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30 BEST Things to do in Peru (Peru Highlights you can’t miss!)

30 BEST Things to do in Peru (Peru Highlights you can’t miss!)

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Peru is an adventure-lovers paradise. It’s well known as one of the most diverse countries in the world with beautiful beaches, tall mountains, lush jungle, and delicious food! It’s safe to say Peru is one of my favorite countries on the planet!

Unfortunately, this can make planning your trip to Peru hard, and narrowing down the must-do activities can seem impossible, especially with limited time!

Out of the hundreds of amazing things to see and do in Peru, I’ve narrowed it down to the top 30 Peru highlights. In this blog, you’ll find a range of activities and attractions across Peru that are absolutely incredible!

Here are the 30 best things to do in Peru!

Things to do in Peru

1. Visit Machu Picchu

The views from Machu Picchu from Machu Picchu Mountain
The views of Machu Picchu from Machu Picchu Mountain

No list of the best things to do in Peru can be complete without Peru’s most famous attraction – Machu Picchu! As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is a bucket list experience for most people.

Sure, Machu Picchu is touristy, but it is also so impressive! To me, it’s the most impressive ancient ruins I’ve ever seen. The stonework is perfection, and so is the location.

Visiting Machu Picchu can be done on organized hikes, tours, or even on your own from Cusco. The three main hikes to Machu Pichu are the Salkantay Trek, the Inca Trail, and the Lars Route. I did the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu and loved it.

On the organized tour I did, we actually spent a night at Llactapata, an ancient ruin that sits across from Machu Picchu. This is not the usual route, but the route I recommend taking.

If you plan on hiking the Inca Trail, be sure to book in advance, as tours often book up 6 months in advance!

Those who choose not to hike can do organized tours from Cusco by bus and train, such as this day tour or this overnight tour. These are perfect for those who are short on time or don’t want to hike.

During your visit to Machu Picchu, if you want an extra special experience, consider booking the hike up Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain! Both are extra short hikes at Machu Picchu and must be booked in advance (your tour operator can help with this.) 

2. Go on a food Tour in Lima

Four samples of Perivion Food on our Lima food tour
We tried so many amazing dishes on our Lima Food tour!

Lima is one of the gastronomic capitals of the world. Here, you can try some of the most unique and tasty dishes possible. However, if you don’t know which restaurants to go to or what to try, you might miss out. That’s why a food tour is a perfect experience in Peru!

We went on an amazing food tour in Lima! We tried so much food and even had fruity cocktails to go with everything. Honestly, the food is one of the best parts of Peru, and going on a food tour really proved that.

A food tour in Lima is definitely one of the best tours in Lima and totally one of our Peru highlights!

You can book the exact same food tour that we did online in advance. It is a little pricier than most food tours in Lima, but it is gourmet and you will not be disappointed with the quality of the food, drinks, or tour overall.

3. Get lost in the culture of Cusco

Panoramic shot of Cusco, Peru
Panoramic shot of Cusco, Peru

The former capital of the Inca empire, the city of Cusco is the most-visited destination in Peru. It’s the gateway to Machu Picchu and is situated at a whopping 10,500 feet/3,200 meters above sea level so many tourists need at least a few days here to acclimatize. Thankfully, there are loads of things to do in Cusco from visiting the beautiful Qoricancha Temple to taking a day trip to the nearby Pisac Ruins.

Visiting the Pisac Ruins in the Sacred Valley is a must-do whilst in Cusco, these impressive ruins are considered to be the most well-preserved Inca ruins in Peru and are often compared to the famed Machu Picchu! There’s a popular market held here every Sunday which is run by the indigenous Quechua people.

Another Inca ruin worth visiting from Cusco is the Ollantaytambo ruins, which are on the way to Machu Pichu.

