25 Best Places To Visit In Peru [2024 Local's Travel Guide]

George Alvarez
Written By:
George Alvarez
Last Updated:
January 3, 2024
Here is a look at the absolute best places to visit in Peru this year. Discover exactly what's on offer and some extra useful travel tips for your visit.
best places to visit in Peru
This guide is written by George Alvarez, our resident Peru specialist! After traveling most of Central and South America, he settled in Lima and has made it his task to discover everything this breathtaking country has to offer and share his experiences. Learn more about George here.

Are you thinking of heading off to Peru?

Then you’ll want to read on to uncover the very best destinations to visit in this iconic South American nation!

Peru truly is a spectacular country, and any trip here will without doubt be a memorable one. There's a reason why it's one of the most popular countries in South America!

From fiery volcanoes and tall snowy peaks, to Pacific beaches and the sweltering jungle, there’s all sorts of experiences to have in Peru.

It can often be somewhat difficult to plan a trip here, given the immense amount of places to visit.

In this guide, we’ll explore the 25 very best destinations in Peru, and why each is worthy in their own right.

I’ll also cover other important things you’ll need to know, like how to get around Peru, as well as the best time for a visit.

So, let's get started...

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When is the Best Time to Visit Peru?

Best time to visit Peru

You probably already have an idea of where you want to visit in Peru, so the next important detail to look at is when is best to visit.

Peru is quite a big country, and is full of different terrains and microclimates, which can make things somewhat complicated when planning.

If you’re thinking of heading to just one or two destinations during your time in Peru, then it’s more simple to check the weather and best time to visit on WeatherSpark.

Whereas, if you’re planning to travel around different parts of the country, then you’ll want to read on. 

The dry season in Peru runs from April until September, and is the overall best time to visit for weather (in most parts of the country)

Although temperatures may be chillier in certain areas (most notable in Lima, Puno and Cusco), there’s much less rainfall, which is perfect for exploring and when heading out into nature.

Here’s some of the best times to visit for some major Peruvian destinations:

  • Lima: November-February
  • Arequipa: Year-Round!
  • Cusco: June-September
  • Puno: April-October
  • Máncora: April-October

Getting around Peru: What’s the best option?

Getting around Peru

Peru is quite a rugged region, full of many incredible landscapes. 

Whilst this is great for adventure and trip inspiration, it’s not so good for logistics! 


Thankfully though, the bus system in Peru is pretty good, and is the main mode of transport we’ll use to get around. 

RedBus is the best site for buying bus tickets online, as they have the majority of routes covered, as well as most bus providers listed there for you. 

Some of the best providers include Oltursa, Cruz del Sur as well as Movilbus.

All have the usual seats (which are still pretty comfortable), as well as the more expensive VIP seats that recline a full 180°.

One of our top travel tips is to make the most of overnight buses as you'll save on accommodation this way too! 


The other option for getting around is using domestic flights. 

These are actually quite cheap, however are still more expensive than the bus. 

In some cases using a flight is pretty favourable, such as travelling between Lima and Cusco, as well as from the capital to Máncora in the north. 

In other cases flying is mandatory, such as when heading to Iquitos in the Amazon (there’s no roads leading here).

As always, use Skyscanner to compare the best dates and cheapest flights.

25 Places to Visit in Peru

Now it’s time for what you’ve been waiting for! 

Here I’m going to uncover 25 of the very best destinations. From popular areas to lesser known gems, let’s get stuck in. 

As a useful reference, I’ll group the destinations below depending on what you’re looking for (in order of appearance):

  • The Beaches (Coast): Lima, Paracas, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Máncora, Tumbes.
  • The Andes (Mountains): Marcahuasi, Huancayo, Puno, Cusco, Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Aguas Calientes, Ayacucho, Huaraz, Cajamarca.
  • The Desert (Arid): Huacachina, Nazca, Arequipa.
  • The Amazon (Jungle): Puerto Maldonado, Chachapoyas, Iquitos, Tarapoto, Pucallpa, Oxapampa.

1. Lima

Incan artifacts on display in Lima

The bustling capital of Peru is often the first experience travellers get of this nation, and most tend to overlook it (which is a big mistake!). 

Within the historic centre we’ll find lots of history and architectural gems such as the Plaza de Armas, as well as the Basilica of San Francisco (with its creepy catacombs underneath too). 

This awesome sightseeing tour is the best way to see all of these highlights, with transport provided between them all.

The best area for a stay is in Miraflores, which is the cosmopolitan heart of Lima, and is much cleaner and safer too. 

Here you can rent a bike and cycle along the rolling hills above the Costa Verde, as well as go surfing if you can brave the cold waters! 

From here, you can walk around the ancient ruins of Huaca Pucllana, as well as head to the nearby hip district of Barranco. 

