Peru is a destination for nature lovers, history buffs and wide eyed wonderers. There are countless things to do in Peru that will leave your mouth agape, uttering the words – ‘I can’t believe my eyes’.
After traveling over 50 countries to date, Peru makes the cut as being one of my top three favorite destinations! There are so many remarkable and interesting Peru activities that will turn any traveler into a storyteller.
Peru is a country brimming with diverse natural wonders and ancient cultural sites, making it a dream destination for travelers. It has the perfect combination of ancient history, natural wonders and cultural diversity that promises a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
In this article, I’ll go over 14 of the best things to do in Peru and add any necessary tips at the bottom that will give you a better understanding of what its like to travel in Peru.
For full transparency, I have sprinkled some affiliate links in this post. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases that gives me a small commission at no extra cost to you if you decided to make a purchase. As always, I would never recommend a product or service that I didn't truely believe in. All proceeds go to keep Jess traveling and coffee ☕️. I thank you in advance.
Would you rather see what it’s like to travel Peru? Joe and I filmed several travel vlogs while we explored this fantastic country. Check them out after you read this post and please subscribe or give us a thumbs up. It doesn’t cost you anything and really helps us be able to continue creating free content for you to enjoy 🙂.
Things to do in Peru Quick List
Below I have listed a quick list of 14 incredible tourist attractions in Peru. If you would like more detailed information, guides or travel vlogs about any specific Peru activity, just click on the blue highlighted links below.
- Adventure to Machu Picchu
- Homestay on Lake Titicaca
- Eat adventurously – Guinea Pig
- Marvel at Condors
- Fly Over the Nazca Lines
- Trek into the Second Deepest Canyon in the World
- Explore a real life desert oasis
- Catch the longest left in the world
- Climb Huayna Picchu for a Birdseye view of Machu Picchu
- Take a Boat Ride through the Amazon
- Try Ayahuasca
- Pose with Llamas on Rainbow Mountain
- Climb El Misti
- Visit the “Poor Man’s Galapagos”
14 Things to do in Peru
Adventure to Machu Picchu
Starting off our best things to do in Peru list has to be Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is the most visited tourist destination in Peru and can not be missed when visiting this magical country.
These famous Inca ruins are set high in the Andes Mountains more than 7,000 feet above sea level there are several different ways you can get to Machu Picchu – by train, by bus or by foot.
The most adventurous way to reach Machu Picchu is by trekking the classic Inca Trail or the alternative route on the Salkantay Trail. The Inca Trail requires permits and guides to hike which need to be booked in advance.
The Salkantay Machu Picchu Trek does not require a permit or guide so if you are planning a last minute trip to Peru or want more of a challenge, trekking Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu is one hell of an adventure.
Check out the guides below for more information about trekking Salkantay. However you plan to hike Machu Picchu, make sure you book Tickets to Machu Picchu far in advance.
Homestay on Lake Titicaca
If you are searching for an authentic and immersive cultural experience in one of the most captivating locations in the country, look no further. Staying in a homestay on Lake Titicaca provides a small glimpse into the lives to the local people.
This was one of my favorite adventures in Peru. Waking up to the tranquility of the lake and learning the traditional way of life with your host family is the ultimate experience.
Lake Titicaca is most known for the Floating Islands of Uros that are completely composed of totora reeds, but your homestay will more than likely be on the island of Amantani or Taquile.
Lake Titicaca is a massive, freshwater lake in the Andes that sits on the border of Bolivia and Peru. It is also the highest navigable lake in the world which means it gets cold so dress warm and in layers.
Eat Adventurously – Cuy
One of the most unusual things to do in Peru is to try Cuy or in English, Guniea Pig. Cuy (pronounced coo-ee) has been a delicacy in Peru for a very long time – over 5,000 years long time.
Guinea pig was enjoyed by the ancient Incan nobility, used for telling fortunes and sometimes used as a sacrifice to the gods. Today, cuy is still on the menu and should be tried in either Cusco or Arequipa.
While some might find the idea of eating guinea pig unsettling, trying cuy in Peru provides a unique opportunity to embrace the country’s gastronomic heritage and gain a deeper appreciation for its diverse culinary traditions.
Marvel at Condors
The Andean Condor is the national bird of several South American countries including Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Condors are special for many reasons including being one of the largest birds in the world that can fly.
Colca Canyon is a massive canyon in Southern Peru and the main draw to visit this area is for a chance to spot the soaring Andean condors in their natural habitat. This can be done as a day trip from Arequipa or Puno or in route to trek the Colca Canyon.
Discover the Mysterious Nazca Lines
One of the most mysterious things to do in Peru is to take a plane ride over the Nazca Lines. As you stand atop a viewing platform or from the window seat of a small plane, the massive geoglphs sprawl across the Nazca Desert, revealing intricate shapes and figures etched into the earth.
The mystery surrounding these ancient Nazca drawings is captivating; they were painstakingly created thousands of years ago, yet their purpose remains unknown. From the graceful hummingbird to the enigmatic astronaut, the precision and scale of these enormous designs are simply astonishing.
Trek into the Second Deepest Canyon in the World
Colca Canyon is the world’s second deepest canyon. Known for its flying condors and terraced hillsides, in order to truly experience this area of Peru is to go on a Colca Canyon trek.
The Colca Canyon, offers visitors a chance to spot soaring condors, stay in an oasis on the canyon floor, witness some of Peru’s most beautiful landscapes, bathe in thermal hot springs and hike through desert scenery.
