The Ultimate Guide to Peru's Most Scenic Destinations
Looking to explore Peru's marvels on your upcoming trip? With so many incredible places to visit, planning your itinerary can seem like a difficult task. But don't stress, we're here to help. In this article, we'll take you on a tour of some of Peru's most iconic and off-the-beaten-path destinations, while providing expert advice and insider information to help you plan an unforgettable trip. We'll show you the best of what this fascinating country has to offer, from the prehistoric wonders of Machu Picchu to the energetic city streets of Lima, from the desert oasis of Huacachina to the depths of the Colca Canyon. So pack your bags and join us on this journey to explore Peru's magic!
What to consider before you travel to Peru
There are a few key considerations to make if you're planning a trip to Peru to guarantee a hassle-free and enjoyable journey. This guide will give you all the information you need to get ready for your journey in Peru, including information on visa requirements, vaccinations, currency, travel insurance, language, climate, and transportation options.
For stays up to 90 days, the majority of travelers do not require a visa. However, it's always a good idea to confirm the country-specific visa requirements before you travel.
Although there are no mandatory vaccinations for travel to Peru, it is advised that you are up to date on regular shots for the flu, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and rubella (DTaP), as well as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). In addition, you may also want to think about getting typhoid and hepatitis A vaccinations.
The Peruvian Sol (PEN) is the country's national currency. Although credit cards are generally accepted in the majority of cities and tourist hotspots, it's a good idea to carry some cash with you for small purchases and tips.
Before you depart on your trip, it's a good idea to buy travel insurance so that you are covered in case of unforeseen circumstances like illness or injury. Ensure that your insurance includes emergency evacuation, travel cancellation, and medical costs. We advise looking into trustworthy travel insurance providers like Heymondo, TrueTraveller, and SafetyWing. To discover the best option for your particular needs, make sure to compare prices and policy details.
Although English is widely spoken in the tourism sector in Peru, Spanish is the country's official language. It's a good idea to learn a few fundamental Spanish phrases in order to get around and communicate with locals.
The climate in Peru varies from region to region, and the weather can be unpredictable. While the Andes can be cold and rainy, the coastal area is frequently hot and dry. All year long, the Amazon is sweltering and muggy. Make sure to pack for the areas you intend to explore.
Peru has an extensive bus network that links cities and tourist attractions. For greater distances, domestic flights are also an option. In the majority of cities, taxis and ride-sharing apps are generally accessible.
On Peru's central coast, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is the vibrant metropolis of Lima. It is a city of contrasts, with modern architecture towering over centuries-old colonial structures, and busy markets set against serene parks and gardens.
The historic city center of Lima, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the best places to check out on your trip. Here, you can visit the impressive Plaza Mayor, which is surrounded by lovely colonial structures and the imposing Cathedral of Lima. Other must-see attractions in the historic center are the Palace of the Archbishop, which has stunning Baroque architecture, and the Monastery of San Francisco, which has a remarkable collection of colonial art and a network of tombs.
Lima's rich and varied culinary traditions have earned it a reputation as one of the world's best dining destinations. The bustling street markets of Miraflores and Barranco are some of the best locations to experience local cuisine, where you can sample everything from ceviche to anticuchos (grilled beef heart skewers). Check out some of the city's top-rated restaurants, like Central, Maido, and Astrid y Gastón, for a more upscale gastronomic experience.
If you're looking for accommodation, Lima has a variety of options to fit every taste and budget. If you want to experience luxury, try out the stunning Belmond Miraflores Park hotel, which has outstanding amenities and breathtaking ocean views. The Pariwana Hostel in Miraflores is a well-liked option for backpackers looking for a more affordable accommodation because it offers cozy dorms and private rooms, a rooftop patio, and a buzzing bar and restaurant.
Whatever your interests may be, Lima has something to offer you. This exciting city will enthrall you with its charm and vitality whether you have a passion for history, cuisine, art, or nightlife.
Huacachina and Nazca
Just outside the city of Ica, about four hours south of Lima, is a small desert oasis called Huacachina. This picturesque lagoon is a popular choice for sandboarding, dune buggy excursions, and relaxing by the water. It is surrounded by towering sand dunes. From Lima or other nearby towns, you can travel there by bus or taxi.
There are lots of things to do in Huacachina once you get there. One of the most popular activities is sandboarding, and several trip companies provide rentals and led excursions. Alternatively, you can unwind by the water and enjoy the sun or go on a dune buggy ride to experience the nearby desert.
The Nazca Lines, one of the world's most enigmatic and fascinating archaeological sites, are located close by in the village of Nazca. Only observable from the air, these prehistoric geoglyphs were produced by the Nazca people between 400 and 650 AD. You can fly over the desert to see them with one of the many nearby excursion operators. As an alternative, you could go to the neighboring Nazca Lines Viewing Tower, which provides sweeping views of three of the most well-known sculptures, including the hummingbird, the tree, and the hands.
Huacachina and Nazca provide a variety of lodging choices to meet all preferences and price ranges. One of the many hostels in Huacachina, like Desert Nights Ecocamp or Hostal Huacachina Sunset, offers accommodations with views of the lagoon. The Hotel Majoro is a popular choice in Nazca, with cozy rooms, lovely gardens, and a restaurant offering traditional Peruvian food.
A trip to Huacachina and the Nazca Lines is a unique and unforgettable adventure that you shouldn't skip. This desert oasis and archaeological site will not fail to amaze you, whether you're an adventure-seeking adrenaline junkie or want to take in the marvels of pre-Columbian Peru.
