Of all the Latin American countries, Perú is one of the most visited of all. Its culture, gastronomy and biodiversity are just some of the attractions that most attract the attention of travelers from all over the world, who every day come eager to discover one of the most beautiful destinations there is.
Beaches, temples, lakes, history, cosmopolitan cities and enchanting landscapes; They make up only part of the range of possibilities that we can find if we travel to Peru.
There are many essential places to see in Perú, beyond the wonderful Machu Picchu, although we cannot deny that this, by itself, already justifies a trip to one of our favorite countries. Peru is one of the most popular trips in South America, in which we will find Inca ruins, historical cities, the wild nature of the Amazon, incredible landscapes of valleys, deserts and beaches, along with one of the best gastronomies in the world, with ceviche as star dish, which will make this trip exceed all your expectations.
During our travel Packages to Perú we visited many of its wonders and based on our experience, we have made a list of what we think are the 10 essential places to visit in Perú. We started!
1. Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas and one of the seven wonders of the world, is the most essential place to visit in Perú. This ancient Inca citadel, remained for centuries hidden between the mountains and the thick vegetation, until it was discovered by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911.
Machu Picchu is located about 130 kilometers from Cusco, above 2,500 meters of altitude between the peaks Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu, two magnificent viewpoints of the ruins, to which you can climb, taking out the corresponding entrance next to the ruins.
The most mystical and spectacular way to get there is by doing the Inca trail, traveling the more than 40 kilometers that in 4 days, through incredible roads and millenary stone steps, lush forests, valleys and mountains wrapped in dense fog, will take us even the dream of many travelers.
During the 6 days Perú vacation packages to Machu Picchu you will visit this incredible destination.
Cuzco, declared a World Heritage Site, is one of the most beautiful cities in America and our favorite in Peru. This ancient capital of the Inca Empire preserves very few buildings from this time, although in some of the colonial buildings you can see Inca remains on its walls, such as the twelve-angle stone.
The Plaza de Armas is the epicenter of the city, where its cathedral stands out, a place chosen by many inhabitants to spend a few hours in the afternoon, enjoying the life of Cuzco.
Other of the great attractions of the city are strolling through the beautiful artisan neighborhood of San Blas, getting lost in the San Pedro market, seeing the Inca remains of the Temple of the Moon or entering the Santo Domingo Convent, built on the Temple of the sun.
If you have more time, it is worth taking a walking route to see the Inca ruins of Tambomachay, Pukapukara, Qenqo and the spectacular fortress of Sacsayhuaman, which are very close to the city. During the tour, you will also pass by a viewpoint near the Cristo Blanco, one of the most essential places to visit in Cusco, from where you have the best views of the city.
One of the most important decisions, depending on the days available, is to include or not the Peruvian Amazon in the trip and enter the jungle from Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado.
After the experience, we have no doubts, we recommend reserving between 3 and 5 days to visit the Amazon, one of the most essential places to visit in Peru and whenever possible, both for days and for budget, to do it in the area from Iquitos.
Puerto Maldonado is more accessible and cheaper than Iquitos, although over time it has become a tourist attraction that can distort the true image of the immense and wild Amazon.
Iquitos can only be reached by boat or by plane from Lima, so being more isolated will allow you to experience the most authentic Amazon, although as we mentioned before, the price is more expensive.
In this area, the lodges are located in the middle of the Amazon jungle and all have a transfer service in small rafts from Iquitos, although you must note that the journey can last several hours.
You will spend the days in the lodge enjoying the wildest nature, doing walking routes through the jungle to see the fauna and flora, other times by raft through its narrow rivers and a night tour to see the most timid animals.
4. Colca Valley, one of the essential places to see in Peru
From the beautiful Arequipa you can do one of the best excursions in Peru, the 2-day tour through the Colca Valley and thus be able to see the flight of its most famous bird, the condor.
During the bus trip to the valley from Arequipa you pass through heights of between 4000 and 5000 meters, so it is highly recommended to chew coca leaves to avoid suffering from the dreaded altitude sickness or soroche.
During the tour of about 4 hours you will see landscapes that seem from another world, with snow-capped volcanoes and large plains where alpacas and vicuñas roam freely.
Upon reaching the Colca Valley, you can stay in a hotel that has thermal water pools and take a relaxing bath, something that we assure you is unforgettable.
The next day very early, the condor usually flies first thing in the morning, you will enter the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world, to the viewpoint of the Cruz del Cóndor, where if you are lucky you will be able to see these enormous birds flying a few meters from you.
