What to see in Peru?
We continue with the Peru travel guide . Go ahead that Peru is a very large country (more than double that of Spain), with an impressive variety of landscapes. where the driest desert and the leafiest jungle are barely 10 hours away. But that is not all since it also has an enormous concentration of mountain peaks, has a coastline and oozes history in every corner. This explains why, even though we spent a little over a month in that country, I don’t think we saw even 20% of what the country hides. But between what we visited and what they recommended, in this post we will talk about what to see in Peru.
Lima: what to see in Lima?
If you are going to travel to Peru , it is very likely that you will start and / or end in Lima , the capital, since it is the country’s transportation hub. There the plane left us and from there we took the return one month later. Due to its enormous size, its slight insecurity and its overwhelming traffic, Lima is not a particularly comfortable place for tourists. However, between smoke and car smoke a city with a lot to see is blurred, from which I would like to highlight:
Lima old town
The historic center of Lima is one of the most interesting points, and that which until a few years ago was an impassable area for security reasons. Although it is not too large compared to the size of the city, you can easily spend an entire day walking through its streets, parks or visiting some of its monuments, churches, shops and restaurants. Highlight the park of the walls, the Plaza de las Armas, the Convent of San Francisco and its catacombs … among others.
Lima’s Chinatown is very close to the center and although it is not a particularly beautiful place, it does have a lot of charm. A total mix between the two cultures, to the point that they have developed their own food: the chifa (Chinese + Peruvian), dishes that combine the best of both gastronomies. Exotic, delicious, cheap and abundant.
Miraflores is the neighborhood of tourists. It is not that they call it that, it is so. The most developed district of the capital, more modern, richer and above all, the safest. You also have a wide variety of leisure and commercial offer. Well, and “the beach”. But believe me, even if they call it that, Lima is not a beach, it is a set of stones by the sea. Apart from this, Miraflores is a green, clean and pleasant neighborhood. A good place to stay.
Barranco, the bohemian neighborhood of Lima
Barranco , known as the bohemian neighborhood of Lima, is one of its great secrets. Although it also has its “beach” area, it stands out above all for its architecture, for the art that surrounds everything and the places that you can find there. A mandatory excursion.
Polvos Azules, Gamarra and other places to buy cheap in Lima
Gamarra and Polvos Azules are the name of two commercial districts of Lima, which are simply a kind of giant trail where you can find all the brands (imitations) at very very low prices. Go ahead, none of these macro malls are safe places for tourists, so if you drop by, always do it during the day and don’t take anything of value with you. Put aside cameras, watches, mobiles and take only the right money. We went to Gamarra and nothing happened, although the locals insisted that it was not a good idea.
We left Lima heading south, along the coast. If you go overland, your next stop on the way is likely to be the Paracas nature reserve . An obligatory stopping area for lovers of flora and fauna. For logistical and monetary reasons, we skipped this stage, although we were highly recommended. Although it is possible to go from Lima to other places by bus, the rental car can also be a good option because of the autonomy and independence it gives you. On the Rentalcars website you can compare prices between different companies and thus find the ideal vehicle.
Ica and the Huacachina Lagoon
Ica sits in the middle of a huge desert, very close to Paracas. A city that in itself has very little attraction and almost nothing to see, but on the outskirts the Laguna de Huacachina hides.
Although it is a tourist site exploited to exhaustion, it has a lot of charm, and above all it allows you to do the most fun of the tours: a buggy excursion in the middle of the desert to do sandboarding: jumping with a board through the mountains of sand. It is recommended to do it in the late afternoon, take a two-hour excursion and look and compare prices well. We got a very good offer at the hostel itself: 35 soles (10 euros) per person, 2 hours. Without a doubt, Huacachina is one of the places you should see in Peru.