Arequipa and Colca Canyon
Arequipa is a beautiful colonial city in southern Peru protected by imposing mountains and known for its white stone structures. The nearby Colca Canyon, one of the world's deepest canyons and a top tourist destination, offers breathtaking scenery, hiking trails, and other outdoor adventure options.
You have two options for transportation to Arequipa and the Colca Canyon: a scenic bus journey through the breathtaking Andean landscapes, or a domestic flight from Lima or other major Peruvian cities. Once you get to Arequipa, you can visit the charming historic center of the city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a number of lovely colonial structures like the Church of the Company and the Monastery of Santa Catalina.
The Colca Canyon is about a three-hour bus ride from Arequipa and provides a variety of activities for tourists. Trekking is one of the most popular excursions in the canyon, and there are a variety of routes accessible for hikers of all skill levels. To learn about the traditional Andean culture and sample local cuisine, you can also explore nearby villages like Chivay or Yanque.
The best time to visit Arequipa and the Colca Canyon is between May and September when the weather is dry and ideal for outdoor activities. However, the canyon remains a beautiful location to visit even during the rainy season (which lasts from November to March).
Both Arequipa and the Colca Canyon offer a variety of accommodation choices. You can choose from a variety of lodgings and hostels in Arequipa, including Le Foyer and Los Tambos Hotel in Arequipa. In the Colca Canyon, you can opt for a more remote experience by camping or lodging in a local guesthouse, or you can select from a number of opulent lodges, including the Colca Lodge Spa & Hot Springs and Las Casitas del Colca.
For visitors interested in discovering the natural grandeur and rich culture of southern Peru, Arequipa and the Colca Canyon offer a distinct and unforgettable experience.
Cusco and The Sacred Valley
The bustling city of Cusco, which is situated in Peru's Andes Mountains, was once the heart of the Incan Empire. The city has beautiful colonial architecture, vibrant markets, and extensive history. Visitors can travel from Cusco to the adjacent Sacred Valley, which has stunning scenery and a number of Incan ruins.
Machu Picchu, the renowned Incan citadel situated high in the Andes Mountains, is one of the area's top tourist destinations. Travelers can then take a bus or hike up to the citadel to reach Machu Picchu by taking a train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo to the village of Aguas Calientes. There are also some other Incan remains nearby, including the Pisac remains and the Ollantaytambo Fortress, both of which are very accessible from Cusco.
In addition to the Incan ruins, the Sacred Valley is renowned for its breathtaking scenery and outdoor activities. Visitors can hike up Rainbow Mountain or check out the Maras Salt Mines, which have been in operation ever since the pre-Inca period. There are a number of traditional Andean communities in the Sacred Valley, including Chinchero and Urubamba, where tourists can discover local customs and artisanal goods.
Cusco has a variety of accommodation options, from inexpensive hostels to opulent hotels like the Belmond Hotel Monasterio or the Palacio del Inka. Visitors to the Sacred Valley have a selection of eco-lodges and getaways to choose from, including the Rio Sagrado and the Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba.
Overall, the Sacred Valley and Cusco provide a fascinating look into the past and culture of the Incan Empire, as well as breathtaking natural grandeur and exciting outdoor activities. This region of Peru is a must-see location whether you want to hike through breathtaking landscapes or explore old ruins.
Northern Peru and The Amazon Jungle
Over 60% of Peru is covered by the Amazon rainforest, one of the most biodiverse areas on earth. The Amazon offers visitors the chance to explore this extraordinary ecosystem and observe a broad range of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, and a variety of colorful birds and reptiles.
You can explore The Amazon in a variety of ways, through eco-lodges and guided excursions. Two of the most well-known reserves that are close to each other are the Tambopata National Reserve and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, and they both offer fantastic opportunities for wildlife watching and guided excursions.
Visitors can hike through the jungle, take boat rides along the river, and engage in traditional activities conducted by indigenous communities while they are in the Amazon. Make sure you bring insect repellent, sunscreen, and sturdy hiking boots.
The next area is Northern Peru, which is frequently disregarded by travelers but has a wealth of undiscovered gems. One of the most notable ones is the ancient fortress of Kuelap, which precedes Machu Picchu and is referred to as the "Machu Picchu of the North". The fortress is located in a cloud forest, and in order to get there you can trek or take a cable car.
The coastal town of Mancora, which is well-known for its stunning beaches and optimal surfing conditions, is another popular travel location in Northern Peru. Visitors can take a surf lesson, unwind on the beach, or eat fresh seafood at one of the many nearby eateries.
Other notable attractions to visit in Northern Peru are the Gocta Waterfall, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, and the city of Trujillo, renowned for its colonial architecture and archaeological sites.
These areas offer a singular and unforgettable travel experience, whether you're interested in experiencing the dense Amazonian jungle or finding the Northern Peruvian region's hidden gems.
Travelers can find a lot of attractions in Peru, which is a fascinating and varied nation. Peru has something for everyone, from the energetic Lima, the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, and the breathtaking majesty of the Amazon rainforest.
It's crucial to do your research before making travel plans to Peru and to take the appropriate safety measures, such as having the necessary immunizations and visas. Considering that unexpected things can happen while going, travel insurance is also essential.
Explore all of Peru's diverse regions while you're there, from the breathtaking Colca Canyon near Arequipa to the lesser-visited areas of the north. You could easily spend weeks or even months visiting this amazing country with all there is to see and do.
Peru's rich history and culture are obvious everywhere you go, from the old Inca Empire ruins to the vibrant markets and festivals that take place all year long. The country of Peru is the ideal location for your next journey, whether you're an adventure seeker, a history enthusiast, or both.
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