If you’re lucky and get a clear sky day here (trust me, it’s pretty rare unfortunately), you’ll want to summit nearby Morro Solar in Chorrillos for the best views over the capital.

With all these activities and attractions, it's no wonder that the city gets around 2.35 million international visitors each year1

There are endless things to do in Lima so where better to start your Peru trip?

Things to do in Lima:

  • Explore the ruins of Huaca Pucllana
  • Head to the Catacombs of San Francisco
  • Get to the popular areas of Miraflores and Barranco

Where to Stay in Lima:

2. Marcahuasi

Breathtaking view from Marcahuasi

This high altitude destination isn’t that well known amongst foreign tourists, however the Peruvians that have been constantly rave about it.

Located at an altitude of some 4000m, Marcahuasi is a mountain close to the small rural village of San Pedro de Casta. 

It’s around 5 hours driving from Lima, and is the perfect place to get into nature and off the beaten path. 

Be sure to bring coca leaves or altitude sickness medication, since the 2/3 hour hike up can be pretty exhausting otherwise! 

Once at the top you can set up camp, and then explore the Stone Forest, which is full of unorthodox, granite rock formations that resemble animals and human faces (all natural too, caused by erosion and powerful winds). 

As well as getting a necessary photo next to the picture-perfect entrance gate at the top, you’ll also want to walk on the rocky outcropping for the best views of the surrounding Andes. Be careful though, since there’s no rails and it’s a straight drop down!

This useful article by AllTrails gives an idea of what the hike around Marachuasi looks like, and also how long it could take you.

If you're looking for unique places to visit in Peru then this might just be the spot for you! 

Things to do in Marcahuasi:

  • Explore the Bizarre Rock Formations
  • Hike up for an epic Sunrise and Sunset
  • Camp overnight for the best overall experience

Where to Stay in Marcahuasi:

  • Camping on the Mountain (you’ll need to bring your own tent with you)

3. Huacachina

Charming desert town of Huacachina

This desert oasis town is well on the touristy path, and is one of the most popular destinations to visit in all of Peru. 

Sandwiched between some of the tallest sand dunes in all of South America, Huacachina has a naturally forming lake right in the middle, which makes for a truly, once-in-a-lifetime photo! 

Although the town itself is pretty tiny, it’s the perfect place to get away from the grey skies of Lima for the weekend, and to soak up the rays in a pool or next to the lake (we’re in the desert after all).

One of the top things to do in Huacachina is to head on this combined tour, where you’ll go Sandboarding and also ride around on a Sand Buggy through the desert.

It’s a perfect option for those looking to get their adrenaline fix! 

I recommend going for the 4:00pm slot, where you’ll then be able to watch the crimson sunset over the epic dunes. 

Huacachina is located roughly 4 hours south of Lima, which can easily be reached by bus (you’ll first stop in Ica, then it’s a 10 minute mototaxi to this desert paradise).

There are endless things to do in Huacachina so what are you waiting for?

Things to do in Huacachina:

  • Sandboarding down the Giant Dunes
  • Chill by the Lake during the midday heat
  • Take a Buggy Ride out into the Desert

Where to Stay in Huacachina:

4. Paracas

Incredible Paracas National Reserve in Paracas, Peru

This central coastal town lies just three hours south of Lima, and is usually travelled as a day trip by most tourists. 

However it’s really worth spending more time in this cute fishing village, given its abundance of awesome nature waiting to be explored. 

Paracas is mostly known for the close-lying Ballestas Islands, which are rocky islets home to many spectacular animal species, such as Humboldt Penguins as well as the Peruvian Pelican and Booby. 

You’ll need to head out on boat tour to visit these islands, where you’ll also visit the mysterious lines of Candelabro. 

It’s also worth heading to the Paracas National Reserve, where the desert meets the sea, as well as being home to a stunning red beach

Given the windy conditions, Paracas is also perfect for adventure sport enthusiasts, where many come to go Windsurfing and Kitesurfing. 

Paracas can easily be reached by bus from Lima, with frequent direct departures daily.

Things to do in Paracas:

  • Visit the Ballestas Islands
  • Tuck into some fresh, tasty Seafood
  • Get your fix with some Extreme Sports

Where to Stay in Paracas:

5. Nazca

Enigmatic Nazca lines of Nazca, Peru

When it comes to mysterious Peruvian destinations, Nazca for sure comes out near the top of them all. 

This small town is located within the arid desert, and is between Ica and Arequipa (making it a good stop-off point). 

The most famous thing here are the Nazca Lines, whose secrets are still hidden today (despite extensive research from many interested groups). 

With hieroglyphs as large as 1000 metres wide etched into the desert, here you can head on a small plane tour overhead for the very best views of these gems. 