During the way back you can enjoy the incredible viewpoints of the canyon and some traditional town like Chivay, which will be the best end point of the trip.
5. Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, is located very close to the city of Puno at 3,800 meters of altitude. This immense lake, in which its calm blue waters blend into the sky, is one of the most essential places to see in Peru.
To tour the lake and visit the islands of Uros and Taquile from Puno you can take a boat in the port, from where just over 5 kilometers from the pier you will find the Island of Iros, built with totora, a typical aquatic plant of the area.
The houses and most of the items are made of this plant, and you can even sail on a reed boat and although we generally found it a very touristy visit, we believe that it is worth knowing its history and if you have time, it is a visit that must be made in this area of ??the country.
Another island that can be visited is the Island of Taquile, more than two hours by boat from Puno, where you can also spend the night on the island sleeping in one of its neighbors’ houses. We, not having any extra days, opted only to cross the island on foot, eat a good fish and enjoy its viewpoints to the lake.
6. Paracas National Reserve and the Ballestas Islands
Just under 4 hours by bus from Lima is the Paracas National Reserve, located next to the Peruvian coast and another of the best places to see in Peru. This national reserve forms a unique ecosystem in the world, which combines a desert area with a great marine diversity due to the great abundance of food in the form of plankton.
It is advisable to visit this protected natural area with a guide, especially so as not to miss places such as the red beach, fossil deposits, the fauna and the archaeological remains of the ancient Paracas Culture, explained by an expert, which will bring you much closer to the history of this area of ??the country.
Very close to Paracas is another of the places to visit in Peru, the Ballestas Islands, small rocky islands that on excursions are surrounded by small boats that leave from the Paracas pier to see its large number of birds, the colony of Humboldt penguins and sea lions.
Arequipa, known as the white city and built above 2,000 meters of altitude, in the desert mountains of the Andes, is together with Cuzco, one of the most beautiful cities in Peru, dominated by volcanic stone houses Blanca, which together with the old town were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Our favorite place in the city is the Santa Catalina monastery, a small citadel with pretty streets, houses and cloisters where you can get lost for hours.
Other of its essentials in Arequipa are the Plaza de Armas with its Cathedral, the Church of the Company and its cloisters, the Casa del Moral and the Carmen Alto or Yanahuara viewpoint, with magnificent visits to the city and the Misti volcano.
8. Huacachina Oasis
Located about 5 kilometers from the city of Ica, is the photogenic Oasis of Huacachina, another of the places that enter all routes through the country and that is on the list of the essentials to visit in Peru.
This oasis located in the middle of the coastal desert, with emerald green waters and surrounded by palm trees, is one of the few natural oases left in all of America.
The oasis has a hotel infrastructure to spend the night and many leisure activities such as a buggy ride through the desert, practicing sandboarding from its high dunes or simply walking to the top of a dune to contemplate the beautiful sunset over the oasis.
The Huacachina Oasis is located about 80 kilometers from Paracas and you can get from Lima by bus from Cruz del Sur station to Ica and there take a taxi to the oasis.
One of the great archaeological mysteries of history is found in the arid Nazca desert. Between the years 700 a.C. and 200 AD the Nazca culture developed in this area, in which its inhabitants created the Nazca Lines, removing the red stones and leaving the white sandstone underneath, thus forming huge geoglyphs with human, animal or geometric figures, only visible from the air.
Many theories, from a huge calendar to religious ceremonies to the visitation of extraterrestrials, have been written about the reasons why these huge figures were created, without reaching any definitive conclusion or demonstrable theory today.
The only way to see the figures is to fly over the Nazca lines by plane from its small airport located next door. The flight because of the wind and the pilot’s maneuvers, is used to being moved, so it is advisable not to have breakfast before, have something for dizziness and go prepared with the bag that they will give you when you climb.
Other visits that are very worthwhile in Nazca, is the Chauchilla Cemetery, a necropolis from pre-Inca times, which is a perfect complement to the overflight of the Nazca Lines.
10. Sacred Valley
Between Písac and Ollantaytambo, on the banks of the Urubamba River, is the famous Sacred Valley of the Incas. Due to its climate and geography, this fertile valley was one of the main sources of food supply of the Inca empire where the archaeological ruins of several Inca settlements remain and where you can also visit several traditional towns from the colonial era.
Pisac with its artisan market and the Inca archaeological remains located on a mountain is one of the most famous places in the sacred valley and that we advise you, you cannot miss in Peru.
Others of its essentials are the fortress of Ollantaytambo, the town of Chinchero, the salt mines of Maras and Moray, one of the agricultural research centers of the Inca empire.