Back in Cusco city itself, spend your morning hiking up to Sacsayhuaman a former Inca site that is essentially a large stoned wall – would you believe some of the stones here weigh up to 300 tons. Afterward, head to the lively Plaza de Armas for lunch and to see the beautiful Cusco Cathedral. If you have time wander the huge San Pedro markets, a popular place for locals to hang out and where you can buy everything from fruit & veg; meat; cheeses, and unique souvenirs!

Cusco is a city that every tourist will visit in Peru. It is the gateway to Machu Picchu as well as many other attractions such as the Sacred Valley and Rainbow Mountain.

We spent over a week in Cusco just really getting to know the city and we loved every minute of it. If you also want to get to know Cusco, the best thing to do first is to join a free walking tour. These tours will help you plan the rest of your visit like where to stay in Cusco, as well as answer any other questions you might have.

4. Visit the Amazon Jungle from Puerto Maldonado

Macaw clay lick, Puerto Maldonado
Some Macaw’s at the Macaw clay lick, Puerto Maldonado

Visiting the Amazon is definitely one of the best things to do in Peru. However, what most people don’t know is that you don’t have to fly all the way to Iquitos to have a Peru Amazon experience. From Cusco, you can easily jump on an 8-hour bus to the city of Puerto Maldonado, Peru.

Puerto Maldonado is located on the edge of Peru close to both the Brazil and Bolivia borders. Here, you can go on a tour to the Amazon and even spend a couple of nights at a remote eco-lodge (like we did!)

We did a 4-day tour of the Amazon from Puerto Maldonado and saw so many animals! We also had some fun experiences such as a night jungle walk, piranha fishing, and observing the world-famous Macaw Clay Click! The tour wasn’t cheap at $600 USD but it did include all our meals, park entrance fees, an expert guide, and all activities.

5. Hike Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain, Peru
Rainbow Mountain is beautiful in real life (even though it is not quite as bright as the photos you may have seen on Instagram)

Hiking Rainbow Mountain has recently become one of Peru’s most popular things to do.

The uniquely colored mountains were only discovered recently after melting snow revealed the breathtaking colors caused by different minerals in the rock. Seeing them for yourself is a unique experience that is accomplished on a day tour from Cusco. 

Although only a day trip, this hike is not for the faint-hearted, as the altitude is challenging. In fact, I got a bad headache on my hike. However, after spending a couple of days acclimatizing in Cusco, you should go for it! The view is totally worth it, and it’s such a unique experience in Peru!

There are lots of tours available, but the tour I did only cost $49 USD. It included breakfast, lunch, a guide, and transport. Overall I really enjoyed it, but it was a long day! If you’re worried about the hike, you can do an ATV tour instead, which takes the hard work out of the climb and adds a little extra fun!

Related read: Check out the best Cusco Backpacker hostels to acclimatize in!

6. Explore the Sacred Valley

Sacred Valley Cusco, Peru
The stunning Sacred Valley

Just 9 miles/15 kilometers from Cusco, the Sacred Valley is home to several historic Inca ruins as well as authentic Peruvian villages. In fact, the Sacred Valley is one of my favorite places in Peru.

If you’re an adventurous traveler then the Sacred Valley is the destination for you, here, you can try out white water rafting and mountain biking. One of the most unique rafting tours in Peru is this one in Ollantaytambo which passes by the region’s famed Inca ruins!

If you’re the adventurous type then you won’t want to miss out on some white water rafting and mountain biking when you’re in the valley. Many operators offer both activities and you’ll have a wide choice of locations. A great rafting experience can be found in Ollantaytambo where you can see the Inca ruins from your raft! It’s also quite an easy option and is suitable for beginners.

You can also take in several Inca ruins from your mountain bike. There are several trails in the Sacred Valley, suitable for all levels. Some of the most popular include Pumamarca, Paucarbamba, and Yanahuara. It’s important to note that most of the trails here are not purpose-built and for most of your journey you’ll be biking on old Incan footpaths. Which I think is pretty cool!

