All information about our Peru route and the highlights in Peru can be found in this article so that you too can experience an unforgettable Peru trip and travel planning becomes child's play. Planning an itinerary through Peru is relatively easy, as Peru is a rather elongated country where you mostly travel “top-down” or alternatively “bottom-up” rather than as a true round trip. However, it also depends on how much time you want to spend in the country and in individual regions and places. Peru also has various highlights scattered all over the country and here you have to decide which Peru highlights and sights you definitely want to see and include in your planning.
Another point is whether you want to travel to the Amazon region of Peru because traveling to the Amazon is also a slightly larger time and cost factor. In the following, we will therefore explain the best sightseeing Peru. Then we will give you more Peru tips and information so that you can plan and put together your own Peru itinerary.
Peru is one of the most diverse and fascinating countries in South America and the world and offers a variety of adventure trekking such as the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Chachapoyas tour, trekking to Salkantay, Vilcabamba to Machu Picchu or Colca Canyon trek. Some of the main attractions are their archaeological patrimony of pre-Columbian cultures and the hub of the Incan empire, their gastronomy, their colonial architecture (with imposing colonial constructions), and their natural resources (a paradise for ecological tourism).
Most walking is on trails well-trodden by local people, but some of the more popular routes are becoming damaged. Little is done to maintain the trails and no guards control them; a few conservation groups are trying to remedy this. If camping, ask permission from the landowner first and do not leave litter anywhere.
Huascarán National Park — high mountain park in the Cordillera Blanca range
Machu Picchu — This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most familiar symbols of the Incan Empire, and the most popular tourist attraction in Peru, and one of the new seven wonders of the world.
Inca Trail - The most popular hike in South America and the best Peru trek
Huchuyqosqo - Huchuy - Small, Qosqo - Cusco. This small inca site is ubicated near Cusco and is the best alternative hike to the Short Inca Trail.
Llactapata - This Inca site is ubicated on the top of a ridge between the valley of the Aobamba and the Salkantay and near to Machu Picchu. From this mountain, you can see the lost city of the Incas.
Inca Quarry or Cachicata - It is located at Cachicata, in a ravine across the Urubamba River some 5 km from the town. This is the principal Inca quarries of Ollantaytambo. This trail is similar to the Inca Trail, during the hike, you will find the sungate (Intipunko), Inca quarries, mummies and others.
Salkantay Trek - The best alternative hike to the Inca Trail.
Colca Canyon - The worlds second deepest canyon
Chachapoyas - Referred to as the Machu Picchu of the north, amazing ruins built by another great civilization.
Choquequirao- Hiking to Choquequirao will take you to an Inca city on the edge of the Apurimac Canyon
Vilcabamba - the last hiding place of the Incas
Tambopata- For people that like walking, bird and wildlife spotting, nature lovers.
Peru is a very large country, about 2.5 times larger than France. So when preparing for your trip, be aware that traveling these distances takes a lot of time. Between the coast and the inland, there is always the Andes chain. So some peaks between 3,000 and 4,000 m (if not higher!) must be crossed.
An example of these distances: From Lima to Cusco (in the south of the country) you have to calculate 24 hours by bus (or 1.5 hours by plane). From Cusco to Machu Picchu is another 8 hours! Therefore, making some stops along the way, such as Arequipa, the Lines of Nazca, and the Sacred Valley.
The distances in the north are the same. Between Lima and Chachapoyas, the capital of the Amazon region, you also have to calculate 24 hours by bus. Here, too, it is good to make a few stops along the way: on the north coast of Peru in Trujillo for the archaeological sites of Chan Chan and the Temples of the Sun and Moon, in Chiclayo for the Tumbas Reales Museum or at a seaside resort.
We think it's difficult to combine north and south unless you have 4 weeks or more. So you have to make a choice: between Machu Picchu and Inca people or the north of Peru, less known with the stronghold of Kuelap and the wonders of nature like the waterfall of Gocta, one of the highest in the world.
Have you decided between the south and the north? Perfect, let's continue.
Now it's a matter of determining the weather in the different regions during your trip. I remind you that Peru is in the southern hemisphere. So the seasons are exactly the opposite compared to us in Europe.
In the coastal regions, the hottest months are between December and February and the coldest between June and August. That means that even in those months it's 15-20°C, so it's comfortable.
But you should know that Lima has a permanent fog between May and September. That can be a bit depressing. I also have to tell you that the sea on the beach in Peru is cold. If you want to swim you have to go all the way north in the regions of Tumbes. You can only go swimming in the border regions with Ecuador.
Between December and April it is rainy season in the mountains. It is then 15 to 20°C during the day, but it gets chilly at night and you should plan a cardigan and a hat. Traveling during the rainy season should be reconsidered as there can also be landslides. This isn't necessarily dangerous, but it can block some roads. Thus, you may encounter difficulties regarding your planned itinerary.
