23 of the Top Things to do in Peru
The Andes are a striking destination that should not be missed with traveling to Peru. The massive peaks surprised us with their grandeur.
But it shouldn’t have been surprising since the Andes are the highest mountain range in the world outside of Asia with the highest peak reaching 6,961 m (22,838 ft).
7. Flight to Cusco
Tip: Book the window seat for amazing views and if you have limited time, fly around the country.
The flight to Cusco from Lima is an excursion unto itself and one of the top things to do in Peru.
The Andes are strikingly beautiful with their snow-capped mountain peaks reaching up to the heavens.
I was seriously taken aback by their beauty and didn’t expect to be so awe-inspired.
Cusco is located at a high altitude of 3300 metres and is the jumping off point for trekking to Machu Picchu.
Don’t miss seeing the Plaza des, Armes.
Note: Cocoa tea helps with the altitude, but a trip to the travel doctor before leaving your home country for some Diamox will help greatly.
9. Sacred Valley
If you can’t trek to Machu Picchu, a good option is to see the Sacred Valley. Ollantaytambo is an impressive Inca City that you will have the chance to explore.
Surrounded by the Andes, we also walked along its agricultural terraces among the Andes mountains.
We use Get Your Guide for day tours when traveling.
You can book a trek through the Sacred Valley in advance with Get Your Guide. They also have easy cancellation and you can book last minute too.
More Cusco Day Trips
Book the Train to Machu Picchu.
If you want to see Machu Picchu but don’t have time for the trek, you can book a train from Cusco. But book tickets in advance.
We went to the ticket office to buy our train ticket to Aguas Calientes the day after we arrived.
We thought we’d have no problem, but when we got to the train station the line was around to corner.
By the time we made it to the front of the line, the next two days were sold out! So we had to wait.
Plus the only tickets available were the VIP Vistadome Tickets. It cost us a lot more money than expected by not being prepared.
You can book tickets in advance at Peru Rail.
If you want more of a guided tour with fewer hassles, Get Your Guide is a tour company we often use and you can get your ticket s online.
Book Train Tickets with Get your Guide
10. Machu Picchu
The VIP Train was worth the price and the wait. The glass ceiling allowed us to see the entire view of the Andes and it was incredible.
The train goes from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes.
Aguas Calientes is where you spend the night before visiting Machu Picchu.
Why you should buy tickets the day before for Machu Picchu
There was already a crowd when we got to the bus at 4:30 am. After a slow ride up intense switchbacks, we made it to Machu Picchu.
Hundreds of people already standing in line (I have no idea where they came from because we thought we were on the first bus!)
Luckily we booked our entrance tickets the day before at the cultural centre in Aguas Callientas so we skipped the line and were one of the first people on sight.
Entering Machu Picchu
I was taken aback as I walked in the dark and came across a llama in my path. It turns out there are llamas scattered all over the ruins.
The morning was foggy and we spent an hour or so in the dark, but once the sun rose, the fog burned off and the spectacular view was revealed.
The incredible thing about visiting Machu Picchu is that you can hike up other peaks to see it from different angles.
Seeing it from above really gives you a sense of the scope of the place.
The ruins themselves are not spectacular, but the setting is truly out of this world and makes every struggle to get there worth the hype!
To understand how the Incan empire built this city clinging to the side of a mountain, with terraces falling into the valley is incomprehensible.
The backdrop is absolutely stunning. It is even a bit of a thrill to be there.
11. Hike the Inca Trail
“It was gruelling and exhilarating all at the same time.
The scenery was impressive, and thoughts about the indigenous people doing the same route hundreds of years before danced in my head. It was a magical feeling sleeping in a tent on the mountains and waking up amongst the clouds.”
But it was even more magical reaching our final destination, Machu Picchu. It was a surreal experience walking amongst the ruins, taking it all in.”
Machu Picchu Tours
12. Hike Rainbow Mountain
The hike to and from Rainbow Mountain is a day-long trek at over 14,000 feet, tracing a dirt path between looming peaks of green and startling red rock.
It’s a gorgeous route, passing local villages built from stone and glittering mountain streams.
But the altitude is punishing, don’t even think about trying the trek until you’ve spent a few days getting used to the elevation of the Cusco region.
Contribution by Irreverent Progress. Read more from him at 6 Things to Expect when Hiking Rainbow Mountain