7. Hike the Huayhuash Circut

Santa Rosa Pass for a panoramic view on the Huayhuash
Santa Rosa Pass for a panoramic view of the Huayhuash at 16,730ft/5,100 meters

The Huayhush Hike in Peru is not only my absolute favorite hike in Peru but probably the best hike I’ve ever done! This 8-day trek was nothing sort of grueling but it was also absolutely breathtaking.

From the city of Huaraz, Peru we joined a guided hiking tour that took us to altitudes over 16,730ft/5,100 meters. Each night we camped in some of the most beautiful locations in Peru.

To this day, I think back to our days on the Huayhuash and think about doing it again. To me, it was not only one of the best things to do in Peru but a life experience I will cherish forever.

If you like to hike and are up for the challenge, the Huayhuash hike is sure to be one of your Peru highlights too, along with being one of the best hikes in South America!

8. Visit the Colca Canyon

A view of the Colca Canyon in Peru
A view from day two on the Colca Canyon Trek

Did you know the Colca Canyon is actually deeper than the Grand Canyon?! Yes, that’s right, the Colca Canyon is an impressive sight and well worthy of a spot on our Peru highlights list.

There are many different Colca Canyon tours you can choose from. You can visit the Colca Canyon on a day trip from the city of Arequipa; however, we opted for a 3-day guided hiking experience which was so much fun!

It wasn’t nearly as challenging as any of the other hikes I did in Peru and we also stayed in accommodation along the way (one place even had a pool!) So, while it was a hike, it felt more luxurious, which I really enjoyed.

The views of the Colca Canyon are also very breathtaking. You’ll also see Condors, the second largest bird in the world. All the tours visit the Mirador Cruz del Condor, where you are guaranteed to see these huge birds up close.

9. Swimming with Sea Turtles in Mancora

sea turtle in mancora peru
Swimming with these guys is one of my Peru highlights!

Along the northern coast of Peru, there is a little-known attraction that is a lot of fun, and that’s swimming with the sea turtles! From the town of Mancora, you can jump on a boat and go for a swim with massive sea turtles!

If you’ve never swum next to sea turtles before then this should be on your list of things to do in Peru. Just be sure to choose an ethical tour provider who doesn’t feed the turtles and won’t allow you to touch them. Make sure to bring a waterproof phone case so you can add some turtle pics to your Peru photo gallery!

This is one of the best things to do in Mancora!

10. Buggy Ride through the Sanddunes

Bailey and I hang out of our dune buggy in Huaccahina
A dune buggy in Huaccahina is so much fun!

Peru really has it all; the ocean, mountains, Amazon, ruins, wildlife, and sand dunes that rival those you would see in the middle east. Of course, the best way to explore these sand dunes is on a buggy tour.

We spent a couple of nights in the town of Huacachina which is right in the middle of the sand dunes. From here you can jump on a buggy tour which is a wild ride. Honestly, it was such a thrill I was screaming the whole time and was laughing after the fact from the adrenaline.

On our sand dune buggy tour, we also had the opportunity to go sandboarding. While this was also fun, the actual buggy ride was my favorite part! Plus, it is very affordable.

To go on a sand dune buggy ride for yourself, you can either book a hotel and stay in Huacachina or book a day trip from Lima!

11. Go on a Pisco wine tour

A glass of Pisco wine on a tour from Huacachina
Pisco wine is sweet but that’s how the Peruvians like it!

While in Huacachina, why not go on a Pisco Tasting tour!

Pisco wine is the national drink of Peru and is a must-try on your vacation here. It’s a type of brandy or distilled wine and is quite sweet. The best area to base yourself for a Pisco wine tasting tour is Huacachina, that’s because the most exclusive and famous distilleries are located in nearby Ica, which is just a 5 km drive away. 

In fact, Pisco wine can only be produced in one of five official departments in Peru. These are Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua, and Tacna.

This 5-hour tour is a fantastic option if you want to taste this iconic drink as well as learn all about the history of Pisco wine. It includes an hour-long stop at three distilleries; Bodega La Caravedo,Tacama, and Nietto Pisco. It includes transportation from your hotel in Ica (the main city in Huacachina) and prices start from $80 USD per person.

