Lima is the industrial capital and business hub of Peru, but working in the constant traffic and urbanity of Lima can get tiring. Luckily, Lima is surrounded by some of Peru’s most magical vacation spots. You get to choose from hiking in the Andes, laying out at the beach or surfing down sand dunes in the desert. Here is our guide to the best weekend trips from Lima.
Paracas and Islas Ballestas
3 1/2 hours from Lima, this stretch of desert beach is one of Peru’s most popular tourist attractions and for good reasons. The rugged untamed beauty of the coastline is captivating and you can also do a boat tour of Islas Ballestas, dubbed the poor man’s Galapagos. It’s one of those places that you’ll want more time in: between the beaches, the beauty and wild life, you might want to take Monday off, too.
Only around a 2 1/2 hour bus drive from Lima, Cerro Azul is one of the most frequented weekend getaways by Limeños. The small beach town is a 30 minute drive from the transportation hub Cañete. It boasts a huge beach, plenty of fresh seafood options and some good surf, especially during the winter months of Peru. The water isn’t warm like Mancora in the north of Peru, but it has sunny weather (during the summer) and one of the best beaches near Lima. Cerro Azul is also a town with little tourists, being slightly out of the gringo trail, and gives the feel of a typical Peruvian town.
The little desert oasis in the middle of one of the driest deserts in the world. Huacachina has recently reemerged as a favorite among Limeño weekend getaways and with travelers heading south from Lima. The towering sand dunes are just there to be marveled at with a cocktail in hand, but are meant to be experienced, too. You can take an off-roading, sand buggy trip through the desert and get your surf on, riding down these giant sand dunes on what resembles a snowboard. Another favorite pastime in Huacachina is hanging out by the pool and drinking something very cold, preferably a beer.
Along with Cerro Azul, Punta Hermosa makes up the best beach vacations away from Lima. Punta Hermosa is only an hour away from the city and has some of Peru’s most beautiful and accommodating beaches. Well known for its big waves, holding annual surf competitions, Punta Hermosa has everything you could want in a weekend beach vacation.
This is your wine tasting weekend vacation. Ica is home to Peru’s best and most famous vineyards, making Peru’s tastiest pisco and wine. You can stay at one of the vineyards, get a tour, learn how to make pisco, and, of course, drink. You can also arrange sand dune trips and sand boarding from Ica.
The inscrutable lines in the middle of the desert demand the attention of archeologists and conspiracy theorists all over the world. You’ll drive about 7 hours, but it is more than worth it. The lines are one of the most remarkable sights in the world. You’ll take a small plane for about 20 minutes high in the sky giving you a bird’s eye view of the geoglyphs.
The mysterious and eerie stone forrest in the Andes just out of Lima is a perfect weekend trip for those also looking to get some hiking in. It’ll take about half a day just to get to the town to begin your hike, so you’ll reach the base camp by nightfall. You can then explore all the miraculous stone figures Sunday before you hike back down and return to Lima.