15 Spectacular Things to do in Peru for Visitors

What else can I say about Peru other than it is a country filled with both beauty and wonder? So much so that it can be difficult to narrow down the top things to do in Peru when visiting. No matter what, any list has to start with Machu Picchu. It is one of the world’s most breathtaking landmarks and one of just seven “Wonders of the World”. If you’d like to see this spectacular sight, you can still hike the trail that the Incas used when Machu Picchu was inhabited. If you ask me, it is one of the most incredible hikes in the world.

Peru is also home to the highest navigable lake in the world, where you will find whole villages floating on the lake. If that isn’t enough to pique your interest, Peru is also the origin point for the mighty Amazon River and one of the best places to go to explore the Amazon Rainforest. It is one of the most biodiverse places in this world and is full of adventure to keep even the most active travelers busy.

Things to do in Peru

However, the country isn’t just known for its pretty landscapes. Peru is also renowned for its incredible culture and amazing cuisine. It’s no surprise that foodies flock to Peru each year to try the amazing street food and incredible restaurants.

Your Guide to the Top Things to Do in Peru

If you are in the process of planning a trip to Peru and need some inspiration on what to see, you are in luck. In this article, I am going to outline fifteen of the top things to do in Peru. This includes some of the country’s most incredible landmarks, its most popular festivals, and much more! With this information in hand, I have no doubt that you will be able to fill your itinerary and come back from your trip with memories that will last for a lifetime!

Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Things to do in Peru - Machu Picchu and Inca Trail

It’s impossible to compile any list of the top things to do in Peru without mentioning the iconic Machu Picchu. This spectacular ancient Incan citadel rests high up in the Andes Mountains, beautifully sitting above the Urubamba River valley. Built in the 15th Century, the site was unknown by the Western world until Hiram Bingham’s expedition in 1911.

Today, visitors flock to Peru each year to catch a glimpse of this incredible wonder of the world. Unlike decades past, you can now take a train to the site, which has made it more accessible for all visitors. However, if you are looking for a little adventure, you can still hike the old Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. For more information on the hike and visiting Machu Picchu, please see my visitor guide linked below.

Fly Over the Nazca Lines

Things to do in Peru - Nazca Lines

The world is full of incredible things that are often times hard to explain. Without a doubt, Peru has its fair share of these. One of the most iconic examples is the amazing Nazca Lines. Located in southern Peru, these pre-Columbian geoglyphs are thought to have been created as early as 500 BC. There are roughly 300 different figures that were carved into the sand in an area of roughly 1,000 square kilometers. The best way to see the lines is to get up in the air in a plane. There are tours that will take you up above the lines, which has quickly become one of the most popular tours in Peru.

Hike to Rainbow Mountain

Things to do in Peru - Rainbow Mountain

Speaking of incredible things to do in Peru, no visit is complete without also witnessing the beauty of the Rainbow Mountain. Formerly known as Vinicunca, this breathtakingly colorful mountain is a rarity in the world. In fact, it is so colorful that the locals have named it Montaña de Siete Colores, which translates to mean the “mountain of seven colors”).

Unlike some mountain destinations, seeing the Rainbow Mountain isn’t that difficult to coordinate. It involves a 2-hour drive from Cusco and then a short 3-mile hike. If you are interested in seeing this beautiful mountain during your visit, there are tours that you can book to make getting there easier.

Go Paragliding in Lima

Things to do in Peru - Paragliding in Lima

If you are looking for a little adventure when you visit Peru, I have just the activity for you. In my opinion, one of the top things to do in Peru for adventure travelers is to go paragliding in the city of Lima. The city is built on top of steep ocean bluffs, which makes it one of the most breathtaking coastal cities in the world.

You will coast high above the breathtaking coastline, with views all the way down the coast. Then, in a split instant, your guide will maneuver you to coast up above the city. From here, you will be able to admire the beauty of all the parks and squares that make Lima so popular. Without a doubt, it is a must-do activity when in the Lima area.

