11 Best Places to Visit in Peru

  • By: Mark
  • Date: July 20, 2023
  • Time to read: 10 min.

Peru is one of the best destinations for tourists in South America. The best thing about Peru is that it is not as expensive as some other countries on the continent.

Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, Lima, Cusco, etc., are some of Peru’s most attractive places to visit. All of these places are full of historical monuments and archeological sites. Hiking the Inca Trail can be one of your life’s best experiences.

Sounds Interesting? Let’s explore the top tourist destinations in Peru!

What should I plan to see in Peru?

Peru is a relatively small country but a gem for travelers and tourists. Thousands of people visit different locations in Peru every year. If you are planning to visit Peru, you will be amazed to know there’s so much to see.

11 of the best places to visit in Peru are:

1. Machu Picchu

  • Best time to visit: March to May, or September to November

Machu Picchu was designated as one of the world’s seven new wonders in 2007. Today, Machu Picchu is Peru’s one of the most popular tourist attractions. Thousands of people from around the globe visit Machu Picchu every year.

Machu Picchu depicts the fantastic engineering of the Incas who built this place in the 15th to 16th centuries. One hundred years later, they left the place. The purpose of Machu Picchu is still unknown. Some think it’s a royal estate of the Incas, while others guess it was a ceremonial site.

Tips: If you are visiting Machu Picchu, don’t forget to check the Temple of the Sun and the Intihuatana stone.

Travel Guide: Visiting Machu Picchu is not expensive at all. You can save money by buying tickets online by yourself. Taking a tour guide with you at Machu Picchu is not required. But you will not be allowed to walk the Inca trail without a guide, another tourist attraction I will discuss later in the article.

If you are traveling through the Inca Trail, you will need to book in advance. Try to secure the permit and tickets to enter Machu Picchu 4 to 8 months before you plan to travel. Usually, one day is enough to explore the site, but you may plan for two days for a relaxed tour.

2. Sacred Valley

  • Best time to visit: April to May, or September to October

Located near Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley is the heart of the Inca Empire. Numerous ruins and terraces make Sacred Valley one of the top tourist spots in Peru. It shows the excellent engineering of the Inca civilization, and the climate here is excellent for agriculture.

If you are an adventure lover, you will love the Sacred Valley. Rock climbing and rafting are some of the most popular activities in the Sacred Valley.

Tips: Visit Pisac market near the sacred valley to purchase locally produced arts and crafts.

Travel Guide: The cost of visiting Sacred Valley is less than a hundred dollars. You can save a lot of money here as taking a tour guide with you is not necessary. The place is around 65 km far from Cusco. You can take a local bus or taxi for transportation. One day is enough to explore the sacred valley well.

3. Lima

  • Best time to visit: December to April

Lima is the capital of Peru and is called the “City of Kings.” There’s so much to explore, from the ocean to mountains and historic monuments in Lima. Some of the best tourist spots in Lima, Peru, are:

  • Plaza de Armas
  • Cathedral
  • Convento de San Francisco
  • Parque del Amor (Love Park)
  • Miraflores
  • Museo de la Nación (National Museum)
  • Larco Museum
  • Santo Domingo
  • Huaca Pucllana
  • Las Nazarenas

You can take a cycle or walk around the city to visit some of the places. Besides, a few activities that will make your visit to Lima worthwhile are:

  • Hiking to the top of El Morro Hill
  • Paragliding over the Lima coastline
  • Sandboarding in Sand Dune
  • Drink a glass of Pisco Sour
  • Canoeing at Huanano Falls
  • Rafting down the Canete River

Travel Guide: It’s not enough to explore the full Lima in one day. If you want to make the best of your tour, take at least two to four days. Book a hotel in Lima in advance and enjoy your tour.

You might also look into the 4-hour half-day tour of Lima offered by G-Adventures, which will certainly get you off to a great start during your visit.

4. Cusco

  • Best time to visit: June to mid-September

Cusco has one of the liveliest nightlife scenes in South America. If you are a party lover, you will definitely fall in love with the city of parties in Peru. There’s a lot to see in Cusco during the day too.

Sacsayhuaman is one of the popular ruins that tourists common visit in Cusco. If you like to visit old buildings, stop at the La Compania Church, built in the 16th century. Plus, you can visit the Museo Inca to learn more about Inca history. Don’t forget to visit the courtyard and tower Santo Domingo and Coricancha in Cusco.

Tips: Cusco city is located at an altitude of 3,999 meters which can make you sick. Take it slowly on the first day in Cusco to adjust and then explore the city.

Travel Guide: After reaching Lima, you will need to take a bus to Cusco. It will take around 20 hours, so be prepared for the long journey. As you need a day to settle, the whole tour can take 3 to 5 days to cover most locations.

5. Arequipa

  • Best time to visit: May to September

After Cusco, the best city for tourists and travelers in Peru is Arequipa. For its outstanding colonial buildings made of pearly siling stone vie surrounded by snow-capped peaks of the western Andes, Arequipa is called “The White City.”

Basilica Cathedral in Arequipa can be a perfect example of architectural beauty. Santa Catalina Monastery is probably the most popular tourist attraction in the city. Plus, Museo Santuarios Andinos, Plaza de Armas, and Yanahuara are some of the best locations to visit in Arequipa.

Tips: You must visit the restaurant picantería for amazing local foods. Chupe de Cameron is one of the most popular dishes here.

Travel Guide: You can go to Arequipa from Lima on a Bus or take a flight. The bus will take around 15 hours to reach while the plane will take less than 2 hours.