See if you can spot the different symbols such as the Spider, Monkey and the Dog! 

For those looking to see these mysterious lines, here's a more in-depth guide to visiting the Nazca Lines!

Another worthy visit here is the chilling Chauchilla Cemetery, where you can see various ancient mummies and artefacts in their incredibly well-preserved states. 

The city itself of Nazca doesn’t have too much going for it, however the Plaza de Armas has its own character which is worth a visit. 

The bus from Ica to Nazca takes around 2.5 hours.

Things to do in Nazca:

  • Fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines
  • Tour through the spooky Chauchilla Cemetery

Where to Stay in Nazca:

6. Huancayo

Spectacular Nevado Huaytapallana

Although rarely visited by tourists, this city is considered the main commercial hub of the Peruvian Andes.

With its unorthodox centre and sights, as well as some awesome sceneries, it’s a great place to get off the traditional Peruvian tourist path. 

Getting here is a real part of the adventure, where you can board the train from Lima to experience mesmerising landscapes until you reach Huancayo

Some of the best things to see in the city include the Parque de la Identidad as well as the Archaeological Site of Wariwillka. 

For those who love hiking, then the nearby Huaytapallana mountain range is a must, with incredible alpine lakes and towering mountains to be explored above the clouds! 

Last but not least, when in Huancayo, you must try the food. 

One of Peru’s top dishes - Papa a la Huancaina - originates from Huancayo, and will prove tastier here than in other regions. 

As well as the train, you can also reach Huancayo from Lima by bus, which takes around 8 hours.

Things to do in Huancayo:

  • Hike Nevado Huaytapallana
  • Try some authentic Andean Dishes
  • Chill out in the Parque de la Identidad

Where to Stay in Huancayo:

7. Arequipa

Excellent view from Yanahuara Mirador in Arequipa, Peru

Now we head to arguably the most beautiful city in all of Peru, and a good contender for the entire continent too! 

Arequipa is set between three prominent volcanoes, which provide the perfect backdrop for some awesome photos (hint: you should head to the Yanahuara Mirador for some great shots). 

This city is also covered in white buildings, which were constructed out of the volcanic Sillar rock, excavated from nearby valleys. 

The historic centre is the best place to see the finest work, including the Plaza de Armas as well as the historically important Santa Catalina Monastery

Some of these volcanoes are hikeable as day trips, with El Misti being the most popular, and Chachani the most difficult (bringing back some bad memories for me… please take the altitude seriously on these hikes folks!). 

Also nearby is the breathtaking Colca Canyon, which is one of the deepest canyons on earth. 

It’s best to go with a multi-day tour, where you’ll visit many cute rural towns and other cool sites along the way. 

Arequipa is a 10 hour bus ride from Nazca, and roughly 18 hours from Lima.

Things to do in Arequipa:

  • Hike Arequipa’s fiery Volcanoes
  • Delve into the depths of the Colca Canyon
  • Explore the Historical Centre

Where to Stay in Arequipa:

8. Puno

Straw arch by the lakeside in Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru

Located on the cool shores of Lake Titicaca, Puno truly is a delight with its lakeside views.

Beauty doesn’t come without cost here though, given its very high altitude (which is the case for many Peruvian destinations within the Andes).

Located up at an elevation of 3827m, you’ll need to bring coca leaves and take it slow whilst your body adjusts to the more difficult conditions. 

The very best thing to do in Puno is to visit the stunning Uros floating islands. 

Just a short boat ride (around an hour from the harbour), these floating islands are made entirely out of the Totora Reed, a naturally-occurring plant found around the lake’s edge. 

Here you can get to know the indigenous locals, as well as ride around on the awesome colored boats! 

The best way to see these stunning islands is with an organised tour with many of them offering multiple departures throughout the day.

You can also head up (slowly of course, given the altitude!) to the Mirador El Condor for views over Lake Titicaca, as well as explore the Plaza Mayor with its impressive cathedral.

Puno is also a good jumping off point for those heading to Bolivia, with the bus and boat services easily connecting to nearby Copacabana.

The bus from Arequipa to Puno takes around 6 hours. From Cusco it’s a similar time too!

Here's some more information on things to do in Puno...

Things to do in Puno:

  • Visit the Floating Uros Islands
  • Ride around Lake Titicaca on the Dragon Boat
  • Head up to Mirador El Condor for awesome Lakeside views

Where to Stay in Puno:

9. Cusco

Cobblestone street in Cusco, Peru

Cusco is undeniably one of the best cities to visit in Peru, and no trip to the country is complete without spending some time here!

Sandwiched within the rocky Andes, Cusco is located at an altitude of 3399m, and also within the stunning Sacred Valley region.

