Peru is one of the most exciting countries in South America: not only is it the home of the fascinating and powerful Inca Empire, Peru also boasts 83 ecological zones as well as 11 UNESCO World Heritage sites. With its impressive history and cultural heritage, and beautiful, varied scenery, there is no shortage of things to do in Peru.
Peru can be divided into three regions, the coast, the Andean Mountains and the Amazon rainforest, each featuring its own unique geography and attractions.
The southern coastal area consists of beaches and deserts. Lima
, the capital of Peru is located at the southern-central coast. In Lima, you can admire the Spanish colonial architecture in the historic centre or visit some of the many museums in the city, such as the National Museum of Anthropology, Archaeology and History or the National Museum of Peruvian Culture. You can also dine in some of the best restaurants in South America and try Lima’s signature dish, ceviche.
On the southern coast, visit the Paracas National Reserve
, where you can spot sea lions, flamingos and other bird life on the Ballestas Islands. If you’re looking for more adventure, head to the desert oasis of Huacachina
for a dune buggy ride or sandboarding. This area is also home to the mysterious Nazca Lines
, pictures of animals and figures stretching for miles across the desert only viewable from the air.
On the northern coast, you can enjoy the beaches in Máncora
or Punta Sal and even try surfing or paragliding.
On the north coast, we can also marvel at fascinating proof of ancient civilisations in Peru. Chiclayo
is not only a beautiful city to visit, it is also the ancient centre of the Moche civilization in Peru, where we can see the famous tombs of “Lord Sipan
on the North coast of Peru is popular for its beaches and nice climate – but also for its cultural importance. Today, we can visit the historic capital of the Chimu culture, Chan Chan
, close to Trujillo.
The Incas built their empire in the Andes of Peru; some of the most important historical sites in South America are located in this region as well as the most breath-taking scenery in Peru.
Arequipa and the Colca Canyon
, “The White City,” in the south and admire the colonial architecture in the historic center and the views of the volcanoes Misti, Chachani and Pikchu Pikchu. Not far from Arequipa is Colca Canyon
, the deepest canyon in the world, where you can spot the famous Peruvian Condor, one of the biggest birds on earth.
East of Arequipa is Lake Titicaca
, the highest navigable lake in the world, on the border of Peru and Bolivia. Here you can visit the floating islands of Uros and the enchanting islands Amantaní and Taquile. Also, the popular Candelaria Festival takes place at the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca in Puno
every year in February.
The Inca Capital, Cusco
You cannot visit this region without experiencing its Inca heritage; head to Cusco
, the historic capital of the Inca Empire, for impressive ruins like Sacsayhuamán and Qorikancha where you can admire the incredible masonry skill of the Incas. Just outside Cusco, the Sacred Valley features stunning views, charming towns, and remarkable Incan architecture in Ollantaytambo, Pisac and Moray.
For adventure seekers, the Andes provide amazing opportunities for activities like hiking, paragliding, horseback riding, mountain biking, and white water rafting, especially in the area around Cusco.
Probably one of the most important sites to visit in Peru is visit Machu Picchu
. As it was not discovered by the Spanish, Machu Picchu is the most well-preserved site from the Inca, Times. You can choose from a number of treks leading to Machu Picchu, the most famous being the four-day traditional Inca Trail (closed in February for maintenance), or take the train to nearby Aguas Calientes.
If you are looking for a more tropical climate, visit the Amazon jungle. The Amazon comprises 60% of Peru and is one of the most biodiverse areas on earth.
There are two main options to enter the jungle: from Lima you can fly to Iquitos
in the north, the biggest city in the tropical rainforest, situated on the border with the jungle of Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil.
To enter the Amazon from Cusco, you can take a bus to the village of Pilcopata. From there, the best way to continue travelling is by boat. The alternative would be to take a plane from Cusco to the city of Puerto Maldonado.
The biggest reserve in the southern part of the Peruvian Amazon is the Manú National Park
, where you can see more than 20,000 species of flora and a rich wildlife of animals including tropical birds, monkeys, turtles, jaguars and giant otters. Another beautiful area in the Peruvian Rainforest is the Tambopata National Reserve
, where you can take jungle tours to experience the great diversity of this fascinating spot on earth.