- 1 Discover Peru’s ecosystems
- 2 Visit Lima, the Gastronomic Capital of South America
- 3 Enjoy the Gastronomy of Peru
- 4 Live a mixture of cultures in Cusco
If you have thought about visiting Latin America and don’t know which country to start with, Peru might be the best option for you. As one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world, it has some of the most beautiful landscapes you can imagine.
Recently it has received the Safe Travels award, which means that it is a safe country in front of the Covid-19. On the other hand, its gastronomy is one of the best and the way it presents its cultural richness and the diversity of its people, is incredible.
It is a very big country with a lot of things you can see, do and visit. For that reason and so that you can finish convincing yourself, we bring you a list with what we consider most important and you can’t miss it if you travel to Peru. Ready? Let’s start!
Discover Peru’s ecosystems
Peru is a country of jungle, mountain and coast, and that is why any trip would be incomplete without visiting at least two of its ecosystems. These are some of the ones you should take into account during your visit:
The Coast of Peru
Because Peru’s best known attractions are usually in its mountains, few people imagine how beautiful its coast can be. Do not imagine crystalline beaches, surrounded by palm trees and white sand. The beaches of Peru are different because its coast borders the Pacific Ocean, which makes its waters warm and perfect for water sports like surfing and windsurfing.
If you are a surf lover and you like to be surrounded by people who are also surfers,Mancora is the perfect place. But if you prefer a quieter place, an almost deserted beach and small towns where you can find the best ceviche, you should visit Zorritos.
The Peruvian Amazon
Only a few people know that Peru possesses most of the Amazon rainforest after Brazil. The Amazon, the largest tropical forest in the world and with the greatest diversity on the planet, makes visiting Peru an even more special experience.
Iquitos is the largest city in the world that cannot be reached by road and therefore you have to take a plane from Lima or Cusco to get there. So arriving in the Peruvian Amazon is already an adventure itself.
When you land, you will be surprised by the heat and the humid atmosphere generated by the surrounding forest. The Amazon seems out of this world and is largely the unexplored face of the planet. It hides many secrets, wonderful landscapes and cultures that we recommend you visit in a responsible way. There are secrets that only the locals know and that they will be able to teach you if you decide to travel to Iquitos, which will also contribute to the local economy.
If you are curious, you can take a look at the experience in the jungle of Iquitos that our colleague Javier lived.
The Peruvian Mountains
The Andean area of Peru is the best known. In this area you will be breathless not only because of the spectacular views but also because of the height you will be at. Do not be afraid if someone advises you to drink coca tea during your stay, it is normal! This plant has been used for centuries to help reduce altitude sickness and other discomforts. What we definitely recommend is that you travel calmly and take one or two days to get used to it. This way you will be able to enjoy the trip more.
As this area is the most known one, you may have heard about its most popular destinations… The Titicaca Lake, which can be visited from the city of Puno, is a must like Arequipa and the impressive Colca Canyon. However, it is the city of Cuzco the one that takes the crown, not only for being the ancient capital of the Inca empire but for being one of the most welcoming cities in Peru.
Visit Lima, the Gastronomic Capital of South America
The interesting thing about visiting the capitals of Latin America is that you can see a summary of everything that has happened in each country. In Lima you will realize the immense cultural variety that exists, not only because of the architectural changes that are presented in its buildings but because of how its people look, showing indigenous, European and even Asian features.
Although it is not a very popular city, cause its considered grey and a little chaotic, Lima is wonderful. Located in front of the Pacific, it offers some very interesting contrasts. On the one hand, pre-Columbian archaeological sites and traditional places, and on the other, modern neighborhoods full of life.
What was once known as ‘The City of Kings’ or the most important city in South America, is today one of the main cities in the region and one of the most famous gastronomic destinations in the world.
You cannot leave Lima without visiting its historical center and in particular, we recommend you to visit these places:
- The Plaza de Armas
- The Metropolitan Cathedral of Lima
- The Church and the Convent of Santo Domingo
- The Basilica and Monastery of St. Francis of Assisi
Inside the historical center you can also find the Pisco Museum, which is also worth visiting. It is not exactly a museum, but rather a bar specialized in Pisco, one of the most famous alcoholic drinks in Peru.
There are other museums that are very interesting and worth it, for example:
- Art Museum of Lima
- Amano museum
- National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru
- Museum of the Nation
Other interesting neighborhoods that you can’t miss either are Chinese neighborhood (yes, there is a Chinese neighborhood in Lima), San Isidro, Miraflores (one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the capital) and Barranco (the bohemian and hipster neighborhood, which has the highest concentration of urban art in the capital, with colorful works by Peruvian and foreign artists).
Taste the Gastronomy of Lima
If you’re still not sure about what to do in Perú, we fully recommend you take a gastronomic Tour, which we promise, will note be disappointing. Since Lima is known for its gastronomic tours, let us tell you why it is one of the cities or rather, why this is one of the countries with the best gastronomy in the whole world. Ready to make your mouth water?
