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Top 12 Things to Do in Peru

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Ancient circular terraces at Moray, Sacred valley, Peru

Terraces at Moray in the Sacred Valley, Peru

The top things to do in Peru reflect the natural and cultural splendors you can experience during your customized trip.

The Amazon wilderness is vibrant with color, artisan markets are a microcosm of Andean communities, and the sea breeze adds to the contemporary ambiance of Lima’s coastal streets. From the secluded shoreline to the renowned ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru has something for every kind of traveler.

Whether a family searching for adventure, a couple eager for a romantic escape, or a senior trip of a lifetime, the best things to do in Peru highlight the possibilities for creating your perfect vacation.

  1. 1. Explore Ancient Inca Ruins
  2. 2. Discover Immersive Museum Exhibits
  3. 3. Tour Architectural and Cultural Mysteries
  4. 4. Enjoy Perfect and Surprising Beaches
  5. 5. Experience Guided Wilderness Tours
  6. 6. Search for Unique Birds
  7. 7. Find Unforgettable Accommodations
  8. 8. See Different Types of Art
  9. 9. Satisfy Your Cravings with Food Experiences
  10. 10. Explore the Wilderness on Land and Sea
  11. 11. Take an Active Adventure in an Exclusive Place
  12. 12. Embrace Slow Travel Excursions
  13. Experience the Top Things to Do in Peru

1. Explore Ancient Inca Ruins

Ancient Inca ruins at Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

The well-preserved Inca ruins in Peru tell only part of the story of the greater empire. At its peak, it spread over 770,000 square miles, reaching north to the border of what is now Colombia and south beyond the modern border of Chile.

The architecture caps the high plateaus of the Andes Mountains, rises above the dense foliage, and overlooks the crumbling edges of the earth below.

With a remarkable collection of sites looming above the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley, the heritage of the Inca lives on in the incredible ruins.

Best Places to View Inca Ruins: Machu Picchu • Cusco • Moray • Pisac • Ollantaytambo • Qorikancha • Saqsaywaman

2. Discover Immersive Museum Exhibits

Museo Pedro de Osma in Lima, Peru

Museo Pedro de Osma in Lima, Peru

Museums in Peru share more than just artifacts. Immersive exhibits unravel cultural history with archeological insight or fascinating artistic perspectives. Whether looking for a display of Inca treasures, the truth beyond Spanish colonization, or more robust exhibitions of pre-Columbian art, Peru’s museums become gateways to surprising new information.

View the works of contemporary artists in trendy neighborhoods or visit the first Spanish home built in the Americas. Whether looking at a private collection of silver with pieces dating back centuries or viewing artifacts of indigenous communities from across Peru, the collection of museums can open your eyes to the deep wealth of heritage that has been recovered, restored, or brought to the forefront of the local story.

Best Museums to Visit: Amano Museum • Casa Aliaga • Museo Pedro de Osma • MALI

3. Tour Architectural and Cultural Mysteries

Geoglyphs made in the soil of the desert in Nazca, Peru.

Nazca Lines in Peru

The culture of Peru is layered beyond the Inca, with a heritage spanning millennia before the first stone was set at Machu Picchu. From mysterious formations to the allure of legends, the cultural landmarks across Peru share the greater story of the nation’s collective history dealing with thousands of years of civilizations, kingdoms, and cultures on which the Inca built their empire.

From adobe pyramids to pictures carved into the desert landscape, murals decorating the walls of a 16th-century cathedral to floating islands made from local reeds, the landmarks that span Peru demonstrate a unique perspective of pre- and post-Columbian timelines shaped by the land, sea, and history, while also demonstrating regional life that predates and parallels the Inca.

Best Places to View Cultural Landmarks: Nazca • Santa Catalina Monastery • Chan Chan • Basilica of San Francisco de Lima • Lake Titicaca

4. Enjoy Perfect and Surprising Beaches

Two surfers walking along Tuquillo Beach in Peru

Tuquillo Beach in Huarmey, Peru

Stretches of deserted white sands and golden coast are perfect for relaxing in luxury or surfing some of the greatest waves in the world. With multi-colored sands and the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific coastline, natural beauty abounds and surprises.

