Our Pick of 10 Don’t-Miss Experiences in Peru

From the Andes to the Amazon (and don’t forget the coast), here are Peru’s best adventures and cultural experiences.

The “Land of the Incas” offers a whole lot more. Whether you’re up for a trek through some of South America’s highest peaks, a wildlife expedition deep in the jungle, a surfing holiday on the beach, or a foodie tour through Peru’s famous culinary scene, you’ll find adventures to suit every style and budget.

1. Discover Peru’s Other “Lost Cities"

Avoid the crowds at Machu Picchu and take a four-day trek to the mysterious citadel of Choquequirao, which gets just a handful of visitors each day. Or ride the newly opened cable car to Kuelap, a vast fortification perched in the cloud forest of northern Peru.

Mysterious Choqequirao. Photo credit: iStock

2. Skim Down a Sand Dune

Adrenaline junkies should head to the mirage-like town of Huacachina, Peru’s ultimate sandboarding destination, with slopes up to 1,968ft (600m) long. If you’re not a boarder, the dune buggy rides are just as exhilarating.

The oasis at Huacachina. Photo credit: iStock

3. Sample Peru’s World-class Food

From classics like ceviche to modern takes on traditional dishes, to tasty fusions like Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian mix), Peru’s food scene is one of the world’s best.

Ceviche, one of Peru's classic dishes. Photo credit: iStock

4. Watch for Pink Dolphins in the Amazon

With dense rainforest along its whole western border, Peru is a wildlife lover’s dream, home to monkeys, otters, exotic birds, and even jaguars. But only the Iquitos region lets you explore the Amazon River itself, and see rare creatures like the pink freshwater dolphin.

A Pink River Dolphin, native to the Amazon. Photo credit: iStock

5. Surf the World’s Longest Rideable Left-hander

Chicama, on the central-north coast, is home to a cold-water break that you can ride for more than a mile (1.6km) when it’s connecting.

Peru's coast offers waves for all levels. Photo credit: iStock

6. Go on an Epic Rafting Adventure

Navigate the challenging Class IV and V rapids of Cotahuasi Canyon, the world’s deepest. Or drift through the wildlife-rich Tambopata Reserve in Peru’s southern selva and camp out in the jungle.

Cotahuasi Canyon, the world's deepest. Photo credit: iStock

7. Vamos de Fiesta in Puno

In cities, towns, and villages across Peru, there always seems to be some kind of colorful celebration going on. But with two full weeks of dancing, music, parades, and fireworks, Puno’s extravagant Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria tops them all.

Dancers at a festival in Puno.

8. Taste Pisco at South America’s Oldest Vineyard

Pisco, a grape-based brandy, is Peru’s national spirit. There’s no better place for an introduction than historic Hacienda Bodega Tacama, where the vineyards are still irrigated by a canal built by the Incas in the 15th century.

9. Trek to a Sacred Mountain

In Inca mythology, an apu was a powerful mountain spirit – many of Peru’s highest and most iconic peaks are apus, including Ausangate, Salkantay, and of course, Machu Picchu itself.

Sacred Ausangate. Photo credit: iStock

10. Kayak at the Top of the World

Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake – a paddle on its sapphire-blue waters is a magical experience (and you’ll be able to see what those legendary floating islands are all about).

The floating Uros islands at Lake Titicaca.

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.

What's at the top of your list of things to see and do in Peru?

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