Unlike other wine tours I have been on, the drinks flow on this tour, and you’re certain to get a little tipsy!

12. Swimming with Sea Lions

sea lion photo bomb in the ocean near lima
Me, photo-bombed by a sea lion!

Swimming with the sea lions is another wildlife activity in Peru that many tourists have never heard of. Believe it or not, this is a tour you actually do from Lima! It’s actually one of the most popular things to do in Lima.

After only a short drive along the coast and then a boat ride, you’ll arrive at an island where thousands of sea lions hang out. You will not go to their island, but you can jump in the water, and these curious animals will come to see you!

Swimming with the sea lions in Peru was so much fun and a highlight I’d recommend to anybody.

Book your swimming with the sea lions experience from Lima online in advance to secure your spot. This is easily one of the best things to do in Peru and a great activity to do when arriving in Lima.

Related Read: There are our Chile highlights you just have to do!

13. Hike the Salkantay Trek

Bailey with views of the Salkantay Trek in the background
Day 3 of the Salkantay Trek!

Instead of just driving or taking the train to Machu Picchu, we hiked for four days on the Salkantay Trek! This hike is a great alternative to the Inca trail because it is cheaper and easier to book.

The Salkantay Trek actually travels along the same route the Inca spiritual leaders took to Machu Picchu. The trail was said to bring them closer to the gods. It climbs to over 13,000 feet/4,000 meters in elevation and offers spectacular mountain views.

On the organized tour I did, we actually spent a night at Llactapata, an ancient ruin that sits across from Machu Picchu. This is not the usual route, but the route I recommend taking.

Plus, after hiking for four days straight, finally making it to Machu Picchu feels that much more rewarding and amazing!

14. Spend the night in the Skylodge Adventure Suites

The view from one of the Sacred Valley in Peru pods at the Sky Adventure Lodge in the
Photo credit: Sky Lodge Adventures
Two meals at the table with an epic view at the Sky Lodge Adventure suites overlooking the sacred Valley in Peru
Photo credit: Sky Lodge Adventures

The Skylodge Adventure Suites has to be one of the most unique places to stay in the world. Your room here is a transparent capsule that hangs from the top of a mountain in the Sacred Valley! As you can imagine the views from your capsule/room are astounding!

Getting to the Skylodge Adventure Suites is quite a challenge, you must either climb up 1,300 feet/400 meters of Via Ferrata or hike a difficult trail. Getting down after your stay is a lot easier though because you can zipline down!

Each weather-resistant capsule is surprisingly large at 24 feet by 8 feet and comes with four beds, a dining area, and a private bathroom. A one-night stay here includes breakfast, dinner, transportation from Cuzco as well as the zipline down. It is priced from $400 USD per person.

15. Hike to Laguna 69

Bailey takes a photo at Laguna 69 in Peru
Laguna 69!

Laguna 69 is a gorgeous blue lake that is reached only by hiking on a day trip from Huaraz. This hike is so famous that many people come all the way to Huaraz strictly for it.

Although this hike only takes one day, it is still very challenging to reach altitudes over 16,400 feet/5,000 meters above sea level. But, once you reach the lake, the views are totally worth it and the challenging hike makes the finish very rewarding.

Tours to Laguna 69 are very affordable and often include breakfast! It’s a hike that you’re sure to love – it’ll likely become one of your Peru highlights too!

We have a ton of helpful tips about preparing for treks in Peru like Laguna 69.

16. Drink Pisco Sours (and Pisco Tasting)

Drinking Pisco Sours on a pisco sour tour in Lima
Pisco Sours are the tastiest cocktail in Peru.

One of the best things to do in Peru is drinking Pisco Sours – and lots of them! Pisco Sours are a cocktail made from the local spirit called Pisco. It is very strong alcohol that is clear, and while I don’t like the taste of Pisco straight, in a cocktail (like a Pisco Sour), it is delicious!