The best beaches in Peru possess a quiet and consistent ambiance, steeped in year-round temperate weather that turns the coastline into the perfect escape any time of year. Whether connected to the urban sprawl of a large city or hidden from view like a desert oasis, the beaches of Peru are often overlooked but endlessly inviting.

Best Beaches to Visit: Barlovento • Paracas • Cerro Azul • Tuquillo • El Silencio • Miraflores

5. Experience Guided Wilderness Tours

Titi monkey in Tambopata National Reserve, Peru

Tambopata National Reserve, Peru

The natural wonders of Peru often stand in the shadow of Machu Picchu, but the exceptional wildlife is reason enough to visit. Peru’s diverse ecosystems range from the high-altitude Andes to the Amazon Rainforest and can feel untamed.

Brimming with protected environments that support hundreds of larger fauna, including Andean condors and pumas, Humboldt penguins and river dolphins, alpacas, and piranhas, there is much to see.

Whether on a trek through the jungle or a cruise on the Amazon River, you can enjoy searching for wildlife that has called the region home for millennia.

Best Places to View Wildlife: Paracas • Ballestas Islands • Colca Canyon • Tambopata National Reserve • Parque Nacional del Manu

6. Search for Unique Birds

Macaws in Manu National Park, Peru

Macaws in Manu National Park, Peru

The diverse ecosystems in which the wildlife thrives are a Peru must-see, including pristine regions that support birdlife. Nature is a spectacle to behold when visiting Peru, and when birding, you can find incredible views of famous species like the Andean condor or the popular cock-of-the-rock.

In the tropical lowlands, you can search for the likes of macaw and pavonine quetzal. Floodplains, mountain peaks, river islands, and sand forests all add to the natural landscape that has shaped the country’s diverse bird population, resulting in a marvelous place to view a variety with little effort and incredible rewards.

Best Places for Birding: Manu National Park • Pacaya Samiria National Reserve • Ballestra Islands • Cutervo National Park • Huascaran National Park

7. Find Unforgettable Accommodations

Luxury accommodations at Rio Sagrado, a Belmond hotel, in Peru's Sacred Valley

Rio Sagrado in the heart of Peru's Sacred Valley, Peru. Photo courtesy of Belmond

From floating on an island in Lake Titicaca to enjoying a unique view over the Sacred Valley from high on a cliff, feeling immersed in the rainforest, or embracing the ambiance of an oasis, Peru is a wonderland of unique hotels and accommodations with new concepts and luxury perspectives, each providing an immersive experience intertwined with its environment.

Beyond an idea of luxury, the accommodations become part of the journey allowing you to experience fascinating worlds from the Andes to the Amazon to South America’s highest freshwater lake accentuating the elements that make Peru endlessly enchanting.

The success of your vacation is often built on your chosen activities,  memorable guides, and the right accommodations, all carefully personalized to you. Peru offers something for every traveler, and your travel specialist can offer ideas you may have never imagined.

Best Places for Unforgettable Accommodations: Amazon Rainforest • Puno • Cusco

8. See Different Types of Art

Colorful textiles at the Andean market in Pisac, Peru

Pisac, Peru

Peru is vibrant with color, from its natural beauty to how local artisans capture images of their surroundings in their creations. Art in Peru can take the form of a painting, a blanket, and much more, as artisans share their heritage through wooden carvings, pottery, or images that connect contemporary culture to the past.

Whether visiting an artisan market or an art gallery, the works speak for themselves, requiring visitors to take their time to see the quality, intention, and intricacy of each piece and how each artwork speaks to greater Peru.

