The Top 7 Experiences in Peru
Featured destinations: Peru
Published 03 June 2016
With its extensive history, endless cultural spots, beautiful cities and stunning natural scenery, Peru has secured its place as one of South America’s most desirable places to visit. Whether visiting the fabled Machu Picchu or discovering a quiet surfing town, you can be sure that Peru will wow and entertain you.
In this article, Claus Gurumeta talks about some of the top experiences that you should try out on your visit to Peru.
1. Explore the capital
Peru’s capital city, Lima, clings on to its colonial beauty while continuing to develop into a modern cosmopolitan metropolis. At one end, the historic centre is filled with colonial architecture, grand government buildings and bright churches intersected by lively pedestrian streets, plazas and gardens. On the other side of the city, vibrant neighbourhoods are hubs of energy full of innovative restaurants, trendy bars, and colourful seaside parks. Miraflores, with the beautiful Park of Love as its centrepiece, is one of the most vibrant tourist neighbourhoods and offers thrill-seeking activities such as surfing and paragliding. The Bohemian district of Barranco has an eclectic food scene with a mix of homely eateries where traditional creole food is the norm, as well as modern fusion restaurants.
2. Visit Machu Picchu
Most travelers to Peru visit specifically in search of Machu Picchu, one of the most recognized landmarks in the world – and the site lives up to its fame. No matter how many times you’ve seen a photo of the ancient city’s ruins nestled amongst the towering Andes, you will be awestruck as you lay eyes on the site for yourself. If you’re adventurous, you can visit on a multi-night hike along the Inca Trail; or for those who prefer to take it easy or don’t have as long to travel, you can take the train to Aguas Calientes and go up to the site by bus. Either way, make sure your camera battery is full - you’ll want to take lots of photos of Machu Picchu!image:Claus Gurumeta
3. Fall in love with Cusco
One of the most romantic cities in the world, Cusco is breathtakingly beautiful. Walk along the city’s bumpy cobble stone streets and discover the colonial Spanish architecture as you walk through narrow pass ways leading up to vibrant plazas or hidden lookouts. From the streets, the city’s Cathedral, large stately buildings and the steeples of its many churches are a sight to see. From above, the red clay roof tiles of Cusco merge with the mountains in the distance in an endless sea of earth tones only interrupted by hundreds of rainbow flags, the region’s official flag, which adorn many of the city’s buildings. Behind the historic doors of Cusco, you will be surprised to find a cosmopolitan dining and nightlife scene and if you’re after culture, the nearby Incan ruins are full of wonders.
4. Discover the contrasts
With their mix of aboriginal and European backgrounds, South American countries are full of contrasts, and Peru is no exception. The city of Trujillo in Peru’s north, with its rich Spanish heritage and colonial architecture, is miles away from Ollantaytambo, the small Inca village in the south, which retains its native heritage better than anywhere else in the country. In Trujillo you’ll easily find luxury hotels, museums and western chain restaurants and cafes, while in Ollantaytambo you’ll have to shop at the markets and stick to the proudly anti-corporate Inca Bucks Café to get your coffee fix in the morning. One thing you’ll find in common between these two are the archaeological ruins, with Trujillo’s Moche and Chimu ruins a 15-minute drive from the city core, and Ollantaytambo’s Incan ruins a 15-minute walk from the town centre.
5. Check out the lesser-known archaeological sites
Speaking of archaeology, did you know Peru has much more to offer than the famed Machu Picchu? Yup, Peru has an extensive pre-Hispanic history and archaeological sites are spread throughout the country. Trujillo is home to Chan Chan, an ancient city built by the Chimu civilization in the year 850AD, which has the distinction of being the largest Pre-Columbian city in South America as well as being the largest known mud city in the world! Also nearby is Las Huacas de Moche, two adobe mud pyramids that contain multiple well-preserved colourful murals.
6. Surf the Beaches
Peru’s beaches often get overshadowed by everything else the country has to offer, but if you’re a surfer, you’re in for a treat! If you don’t have a lot of time to get around, you can easily surf multiple spots near Lima and the capital itself has great surfing areas in the Miraflores district too. If you want to get away from it all, consider visiting the laidback town of Huanchaco, located near Trujillo in northern Peru. Huanchaco has some pretty beaches and great waves and is full of hippy pisco bars and seafood restaurants. While out on the beach check out the iconic rafts used by the local fishermen – they really are quite unusual!
7. Savour the tastes
I bet by now you are already in love with Peru, but I’ll tell you something, none of the above compares to the country’s incredible cuisine! The mix of cultures in Peru has created a palette of flavours that can’t be easily matched. In Peru, purple corn is used to make a sweet drink and sweet corn puddings; avocados are the size of melons; baked potatoes and spicy peppers are stuffed with chicken, seafood salad, ground beef, or vegetables; and sauces made from local spices and chillies abound. Peruvian cuisine also has an adventurous side: you’ll find alpaca and guinea pig are two of their meat staples; and tongue-tingling teas, ice cream, and sweets are made out of coca leaves. Whenever you’re close to the sea, make sure to try the ceviche (raw fish cured in lemon or lime juice), and if you go to the north, try Chifa, the Peruvian take on Chinese food.
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