10 Best Places To Visit In Peru Besides Machu Picchu - Updated 2024

places to visit in peru
Brittany
Brittany 
Updated
| 5 min read

This year, countless droves of tourists plan on making their way to Peru, and just about all of them are headed to Machu Picchu—the single most impressive relic of ancient Incan civilization and one of the most recognizable tourist attractions in the entire world. However, packed with sacred lands, stunning colonial architecture, and important archeological remains, Peru has much more to offer and many more things to do. Read on to discover some of the best places to visit in Peru besides Machu Picchu.

Popular picks in Peru:

  • Alto Shilcayo Natural Viewpoint: If you plan to include the region of San Martin in your itinerary, don’t forget to visit La Banda de Shilcayo and check out the Alto Shilcayo natural viewpoint. With an elevation of 800 m (2,624.67 ft), the place is an absolute vantage point for breathtaking views. To get to this viewpoint, you need to complete a three-hour trek.

  • Andean Sanctuaries Museum: History and culture enthusiasts must stop by this misuem in Arequipa. Here, you can find the iconic mummy of Lady of Ampato or Juanita, one of the best-preserved in the country. You can also find out more about the region’s rich heritage by observing items from the Inka Capac Cocha ritual and other exhibits depicting the past.

1. Visit the coastal capital city of Lima (from USD 59.0)

Miraflores
Source: Photo by user Vlad Podvorny used under CC BY 2.0

More than just an obligatory airport layover on the way to Machu Picchu, Lima is a rich, culturally diverse city worthy of exploration in its own right. Founded in the 16th century by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, Lima boasts many important landmarks that still echo the city’s past: from the neighborhood ruins of the native people to the stunning colonial architecture imposed by the Spanish.

I would love to try the local cuisine of Lima as it’s home to the world-famous Peruvian chef Gastόn Acurio and is considered the gastronomic capital of South America. Don’t miss the city’s breathtaking Pacific Ocean cliffs, classic, delectable eats, and downright spellbinding underground crypts in the historic city center.

Good to know:

  • To get to Lima, take a flight to Jorge Chávez International Airport. From there, it takes about 40 minutes to reach the city center by bus or car.

  • You can visit Larcomar in the Miraflores neighborhood for your shopping needs. You can get Peruvian-themed items here for your friends back home.

  • Check out the city page for more information.


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Lima's Vibrant Heritage: Exploring the City's Landmarks Half-day

Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes

507 reviews

2. Enjoy a taste of the exotic in Paracas (from USD 39.0)

Islas Ballestas
Source: Photo by user Munea Viajes used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Although admittedly small, I think the coastal town of Paracas is an excellent destination for a short, inexpensive trip within Peru. Only three hours by bus from Lima, Paracas is a bright, kitschy, and strategically-placed port town serving as a natural stopping point along several other popular tourist routes around the region. The Dancing Islands Tour is the town’s greatest claim to fame. Affectionately referred to as the poor man’s Galapagos, it takes visitors on an exciting wildlife exploration by boat, where penguins, sea lions, Peruvian boobies, and other majestic native birds can be seen in their natural habitat.

Good to know:

  • Paracas is only accessible by land transport. You can get on a Peru Hop bus to visit this town and also check out other attractions on the way.

  • Pizza lovers can stop by Misk'i to try delicious pies while enjoying a bohemian vibe.

  • Check out the official tourism website for more information.


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Ballestas Islands, Paracas National Reserve Tour from Paracas

Duration: 7 hours

30 reviews

3. Catch a wave or two in Máncora

Máncora
Source: Photo by user AlCortés used under CC BY 2.0

Located on the northern coast, Mancora is the trendiest beach town in all of Peru, jam-packed with international tourists, traveling backpackers, and Peruvian nationals all ready to join in on what is likely to turn into Spring Break: The Peruvian Edition. Endless, year-round sunshine and robust waves entice chilled-out surfers from all corners of the country, while nearby restaurants, nightclubs, and bars add to its bustling nightlife.

Good to know:

  • One of the best things to do in Mancora is whale-watching. If you’re visiting between mid-July and late October, you’ll be able to spot the majestic creatures.

  • The city page will help you find more information.


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4. Wander around Trujillo

Cathedral of Trujillo, Peru 02
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bernard Gagnon used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Trujillo is a northern Peruvian city best known for its impressive architecture. As a curious traveler, I’m always intrigued by historic cities like this one.

