Perhaps you have heard how Peru is one of the most diverse countries in the world and how you could immerse yourself for days in the Amazon Rainforest or in the profound Andes mountains – two of the most stunning regions in Peru – but there are so many things to see, and places to visit that we wouldn’t be able to share all of them with you in one post.
After years of working with travellers wishing to visit all the must see places in Peru and others preferring more authentic experiences (even if this meant sacrificing some of the most well-known sites in the country), we understand how overwhelming it can be organise the best possible itinerary. So, if you are also wondering what you should not miss and what are the best things to see in Peru, this top 10 list should prove a very helpful guide for you. We will go through all the best experiences you can find, while discovering the soul of our country.
#1 Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas
It might not surprise you to see the mystical Machu Picchu leading this list; and although it is the most recognized tourist destination in Peru, this is not the only reason why you should visit it. Machu Picchu was discovered a little bit more than one hundred years ago, and it is now the most well-preserved Inca site in all the country. Even when the Spanish colonized Peru, they never managed to reach this ancient city, which could be because of its inconceivable location at the top of the cloud forest mountains. The unprecedented views, the sensation of mysticism and its historical resistance to a colonial power, all contribute to Machu Picchu’s unique legacy.
If you would like to know more, don’t forget to visit our blog on All you need to know about Macchu Picchu.
#2 Sunrise at Lake Titicaca
The view of Lake Titicaca is unquestionably amazing, and it is itself a natural marvel. This landscape is very particular when compared to other regions of the country. Once there, besides being able to navigate the highest navigable lake in the world, you could visit some of the islands such as Amantani, Taquile, Uros or Luquina Peninsula. There you can spend some time with the host communities and learn more about their culture; moreover, if you want to witness one of the most beautiful sunrises, then our recommendation is a night on one of the islands. The only challenge is to wake up very early in the morning and take a short hike to reach the best spot for this natural spectacle. The advantage is that just a few travellers decide to do this!
If you would like to see how a trip such as this would look like, take a quick look at our Authentic Peru Experience itinerary
#3 Andean Condor Flying at Colca Canyon
The Andean Condor is the largest flying bird in the world, and the Colca Canyon one of the deepest canyons in the world… Can you imagine the experience you could have when combining these two natural wonders? Let me try to describe it a little bit.
The journey to the Condor’s Cross viewpoint is an experience itself, the landscapes are just beautiful, and it’s very likely you will arrive early in the morning so the weather is usually very pleasant. Once there, you might see many people, and even though this can spoil the peaceful atmosphere, when the Andean Condor wakes up and opens its wings to fly along the canyon, you will forget about everyone else and just appreciate this natural spectacle. If lucky, you spot many of them flying all over the sky.
#4 Sunset in Tambopata National Reserve
The Amazon Rainforest covers about 70% of Peru’s territory. We know that spotting and observing wildlife is the most common and exciting activity for visitors, so you will enjoy this experience. However, we also believe that traveling to the Rainforest is quite magical not only for the fauna, but because of the fascinating sceneries, and at the top of our list when visiting the Tambopata National Reserve is the sunset. Seeing how the sun descends slowly and hides between the immense river and the forest, while painting the sky of a wide range of red-orange colours, is a breathtaking sight.
#5 Salt ponds in Maras
Next on our list, we go to the Sacred Valley to recommend visiting the Salt ponds in Maras. There are many reasons why you should explore these! The landscape and the views are astonishing and unique in the country. Imagine more than three thousand salt ponds covering the slopes of a hill!
Also, this is the area where locals have been collecting the salt since before Inca times, using the same procedures, which were handed down through generations. Once there, you can also have the chance to contribute to the local economy buying their products. Make sure you go back home with these, because we have had travellers asking to send more maras salt packages once they ran out
So, are you ready to include the salt ponds in Maras in your trip?
#6 Sea lions in Paracas National Reserve
Peru’s fauna and flora are impressive and diverse. After recommending some Andean and Amazon jewels, we will continue to the south coast. Paracas is one of the most important areas in our national marine ecosystem. It is located 3-hours drive from Lima, and you could visit it in one day. From Paracas pier we must take a motorboat excursion to Ballestas Islands, where you will have the chance to see hundreds of sea lions frolicking between the rocks You will also see different kinds of sea birds and Humboldt penguins. Without exaggeration, this area is very diverse so bring a good camera!
We always recommend taking two days to visit Paracas, so you can spend one night in the surrounding areas next to the beach.
#7 Nazca Lines
Another must do in Peru is visiting the Nazca Lines, especially flying over them. These geoglyphs are recognized world-wide not only for being declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, but also for being a yet unresolved mystery. Nazca Lines measure up to 300 meters in length, and they were traced onto the surface of the Palpa and Nazca desert. The reason why they are still a mystery is because their messages remain undeciphered. Even though you could spot some of the lines from the Maria Reiche tower, the best way to do it is flying over them. In case you do not have enough time to drive to Nazca, you could fly from Pisco or Ica (only 3 to 4 hours drive from Lima). From the air, Nazca Lines look even more surreal!
#8 Pink dolphin in Iquitos
As already mentioned above the Amazon covers 70% of our territory, so it would be impossible to have only one Amazon hotspot on our list. Iquitos, located in the North of Peru, is the biggest region, and home to the imposing Amazon River. You have probably heard about, pink dolphins of Peru; this is where you’ll find them.
We need to take a boat ride along the river to see this river dolphin, classified as vulnerable. Its skin color changes depending on its age, young calf is dark gray but as it gets older, it turns pink. Scientists say this is because their skin goes thinner so the rose pigment comes from their blood vessels becomes more visible . When they are excited, they become pinker, the same as when we blush!
#9 Waterfalls in Huancaya
When most people talk about the Andes, they think about Cusco or Arequipa, which are the most famous, but let us tell you more about Huancaya, in the Andes of Lima. This secret spot is home to the Papacocha waterfalls and their turquoise waters, and there are not many scenes like this one. To reach this place you will need to do a gentle hike, and the special attraction of Huancaya is getting the chance to bump into locals working in their fields.
If you one of the best off-the-beaten-path destinations in Peru, this should be in your list.
#10 Architecture in Lima
It’s very likely that most people coming to our country arrive in Lima. The capital of Peru possesses beautiful examples of different architectural styles around the city, especially in the historical centre of Lima! Fortunately, there are many buildings that have remained unspoilt or have been recently refurbished, so now we are able to picture what Lima of the 16th century looked like. However, many of the most astonishing buildings also are from the beginning of the 20th century. Just like in other places in Peru, we can see many constructions of the old civilizations that used to live there.
Observe the architecture in Lima while walking along its streets, it is like traveling through time!