6. Inca Trail

  • Best time to visit: May to September

Inca Trail in Machu Picchu is probably the most adventurous location in the country. If you are visiting Peru, I highly recommend you go to Machu Picchu through the Inca Trail. The 500-year-old trail has a lot to offer.

One of the best things about Inca Trail is there is a variety of trails along the way to make your walk more adventurous. Sometimes you will climb stone staircases, and the next moment you will be crossing wooden bridges over the river, and sometimes you will have to go through the cloud forests.

Tips: The temperature highly varies from place to place on the trail. Pack dresses to adjust to both cold and hot weather. But keep it light to avoid getting tired soon.

Travel Guide: You must take a tour guide to trek the Inca Trail even if you are experienced. Book a tour guide in advance to get your desired schedule. 3-night and 4-day trekking are the most popular, but you can take longer or shorter trips too.

7. Colca Canyon

  • Best time to visit: March to June

Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world and a great place for travelers. It is pretty close to Arequipa, and you can cover both locations in a single trip. It is one of Peru’s most popular locations for adventure lovers.

It’s an excellent opportunity to experience the countryside life in Peru. You will uncover stunning vistas, bathe in secret thermal baths, stay in an oasis, and hike along the dusty roads.

Tips: Leave your luggage at the hotel in Arequipa. Most hotels offer luggage storage services at an affordable rate.

Travel Guide: Colca Canyon is around 3 hours away from Arequipa by bus. If you are an experienced trekker, you may not need a tour guide. But if you are new to trekking, it’s best to take the help of a guide as they are quite affordable.

8. Lake Titicaca

  • Best time to visit: April to October

Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake in the world as it sits 3,800 meters above sea level. Another interesting thing about the lake is that both Bolivia and Peru share Titicaca. On your tour to Peru, you can visit Peru’s portion of Lake Titicaca.

The good thing is that the Peru side of Lake Titicaca has more tourist spots, islands, and archeological sites to explore. This site is also larger than the Bolivian side. Spending a few days near the lake can boost anyone’s mood.

Interesting Fact: Incas used to believe Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the sun.

Travel Guide: One of the best ways to reach Lake Titicaca is traveling from Cusco. Take a train from Cusco, and it should take around 10 hours. A journey by train in Peru can be a great experience.

9. Nazca Desert

  • Best time to visit: December to March

Nazca Lines is one of the most crucial archeological sites in Peru. The lines in the Nazca desert were designed over 2,000 years ago. They are basically enormous designs etched on the ground. The purpose of these designs is still unknown, which makes it more interesting for tourists.

You can see the massive design by taking a 20-minute flight over the Nazca Desert or by getting into the watchtower. However, I recommend you take the flight if you have enough budget. It gives you a bird’s view of the designs, which is amazing.

Tips: Try to book a morning flight in the Nazca Desert. At this time, the wind is less, and you can have a better view of the Nazca Lines.

Travel Guide: You can get to Nazca Desert from Lima by bus, which will take around seven hours. Every half hour leaves Lima, so you don’t have to wait long. The flight in the Nazca desert costs around $80 per person. Most travelers reach the desert, see the lines and take the next bus to return to Lima.

10. Caral

  • Best time to visit: April to January

The 5,000year-old city Caral is one of the oldest cities in Peru. Caral is situated in the Supe Valley region. It was built 4,000 years before the Incas ruled the continent, but the site design and architecture is well preserved even today.

The most interesting thing to see in the city of Caral is the six pyramid structures. The mystery of the pyramids and other archeological monuments in the Caral makes it an interesting place for tourists to visit.

Interesting Facts: The Caral pyramids were built at least 100 years before the Egyptian pyramids.

Travel Guide: Caral is super attractive but not too popular due to a poor transportation system. Most agencies offer private tours that are quite expensive. Take a bus from Lima, and you will reach your destination within a few minutes.

11. Kuelap

  • Best time to visit: May to October

Although it is listed last, Kuelap is one of the most beautiful places in Peru and worth visiting. It is one of the ancient ruins in the country. There are amazing cloud forests with an abundance of fauna and waterfalls. The ruins are dated back to the pre-Inca Civilization.

Kuelap was built high above to protect it from disasters and military attacks. Approximately 2500 to 3000 people live in Kuelap. Interestingly, only the elites are allowed to build homes there.

Tips: There is a small museum at Kuelap. I recommend you visit the place to know more about the local history.

Travel Guide: You can reach Kuelap through Tarapoto. First, take an hour-long flight to Tarapoto and spend the night there. The next day, take an 8-hour bus journey to Kuelap. You will need to buy tickets to visit the ruins in Kuelap.

What does a trip to Peru cost?

The cost will vary depending on how many days you are staying in Peru and what places you visit. On average, it will cost around $65 per person per day. That means if you stay for three weeks, it will cost you approximately $1365 per person.

If you plan for a low-budget tour, the cost will be lower, and it will be higher if you want to stay in a luxurious hotel and want to have good meals. You also can check different travel agencies that offer Peru trips that cost around $1,000 to $3,000. Most of them are for one to three weeks.

As you can see from the above details, most of the locations in Peru require at least two days for a proper visit. I always prefer to take a relaxing tour.

How many days do you need in Peru?

If you want to visit all the sites in Peru in a single trip, you will need around three to four weeks to explore all the locations well. Plan your schedule ahead and book advanced tickets where necessary.

However, if you don’t want to go on your own, you can book a spot on a tour with a reputable travel operator. We recommend G Adventures, Intrepid, Collette, Globus, Insight Vacations and Trafalgar as some of the more established and reliable names in the travel industry that offer a nice selection of tour options in Peru.

Peru Tour & Travel Companies