Visit Plaza de Armas, a brightly-colored public square composed of a colonial Cathedral and municipality buildings. Trujillo is also the gateway to Chan Chan, the capital of the Chimu Kingdom and the biggest pre-Columbian city in all of the Americas. This UNESCO archaeological zone is venerated for its superior infrastructure, which includes palace complexes, temples, irrigation canals, and facilities dedicated to the production of textiles, metalworks, and other useful goods.

Good to know:

  • If you’re visiting in January, make sure to attend the Northern Marinera Festival to observe the enigmatic national dance of Peru.

  • Aside from Chan Chan, check out other ancient ruin sites such as Huaca del Sol.

  • For more details, refer to the official tourism website


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Chan Chan Full-Day Archaeological Tour

Address: Departs from Trujillo Hotels

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Peru Tour Guide

Mauricio Gamboa Rondón

Mauricio Gamboa Rondón

5. Seek thrills in Huacachina (from USD 35.0)

Oasis_Huacachina
Source: Photo by user Francisco Javier ... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

A wondrous desert oasis located in Peru’s Ica region, Huacachina is the place where thrill-seekers flock for all-day sandboarding and dune buggy joy rides up and down the sand-filled pyramids. At its center lies a calming lagoon for picnicking and paddle-boating, surrounded by shaded palm trees and restaurant establishments where I’d love to stop by and relish a meal.

Because it is a relatively small attraction, most people will opt for full-day or half-day tours of Huacachina. Meanwhile, a greater historical context of the area can be found at Ica’s Regional Museum, only 10 minutes away by tuk-tuk.

Good to know:

  • According to local legends, the lagoon in Huacachina was formed out of the tears of a namesake woman from Tacara mourning her deceased lover. Her spirit is still believed to appear on full moon nights.

  • Huacachina is only bus ride away from Lima. It takes about five hours to reach.

  • For more information, check out the official tourism website.


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Huacachina Sand Buggy and Sand Boarding Experience

Duration: 2 hours

9 reviews

6. Shake something in Chincha

Ballarins de l'Asociación Cultural Afro Chincha Perú al Festichincha 2017
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pitxiquin used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Home to the nation’s largest Afro-Peruvian population, Chincha is a bastion of diversity and multiculturalism and a real testament to what can happen when people from different walks of life come together to share each other’s customs. If you find pleasure in learning new languages and exploring new cultures like I do, you’ll love this destination.

African tradition has played a major role in Peru—from influencing the cuisine to music and the arts. Every year, the Black Summer Festival held in Chincha pays homage to that cultural heritage. Talented festejo dancers of all ages can be seen shaking and gyrating to the deep, rhythmic beats of the Afro-Peruvian caja drum.

Good to know:

  • Chincha is about 205 km (127.38 mi) away from Lima, and you can reach it in about three hours by car.


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7. Discover the hidden wonders of Arequipa (from USD 730.0)

Colca Canyon
Source: Photo by user Joe used under CC BY 2.0

The southern city of Arequipa is both the second largest in Peru and one of the most highly visited. Known as the birthplace of the famed Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, it is surrounded by three reigning volcanoes, each of which have been firmly steeped in local superstition.

Arequipa also marks the gateway to Peru’s Colca Canyon, where determined trekkers and adventurists go to immerse themselves in the vastness of one of Peru’s most popular geological wonders.

Good to know:

  • Arequipa is also known as the “White City”.

  • While here, try ocopa arequipeña, a popular local appetizer.

  • Refer to the official tourism website for more information.


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Tip from tour guide

Mauricio

Mauricio
Peru

Arequipa is a city you will fall in love with! It's located at an elevation of 2350 m (7710 ft) and features architecture that captivates and a colonial air. Most tours in Arequipa have highlights such as Carmen Alto and Yanahuara. The latter has a nice plaza with arches and a lookout point. Carmen Alto also has a lookout point, but with a view of the volcanoes and the countryside. After that, you can go to see the gorgeous Santa Catalina. Don't forget to visit one of the markets here! The markets will give you another view of the city as they're colorful and completely different from other attractions. Another place to visit is Museo Santuarios Andinos, where we have the “ice maiden”—the body of a human offering from the Incans’ time. 

I do walking tours because it's a way to show more and the best way to discover places. Some places such as Carmen Alto and Yanahuara might be better explored in cars because of the incline. Meanwhile, the city center is a nice place to walk through.

