Located in western South America, Peru is a wonderful, surprising and fascinating country with an extensive history and culture. With its biodiversity and breath-taking landscapes, the “Land of the Incas” draws more and more tourists every year. Planning a trip to Peru? Here are some destinations you might want to consider when planning your stay.
Main Destinations in Peru
- Lima: Being the capital of Peru, Lima is one of the most popular destinations in the country. The city, which was founded in 1585 by Conquistador Francisco Pizarro and nicknamed “The City of Kings” (La Ciudad de los Reyes), combines colonial heritage with Latin atmosphere. Popular attractions include the Plaza Mayor, the Cathedral of Lima, the historic centre (which is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List), the Church of San Francisco (Iglesia de San Francisco) and Miraflores (one of Lima’s most popular districts). Lima is also one of the best places to taste Peruvian cuisine, as the city features many restaurants and dining places.
- Machu Picchu: Probably the most iconic site of all of Peru, this ancient Inca city is located at an altitude of more than 2,400 m (about 8,000 feet). The “Lost City of the Incas” is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in an online poll. Its ruins were discovered in 1911 and form the end point of the famous Inca Trail.
- Cusco: Cusco (also spelled Cuzco) is located southeast of Peru. The city is mostly renowned for being the place where the historic capital of the Inca Empire was built. The city is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is therefore a very popular destination, attracting 1.5 million tourists every year. Cusco is mostly famous for its remains of the Inca Empire. Through the Inca Trail, you can reach by foot some of the most important Inca sites, including Machu Picchu.
- Trujillo: Located in Northwestern Peru, Trujillo is the third largest city in the country. Founded in 1534 by Conquistador Diego de Almagro, the city of Trujillo is mostly renowned for being close to two major attractions: Chan Chan, the largest South American pre-Columbian city (included on the UNESCO World Heritage List) and the Sun and Moon Temple, a remainder of the Moche civilization.
- Arequipa: Located in Southern Peru, Arequipa is the second largest city in the country in terms of population. The city is situated in the Andes Mountains, 2,335 meters above sea level. As many other cities in Peru, Arequipa has a strong colonial heritage which is reflected in its white Spanish-style buildings made of volcanic rock. Arequipa has therefore been nicknamed “The White City” (La Ciudad Blanca). Because of its architecture and history, the historic center of Arequipa has been considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000 and is therefore one of the city’s main sights.
- Puno: Puno is a city located southeast of Peru, on the shores of Lake Titicaca (Lago Titicaca). The city is mostly renowned for its proximity with the famous lake, the world’s highest navigable lake, as it is located at an altitude of 3,830 meters above sea level. Puno is also famous for its local culture and popular festivals, such as the Festival de la Virgen de la Candelaria, which takes place in February.
- Máncora: Máncora is a town located in northwestern Peru, mostly known for its beaches and crystal-clear waters. Máncora is also known for its nice waves which makes it a great surfing destination. Moreover, the town features luxury restaurants and beach resorts, as well as lots of nightclubs, and will therefore seduce all leisure aficionados.
- Iquitos: Located in the Peruvian rainforest, on the Amazon River, Iquitos is one of Peru’s main travel destinations. The city is indeed a getaway to the Amazon rainforest, famous for its biodiversity. Iquitos’ main sights include the Barrio de Belén (a district renowned for its floating houses and its open-air market), Malecón Tarapacá (a promenade facing the Amazon River) and Iglesia Matriz (a neo-gothic church definitely worth a look).
In our second article about Peru we will be talking about some of the natural and historic wonders of this diverse country. Part three of this article series will address the practical aspects of travel in Peru such as the weather, language, food and safety.