white logo
June 13, 2024 peru, tips & advice

The 20 Best Things to Do In Peru (Chosen by Experts!)

Discover all of the incredible things to do in Peru, from hiking the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu to swimming with sea turtles in Mancora. Your Peruvian adventure awaits!
Man appreciating the Peruvian landscape.  Peru, Figure, Man image. Free for use by Pixabay.
Man appreciating the Peruvian landscape. Peru, Figure, Man image. Free for use by Pixabay.

1. Eat at the World's Best Restaurant

Nestled in the beautiful coastal capital of Peru in a charming Bohemian district of the city, you will find Central Restaurant, the world's best restaurant in 2023.

You won't find the typical food of Peru here, but rather a gastronomy experience like no other. Each dish is an entire ecosystem on a plate, and attention to detail in how every ingredient is placed turns each plate into a work of art.

World-renowned chef and founder Virgilio Martinez and his team draw inspiration from the depths of Peru’s natural landscape and embark on regular expeditions to the Andean nation's remote regions, allowing them to discover new ingredients and learn about the ancient techniques of the locals.

Every visitor to this jewel will be left in complete awe!

Some examples of what you can expect at Central Restaurant.

Some examples of what you can expect at Central Restaurant.

Machu Picchu Tours:

2. Take the Perfect Picture at Machu Picchu

The most famous of Peruvian landmarks, bringing in over 1.5 million visitors per year, the best thing to do in Peru is to visit the World Wonder and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu. And, of course, you’ll want to take an awesome photo of the World Wonder!

The citadel is located in a geographical area called a “cloud forest,” making this sacred Incan site a mystical destination to visit any time of the year. The best time to visit Machu Picchu tends to be during the dry season between April and May and September and October. However, even if you’re planning on traveling to Peru during the rainy season, don’t let a little rain get in the way of taking the perfect picture at Machu Picchu !

  • Pick up some hats or Peruvian textiles in Cusco from the San Pedro Market. Alpaca sweaters, poncho, or blankets are great to add some color to your photo.
  • Perspective photos make for great keepsakes. You can stamp your passport ahead of time with the Machu Picchu stamp near the exit to add in your photo of the real ruins. Or you can bring along a Polaroid camera, like an Instax- Mini, that will develop instantly and include that in your photo.
  • Or make it a romantic one to remember by taking the perfect proposal photo!

Tip: Ask your guide to help you take the perfect photo, more often than not they’re also great behind a camera. Start planning your Machu Picchu tour with one of our travel advisors now!

3. Drink & Learn How to Make a Pisco Sour

Peru is known for its popular alcohol, Pisco, a colorless or yellowish-to-amber-colored spirit produced in the winemaking regions of the Andean country. It was developed in the 16th century by Spanish settlers in South America.

To make a Pisco Sour, just combine Pisco with lime, egg whites, and simple syrup. You can also mix in some delicious Peruvian flavors, such as passionfruit, to take the traditional cocktail to a whole new level!

While most cooking classes teach you how to make this classic drink, another option is to head to the Museo del Pisco for samples and lessons or do a Pisco tasting tour in the place where it all began, Pisco, Peru!

No Peru trip would be complete without at least a taste of its namesake sour!

Yellow Peruvian passionfruit sour with white froth on top

A Passionfruit Sour and Pisco Sour on a sunny afternoon in Cusco. Photo by Daniella B.

4. Enjoy the Ballestas Islands

A six-hour journey along the Peruvian coast will get you to the majestic Ballestas Islands, a small group of islands that are home to some of the world's most charming and beautiful animals, including colonies of sea lions, seals, penguins, and seabirds, such as blue-footed boobies.

Boat tours leave from the nearby coastal town of Paracas and generally take around two hours. You cannot land on or explore the rocky islands on foot, but the boats will get you close enough to appreciate all their beauty.

This is undeniably one of the most spectacular things to do in Peru!

Spectacular view of one of the Ballestas Islands.

Spectacular view of one of the Ballestas Islands. Ballestas islands, Peru, Nature image. Photo by taiklee on Pixabay.

5. Fly Over the Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines (sometimes spelled Nasca) are massive-scale images drawn into the desert sands, preserved for hundreds of years by the dry climate. Today, their purpose remains a mystery.

Why is this one of the best things to do in Peru? Drones from National Geographic recently discovered more than 50 new Nazca Lines, making these 1,000-year-old drawings relevant archeological finds today.

If you’re into art history, archeology, ancient aliens , or simply love seeing a country from above, we believe a flight over the Nazca Lines is worth your time!

