Peru is the best place to find out whether traveling brings wisdom and enlightenment, said the famous chef Anthony Bourdain. It is, indeed, a complex and exquisite country, brimming with the remnants of lost civilizations, splendid nature, and urban life. It is a perfect destination for adventure-seekers as well as foodies. Not to mention, the rich cultural heritage is a treasure to explore.
But with so much diversity and vibrancy, it would take a lifetime to truly get to know Peru. Here are our top recommendations to help you get the most out of your time in this amazing country.
Explore Machu Picchu
Of course, Machu Picchu is a must-see when visiting Peru. This landmark sees over 1.5 million visitors per year, and there’s a good reason for that.
There are several ways to get to this heritage site. You can take a train or a bus, but if you have the time, it’s definitely best to take the same path the ancient Inca used over 500 years ago – The Inca Trail. Keep in mind, however, that the hike takes two to four days. It can be filled with fantastic activities, and it guides you through some scenic routes.
Eat, Drink, and Have Fun in Lima
The capital of Peru often gets overlooked by visitors or used just as an overnight stay on the way to Cusco. However, Lima has a very rich history and culture. It’s no wonder that the Historic Centre of Lima is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you want to give your trip a bit of a twist, you should definitely try a food tour. Dishes like lomo saltado, ceviche, causa, and picarones are a must-try. Also, Lima has a very interesting craft beer production if you get thirsty along the way.
Visit the Imperial City of the Incas
The entire city of Cusco is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located 3,400 meters above sea level, it truly is a city that takes your breath away. Most Cusco landmarks are only a 15-20 minute walk from anywhere in the city center, so it’s best to explore them on foot. Some places to put on your Cusco list are Mirador de Plaza Sán Cristobal, Sacsayhuamán citadel, Koricancha Temple, and Templo de la Sagrada Familia.
Get to Know the People
Peru is a multiethnic country, rich in various cultures. The people are very nice and friendly to strangers. They are so polite that there is a topic on Trip Advisors called “Peruvian people the nicest in the world?” Most people love to chat with tourists and, if you know Spanish or they know English, they will gladly explain things about their culture or city. It would also be great to learn some Peruvian slang, which will definitely help you connect with the locals. This is especially important if you decide to go to remote communities to see the “old ways” of life.
Be Amazed by The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca
The floating reed islands are home to the indigenous people of Uros. So, besides the amazing sights, you will also get insight into the lives of these people whose culture predates Incan civilization. There are about 100 man-made islands, and each of them houses two to ten families. Also, Lake Titicaca is a beautiful sight to see and the highest navigable lake in the world.
Welcome to the Jungle
More than half of Peru is covered by the Amazon Rainforest, and the parts that are available to tourists offer an amazing adventure. You can choose between a boat tour (there is a night tour as well), staying in an isolated lodge, or simply walking a few hours to explore the diverse ecosystem.
Get to Know the Less Famous Cousins of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu has picked up most of the glory, but other sites deserve attention too. The Lost City of Choquequirao is surely one of them. Being one of the most jaw-dropping sites in the country, Choquequirao is situated on the junction of three rivers, with thick jungle pressing on each side. Also, the ruins of Kuélap predate those of Machu Picchu by around 1,000 years. They belonged to the Chachapoya people.
Bring Back Authentic Souvenirs
The shopping experience in Peru is splendid. It’s not just about what you will buy, but about the atmosphere of choosing, negotiating the price, and getting to know people while you’re shopping.
For the most authentic shopping experience, visit a traditional market in the Sacred Valley town of Pisac. This is where locals come once a week with their Inca-inspired pottery, colorful handwoven textiles, hats, and much more. Another interesting place to spend your money is the colonial city of Ayacucho. This is the capital of craft, where everything can be bought directly from the artisans.
This is just a tiny part of what Peru has to offer. But, if you’re short on time, it’s a great checklist to stick to. Immerse yourself in the experience and enjoy this beautiful country!
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