Once the beating heart of the Inca civilization, today you can walk around the historic centre and see many ancient ruins and interesting sights such as Sacsayhuaman, and Qorikancha, as well as the bustling Plaza de Armas with its imposing Cathedrals. 

Cusco is also the perfect place to get to know the traditional Andean cuisine, with dishes like Cuy readily available in the San Pedro Market, as well as local restaurants such as Kusikuy

However, Cusco is all about the day trips you can take into the Sacred Valley. 

From stunning alpine lakes such as the popular Lake Humantay and the lesser-known Ausangate National Park, to the ruins of Moray and pools of Maras, you’ll have almost infinite things to see and do here! 

This day tour is one of the best out there for those wanting to explore the Sacred Valley, where you’ll see many of the top sites in just one day (perfect for those in a rush).

As you can see, there are tons of awesome things to do in Cusco so make sure you don't leave this amazing city off your itinerary!

Cusco can easily be reached by bus from Arequipa (10 hours) or Puno (6 hours), however from Lima the bus takes 24 hours, so it’s best to hop on a flight from the capital.

Things to do in Cusco:

  • Explore the ruins of Sacsayhuaman and Qorikancha
  • Get to know traditional Andean cultures
  • Venture into Alpine Lakes and Mountains within the nearby Sacred Valley

Where to Stay in Cusco:

10. Ollantaytambo

Ancient Inca Ruins in Ollantaytambo

Many travellers who head to Cusco don’t even know about the different towns until they head out into the Sacred Valley. 

Ollantaytambo is a prime example, and is one that really has a lot going for it. 

The Pinkuylluna Archaeological Ruins is one of the highlights, with this fortress steeped on the edge of a cliff in the skies. 

As well as its diverse market that’s perfect for souvenir hunting, another must-visit here is the Inti Punku Sun Gate, which is the perfect area for a snap with its incredibly scenic background.

If you're planning on visiting lots of different destinations within the Sacred Valley, I’d actually recommend staying in Ollantaytambo rather than Cusco. 

Not only is it much closer to all the top sites, it also retains a much more authentic culture and vibe, with locals still following ancient traditions today from hundreds of years ago. 

The buses and local colectivos that run from Cusco to Ollantaytambo take roughly 1.5 hours.

If you're looking to visit Ollantaytambo then here's some information that you might find helpful...

Things to do in Ollantaytambo:

  • Wander around this ancient city
  • Visit the Pinkuylluna Archaeological Ruins
  • Head up to the Inti Punku Sun Gate

Where to Stay in Ollantaytambo:

11. Pisac

Incredible aerial shot of Pisac in Peru

Similar to Ollantaytambo, Pisac is another small town located within the vast Sacred Valley region. 

Increasingly popular with tourists, Pisac has a very charming vibe with its narrow cobblestone streets, as well as a strong bohemian presence too. 

The market here is one of the best in all of Southern Peru, where you can pick up anything from alpaca garments and bags to trying various authentic Peruvian dishes. 

One of the very best things to see in this town has to be its archaeological site, which is built on top of a mountain and has tombs built into the side of it too! 

This town is also a good way to get acquainted with a more traditional, rural Peruvian way of life, which can be quite difficult in Cusco with its never ending bustle and noise. 

For those who want a new experience, consider looking into taking San Pedro. Just be sure to follow preparation guidelines properly before taking it.

A shamanic brew, it’s been known to cure health problems, and even help people find their own path in life. 

If you're wondering where to go in Peru then I highly recommend spending some time here! 

The bus from Cusco to Pisac takes around an hour to arrive.

Things to do in Pisac:

  • Visit the Pisac Archaeological Site
  • Wander through the town’s amazing cobblestone streets 
  • Go Bargain Hunting in the Mercado de Pisac

Where to Stay in Pisac:

12. Aguas Calientes

Set along the Urubamba river, Aguas Calientes is a small city that's mostly known as the stop-off point for those heading to Machu Picchu. 

Surrounded by thick jungle vegetation and high cliffs from all sides, it’s a really scenic area, and an ideal location to get away from the never-ending noise of Cusco. 

Of course Machu Picchu is the star highlight here, and really is stunning to see regardless of the time of year. 

With sweeping views from the top terrace, to friendly alpacas strolling around, it’ll be an unforgettable moment along your Peruvian trip. 

Trust me, you don't want to miss this UNESCO World Heritage Site as it's one of the country's top tourist attractions.

This ancient citadel can be reached with just a one hour hike from Aguas Calientes (or by using the buses that are constantly up and down the nearby mountain). 

You can also join a combo tour where they provide all logistics, as well as including an interesting guide who can teach you a lot around this legendary Peruvian site.

Other great things to do in Aguas Calientes include climbing Huayna Picchu for an incredible alternative view of the ruins (this hike is more demanding). You can also visit the hot springs too (the town's name translates to “Hot Springs” after all). 

