As the country’s capital and the home of its major international airport, almost all travelers pass through Lima at some point. Rather than jumping on the first flight to Cusco, check into a hotel and check out the city instead. The old town offers an array of exquisite colonial architecture, museums and historical sights, while Miraflores is the playground of Peru’s financial elite, flush with fancy fine-dining restaurants and sophisticated boutique shopping.
The colonial streets of Arequipa are something to behold, full of towering architectural masterpieces under the watchful gaze of the nearby Volcano Misti. After a day or two perusing its fine cafés, restaurants and boutiques, it’s time to hit up the awe-inspiring Colca Canyon, a stunning three day trek that passes through traditional indigenous villages as majestic condors swoop overhead.
No trip to Peru would be complete without a stop in Cusco, the undisputed jewel in South America’s tourism crown. Most come for the incredible Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, but it’s worth spending a day admiring its amazing museums and the grand colonial constructions of the new world empire. Better yet, just outside the city lies the unmissable Sacred Valley, a lush region full of captivating archaeological sites that transport visitors back to the pre-Columbian era.
Thousands of tourists flock to this world wonder each day, marveling at how the Incas could have accomplished such an incredible feat of engineering in the pre-industrial age. The citadel is indeed impressive, but what really blows visitors away is its incredible setting. Impossibly isolated with towering mountains jutting up on every side, the majestic Machu Picchu has a certain mysticism that must be seen to be understood.
A remarkable contrast from the sacred valley are the sparse open plains that surround the glistening waters of Lake Titicaca. Wind-swept, barren and hauntingly beautiful, South America’s biggest lake is the perfect finale to an unforgettable Peruvian holiday. This is where the Incas believed the the world was born, and after spending some time relishing in its beauty, it’s not hard to imagine why. Highlights include the floating islands of Uros and, if time permits, a home-stay on Amantaní for an insightful cultural experience.
Nearby Juliaca airport has daily flights to whisk holidaymakers off to Lima. However, Bolivia’s Copacabana is just a short bus ride away which is the logical next step for those with the time to further explore the continent.