18 Amazing Reasons To Visit Peru

Written By: Sean Lau

If you have not visited Peru, chances are you might only know about Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Though Machu Picchu and the Incas are the most famous things about Peru, there are plenty of other reasons to visit Peru. 

As one of the biggest countries in South America, Peru’s landscape is diverse. In the east, you have the exotic Amazon Rainforest, that is home to indigenous tribes and unique wildlife. The Andean Mountains divide the country in half, beckoning the bravest hikers to approach them, and on the western Pacific Coast, pristine beaches and marine life dominate.

Why Visit Peru? Let’s Find Out

This Peru travel guide is broken into two parts, First are the amazing reasons listed by Living out Lau and then some travel tips and information added by ThePlanetD. Peru is such a huge country, that it takes several trips to really experience it all. So when you go to Peru, make sure to spend enough time traveling from its jungles to the deserts, and the mountains to the sea because in a nutshell, Peru has it all. Are you ready to explore Peru? Let’s go.

1. Discover Machu Picchu

reasons to visit peru machu picchu

Let’s address the elephant in the room the Machu Picchu archaeological site. Machu Picchu is the biggest tourist attraction in Peru, receiving more than 1 million visitors annually. Besides being one of the Seven Wonders of the World, it is a present-day UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As you might know already, Machu Picchu is a citadel built by the Incas in the 15th century. However, it was abandoned in the 16th century when the Spanish conquistadors came to Peru. No one knows exactly why Machu Picchu was abandoned, but many experts believe that the Inca residents of Machu Picchu went to aid in the war efforts against the Spaniards.

The Incas were eventually defeated and Machu Picchu was left abandoned. However, what makes Machu Picchu so unique when compared to the other Inca settlements is that Machu Picchu was never discovered by the Spaniards.

Perched over the Andes Mountain above the Urubamba River, Machu Picchu was practically invisible to anyone but the locals. Machu Picchu was discovered hundreds of years later exactly how it was left (minus the little bit of weathering), making it one of the most well-preserved Inca ruins on Earth.

2. Visit The Capital of the Inca

visit peru cusco the capital of the inca

As the ancient capital city of the Inca empire, Cusco is one of the best reasons to visit Peru. The historic centre of Cusco has kept most of its original Inca charm. Matter of fact, many of the original Inca buildings can still be seen in Cusco, offering visitors a glimpse of the impressive construction techniques used by the Incas. 

The most famous Inca landmark in Cusco is Qorichancha, which translates to the Golden Temple in Quechua, Inca’s native language. It was the religious center of the Incas where they could honor one of the famous important gods – Inti, the Inca sun god.

Two kilometers from the main square of the historic centre, visitors will also find the Sacsayhuaman Inca ruins, one of the fortresses of Cusco. This hilltop Inca Citadel Perched over a hill, this was one of the most impressive citadels built, especially considering how over a hundred tons of giant stone were moved without modern technology. The citadel offers panoramic views of Cusco and the stunning Andean peaks.

Just beware of the high altitude when visiting Cusco. Located at 3,400 meters high, it is an altitude that can easily cause altitude sickness. We recommend picking one of the hotels in Cusco with possible oxygen enrichment!

3. Indulge in some of the Best Food in The World

reasons to visit peru for the food

One of the best reasons to visit Peru is for its food, especially if you are a foodie. Because Peru has a huge variety of landscapes, it is able to source a wide range of fresh ingredients. Combined with hundreds of years of culinary refinement, Peru is home to some of the best dishes in the world.

Matter of fact, the capital city of Peru, Lima, is consistently voted as the gastronomic capital of Latin America. The city is also home to two of the top 50 restaurants in the world – Central and Maido.

Cusco is also one of the best places in the world to try indigenous Peruvian food. It is here that you will find cuy (guinea pig), a traditional delicacy that was once the main source of protein for the inhabitants of the villages in the Andean Mountains.

One of the best dishes to try in Peru is Peruvian ceviche (not to be confused with regular ceviche), the national dish of Peru. It is a dish made with raw fish marinated by powerful Peruvian limes. The limes are so strong that it kills all the bacteria from the fish, essentially “cooking” it. It is a dish that lets the flavors of the fresh ingredients shine. Simple yet powerful.