To get here from Cusco, you’ll need to take buses (approx 4/5 hours) to the start of the train track.

This is then followed by either taking the train, or completing the 2 hour walk along the tracks. 

Things to do in Aguas Calientes:

  • Visit the legendary ruins of Machu Picchu
  • Rest tired legs in the Baños Termales
  • Get to know the Plaza de Manco Capac

Where to Stay in Aguas Calientes:

13. Puerto Maldonado

The elusive jaguar in the Peruvian Jungle in Puerto Maldonado, Peru

Known as the gateway to Peru’s Southern Amazon, Puerto Maldonado is one of the best places to experience this rich jungle. 

With wildlife endemic to just this area of the world, you can easily take a multi-day tour into the jungle to see the very best of this ultimate South American gem.

Here you can see everything from Caiman and Capybara to the elusive Jaguar, as well as climbing a canopy tower for some insane Amazon views.

You can also stay deep within Tambopata national reserve which offers you a better chance to spot wildlife!

Within the actual city itself, a great thing to do is to climb the Obelisco tower which is in the very heart of town.

At the top you’ll have some of the best views of Puerto Maldonado, contrasted with the formidable jungle behind.

The Plaza de Armas is a nice place to come for a stroll, with this one more relaxed when compared with other, busier Peruvian cities.

You’ll also want to visit the Isla de los Monos, where you’ll see many different species of monkeys as well as having a chance to go zip-lining through the jungle! 

The closest city to Puerto Maldonado is Cusco. Whilst flying is the preferred method of getting between the two, the cheapest way is to take a bus which takes around 10 hours.

Things to do in Puerto Maldonado:

  • Head on a multi-day Jungle Tour
  • Visit Monkey Island for a quick and easy day trip 
  • Climb the Obelisco Tower for the best views over Puerto Maldonado

Where to Stay in Puerto Maldonado:

14. Ayacucho

Stunning Cascades of Millpu in Ayacucho

Located within the Southern Peruvian Andes, Ayacucho is another very pretty city to visit whilst in Peru. 

Known as the “City of the Churches”, there’s a good 33 dotted around here, meaning there’s going to be at least one that takes your fancy (I tried visiting them all in a day and failed spectacularly. The altitude I guess…). 

The historic centre is the best place to base yourself, with some really scenic streets such as 28 de Julio which leads towards the picturesque Plaza de Armas. 

One of the most popular sights close-by is Millpu, which are a series of stunning, cascading blue waterfalls (or green depending on cloud cover and time of year). 

These pools are undeniably one of the most beautiful places in Peru so you don't want to leave this spot off your itinerary!

The best way to visit this gem is with a day tour where you’ll also have a traditional sierra lunch prepared for you. 

You’ll also want to visit the Huari archaeological complex, which was once one of the largest urban cities in ancient Peru.

Here's some more information on things to do in Ayacucho...

Things to do in Ayacucho:

  • Visit the Cascades of Millpu
  • Stroll around the heart of Ayacucho 
  • Explore the Huari archaeological site

Where to Stay in Ayacucho:

15. Huaraz

Snow-capped mountains of Huaraz

The unofficial hiking capital of Peru, Huaraz is the ultimate destination for mountain lovers and trekking enthusiasts alike. 

Sandwiched between the Cordillera Blanca (which is the highest tropical mountain range in the world) and Huascarán national park , travellers spend weeks at a time here getting to know the very best areas.

Alpine Lakes are amongst some of the most popular, with Laguna Parón renowned for its large blue lake and surrounding snow-tipped peaks. 

Laguna 69 is another lake which is more challenging, but features a glacial lake that is so perfect, you would have thought it was designed by the gods. 

Other awesome day trips include the hike up Nevado Mateo, a trip to the high altitude Pastoruri Glacier as well as visiting the pre-Incan ruins of Chavín de Huántar

There’s also many multi-day hikes to do here too, such as the popular Santa Cruz trek, as well as the Huayhuash circuit.

The city of Huaraz itself is typical of a Peruvian Andes town, with its bustling Plaza de Armas nice for a midday stroll. 

The bus from Lima to this mountain paradise takes roughly 8 hours.

This Huaraz travel guide will help you plan your trip as it includes what to do here, where to stay, and some other top travel tips! 

Things to do in Huaraz:

  • Hike the unforgettable Huayhuash and Santa Cruz circuits
  • Visit stunning Alpine Lakes
  • Explore the ancient ruins and temples of the Chavín tribe.

Where to Stay in Huaraz:

16. Trujillo

Quiet beach in Trujillo, Peru at dusk

Situated along Peru’s long Pacific Coast, Trujillo is known for its abundance of ancient ruins, as well as for its beaches and local culture. 

