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Peru is a gem in the crown of South America, offering a perfect mix of ancient history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes. In this Peru travel guide, we’ll share essential tips for visiting, including the best things to do in Peru, where to stay, and how to get around this fascinating country.
- Best Things to Do in Peru
- 1. Explore the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu
- 2. Experience the enigmatic Nazca Lines
- 3. Discover the rich history of Cusco
- 4. Sail on the serene waters of Lake Titicaca
- 5. Trek through the breathtaking Colca Canyon
- Where to stay in Peru
- How to Get Around in Peru
- Travel Tips for Visiting Peru
- 1. Acclimate to the high altitude
- 2. Embrace the local cuisine
- 3. Stay safe and be aware of your surroundings
- 4. Purchase travel insurance for peace of mind
- 5. Learn some basic Spanish phrases
Best Things to Do in Peru
1. Explore the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a truly unforgettable experience in Peru. This ancient Inca city, nestled in the breathtaking landscape of the Andes’ cloud forests, is full of fascinating history and offers stunning panoramic views.
To make the most of your visit to this iconic site, consider joining one of the highly rated Machu Picchu tours or challenging yourself with a hike on the classic Inca Trail. Due to the limited availability of permits for the trail, it’s essential to plan and book well in advance to avoid disappointment. With its awe-inspiring beauty and rich cultural significance, you’ll quickly realize why it’s the adventure of a lifetime when you visit Machu Picchu.
2. Experience the enigmatic Nazca Lines
Another must-see attraction in Peru is the mysterious Nazca Lines. These massive geoglyphs, etched into the arid plains of southern Peru, can only be fully appreciated from the air.
Board a small plane for a flightseeing tour and marvel at the intricate designs, including animals, plants, and geometric shapes. Theories behind the lines’ purpose range from astronomical to religious, adding an element of intrigue to your visit.
3. Discover the rich history of Cusco
Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire, is a vibrant city filled with historical sites, colorful markets, and charming cobblestone streets. Key attractions include the impressive Qorikancha temple, the majestic Cusco Cathedral, and the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman. With its mix of Inca and Spanish colonial architecture, Cusco is the perfect starting point for your Peru travel guide itinerary.
4. Sail on the serene waters of Lake Titicaca
Straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake. Visit the unique Uros floating islands, made entirely of reeds, and experience the traditional way of life of the local communities. Don’t miss the chance to explore the beautiful Isla Taquile, known for its stunning landscapes, fascinating history, and vibrant textiles.
5. Trek through the breathtaking Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon, one of the world’s deepest canyons, offers spectacular scenery and the chance to spot the majestic Andean condor. Embark on a multi-day trek to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of this region, or take a day trip from the nearby city of Arequipa to witness the canyon’s main attraction, the Cruz del Condor viewpoint.
Where to stay in Peru
Accommodation in Peru varies from luxury hotels to rustic lodges, depending on the area you’re visiting. If your budget allows, we recommend staying at one of the luxurious eco-lodges in some of Peru’s most stunning places. But if you’re looking for something more affordable, plenty of options suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. Some top choices include the following:
- Belmond Hotel Monasterio) (Cusco)
- JW Marriott El Convento (Cusco)
- Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (Aguas Calientes)
- Casa Andina Premium Arequipa (Arequipa)
- Titilaka Lodge (Lake Titicaca)
- Colca Lodge Spa & Hot Springs (Colca Canyon)
- Belmond Miraflores Park (Lima)
- Hotel B (Lima)
- Atemporal (Lima)
- Sol y Luna (Sacred Valley)
How to Get Around in Peru
Peru offers various modes of transportation to help you explore its diverse landscapes and attractions. Flying is the quickest way to cover long distances, with several domestic airlines operating flights between major cities such as Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa. For a more budget-friendly option, consider taking long-distance buses, which are comfortable and widely available.
Taxis and colectivos (shared minivans) are popular for shorter distances, while larger cities like Lima and Cusco offer reliable public transportation systems. When exploring more remote areas, renting a car can allow you to travel at your own pace. Book your rental car through RentalCars.com for a wide selection of vehicles and competitive prices.
Travel Tips for Visiting Peru
Before embarking on your Peruvian adventure, keep in mind these essential tips to make the most of your visit:
1. Acclimate to the high altitude
Peru’s top destinations, including Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca, are at high altitudes. To minimize the risk of altitude sickness, take time to acclimate by spending a few days in a lower-elevation city like Arequipa or Lima before venturing higher. Additionally, drink plenty of water, avoid heavy meals, and consider taking altitude sickness medication if necessary.
2. Embrace the local cuisine
Peru is known for its diverse and flavorful cuisine, making it a culinary paradise for food lovers. Don’t miss the opportunity to try ceviche, lomo saltado, and other traditional Peruvian dishes at local markets and restaurants. Be adventurous and try some local delicacies like cuy (guinea pig) or alpaca.
3. Stay safe and be aware of your surroundings
While Peru is generally safe for tourists, it’s essential to stay vigilant and take precautions to avoid petty crime, especially in crowded areas. Keep your belongings secure, be cautious when using ATMs, and avoid walking alone in unfamiliar areas after dark.
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4. Purchase travel insurance for peace of mind
Unexpected events can occur during any trip, so purchasing travel insurance before setting off is wise. This will cover you for medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost luggage, among other things. Visit VisitorsCoverage.com to find a suitable insurance plan for your needs when you visit Peru.
5. Learn some basic Spanish phrases
While English is spoken in many tourist areas, learning basic Spanish phrases will significantly enhance your experience. Locals will appreciate your effort to communicate in their language, and it will help you navigate the country more easily.
With these tips and our South American travel guide, you’re well-equipped to make the most of your trip to Peru. From the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu to the serene waters of Lake Titicaca, Peru offers countless opportunities for adventure, exploration, and cultural immersion. Happy travels!
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.