Even though Machu Picchu may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Peru, there’s a whole lot more to see and do in this incredible country in South America.
Thanks to its vast size and incredibly varied terrain, Peru provides an unmissable chance to explore pretty much every landscape in the world in one single country.
From snow-capped mountains to arid desert landscapes and the largest rainforest in the world, Peru has a little something to offer everyone regardless of their interests and travel style.
You could virtually spend an entire year exploring Peru and still not get to see everything, but if you’re short on time, these are a few of the best destinations you should focus on.
Known for being the gateway to the southern Amazonas, Puerto Maldonado is a small town in the Madre de Dios river that will give you the chance to explore the largest rainforest in the world.
Exploring the alluring Manu National Park is the main thing to do here, where you’ll be able to have close encounters with some of the most iconic animals in the Amazon, visit local indigenous communities, and take river trips in order to get deeper into the rainforest to get close and personal with it.
Other activities include taking a kayak trip to the nearby Monkey Island to interact with wild monkeys, hopping on a zip line to soar over canopies, or taking a walk through the jungle in the Tambopata Reserve.
Even though Cuzco is known for being the hopping-off spot to reach Machu Picchu, the town is so beautiful and has plenty of interesting things to do that it should be treated as a destination by itself.
As the former capital of the Inca Empire during ancient times, Cuzco is a place that brims with archeological goodness and historical importance. The town is known for its cobblestone streets, its striking Colonial architecture, and the many archeological wonders that have stood the test of time.
Among the many things to do in Cuzco, make sure not to miss out on tasting pisco sour, hiking up to the Cristo Blanco, and befriending alpacas.
Moreover, you can also take plenty of day trips out to other destinations, including Pisac, Lake Humantay, Rainbow Mountain, Moray and Maras, and more.
We’re pretty sure Machu Picchu doesn’t need an introduction. As one of the 7 New World Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is definitely one of the best destinations to visit in Peru that cannot be skipped on any itinerary.
One of the most popular ways to reach Machu Picchu is by hiking the famous Inca Trail, but if you don’t have the time to complete the trek, you can also reach it from Cuzco by taking a train across the mountains in just a few hours.
Aside from exploring the archeological citadel where you’ll get to peek into the past when the Incas lived here, other incredible things to do inside the complex is hiking up to the top of Huayna Picchu (the mountain you see on every Machu Picchu postcard) or hiking Machu Picchu mountain for birds-eye views of the citadel.
Located on Lake Titicaca just off the coast of Puno, Islas Uros is a set of floating islands made out entirely of totora reeds that the Uru people, an indigenous group of Bolivia and Peru call their home.
To reach Islas Uros, you’ll need to take a 20-minute boat ride from Puno. Once there, you’ll get to learn all about the way the Uru people live. They moved to Lake Titicaca centuries ago when the Incas expanded their territory and their lifestyle hasn’t changed much since.
If you have extra time to stay in Puno, you can also check out other nearby groups of islands, including Isla Taquile which is closer to Bolivia, and Isla Amantanti, which is much lesser-visited than Uros and Taquile.
Home to the UNESCO-protected Nazca Lines, Nazca is definitely one of the most interesting destinations to visit in Peru.
The Nazca lines are gigantic symbolic geoglyphs carved out on the landscape by the Nazca people that cover over 450 kilometers. They come in the shapes of animals, humans, and plants. The origins of these lines still continue to be researched up to date.
While most people visit Nazca to see the lines, there are other incredibly interesting attractions worth checking out as well.
Make sure you add the Cahuachi Pyramids, a former ceremonial center, and the Chauchilla Cemetery, a burial ground filled with mummies into your itinerary as well!
Built around an oasis in the middle of the desert in southern Peru, Huacachina is a small island that is home to just about 100 people and provides some of the most exciting activities in southern Peru.
Here, you’ll get the chance to see a real-life oasis backdropped by mighty sand dunes, ride a buggy across the desert, or try your hand at sandboarding. Hiking in the desert is another popular activity here, with dunes reaching heights of almost 7,000 feet above sea level!
Moreover, Peru’s wine country is located nearby, which gives you the chance to explore an area few visitors know of. Tacama Hacienda, the oldest winery in South America, is located here and provides a wonderful chance to go wine tasting.
Have you ever been to any of these destinations in Peru? Which one was your favorite and why? Let me know all about it in the comment section below!
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