The best area for a stay is within the district of Huanchaco, a sleepy surfer’s area that runs along the coast. 

Without a doubt the best site to see here is the ruins of Chan Chan, which are known to be one of the largest ancient adobe cities on earth. 

It’s best to visit in the morning before the crowds arrive on buses, and also to avoid the sometimes overbearing heat here too. 

You’ll also want to make stops at the Huacas del Lunar y Sol, two other pyramids close to Trujillo.

This combined tour includes entrances to all of the ruins mentioned above, including a couple of extras too!

This city is also known for its impeccable surfing conditions, so regardless if you’re a pro or just starting out, this is a good place to hit the waves.

Other worthy things to see and do in Trujillo include walking around the historical centre, which is full of colourful buildings and Spanish architecture.

I also recommend heading on a Caballito de Totora boat ride (a traditional fishing boat that’s been crucial for Trujillo’s industry and growth for over 3000 years). 

The bus from Lima to Trujillo takes between 10/11 hours.

Things to do in Trujillo:

  • Visit the expansive Chan Chan ruins
  • Lounge on the beach in Huanchaco (or go surfing)
  • Explore the colourful architecture in Trujillo’s Historic Centre

Where to Stay in Trujillo:

17. Chiclayo

Ancient tomb of Sipan

Chiclayo sits along Peru’s Pacific coast, in the popular northern region of Lambayeque. 

Most travellers usually pass through Chiclayo on the way to the beaches in the north, or at best spend a couple of days here.

However this major coastal city is home to many interesting ruins and sites, and is worth a trip here in itself. 

Whilst located more inland than say Trujillo, there is the nice beach of Pimentel close-by which is great for a much needed time-out. 

One of the best things you can do in Chiclayo is to visit the Tombs of Sipán with this all-inclusive tour. Sipán was an ancient ruler of the Moche civilisation, whose pristine preservation helps give us more of an insight into how cultures of these eras used to live. 

It’s also worth heading to the pyramids of Chotuna and Chornancap for some more exploring. 

The bus from Lima to Chiclayo takes around 13 hours in total.

Here's a guide to Chiclayo if you're wanting to learn more!

Things to do in Chiclayo:

  • Explore the Tomb of Sipán
  • Relax on Pimentel Beach
  • Visit Chiclayo’s Historic Centre 

Where to Stay in Chiclayo:

18. Cajamarca

Ventanillas de Otuzco in Cajamarca

A Peruvian city with much historic importance, Cajamarca is indeed a great place to visit to learn more about the real Peru (and not just the touristy version - as much as I love that part too). 

Cajamarca was the last city to fall from Inca rule to the Spaniards, and as such Peruvians here have maintained their identity and cultural heritage exceedingly well. 

This can be best seen with the locals walking around, from how they dress to their daily activities and lifestyles.

The Baños del Inca are located here, with these hot springs once used by the elite centuries ago. 

Today they’re still in operation, and you can go for a dip yourself, which is a nice way to change up the day! 

The Ventanillas de Otuzco is another must-visit when here, as well as the Ransom Room (where the last Inca emperor was imprisoned before his execution). 

Be sure to walk up the many stone steps to the top of Cerro Santa Apolonia, which features a pretty church as well as some awesome cityscape views. 

The bus from Chiclayo to Cajamarca takes roughly 7 hours, whilst from Lima it will take around 15 hours.

Things to do in Cajamarca:

  • Go for a dip in the Baños del Inca
  • Hike up to the Mirador of Cerro Santa Apolonia
  • Visit the nearby Ventanillas de Otuzco

Where to Stay in Cajamarca:

19. Chachapoyas

Majestic Yumbilla Waterfalls in Chachapoyas

One of my all-time favourite destinations in Peru, Chachapoyas has a tonne going for it. 

With incredible waterfalls, mountain fortresses and remote hiking paths, you’d think it would be highly visited among tourists. 

However it’s not!

For this reason I love it, since you’ll see all the best things in an authentic way, without the crowds of tourists constantly breathing behind your neck.

Whilst here, you’ll want to make various day trips to see the best of the region. 

One of these is Yumbilla Falls, which at a grand height of 895m, is the 5th tallest waterfall on the planet.

Gocta Falls is another fan favourite with its longer hiking path and beautiful sceneries. 

This area of Peru is also known for the Chachapoyas culture, an ancient civilization known as “The Warriors of the Clouds”. 

You can visit their fortress of Kuelap with this awesome tour (including the cable-car ride), which lies on the edge of a mountain.

It was so formidable and well defended, that even the Incas had a hard time conquering it! 

The Sarcophagi of Karajia is another must-visit, which features 6 oversized sarcophagi on a mountain ledge, containing the human remains of some of the most important Chachapoyas leaders. 

