Andean highlands, amazing Amazon jungle, the concrete jungle of sprawling Lima, coastal desert with towering sand dunes and miles of peaceful Pacific coastline comprise Peru. Within this unique landscape can be found four of the most historic and visited places in South America: Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.
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Beautifully situated in a verdant garden, Miraflores Park, A Belmond Hotel, Lima is a true urban sanctuary beside the city's cultural gems.
Peru is also a culinary and cultural hotspot, particularly its capital Lima, one of the largest cities on the continent. Lima is so large, in fact, that it often eclipses Peru’s other metropolitan cities, such as Arequipa and Trujillo. But these cosmopolitan cities should not be overlooked. Arequipa is a stunning colonial-era city framed by three volcanos and brimming with Baroque buildings. Trujillo, the most important city on the country’s north coast, is known as the “City of the Eternal Spring” due to its year-round sunshine.
What To Do
Peru is not just about its fabled Incan and colonial past. Today, Peru, with 1,500 miles of coastline, is a South American surfing Mecca. It is also an outdoor adventurer’s paradise, whether for zip-lining through the canopy of the Amazon rainforest, sandboarding down Peru’s mountainous dunes or trekking in the Andes, the second-highest mountain range on Earth. Whatever you do in Peru, you are bound to be immersed in its rich indigenous and colonial past while enjoying the country’s prosperous present. For a more in depth trip, try one of our Peru Escorted Tours.
What To See
Lima – Most trips to Peru begin in Lima, the country’s largest city. To learn more about Peru’s 4,000 years of pre-Columbian history, visit Museo Larco. No visit to Lima is complete without strolling through the city’s historic center, which stretches from Plaza San Martin to Plaza de Armas. Here you will find the Presidential Palace, Cathedral of Lima and a plethora of other well-preserved colonial buildings. Other must-see sights include Lima’s Barranco district, a Bohemian area revered for its Art Deco homes and authentic restaurants; and Huaca Pucllana, an adobe and clay pyramid built around 500 AD and located in the Miraflores district, a scenic neighborhood that sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean that is renowned for its nightlife.
Cusco – Once the capital of the Inca Empire, this Andean city is famous for its Spanish colonial architecture, Inca walls and foundations and stone-paved streets. Cusco, a crossroads of Amerindian and mestizo culture and the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Americas, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the city’s top attractions include the church of Santo Domingo, which is built on the ruins of the Inca site Coricancha; Sacsayhuaman, an ancient Incan fortress that is still used today for re-enactments of Inca ceremonies; and Plaza de Armas, the heart of Cusco that houses the Cusco Cathedral, colonial arcades and much more.
Sacred Valley – The aptly named Sacred Valley, once the center of the Inca Empire, is overflowing with important and consecrated Incan sites. These include the citadels of Pisac and Ollantaytambo that guard the valley on opposite ends, the complex of Puka Pukara, the religious site Q’engo, the agricultural site Moray, the Maras Salt Mines and the king of the Sacred Valley, aka Urubamba Valley, Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu – Standing guard over the Sacred Valley since the 15th century from its almost 8,000-foot perch, Machu Picchu is the most iconic Incan site in the country. Because the citadel is also on many bucket lists of people around the world and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, it is also the most visited destination in Peru. Machu Picchu is a religious, astronomical, ceremonial and agricultural site consisting of approximately 200 structures, including temples, palaces, terraces, walls, monuments and more.
When to Go
Because Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley get more than 1.5 million visitors a year, it is best to go in the off or shoulder season to avoid the massive crowds. Keep in mind that Peru is in the Southern Hemisphere, so summer begins in December and winter begins in June. If you’re going to Peru for an outdoor adventure, May through October is the dry season.