You will be able to buy Pisco Sours from bars all over the country with the best one made in Lima! But if you want a real authentic experience, you should go on a tour to the birthplace of Pisco.

In and around the town of Pisco, you can try lots of different types of Pisco and visit the distilleries that make it. Since Pisco is made from grapes, most of these distilleries resemble wineries and often make variations of wine you can try too!

You can go on a day trip to try Pisco from Lima, or spend the night in Huacachina or Ica to go on a tour from there. Alternatively, there are lots of Pisco tasting tours offered in Lima, where you visit famous bars to try different types of drinks made with Pisco!

17. Paragliding in Lima

Paraglider lands in Miraflores, Lima
Paragliders in Miraflores, Peru.

One of the best activities in Miraflores, Peru (a neighborhood in Lima) is paragliding! Right from the cliff edge overlooking the ocean you can join an experienced instructor and go for a ride offering incredible views!

Paragliding rides go for about $80 USD but the price does vary depending on the season and how long of a ride you want. You don’t need to book in advance and can simply walk up to the take-off area along the Malecon and book there.

18. Exploring Arequipa

walking in arequipa
The beautiful “white” city of Arequipa!

Arequipa is another must-visit city in Peru. This city is often referred to as the “white city” because of all of the white historic buildings made of white volcanic rock. Just walking around the streets is a great thing to do simply because of the architecture and white buildings contrasted with flowers everywhere.

The most common activity in Arequipa is a day trip to the Colca Canyon. However, going on a tour of the city is also very worthwhile. There are tons of really well-done museums around as well as trendy cafes to check out!

If you’re a hiker, there are a few challenging hiking and mountaineering tours around too!

19. Hike the Inca Trail

Hiking up the original trail built by the Incas
Hiking up the original trail built by the Incas

At the top of many travelers’ bucket lists is the Inca Trail. In fact, this is one of the most famous things to do in all of South America. That’s because not only is the hike itself incredibly scenic with jaw-dropping mountain terrain all around you, but you will also pass through 500-year-old villages once inhabited by the Inca people. Of course, the legendary Machu Picchu is the main drawcard for hikers hiking this challenging route! 

This incredible hike is 26 miles (42 kilometers) and is quite challenging because you are gaining 13,828 feet (4,215 meters) in elevation, so a good level of fitness is definitely needed. On average, the classic Inca Trail takes most hikers 4 days to complete.

Because of its popularity, you need to book to hike the Inca Trail well in advance, ideally 9-12 months before! You can’t hike the Inca Trail on your own. Instead, you must book with an authorized tourism agency. Keep in mind that only 500 permits are released daily, and that figure includes the trekking support teams, which are typically around 300 permits per day. This means that only 200 hikers can hike the Inca Trail daily.

This 4-day, 3-night guided hike of the Inca Trail is highly recommended and ethically run. What’s good too is that they offer a true camping experience with comfortable tents and hot showers. This particular tour costs around $700 USD per person.

20. Visit the Millpu Pools

the Millpu Pools in Peru as seen from above
They remind my of Semuc Champey in Guatemala!

One of the least-visited places on this list, the Millpu Pools in Ayacucho, about halfway between Cusco and Lima, are a hidden gem in Peru! Most travelers fly to Ayacucho from Lima, but you can catch an overnight bus there from Lima. Just be aware that it will take a little over 11 hours! From Ayacucho, there are plenty of guided tours available to these stunning natural pools.

Worth noting is it’s a 25-minute hike from where the bus drops you off into the pools, and it is quite steep in parts, so a reasonable level of fitness is advised. The views of the pools from the trail are well worth the leg burn, though.

The pools are a bright turquoise color and so photogenic. The water in the pools comes from nearby glaciers and so they are very cold and not recommended for swimming. There’s also a gorgeous waterfall here – the Mollepata waterfall, which is well worth checking out.