4. Explore one of the Tallest Waterfalls in the World

visit peru Gocta Waterfalls,

When you think of Peru, do soaring waterfalls come to your mind? I bet not. But did you know that Peru is home to many massive waterfalls such as the Gocta Waterfalls? 

The Gocta Waterfalls, or Catarata de Gocta in Spanish, is one of the world’s tallest waterfalls at 771-meters high. When it was first discovered, it was the 3rd highest waterfall in the world, but now it is somewhere between third and sixteenth, depending on how it is measured.

Situated in the Amazonas region in Northern Peru, the Gocta Waterfall is surrounded by both mountains and jungle, offering a unique and stunning landscape. 

The best part about the Gocta Waterfall is you can hike to many different parts of the waterfall. The most popular option is a 3-hour hike from Cocachimba to the bottom of the falls, where you can fully grasp the power of nature. Just make sure everything you take with you is waterproof or don’t be damaged when wet!

5. World Class Hiking

Things to do in Peru Hike Inca Trail
Town of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley

One of the best reasons to visit Peru is to experience the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is a historical 4-day trek that goes through some of the routes that the Inca civilization used to navigate through the Sacred Valley. 

The trail first takes you through snow-capped mountains of the Urubamba Range and ends in the deep cloud forest of Peru. Along the way, you can explore over 5 Inca ruins and learn about the history of the largest empire in Pre-Columbian America. 

On the last day, you enter Machu Picchu not through the entrance, but through the Sun Gate. It is historically the only place where people could enter Machu Picchu, and many visitors were rejected because of their lack of royalty.

Inca Trail is a cultural and historical experience that comes with an exhilarating hike and gorgeous mountainous views. Its uniqueness alone is worth visiting Peru! However, we do have to warn you that booking the Inca Trail 6+ months in advance is highly recommended. This is a world-famous attraction and its popularity cannot be underestimated.

During our first trip to Peru, we didn’t book in advance and couldn’t hike the Inca Trail, however, we booked several day tours throughout the Sacred Valley, including some long hikes in the Sacred Valley. It was a good second choice to the very popular trek to Machu Picchu.

6. Go Sandboarding in Huacachina

places to visit in peru huacachina

If you are a lover of snowboarding but don’t like the cold, then one of your reasons to visit Peru must be sandboarding in Huacachina. Huacachina is a small village located in the southwestern part of Peru. It is just 4 hours away from Lima. 

The village is the only natural oasis in South America, and the small lake’s contrast with the sand dunes only makes the landscape even more dramatic.

Huacachina is home to the biggest sand dunes in South America, making it perfect for sandboarding and riding dune buggies. Before visiting, decide if you want to sandboard standing up, sit, or lay on your stomach.  Just be careful with this one as the only way to brake is to use your own body as a brake.

7. Explore the Amazon Jungle

visit peruvian amazong

Most people come to Peru for Machu Picchu and its incredible alpine hikes, but did you know that Peru is nearly 60 percent Amazonian forest? Inside the Peruvian Amazon Forest are 3940 unique species and hundreds of indigenous tribes, some of which can be visited by tourists.

The most famous gateway to the Amazon Rainforest is Iquitos, a city in the northern part of Peru. With no roads connecting it, the only way to get to Iquitos is either by boat or a plane. Iquitos is situated next to the amazing Amazon River, and thus offers visitors easier access to the magic of the Amazon. 

Visitors can find tours that explore the various parts of the northern Peruvian Amazon Rainforest, such as meeting indigenous tribes, staying in one of the jungle lodges, and discovering the wildlife. 

8. Meet Cute Little Fluffy Alpacas 

meet peru's cute alpacas

Peru is home to over 70 percent of the world’s population of alpaca, a camelid mammal whose habitat is the Andes Mountains. Alpacas are sacred in Inca culture, as they believed that they were gifts from Pachamama (Mother Earth). 

Their fabric has been one of the most desirable fabrics in the history of mankind. Some historians even believe that alpaca fur was used as money for exchange.

Alpaca fabric is known to be very warm and lightweight, thanks to the extra hollow space in the fiber. It is also known to be soft and water-resistant, making it almost the ideal fabric for many different articles of clothing. In fact, one of the most popular souvenirs from Peru is alpaca-related products. In any of the shops, you will find alpaca sweaters, scarves, hoodies, ponchos, and more! We have a couple of hats that we love from our Peru trips.

9. Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain in Peru

When you visit Peru, getting a selfie with an alpaca is a must. You can see cute little alpacas in many of the attractions in Peru such as Rainbow Mountain and Colca Canyon. You can even find them with their owner on the cobblestone streets of Cusco, waiting to be approached and photographed (and tipped)!

Speaking of Rainbow Mountain this colorful mountain is another reason to put Peru at the top of your travel list. It’s become almost as busy as the Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, but you should not miss it. We have an entire article about how to trek and book a Rainbow Mountain trip – What To Expect When Hiking Rainbow Mountain Peru

But for people that like to explore new culinary flavors on their travels, the taste of alpaca meat will surprise you. Their meat is known to be lean and tender with a hint of sweetness, and many people compare it to high-quality beef. But like beef, different parts of the alpaca have different textures and tastes, so make sure you get a nice cut if you decide to try them.

10. Discover the Highest Navigable Lake in the World

places to visit in peru lake titicaca

One of the coolest features of Peru is Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake at 3,812 meters high. Though that might be its most recognizable feature, Lake Titicaca is believed to be the birthplace of the Inca civilization.

Nowadays, people don’t travel to Lake Titicaca to learn about the Incas, but the Uros people instead. Why? The Uros people have built over 100 floating islands on Lake Titicaca, using only native plants grown in the lake and nothing but their hands.  Talk about sustainability and impressive engineering!

Most of the Uros people have moved off the floating islands, but there are still plenty that reside on them. Typically, a big island can fit up to 10 families and a small one can fit about 2 to 3. They even have a school on one of the islands, how cool is that? 

If you wish to learn more about Lake Titicaca, the Uros people, and its cultural significance, taking a tour with a local guide is highly recommended. Luckily, there are plenty of tours that leave from the lakeside city of Puno!

11. Hike One of the Deepest Canyons in the World

visit peru colca canyon

Home to the Andes Mountains, there is no surprise that Peru is filled with wonderful hikes. But there is one hike that is quite special – the Colca Canyon hike. The deepest canyon in Peru, it is also the second deepest canyon in the world.

Colca Canyon is a river canyon situated in southern Peru, approximately 4.5 hours away from the popular city of Arequipa. For the local tribes that live there, the Colca Canyon is known as the natural habitat for condors, a symbol of Hanan Pacha, or heavenly world, in the Inca culture.

But for tourists, Colca Canyon is a hike to be conquered. The Colca Canyon is considered one of the deepest canyons in the world. In fact, it is twice the depth of the Grand Canyon in the United States, which is already pretty darn impressive.

For visitors that want to hike the Colca Canyon, you can go on a 2-day or 3-day circuit that starts at the top and goes to the bottom and back up. Both tours have a similar itinerary, one just has shorter days than the other.

But before you go, we highly recommend that you get acclimated to the altitude. You will need to hike at around 3,200 meters altitude for this trek.

12. Witness the Mystery of the Nazca Lines

Facts About the Nazca Lines in Peru

The Nazca Lines remain one of the world’s greatest mysteries. Researchers have been studying them for decades, but nobody has been able to explain what they are or why they were built. Why did the Nazca people make these famous geoglyphs? Located on a coastal plain 250 miles from Peru’s Capital in the Paracas National Reserve makes for an exciting day trip.

There are over 800 straight lines and 300 geometric patterns that stretch across the plain. Finally, there are over 70 depictions of plants and animals, some of which are over 1,200 feet long. Are they ancient religious artwork? A constellation chart to track the stars? Or a long-lost alien landing strip? You decide!

13. Visit The Amazing Ballestas Islands (Isla Ballestas)

Things to do in Peru penguins at isla ballestas

Okay, it’s not the best nickname for Isla Ballestas, but a visit to the Galapagos can be expensive and when in Peru, this makes for a great day trip. We visited these beautiful islands off the coast and saw penguins, sea lions, and hundreds of different bird species. Located near the town of Pisco, you can catch a boat out to the islands to see the marine life frolic around in their natural habitat.

