Top Peru Attractions
The first time you visit Peru, or any new destination,
the question asked isn’t usually what attractions should be
scene but what attraction to see first, what to expect, how to get
there, and how much time is needed. We’ve provided tips, advice,
and other information about the top tourist attractions in Peru
to help with your itinerary planning.
Built by the Incas over 500 years ago, Machu Picchu is Peru’s most visited
tourist attraction with over 500,000 people each year, and a U.N.
Picchu is a glorious man-made city sitting in the middle of a tropical
mountain forest. Perched high above the clouds at 7,000 feet above
sea level, the city remains quite intact with giant stone walls,
old temples, and luscious green terraces. Located about 75 miles
from Cuzco, Machu Picchu overlooks a canyon on the Urubamba river
and the Andes mountains, as well as lots of greenery from the Amazon
This colossal work of architecture is an incredible achievement
for such a primitive culture. The stonemasonry and engineering are
near construction perfection, remaining intact for centuries. Wandering
through this ancient citadel, you will find a maze of temples and
palaces reserved for the top Incan royalty. Two must-see temples
are the Temple of the Sun--a circular tower with the best stonework,
and Temple of the Moon with carved structures on boulders.
If you have the time, you can climb Huayna Picchu—the mountain
overlooking Machu Picchu (where the Temple of the Moon is located).
It is about an hour climb on the original Inca path; the view from
p is worth it, as you can see the entire Machu Picchu and
Be prepared for a long travel to get here. There are only two ways:
by rail and by foot. By rail, you must leave from Cuzco. Trains
leave only early in the morning and you return the same day. Be
prepared for a long trip, the train is about 4 ½ hours to
Machu Picchu and 5 to 5 ½ hours return. You will start about
6:00 am and return to Cuzco around 9:30 at night. Pack food for
the train—there is not much available. This is not the entire
trip, once you get off the train, you take a bus ride for 30 minutes
to the top, then hike the rest of the way. The train and the bus
trip do have quite severe switchbacks, so take motion sickness pills
if this will cause you pain. There are backpacker’s services
available for this trip. You will not receive a tour guide, as many
tourists prefer. The cost for the backpacker’s service is
around US $35.00. This does not include entrance into Machu Picchu
By foot, you can actually hike the Inca trail. This takes about
3-5 full days of hiking. Be sure to bring some sleeping/camping
equipment with you. Many tourists do this and it is so popular,
you must make reservations for the hike beforehand.
Many websites offer travel deals for the hike, which include tour
Regular adult fare for entrance is US $20. Bring your International
Student ID card for discounts. The park will close at dusk, but
plenty of hostels and hotels will accommodate you if you decide
to stay an extra day.
is a quaint town accessible basically by plane only. This city evokes
a mystical feel, as if you were still in the ancient Incan times.
Children play s
occer in the streets, women roam about selling their
homemade goods and crafts, and the parks fill with pigeons. The
town is small and easily accessible, be sure to visit the magnificent
Cathedral, the Church of LaMerced, and the Temple of San Blas. Shopping
does not disappoint either, as you can easily barter for fleece
sweaters, jackets, and blankets (at such a high elevation, these
items become a necessity). When visiting the Plaza de Armas, you
may see Peruvian military marching. The Museum of Religious Art,
once a palace for the Incas, still maintains its intricate Moorish
architecture and carvings. In the museum, you can find some Mesitizo
artwork (both European and Indian influence). You can take tours
of the city with English-speaking guides. You will learn about the
history of the Incas, the Quechua language, and visit some old temples
further out of town. It gets chilly, so be sure to take your sweater
and wool mittens.
Cuzco is available by flight. Not many carriers fly into Cuzco;
Lan Peru is about the cheapest option for arrival.
Explore the Amazon in this beautiful national reserve park. Near the Madre
de Dios, a large river in Puerto Maldonado, there are three conservation
areas the Manu Biosphere Reserve, declared a World Heritage Site
by UNESCO in 1987, the Tambopata - Candamo Reserve, with intact
populations of several endangered species, and the Bahuaja-Sonene
National Park, home to 450 different species of birds.
Several companies will provide you with the full Amazon experience
in Puerto Maldonado. You must fly from Cuzco to this national reserve.
From there, a company bus will pick you up and take you to the Madre
de Dios. A motor-boat is then waiting to wisk you off to some jungle
adventure. On each side of the river, you will discover a world
of palm trees, thick greenery, and crocodiles meandering about the
edge of the water.
Each company has their own facilities located on the edge of the
Madre de Dios at some point on the river. During your stay, you
will be housed in thatched log cabins reminiscent of Treasure Island.
Expect to live like the jungle people, with no hot water and no
electricity, just the eerie sounds of the jungle. You will hear
parakeets of every species, mosquitos, every bug humming its own
Each company provides the delicious, savory meals. Expect some
tasty seasonings of the jungle dishes, such as rice cooked i
leaves, tender meats with special sauces, and monkey bananas as
sweet as candy.
During your time in the Amazon, you shall be treated to hikes deep
into the jungle while experiencing plenty of mosquito bites, parakeets,
monkeys, and the largest, most colorful butterflies in the world.
At night, you can take a boat into Madre de Dios to search for crocodiles.
Their eyes turn ruby red by your flashlight. After a long day’s
hike, you can simply relax in your hammock and listen to the birds
sing you to sleep. Silence in the jungle does not exist.
Package costs vary depending upon length of stay and tour company
The capitol of Peru, Lima is cosmopolitan and has that large-city
feel, yet still maintains a culture true to its Indian roots. Sitting
up against the Pacific Ocean, the fog and chilly air rolls in, but
during the summer months (winter months
in U.S.) the sun peaks its
head out and millions flock to the beach. Although most buildings
are governmental, you can still find historical sites and museums
throughout the city. Its cobbled streets and traditional Catholic
churches mixed with big city sophistication leads Lima to be a unique
experience for the South American tourist.
In the center of town, known as the Plaza de Armas, you can see
the President’s palace and all its glory. You cannot enter,
but just take some pictures from behind the gates. In this area,
you can visit the massive governmental buildings and the politicians
roaming the streets. During the lunch hour, you can witness the
changing of the guard. In the plaza are the cathedral, town hall,
and library. Many manifestations against the government often take
place in this plaza.
For the shopaholic, visit Miraflores—an eclectic area with
outdoor markets, cafes, outdoor entertainment and various stores
and restaurants. It invokes a Miami like feel in a city that is
quite subdued. You can also see Kennedy Park in which artists sell
s every weekend.
Over forty museums are located in or around Lima, Peru with artifacts
of the ancient Incan culture, textiles, and pottery. Most museums
are either historical-archaeological or religious. Museums to see
include the Museum of the Republic and Museum of Anthropology and
Archaeology, with collections of ancient Peruvian culture. If you
do not have a weak stomach, visit the Museum of the Inquisition
to view underground dungeons and torture chambers.
The Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology is open from Tuesday
to Sunday 9:30-5:30. Plaza Bolivar s/n, Pueblo Libre. 463-5070
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