Fun fact – the local people believe that the water running through the canyon at Millpu comes from the throat of the devil, which would explain why this place has remained a secret until recently.

It’s best to visit the Millpu Pools in the dry season, which is from May to September, because outside of these months, access to the pools may be inaccessible from Ayacucho due to heavy rainfall.

21. Isla Ballestas

Three seals sit on a rock on our Ballestas Island tour from Lima
The wildlife you’ll see is amazing although it’s still not as good as the real Galapagos Islands!

One of the most unique places in Peru is the wildlife haven of Isla Ballestas. Here, you can see sea lions, miniature penguins as well as numerous sea birds. It’s often referred to as the Poor Man’s Galapagos because you can see many of the same creatures here for a fraction of the price!

The best way to reach Isla Ballestas is on a guided tour from the town of Paracas, travel by speedboat the short distance from Paracas, and spot wildlife and even sea caves along the way. The tour is short and sweet at just 2-hours long and costs just $25 USD per person.

Alternatively, there is a tour option from Lima, but this is a 13.5-hour day, so it may be tiresome for some. It costs from $132 USD per person and includes an up-close look at the Paracas Candelabra, a giant candlestick carved into the side of a cliff. How it got there and why nobody knows!

It’s worth noting you can only see the island from the boat. Exploring the island on foot is not permitted!

22. See the Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines on a tour from Lima
The Nazca Lines are one of those places that makes you go wow!

The mysterious Nazca Lines are a series of designs and lines that have been etched onto the sand outside of the town of Nazca. And nobody knows how they got there are why. They are believed to be over 2,000 years old.

Most tourists visit the Nazca Lines via bus from Lima. These buses depart every 30 minutes and take approximately 7 hours each way. A one-way ticket averages $25 USD per person.

You can see the lines from the 43 foot/13-meter observation tower here or book a bucket-list-worthy flight over the lines. The flight is 30-35 minutes long and is, in my opinion, the best way to see the lines. It includes pick-up from Nazca bus station or your accommodation and costs $111 USD per person.

Worth noting is there’s an additional charge of 77 soles ($20 USD) which you must pay at the airport before your flight. This particular tour from Lima includes not only the flight but also sandboarding and a dune buggy experience in Huacachina. It’s a long day, though, so allow at least 18 hours for this tour. Prices start from $380 USD per person and include your transfer to and from Lima.

23. Lake Titicaca

A floating village in Lake Titicaca, Peru
The floating villages are so cool to see!

Lake Titicaca in the city of Puno is the world’s highest navigable lake and is said to be the birthplace of the Inca people. Interestingly, this large lake (it’s 8,372 km-squared) serves as a natural border with Bolivia!

The lake is now home to the Uros people who live on floating islands on the lake in houses made entirely of reeds. They rely on tourism and fishing and can go far out into the lake to fish thanks to their boats also constructed from the reeds found along the lake’s edge!

The best way to explore this special place is on a guided tour from Puno. You will be picked up from your accommodation in Puno by bus and then taken by speedboat to the Uros islands to witness the unique way of life of its inhabitants. Also included is a tour of Taquile island which is where you will find the best weavers in Peru. This particular tour is 11 hours and costs $28 USD per person.

This slightly shorter tour (8 hours long) also departs from Puno and includes stops at the Uros Islands and Taquile Island. The reason it is shorter is that they use a fast boat to transport you to these islands. This option also includes a typical Peruvian lunch and costs from $56 USD per person.

24. Get lost in Iquitos

The rainforest in Iquitos, Peru on a cruise
Cruising the Amazon!

Iquitos city is the gateway to the Northern Amazon rainforest, so this is a popular stop-off for many travelers before they venture into the jungle.

The city is home to half a million people and as you can imagine there are lots of things to do to fill your days here. Whilst in the city be sure to spend a few hours exploring the Belen district which is best-known for its huge open-air market and the wooden homes on stilts that line the nearby Itaya River.

It’s also worth venturing into the Plaza de Armas, the city’s main square which is home to stunning European-style buildings which date as far back as 1900.