If you are looking for something to do in Peru that combines adventure and natural beauty in an area that few people get to experience, trekking Colca Canyon will do just that.
Explore a Real Life Desert Oasis
Nestled in the Peruvian desert, Huacachina is a real life oasis paradise. As you approach this not-so-hidden gem, the sights of towering sand dunes engulfed by an emerald lagoon unfold before your eyes.
One of the best ways to experience Huacachina is on a sand boarding adventure or dune buggy ride. This is one of the best things to do in Peru for a thrilling adventure and epic memories.
The picturesque village surrounding the oasis exudes charm, with its quaint streets lined with palm trees and vibrant bougainvillea. You can explore this Peru desert oasis on a long weekend from Lima or in route to Arequipa.
Take a Boat Ride along the Amazon River
One of the many amazing qualities of Peru are the diverse landscapes. Embarking on a boat ride along the Amazon River in Peru is an extraordinary adventure through one of the world’s most majestic and biodiverse regions in the world.
As you glide along the vast expanse of water, you’ll be surrounded by towering trees, lush vegetation and an array of vibrant wildlife. Immerse yourself in the symphony of sounds, from the melodic chirping of birds to the occasional roar of howler monkeys echoing through the forest.
For an added experience, stay at a lodge tucked away deep in the jungle. Witness the local communities that call this place home, navigating the river in their traditional canoes and their unique symbiosis with the environment.
Catch the Longest Left in the World
Did you know that Peru has the longest left in the world? In the waters off the Pacific coast of northern Peru is Chicama. Don’t worry, if you’re not a professional surfer, Peru’s coast has a lot more to offer.
Peru is blessed with stunning beaches that boast incredible natural beauty. Discover the rich tapestry of landscapes, from charming fishing villages nestled against rugged coastal cliffs to expansive sandy shores stretching as far as the eye can see.
This thing to do in Peru may not be for everyone but Ayahuasca in Peru is a deeply transformative and spiritual journey for those seeking self-discovery and inner healing. Ayahuasca, a sacred plant, has been used by indigenous cultures in the Amazon rainforest for centuries.
Through Ayahuasca ceremonies, participants go on a profound inward journey, encountering visions, emotions and spiritual revelations. The experience can be intense and should only be experienced under the guidance of experienced healers. Many retreats are held in the town of Iquitos located deep in the rain forest.
Pose with Llamas on Rainbow Mountain
One of the most popular Peru activities is hiking Rainbow Mountain. It’s like stepping into a surreal and colorful wonderland. Located in the Andes near Cusco, Rainbow Mountain showcases an otherworldly landscape of vibrant, striated slopes.
As you trek along the challenging yet rewarding path, you’ll be greeted by breathtaking vistas at every turn. Immersed in this untouched wilderness, you’ll witness llamas grazing in the high-altitude grasslands and encounter local Quechua communities, whose connection with the land add a layer hell yes to the journey. Don’t forget to strike a pose.
Climb Huayna Picchu for a Birdseye View of Machu Picchu
You probably think that roaming through the UNESCO World Heritage site Machu Picchu would be the best thing to do in Peru, but I’m here to let you in on the secret of something even cooler. Climbing Huayna Picchu offers an unparalleled bird’s eye view of the majestic wonder that is Machu Picchu.
In order to climb Huayna Picchu, you need a specific ticket which must be booked in advance with your Machu Picchu entrance ticket. As you ascend the steep and narrow paths, you can’t help but be captivated by the breathtaking scenery surrounding you.
As you reach the summit of Huayna Picchu, a sense of awe washes over you. From this vantage point, you are treated to a panoramic view of Machu Picchu, revealing its intricate terraces, impressive stone structures and the unmistakable harmony with the natural terrain.
Climb El Misti
Climbing El Misti in Peru is an amazing adventure that takes you to the summit of one of the most iconic and majestic volcanoes in the country. Standing at over 19,000 feet, El Misti offers a challenging yet exhilarating experience for avid hikes and mountaineers alike.
The climb requires physical stamina, mental fortitude and a guide, but the rewards are unparalleled. Reaching the summit, you’re greeted with breathtaking panoramic views while the beautiful city of Arequipa lies far beneath.
Visit the “Poor Man’s Galapagos”
Paracas in Peru, often referred to as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos,” is a beautiful coastal paradise that boasts stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Located a couple hours away from the capital city of Lima, Paracas offers an affordable alternative to explore the Galápagos Islands while still providing an incredible experience.
The Paracas National Reserve is a a highlight in Peru. Here, you can embark on boat tours to the Ballestas Islands, home to an array of marine life, including playful sea lions, adorable penguins, diverse bird species and Peruvian boobies. These boobies are year-round residents of the Ballestas Islands and close cousins with blue-footed boobies that inhabit the Galapagos Islands.
The unique rock formations and arches within the reserve are a photographers dream. This is also a great place to eat seafood and one of the best places to visit in Peru.
Best Places to Visit in Peru
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.
How Long to Travel Peru
How long to travel Peru? The average American only gets about 2 weeks of vacation time, but if you have the gift of time, spending as much time in Peru as you can will only increase your experience.
Two weeks in Peru allows you to hit all the highlights and have one grand adventure like hiking the Salkantay Trek or Colca Canyon. I spent 2 months traveling around Peru and the only reason we left was because our visas were about to run out.
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
📧 Get on my Email list to see what I’m up to and all the best travel content!