The city of Chachapoyas itself is very relaxed and has its own vibe, which is best seen in and around the Plaza de Armas and along the busy Jirón Amazonas. 

As you can see there are tons of things to do in Chachapoyas so what are you waiting for?

Chachapoyas is an 8 hour bus ride from Cajamarca. 

From Lima, it will take a hefty 24 hours straight!

Things to do in Chachapoyas:

  • Hike to Yumbilla Waterfalls
  • Get to know the ancient Chachapoya Culture 
  • Visit the stunning fortress of Kuelap

Where to Stay in Chachapoyas:

20. Iquitos

Busy street in Iquitos City Center

Located deep within the Amazon jungle, Iquitos is by far the most inaccessible destination of all on our list - despite being a large city. 

This is because it's entirely cut off from civilization by dense jungle, and is the largest city in the world that can’t be reached by road! 

Due to its location, it’s by the far one of the best places to kickstart a tour into The Amazon Jungle. 

This multi-day tour starts from Iquitos, and will allow you to explore virgin rainforest, catch pirañas, swim with pink dolphins and see a whole bunch of rare and exotic animals. 

Just be aware that the seasons can vary dramatically here, which can make some parts of the jungle (and what you’ll see) unreachable.

The city of Iquitos is pretty hectic, and you’ll want to ride around on a few moto-taxis to get into the swing of things. 

The Plaza de Armas is worth a visit, as well as the nearby town of Nanay.

Here you can rent a boat and guide for the day, visiting a butterfly farm, local tribe and spotting giant anacondas along the way. 

From Iquitos, you can also take a river cruise to reach Pacaya Samiria Reserve, but you'll need to get to Nauta Port first.

As already mentioned, it’s impossible to reach Iquitos by land. 

The easiest way is to fly from Lima which takes a couple of hours. Otherwise, from Pucallpa you can take a boat, however this can take up to 5 days!

This Iquitos travel guide includes everything you need to know for exploring the Peruvian Amazon...

Things to do in Iquitos:

  • Explore the most biodiverse Jungle on Earth
  • Swim with Pink River Dolphins
  • Visit nearby Nanay for more unique experiences 

Where to Stay in Iquitos:

21. Tarapoto

Wild green parrot in Tarapoto

Peru is known for its expanse of jungle and green foliage, with many awesome destinations to choose from. 

However Tarapoto is different since it’s located in the high jungle region, and thus has its very own unique atmosphere. 

There are many awesome sights worth seeing here, such as the infamous hand of the Taytamaki Mirador which stretches out over the jungle (the best place for a photo). 

Whilst most eco-centres don’t usually make a travel list, I have to say that the Centro Urku really stands out from the rest. 

As well as seeing rare animals such as Ocelots and Otters, you’ll also learn about their conservation efforts, successes, and current challenges they’re looking to solve. 

Your entrance ticket helps them massively, so you’ll feel proud of yourself too when walking around. 

As well as visiting these sites in the city (along with strolling around the beautiful Plaza de Armas here), there’s many awesome experiences out in the nearby region too. 

Some of the best include the hikes to the waterfall of Ahuashiyacu and that of Pishurayacu, as well as exploring the Laguna Sauce. 

The closest major city to Tarapoto is Chachapoyas, which takes roughly 8 hours. 

From Lima it’s best to fly here (1.5 hours), since the bus is going to take roughly 30 hours in total.

Things to do in Tarapoto:

  • Head up to the Taytamaki Mirador
  • Visit Ahuashiyacu Falls
  • Learn in the Centro Urku

Where to Stay in Tarapoto:

22. Pucallpa

Stunning cathedral of Pucallpa

This jungle city is slowly gaining mainstream exposure, with many who head here interested in a very different Peruvian experience. 

Pucallpa is where the majority of Shipibo healers come from, who work with natural plants such as Ayahuasca to help cure physical problems and also provide spiritual guidance. 

Whilst most still head to Iquitos for this (since it’s more touristy), you’ll find the scene more authentic and fresh in Pucallpa

This city is located on the Ucayali River (one of the major rivers flowing into The Amazon), and thus is a great starting point for treks into the jungle. 

There are many multi-day treks you can embark on here, where you’ll leave the bustle behind and explore hidden species and landscapes on your journey. 

Another worthy spot to visit is the Plaza de Armas, which has many interesting human statues in its gardens, as well as its unorthodoxly shaped Cathedral. 

The bus from Lima to Pucallpa takes roughly 16 hours, so you may want to consider flying instead.