So the right time of year to travel in the Andes is between May and October, when it stops raining. Usually the mountains are cloudless then and you can take nice pictures.
Here, too, the rainy season is between December and April and when it rains in the Amazon region, it can quickly lead to flooding. Again, travel between May and October when you have the chance to go deep into the jungle and play Indiana Jones!
Temperatures in Peru vary according to altitude. The months of May to September are the ideal travel time for the Andean highlands, when climbing and trekking fans also get their money's worth. At night it can cool down to below zero. The bathing season on the coast starts in December and lasts until around April. If you want to visit the rainforest, the best time to travel is between May and December.
Cusco: Your personal Peru journey into the heart of the Inca Empire
The city of Cusco was once the capital of the Inca Empire and is therefore also at the center of the largest and most important Inca testimonies in Peru. But if you are looking for Inca traces in Cusco, you have to take a closer look. Because the city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, also has magnificent colonial architecture. Marvel at the magnificent cathedral. Visit the Santa Catherine Monastery and learn about the founding history of the city at the Inca Museum. We recommend you take to add your trip to Peru to the Sacred Valley and to Machu Picchu because Cusco is the starting point for all tours to the Inca sites.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas: Experience the Valle Sagrado individually
In the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Incas found the ideal natural space to develop their culture and economy. To this day, the numerous archaeological sites in the Valle Sagrado testify to the creative power of this civilization. Discover the Inca cities of Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Choquequirao, Pisac, and Cusco! During your Peru trip, go on promising trekking tours and marvel at the highest salt pans in the world in Maras!
Machu Picchu: On the Inca Trail to the legendary city of the Incas
At an altitude of 2,430 meters, the Incas built Machu Picchu in the 15th century, where more than 2,000 people lived at times. Today the city, which is fabulously situated on a steep high plateau, is one of the best preserved Inca ruins in Peru. You can reach Machu Picchu either by climbing 1,700 steps, by bus or as part of a 4-day trekking tour on the Inca Trail from Cusco. But beware! This leads over a pass that is more than 1,800 meters higher than Machu Picchu itself!
Choquequirao: Peru adventure trip to the "Sister of Machu Picchu"
It is just as impressive on a rocky outcrop as Machu Picchu and has an equally extensive development, the Inca ruins of Choquequirao. Not far from Cusco, the ruins of Choquequirao take you back to times long past. Go on a trekking tour on the high plateau and enjoy an impressive mountain panorama during your Peru trip!
Pisac: Individual trip to Peru to the spiritual center of the Inca Empire
Hidden deep in the Andes is a high valley that is second to none in the world: the Valle Sagrado. World-renowned as the Sacred Valley of the Incas, it is home to the indigenous people of Peru. With the city of Pisac you not only enter an ancient Inca city, but also the spiritual heart of the Inca Empire. This refers above all to the Inca ruins and the Intihuatana, the sacred rock. Pause in this special place, in the midst of the steep mountain flanks, on which the Incas created breathtaking terraced landscapes.
Pisac Market: Colorful hustle and bustle on the largest Inca market in Peru
It smells of herbs, freshly baked flatbread and flowers. Bright green beans, golden corn and purple onions peek out of bulging sacks. Spices gleam in surreal colors in large, round bowls and colorfully woven Inca fabrics gently sway in the wind on the facades – the Pisac Market is an arts and crafts market, weekly market and food festival all rolled into one! Take your time to look around the Pisac Market and buy many a handcrafted souvenir of your individual tour of Peru
Moray: The view from above of the concentrically arranged terraces makes it clear: the Inca have surpassed themselves here. Carved deep into the rock of the Valle Sagrado, the Moray Inca site proves that different agricultural cultivation methods were once tested here. Because every terrace has its own microclimate. Until a few decades ago, Moray was irrigated completely independently by a sophisticated water system. An impressive testimony to the Inca culture and your must-see during the Peru round trip to the Sacred Valley of the Incas!
Kuelap: Discover the secrets of the Andes during the round trip Peru
The cable car takes you up to the Andean village of Kuelap, which with its around 300 houses still puzzles many archaeologists to this day. Perhaps also built as a fortress due to the watchtowers, Kuelap is home to some mysterious constructions, such as El Tintero, a building reminiscent of an inkwell. But walk in the footsteps of the secrets of Kuelap and enjoy the magnificent views of the Andean valleys, where you will then continue your individual tour of Peru. Cookyourtrips.com will be happy to advise you on your individual Peru trips planning!