Visit the Amazon Rainforest

Things to do in Peru - Amazon Rainforest

For those who are into wildlife travel, there are few places in this world that are better for viewing wildlife than the Amazon Rainforest. As the largest rainforest in the world, it is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet. And when it comes to exploring the Amazon, Peru is a great place to do that. In fact, Peru is home to the start of the might Amazon River.

One of the best ways to see this spectacular rainforest is to take a boat tour down the Amazon River. So, after you are done exploring Machu Picchu and the cultural aspects of Peru, I suggest spending a few days to explore the wonders of the Amazon as well. There is a wealth of tours available for all interests, which makes it easy and convenient to book and adventure.

Relax at the Huacachina Oasis

Things to do in Peru - Huacachina Oasis

With the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Rainforest within its borders, the last thing you probably think about when someone mentions Peru is desert. However, because the Andes Mountains are so high, they create a thermal inversion that produces a thick layer of clouds at low altitude on the western coast of much of South America.

These do not allow much precipitation to form, so that has created a desert landscape along most of South America’s western coastline. In Peru, this is where you will find the Sechura Desert. However, it isn’t all desert. Just west of the city of Ica in southwestern Peru is the incredible Huacachina Oasis. Hidden amongst giant sand dunes, the oasis is a hidden paradise. It is the perfect spot to unwind and relax after a day of ridding dune buggies in the dunes.

See condors at the Cruz del Condor Viewpoint

Things to do in Peru - Cruz del Condor Viewpoint

If you haven’t been lucky enough to see condors in the wild, you will definitely want to take the opportunity to see these amazing creatures when you visit Peru. One of the very best places to see Andean condors is at the amazing Cruz del Condor viewpoint.

Located in the Colca Canyon, this viewpoint is renowned for being one of the best places to see these incredible birds in the wild. Believe me, you have no idea just how big and amazing they are until you see them soaring in the wild with your own eyes. It is definitely one of the top things to see in Peru.

Celebrate the incredible Inti Raymi Festival

Things to do in Peru - Inti Raymi Festival

If you love to learn about other cultures when you travel, one of the best ways to do that is to experience a local festival. When visiting Peru, one of the most iconic festivals that you can attend is the incredible Inti Raymi festival. Held on June 24th, this amazing festival is a traditional religious ceremony of the Inca Empire and is held to honor the god, Inti.

This is the most celebrated deity in the Inca religion, which is why the festival is so honored to this day. The celebrations include music, colorful costumes (including beautiful woven aya huma masks), and lots of incredible food. If you would like to attend the festival, make sure you are in the city of Cusco in late June. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.

Tour the Beautiful City of Cusco

Things to do in Peru - Tour Cusco

No trip to Peru is complete without visiting the spectacular city of Cusco. Without a doubt, touring Cusco is one of the top things to do in Peru. In addition to being the gateway to Machu Picchu, Cusco is an incredible place to explore in its own right.

It has a wealth of spectacular plazas and its cathedral is one of the most breathtaking in the country. In addition, the central market in Cusco is a great place to sample the local produce. If you are planning a trip to Peru and would like some additional ideas for your visit to Cusco, I have linked to my Cusco visitor guide below.

Try a Pisco Sour and Ceviche

Try Pisco Sour

I would certainly be remiss if I wrote an article about the top things to do in Peru and didn’t mention the country’s incredible cuisine. When visiting Peru, it is strongly recommended that you try the country’s national drink and national dish. The pisco sour, which is an alcoholic drink of Peruvian origin, involves a base of pisco liquor and sour citrus juice.

If you like sour drinks, you will love the pisco sour. And while you are sampling the drink, you might as well order some ceviche. This national dish of Peru involves fish that is cooked, not with heat, but with citrus acid. That’s right, they mix raw fish, onion, and other ingredients with citrus juice and the citrus acid literally cooks the fish. Believe me, it is incredible. Don’t leave Peru without trying these amazing local treasures.

Lima, Peru 
Lima, Peru Travel Guide 

Explore the Sacred Valley

Things to do in Peru - The Sacred Valley

With the exception of Machu Picchu, there is perhaps no location in Peru that has as much historical allure as the incredible Sacred Valley. Located in the country’s Andean highlands, it formed the heart of the Incan Empire when it was in power. Stretching over 60 kilometers, the area’s fertile farmland made it attractive as central hub.

