Peru is a country that’s easy to love. From great sand dunes to snow capped mountains to surf side beach towns, there are some incredible places to visit in Peru.
What to see in Peru? A trip to South America isn’t complete without a glimpse at the marvelous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu but once you start to explore this vast country you’ll quickly realize that this feted sight is just a flash in the pan of what this nation has to offer.
In this article, I’ll go over 15 of the best places to visit and sights to see in Peru and add any necessary tips at the bottom that will give you a better understanding of what its like to travel in and visit must see places in Peru.
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Peru Must See Quick List
Below is a quick list of the 15 stunning places to visit in Peru. If you want more information on a specific place just click on any of the blue links below to be directed to a detailed blog post of that area.
15 Places to Visit in Peru
The Huacachina Oasis is a place to visit in Peru that I only thought existed in the movies. Huacachina is a small village completely surrounded by sand dunes which happen to be the tallest sand dunes in South America. The village is built around a natural lagoon which creates an enchanting setting.
This Peru oasis is full of adventures just waiting to happen, like sand boarding or a thrilling dune buggy ride. Huacachina is one of the most beautiful and unique places in Peru, that you have to see for yourself in order to believe.
Of course I couldn’t make a best places to visit in Peru list without mentioning Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is the most visited tourist destination in Peru, known for its mystery and spiritual energy.
The intricate stone craftsmanship and architectural marvels seamlessly blend with the natural landscape. As you explore the various terraces, temples and sacred spaces, it will become evident why Machu Picchu is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As you ascend the rugged Andean mountains, the majestic ruins of this ancient Incan city come into view. These famous Inca ruins are set more than 7,000 feet above sea level and there are several different ways you can get to Machu Picchu – by train, by bus or by foot.
Pick your adventure – hike the Inca Trail, trek Salkantay on the alternative route or take the picturesque train journey to Aguas Calientes. If you choose the train, make sure you book train tickets to and from Aguas Calientes in advance. As well as Tickets to Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu.
Maras Salt Mines
The Maras Salt Mines, located in the Sacred Valley near the town of Maras, is an ancient salt production site that has been in use sine pre-Inca times.
When you first arrive at the mines, you’ll be greeted by a panorama of thousands of salt terraces cascading down the mountainside. The local workers carefully maintain the terraces, allowing the saltwater from a nearby spring flow into the individual pools.
Over time, the water evaporates, leaving behind the precious salt crystals. The white salt pools against the backdrop of the Andean mountains result in a picturesque scene. This is a popular day trip from Cusco paired with the ruins of Moray.
Iquitos in Peru is a journey into the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Located in the northeastern part of the country, it is the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road, leaving it a hidden gem for adventurous travelers.
The city serves as a gateway to explore the magnificent biodiversity of the surrounding Amazon jungle. From Iquitos, you can embark on unforgettable river cruises, marvel at the incredible wildlife, encounter indigenous communities and even spot elusive pink dolphins.
With its lush beauty, unique culture and unrivaled access to the Amazon rainforest, this is one of the best places to visit in Peru for nature enthusiasts and intrepid explorers alike.
Paracas National Reserve
Next on our Peru must see list is Paracas, a coastal town filled with natural wonders. Located on the Pacific Ocean, Paracas is famous for its stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife.
The star attraction is the Paracas National Reserve, a protected area known for its striking desert landscapes, vast sand dunes and rugged cliffs overlooking turquoise waters. Exploring the reserve, expect to encounter sea lions, flamingos, and various bird species.
Another highlight is the Ballestas Islands, often referred to as the “mini Galapagos.” These rocky islands are home to an impressive array of seabirds, penguins and sea lions. This place to visit in Peru is often paired with the Huacachina Oasis.
Lake Humantay is one of the most beautiful places in Peru, nestled in the pristine beauty of the high Andes. Sitting at an altitude of 13,779 feet, the lake is situated near the famous Salkantay trekking route, making it a popular Peru destination for adventurers and trekkers.
The journey to the lake involves a moderate hike that winds through breathtaking mountain landscapes, including snow capped peaks and even past some alpine cows.