As for the best time to visit, if you like rainy and cloudy weather, come to Arequipa between December and March. The weather is sunny the rest of the year. If you want less crowds, come between September and December or after March/April.

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Private 2-Day Colca Canyon Tour from Arequipa to Puno

Duration: 2 days

Must-visit attractions in Peru

8. Fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines

Nazca Lines
Source: Photo by user Fabien M used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Nazca Lines refer to a set of some 500 or more ancient desert geoglyphs outlined in the shapes of animals, plants, and other figures. An unbelievable sight to behold, the patterns are best witnessed from above—many thousands of tourists fly over them annually for unforgettable aerial views and endless bragging rights for years to come. Only adding to their allure are the never-ending speculations about where they came from and what purpose they serve. Theories range from the remnants of talented pre-Columbian ancestors to the mystical workings of extraterrestrial beings.

Read our writer’s experience on flying over the Nazca Lines.

Good to know:

  • The Nazca Lines are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • The lines are so iconic to Peru that even the national tourism board, Prom Peru, uses the characteristic swirls in the “P” on their logo.


Stay here:


30-Minute Flight Over Nazca Lines

Address: Departs from Nazca Center Hotels

Tip from tour guide

Mauricio

Mauricio
Peru

If you're looking for a city to stay in that's close to Nazca Lines, you can book accommodation in Ica. It's not very big, but it's only around two hours away.

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9. Float along Lake Titicaca (from USD 126.0)

Lake Titicaca Reed Islands
Source: Photo by user Nimmi Solomon used under CC BY-SA 2.0

After many days of trekking through ancient ruins, there’s nothing like being able to relax and enjoy the serene, idyllic waters of Lake Titicaca. Stretching across the border of where Peru and Bolivia meet in the Andes Mountain region, Lake Titicaca is home to incredible, inhabited floating reed islands, man-made from dried totora plants that grow naturally in the lake.

Considering the length of time it takes to travel to more distant islands by ferry, homestays are all but necessary, offering unique and authentic opportunities to interact with the local island populations. Individual families are paid directly for their hospitality and have been known to welcome newcomers into their daily activities and celebrations.

Good to know:

  • Lake Titicaca is located at an elevation of 3,800 m (12,467.19 ft), which makes it the highest navigable body of water in the world.

  • The lake can be accessed by bus from popular Peruvian cities such as Lima, Arequipa, and Cusco.


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Tip from tour guide

Mauricio

Mauricio
Peru

Located along Lake Titicaca is the city of Puno, where the famous Festivity of Virgen de la Candelaria is held in June! It's a celebration of the Virgin of the Candle. At least half of the city's population will be dancing on this occasion.

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Day Tour of the Uros Floating Islands and Taquile Island

Duration: 8 hours

10. Explore the adventurous Peruvian Amazon (from USD 289.0)

Unidentified flower
Source: Photo by user Leonora (Ellie) E... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

To the northeast, Iquitos serves as an important access point to the Peruvian jungle and its remote tribal villages. For so many people it is the site of life-changing spiritual retreats, but specialized animal sanctuaries and nature reserves also provide insight into the region’s wildlife populations and remarkable biodiversity. Meanwhile, artisan handicraft markets and food stalls allow travelers to sample the traditional flavors of Peru while at the same time supporting the economies that are so crucial to its local citizens.

Good to know:

  • This extensive stretch of the Amazon covers about 60% of Peru’s total landscape.

  • One of the best places to explore the Amazon from is the department of Amazonas. It’s ideal for observing unique species such as the spatuletail hummingbird.


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3 Day Amazon Jungle Tour at Sinchicuy Lodge

Duration: 3 days

60 reviews

Whimsical Peruvian wonders

The good news for anyone looking to learn a thing or two about the best places to visit in Peru is that there is no shortage of great options to choose from. Ancient ruins, bright colors, breath-taking sites, and centuries-long traditions ooze from every nook and cranny of this remarkable South American nation. No matter where your interests lie, there’s guaranteed to be something that tickles your fancy. It is no wonder, then, that Peru has been deemed one of the most important cultural tourism sites in the world.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Brittany, a travel enthusiast passionate about foreign languages, explores the world fueled by insatiable curiosity. She is also a freelance writer, an avid language learner, an occasional TV...Read more

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