Tip: Make sure to take some anti-nausea medicine beforehand. While the motion on the plane ensures everyone gets the perfect picture, it tends to make some feel queasy.

The monkey is one of the most famous Nazca Lines.

The monkey is one of the most famous Nazca Lines. Photo by Janeth Charris from Pexels.

6. Explore the Mighty Peruvian Amazon

Peru has no shortage of stunning attractions, and the Amazon Rainforest ranks high on the favorites list. There are two main hubs from which nature lovers can explore the Peruvian Amazon. Puerto Maldonado and Iquitos , both of which can be reached via a short flight.

You can sleep in a treehouse, fish for piranhas, visit the clay licks, discover a new species, or take a luxury Amazon River cruise , and of course, keep your eyes peeled for the rare pink dolphin, jaguar, and the large array of other mammal and bird species. These are but a few activities that will keep you entertained during your visit.

The Peruvian Amazon is definitely not a destination that you want to miss on your journey through Peru!

The view of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest from above. Photo by Lizzie Thomas

7. Trek to Glacier Lagoons

Peru has thousands of glacial lagoons, making it a glacier lagoon paradise. The Cordillera de los Andes mountain range, one of the world's longest, is responsible for the formation of these mystical water masses. In addition to the lagoons, the mountain range features rugged peaks, deep canyons, large abysses, quaint snow, glaciers, volcanoes, grassland, desert, and forests, making it the perfect terrain for treks and day hikes!

If you are not an avid hiker but still wish to take in Peru's stunning natural scenery on foot, you can absolutely do so, as not all the treks are challenging, and you can opt for one of the less challenging treks or even a day hike.

8. Visit the Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca

Not only is Lake Titicaca the largest lake in South America, but it is also the highest navigable lake in the world and home to the pre-Incan Uru people and their extraordinary floating islands . These floating islands were hand woven from reeds growing naturally in the lake and were originally used as a defensive strategy during the Inca invasion, and while this threat is long gone, the lifestyle has managed to live on.

Today, visitors can take tours of the islands to learn more about their ways of life and even participate in homestays with local families. Experience Peruvian culture and the surreal feeling of taking your first step onto these reed islands by adding a Lake Titicaca tour to your Peru adventure!

A floating island on Lake Titicaca. Island, Lake, Titicaca image. Photo by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay.

9. Examine Pre-Columbian Erotic Pottery at the Larco Museum

The Larco museum is one of the country's finest and offers one of the largest, best-presented displays of ceramics in Lima. In an 18th-century viceroy’s mansion, visitors can appreciate numerous galleries showcasing works from over 5,000 years of Peruvian history, which include more than 50,000 pots with ceramic works from the Cupisnique, Chimú, Chancay, Nazca, and Inca cultures. Highlights include the sublime Moche portrait vessels and a Wari weaving that contains 398 threads to the linear inch—a record. In addition to the ceramics, there’s also gold and jewelry.

Lastly, as the heading suggests, visitors can also visit the gallery housing the collection of Pre-Columbian Erotic Pottery. The museum believes this is a unique and interesting opportunity for people to approach sexuality free of their own prejudices. By appreciating the large collection of these pre-Columbian celebrations of sex, visitors can also begin to understand the Peruvian ancestors’ relationship with nature, the divine, and each other.

If visiting museums fascinates you, this is definitely one you don't want to miss!

Photo courtesy of the Larco Museum .

10. Explore Cusco with the Cusco Tourist Ticket

There are so many things to do in Cusco , and the Cusco Tourist Ticket is by far the easiest way to cross them all off your to-do list in Peru!

The Tourist Ticket, also known as the Boleto Turistico, is a ticket bundle that gives you entry to museums, ruins, and sites all around Cusco. Spend your time acclimating to the high altitude of Cusco City (11,150 ft above sea level) with some easy exploration at places like Sacsayhuaman, the Museum of Contemporary Art, or head to Qosqo de Arte Nativo to see some folkloric dances, Peruvian textiles, and traditional Peruvian art.

Opt for the full ticket if you have two or more days in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. It is valid for 10 days and gives you access to 16 different sites!

Megalithic walls at Sacsayhuamán near Cusco, Peru. Photo by Ruben Hanssen on Unsplash.

11. Hike to Lake 69

Nestled in the mountains in Huascaran National Park, 57 miles from the city of Huaraz, you'll find the mystical Lake 69, or Laguna 69, as it's called in Spanish. To reach the lake, you will need to embark on a challenging but exhilarating hike, but rest assured, you will be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of glacial turquoise waters surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of Huascaran National Park.