14. Taste the Pisco Sour: An Iconic Peruvian Cocktail

best things to do in lima peru pisco sour

Your journey to Peru wouldn’t be complete without savoring the world-renowned Pisco Sour. This beloved cocktail is a delightful blend of Pisco, a grape-based brandy, mixed with fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and a frothy crown of egg white. It’s the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and spirit, and each sip is a toast to Peru’s mixological mastery. Pisco Sour is more than just a cocktail; it’s a cultural icon that reflects the country’s history and heritage. While Lima is the birthplace of this cocktail, you can enjoy it in bars and restaurants across Peru. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample variations like the Maracuya Sour (passion fruit) or the Chilcano, another popular Pisco-based drink.

15. Savor Peru’s Culinary Delights: A Gastronomic Paradise

Peruvian Food Ceviche

Peru has gained international acclaim as a culinary mecca, and for good reason. Its cuisine is a dazzling fusion of indigenous ingredients, Spanish influences, and contemporary innovation. From the bustling streets of Lima to the charming markets of Cusco, you’ll encounter a tantalizing array of flavors and dishes.

Must-try classics include ceviche, a zesty dish of fresh seafood “cooked” in citrus juices, and lomo saltado, a stir-fry that marries tender beef with Peruvian and Chinese seasonings. Adventurous eaters can explore the world of exotic Amazonian fruits, Andean potatoes, and the spicy kick of ají peppers. Be sure to visit a local picantería or restaurant to experience Peru’s culinary heritage at its finest.

16. Embark on An Adventure in Nature’s Playground

Peru’s diverse landscapes offer endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re trekking to the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, hiking through the colorful Rainbow Mountain, or exploring the otherworldly landscapes of the Colca Canyon, Peru is an adventure seeker’s paradise.

The country boasts some of the world’s most epic hiking routes, including the Inca Trail, which leads to the mystical Machu Picchu. If water is your element, venture into the Amazon Rainforest, where you can navigate the mighty Amazon River, encounter wildlife such as sloths and monkeys, and immerse yourself in indigenous culture. From the coast to the highlands and the jungle, Peru’s natural beauty will leave you awe-inspired.

17. Admire Exquisite Textiles: Threads of Tradition

Peru’s textile craftsmanship is a testament to the country’s rich cultural heritage. Peruvian artisans have been weaving intricate textiles for thousands of years, preserving traditions passed down through generations. You can witness this artistry firsthand by visiting local markets and workshops. Alpaca wool, vicuña, and llama fibers are transformed into vibrant textiles adorned with intricate patterns and vibrant colors. In Cusco’s San Pedro Market or the renowned Pisac Market in the Sacred Valley, you’ll have the chance to purchase beautiful textiles, from intricate blankets to warm and stylish sweaters. Each piece tells a story of tradition, culture, and craftsmanship.

Peru beckons travelers with its culinary treasures, adventurous landscapes, and cultural riches. It’s a country where every moment is a feast for the senses, from the first sip of a Pisco Sour to the breathtaking vistas of the Andes. Whether you’re an avid explorer, a food aficionado, or an art lover, Peru welcomes you with open arms, inviting you to embark on a journey of discovery and wonder in this South American paradise.

18. It’s a Great Destination for Backpackers

things to do in lima beer

Peru was one of the first places Dave and I ever went backpacking and we loved it! Traveling on a budget is quite feasible, with reasonably priced accommodations, affordable street food, and cost-effective transportation options. Backpackers can enjoy their adventure without breaking the bank.

Peru boasts a rich cultural heritage with a blend of indigenous and Spanish influences. Travelers can explore ancient archaeological sites like Machu Picchu, the historic city of Cusco, and colonial-era towns like Arequipa. The cultural diversity offers a wide range of experiences for backpackers.

Peru’s landscapes are incredibly diverse. From the majestic Andes Mountains to the Amazon Rainforest and the arid beauty of the Nazca Desert, backpackers can explore a variety of terrains and ecosystems. The country’s breathtaking.

Peruvians are known for their warmth and hospitality. Backpackers can engage with locals, learn about their culture, and even stay with them in rural homestays or community-based tourism projects. This cultural exchange enhances the travel experience.

When to Visit Peru

Facts About Peru Traditional Peruvian Poncho

Peru is located on the West Coast of South America spanning from the Pacific Ocean through the Andes Mountains to the Amazon basin. It is bordered by Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile giving Peru a very vast landscape and climate range.