Best Places for Artisan Crafts: Lima • Cusco • Pisac • Chinchero • Huilloc

9. Satisfy Your Cravings with Food Experiences

Overhead view of woman eating at a table filled with Peruvian food

Lima, Peru

Peruvian cuisine has burst with popularity, celebrated for bright flavors that capture the distinctiveness of the different regions. Chefs across the country are using their classically trained experience to highlight their favorite flavors with their focus on local ingredients, from using potatoes to make beer, promoting up to 55 different varieties of corn, or even promoting the uses of edible clay.

Explore Peruvian food by taking a cooking class organized in the kitchen of a private home, visit new breweries using local fruits and vegetables as bases, or wander the Pisco Museum to learn more about the evolution of the spirit.

Peru is a dynamo of flavor, and there is endless inspiration for chefs, foodies, and travelers looking for simple ways to enjoy tasty treats.

Best Food Experiences: Lima food tour • Cycling food tour • Pisco Museum • Chocolate workshop • Cerveceria tour

10. Explore the Wilderness on Land and Sea

Lake Paron in Huascaran National Park, Peru

Lake Paron in Huascaran National Park, Peru

The top activities in Peru can take you on an exploration into the mountains or below the surface of the sea in search of glowing coral reefs and diving penguins. Visiting a national park in Peru gives you views of stunning wildlife in new and exciting ways, not limited to land.

Cruise to distant islands where endemic wildlife thrives away from the prying eyes of communities or take to mountainous trails for vistas that share Peru’s elevated majesty. The national parks in Peru reveal the inherent beauty of flowers and grasses, trees and riverbeds, islands, and ocean to create an everlasting connection.

Best National Parks to Visit: Huascaran National Park • Cerros de Amotape National Park • Cutervo National Park • Tingo Maria National Park • Cordillera Azul National Park

11. Take an Active Adventure in an Exclusive Place

Mountain biking in Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru

Peru is becoming much more diverse in how you can explore the Andes Mountains or discover the waters of Lake Titicaca.

Instead of typical excursions by coach or only walking through city streets, you can embrace adventure by hiking or rafting through the Amazon, hiking beneath the rainforest canopy, or mountain biking outside of Puno at approximately 12,500 feet above sea level.

Scuba dive in Lake Titicaca, paraglide in Lima or snorkel in search of sea lions around the protected marine park of the Palomino Islands. Discover the natural beauty of Peru in a way that best suits you with so many creative ways to explore.

Best Active Adventures to Experience: Rafting • Rainforest Hike • Painting on Fabric Yine • Scuba Dive • Floating Bike • Paragliding • Snorkeling • Mountain Biking

12. Embrace Slow Travel Excursions

Group of travelers with a guide overlooking the Salt Mines of Maras in Peru

Salt Mines of Maras near Cusco, Peru

Slow travel is all about going deeper into the experience, traveling with intention and purpose at a leisurely pace rather than speeding through a country to visit the largest number of highlights possible within a narrow timeframe. Slow travel experiences have opened up across Peru to help broaden visitors' horizons with a more focused approach to visiting with locals to understand regional cultures and the importance of the past’s effects on the present.

Better relate to communities or find how to create historical empathy as you move through Peru’s micro-climates, neighborhoods, and ruins, from art districts to vibrant cultural markets, salt mines to the Sun Gate crowning the Inca trail and overlooking Machu Picchu.

Take your time with a guide, learn from community leaders, but more importantly, give yourself the time and space to connect with the living and lived-in traditions.

Best Places for Slow Travel Excursions: Machu Picchu • Maras • Moray • Pisac • Sacsayhuaman • San Blas

Experience the Top Things to Do in Peru

Uros floating island with boaters on Lake Titicaca, Peru

Lake Titicaca, Peru

The question of what to do in Peru can be answered with a trip featuring the ruins of Machu Picchu, the wonders of the wildlife around the Ballestas islands, remote communities on Lake Titicaca, or the marvels of the Amazon as you explore the best places to visit in Peru. No matter the kinds of experiences you prefer, you can embrace romance or adventure, discovery or relaxation during the best time to visit Peru.

Explore the endless possibilities with sample itineraries in our Peru vacations and tours or look for more information about traveling to Peru in our Peru travel guide.

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