Best places to go in Peru? What to do and see in Peru?
Must-sees, hidden gems, cool spots as well as our favourite places.
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26th of October, 2017
12°08'54.0"S 77°01'20.3"W

AMAZON JUNGLE, DESERTS, CANYONS, MOUNTAINS – Peru offers many highlights besides Machu Picchu

Almost everyone knows Peru for Machu Picchu, but there is so so much more to see and do in this amazing country apart from the lost city of the Inca. Peru is one of the most diverse countries in the world offering everything from desert to Amazon jungle. Therefore the experiences you can have in Peru range from jungle trips and wildlife observation to summiting 6000 meter high peaks or relaxing in an oasis in the middle of one of the deepest canyons in the world. Here is our list of top destinations and places in Peru besides Machu Picchu.

Street Art in Barranco - Peru

1. Gocta Waterfall – Provincia de Bongará
Tropical climate, dense jungle and a drop of 771 meters. The Gocta Waterfall is ranked as one of the highest waterfalls in the world. Even though it sounds like a destination many tourists would go to, it is not (not yet). The region is rather undeveloped and you will find unmarked cloud forest in nearly all directions. Also by its location in the north of Peru, it is too far off the “Gringo Trail” and remains one of the hidden gems in Peru. 

2. Barranco – Lima
Lima is highly underrated and we do understand why since the city doesn’t seem very welcoming at first sight. But if you take a closer look, you will find one of the most fascinating developing cities in the world. The city with its scenic location, throning on top of the cliffs, overlooking the Pacific Ocean is a unique place. Especially the neighborhood Barranco shouldn’t be missed while being in Peru. This bohemian district of Lima welcomes you with art galleries, street art, amazing street food, a bunch of cool cafés, restaurants and a lot of old colonial buildings. 

Exploring bohemian Barranco and it's street art - Lima
Exploring bohemian Barranco - Lima
Art Gallery - Exploring bohemian Barranco - Lima
Exploring bohemian Barranco - Lima

3. Tambopata – deep in the dense Peruvian jungle
The Tambopata National Reserve is one of the worlds most biodiverse reserves. There are several lodges but only the Sandoval Lake Lodge and Tambopata Research Center are actually within the boundaries of the reserve. These are very remote lodges deep in the Peruvian jungle and Amazon rainforest which allow wildlife encounters with very rare species such as giant otters, jaguars, tapirs or giant anteaters. 

4. Arequipa – the white city
Arequipa might be the most beautiful peruvian city. The historical center is a UNESCO world heritage site. The natural scenery with several volcanoes and the cultural as well as historic heritage make this city a very special place. Being the second biggest city in Peru after Lima, it is still small in size and offers a relaxed atmosphere which invites for walks through the city center or local markets. There are several good options to eat out or to enjoy a coffee. From Arequipa you can explore the Colca Canyon which is yet another point on our list.

Plaza Mayor - Arequipa, the white city - Peru
Views of Arequipa, the white city - Peru

5. Colca Canyon – Andean Condors and an oasis at the bottom of the canyon
The perfect place for hikes, observing Andean Condors and to relax in perfect scenery. Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world with a depth of 3,270 metres (10,730 ft). In the rather dry and greyish/brownish Canyon you can find a small oasis with palm trees and lush green environment. The oasis “Sangalle” is far down in the canyon close by the river – the perfect place to lay back and relax.

Colca Canyon - Arequipa - Peru
Andean Condor - Colca Canyon - Arequipa - Peru
Oasis in the Colca Canyon - Arequipa - Peru
Colca Canyon - Arequipa - Peru

6. La Cordillera Blanca – Huaraz
The Cordillera Blanca with a high density of 6000ers offers many different options for hiking, trekking, mountaineering and climbing from which the most famous ones might be Laguna 69, the Santa Cruz Trek and the Alpamayo Expedition.

7. Peruvian Amazon – Iquitos
Peru has after Brazil the second-largest portion of the Amazon, which comprises 60% of the country. There are several starting points to explore this biodiverse region. One of them is Iquitos, the biggest city in the Peruvian Amazon region, which can only be reached by boat or plane. Here you can observe pink dolphins, alligators, different species of birds, sloths and many other animals. Or maybe you want to go for a swim in the Amazon. But take care of the piranhas!

Peruvian Amazon - Iquitos - Peru
Sunset in Peruvian Amazon - Iquitos, Peru

8. Beach escape and surf in Mancora
Looking for some beach time? Head north to Mancora for some relaxed days at the beach with all year good weather and solid swell. This tropical beach paradise is a lively place. For more information on the surf conditions, check here.

9. National Reserve Paracas
The National Reserve of Paracas includes coastal desert, ocean and islands. Apart from the stunning scenery with red sand beaches you can observe wildlife such like sea-lions, dolphins, penguins, pelicans and many other different species of birds. The Islas Balletas are home to many of the animals and can be seen only by boat.

Islas Ballestas, Paracas National Reserve, Peru - The Peruvian Galapagos - Perfect to observe wildlife such as Penguins, Dolphins, Sea-lions or Pelicans
Sea-Lion - Islas Ballestas, Paracas National Reserve, Peru - The Peruvian Galapagos - Perfect to observe wildlife such as Penguins, Dolphins, Sea-lions or Pelicans

10. Desert Adventure in Huacachina
Huacachina is a small village surrounded by sand dunes and desert. The small oasis is not far from Ica and invites for trips in the desert to see the sunset, drive sand buggies or for some sandboarding.

11. Nazca Lines
The mystic Nazca Lines are known as geoglyphs – drawings on the ground which create a “negative” image. There are more than 300 figures, most of them having the shape of animals or plants. The largest figures are up to 370 meters long. You can see them best by flying over them, which is rather pricey though.

Nazca Lines in Peru
Nazca Lines in Peru

12. Rainbow Mountain Vinicunca – Pitumarca
From turquoise to terra cotta – the colours of these mountains are du to the sediment and atmosphere of the area. Vinicunca which is the most famous one of the Rainbow Mountains has an altitude of 5.200 meters above sea level (17.000 ft).

13. Marcahuasi and its mystic stone formations
East of Lima at 4000 meters above sea level – mystic Marcahuasi is a plateau in the Andes with stone formations of human faces and animals. It offers incredible views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Marcahuasi - Stone Formations - Peru
Marcahuasi - Stone Formations - Peru

Let’s face it, Machu Picchu still can’t be missed! We got you covered – check our Ultimate guide to Machu Picchu

Looking for some interesting facts about Peru ?
Find here our Action Guide to Lima and our photo galleries about the Islas Ballestas or the Cliffs of Lima

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Our top things to see and do in Peru apart from Machu Picchu

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