Usually, the best time to visit Peru is during the months of May to September as it is a good time for all areas.

  • Peru’s summer is from December to March. This is the warmest time to visit, but it is also the rainy season.
  • The high season for visiting Peru is during its winter months May – September. This is when it is warmest and it is the dry season.
  • The best time for the weather to visit Machu Picchu is from April to November. But it is crowded and you will need to book well in advance.
  • The Amazon Rainforest is hot and humid. From May to September it is very humid with temperatures above 30 degrees. It is very rainy from Oct to April.
  • The desert in Huacachina is dry and hot and can be visited any time of the year as it doesn’t change much.
  • The Andes can get very cold and the coast can see varying temperatures and climates.
  • From December to March it is rainy and colder but you can still trek it if you want to experience fewer crowds.

How to Get Around Peru

Peru has 5 international airports, but you will most likely be flying into Peru’s capital city of Lima from North America or Europe. When traveling in Peru, we got around by bus, train, and plane. We personally found each one of them to suit specific needs but the plane was our transportation of choice.

By air: Domestic flights are becoming more reasonable and it is much safer and faster to fly from Lima to Cusco or the Amazon Rainforest than taking a bus through the Andes. There are regular flights from the Lima Airport to hubs and major cities around the country.

When searching for domestic air travel look for the mainstays of Peruvian airlines such as Taca, LAN Peru, and Peruvian Airlines.

By Bus – bus travel in Peru has a reputation of being unsafe and recent crashes have added to that stigma. There are good bus company options with luxury buses that are quite comfortable. Just make sure to use a reputable bus company. Two good choices for bus travel in Peru is Cruz del Sur and Peru Hop. The bus is the most economical way to travel domestically in Peru, but it can be dicy.

When taking public transportation keep an eye on your valuables as petty crime is common at bus and train stations. I wouldn’t book overnight buses as criminal activity increases at night. We booked our buses on well travelled routes during daylight hours.

By Train: We only took the train to Aguas Calientes to visit Machu Picchu and if you are not hiking the Inca Trail, this is a great way to get to Machu Picchu. Train travel isn’t a popular form of transportation in Peru as trains need to go through the high Andes Mountains but there are a few lines that you can take if you want the experience.

Safety in Peru

Peru has reopened to international travel. Check your government website for travel advisories and warnings. There have been reports of violent crime and petty theft around the country. There are some strict regional warnings. Things are constantly changing around the world, so we recommend doing your research before traveling to remote areas and certain districts. Travel warnings for Peru can be found on the Canadian government website.

And these are some reasons to make your way to Peru in 2022. We hope this travel guide inspired you to get out and see the world, and we have many more Peru travel guides in the links below to help you plan your trip.

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use Booking.com and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About Sean Lau

Hey, I am Sean Lau of LivingOutLau and The Turkey Traveler. I left the comfort of my home in NYC to find out what truly inspired me. Since then, I’ve trekked through the Andes, encountered the world’s deadliest spider in the Amazon Rainforest, explored the world’s most catastrophic nuclear disaster, and more. On LivingOutLau, you will find personal information, guides, and travel tips as I share my discoveries of the world. This is me Living Out Loud(Lau). Follow Sean on Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram

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1 thought on “18 Amazing Reasons To Visit Peru”

  1. mytop 5 reasons to visit Peru:

    Machu Picchu: One of the most popular attractions in Peru is the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-visit for history and culture lovers and offers breathtaking views of the Andes mountains.

    Rich cultural heritage: Peru is home to a vibrant and diverse culture with a mix of indigenous, European, and African influences. Visitors can explore numerous archaeological sites, museums, and festivals to learn about the country’s fascinating history and culture.

    Stunning natural beauty: Peru is blessed with some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world, from the Amazon rainforest to the high Andes mountains. Visitors can explore the stunning Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca, the Nazca Lines, and the Paracas National Reserve.

    Delicious cuisine: Peruvian cuisine is considered one of the best in the world, thanks to its unique blend of indigenous and Spanish flavors. Some of the most popular dishes include ceviche, lomo saltado, and ají de gallina.

    Warm and friendly people: The Peruvian people are known for their warmth and friendliness, making visitors feel welcome and at home. Their hospitality and willingness to share their culture and traditions with visitors are one of the main reasons why travelers keep coming back to Peru.