Peru is simply mesmerizing. I could come back to this country over and over again. There is just so many things to do, and a one time visit wouldn’t be enough, really. When we think about traveling to Peru, we first think about Machu Picchu. But to be honest, Peru is more than that.
So if you are traveling to Peru soon or in the future, here are the things you shouldn’t miss when you’re visiting this former Incan empire.
Try the Peruvian Cuisine
Peru’s cuisine is one of the best cuisines in South America, and in the world! The flavors of the food are full of fresh ingredients and are undeniably delicious. We felt kind of adventurous during our visit and tried to taste every single Peruvian dish — from ceviche, lomo, cuy, pollo and even the alpaca (cooked version lol). I think we did a great job in finding the best restaurants in Cusco according to their specialty.
Also, don’t miss the famous Peruvian drink, Pisco sour. I’m not sure how many I had during the trip.
Tip: Always buy bottled water. Don’t even try to drink from any of Peru’s tap water.
Go to Markets
A trip to Peru is not complete without a visit to San Pedro Market. It is a market both famous to locals and tourists. The market has food stalls, a lot of souvenir shops and fresh produce. We visited this market on our first day and we thought that that was smart since we didn’t had any energy to shop towards the end of our trip.
Other famous markets in Cusco are San Blas Market located close to Calle Lucrepata and Plaza San Blas, and Wanchaq Market, a big market close to Avenida Tullumayo.
Wander around Plaza De Armas
From our hotel, we walked about 20 minutes to get to Cusco’s main square. It is a busy but beautiful square plaza full of history and culture. A lot of tourists come here and we really enjoyed roaming around the cobblestone streets surrounded by historical buildings.
Here, you could spot many locals offering tours to Sacred Valley, Salkantay etc. I believe it is still best to book ahead of time just like what we did.
Tip: Visit Plaza De Armas during the night time too, and make sure to bundle up as it could get a bit cold.
A few minutes from the plaza, we took a taxi (your best mode of transportation in Cusco — cheaper than Uber, I promise) to Sacsayhuaman to see the ruins. Atop is where you’ll find a giant cross with panoramic views of the city of Cusco and the Andes mountains.
Visit the Sacred Valley
Just outside of Cusco, is another must-see destination – the Sacred Valley. Since we didn’t rent a car, we booked a tour instead to take us to the countryside.
We first visited the Salt Mines or Salineras de Maras. It is a giant ancient salt pans located into the mountainside. There are over a thousand salt pools to date and they look pretty cool in person!
After the Salt Mines, it was time to drive a quad-bike to see the Andes mountains up close. We drove around the town of Moray and spotted some locals and then to Huaypo Lagoon, a small oasis in the middle of the mountains. The ATV tour was about an hour long and I highly recommend doing this if you don’t mind the adrenaline.
The tour is 46 USD and we did the morning tour.
Hike the Rainbow Mountain
We intended to hike the Rainbow Mountain on our last day in Cusco. Since we wanted to be one of the early visitors of this famous mountain, Jacob of Visit South America and his team picked us up from our hotel at 2 in the morning. We slept all the way through the 3-hour of travel and when we woke up, we couldn’t help but pinch ourselves like, “Wow! Are we really hiking a 14er?” And yes, we did! We were the first tour group to arrive and after drinking our coca tea, we started our sunrise hike.
Apu Winicunca or Montana de Siete Colores (Mountain of Seven Colors) or popularly known as Rainbow Mountain is located in the Andes mountains in Peru. It became very famous on the social media in the recent years. Hiking it, on the other hand, wasn’t easy at all! It was freezing cold and we felt the altitude sickness on our way up. But the views at the top was more than what we expected! The rainbow mountain itself is surrounded by the gorgeous and even more colourful mountain range of the Andes.
Tip: Not for beginners. On our way down, we encountered some visitors who didn’t finish the trek and had to go back to the parking lot.
Where to stay:
- Yawar Inka Hotel, Cusco: We stayed here for 3 nights. It has free airport shuttle and continental breakfast. It’s close to the city centre and the receptionists of the hotel really helped us to a lot of things. They also have menus from different restaurants if you prefer your food to be delivered at the hotel. 360 USD for 3 nights.
- Terra Nostra Suites, Cusco: If you want an Airbnb instead of a hotel, I guess this would be a good option. It is a little farther from the centre but closer to the airport. The place was modern and clean. 115 USD for 2 nights.
Spend a Day in Lima
We stayed in Lima for a night on our last day in Peru. Lima is the bustling, capital city of Peru. It felt like a different country when we landed in Lima as it was very city-like with all the traffic etc. We stayed in a hostel in Miraflores District since they said that it was the safest neighbourhood in Lima.
Where to stay:
- Pool Paradise Lima: We stayed here for a night and it wasn’t really that bad. It’s a hostel with games and activities for the guests. I think the best thing about hostels is you meet a lot of travellers from over the world. 40 USD/night.
We were here for only eight days and there were still a lot of places that we weren’t able to visit but Peru is a country where you will need a few weeks to fully immerse yourself to its culture and beauty.
Is Peru on your bucket list?
Don’t forget to use my code KHATZA25 on Booking.com on your next travel to get $25 off.
Disclaimer: All opinions and views on this post are my own. Copyright all pictures by Kathleen of I Am Miss Adventures.