Sacsayhuaman: Inca fortress at the gates of Cusco
The Sacsayhuaman Fortress was built just outside the city gates to protect the Inca capital of Cusco. The complex leads up the mountain ridge in several terraces and the walls, consisting of man-high boulders weighing up to 20 tons, clearly show the inventive spirit of the Incas. Experience the special atmosphere of Sacsayhuaman and take the bus from the Plaza des Armas to this imposing Inca fortress.
Ollantaytambo: Imposing terraces in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
High above the Urubamba River, the Inca built a city as if from a drawing board. The special feature: The city was built on countless terraces along the steep ridges and in the center of which the square city complex can still be clearly seen today. Let yourself be impressed by this urban planning masterpiece of the Incas and pay a visit to Ollantaytambo during your Peru trips in the Valle Sagrado!
Salinas de Maras: The "white gold" of the Incas
The salt pans of the small Andean village of Maras already shine from afar and arouse curiosity about the way of salt production that the Incas developed. The brine that naturally emerges from the mountain is channeled into large rock pools, where the water evaporates under the sun. As the highest salt works in the world, the Andean village of Maras at 3,380 meters has become famous and is therefore a must-see on your individual Peru trips. It is worth combining a visit to the Maras salt pans with a scenic hike from Tarabamba.
Lima: Tour the capital of Peru individually
Almost 32 million people live in the capital of Peru, making the port city the country's cultural melting pot. At the beginning of your Peru round trip, discover the historic center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and whose magnificent colonial architecture is designed in a variety of ways. Drive through the hustle and bustle of the big city in the museum tram, marvel at the architectural splendor of the Plaza de Armas and pay a visit to the cathedral and the monastery of San Francisco. In the evening, the laser water light show in the Reserva Park provides an atmospheric end to the day.
Cordillera Blanca: Find the highest mountain range of the Andes
Where there are a total of 50 mountains with a height of over 5,700 meters over a length of 180 kilometers, there is the "white mountain range"! For example, you can enjoy the sea of snow-capped peaks on a sightseeing flight. But a trekking will also take you deep into the heart of the Cordillera Blanca during your individual trip of Peru, where you will also discover the Huascaran National Park. Named after the highest mountain in Peru, the 6,768 meter high Nevado Huascaran, you will find fantastic hiking routes here.
Paracas National Reserve: En route on the Paracas Peninsula
Where the Paracas culture once lived, the peninsula of the same name extends today and not only houses archaeological evidence of the indigenous people of Peru but is also home to rare animals and plants. Your Paracas tour will take you to the "Cathedral of the Rocks" and the "Candelabro de Paracas", the mysterious rock paintings on the coast. Perhaps you will also discover maned seals, pelicans, and Humboldt penguins. The Paracas National Reserve is definitely worth a detour during your Peru adventure trip!
Islas Ballestas: Boat tour to the Guano Islands of Peru
Whole rocky landscapes are covered with nutrient-rich guano where Inca terns, Chilean pelicans, guano boobies, or guano cormorants feel at home. In Peru, this applies above all to the Islas Ballestas. Located in front of the Paracas Peninsula, the Guano Islands of Peru is part of the protected area of the same name and can therefore only be visited as part of guided boat tours. The interruption of your individual Peru round trip is worthwhile because on the Islas Ballestas, you will also meet Humboldt penguins!
Huacachina: Romantic oasis in the desert land of Ica
Fed by an underground river, the Huacachina Oasis has always been a magnet for those seeking relaxation. Located in the desert of Ica, Huacachina is far and away the only settlement. Hotels were built around the natural lake, which today offer not only wellness and spa but also action experiences in the desert. How about a buggy ride over the dunes? Sandboarding in the desert sand? Or a flight in a powered aircraft over the famous Nazca Lines? Huacachina is your eventful stopover during the individual tour of Peru!
Mancora: Your perfect swimming stop during you trip to Peru.
It's the waves that attract surfers from all over the world to Mancora. But also the sandy, kilometer-long beach. No wonder that the fishing village of Mancora has now blossomed into a surfing spot with a wide range of tourism offers. Discover the beaches of Las Pocitas and Vichayito. Relax in the hot springs of La Poza de Barro and enjoy the colorful nightlife on Avenida Piura before continuing your trip of Peru individually in a rental car.
Arequipa: Peru adventure trip to the «white city»
Arequipa is your ideal starting point for tours of the Colca Gorge or hikes to the volcanic mountains of Misti, Chachani and Picchu Picchu. But it is worth taking a look around the city. Famous for its white facades, Arequipa is home to the imposing Cathedral and the famous Santa Catalina Monastery. Don't forget to pay a visit to the market hall Mercado San Camillo in Arequipa during your tour of Peru. Its roof construction was designed by Gustav Eiffel himself.