The lake has become one of the best hikes in Peru as of late, and it’s no surprise why! It has also put Northern Peru on the must-visit list for many travelers. Are you one of those wanderlusters?

The sparkling crystal blue water of Laguna 69 makes this hike one you won't soon forget! 10.5 Laguna 69-14 by Esmee Winnubst, used under CC BY 2.0/ Cropped and compressed from original

12. Hike to Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain, also known as the Mountain of Seven Colors, or Vinicunca in the Quechua language, sits at a whopping 15,000 feet above sea level. Despite the altitude, it's still an awesome experience to do on your Peru trip.

Amazingly, this geographical wonder was unknown to the population until as recently as 2015, but now it attracts about a third of the number of visitors as Machu Picchu, and it’s no surprise why! The minerals and sediments in the rock and soil have created a multi-colored landscape that makes for incredible photos. Getting there is challenging, but absolutely worth it!

Tip: Hike to Rainbow Mountain on your last full day in Cusco instead of at the beginning of your trip. It’ll give you more time to acclimate beforehand.

Rainbow Mountain, Cusco, Peru. Photo by McKayla Crump on Unsplash.

13. Go Sandboarding in the Huacachina Oasis

At first glance, you might think of the Sahara Desert, but this tiny oasis village named Huacachina is actually in Peru! It is located just four hours from Lima, in the same province as the Nazca Lines. The small town is built around a natural desert oasis, and the mud from the lagoon is believed to have therapeutic properties, so don't be surprised if you see tourists and locals covering themselves with it!

In addition to the oasis itself, tourists and locals mainly visit Huacachina to enjoy different sports activities, such as sandboarding. This is just like snowboarding, except you'll be boarding on the fine-grained sand of the desert instead of snow. If this is completely new to you, no problem; simply lay on your stomach on the board and go “sand sledding.”

As you can see, this is another exciting activity not to miss out on on your trip to Peru.

14. Swim with Turtles

With 1,500 miles of coastline, it only makes sense that Peru makes it on the list of the best beaches in South America . The northern beaches of the country draw in surfers, those looking for relaxation, and those looking for new and unique travel experiences, like swimming with sea turtles!

Daily tours will take you out to El Ñuro where you will have a chance to swim with these friendly creatures for about 30 minutes. It is advisable not to touch them, but be aware that they are not shy and will likely approach you! Unsurprisingly, this experience is considered by many visitors to be the best part of their journey through Peru.

Tip: Bring along some extra soles, as guides in the water can take photos of you interacting with the sea turtles for a small additional charge.

A sea turtle comes up for air in El Ñuro in Mancora, Peru. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

15. Hike The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

While the most common way to reach Machu Picchu is by train and bus, one of the best ways to see the citadel is by hiking the world-renowned Inca Trail . Get your first views of Machu Picchu by walking the same pathway used by the ancient Inca over 500 years ago! This is a rewarding hike for avid hikers, history lovers, and those wanting to experience their first views of Machu Picchu at sunrise.

You can do the full 4-day Inca Trail, which involves camping, or you can do the shorter 2-day version of the Inca Trail, which involves no overnight camping, if that’s not your style. The 2-day version is a great option for anyone who wants to add some adventure activities to their Peru trip without wanting to overdo it.

Keep in mind that permits for the Inca Trail can sell out quickly, so make sure to plan your Peru trip well in advance if you have specific dates in mind for your hike.

The road to Machu Picchu. Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash. div

16. Visit the Millpu Pools

Nestled about halfway between Cusco and Lima in Ayacucho, you'll find the Millpu Pools, a hidden gem and one of the lesser-known attractions in Peru. The pools are a bright turquoise color and almost look otherworldly. The water in the pools comes from nearby glaciers. There’s also a gorgeous waterfall here, the Mollepata waterfall, which is well worth visiting.

To get there, you can either take an overnight bus from Lima or a guided tour from Ayacucho. From the starting point, there is a 25-minute hike to the pools. The hike is slightly challenging, so a reasonable level of fitness is advised, but the views of the pools from the trail are absolutely worth it!

Tip: It’s best to visit the Millpu Pools in the dry season, which is from May to September, as heavy rains may restrict access from Ayacucho.

The Millpu Pools. Photo by @oneoceanaway_ (via instagram)

17. Enjoy Dinner at an Ancient Pyramid

Dotted throughout the modern city of Lima are immense huacas, or pre-Incan temples. If you’re looking for things to do and a great place to enjoy a meal in Miraflores, one of these huacas, or more specifically, Huaca Pucllana, is a great choice and can be visited by any curious wanderer every day except on Tuesdays.

