When you're thinking about dream destinations you'd love to travel to, Peru might not be at the top of everyone's list. Countries like France, Thailand, Iceland, and Spain would probably cross your mind first. But South America should not be overlooked and after you read this article you'll discover why.
This past summer I visited 4 countries in South America; Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia, and Peru and it was seriously life-changing. While all of those countries are beautiful and unique, my favourite was definitely Peru.
There was so much to experience in Peru from historic Incan sites to majestic mountains to wildlife spotting in the Amazon Rainforest. While most of the time we were either roughing it in rustic conditions or struggling to breathe at high altitude, whenever we reached our next destination it was all worth it!
If you're planning a trip to Peru soon or you're wondering what stunning spots are down there, here are 12 bucket list things you've got to do in Peru to make it the best trip ever!
Explore the world's highest navigable lake
Lake Titicaca is the world's highest navigable body of water sitting at 3,810 meters above sea-level. You can take a boat tour across this majestic body of water that's said to be the 'birthplace of the Incas'. You can visit some of the local communities that actually created man-made 'islands' to live on the lake water! Their homemade boats, homes, and islands are beautifully crafted and they're very welcoming of visitors to see and understand how they live.
Fly over the Nazca Lines
Head to Nazca, Peru and you'll see firsthand the wonders of the Nazca people. The Nazca Lines are a huge topic of debate because of how large and intricate they are. Many have speculated about how they were able to create such perfect drawings without being able to see them from above, which is the only way to see the pictures as a whole. Some even believe aliens created the lines but we'll never know for sure!
Hike up to Rainbow Mountain
Probably one of the most photographed places in Peru is the infamous Rainbow Mountain! It will take you most of the day to hike up to the top of this magnificent 4,500-meter mountain. It's definitely a tough hike at that altitude but the reward at the top is pretty magical. You can take pictures with furry alpacas with a view of the staggering coloured mountains behind you!
Go sandboarding in a desert oasis
This is probably my favourite memory of Peru! Huacachina is a magical oasis in a desert with a tiny village built around it. The main activity here is taking a dune buggy out into the expansive sand dunes and riding it through the hills like a roller coaster! Then you'll go sandboarding down the hills for a completely unique and exciting experience.
Drink a famous Pisco Sour in Lima
The pisco sour is a famous Peruvian drink that is super popular across the nation. Some of the best pisco sours can be found in the capital of Lima and one of the best spots for it is Hotel Maury! It's located in downtown Lima and the bartenders have perfected the recipe by adding special ingredients like fluffy egg whites and Angostura bitter.
Hike through the second largest canyon in the world
Colca Canyon is located just outside of Peru's second largest city, Arequipa, and it also happens to be the world's second largest canyon! It's home to a unique species of bird called the Condor that is the largest flying bird in the world. Tours to the canyon will take you there early in the morning so you can see these majestic birds in flight! Get ready to wake up at 3 am and stumble out of your hostel bed to be the first ones to see the condors though.
Spend some time on the beach in Mancora
Spend some time at this Northern beach town in Peru for a relaxing escape. There are tons of fun hostels here with pools, bars, and access to the sandy beach which is great for anyone who wants a break from all the hiking that the rest of the country brings.
Visit the infamous Machu Picchu
Everyone knows Machu Picchu is one of the ultimate spots to hit when you're in Peru. While some people will choose to just take the bus up to the top, it's so much more rewarding when you hike there! There are tons of options to choose from, when I went I took the 5 day Salkantay Trek which was long and hard but totally worth it once we reached our destination!
Take a boat cruise through the Peruvian Amazon
There are tons of magical things you can see in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. You can see caimans, monkeys, tons of spiders, parrots, capybaras, and even jaguars (hopefully not though). There are tons of great tour companies that will show you the way deep into the Rainforest where you're more likely to see the most animals and will take you by boat down the winding rivers.
Go shopping at the San Pedro Market in Cusco
Cusco is a historic and exciting city to explore with tons of amazing things to explore. One of the things that should be at the top of your list while in Cusco it's the San Pedro Market. It's filled with fresh fruits, other foods, classic Peruvian goods, alpaca sweaters, and so much more! If you want to get some goods for family and friends, this is definitely the place to be.
Visit the poor man's Galapagos
I fully recommend everyone to visit the real Galapagos Islands at some point in their lives but if you can't quite afford it Peru has the next best thing. Islas Ballestas is also known as the "poor man's Galapagos" because of the abundance of sea lions, birds, and penguins you can spot here! Take a boat out from Paracas and experience these wonders up close and personal.
Explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas
One of the must-see spots, when you're in Peru, is the Sacred Valley. It's pretty close to the city of Cusco so you can get a bus tour from there and you'll get to see tons of great things along the way including the breathtaking salt mines, rolling hills, and even zip lining tours!
Sleep inside a capsule built into a mountain
One of the most unique places to stay in all of Peru is definitely the Skylodge Adventure Suites. They're basically see-through capsules with a cozy bed and unbelievable views that are hanging off the side of a mountain. You'll take a via ferrata adventure, scaling the mountain cliff, to reach the capsule and spend the night!