The Nazca lines
For me Nazca was one of the biggest disappointments of the entire trip. If you go by road it is one of the usual stops, but if you can avoid it, do it. Unless you have the $ 100 they ask you to rent a plane for 15 minutes and see the well-known Nazca lines by air. But if you can not or do not want to allow it, it happens, because if they will not sell you a land excursion to see the lines, in which you will only see land but almost no lines. In our case it saved us that we had a good guide and we learned a lot about Peru in general. But what is Nazca …
Arequipa was the second great city that we visited and we were impressed with it. Although there is not much to see, what there is to see is a lot. The tourist area is concentrated around its Plaza de las Armas and its old town, and it particularly reminded me a lot of the Andalusian cities. In the case of Arequipa, it also has the plus that it is the university city par excellence, making it easy to find people, places and places of entertainment of great interest. For all these reasons, Arequipa is one of the cities to see in Peru.
The Colca Canyon is another of those must-see places for nature lovers. This place is very close to Arequipa and most of the tours leave from there. In our case, for logistical reasons, we did not go either, although there was no lack of desire. Of course, if you go, be aware that physically it is an exhausting excursion and with brutal altitude changes. Beware of altitude sickness , which in this area is quite a hit. For this reason and for many others, I recommend that you take out travel insurance before visiting Peru. It is little money and you will save yourself a lot of trouble.
The immense Lake Titicaca, located at almost 4000 meters of altitude between the Peru – Bolivia border, has been a base for the establishment of numerous cities, towns and communities. One of the areas that surprised us the most, for good, on the trip. There we were able to face the most indigenous Peruvians, those of a lifetime. Although there are many places around Lake Titicaca to see, we opted for the city of Puno (100% chaotic, 100% authentic) …
… And Llachón , a small town located on the shores of the lake, where it is not easy to get to but the effort is well worth it. There we were able to live one of the most complete experiences of the trip, live with a family in the area and feel like one more. We opted for Llachón, but there are many excursions that are worthwhile in this area, such as a visit to the islands or even a cruise along the Bolivian lake, to the city of Copacabana. Without a doubt, Lake Titicaca is another place to see in Peru.
At the city level, Cuzco is the jewel in the crown of Peru. Well called the Rome of Latin America, in Cuzco almost any corner of the city center is postcard …
… but it is also located in an impressive natural enclave, which we also encourage you to explore. Cuzco is beautiful and Peruvians know it and enhance it. Visit more than obligatory, and not only because it is an area of passage to Machu Picchu. It is also an ideal city to meet and mix with local people. Therefore, although AirBnb is a good option for the whole country, I think that using this website in Cuzco is especially advisable. If you don’t have an account yet, here is a € 25 gift for your first reservations.
There are many ways to go to Machu Picchu, but if you have the time and the desire we recommend that you leave the train aside and do part of the route on foot. We did so and I already prepared a guide on how to go to Machu Picchu on your own and cheap .
But on the side of the road, obviously Machu Picchu is another one of those places to see in Peru. Considered one of the wonders of the world, with all that this implies, the sacred city of the Incas is a true delight for the senses. Her only problem: tourists in any corner. Otherwise, you should have already started on the path there. More information and photos about this place in the publication of our trip to Machu Picchu .
The Mountain of 7 Colors or Vinicunca
Very close to Cuzco is another of the many wonders that this country houses: Vinicunca or the Rainbow Mountain. But getting there is not an easy task, that’s why I have prepared this post on how to go to the Mountain of the 7 Colors .
Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado, the jungle of Peru
Although in general lines Peru is a very very green country, nothing beats the landscapes of the Amazon and in Peru there are several access points to said jungle. The best known are the tours to Puerto Maldonado , Iquitos or the Manu National Reserve , but they are not the only ones. If you like nature, here you have it all.
Unfortunately, our month in Peru ended without giving us time to tour the northern part of the country, although many recommended us to drop by the city of Trujillo or the coastal area of Mancora , among others. Now that you have ideas to configure your route, it can also be a good time to start looking for accommodation during your stay in the country.
In short, if you travel to Peru you have a lot to see and not even a month is enough time. It is true that there are many organized tours that allow you to see a lot in a very short time, but we are not friends with this type of activities because they imply schedules, lack of freedom and many obligations. But hey, go how you go … the important thing is that you go. I hope this guide is useful to you. If you have any doubt, request, suggestion or recommendation, the comments are all yours.