Home to one of the seven wonders of the world, Peru sits at the top of many travelers' bucket lists. Cities, jungles, and beaches are scattered all throughout this culturally diverse and historically rich country. Budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in-between can relish all that Peru has to offer.
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Known for being one of the most significant archaeological sites in the world, this ancient settlement draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from across the globe. This incredible complex of palaces, temples, and homes demonstrates the power and influence of the Inca Empire at its peak. Built for unknown reasons, Machu Picchu appears to have been at the center of the Incan civilization. Since the Incas had no written language, scholars and archaeologists are still trying to piece together the enigmatic history of this enchanting place. Visitors can see Machu Picchu alone or as part of a multi-day trek with a tour company. It is easily reachable from Cusco, the closest major city.
2.Manú National Reserve
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Measuring in at an incredible 3.7 million acres, Manu National Park is unique because of its location. In the lowlands of the park, visitors can see tropical rainforests that house close to 1,000 different types of birds. Giant armadillos, giant otters, and jaguars also seek refuge near the rainforest. At higher elevations within the park, visitors can see the Puna grasslands and mountain cloud forests. The Manu River, fed by tributaries flowing out of the mountains, snakes its way through the reserve. Outside of plant and animal life, Manu National Reserve also houses various indigenous populations. Some of these groups maintain relationships with the outside world, while others choose to remain isolated.
Manu National Park,17700, Peru
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The Cusco Cathedral is the grandest feature of Plaza de Armas, Cusco's main colonial square. Construction on the stunning church began in 1560 and ended 100 years later. In 1983, the cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The key features of the building include three ornate wooden doors, an eye-catching network of ribbed arch and star-shaped ceiling beams and 14-sided chapels that house paintings, artwork, and statues of saints. Visitors enjoy seeing the Sala de la Plateria (the Silver Room), which is a small side chapel that holds a rich collection of silver artifacts. The crypts, which hold the ashes of Cusco's former archbishops, are also a popular attraction.
4.Iquitos - Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve
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Home to more than one third of all the species found in the Amazon Rainforest, Pacaya-Samiria National Preserve is an excellent place for wildlife enthusiasts to watch animals in their natural habitat. Large mammals, birds, and fish are among the many unique creatures that live at Pacaya-Samiria. Puma, jaguar, deer, spider monkeys, and snakes can be found throughout the preserve, and in the streams and rivers that flow throughout the area, visitors can spot more than 250 different kinds of fish. One of the most famous creatures at the preserve is the pink river dolphin, an endangered animal known locally as the boto. Visitors can also get a glimpse of more than 1,000 plant species at Pacaya-Samiria.
5.Monastery of San Francisco
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Taking a tour of the Monastery of San Francisco is often considered a must do for travelers in Lima. This ornate building showcases the crucial role played by the Catholic Church throughout Peru's history and gives visitors a glimpse into the country's past. Points of interest at the monastery include the library, which holds more than 25,000 books, the beautifully designed Zurbaran Hall, the large collection of religious paintings that adorn the monastery's walls, and the secluded courtyard that surrounds the stone building. Visitors especially enjoy seeing the catacombs, which hold the bones of more than 30,000 people.
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As another one of Peru's archaeological mysteries, the Incan ruins at Moray attract tourists from all around the world. The site features a bowl-like crater rimmed with wide stone terraces. Many scientists believe that the site was used as a primitive agricultural research facility: studies have shown that the temperature differences among the terraces are great enough to create microclimates, which are similar to modern day greenhouses. Even with this compelling evidence, Moray's exact purpose is unclear. Today, visitors can enjoy the remains of this well-preserved site as part of a self-guided tour.
7.Things to Do in Peru: Museo de la Nacion
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The Museo de la Nacion (Museum of the Nation) holds a vast collection of artifacts from the Nasca, Wari, and Moche people. Ancient jewelry, Peruvian folk art, and ceramics that span the entire human history of Peru are among the unique artifacts found throughout the facility. Museo de la Nacion is also the largest museum in Lima, followed by the Peruvian National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology, and History. As of 2017, most of the museum has been closed for renovations, but some upper level exhibits are still open to the public.
Av. Javier Prado Este 2465. San Borja, Lima, Phone: +511-476-9933
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Known for being one of the most popular areas in Peru, the Sacred Valley is the cradle of the ancient Incan civilization. As the spiritual, agricultural, and political center for the ancient Incas, the Sacred Valley contains some of Peru's most iconic sites, including the Pisac and Ollantaytambo ruins. The Sacred Valley is easy to reach from Cusco as well as Aguas Calientes, the town closest to Machu Picchu. Visitors can easily explore the area on their own, or they can join one of the many guided tours that leave from Cusco and the surrounding towns.
