Peru is mainly known for Machu Picchu and llamas. However, the land of the Incas is much more than “just” that.
In fact, there’s a reason why Peru is called a mega-diverse country (it’s home to mountains, jungle, desert and the ocean).
You better make sure you prepare your senses for an incomparable adventure and enjoy the magical Machu Picchu ruins, the postcard-like Rainbow Mountains and an unforgettable culinary experience in some of the best restaurants of the continent.
Without further ado, let’s look at the top 18 things to do in Peru, this special country with its unique geographic location.
1. Discover the Magical Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is one of the Seven New Wonders of the World and number one on the list of things to do in Cusco and Peru for any traveler. The lost city was built with bare hands around 1450 and amazes with its impressive history.
You can climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, one of the two additional mountains, to enjoy the ruins from a different angle.
2. Explore the Amazon Jungle
Without a doubt, exploring the Peruvian rainforest is something unique. Rarely before will you have visited a place that is so quiet and where you will feel so free in nature.
The most popular spots in Peru’s jungle are Iquitos, Puerto Maldonado and Manu National Park (read more in our Amazon travel guide). Get ready for traditional jungle food, unparalleled flora and fauna, and interesting indigenous tribes.
3. Visit Rainbow Mountain
Once you have decided on a trip to Peru, we recommend a visit to one of the two Rainbow Mountains (Vinicunca or Palccoyo).
The Vinicunca tour takes you to a huge rainbow mountain, which tends to get very crowded, and the red valley. Palccoyo, on the other hand, is famous for its three rainbow mountains, few tourists and also great views.
4. Try Ceviche
Ceviche is the national dish of Peru and definitely part of the Peruvian food you must try when you’re here.
We recommend that you try this fish dish in a coastal city in Peru, such as Lima or Paracas, as that’s where you’ll get the freshest fish.
5. Enjoy Lima’s Coastal Views
In addition to the numerous culinary experiences, the city scores above all with a unique view over the entire coast.
Lima is therefore ideal for exploring the numerous parks along the coastal road of the Malecón walking or by bike.
6. Sandboard Huacachina’s Dunes
In Huacachina, you will find the unique desert oasis and some of the highest sand dunes in all of South America. For adventure lovers, this is the perfect spot as you can go sandboarding and speed through the dunes on sand buggies.
Our recommendation is to visit Huacachina during sunset – unforgettable moments are guaranteed here. More information about this magical place in our Huacachina Oasis guide.
7. Discover Millpu
At an altitude of more than 11,400 ft (3,500 m), you will find up to 20 natural pools that lie between two canyons and will enchant you with their beauty.
Millpu is only a 3-hour drive from Ayacucho. Please respect nature and do not go swimming in the pools, even if they look inviting.
8. Fall in Love With Cusco
Stroll the narrow, steep streets that combine a mix of Inca and Spanish colonial architecture and travel back in time.
Apart from the interesting ruins that Cusco offers, we recommend you to visit the great viewpoints in Sacsayhuaman or in San Blas. At the latter, you can combine the walk with a coffee or a drink and the sunset.
9. Fly Over the Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are considered one of mankind’s greatest mysteries. In the middle of the desert, there are more than 70 drawings of people and animals geoglyphs that are over 2000 years old. You get the best views on a tour with an airplane.
10. Wander Through the Lost City of Choquequirao
This point would be suitable for a list of “unique things to do in Peru”, as Choquequirao is not well known among tourists. It is also known as Machu Picchu’s sister and is about 4 hours by car from Cusco.
The special thing about Choquequirao is that so far only a good third has been explored and there are hardly any tourists on site.
11. Tour the Ballestas Islands
The Ballestas Islands, also known as Peru’s Galapagos, are home to a variety of wildlife such as sea lions, pelicans, dolphins and more.
The small group of islands is located in Paracas and are visited by speedboat. Apart from the animals, you can also see an astonishing geoglyph.
12. Discover Lake Titicaca
Visiting Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, at over 12,400 ft (3800 m), is an incredible experience.
On site you can visit different islands, such as the famous Uros islands, spend the night on one of the famous islands made of totora reeds and learn more about the life of the locals. Lake Titicaca has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005.
13. Get to Know the “White City” Arequipa
Arequipa is called the White City because the old town was built from the white volcanic rock “Sillar” from the nearby Misti Volcano. The volcano is currently dormant and can be best viewed from the artistic Yanahuara Viewpoint.
The Cathedral, the Santa Catalina Convent and the Picantería restaurants are also worth a visit.
14. Learn More About the Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley was once the center of the ancient Inca civilization as it was a special place for them due to the fertile soil, good climate and strategic location.
If you are in Cusco, we recommend discovering the well-preserved ruins and Inca sites with a Sacred Valley day tour. Believe us, you will be speechless by the brilliance of the Incas.
15. Try the National Drink Pisco Sour
Another point on our list of the top things to do in Peru is drinking Pisco Sour. The country’s national drink is made with brandy, egg whites, lime juice, and a little sugar.
It’s a very refreshing cocktail and definitely a must have on any Peru trip. Another variant that is also very tasty is the passion fruit sour.
16. Hike to Humantay Lake
The hike to the breathtaking Humantay Lake should definitely be on your to-do list. Located at 13,800 ft (4200 m) and nestled between 2 mountains, the glacial lake will enchant you with its turquoise water and the snow-capped mountains in the background.
The hike to the top takes around 1.5-2 hours and is of moderate difficulty.
17. Explore Colca Canyon
The Colca Canyon in Peru is one of the deepest canyons in the world and a famous trekking destination. It’s just over 3 hours away from Arequipa.
Here, you can watch the flight of the famous Andean condor, go on excellent hiking tours or relax in thermal baths.
18. Take a Picture With Alpacas & Llamas
In Peru, and especially in Cusco, you will have numerous opportunities to get your unforgettable photo with an alpaca or a llama.
You can visit petting zoos or textile centers for this, but of course there’s nothing like getting a picture with these fluffy animals in the wild. That’s why our Palccoyo Tour is ideal for this, as you can hike with an alpaca or a llama on the way to rainbow mountain.
Peru – The Mega Diverse Country for Everyone!
As you can see, Peru has more to offer than “just” Machu Picchu. The land of the Incas is full of surprises that are waiting to be explored.
We hope that we were able to give you more inspiration for your visit to Peru with this small list of the top things to do in Peru. If you have already decided that you would like to travel soon, we recommend that you do some research on the best time to visit Peru.
If you have any questions or need help regarding your tour planning, please send us an email to email@example.com.