Peru
1. Hit the beach at Punta Sal
With over 1,500 miles of coastline, it's no surprise that one of the best things to do in Peru is to take a trip to a sandy beach. The best of a good bunch, Punta Sal Beach, is located at the north end of the country close to the border with Ecuador. This coastal village benefits from the warm winds of El Nino to warm the sea and offers terrific weather almost any time of year.
The inviting water and pristine beach will draw you to Punta Sal, but the quaint village vibe is what will keep you here. This beach paradise is a backpacker's dream with affordable hostels and welcoming bars. It's the perfect relaxing way to start or end your visit to Peru.
Don't stop at Punta Sal! There's plenty of amazing coastal beaches in Peru, so make sure to check out all of them and add them into your itinerary!
2. Venture into the Amazon Jungle
Second in size to the rainforest of Brazil, the Peruvian Amazonia allows you to immerse yourself in a lush rainforest that's a rarity, to say the least. Aside from the dense trees, Peru has the highest concentration of clay licks, which are rainforest clay deposits that draw birds and animals to the region.
In addition to being within proximity of the Andes, you have so much wildlife that picking a favorite will be tough.
The rainforest is best accessed from the Tambopata, Manu, or Iquitos regions in Peru. A tour is definitely the safest way to explore this untouched wilderness.
Take an Amazon River cruise or plan to become one with your surroundings with a stay at an isolated jungle lodge. Regardless of how long you stay in the area, bug spray is a must!
3. Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
Machu Picchu is undoubtedly one of the most iconic Peru landmarks. You'd be doing your Peru itinerary a disservice without at least considering it. You can reach the top on foot if your fitness level is up to it or on four wheels. Get yourself to the small town of Aguas Calientes, which translates to hot waters, and the foot of the mountain is waiting. Booking a guide is mandatory, as is a ticket in advance. Still, especially if you're planning to reach the summit on foot via the Inca Trail, your guide will be your best friend.
The top of Machu Picchu rewards adventurers with stunning views of the Urubamba River Valley 7,000 feet above sea level. Add the views to the impressive Incan citadel built in the 15th century. You can see why this is the most visited tourist attraction in Peru. The large stones held together without mortar will leave you wondering how they got all that up here?
4. Party it up in Cusco
Cusco is the main access point to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. As a result, the city is the second largest in Peru. The high number of tourists traveling to Cusco means that the city is full of things tourists like. Restaurants, bars, and pubs abound and are the perfect way to keep the highs from Machu Picchu going. La Chupiteria Shot Bar is the spot to start your night with its almost excessive booze list, great prices, and dive-bar atmosphere. Branch out to an Irish pub, where it's usually easy to meet some new friends.
Luckily, in Cusco, there are plenty of hostels and other budget-friendly accommodations to store your bags. Because let's face it, you won't be spending very much time in your room!
5. Ascend Rainbow Mountain
One of the best adventurous things to do in Peru is climbing the seemingly one-of-a-kind Rainbow Mountain.
The Ascend Rainbow Mountian is best viewed on a sunny day. Fortunately, this won't be tough in Peru. The color lines on the peaks in Vinicunca in south-central Peru are simply awe-inspiring. The vibrant colors are created by mineral deposits, and the area is something you have to see for yourself.
The photos almost don't look real.
6. Tour the Nazca Lines
The collection of geoglyphs known as the Nazca Lines is one of the best things to do in Peru if you like old stuff. Created in the period up to 500 AD, these large-scale indentations in the terrain create vast aerial pictures and patterns that you have to see to believe. There are literally hundreds of them, so you'll probably want to plan to stay awhile.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is about five hours south of Lima, close to the coast.
7. Surf a Sand Dune
You've heard of surfing in California and Australia, but why not attempt to surf a sand dune in Peru? The unique activity, called sandboarding, can be found in tons of places and is one of the most exciting and unique things to do in Peru. The dessert surroundings offer fantastic opportunities to catch a sand wave if you're also visiting the Nazca Lines. Otherwise, Huacachina, a little closer to Lima, is widely considered the perfect sandboarding spot.
8. Museo Larco
Most tourists enter Peru via its capital city Lima. Before you leave to explore further afield, check out some of the city's cultural hot spots. Make sure you add Museo Larco to your plans for its comprehensive guide to Peruvian history that spans 5,000 years. All this history comes with a fun side, too. Among the collection are countless erotic artifacts like statues and plant pots. These items can turn an otherwise mundane museum trip into something quite memorable.
What should I avoid in Peru?
So far, we've focused on what to do and where to go in Peru. But what about the things to avoid in Peru? There are a few things worth mentioning.
First and foremost, don't drink tap water. Stick to bottled water and avoid ice unless you know the water has been filtered. Break this rule, and much of your trip to Peru could be spent in the bathroom.
Some additional sound advice is to leave the Coca leaves in Peru since they're used to make cocaine and are not worth the risk as a souvenir. Lastly, don't be alarmed when you see guinea pigs(or cuy) and alpaca steaks on the menu.
They eat differently in Peru, and trying new things is part of the fun of travel, right?
Plan your trip to Peru!
There are things to do in Peru for every taste. You'll never be bored in Peru, from significant archaeological sites and museums to lively nightlife, scenic beaches, and adventure tourism. With all of the things to do in mind, start planning your trip now!
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