Peru is one of those travel destinations that offers it all. Intrigue, romance, adventure, and fascinating landscapes…there’s so much to explore. Plus there’s always the allure of that mouth-watering Peruvian cuisine!
So what makes this South American country such a unique travel destination? Peru has such a diverse range of traveler destinations. But one of the top draws is definitely experiencing the history of the Inca dynasty. Ancient ruins and the allure of the Incan trails provide plenty of adventure and intrigue.
Peru also has beautiful stretches of coastline to explore. And its cities provide plenty of culture, along with mesmerizing architecture and history. There’s definitely plenty to discover. Here’s a look at a few popular and also off the beaten path destinations to check out while exploring the beauty of Peru…
Immerse in History at Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
We’re actually going to cover this iconic destination in more detail in a separate article. But it’s still worth mentioning in a general guide to Peruvian destinations.
Machu Picchu is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. It draws millions of visitors every year. One look at this majestic sight and you’ll definitely see why.
Machu Picchu is a former Incan settlement. It’s set against a fairytale-like backdrop of sweeping mountains. Hiking the Inca trail is an experience all its own too. The trail is steeped in so much history and ancient culture that it’s hard not to get swept up in the grandeur that was once the Incan Empire.
Discover the Delights of Lima
It’s the capital city of Peru. And Lima has plenty to offer those who visit its bustling streets. Lima is known for its amazing cuisine. Travelers who are food enthusiasts will definitely want to visit Lima. Don’t forget to try Peru’s national dish…Ceviche.
Lima has plenty of architectural gems to check out. They have some pretty cool religious sites too like the La Catedral de Lima and Inglesia de Santo Domingo. There are plenty of historic sites and museums to consider too. Those looking for a fun night out on the town will love Lima. It’s known for its vibrant and diverse nightlife.
Explore the one of the World’s Deepest Canyons
Sure, the Grand Canyon in the US is pretty impressive. But Peru’s Cotahuasi Canyon is something you don’t want to miss. In fact, this Peruvian canyon is around 1,850 meters deeper than the Grand Canyon!
This is a more off the beaten path destination. But it’s definitely worth the time and effort getting to Cotahuasi Canyon. The area is an adventure seeker’s paradise. Aside from the amazing scenery, travelers can opt for rafting, kayaking, and hiking. Be on the lookout for ancient ruins during those hikes!
Trek through the Jungles of Manu National Park
Manu National Park is another great off the beaten path choice. Adventurers and nature enthusiasts will love discovering the hidden treasure in one of the largest parks in South America.
Manu National park makes up an impressive 2 million hectares of land. And there’s definitely plenty of biodiversity, including tropical rain forests, cloud forests, and high forests of the Andes. This is a must see destination for those who love outdoor activities. Rafting, hiking, and zip-lining are just a few of the exciting things to choose from.
Uncover the Mysteries of the Amazon
A trip to Peru wouldn’t be complete without taking the chance to explore the famous Amazon rain forest. The Peruvian Amazon makes up sixty percent of the country. In fact, Peru has the second largest area of Amazon rain forest…with Brazil having the largest.
Travelers looking for a truly unique and authentic Amazon experience will have plenty to discover. The Peruvian Amazon is quite a bit less traversed than the more popular Brazilian territory. So it’s a great way to experience the amazing biodiversity with less crows and less of an environmental impact. Tours and lodging are available…especially close to the areas around Cuzco.
Navigate the Highest Elevated Lake in the World
If high elevations aren’t your thing, you may want to think twice before planning a trip to Lake Titicaca. It sits a staggering 4,000 meters above sea level in the snow-capped Andes Mountains. It’s located on the Peru/Bolivia border and provides some of the most breathtaking views of the surrounding Peruvian countryside.
Lake Titicaca is not only the highest navigable lake in the world, but also the largest lake in South America. Visiting the lake is a truly humbling and serene experience. Aside from the awesome views, you’ll most likely also meet friendly locals of tribes that date back to the ancient Incan civilization.
Another cool thing to see is the “floating islands” of the local Uru people. Their islands are built with local reeds and are also used to build homes, boats, and handicrafts.
Hike to the Kuelap Fortress
It’s one of the largest ancient monuments the Americas have to offer. And it’s going to be quite a hike getting there. It’s located about 3,000 meters above sea level in the Andes Mountains in the northern part of the country. But the hike there will definitely be worth it. There are plenty of ruins to discover, including the fortress itself.
Kuelap Fortress is thought to have been a fortified citadel build by a pre-Incan civilization. The site itself covers nearly 65,000 square meters. So there’s speculation that it may have also served as a walled city to protect its citizens. Whatever is purpose, Kuelap Fortress is a definite must for adventure seekers, history buffs, and those who love hiking.
Check out Cuzco and the Sacred Valley
The ancient city of Cuzco is one of the most visited cities in all of Peru. Once the center of the Incan Empire, its home to a vast array of colonial architecture, historic ruins, and authentic Peruvian culture.
Cuzco is also a typical stopping point for those travelers heading for the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley of the Incas is known for its beautiful display of Incan ruins.
Keep in mind that Cuzco is a high altitude city. Some travelers tend to experience altitude sickness if not properly acclimated to the difference in altitude.
Aside from the Incan ruins and pretty impressive sites and historic cities, Peru does offer a few cool beach towns as well. Peru isn’t exactly a beach destination though. But if you are looking to head for the Peruvian coast, there are a few options to consider. Punta Sal, Mancora, Piura, and Tumbes are a few. Exploring the Peruvian coast is a great way to break up all of that other exploring you’ll be doing while visiting the country!