Things to do in Pucallpa:

  • Head into the Amazon Jungle
  • Visit Laguna Yarinacocha
  • Visit the Plaza de Armas and its stunning Cathedral

Where to Stay in Pucallpa:

23. Oxapampa

Beautiful scenery in Oxapampa, Peru

When you think of coming to Peru, you usually imagine the following; traditionally-dressed locals, huge swatches of green jungle, ancient ruins and some friendly alpacas too. 

I can bet my left arm and leg that visiting a German colony probably didn’t make your original thoughts! 

In the mid 1800s, many German immigrants moved to this isolated town in Peru, and now we have a European-inspired town in the middle of the Amazon jungle.

The town of Oxapampa is located in the high jungle region of Pasco, and truly is a unique place to visit.

You’ll see many typical architectural styles and buildings from Western Europe here.

They also have their very own Oktoberfest - where those will finally be rewarded for their ability to consume inhuman levels of alcohol. 

When you’re not dying from a resaca, then you’ll want to head outdoors given Oxapampa is known for its adventure experiences. 

Zip-lining through the canopy is a popular activity, whilst you can also head to the mysterious Tunqui Cave for some surreal sights and exploring. 

Although on a map it seems like a trek to get to, you can take a direct bus from Lima to Oxapampa in just 11 hours (sounds a lot but trust me, this is a relief given other routes you may need to travel in Peru!). 

Things to do in Oxapampa:

  • Zip-line through the Jungle Canopy
  • Marvel at its European Architecture 
  • Head to the nearby Tunqui Cave

Where to Stay in Oxapampa:

24. Máncora

Awesome beach in Máncora

Whilst Peru isn’t exactly known for its beaches, the north has some very good areas for bathing in the sun and living the good life. 

Máncora takes the cherry, and is by far one of the most popular areas for a beach vacation (for both nationals and tourists alike). 

Almost 1000km north of Lima, the scenery in Máncora drastically changes, as well as being accompanied by a big heat boost. 

Here you’ll find palm-fringed beaches such as Las Pocitas and nearby Punta Sal, with the waters ideal for swimming and some surfing too. 

Another awesome thing to do here is to head on a Humpback Whale tour, where you’ll see these beauties as well as some friendly turtles too (the whale season here is between June until October). 

Máncora itself is a mixture of low developed roads (where you’ll fly around on a moto-taxi), and bustling hotels and restaurants catering for the mass of tourists arriving. 

It’s got a really lively nightlife scene too, which would probably rank as one of my all-time favourites in Peru. 

Hostels like The Point and Selina usually have good parties most nights of the week, where they then tend to spill out onto the street and into nearby bars.

Here's some more information about visiting Máncora...

Things to do in Máncora:

  • Relax on some stunning Pacific beaches
  • Watch Humpback Whales from June until October 
  • Get involved with the wild party scene

Where to Stay in Máncora:

25. Tumbes

Cute Plaza de Armas in Tumbes, Peru

Right next to the border with Ecuador, Tumbes is one of the most northern-lying cities in the country. 

It's also one of the most underrated places to visit in Peru, with it usually being quickly visited by tourists as an entry or exit passage. However, I think it’s worth spending a few days here given it has some unique attractions worth seeing. 

The biggest of these is its Pacific Tropical Forest, home to several mangrove swamps. 

It’s in fact the only of its kind in all of Peru (pretty surprisingly, considering how much jungle there is here). 

You can head on a tour here, where you can visit the sole habitat of the Peruvian crocodile, as well as the endemic Mono Coto Howler Monkey.

The Plaza de Armas in town is a nice spot to visit, home to a stunning mural which is perfect as a background for a snap. 

From Tumbes you can also visit some low-key remote beaches, which are much more relaxed than the busier ones near Máncora. 

Some of the best include Playa Hermosa and Playa Cruz. 

There are several ways of getting to Tumbes, with the most popular being a crossing point from nearby Cuenca in Ecuador. 

Tumbes is just a 2 hour bus north from Máncora, whilst it’s around 22 hours from Lima (it’s worth flying instead).

Things to do in Tumbes:

  • Tour around the Mangrove Swamps
  • Relax on Hidden Beaches
  • Wander around it’s cute Plaza de Armas

Where to Stay in Tumbes:

Where will you visit in Peru?

And that’s all for this guide to the best places to visit in Peru!

This diverse country is home to numerous idyllic landscapes and colonial cities, and sometimes it can be hard to make up your mind where’s best to go.

In this guide I’ve covered 25 of the very best destinations you can visit, and why each is unique and deserves their own place along any Peruvian itinerary.

I’ve also covered other things you’ll need to know, including the best time to visit Peru, as well as how to get around this Latin American nation.

Just keep in mind that many of these destinations are scattered across the country, so you'll need to prioritize where you'd like to visit! 

I hope you enjoy your time in Peru as much as I did!

Here are some other guides that you might find helpful for planning your trip:

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