While visiting Huaca Pucllana restaurant during the day is still a wonderful experience, we recommend that you opt for a later tour and stay for dinner, and be sure to request a seat out on the terrace, as this historical landmark in Lima is illuminated at night, making for an incredible backdrop to your meal.

Huaca Pucllana is a famous landmark in Lima that can be viewed and enjoyed from the restaurant. Photo by Huaca Pucllana Restaurant

18. See the Otherworldly Maras Salt Ponds

The Maras Salt Ponds are a slightly lesser-known historic and cultural site. Approximately 30 miles from the city of Cusco, strategically dug into the mountainside, you'll find thousands of shallow pools filled with salt water.

These impressive collections of Inca salt pools have been in operation for more than 500 years and are still operated by current local families, who use evaporation to harvest salt.

Disclaimer: Peru has limited tourist access to the Maras salt pans. As of June 15, 2019, tourists are banned from entering the crystallized pond area due to contaminants found in the salt. Tourists will still be able to learn about the salt pans with a guide and be taken to spectacular viewpoints.

19. Sleep in air capsules

Nowhere else in the world except at the spectacular Skylodge in Peru can you spend the night in a glass capsule hanging from the side of a cliff. Imagine sleeping in a fully transparent capsule 1,300 feet above the ground! Don't worry, though; even at this height, you will have access to a comfortable room, a complete bathroom, and a dining room.

There are two ways to reach the Skylodge Adventure Suites. The first option is via ferrata, which involves climbing between the mountains through a suspension bridge and up to a hanging shelter. This is the better option for climbers without much experience. The second and more extreme option is ziplining. There are seven different sections of 492–2296 ft. (150–700 m) each until you reach the lodge. Does this sound like something you would want to do?

This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you are guaranteed to make lifetime memories!

Cliffside pods at Skylodge Adventure Suites. Image: " SkyLodge Adventure Suites" by F Delventhal is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

20. Climb the Misti Volcano

Peru is very well known for its wide variety of hiking, trekking, and climbing options, and while the world-renowned Inca and Lares Trails are incredible, another great option or alternative, especially for those looking for something different, is Peru's Misti Volcano.

This is by no means an easy climb, but it is one of the least technical high-altitude hikes in the world and unquestionably worth it. Before attempting the climb, you will need to make sure that you are properly acclimatized, as climbing an almost 6,000-meter volcano is serious business!

If you're into hiking,climbing, and trekking and looking for a unique experience, then climbing the Misti Volcano is definitely something you should look into.

With such a wide variety of places to see and things to do in Peru, your Peru tour can be as fun, adventurous, or relaxing as you want!

Ready to check these 20 things to do in Peru off of your list? Book your visit to Peru today and customize your trip with one of our travel experts.

Dean Laurens
Dean Laurens
Dean is a South African animal lover, travel enthusiast, and writer. He worked as a safari guide in Kruger National Park for 27 years. Following his heart, he moved to Peru to be with his wife. Dean's passions include animals, tourism, writing, graphic design, and web development. In his free time, he enjoys movies, books, and spending time with friends and family.
Related Posts:
<div class="entry-thumb-caption">A bird's eye view of Miraflores, Lima shows the Malecón and the Pacific Ocean <a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/hZFXVjeS73A" rel="noopener noreferrer" onclick="javascript:window.open('https://unsplash.com/photos/hZFXVjeS73A'); return false;">Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash</a>
101 Best Things to Do in Lima (Chosen by Experts!)
If you're wondering what to do in Lima, be sure to check out our list of the 101 best things to do in Lima to discover the top Lima activities and attractions on your trip.
<div class="entry-thumb-caption">Cityscape of medieval church and houses with old tile roof in Cusco Peru.</div>
20 Best Things to Do In, From, and Around Cusco (Chosen by Experts!)
Cusco is a magical city with lots to offer, and choosing what to do may be a daunting task. Below, we have compiled a list featuring 20 of the best things to do and attractions to visit on your trip.

Book With Confidence

We're flexible! Postpone your tour with zero cost up to 10 days prior to departure.

Hotel Quality
(Optional. You may choose more than one)
Number of Travelers
Trip Length
Foodie Highlights (Optional)
Are you interested in adding a meal at one of the best restaurants in Latin America?
(feel free to select both options)
We sell virtually all services available in Peru, Galapagos, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Bolivia
CNN logo
New York Times logo
BBC logo
USA Today logo
ASTA logo
BBB accredited Business logo
© 2024 Peru for Less LLC. All rights reserved.
We customize every detail of your trip.