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Celebrated as some of the best ruins in Peru, Sacsayhuamán sits on the outskirts of Cusco. Only a quarter of the original ruins are still standing, but scientists estimate that the original complex could have held thousands of people. Walls built of tightly spaced boulders are spread throughout the area, and grass-covered paths wind through the crumbling ramparts of the ancient complex. The Spaniards looted the sacred site in the 1500s, so only the largest stones of the original buildings are standing today. Although Sacsayhuamán has traditionally been classified as a fortress, scientists are beginning to wonder if the site was actually a temple devoted to the sun.
10.Santa Catalina Monastery
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The Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa is an excellent example of Peru's religious architecture. Founded in 1597, the monastery is still a fully functioning convent to this day. At its peak, the complex held around 150 nuns and 300 servants. Santa Catalina was damaged by two powerful earthquakes in the 1960s, but the building was quickly repaired with donations from locals and outsiders. Made completely of sillar, the unique volcanic rock found in most of Arequipa's buildings, the Santa Catalina Monastery makes for a great stop during a city tour. Visitors can see the convent as part of a self-guided tour or with help from a trained guide.
Santa Catalina 301, Arequipa, Peru, Phone: +51-54-60-82-82
11.Tambopata National Park
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Located in the Puno and Madre de Dios regions of Peru, Tambopata National Park was established as a national reserve in 1990. This natural gem is home to thousands of types of bird species, butterflies, plants, fish, reptiles, and mammals. Tambopata also contains signs of human settlement that date back thousands of years. Direct descendants of the Esa, Eja, and Puquirieri people still live in and around this rainforest. Easy accessible from Puerto Maldonado, Tambopata National Park is a great place for experiencing Peru's eco-biodiversity. For activities, guests can visit Tres Chimbadas Lake, enjoy a jungle trek, or explore the Brazil Nut Trail.
12.Things to Do in Peru: Torre Tagle Palace
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The Torre Tagle Palace is known as one of the most impressive buildings in South America. Built in 1739 by Jose B. Tagle, the mansion embodies the classic grandeur that is often found in 18th century architecture. Tagle was the Marquis of Torre Tagle and the treasurer of the royal Spanish fleet. The most magnificent features of the Torre Tagle Palace include its intricately carved wooden balconies, the main hall filled with original artwork and sculptures, and its iconic Colonial architecture. Visitors can see the interior of Torre Tagle Palace as part of a guided tour.
Jr. Ucayali 363, Lima, Peru
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Known for being the top-rated Inca Trail tour operator in Peru, Alpaca Expeditions offers all kinds of treks, tours, and multi-day trip packages throughout Peru. The Inca Trail trek is by far the most popular, and Alpaca Expeditions has designed a handful of unique treks based on this experience. Travelers can conquer the Inca Trail in as little as two days or as long as a week. Camping, staying in a hotel, going as part of a large group, or having a private tour with a skilled porter are some of the tour options for the Inca Trail trip. Outside of the Inca Trail, Alpaca Expeditions offers treks to Salkantay, Machu Picchu, Lares, Ausangate, and more.
Heladeros Street 157, Office 24 - 25, 2nd floor, Phone: +51-84-25-42-78
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Amazonas Explorers is another popular tour operator that offers adventure holidays across Peru. One of its most popular trips is the multi-day Machu Picchu trek, but Amazonas has created some other high-adrenalin itineraries for travelers of all ages. The company's multi-activity holidays include whitewater rafting, cycling, hiking, and trekking. Additional activities include stand-up paddleboarding, sailing, and downhill biking. Travelers can hand craft an itinerary based on the most exciting and interesting attractions in and around Cusco, and Amazonas also leads trips throughout the year to Lima, Arequipa, Puno, and the Amazon Rainforest.
Avenida Collasuyo 910, Miravalle, Cusco, Phone: +51-9-58-72-99-04
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Based in Cusco, Apumayo Tours is known for its high-energy outdoor adventure trips. The company runs a traditional Machu Picchu trek with a twist: travelers get to enjoy a zip line over the picturesque valley near Hidroelectrica, the starting point for many Machu Picchu trips. Apumayo's other adventure packages include mountain biking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and meaningful volunteer experiences in remote places. For destination trips, Apumayo leads tours to Colca Canyon, Paracas, Lake Titicaca, Iquitos, Trujillo, and more. Lastly, Apumayo organizes luxury tours, multi-day activity trips, culinary tours, and trips that are adapted for people with special needs.
