The surfing is epic here, but there’s a lot more to discover along Peru’s northern coast: ancient cities rising out of lush rainforests, fertile valleys giving way to dusty colonial towns, and mangrove forests alive with wildlife.
Vast shopping malls and noisy sprawl are all the rage in Peru’s third largest city, but its
As you wander down bustling, pedestrian Pizarro street to the Plaza de Armas, poke your head into the courtyards of churches, restaurants, or political-party headquarters and you’ll discover fading frescos, white-gloved waiters, and other experiences of Trujillo’s former sugar-cane wealth.
If cities aren’t your thing, go sandboarding at the Laguna de
The largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas feels like a graphic designer’s desert fantasy. Sea-themed geometric patterns adorn symmetrical streets, walls, and plazas where 60,000 Chimú people once lived, among master ceramicists, gold and silversmiths.
What’s left from the relentless looting of conquistadors is on display in the on-site museum. It’s S/. 10 (
Credited as the 5,000-year-old birthplace of surfing, the easygoing vibe of Huanchaco makes it a comfortable base for exploring the area or learning to surf. Indulge in ceviche or a crushed-ice-with-fruit
This stunning minimalist museum houses the mummified body, weapons, and sophisticated
This town is famous for having the longest wave in the world, accessible to almost every level of surfer.
One of the best-preserved colonial town centers in Peru is off the radar of most travelers. Colorful, generously terraced buildings line the waterfront, which is a
Most travelers miss out on the charming streets and famous King Kong cakes of Lambayeque on their way to the shamanistic
Stay in a restored colonial hotel near the main square and walk to the museum of Sipan, a wealthy lord of the Moche people who was buried with his entire family,
Nestled among pine-forested hills, this ancient city is best known for Peru’s finest cheeses, mushrooms, and dulce-de-leche, but it’s also where the Incan ruler Atahualpa was executed by conquistador Francisco Pizarro.
Visit the eerie funerary enclosures carved into cliffs at the Ventanillas de Otuzco and Combayo, and relax at the popular Baños del Inca hot springs, where you can rent a private pool by the half hour.
There are ample opportunities to get a cheeky pic of yourself eating a 2,529ft (771m) waterfall on the well-marked hike to Gocta falls. Join a tour from Chachapoyas or hike in yourself, starting in the village of San Pablo and continuing through pastures and cloud forests to Cocachimba.
Travelers seeking the mysterious beauty of Machu Picchu without the crowds head to this vast stone fortification perched atop a cliff in the cloud forest. It houses more than 450 structures built by the pre-Incan Chachapoya people.
You can hike for four hours and 4,921ft (1,500m) up from Tingo Viejo or take a cable car through 20 minutes of breathtaking Andean vistas for S/. 20 soles (
These layered pyramids built up by several civilizations are known as “Purgatory” by the locals. You won’t find any night tours of this site thanks to a long history of creepy vibes, starting with conquistadors throwing non-believers to their deaths from the top.
This bustling market of regional goodies just outside of Piura is Northern Peru’s answer to the handicraft heaven of Cusco. Excellent hammocks, leather goods, straw hats, silver, and baskets will satisfy your artisanal shopping itch.
If you’re looking for a ghost town vibe a la an old Western film, this out-of-the-way surfer’s paradise will not disappoint. Dusty streets and battered army installations intermingle with humming oil wells, fishing boats, and crumbling wooden buildings from the turn of the 20th
Experienced surfers will find a variety of fast and
Peru’s party-happy head to Mancora for the beaches, waves, and year-round sun. The mangroves of Tumbes are a short trip away and worth exploring with a qualified guide. If you’d prefer quiet relaxation and fresh seafood, the villages of Los Organos, El Ñuro, or El Colan are the prettiest beaches on the North Coast.
Want to know more about Peru? Check out our podcast. We chat about alternative treks to Machu Picchu, how Peru is the original home of surfing, and look at what vaccinations do you need when traveling to South America.
Peru may well be the birthplace of surfing – and its long coastline offers waves for adventure lovers of every level.
Scorched sand dunes, ancient geoglyphs, and Pisco galore make this a uniquely unmissable part of Peru. Our insider Steph has the scoop.
From classics like ceviche to tasty fusions like Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian cuisine), Peru’s food scene is one of the world’s best.