Enjoy the Gastronomy of Peru
The gastronomy of Peru is enormously diverse. Due to its geography, especially around the Andes, there are perfect conditions for the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and a variety of vegetables that does not occur anywhere else. Likewise, being surrounded by the Pacific coast, its waters present the perfect habitat for a good number of varieties of seafood and fish.
The gastronomic richness of this country is also due to the pre-Hispanic and colonial culinary traditions, which have been nourished in turn by the influence of Western and Eastern cuisine, making a vanguard gastronomic revolution take place during the last years with the fusion and novo Andean food.
Here is a list of Peruvian food that we recommend you try on your trip to Peru:
- Peruvian Ceviche
- Huancaína style Potatoes
- Stuffed Rocoto
- Skipped loin
- Cause limeña
- Chaufa rice
- Nikkei Kitchen
- Peruvian Juane
Not everything is going to be eaten, Peru also has typical drinks that are worthwhile like the chicha morada and the Pisco Sour cocktail.
Live a mixture of cultures in Cusco
Cusco is one of the best known cities in Peru not only for its impressive beauty, but also for being where the trip to Machu Picchu begins. What many don’t know is that besides being an obligatory stop, it is a WONDERFUL city.
Located on a slope of the Andes, Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire and one of the most important cities in the Spanish colonial period. Declared a World Heritage Site, this city offers a mixture of two cultures by preserving the remains of Inca temples and constructions right next to numerous colonial buildings, streets and cobblestone squares.
These are some of the things you should see and do during your visit to Cusco:
- Plaza de Armas
- San Blas District
- Qorikancha and the Convent of Santo Domingo
- Loreto Street y the 12 angle stone
- San Pedro Market
- Tambomachay, Pukapukara, Qenqo and the Cristo Blanco
Located a little more than 100 kilometers from Cusco, Machu Picchu is considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
The great Inca citadel, built in the 15th century at an altitude of 2430 meters, had more than 500 inhabitants. It is considered a masterpiece of architecture and engineering, as well as a magical and mystical place.
Located 15 kilometers from Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is one of the most impressive architectural works of this civilization. Because the valley offered the perfect conditions for agriculture and the cultivation of its precious corn, urban centers like Pisac, Yucay, Chinchero and Ollantaytambo would be built here.
Rainbow MountainMountain of the Seven Colors, this mountain is located over 5000 meters high in the Andes and presents one of the most incredible geological phenomena on earth. The combination of the different minerals that it has, makes the mountain an explosion of colors that you will not find anywhere else.
The best time to see the tonalities clearly is in July and August, during the dry season.
Sailing through Lake Titicaca
Another strong point of Peru, and what you should not miss, is visiting Lake Titicaca, located on the border with Bolivia.
The Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and also the largest freshwater lake in South America. It is made up not only of the lake itself, but also of artificial islets and farming areas.
Although it is at a high altitude, it is not usually cold because the waters capture solar radiation during the day and emit it at night. So if you want to know the origin of the Inca culture and see the cultural richness of Latin America, you should think about visiting it.
Fall in love with Arequipa
If you ever ask a Peruvian about travel recommendations and what to visit, they will probably tell you that Arequipa should be on your list. Not for little, Arequipa is an extremely beautiful city. Not only for being surrounded by volcanoes, but because of its historical center, National Patrimony of the Nation by the UNESCO.
Among its greatest attractions are the Plaza de Armas of the city, its Cathedral and a little further away, the Colca Canyon, also known as “The Valley of Wonders”. An essential place to visit in Arequipa.
Relax in Paracas
Indeed, Peru has some very different and incredible places. But if you still haven’t noticed, another destination worth visiting is Paracas. A safe and peaceful destination. Here you will see couples lying on the beach while watching the sunset, families playing in the sand and older people enjoying the tranquility of the ocean.
If you visit Paracas you must make an excursion to the Ballestas Islands and another to the Paracas National Reserve, a coastal desert. In the Ballestas Islands you will be able to see the sighting of birds and mammals. In the Paracas National Reserve you will also see a great diversity of sea birds, sea lions and if you are lucky, dolphins.
Live the adventure in Nazca
The Nazca lines are universally known as one of the great mysteries of humanity. These imposing engravings, whose meaning is unknown, can only be contemplated completely from the air.
The geoglyphs have very curious shapes and designs like a hummingbird, a lizard, a monkey, a spider and even one with an owl’s head that looks like an astronaut. The lines extend for more than 500 km2 and some can reach more than 275 meters long.
The only disadvantage of Nazca is that it is a bit far from Lima so you’ll have to detour your route just to visit it, although it is totally worthwhile. If you are determined to see the lines, take advantage of the detour and visit some of the nearby areas, like the Cemetery of Cauchilla or the aqueduct.
If now that you know the best destinations to visit Peru, you are thinking about making the backpack and start the trip, we recommend you to do it during the months of July to September since they correspond to the dry season of the Andean mountain range, and you will enjoy more the way.
Besides enjoying the experience of traveling to a country as attractive and interesting as this one, our greatest recommendation is that you use common sense, respect the environment and culture, and that you return with many memories in your backpack.
And you, what do you most want to discover about Peru?