Jr. Ricardo Palma Ñ-11 Urb. Santa Monica Wanchaq - Cusco – Peru, Phone: +5-19-84-76-63-34
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As one of the leading names in South American tourism, Condor Travel runs exciting tours in six countries. Its Peru adventures include a classic Machu Picchu trek, an Amazon Rainforest adventure, an in-depth city tour of Lima, and an exhilarating trek along the historic Inca Trail. With trips along the coast, in the highlands, in the jungle, and in the city, Condor has options that appeal to all kinds of travelers. The company also has special interest tours centered on Peruvian food, culture, and history. Condor's trips range from four-day jaunts across Cusco and Machu Picchu to 12-day journeys all throughout Peru.
Calle Armando Blondet 249, San Isidro 15047, Phone: +51-16-15-30-00
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17.Mountain Lodges of Peru
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Mountain Lodges of Peru offer unique travel opportunities for discerning and active international travelers with a commitment to environmental sustainability and social ethos. The company, which has been in operation for more than a decade, oversees two lodges in Peru, including the four-star El Mercado boutique hotel and the charming El Retablo bed and breakfast, which showcases artworks created by students at the Cusco School of Fine Arts. Adventures throughout Machu Picchu include Salkantay treks and trips to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, exploring unique landscapes with beautiful panoramic vistas and immersing participants in regional culture. Three and seven-day trips are available, with opportunities to expand vacations with side trips to the Andean highlands and the Amazonian rainforest. Phone: 877-491-5261, mountainlodgesofperu.com
18.Food Walking Tour Peru
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Travelers who are in search of a memorable culinary experience can fulfill that wish with Food Walking Tour Peru, a Lima-based travel agency that specializes in Peruvian food tours. The company offers several unique tours in Miraflores, downtown Lima, and the Barranco District. Each food tour costs $35 and includes stops at 7 to 12 authentic and delicious eateries. The tours include full meals with drinks, desserts, appetizers, and more. In between meals, travelers can enjoy interesting stories about the unique neighborhoods throughout Peru's capital city. The tours are kept small—groups are less than 10 people—to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable experience.
Av. Larco 812, stand 104, Miraflores, Lima – Perú, Phone: +4-91-76-57-92-90-75
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19.Free Tour Downtown Arequipa
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Designed with the budget traveler in mind, Free Tour Downtown Arequipa gives tourists insight into Arequipa's unique history. Located in the shadow of Misti Volcano, Arequipa is known for its special architecture. Its baroque-era buildings were all made from sillar, a white volcanic stone carved from the nearby mountains. Main attractions in the city include the Santa Catalina Monastery, Casa del Moral, and the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa. During the free tour, travelers visit an authentic Peruvian market for a taste of some local cuisine, and English-speaking guides point out the highlights of downtown Arequipa along with interesting facts about its rich history.
Santa Catalina 204, Arequipa, Peru
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20.Lima City Tours
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Lima City Tours is a local company that organizes themed tours around Peru's bustling capital and in other parts of the country. In Lima, visitors can join walking tours, museum tours, pub crawls, night walks, and cooking classes. Led by English and Spanish-speaking guides, travelers can learn all about Peru's unique history and its exciting culture. Outside of Lima, the company runs tours to see some of Peru's premiere tourist attractions, including the Nazca Lines, Miraflores/Barranco, Ballesta Island, Huacachina, and Caral. Tours are offered on an individual basis, but group packages are available for crowds of eight or more people. Phone: +5-19-56-24-00-19
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21.Marcelo Batata Culinary Experiences
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Made with food lovers in mind, Marcelo Batata Culinary Experiences runs cooking classes and culinary tours throughout Peru. With a focus on cultural immersion and personalized experiences, Marcelo Batata's culinary adventures suit people with all different kinds of tastes. The company runs one-on-one cooking classes, group cooking classes, Pisco sour tastings, and wine tastings on a regular basis. The classes take place at El Mercado, an interpretive center made specifically for culinary students. Marcelo Batata's chefs, who double at times as teachers, have more than 30 years of experience in Peru's top restaurants.
22.Pacifico Adventures Ecotourism
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Pacifico Adventures is a tour operator that focuses on marine adventures. Situated on Peru's west coast, the company leads a variety of activities, including a marine coastal tour, whale watching tours, pelagic bird watching tours, snorkeling, and sunset boat rides. Pacifico also runs an offshore fishing tour on Peru's northern coast, where 1,500+ pound fish are known to roam the seas. The company provides all of the gear needed for its marine tours and owns several comfortable and modern boats. Marine biologists, ecotourism professionals, and trained captains are all part of the Pacifico Adventures team. Phone: 073-257-686
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23.SkyKitchen Peruvian Cooking Class
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For visitors who want to get a taste of authentic Peruvian cuisine, SkyKitchen offers cooking classes for people of all skill levels. The company holds basic classes in standard Peruvian cooking, classic Peruvian cooking, Andean cuisine, and seafood cooking. For travelers who would rather eat than cook, there is a fruit tasting class and a local market tour. SkyKitchen's courses range from $70 to $103 per person, and they are all-inclusive. Travelers can also design a custom cooking class of three or four-course meals that include handpicked ingredients.
