Home to incredible Inca ruins, stunning architecture, rugged desert landscapes, snow-capped Andes, diverse marine life, floating islands and must-see destinations, there’s no guessing why Peru has risen to the top of the South America bucket list.
While you can just visit one place in Peru and call it a day, we recommend travelling around for two to three weeks to experience all that this incredible country has to offer.
#1. Stop by Lima
Seeing as though almost all flights will arrive or depart from Lima, you might as well take some time to explore this cultural-rich city. You can marvel at the neoclassical architecture, get lost in the textiles market, visit the 16th-century church and take a walking tour.
#2. Fall in love with the ‘White City’ of Arequipa
Arequipa is the most beautiful city in Peru, and it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with the ‘White City’. You’ll find yourself gazing at the dramatic backdrop of the snow-capped Andes and misty volcanoes. The sillar from the volcanoes is what forms much of the beautiful Baroque style architecture – white sillar walls, rich wooden doors, and intricate wrought iron gates that air out and give light into the courtyards.
#3. Climb the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
It’s almost impossible to make a bucket list that doesn’t include Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is without a doubt one of the most captivating hikes. The 45-kilometre trail winds between epic mountains, ancient ruins, and remote villages. But remember to book early (6+ months in advance), as permits are limited.
#4. Up your adrenaline with sandboarding
Make sure you sign up for sandboarding in Huacachina, the only desert oasis in South America. With some of the steepest dunes in the world, you’ll get your adrenaline fix when you take a dune buggy ride into the sandy abyss with one stomach turning drop to another until you reach a vertical drop and sandboard down head first! And make sure you ‘set up camp’ at Desert Nights Eco Lodge. Think cosy bed-tents and a swim-up pool bar. Now that’s our kind of ‘glam’ camping.
#5. Explore the Poor Man’s Galapagos
From sea lions to penguins to dolphins and pelicans, there are many sea creatures to observe in their natural habitat in Isla Ballestas, better known as the ‘Poor Man’s Galapagos’. Stay the night in Paracas and explore the rugged desert landscapes, or opt for a day trip from Lima or en-route to Huacachina.
#6. Visit the Nazca Lines
If you can make it (after a sneaky tasting at the Pisco vineyard!), you’ll want to check out the Nazca Lines in the middle of the Peruvian desert. These mythical creatures and intricate lines etched more than 1,000 years ago can only be seen as a full picture from hundreds of feet in the air, meaning without access to aeronautics, the people who made them would never have been able to see them in full.
#7. Discover the floating islands of Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world (3,800 metres), and legend says it’s here where the first Incas emerged from the lake as children of the sun. A boat trip from Puno provides a window into the lives of the Indigenous people, who inhabit the lake’s floating islands. The Uros people live a very simple life creating beautiful textiles, and building the islands, houses, and boats made of Totora reeds.
#8. Soak away your aches in the hot springs
Aguas Calientes is a natural hot spring set in the town of Machu Picchu. A series of pools surrounded by tropical forest, collect the warm sulfur waters said to have healing powers. The springs come highly recommended if you have just completed a trek to Machu Picchu, as it will cut your muscle recovery time in half.