In South America, discover a fascinating destination that speaks to travelers’ imaginations: Peru! Cradle of the Incas, the country is full of archaeological sites that we like to explore, imagining to unlock all the secrets. And what about his landscapes? A true land of contrasts, Peru reveals panoramas as enchanting as they are varied, from the sand dunes to the snow-capped mountains of the Andes Cordilleras, passing through the verdant jungle of the Amazon.
Here is an overview with our selection of the most beautiful places to visit in Peru. Have a good trip…
1. Machu Picchu
To the question what to do in Peru? We will inevitably answer to go to Machu Picchu, one of the new seven wonders of the world. This major Inca site can be reached by train from Cuzco or Ollantaytambo, thanks to a several-day hike along the Inca Trail , or by an easy walk from Hidroelectrica.
Very early in the morning, with the brush of your headlamp, climb the steps in the mist that dissipates and reach the Porte du Soleil. Almost alone in the world, you will enjoy a breathtaking view of these majestic ruins. The emotion is guaranteed! The bravest will begin the ascent of the Huayna Picchu mountain to discover the site from another angle.
2. Vinikunka Colorful Mountain
Those who come to visit Peru to discover its fantastic landscapes will make a detour to the Vinikunka mountain , also nicknamed “the mountain of seven colors”. Admittedly, the trek requires being in good physical shape and suffering from altitude sickness, but the sight on arrival is really worth it. The amazed travelers discover a fabulous variegated picture, the result of the accumulation of several sediments of different colors in the rock.
The oldest city on the American continent, this huge complex was built more than 5,000 years ago! It includes amphitheatres, pyramids and other adobe structures, and can be discovered in a day from Lima. Treat yourself to the services of a guide to learn more about the Caral civilization.
4. Huascaran National Park
At the heart of the Cordillera Blanca, Huascaran National Park has been classified as a biosphere reserve by Unesco. It is dominated by the mountain of the same name, the highest in Peru, and features an incredible number of glaciers, lagoons, canyons and other high peaks. It thus offers a range of outdoor activities for everyone, from hiking to horseback riding, skiing or mountaineering.
5. Lagoon 69
We stay in the Cordillera region to discover another natural jewel of Peru, lagoon 69 , accessible in one day from Huaraz.
By public transport or by car chartered by a local agency, you reach Lake Llanganuco, nestled in the heart of Huascaran National Park. Let’s go for a 3 hour walk! At first very easy, the trail gradually steepens, but the bewitching landscapes will divert your attention. Upon arrival, you discover a lagoon with turquoise waters, bordered by high snow-capped peaks.
It is impossible to visit Peru without passing through the city of Cuzco, the starting point for a host of Inca sites in the surrounding area and which alone is worth the detour. Perched at nearly 3,400 meters above sea level , in the heart of green mountains, it is home to many architectural and historical marvels.
First stop, the Place d’Armes, the real nerve center of Cuzco where the inhabitants like to meet, and which is bordered by the superb Church of the Society of Jesus. Push open the doors of the many museums to learn more about the city and Peruvian culture.
7. Lake Titicaca
Straddling Peru and Bolivia , Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, covers 8,000 square kilometers. Yes, the place is touristic, and yes, it is worth the detour if you decide to visit Peru. Criss-crossing this immense expanse of water is already a journey in itself, but the lake is also full of a thousand wonders: here, the Uras floating islands, built of reeds; there, the village of the community of Paramis, where time seems to have stopped.
8. Colca Canyon
3,400 meters deep, the Colca Canyon reveals enchanting landscapes, from terraced crops to typical villages, passing through lagoons and watchtowers. Stop at the Croix de Condor, which offers a breathtaking view of the valley below, and from which you may be lucky enough to admire the vertiginous flight of the raptors of the same name.
9. The salt pans of Maras
Notice to amateur photographers, the salt pans of Maras are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful landscapes in Peru. Located about fifty kilometers from Cuzco, in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, these ancient salt marshes built on terraces form a most photogenic shades of yellow. Guided tours are organized, they give you the opportunity to exchange a few words with the peasants who harvest the salt.
