How to Spend 24 Hours in Pisco, Peru

There are plenty of sea lions to be seen in Paracas
There are plenty of sea lions to be seen in Paracas | Mia Spingola / © Culture trip
Photo of Brandon Dupre
20 April 2018

Often over looked in favor of Ica or Arequipa, the city of Pisco nevertheless offers travelers some of Peru’s most distinct landscapes and unique experiences. You’ll have plenty of things to do, from tasting pisco and wine to taking tours of Islas Ballestas and roaming the Paracas beaches. Here’s how to make the most of a quick, one-day stop in Pisco.

Where to stay

Because Pisco covers a large area, from the city to the little beach town of El Chaco, figuring out where you’re going to stay is an important first step. While the town of Pisco is much larger than El Chaco, if it’s scenery you want, then you would be better staying in El Chaco. Most often referred to as Paracas by tourists, El Chaco is actually a beach town located just outside of Paracas National Reserve, making it an ideal location for day excursions around the area. El Chaco is also the marina where you’ll be taking your tour of Las Islas Ballestas. The little beach town offers lodgings to suit every taste, from budget and party hostels to luxury hotels.

Grab some churros at El Chaco's beach | Mia Spingola / © Culture trip

Islas Ballestas

These islands, along with Paracas park, are the main attractions in the Pisco area. If you stay in El Chaco, we recommend a morning tour of the islands. You’ll find calmer seas and clearer skies. Often referred to as the “poor man’s Galapagos,” the islands of Ballestas are teeming with life, but most the action is dominated by hundreds of sea lions, who swim the waters and riot on the shores.

El Candelabro

Make sure to get some good photos the giant geoglyph in the sand. The origins of the giant image, which resembles a pitchfork, still remain a mystery today. Your tour will slow down as you pass the geoglyph on the way to the islands, giving you a chance to snap away to your heart’s content.

The geoglyph El Candelabro | Mia Spingola / © Culture trip

Paracas National Reserve

After you finish your tour of the islands, visit some of Peru’s most beautiful beaches and one of the world’s most unique coastlines. Taxis offer four-hour tours of the area and are a good deal if there are enough people to fill the taxi. You’ll be taken along the coast, getting an up-close look at all the beaches. The taxi tour also gives you a lot of flexibility to choose how to spend your time – if you like a particular beach, you can stay longer.

One of the most popular beaches is La Mina; protected from the wind by a cove harboring bright-blue water, theres nothing not to like about Paracas’ most famous beach.

Paracas, Peru | © Brenda0l / Pixabay

Drink up

The town, as you’ve probably guessed, gets its name from the Peruvian spirit pisco. While not as large a producer as Ica, the city of Pisco still boasts plenty of vineyards in its district, and produces some of Peru’s best pisco and wine. If you want to finish your day right, head to a vineyard or restaurant where you can sample some of the city’s best.

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