Today, the small colonial villages of Pisac and Ollantaytambo are major tourist attractions in the Sacred Valley. These beautiful small villages are renowned for their handicraft markets, citadels, and cultural heritage. If you are planning to visit Peru to see Machu Picchu, a stop at the Sacred Valley is a must for your itinerary.

Admire the Beauty of the Colca Canyon

Things to do in Peru - Colca Canyon

If breathtaking landscapes are your thing, then you won’t want to miss out on seeing the Colca Canyon when you visit Peru. Located in the southern part of the country, it is widely considered to be one of the top trekking destinations in South America.

Not only that, but viewpoints like the Cruz del Condor make visiting the canyon one of the top things to do in Peru. It is one of the best places to spot Andean condors. Located roughly 160 kilometers (99 mi) northwest of Arequipa, the Colca Canyon is one of the world’s deepest canyons.

In addition to hiking and watching for condors, the canyon is also one of the continent’s premier white water rafting destinations. So, before you finish filling out your travel itinerary for Peru, make sure you consider a stop at the beautiful Colca Canyon.

Swim with Sea Turtles in Máncora

Sea Turtles in Máncora

Few things are better than swimming in the waters off of one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines. Unless of course, those waters are also renowned for having incredible wildlife in them. Such is the case with the beautiful resort town of Máncora, located on Peru’s northwest coast.

Not only is the town renowned for having some of Peru’s most beautiful beaches, but it is also a great place to swim with green sea turtles and spot migrating whales off the coast. After a great day of sun, sand, and sea turtles, you can enjoy the many restaurants and cafes that line Máncora’s main street.

In addition to having some of Peru’s best coastline, the town is also known for having one of the country’s best nightlife. So, for a little rest, relaxation, and wildlife viewing, a visit to the beautiful town of Máncora is one of the top things to do in Peru.

Enjoy the Wildlife at Ballestas Islands

Wildlife at Ballestas Islands

While many travelers come to Peru to see the beautiful landscapes and culture, the country is also a haven for a fascinating array of wildlife as well. One of the best places in Peru to see wildlife is on and around the Ballestas Islands.

Located near the town of Paracas on the south coast of the country, these tiny islands host a remarkable amount of marine wildlife. While the coast may seem like a desolate desert, the waters off the shore are teaming with animals such as Humboldt penguins, sea lions, and Guanay cormorants.

Visitors can access the islands via a short boat ride from Paracas. If you are interested in visiting, there are a number of tours available for the incredible Paracas National Reserve and the amazing Ballestas Islands.

Visit the Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca

Things to do in Peru - Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca

On the border between the countries of Peru and Bolivia, high in the Andes Mountains, sits one of the world’s most incredible lakes. Not only is the incredible Lake Titicaca one of South America’s largest lakes, but it is also the world’s highest navigable body of water.

This amazing lake is said to have been the birthplace of the Incas. Today, you will find an incredible array of Incan ruins along its shoreline. One of the top attractions for visitors to Lake Titicaca is the renowned Uros islands.

The islands are special because they really aren’t natural islands at all. Instead, the islands are made of aquatic reeds called Totora. The islands were built by and inhabited by Andeans since immemorial time. Today, you can visit the islands to walk on them and enjoy these incredible floating cities. It is definitely one of the best cultural experiences you can have in Peru.

Honorable Mentions

In addition to the top 15 ideas for things to do in Peru that I provided above, I also asked for some additional ideas from my social media followers. Here are some of the top suggestions for things to do in Peru that they thought were worthwhile. To be honest, there are so many incredible things to do in Peru that this list could go on for pages. I hope the ideas in this article give you some inspiration as you start to plan your trip!

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  1. I can’t believe Rainbow mtn is only 2 hrs from cusco. I didn’t know about it 13 years ago when I was there. Though I had limited vacay and loved Machu Picchu. I will have to return. Thanks for the info

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