What to Do in Peru for a Week
Peru is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. From the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu to the vibrant streets of Lima, there are countless things to see and do in this South American gem. If you only have a week to spare, here are some must-visit places and activities to make the most of your time in Peru.
1. Explore the Historic City of Cusco
Start your Peruvian adventure by immersing yourself in the historic city of Cusco. Once the capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with impressive architecture and fascinating museums. Take a stroll through the cobblestone streets and visit the iconic Plaza de Armas, which is surrounded by colonial buildings and ornate churches.
2. Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
No trip to Peru would be complete without a visit to the magnificent Machu Picchu. Embark on a four-day trek along the Inca Trail, passing through breathtaking landscapes and ancient ruins along the way. Alternatively, you can take a train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and then hike or take a bus up to the ruins. Whichever route you choose, witnessing the sunrise over Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience.
3. Explore the Sacred Valley
Located just outside of Cusco, the Sacred Valley is a region filled with picturesque landscapes, traditional markets, and impressive Inca ruins. Visit the ruins of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, where you can learn about the Inca civilization and marvel at the intricate stonework. Don’t forget to visit the vibrant Pisac Market to shop for colorful textiles, ceramics, and traditional Peruvian handicrafts.
4. Discover the Amazon Rainforest
For nature lovers, a visit to the Peruvian Amazon is a must. Fly from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado, where you can embark on a boat journey along the mighty Amazon River. Explore the dense jungle, spot exotic wildlife such as monkeys and caimans, and learn about the unique ecosystems that thrive in this biodiverse region. Be sure to take a guided tour to make the most of your Amazon adventure.
5. Experience Lima’s Culinary Scene
As the capital city of Peru, Lima is a vibrant metropolis that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and gastronomy. Explore the historic center of Lima, known as the Plaza Mayor, and visit the impressive Cathedral of Lima and the Government Palace. Don’t miss the chance to indulge in Peru’s world-renowned cuisine, with its fusion of indigenous, European, African, and Asian flavors. From ceviche to pisco sours, Lima’s culinary scene is sure to delight your taste buds.
6. Visit the Ballestas Islands
Located off the coast near Paracas, the Ballestas Islands are often referred to as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos” due to their rich biodiversity. Take a boat tour to these islands and witness the thriving marine life, including sea lions, penguins, and various seabird species. The famous Candelabra geoglyph, a large-scale design carved into the hillside, is also a fascinating sight to behold.
7. Explore the White City of Arequipa
End your week-long adventure by visiting the picturesque city of Arequipa. Known as the White City due to its stunning colonial buildings made of white volcanic rock, Arequipa offers a charming atmosphere and breathtaking views of the surrounding volcanoes. Explore the historic center, visit the Santa Catalina Monastery, and don’t forget to try the local specialty, rocoto relleno, a spicy stuffed pepper dish.
1. Is it safe to visit Peru?
Peru is generally a safe country for tourists. However, it is always advisable to take necessary precautions, such as avoiding displaying valuables and being cautious in crowded areas. It is recommended to check the latest travel advisories before your trip.
2. Do I need a visa to visit Peru?
Many nationalities, including citizens of the United States, Canada, and the European Union, do not require a visa for stays of up to 183 days. However, it is advisable to check the specific visa requirements based on your nationality before traveling.
3. What is the best time to visit Peru?
The best time to visit Peru depends on the regions you plan to explore. The dry season, from May to September, is generally considered the best time to visit the highlands, including Machu Picchu and Cusco. The wet season, from December to March, is ideal for visiting the Amazon rainforest and the coastal regions.
4. How can I acclimatize to the high altitude in Peru?
Altitude sickness can be a concern when visiting certain regions in Peru, such as Cusco and Machu Picchu. To acclimatize, it is recommended to spend a few days in Cusco before attempting any strenuous activities, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol, and consider taking medication prescribed by your doctor.
5. What currency is used in Peru?
The official currency in Peru is the Peruvian Sol (PEN). While credit cards are widely accepted in major cities and tourist areas, it is advisable to carry some cash, especially when visiting local markets or smaller establishments.
6. Can I drink tap water in Peru?
It is generally not recommended to drink tap water in Peru. Stick to bottled water or use a water purification system to ensure your safety. Avoid consuming ice cubes or raw fruits and vegetables that may have been washed in tap water.
7. How can I get around Peru?
Peru has a well-developed transportation system that includes domestic flights, buses, and trains. For longer distances, domestic flights are the quickest option. Buses are a popular and affordable choice for traveling between cities and towns. Trains are available for specific routes, such as the journey from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
In conclusion, Peru offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers with limited time. From exploring ancient ruins to immersing yourself in vibrant cities and natural wonders, a week in Peru is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories. Whether you choose to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or venture into the Amazon rainforest, this South American gem has something for everyone.