There’s more to this country than the world famous UNESCO World Heritage site, Machu Picchu, although it’s definitely a highlight! Snowy mountain peaks, beautiful beaches, rainforests, canyons and sandy deserts are all packed into one country! We couldn’t believe how much the landscape changed as we travelled from south to north, and we loved the variety it offered. It’s got something for everyone. Don’t forget to try the delicious cuisine, enjoy the kindness of its people and embrace the country’s history through its ruins and architecture.
- Cusco – One of the main destinations in Peru, this charming city is rich with history and packed with beautiful architecture and delicious food! Although it is definitely a tourist hot spot, free walking tours and tons of (cheap!) souvenir shopping make it easy to take advantage of its popularity! You can easily spend a week here exploring the city streets, and as well using it as a base to explore the Sacred Valley, hike the surrounding areas, and travel to Machu Picchu and back!
- Machu Picchu – One of the wonders of the world, this breathtaking, mountain top, ancient city is an absolute must in Peru. The innovation of the ruins, and the beauty of the surrounding mountains make it an incredibly significant moment for all travellers. The town at the base is called Aguas Calientes, but is often called Machu Picchu Pueblo. Amp it up by signing up for a four to seven day trek, with Machu Picchu as its final destination. We recommend the four or five day, Salktanay Trek, which takes you up through a snowy mountain pass!
- Huacachina – Nestled outside the seedy city of Ica, you won’t believe that this desert exists! Huacachina is a very small tourist area centred around a small lake oasis, surrounded by sand dunes that seem to stretch on forever! Spend your days sand boarding or buggying, watching the sunset from top of the sandy dunes around town, and spend your nights sipping drinks with other backpackers.
Worth a Trip
- Lima – One of the world’s culinary capitals, this city offers some delicious Peruvian specialties! Spend a day or two trying some ceviche, checking out its artsy neighbourhood called Barranco, and heading down to the water to do some surfing! Most backpackers choose to base themselves in the Miraflores area, which is packed with fun things to do and is right near the ocean.
- Colca Canyon – Hiking the world’s second deepest canyon is not an easy feat, but it does offer insanely cool views! Spend one day hiking down to the Sangalle Oasis (complete with sparkling pools), or spend two to three days hiking through the friendly villages for an experience like no other.
- Arequipa – A charming city with tons of shopping and beautiful historical architecture, we really enjoyed just strolling through on a restful day. This city is the one you will stay in before you head to your Colca Canyon trek, so make a point of spending a rest day in this pretty city.
- Mancora – Though touristy, this northern beach town offers you a chance to relax by the turquoise ocean and soak up the South American sun! If you’re a seasoned surfer, we wouldn’t recommend it for surfing as the waves aren’t huge but it might be good for beginners! There’s also opportunities to try kite surfing for the thrill-seekers!
Just Pass Through
- Huanchaco – Although this small surfing town offers the longest left break in the world, and is awesome for surf junkies, the weather wasn’t great and it was pretty empty when we went. If you end up there for a night, don’t fret! The seafood is delicious and you can check out the cool ruins of Chan Chan nearby. We imagine it is a lot more happening in the right season.