10. The beaches of Punta Sal
Visiting Peru to relax on the beaches is possible! All you have to do is reach the village of Punta Sal , in the north of the country, which nestles with its feet in the sand, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. In the program ? Sunbathe on the bamboo lounge chairs, swim in the waves and taste freshly caught fish. In the evening, be sure to watch the sunset while sipping coconut water.
11. The Cataract of Gocta
Bucolic atmosphere for this next destination in Peru. Falling from a height of 771 meters, the cataract of Gocta , in the north of the country, deserves a stop. We walk in the heart of a lush jungle where orchids flourish, before reaching a watchtower, from where we contemplate the fabulous waterfall.
Those who plan to visit Peru most often arrive in Lima, the country’s capital. A former colonial city, it has a certain charm, and we like to stroll along its colorful streets, discovering its cultural heritage.
Look up, the wooden balconies are one of the curiosities of Lima! Enjoy a relaxing break in the interior garden of the Church of Santo Domingo, before heading to the central market, where you will learn about the treasures of Peruvian gastronomy.
13. The Sacred Valley of the Incas
With a tourist ticket, you can visit one of the most beautiful places in Peru, the Sacred Valley of the Incas . Enamelled with archaeological remains, it offers a number of outdoor activities and treks for lovers of nature and old stones. Sacsayhuaman (nicknamed “sexy woman” by guides to make tourists laugh), with its perfectly interlocking blocks of stone, Moray and its terraces in concentric circles and Ollantaytambo, with its ancient cobbled streets, are worth a detour.
14. Nazca Lines
Anyone wishing to visit Peru has in mind the mysterious Nazca Lines , only visible from the sky. Climb aboard a small plane to fly over the enigmatic drawings and geometric figures traced over a period ranging from 500 BC. AD to the year 500 AD. J.-C. Have fun recognizing the monkey, the spider or even the astronaut!
15. Huacachina Oasis
In contrast, Peru is home to a desert of dunes near the city of Ica, which is most often reached from Lima. You have the opportunity to have fun in the sand, sandboard on your feet or on the handlebars of a buggy. But the best is yet to come! Stop at the village of Huacachina , nestled near an oasis of emerald waters, a mirage shimmering under the generous sun.
16. The Ballestas Islands
Off the town of Pisco, an archipelago of islands stands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean: the Ballestas . A veritable bird sanctuary, they are home to large colonies of seabirds, penguins and cormorants. From the boat, you will observe the sea lions frolicking in the water or basking on a rock, before setting foot on land and climbing the cliffs to contemplate splendid panoramas.
17. Pisac Market
Competing in colors and scents, the markets of South America never leave travelers indifferent. One of the most beautiful of them is undoubtedly that of Pisac , to be visited in priority on Sundays. Do not forget your camera !
Wearing their bowler hats and dressed in colorful textiles, Peruvian women willingly lend themselves to a souvenir portrait. Stroll among the fruit and vegetable stalls to discover Peru’s impressive variety of corn and potatoes.
18. Mausoleums of Revash
You will first have to go to the village of San Bartolo to buy the entrance tickets on the site. Then, a short walk on the edge of the cliff awaits you, before discovering, amazed, the funerary complex engraved in the rock. It would have contained several mummies, all missing today.
19. Manu National Park
Treat yourself to a breath of fresh air by heading to the Peruvian Amazon, which you discover from the Manú National Park .
In the company of a guide, you will explore one of the last wild territories in the world, populated by swans, birds and other small mammals. And if you’re lucky, you’ll cross paths with the lord of the place, the jaguar! At night, you go out to flush out ants and colorful spiders by the light of your flashlight.
20. Chan Chan
If you have decided to visit Peru for its archaeological riches, then do not miss a detour to the ancient capital of the Chimu kingdom, Chan Chan , listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site is in a remarkable state of preservation, and you will walk among the remains of earthen buildings that have survived the centuries.