Once at the lake, you should be feeling the altitude and a sense of accomplishment. As a reward, grab a victory beer from the adorable Peruvian man selling drinks at the top.
Laguna 69 made our Peru must see list for the unforgettable adventure through breathtaking natural landscapes. Located in the heart of Huascarán National Park, this stunning alpine lake is nestled amidst towering snow-capped peaks, turquoise waters and cascading waterfalls.
To reach Laguna 69, you’ll embark on a semi-challenging hike that takes you through scenic valleys, dense forests and rocky mountain trails. The journey itself is a testament to the beauty of the Andes.
Upon reaching the lake, you be greeted by crystalline waters surrounded by towering mountains and pristine glaciers. A place in Peru that allows you to appreciate the raw beauty and power of the Mother Nature.
Cusco is a highlight of Peru and one of the best cities in Peru. This enchanting place, nestled in the Peruvian Andes, offers a mesmerizing blend of history, culture and natural beauty. Wander through its cobblestone streets and discover remnants of the Inca Empire.
With its colorful markets, colonial architecture and hospitable Quechua people, Cusco is one of the best places in Peru that captivates both adventure seekers and history buffs alike. Plus it’s not rare to see baby llamas walking around town. I mean how adorable.
Located in the southern region of the country, the Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world, boasting breathtaking landscapes and vibrant Andean culture.
The Colca Canyon is most often visited on a day trip from Arequipa but if you have the gift of time and love adventure, you can spend a few days trekking in the canyon from village to village.
One of the Colca Canyon’s main draws is for a chance to spot the soaring Andean condors in their natural habitat. The condors are the one of the largest flying birds in the world.
One of the dreamiest and most beautiful places to go in Peru is Mancora. Mancora is a cute beach town nestled on Peru’s northern coast, that offers a captivating getaway for those seeking sun, surf and relaxation.
With its palm-fringed beaches, blue waters and year-round weather, Mancora is a paradise for beach enthusiasts . Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or beginner, Mancora’s consistent waves cater to all levels of expertise.
For a touch of adventure, take a boat trip to Los Organos or Punta Sal to explore the marine life and witness humpback whales during migration season. This is where to go in Peru for sun, surf and adventure.
Miraflores is a bustling district located in the heart of Lima and is one of the most popular places to visit in Peru Lima. Known for its stunning coastal views, lively atmosphere, and shopping scene, Miraflores offers travelers a myriad of experiences.
Take a leisurely stroll along the Malecon (coastal boardwalk) lined with parks, gardens and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Explore the archaeological site of Huaca Pucllana, a pre-Inca site. A must do in Lima is to try any and every kind of ceviche, this is the birthplace of the famed dish after all.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Lake Titicaca before, but did you know that this stunning Peru attraction is the highest navigable lake in the world?! A visit to this stunning Peru place ensures epic views of Lake Titicaca and the surrounding mountain ranges.
When you visit this place in Peru you can explore the traditional Uros Floating Islands, where the indigenous Uros people have created unique islands made entirely out of tortua reeds. Immerse yourself in local culture by visiting Taquile Island, home to a indigenous community renowned for their textiles and craftsmanship.
For more of an authentic experience in Peru, opt for staying with a local family for a night. You’ll witness traditional rituals, performances, hike to the top of the island for sunset and get to know a small group of like minded travelers.
One of the most mysterious Peru destinations is the Nazca Lines. These massive geoglyphs etched into the desert plains have puzzled archaeologists and historians for centuries.
Best appreciated from the air, a flight over the Nazca Lines offers a unique and perspective to witness the intricate designs, which include geometric shapes, animals, and humanoid figures.
The epic scale and precision which these lines and figures were created is a testament to the ingenuity of the ancient Nazca civilization. Although their purpose remains a subject of debate, add the Nazca Lines to your must see Peru list.
Sacred Valley in my opinion is one of the best destinations in Peru for peace and tranquility. Located just outside Cusco, the beautiful valley will delight you will breathtaking landscapes of terraced mountains, fertile agricultural fields and traditional Andean villages.
