Peru was on the top of my bucket list for the longest time, so when I finally visited it was like a dream come true! There are so many beautiful places it's hard to narrow it down, but here are 10 places you can't visit Peru without seeing!
For those of you that are new.. welcome to my blog! My name is Savanna Crowell and I'm a wanderer who loves to share travel tips and insights on my favorite destinations. If you are interested in knowing more about my background, travels, (or anything!) check out the 'About Me' section of my website. And don't forget to follow me on Instagram @slc_travels to join me on my journeys!
Traveling to Peru
Peru is a vibrant and diverse country to travel to, with landscapes ranging from the Andes Mountains to the Amazon Rainforest and beyond! With how many things there are to see in the country, a trip to Peru definitely requires planning. We broke up our trip into '2 sections', the first half of the trip we rented a car and took a road trip starting in Lima and going down the coast to Huacachina and back. For the second half we were based in Cusco and took trips around there in the Andes mountains (yes, including Machu Picchu).
Renting a Car in Peru
Prior to my trip this is something I wanted to know all the details about, so I will give you my experience! We got our rental car for 4 days and rented through Alamo Car Rental at Lima International Airport. We had no problems with Alamo, they were very friendly, helpful, and relaxed. They had the car at the airport parking lot and ready to go upon our arrival.
Driving in Peru is another story. Getting out of Lima was one of the most stressful things.. my boyfriend was driving and I don't know what was worse - being the passenger or the driver! I say it was stressful because people drive very close to you, there are many potholes you have to avoid, and just overall the driving is a bit chaotic. Once you get out of Lima though, it is much better and relaxed. Just be prepared to be on your A-game driving through the city!
Overall, I would definitely recommend renting a car especially if you want to visit Huacachina and Paracas. There are options for day trips out of Lima via tour guides but honestly it's not worth it for a day trip (it's about a 4 hour drive one way, so most of the day would be spend in the car). Just be extra cautious while driving and you will be fine!
10 Most Beautiful Places to Visit on a Road Trip through Peru
Welcome to the desert oasis of Huacachina! Located just west of Ica (I recommend you stay in that town overnight) in southwestern Peru. I recommend you rent a car from Lima to visit this area. It's a great place to spend a day, as the lagoon's shores are dotted with restaurants and bars for when you get hungry or want a drink.
The most popular thing to do here is go sand boarding or hop on a dune buggy that takes you through the sand dunes. It's such a fun and unique activity to do while you are at the largest sand dunes in South America!
2. Paracas Nature Reserve
I guarantee you would never think of this landscape when thinking of Peru... but yes they have this too! This beautiful nature reserve makes for the perfect stop along the way to Huacachina. The entrance fee is 11 soles, so be prepared to pay that upon arrival.
If you want, you can also take a day trip from this area to Islas Ballestas which is home to an incredibly diverse ecosystem with animals like penguins, flamingos, sea lions, and more.
3. Miraflores, Lima
If you are going to spend any time in Lima, this is the area to do it. Miraflores is a beautiful and safe neighborhood in Lima. To be honest, I don't recommend visiting any other parts of Lima just because there are plenty of other amazing places in Peru to spend time, but this does make for a good stop after you first arrive into Peru or right before you are about to leave.
4. Lake Humantay
Lake Humantay is one of the most beautiful places I've seen. It's beautiful in photos, but even better in real life! The best way to get here is by a day tour from Cusco. This is a pretty strenuous hike, mainly due to the fact that it is at over 13,000 ft elevation, so I strongly recommend you know your ability and spend at least 2 nights in Cusco before attempting this hike. Also, make sure you bring snacks and more water than normal! But after all of that, it's so worth it!!
5. San Blas, Cusco
This was my favorite neighborhood in Cusco. Its narrow streets, colorful buildings, and artisan vibe makes it a perfect place to stay while in Cusco. I recommend spending at least 1 night in San Blas, and at least 1 night in the historic neighborhood of Cusco just so you can experience both vibes and areas!
A few of my favorite restaurants here include: Green Point Restaurant and L'atelier Cafe Concept
CHECK OUT HOTELS IN SAN BLAS HERE (there are also some good ones on Airbnb)
6. Historic Cusco
Ohh Cusco, my favorite city in Peru. It has a certain charm to it that I haven't experienced anywhere else. You could honestly spend your whole time here and not be upset. Cusco makes for a great starting point for adventures into the Andes mountains (like Rainbow Mountain, Lake Humantay, and more), and for visiting Machu Picchu.
Some of my favorite places here include: Cusco Main Square, Plaza San Francisco, San Pedro Market
7. Machu Picchu + Huchu'y Picchu
The one you've probably been waiting for.. the iconic Machu Picchu! It's hard to describe Machu Picchu in a few sentences. It's one of those places that pictures cannot capture its' beauty, its' charm, its' magic.
I recommend spending the night in Ollantaytambo prior to visiting Machu Picchu. From there you can take the PeruRail to Aguas Calientes. From Aguas Calientes take the bus to the entrance of Machu Picchu.
I recommend buying your ticket in advance HERE . There are a few different hikes you can do while in the park as well, we did the shorter hike to Huchu'y Picchu and it was so worth it to see Machu Picchu from a different perspective!
Not only is this the perfect town to stay at the night before visiting Machu Picchu, but it also has its own history and charm! This village, located in the Sacred Valley, it known for its ruins and massive Inca fortress on a hillside (you can see it in the first picture). These ruins date back over 3,500 years!
CLICK HERE TO SEE HOTELS IN OLLANTAYTAMBO (we stayed at El Albergue which is right next to the train station)
9. Maras Salt Mines
Located only one hour outside of Cusco, these salt mines have been in use since Inca times. They believe they were built somewhere between 500 to 1100 AD! The history here is so interesting, and its such a unique place to see!
To get here, you can easily take a taxi from Cusco. I found that they are very affordable and safe!
10. Rainbow Mountain
Found in the Andes mountains, the Rainbow Mountain (or Vinicunca) is one of the most unique places in Peru. To get here, you need to take a group hike from Cusco. Keep in mind, this hike is very strenuous (at an elevation of over 17,000 ft - similar to Mt Everest base camp) so you need to be acclimated to the altitude! I recommend spending at least 3 nights in Cusco prior to this hike, drinking plenty of water and cocoa tea, and be prepared!
The tour is a full day (so account for that) and has food included.
These are just a few amazing destinations to visit in Peru! I loved my time in this beautiful country, and I will definitely be back one day! If you are an adventurous soul, you will love Peru!
Thank you for reading, and keep exploring xxx