The Amazon rainforest can be a scary place to go on your own, so, exploring it on a guided tour is the best way! Base yourself at the Maniti Eco-Lodge deep within the jungle. The 3-day guided tour they offer includes returning transfers to Iquitos as well as all accommodation and meals. During your days here you will get the chance to see wildlife like sloths, monkeys, and more up-close, this is a truly immersive jungle experience.

On day one you will join a canoe tour down the main Amazon river to see wild dolphins and the rare Amazonian mata-mata turtle. The next day, you will get the chance to go fishing on the same river for piranha and catfish! This particular tour costs $424 USD per person, which I personally think is awesome value-for-money considering all it includes.

25. Hike to Choquequirao

Choquequirao ruins just outside of Cusco, Peru
Choquequirao is just as cool as Machu Picchu!

The Choquequirao trek is considered the best alternative to the Inca Trail. At 40 miles/64 kilometers long, it is recommended to allow at least 4 full days to complete this hike. The archaeological ruins here are about the same size as Machu Picchu and cover 6 square kilometers. These ruins are nestled high on Quriwayrachina mountain, at 10,000 feet/3,050 meters above sea level, and as a result, this hike is rated as difficult.

The route takes you 4,900 feet/1,500 meters down into the Apurimac Canyon, which is home to several unique microclimates. But in order to get from here to the ruins, you must climb up a gigantic 5,900 feet/1,800 meters!

This route begins and ends at Cachora, a small town a short distance from the Apurimac Valley. You can get here by bus from Cusco, this will take 6 hours and costs around $40 USD. 

This 4-day guided tour from Cusco includes an experienced guide to help you successfully complete this challenging hike as well as all accommodation and meals along the way. It departs from Cusco, a 6-hour drive from the starting point for the trek.

Because of its difficult nature, this tour is only recommended for those with a high level of fitness. What I like about this tour is that it’s limited to 15 people so it feels personal. Prices start from $519 USD per person.

26. Visit the city of Chan Chan

the city of Chan Chan in Peru
The city of Chan Chan in Peru!

The historic city of Chan Chan is just 15 minutes outside Trujillo in Northern Peru and is a fascinating place to visit. There was a time when it was the largest city in South America and, interestingly was the capital for the Chimu people (who lived in Peru prior to the more well-known Inca people). It is believed to have been a working city for over 500 years, from the year 900 to the year 1470.

Just before you reach the ruined city of Chan Chan, be sure to stop at the Chan Chan Museum, which displays some important artifacts discovered in Chan Chan, and information boards throughout offer a brief history of the Chimu people who lived there. This information is helpful as there is no such signage in Chan Chan itself.

From the museum, it’s about a 10-minute walk into Chan Chan city. Once you reach Chan Chan, you will come to realize how big this city was. The city was home to 9 citadels, each containing its own temples and other buildings. Each citadel was surrounded by a high wall for protection.

It’s worth hiring a guide to take you around Chan Chan because, as mentioned earlier, there are no information boards here, so it’s helpful to have a knowledgeable local guide to explain exactly what it is you’re seeing. If you hire an English-speaking guide in person, it will cost you approximately 50 soles ($13 USD).

You can purchase your tickets to enter Chan Chan at the main gates or at the Chan Chan Museum. These cost 11 soles ($3 USD).

27. Go surfing in Mancora

Surf boards at the surf school at Costeño Beach Hostel

Mancora in Northern Peru is the most popular surfing spot in the country, that’s because it’s considered one of the best warm water breaks in the world! These waves attract thousands of surfers every summer from across the world!

In fact, Mancora is the perfect place to learn to surf – there are three highly-rated surf schools here, the most popular being the Inka Warriors Surf School. All of their instructors are locals who know these waters like the back of their hands.

It’s worth mentioning that local surfers can frustrate out-of-towners by constantly dropping in on their waves. It’s advisable to avoid the inside section from mid-day if you’re not part of a surf school because this is where they gather, and it can be impossible to catch a wave here as a result.

