Things to do in Peru: Attractions and places to visit

Machu Picchu (Joe)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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Numerous legends entwine around the Andean state of Peru. Also because the history of this South American country is marked by many tragic moments. The history of Peru tells of the glory and misery of the Inca Empire, of the invasion of the conquistadors, but also of the pride and humility of the people in the barren highlands.

According to tradition, a chain of gold rests in the depths of Lake Titicaca. She is said to weigh two thousand kilograms, and it is said that it was the Spanish invaders who sank her there as the treasure of the Incas. But no one can recover the chain because it is guarded by a shining frog. Some Peruvians believe in it and tell it to the many tourists who travel this exciting country.

Below we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in Peru.

Ausblick ├╝ber den Machu Picchu in Peru (davidionut / stock.adobe.com)  lizenziertes Stockfoto 
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Lama vor den Machu Picchu Terassen (vadim.nefedov / stock.adobe.com)  lizenziertes Stockfoto 
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Izcuchaca, Peru (Frank_am_Main)  [flickr.com]  CC BY-SA 
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1. Lima

More than one hundred years ago Peru’s capital Lima was praised as the most cultivated metropolis of South America. And Lima still has a very special charm. Holidaymakers from all over the world land there to recover from the long flight and acclimatise. But it is also worthwhile to visit the beautiful old town extensively. The venerable Plaza San Mart├şn has changed its face a few years ago and now shines with palms and flowers in a fresh shine.

For many visitors this is one of the most beautiful places on the American subcontinent. In the cathedral rest the bones of the Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro. Also worth seeing in Lima are the Archbishop’s Palace and the Palacio Torre Tagle, which today houses the country’s Foreign Ministry. In addition, Peru’s capital with its restaurants is a paradise for gourmets.

2. Inca trail

The coarse stones of the legendary Inca Trail have always been a challenge for hikers who travel from the Urubamba Valley to the world-famous Machu Picchu. One is on the way about four days, but all efforts are worth it. The views from the Inca Trail under the snow-covered Andes are unique. Whoever books this tour should know, however, that an acceptable condition is indispensable.

For the mystical site of the Incas requires a daily hike of six to seven hours. The path leads past rushing rivers that have to be crossed over suspension bridges. The jungle is the constant companion on this traditional way of the natives. Those who master the tour finally step through the sun gate and look at the world wonder Machu Picchu in the holy valley of the Incas.

3. Cusco

When the Spanish conquistadors reached Cusco (frequently: Cuzco) in 1533, they are said to have initially frozen in awe. But that didn’t stop them from plundering the treasures of the Inca empire, greedy for gold. In this epoch the Peru of today lost its history and was humiliated and humiliated by the invaders from Europe. Even today, many secrets entwine around history.

The Quechua Indians, who gave the name to Cusco, are said to have lived in the city at an altitude of 3400 metres in the hinterland of the Andes in the 11th century. In the language of the natives it is called “Navel of the World”. The former Inca sanctuary is today a lively city with many sights. Above all the cathedral Santo Domingo, dating from the 17th century, the so-called Inca alley “of the seven snakes” and the multitude of impressive museums.

4. Huascarán National Park

The National Park is located in the picturesque valley of the Rio Santa, where the Cordillera Negra competes with the snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca. The area is dominated by the 6,768-metre-high Huascarán. The park is home to both large and small birds, from the impressive condor to the small, lightning-fast hummingbird. A paradise for nature lovers!

The quiet mountain lake Lagunas Llanganuco nestles photogenic in this impressive landscape. A wonder of nature are the gigantic tribes of the Puya raimondii, which can grow up to five meters high. Accompanied tours through the Huascarán National Park are offered on horseback, on foot or by mountain bike.

5. Machu Picchu

Besides the Inca Trail, the impressive ruined city itself deserves a place among the most important sights in Peru. Machu Picchu is located at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level and is the epitome of harmony between heaven and earth in Peru. And probably also between topography and architecture. Machu Picchu is located on a ridge near the green summit of Huayna Picchu, 75 kilometers northeast of Cusco.

In the 15th century, this city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Why the Incas left them one day is shrouded in the veil of mystery. Exactly 216 buildings are connected by a complicated system of stairs. The difficult to access area can not only be reached via the so-called Inca Trail but also by train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and finally on rails over many serpentines to the Citadel.

6. Taquile in Lake Titicaca

If you want to study the habits of the Indians living in the Andes, you should go to the island Taquile on Lake Titicaca. From the small town of Puno there are motorboats, which land in the harbour of Taquile after about three hours. The Indios organize their everyday life together, maintain smaller shops where knitwear of all kinds is promoted.

There is also a family-run restaurant. Already in the 15th century the Indios lived here, and the island was one of the last strongholds conquered by the Spaniards. Here there is neither electricity nor running water, and many inhabitants work as fishermen on the ten degree cold Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable water in the world.

7. Cajamarca

Only a few of the tourists from all over the world who “flood” Peru’s historic sites during the high season get lost in the rather remote city of Cajamarca. This place is one of the most beautiful in the whole country. Cajamarca is closely connected with the history of the Inca regent Atahualpa, who wanted to cure his war injuries in the healing baths of the region.

But he was captured by the conqueror Francisco Pizarro and one day he was executed. Evidence of this epoch can be found in the beautiful colonial buildings of the city as well as in the mighty churches and monasteries. The city is still considered an insider tip for experiencing the true charm of enchanting Peru and is only slowly opening up to sustainable tourism.

8. Arequipa

Also in Arequipa one encounters the stone memories of the colonial period at every turn. The monastery Santa Katalina contributes with its size and the colourful painted walls to the fact that some visitors describe Arequipa as one of the most beautiful cities of Peru.

Among the sights of the region is the Colca Canyon not far from the city, where a river has dug deep into the earth. In the nature reserve Pampa Canahuas numerous Apakas and Lamas graze on the lush pastures. Arequipa is also known as the “white city” and offers over 300 sunny days a year.

9. The Nazca Lines

Only a flight connection between Lima and Arequipa led to the discovery of the Nazca lines. They were apparently made between 200 and 700 A.D. and show huge mostly graphic illustrations. Some scientists saw in it encrypted messages of extraterrestrial creatures in the Atakama Desert.

Presumably, however, the earth sketches are the products of an ancient Peruvian culture. They still pose puzzles and occupy the fantasies of mathematicians, physicists and geographers. In the city of Nazca flights to the lines are offered. It’s a mysterious but very interesting excursion.

10. Trujillo & Huanchaco

A small fishing village has developed into a popular seaside resort and a meeting place for surfers. It is located in the north of Peru near Trujillo, where the climate is pleasant and the inhabitants see themselves as the cultural capital of the north. While in Huanchaco the colorful boats made of reed of the fishermen lie on the beach,

Trujillo is happy and colourful.

The region is also a preferred domicile of Peruvian artists and the creative scene of the country. For a long time, the seaside town was the home of the national hero and freedom fighter Simon Bolivar. Among the sights of the city are the cathedral and the colonial buildings with their decorated balconies.

More things to do and activities for your Peru holiday

Best time to visit Peru

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Peru:

May, June, July, August, September, and October

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Peru.

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