What to see in Peru: cities and attractions not to be missed

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Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Peru is a destination that definitely deserves to be explored. With its immense lands steeped in history, ancient, colonial and modern traditions come together in one unforgettable cultural experience. Regardless of the type of traveler to which it belongs, whether you are passionate about history, adventurous or looking for pure fun, Peru offers a myriad of activities capable of satisfying any need. It goes without saying that thanks to his spectacular archaeological sites, to the beautiful landscapes welcomed in different ecosystems this sunny state of Latin America attracts visitors from all over the world, making it one of the most popular destinations in this region. Let's find out together what to see in Peru.


  1. Lima
  2. Cusco
  3. The Sacred Valley
  4. Machu Picchu
  5. Peruvian Amazon
  6. Nazca Desert
  7. Arequipa
  8. Huacachina
  9. Iquitos
  10. Chan Chan
  11. User questions and comments

1 - Lima

Known as the City of Kings, Lima is the capital of Peru and represents the symbol of its colonial and industrial history and its long-awaited independence.

For those visiting the city for the first time Lima offers a large number of museums able to immerse you in the history of the city, one of the many to visit is for example the Larco Museum with its exhibitions dedicated to pre-Colombian art and artifacts attributable to the first indigenous tribes of Peru.

The city also offers wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean coast, which you can best enjoy from the luxurious district of Miraflores, or from its characteristic Parco del Amor; if instead you want to breathe a little more Peruvian history, then you can visit the ancient pyramid of Huaca Pucllana in one of the most beautiful archaeological sites in the city.

2 - Cusco

Although Lima is the official capital of Peru, the city of Cusco represents the original seat of power of the Inca Empire. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983, and given its immense wealth it seems that it fully deserves this important title.

Within this city you can find yourself strolling among buildings of Inca architecture but also dating back to the colonial period of the sixteenth century, as well as admiring its modern streets with a romantic atmosphere that will make you almost feel the feeling of being in a European city. One of the symbols of the city is its main square, Plaza de Armas, stormed by tourists as it is one of the best places for a relaxing walk and to take some of the most suggestive photos of the trip to Peru.

Just outside the square we find another important site of artistic and cultural interest, the Cathedral of Cusco, breathtaking for its exteriors with refined architecture and rich in archaeological relics, artifacts and works of art from the colonial period displayed inside.

3 - The Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley, also known as Urubamba Valley, is one of the main destinations for exploring the Inca ruins and enjoying some outdoor activities. It is possible to organize day trips departing from Cusco or Machu Picchu.

Within the Sacred Valley there are numerous locations to take your breath away and which should definitely be visited before moving to other regions: one of many is the Salinas de Maras, a site of about 3.000 salt pans that create a wonderful glance especially with the sunset lights. A little further away we find the ancient archaeological site of Moray with its deep spherical pits in the ground that are thought to have been used by the Inca population as agricultural laboratories. The last point of interest to dedicate a stop to within the Sacred Valley is the town of Ollantaytambo, home to an Inca fortress surmounted by rocky terraces carved into the hillside.

4 - Machu Picchu

This absolutely unique destination is probably the main factor that drives so many people from all over the world to visit Peru. Listed among the new 7 Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu shows itself down from the first glance absolutely deserving of this illustrious title.

One of the most famous ways to reach Machu Picchu is the Inca Rail, departing from Cusco or Ollantaytambo: this tourist train transports passengers within spectacular views passing through the countryside of the Vall Sacra. To visit Machu Picchu, given the large influx of tourists all year round, it is necessary to book tickets well in advance as they are sold in limited quantities: for foreign visitors the ticket costs 70 USD (approximately € 62,00) while the reduced student price has a cost of 31 USD (€ 27,85) - Buy the full day private tour

Once you reach the famous Peruvian mountain, during your visit you will be able to observe unspoiled nature and wonderful in every point, with dense vegetation and many animal species who make these areas their home, like the very famous and very nice alpacas.

5 - Peruvian Amazon

The Peruvian Amazon rainforest it covers about 60% of the country and is one of the world's greatest biodiversity treasures e it contains hundreds of thousands of plant and animal species that thrive only in this ecosystem. One of the fastest ways to reach it is the plane that leaves from Custo and arrives in Puerto Maldonato with a fast journey of about 50 minutes.