Colca Canyon: We recommend during your trip Peru into one of the deepest canyons in the world
The steep mountain flanks drop down to a depth of 1,800 meters into the Canyon del Colca, forming the second deepest gorge on earth. Take the time for a short hiking tour to the Cruz del Condor, the cross of the Andean condor. The largest bird in the Andes uses the special thermals above the gorge to soar in wide circles and look out for prey. The Colca valley also impresses with its numerous terraced areas that are used for agriculture.
Santa Catalina Monastery: Colorful splash of color in the «white city» Arequipa.
In the middle of the white sea of houses in the Andean city of Arequipa at an altitude of 2,300 meters, the Santa Catalina Monastery looks like a colorful splash of colour. Rust-red walls meet sky-blue arcades, sun-yellow archways lead to poppy-red inner courtyards in which emerald-green fountains splash. During your trip to Peru, visit the largely open monastery, which was founded by nuns in the 16th century and is today an important testimony to Mudejares architecture.
Lake Titicaca: Journey to the blue oasis on the Altiplano.
As the highest navigable body of water in the world, Lake Titicaca forms a blue oasis in the middle of the Altiplano highlands and is therefore also the habitat of a wide variety of animals and plants. But the freshwater lake, located at 3,800 meters above sea level, is also the most important drinking water reservoir in the Andes for humans. Visit the Urus on their floating islands and take a boat tour to the Isla del Sol.
Uros Islands: The Urus are a nomadic people who have lived on floating reed islands in Lake Titicaca for centuries. Take a break from your Peru tour to pay a visit to the Urus. Boat tours to the floating villages, which the Urus make themselves from Totora reeds, start from the port of Puno in order to build their huts on them. The Urus live from fishing, tourism and handicrafts.
Manu National Park: The Manu National Park is the epitome of the Peruvian jungle, because 9,700 species of birds, 200 different species of mammals and more than 15,000 different plants live here. As the "cradle of the Amazon", the Manu National Park is subject to strict environmental protection guidelines and is usually only accessible by boat. Go on a very special rainforest tour in Peru and who knows? Maybe you will experience jaguar, tapir, sloth and the legendary giant otter? In any case, the Manu National Park is a highlight trip to Peru adventure trip!
Amazonia: The Peruvians refer to the huge rainforest area that stretches east of the Andes into the Amazon basin and is considered the “cradle of the Amazon” as “Selva”. Start your trip to Peru with an tour through the Peruvian Amazonia and learn interesting facts about the flora and fauna of the region from your local guide. You will also get to know the villages built on stilts on the Amazon. Your Amazon trip to Peru usually begins in Iquitos, the largest city in the world that can only be reached by boat or plane.
The magnificent Inca city of Machu Picchu may be the great weapon in Peru's archeological arsenal, but it is just one piece in a 5,000-year-old history of peoples, and there are many other fascinating sites too - and important new discoveries are being made all the time. Explore the dusty remains of Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian ruins in America. Fly over the enigmatic geoglyphs etched into the dry earth of Nazca. Or venture into the rugged wilderness that surrounds the imperturbable fortress of Kuelap. Lima's great museums reveal in minute detail the sophistication, skill and passion of these lost civilizations. Visit remote communities and see how old ways live on. Dive in and you'll leave Peru a little closer to the past.
Peru is a tourist country with the usual security risks in South America. On our own travels, we have only experienced good things.
Nevertheless, we are happy to give you a few tips for your safety in Peru: Just like in the United States and Europe, you should always keep an eye on your luggage and not leave it unattended. A chest pouch/belt for passports, cash, and credit cards is worthwhile. When withdrawing cash, you should be careful not to be observed or hassled. Since there are security guards in most banks, we recommend that you do not withdraw money from street machines but inside the bank.
With regard to safety, the usual rules of conduct apply in Peru as in other holiday countries. If you go out at night, you should avoid dark, secluded alleys and not walk through poor parts of the city. Valuables should be left in the hotel safe and cameras should not be worn around the neck.
For taxi rides during your Peru vacation, you should call a taxi from the hotel or restaurant and not necessarily hail one on the street itself. For your own safety, we recommend that you only use official, i.e. registered, taxis. For transfers from train/bus stations and airports, you can contact the information desk staff.
For cross-country trips, we recommend you book bus companies with the highest safety standards. Good bus companies in Peru are for example Cruz del Sur, Tour Peru and Movil Tours. The buses of these companies are very comfortable, stop only at the official bus stations and do not pick up passengers from the street.
During your trip through Peru you may encounter strikes or roadblocks. To avoid this, we will change your itinerary at short notice if necessary.
If you have any questions about safety on site, you can contact our partner agency at any time.
If you have any further questions about your Peru round trip, we will be happy to help you. Are you also interested in other South American countries or are you still undecided when choosing your travel destination? With experience you can discover 6 countries Latin America individually. We would be happy to help you design your personal dream trip.