If you want to brave the waves on your own, you can easily rent a board in Mancora. Prices start from 10 soles ($2.50 USD) for a couple of hours to 20 soles ($5.30 USD) for a full day.

What I love about surfing in Mancora is that the water is so warm that you likely won’t need a wetsuit unless you’re very cold-blooded, and in that case, you will likely just need to wear it in the mornings during winter.

28. Learn Spanish

A book of spanish Phrases at a school in Sucre, Bolivia

The perfect way to fully immerse yourself in Peruvian culture is to learn Spanish here, whether that be at a Spanish Language School or by hiring a local to give you private tuition.

If you do decide to book a Spanish Group Course, I recommend doing this in one of the major cities like Lima or Cusco as this is where the best-rated schools are located. Many of the schools will not only teach you Spanish in a classroom-style environment, but they also offer an array of fun activities outside of school hours where you can practice your language skills and explore the country at the same time.

Of course, you can learn on your own by buying a Spanish language book and practicing as much as you can when out and about in Peru.

Whatever way you decide to learn Spanish whilst in Peru, I’m certain you’ll meet lots of friendly locals who will be delighted to assist you with your Spanish!

29. Try Coca leaves

Coca leaves on a plate at a market in Peru
You can see the coca leaves and the chalk-looking thing is what you chew with it to activate the energizing ingredient.

The coca leaf has many health benefits and is grown predominantly in Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia. It is a sacred leaf to Peruvians and has been used for centuries, and is typically chewed or brewed in tea.

The leaf offers the most benefits when chewed, the Peruvians call this process ‘acullico’ – it can suppress hunger, thirst, and pain and is also a very popular remedy for combatting altitude sickness. This is very helpful to know when traveling in a country with such high altitudes. In fact, many people chew coca when hiking the Inca Trail.

You can buy the coca leaf from many of the markets across Peru, and it is typically the female sellers, also known as ‘mamitas’, who sell these leaves. Just be sure to ask for ‘hoja de coca’ and not their traditional name, coca leaves.

It’s important to note that the sale or consumption of coca leaves is prohibited outside of South America, so do not attempt to bring any home with you!

30. Visit Salineras de Maras

A panoramic view of the Salineras de Maras salt beds in Peru
How cool is this!

Just 29 miles/46 kilometers from Cusco, the Salineras de Maras is one of the most popular stops on any Peru itinerary, attracting hundreds of tourists every day! It’s a photography lovers’ idea of paradise with over 3,000 natural salt wells spread across one side of the valley.

These pools are fed by an underground water spring and were formed over 110 million years ago! Thanks to the high temperatures in this region, the water in these pools evaporate, leaving behind stunning salt pools.

Collecting and then selling the salt is a profitable business for the locals here, and it is these local miners who maintain the area for tourists. 

The best way to see Salineras de Maras is on a guided tour from Cusco. This full-day tour (allow 12 hours) also includes stops at some of the best sights in the Sacred Valley, including Moray, Chincheros, Ollantaytambo, and Pisaq.

Pick-up and drop-off from your hotel in Cusco are included in the price, as well as a local professional guide. Prices for this tour start at $145 USD per person.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and I take a selfie on the Colca Canyon Trail
Daniel and I take a selfie on the Colca Canyon Trail

As you can see, there is no shortage of amazing things to do in Peru. I hope this blog has helped inspire and plan your trip to Peru! We know that deciding on what to do and see in Peru can be difficult, but if you plan your route around the best Peru highlights then it should be much easier!

Of course, if you have any questions feel free to comment below and we will get back to you. Also, be sure to check out all of our Peru blogs. We’ve written heaps of useful guides about traveling Peru such as these below:

15 BEST Tours in Lima

Huaraz, Peru

The BEST Hostels in Cusco

COMPLETE Guide to Visiting the Wanaka Lavender Farm, New Zealand
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