Places to visit in Peru range from rainbow mountains to floating islands, Yes! Peru is an exciting tourist destination. Amazon forests, long coastlines, deserts, volcanoes, canyons to cloud touching mountains, Peru’s got it all. With a rich history of the Incan empire and colonial era, Peru is a history buff’s heaven. If you are an adventurous type, Peru’s the place for you with incredible hiking trails and shifting sand dunes.
From modern cities to unexplored forests, check out our list of incredible places to visit in Peru.
List of Best Places To Visit In Peru
- Arequipa and Colca Canyon
- Islas Ballestas
- Nazca Desert
- Lake Titicaca
- Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo
- Machu Picchu
Lima is Peru’s capital, a major tourist destination in Peru. Aptly known as The City of the Kings, the place is filled with stories of the past. You can walk through the Spanish colonial centre of Lima, a museum of Pre-Columbian artefacts and few ruins of Incan era. Lima also has an alluring Pacific coast with dotting beaches. Places like Miraflores and Barranco are crowd-pullers with all-round entertainment and artistic vibes. Lima, one of the famous places to visit in Peru, is known for its scrumptious food, served from street stalls to Michelin starred restaurants.
- Main Square of Lima
- Larco Museum
- Huaca Pucllana
- Baroque Catholic church with catacombs
Quick Tip: Get on Lima’s Gastronomic trail with an organized food tour or land during the liveliest Food festival Mistura. Lima also hosts vibrant events like annual marathons and Jazz festivals.
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2. Arequipa and Colca Canyon
Arequipa, the white town, is a beautiful city surrounded by stunning plains and three volcanoes. Arequipa was a Spanish city in the colonial era adorned with great architecture. So, the city centre, churches and baroque style buildings built with white volcanic stone is a treat to the eyes. Arequipa is the food capital of Peru and home to many classical Peruvian cuisines. One of the best places to visit in Peru, Colca Canyon is just three-hour ride away from Arequipa. Colca Canyon is a natural wonder, with 3270 m depth with stunning vistas and pre-Inca terraced lands. You can pick an adventure like rafting in the Colca river, hiking the canyon or spotting Llamas and Andean condors.
- Plaza de Armas
- Monasterio de Santa Catalina
- Historic centre of Arequipa
- Mirador Cruz del’ condor
Quick Tip: Visit the beautiful villages near Colca Canyon and enjoy natural hot spring baths.
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Huacachina, one of the famous places to visit in Peru, is an oasis. Remember the oasis we read about in childhood stories? A place with water, trees and sometimes people living, somewhere in a vast desert. Peru has its own picturesque oasis very near to Ica city. Yes, Huacachina is a beautiful village built around an oasis, surrounded by vast rolling sand dunes. You can chill out in the restaurants and bars around the lagoon during the stay. You can venture into the sand dunes in the mornings and try out dune buggy ride, ATVs rides or surfing the sand dunes. Huacachina is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Peru.
- Sand dunes
- Nearby wineries
Quick Tip: You can see mesmerising sunsets from the dunes.
4. Islas Ballestas
Islas Ballestas is a protected, uninhabited island accessible from Pisco or Paracas towns. It’s home to sea lions, penguins and many sea birds. This exotic wildlife can be seen on the wet rocks of the island from your boat. You cannot get down or swim in the area, but watching the rare wildlife is a great experience. Islas Ballestas is one of the rare places to visit in Peru if you love spotting wildlife. You can take a boat from Pisco or Paracas, and it is a small journey. On the way, you can see a 595 feet tall prehistoric geoglyph ‘The Candelabra’, whose origins are unknown.
- Sea ride
- The Candelabra
Quick Tip: Visiting Islas Ballestas takes half a day, so you can plan out to see Pisco.
5. Nazca Lines
Nazca Lines are present in the Nazca region of Ica desert, which is a mystery till day. Not visible from the ground, these larger than life figures can be seen from an observation tower or from a plane. There are long crisscrossing lines, geometric figures and line drawings of animals like Monkey, Spider and Hummingbird. Believed by researchers that they were drawn for ritualistic purposes during Nazca era, the figures are otherworldly beautiful in a barren desert. It has stayed visible due to its less windy and very meagre rain, and you can see it any time of the year. Watching the Nazca lines from high above the ground is one of the best things to do in Peru.
- Long lines
- Giant line figures
- Geometric geoglyphs
Quick Tip: Book a bus ride from Lima or nearby cities and then book a plane ride to enjoy 30 mins guided show of the Nazca lines.
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6. Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is an impressive tourist destination in Peru. World’s largest navigable body of water, Lake Titicaca is a beautiful, calm lake bordering Peru and Bolivia. High altitudes result in sunny mornings and cold nights. The Lake was an important place of civilization, and it bears a lot of ruins from the past around it. This beautiful place has stuck in old times and follows ancient Andean culture till day. A visit to Uros Floating islands is one of the most popular places to see in Peru. The man-made islands are weaved from totora reeds with small reed huts on it, looking surreal on the vast water body.