One of the many wonderful experiences you can try in this wonderful place is a guided excursion to Sandoval Lake, an oasis for many very special species like river otters, caimans and alouatte. Other activities especially loved by the more adventurous tourists are the excursions at sunset or in the evening where it is possible to meet some species that are normally hidden during the day, or the exciting canopic walk, walks on suspension bridges in the midst of absolutely breathtaking landscapes. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely unique experiences in life.

The excursions offered vary from the most advanced of 2 days to those of a week, the average prices for a guided adventure of 3 days and 2 nights are around 415 USD per person (€ 370,00 approximately).

6 - Nazca Desert

The Nazca Desert occupies a strip along the North Pacific coast in an elevated dry valley and it is famous for its "Nazca Lines", the particular drawings in the ground which, seen from above, suggest something similar to the famous crop circles.

According to scholars, they date back to very ancient periods dating back to between 200 BC and 700 AD and these figures range from simple lines to images of spiders, monkeys, lizards and humanoid figures. These representations have remained intact to this day thanks to the dry, stable and windless climate.

One of the most popular activities just to observe the unique wonder of these drawings from above are the tours offered by various private tour operators that will offer you helicopter flights flying over the area, or if you don't feel like taking flight, you can still admire the Nazca Lines from a special observation tower located along the Pan American highway.

7 - Arequipa

One of the most visited cities in all of Peru, Arequipa, is surrounded by three picturesque volcanoes and is located in the coastal region in the south of the country.

Arequipa embodies a rich mix of indigenous and colonial Spanish culturesIn fact, along the entire center of the city it is possible to admire examples of Spanish colonial architecture together with findings that refer to the origins of the indigenous tradition of these places. Among the most significant buildings to visit we find the Santa Catalina Convent, described by most as a real city within the city thanks to its charming streets, buildings full of colors and flowers.

Another attraction for which the city of Arequipa is considered one of the must-visit cities in Peru is its role as a gateway to the wonderful Colca Canyon, one of the most popular natural sites in this region. .

8 - Huacachina

Located a short distance from the city of Ica crossing (preferably with one of the very local 4x4s) it rises a little tropical gem, the small town of Huacachina, surrounded by enchanting white sand desert dunes.

Huacachina presents itself as an oasis par excellence, established around a small lake and shaded by tall palm trees that move slightly in time with the rare breezes that pass through this heavenly location. Given its fantastic location, the city has become a must see in the Peruvian travel itineraries, and today it also boasts the presence of charming boutique hotels and apartments dedicated to the highest quality hospitality of all tourists who choose it as a destination.

9 - Iquitos

Iquitos is a unique city in all respects as it represents the largest city in the world inaccessible by land, but which features helicopters and boats as the main entry route into the city. However, this does not preclude it from being one of the most popular destinations to visit in Peru; thanks to its location along the banks of the Amazon River in the north-east region of the country, Iquitos is the gateway to anyone who wants to explore the beautiful Amazon Rainforest.

Here in Iquitos you will find several tour operator companies that will offer you different options to explore the riches of this Peruvian gem. Some of the attractions most loved by tourists along the banks of the Amazon River are the butterfly farms and some "animal orphanages" run by associations that take care of some endangered species within protected nature reserves.

10 - Chan Chan

The ancient entry point to the barren wastelands of the Moche Valley is today one of the most fascinating pre-columbian archaeological sites from all over Peru, and that's saying something.

It is believed that the ruins of the city that can currently be seen in this area, popping up like a postcard in an almost homogeneous manner from the endless beige of the desert dunes, were erected around the middle of the 1500th century AD. epicenter of the mighty Chimorian Empire until the conquistadors, the famous Spanish colonialists, settled with their main buildings in nearby Trujillo in . Currently you can admire the remains of the defense walls of the city in moliti giants, numerous temples and court rooms, as well as a very special and elaborate irrigation system.

Travel informed: useful information and necessary documents

  • Inhabitants: 32,16 million
  • CapitalLima
  • Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
  • Local currency: Sol (€ 1,00 = Sol 3,76)
  • Weather: tropical / sub-tropical arid along the coasts above 2.000 meters, more temperate below 1.000 meters
  • Time zone: UTC -5 (six hours behind Italy)
  • vaccinations: no vaccination required
  • Entry requirements: passport, return ticket. Visa not required for Italian citizens for stays of less than 90 days.
  • Travel / health insurance: recommended.

    Where it is

    Peru is a state in South America bathed by the Pacific Ocean which borders Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, Bolivia to the south-east and Chile to the south.

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