Enrique Palacios 470, Door No. 701/709, Miraflores, Lima 18
24.The Lima Gourmet Company
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Rated as the top food tour company in Lima for five years in a row, the Lima Gourmet Company runs several interesting and delicious tours. The company's Day Tour offers stops at several high-end restaurants and includes the chance to make pisco sour and cebiche, two of Peru's most iconic dishes. The Evening Tour combines a scrumptious meal with some of the best nighttime views that Lima has to offer. The Lima Gourmet Company also runs a one-hour Cebiche+Pisco class for travelers who want to learn cooking secrets from some of Peru's best chefs. The tours range in price from $40-$135 per person.
Barranco, Colina 107, Lima, Peru, Phone: +5-11-4-15-81-59
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25.Titicaca For You
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Titicaca for You is a travel agency that offers all kinds of unique experiences for travelers. Its main focus is tours of Lake Titicaca, one of Peru's most famous bodies of water. Visitors can choose from a half or full-day option, or they can opt for a homestay on Uros Island. For travelers who want an authentic overnight experience, Titicaca for You offers several other homestays in Puno, Taquile, and Amantani. Cultural tours to Arequipa, Lampa, and Cusco are also available through Titicaca for You. Lastly, the company sells bus tickets to popular destinations throughout Peru.
Lima Street 325, Puno, Phone: 0-51-35-15-56
25 Best Things to Do in Peru
- Machu Picchu, Photo: Courtesy of flares38 - Fotolia.com
- Manú National Reserve, Photo: Courtesy of klublu - Fotolia.com
- Cusco Cathedral, Photo: Courtesy of pcalapre - Fotolia.com
- Iquitos - Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve, Photo: Courtesy of christian vinces - Fotolia.com
- Monastery of San Francisco, Photo: Courtesy of javarman - Fotolia.com
- Moray, Photo: Courtesy of alexpermyakov - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Peru: Museo de la Nacion, Photo: Courtesy of Alexander - Fotolia.com
- Sacred Valley, Photo: Courtesy of LuciaCG - Fotolia.com
- Sacsayhuaman, Photo: Courtesy of Bluchiavari - Fotolia.com
- Santa Catalina Monastery, Photo: Courtesy of jkraft5 - Fotolia.com
- Tambopata National Park, Photo: Courtesy of EugeneF - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Peru: Torre Tagle Palace, Photo: Courtesy of terex - Fotolia.com
- Alpaca Expeditions, Photo: Courtesy of studiolaska - Fotolia.com
- Amazonas Explorers, Photo: Courtesy of rest77 - Fotolia.com
- Apumayo Tours, Photo: Courtesy of Alexey Stiop - Fotolia.com
- Condor Travel, Photo: Courtesy of klublu - Fotolia.com
- Mountain Lodges of Peru, Photo: Courtesy of maylat - Fotolia.com
- Food Walking Tour Peru, Photo: Courtesy of ruidoblanco - Fotolia.com
- Free Tour Downtown Arequipa, Photo: Courtesy of Pakhnyushchyy - Fotolia.com
- Lima City Tours, Photo: Courtesy of Aliaksei - Fotolia.com
- Marcelo Batata Culinary Experiences, Photo: Courtesy of Ildi - Fotolia.com
- Pacifico Adventures Ecotourism, Photo: Courtesy of donyanedomam - Fotolia.com
- SkyKitchen Peruvian Cooking Class, Photo: Courtesy of vladislav333222 - Fotolia.com
- The Lima Gourmet Company, Photo: Courtesy of Ildi - Fotolia.com
- Titicaca For You, Photo: Courtesy of jkraft5 - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of jkraft5 - Fotolia.com
Eco Ice Peru
Located in Huaraz, Eco Ice Peru leads individual and group tours all across Huaraz and Cusco. With a focus on natural attractions, Eco Ice organizes hiking, rock climbing, mountaineering, and trekking expeditions. Its mountaineering trips are unique among tour operators in Peru. Travelers can choose to join 3 to 7-day trips in some of the most remote parts of the country with experienced guides leading the way across difficult and varied terrain. Eco Ice offers mountaineering trips for beginners as well as trips geared toward experienced mountain explorers. All of the multi-day tours include meals, snacks, private transport, porters, and basic camping gear.
Jiron Amadeo Figueroa #1185 Huaraz, Peru