- Uros floating island
- Isla Taquila
- Isla Amantani
Quick Tip: To experience the local culture, you can find homestays in the islands and stay with local families.
Cusco is a beautiful archaeological city of Peru and forms as one of the best tourist attractions in Peru. With stunning remnants of the Inca empire and colonial era, Cusco is the most visited city in Peru. Cusco was the capital of the Incas till 16th century and later the Spanish conquered the empire. The city has a romantic vibe, with old and new buildings sitting tight with cobblestone streets. Cusco is famous for its artistic cafes and colourful cultural streets. You can stroll in the main square of Cusco, and admire the busy streets and iconic buildings in a leisurely pace. You can also visit the various Inca sites in and around the city, and travel to the mighty Machu Picchu from Cusco. Though being among famous tourist places in Peru, Cusco has managed to retain the old world charm and its native cultures. Cusco is a unique experience and never fails to charm you.
- Santo Domingo Convent
- Cusco Cathedral
- Plaza de Armas
- Rainbow mountain
Quick Tip: The rainbow mountain(i.e) Vinicuna is a famous one-day excursion from Cusco. The view of the colourful mountain is a treat to the eyes, but watch the altitude if you are new to such terrain.
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8. Sacred Valley
Sacred Valley was the heart of the Incan Empire and is among the most visited tourist attractions in Peru. Sacred Valley stretches over 100 km and it starts 15 km from Cusco. This peaceful valley has colonial towns and sleepy villages that look straight out of a fairytale. Ollantaytambo among them is a living Inca town, that exemplifies the brilliant town planning of the Incas. You can see many significant ruins of the old times in the valley, along with neatly terraced, Inca agricultural fields that are cultivated till day. You cannot miss the pink-hued terraced salt mines of Maras, they produce the healthiest salt in a unique method. A visit to the valley is very peaceful, the vistas are breathtaking with the Andean mountains towering the valley.
- Pisac ruins
- Pisac town
- Maras salt mines
Quick Tip: You can try out river rafting, ziplining, mountain biking or visit a traditional weaving centre in one of the villages for unique experiences.
9. Machu Picchu
The magical Machu Picchu hidden among the cloud forests does not need an introduction. The lost city of the Inca perched high on the slopes of Andes is the most famous tourist destinations in Peru. The ancient ruins are believed to be built by the 15th century and later abandoned. Forgotten till the early 20th century, the ruins are a protected site which receives over a million visitors each year. The walls are made in Inca style architecture, with dry stones and no mortar. Though Peru is prone to earthquakes, the ruins remain safe because the stones dance with an earthquake and settle in the same position as before. Machu Picchu is a testament to the brilliance of the Incan empire. The panoramic views from the top are stunning, with equally stunning astronomically aligned ruined buildings. One of the most famous places to see in Peru, Machu Picchu lives up to all the expectations.
- the Temple of the Sun
- the Room of the Three Windows
Quick Tip: You can take the train rides from Cusco to Machu Picchu, which passes through one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. From the bottom of the hill(train station), there’s shuttle service to the ruins.
Peruvian Amazon is an intriguing stretch of tropical rainforests that covers over 60% of Peru. This part has a diverse number of species among the stunning green forests and the long amazon river. Iquitos is the best place to start, as it has many options to venture into the Peruvian Amazonia. Iquitos is the largest city in the world that does not have a road connecting from outside. Being one of the top tourist places in Peru, the city has a lot of eco-lodges and houses that give you experience of the wilderness. But if you want to experience the real jungle, you can take the Amazon river cruises or speed boats with guides. Amazonian Peru offers a complete off the grid experience like there are no WiFi, electricity or mobile signals. You can cut off yourself from the outside world, stay in solar-powered lodges and explore the wild jungles like nowhere in the world.
- Iquitos market
- Tapiche reserve
- Swimming in the Amazon River
- Wild spotting
- Speed boat rides
Quick Tip: Eco lodges around Iquitos offer packages including food, speed boats, guides and they guarantee you a swim in a safe spot of the Amazon river(thrilling right? You can spot the rare pink dolphins to various Amazon wild animals in the river)
Iconic dishes like ceviche, tiradito to a variety of meat in the Amazonian region. And of course the delights like corn chicha or puddings and pastries made of rice, exotic fruits and spices. Peru’s great number of cuisines is extensive and satisfies every demanding palate. Enjoying the gastronomic experience is one of the best things to do in Peru. So while you marvel at the ancient ruins and peculiar topography, don’t miss to experience Peru’s great cuisines and rich culture.