Top 10 Destinations in Peru

Parade in Cusco

From archaeological wonders that have withstood the test of time to verdant rainforest and sparkling beaches, this South American country has something for everyone. Check out our list of the Top 10 Destinations in Peru to discover new places to explore.

1. Machu Picchu

Don’t miss a chance to visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World – head to Machu Picchu to see some of the most remarkable and well-known remains of the Incan Empire, perched high in the Andes Mountains. Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain” and was built without iron tools or wheels – the rocks used to create this extensive city with more than 600 terraces once housed close to 1000 people. The rock they used was either chipped out of the mountain itself or rolled uphill by hundreds of men. You can reach Machu Picchu three ways: take the train to Aguas Calientes then bus to the entrance of the ruins; take the train to KM 104 for a one-day hike through the Sun Gate and into Machu Picchu; or, hike the Classic Inca Trail over four days finishing in the citadel itself.  


2. Cusco

Explore Cusco, the historic center of the Incan Empire from the 13th to 16th centuries. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is appropriately named: Cusco means "navel" in Quechua, and served as the center of the Incan civilization for centuries. Declared the Archeological Capital of the Americas in 1933, you can still see many ancient structures when you visit the city, including Incan temples and fortresses and retaining walls that have withstood many earthquakes over the centuries. 


3. Outdoor Adventure in the Sacred Valley 

Hiking, Mountain Biking, Ziplines and Via Ferrata, Oh My! Explore the Sacred Valley on a trip like no other. The Sacred Valley encompasses a fertile river valley, from Cusco to Machu Picchu. It’s home to incredible natural wonders and ancient architectural phenomena that shine in a different way when you pair them with adrenaline. Hike, mountain bike, zipline and climb via ferrata with an adventure tour from Southern Explorations. 

Amazon Jungle Parrot Clay Lick


4. Immerse Yourself in an Amazon Jungle Experience

The Tambopata National Reserve is one of Peru’s national treasures. This 3.7 million acre area in southern Peru protects more than 1,300 bird, 90 frog and 1,200 butterfly species, not to mention more than 10,000 species of plants. Get an up-close look at this unique flora and fauna on the Inkaterra Canopy walk, one of the safest and most dramatic hanging bridge systems in the world, then relax in a riverside cabana at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica lodge

5. Surf or Relax on Peru’s Pacific Coast 

Long before surfing became a popular sport, it was a national pastime in Peru. As early as 1500 B.C., Peruvians were riding caballitos de totora, or “little reed horses” for both fishing and sport. Now you can do the same: take a lesson on these traditional surfboards or a modern version, or just relax and explore the beaches Peru has to offer.


6. Explore the Amazon River from Iquitos

Although Brazil is better known for Amazon River Tours, the main body of the Amazon River actually begins in Peru. Head to Iquitos for the perfect jumping-off point to explore the Amazon by boat. Choose the award-winning Aria River Tour for a trip very few ever get to experience. Only 32 passengers per day head up the Amazon for an exclusive look at the indigenous inhabitants and their vibrant riverside home. Fish for piranhas, and keep an eye out for pink river dolphins and six-foot-wide water lilies, among many other incredible sights. 

Ceviche in Lima

7. Savor Peruvian Cuisine

A newfound appreciation for Peruvian delicacies is taking the world by storm. Head to Peru to experience their cuisine first-hand. Try Pisco, a white brandy made from Muscat grapes, and the many variations of Ceviche, a dish comprised primarily of fresh or marinated raw seafood, along the Peruvian coast. 


8. Backpacking in the Andes

Explore more than just the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, which is just one of many incredible hiking adventures available in Peru. Southern Explorations offers numerous treks through the rugged Andes mountains. Get an exclusive look at off-the-beaten-path Incan ruins and visit small indigenous villages most visitors will never see. Hearty backpackers can also opt for exploring some of the bigger, more difficult mountains outside of Huaraz in Huascaran National Park

Lake Titicaca Floating Islands

9. Float on the Reed Islands of Lake Titicaca

Explore the reed (totora) islands of the Uros tribe, an ancient civilization that predates the Incan empire. These inhabitants of the altiplano have thrived for centuries on the abundance in and around Lake Titicaca. Explore their community of more than 70 floating islands they use for better access to the hunting and fishing that allows them to flourish.


10. The Mysterious Nazca Lines

Head to the Nazca area to view this World Heritage Site, featuring geoglyphs made by carving shallow depressions that revealed a yellowish subsoil in the Nazca desert. The Nazca Lines form animals, geometric shapes and straight lines in huge “drawings” that span the desert floor. These ancient lines were created between 500 BCE and 500 CE and cover about 50 square kilometers. Climb the nearby foothills for a better overall view or take an overflight for the best view.

Ready to head to Peru? Plan your Peru trip with the travel experts at Southern Explorations!