Some top Peru sights to see include Ollantaytambo and Pisac, where ancient Incan ruins can be found. At this area in Peru, you can immerse yourself in local culture by visiting the local markets filled with textiles, handmade crafts and traditional food.
If peace and tranquility is what you’re after then book a wellness retreat to set your soul in the right direction. Whatever your reason to visit, Sacred Valley must be on your best of Peru list.
Finishing off our must see in Peru list is Arequipa. Arequipa is a captivating city that offers visitors a mesmerizing blend of history, culture and natural beauty.
Known as the “White City” due to its stunning colonial buildings made of white volcanic stone, Arequipa boasts a charming ambiance. The highlight of any visit is exploring the iconic Santa Catalina Monastery, a beautifully preserved complex that dates back to the 16th century.
For my fellow adventure lovers, the Colca Canyon that I mentioned earlier, offers epic hiking opportunities and a chance to spot the Andean condors in flight. Arequipa is also one of the best places to try cuy.
Best Things to do in Peru
If you thought this was an incredible list of places to visit in Peru, just wait til you find out all the awesome things to do in Peru. I promise, you’ll be searching for flights in no time.
- Homestay on Lake Titicaca
- Eat adventurously – Guinea Pig
- Fly Over the Nazca Lines
- Climb Huayna Picchu for a Birdseye view of Machu Picchu
- Take a Boat Ride through the Amazon
Best Time to Visit Peru
Dry season lasts from March through October, this means warmer weather at night and blue bird skies during the day. The best time to visit Peru is in the shoulder months of dry season – March-May or October-September.
Traveling to Peru during dry season also means busy season, especially June to August. But if you time it right, you can travel during the off peak months which allows you have the best of both worlds – great weather and thinner crowds.
What to Pack for Peru
If you plan on doing some trekking, make sure you bring:
Peru has a beautiful coast line and in the North you’ll have summer weather:
What to buy in Peru:
- Alpaca Scarf
- Alpaca Sweater
- Hiking Poles
Accommodations in Peru
A bed in a dorm will cost 2- 10 USD’s. You can get comfortable accommodation for $20-$25 a night for 2 people. A higher budget allows you luxury that’s worth the cost. Peru is a great place to travel on a budget and ball out in luxury.
Below are city specific Peru Travel Guides for accommodations to help plan your trip.
Peru Travel Tips
- Book tickets to Machu Picchu in advance and to Huayna Picchu farther in advance.
- Trains out of Aguas Calientes sell out quicker than trains coming.
- You need to show your physical passport to enter Machu Picchu and to purchase bus tickets to get to the top of the mountain.
- Tap water throughout Peru is not safe to drink.
- Knowing some basics in Spanish will go along way.
- Cash is the preferred way of paying for things in Peru but credit cards are accepted in major areas.
- Many of Peru’s cities such as Cusco and Puno sit at a high elevation so you could experience altitude sickness.
Onward Travel from Peru
- Press North to Ecuador to hike volcanos and adventure in Banos.
- Cross over into Bolivia via Lake Titicaca.
- Head deep into the rainforest into Brazil.
- Discover Colombia’s vibrant towns.
- Adventure down South and explore Chile.
Peru Travel Guides
📍Plan your Trip:
- The Ultimate Guide to Peru
- 17 Useful Tips to Know Before Traveling to Cusco
- 14 Remarkable Things to do in Peru
- 15 Incredible Places to Visit in Peru
- 20 Essentials Tips for Traveling Peru
🗺 How long to travel Peru? 2 Week Peru Itinerary
☔️ Best Time to Visit: Shoulder months of dry season – March-May or October-September.
💰 Average Daily Budget: $40 - 50 a day for basic accommodations and sit down meals.
⛺️ Peru accommodation Guides
- Machu Picchu
- Best Hikes in Peru
- Trekking Salkantay Independently
- Sacred Valley
- Exploring Cusco
- Hiking Colca Canyon
- Homestay on Lake Titicaca
- Lima's Food Scene
- Trekking Cordillera Blanca
- Huacachina Desert Oasis
🧳 What to Pack: Salkantay Trek Packing List
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