Peru is a fascinating country with a Pacific Coastline in South America’s west, bordered by Chile and Bolivia in the south and Ecuador and Colombia in the north. There is so much to see and do. Its capital, Lima, is on the Pacific Coast yet so much of the country is at altitude. The Andes is the spine of all of South America, and it is a huge factor in the attractions of Peru.
Peru became the centre of the Inca Empire before the arrival of the Spanish and both have left their mark. While Lima is the main point of entry to the country, and it has some interesting features itself, the main attraction, but not the only one, is the stunning old Inca City of Machu Picchu. It is close to Cusco, a city that is a 90-minute flight from the capital. It is sometimes overlooked but the extreme east of Peru is the beginning of the Amazon Basin.
Visitors to Peru can enjoy huge contrasts from the delights of the Pacific Coastline to the wonders of the Andes and the rainforests of the Amazon. Here are some of the best tours in Peru.
- Peru Tours
- Top Tours
- Multi-Day Tours In Peru
- Adventure Tours In Peru
- Culture And Other Tours In Peru
- Machu Picchu: Full-Day Tour – from Cusco with Optional Lunch.
- Puno: Full-Day Tour of Lake Titicaca – includes Uros and Taquile.
- Palomino Islands: Swim with Sea Lions in the Pacific Ocean – an experience for nature lovers.
Multi-Day Tours In Peru
1- Hike To Machu Picchu
Walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is on the “bucket list” of many hikers.
This stunning Inca site high in the Andes is one of the most photographed places in South America.
You can trek this trail on a 3 night/4 day guided tour starting out from Cusco.
You will need to be comfortable that your level of fitness can handle the hike but your worries finish there.
The drive from Cusco to the starting point is 82 kilometres (51 miles) before you hike, taking regular breaks, and rest for the night at 3,300 metres (almost 11,000 feet).
On Day 2 you will get even higher, seeing some spectacular scenery, while Day 3 holds the real beauty and ultimately Machu Picchu.
The sunrise over Machu Picchu is truly unforgettable.
Bus and train are your means of return from a really remarkable adventure.
Recommended tour: From Cusco: 4-Day Inca Trail Guided Trek to Machu Picchu
2- Explore The Rain Forest
Puerto Maldonado Airport is the starting point of this tour which takes you by boat to your first night accommodation.
You have the chance to walk and take a boat in search of mammals in the jungle and caiman in the water.
Tambopata National Reserve has numerous fauna while the night walk reveals numerous species regarded as nocturnal.
On the third day you will kayak along the calm waters to Monkey Island, another chance to seek out monkeys and much more.
The day includes meeting an indigenous family to see what life is like in the jungle.
The birdlife is stunning and before the tour ends there is the opportunity to go fishing for piranhas.
Recommended tour: Puerto Maldonado: 4-Day Tambopata Rainforest Tour
3- See The Mysterious Lines
This tour from the capital, Lima, is a chance to see the mysterious lines that have baffled people for centuries.
You will head out to the Ballestas Islands by boat where there is abundant wildlife, a smaller version of the Galapagos Islands then it is on to Huacachina, an oasis in the Ica Desert where you will see South America’s biggest sand dunes.
The next day sees you move on to Nazca and its airport.
The mysterious Nazca Lines are best seen from the air and your short flight will reveal the numerous designs to you.
You will also have free time in Nasca before returning to Huacachina and on to Lima.
Recommended tour: From Lima: Nazca Lines Flight, Paracas, and Huacachina
4- Go Canyoning
Exploring the Andes does not have to involve Machu Picchu.
They are an adventure in themselves and there will be the chance to see condors, llamas and alpacas in the wonderful landscape.
Remote towns are an additional interest as you proceed.
Arequipa is your starting point as you head to the Sacred Valley, getting great views of several volcanoes from the high point of your trek before reaching Chivay, the town close to Colca Canyon, where you will spend the night.
The next day you set out to the Cruz del Condor viewpoint to watch the wonderful birds in flight as well as look over the towns of Coporaque and Maca.
At every stage you will by under the guidance of experienced personnel.
After heading back to Chivay it is on to Puno by the evening.
Recommended tour: From Arequipa: 2-Day Colca Canyon Tour with Transfer to Puno
5- Trekking The Mountains
Cusco is also a city from which you can do an interesting trek via Soraypampa to Humantay Lake and beyond.
Horses carry the baggage as you hike.
Day 2 is demanding because at one point you will reach a height of 4,630 metres (over 15,000 feet) where the air is thin.
You camp at a lower level with Day 3 actually taking you to a beach at Sahuayaco.
Transport then takes you on to Santa Teresa and Hidroeléctrica before the walk to Aguas Calientes.
Machu Picchu is the highlight of the fourth day and there is a guided tour of 2.5 hours, a little free time and then train or bus to Cusco for the end of the tour.
Recommended tour: Salkantay Trek 4 Days 3 Nights
Adventure Tours In Peru
6- Head To Machu Picchu In A Day
You can get to enjoy Machu Picchu on a day trip by taking a train to the nearest town to this Inca landmark, Aguas Calientes.
It is a scenic journey through the Andes and the large windows guarantee you will get stunning views as you proceed.
Once you light, you take a bus to the site, a trip of just under half an hour before your guided tour.
The Spaniards never found Machu Picchu so it wasn’t destroyed.
It was just “absorbed” by the jungle for many years.
Its most prominent landmarks are the Main Square, the Burial Grounds, the Sacred Sun Dial, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Circular Towers.
Recommended tour: Machu Picchu: Full-Day Tour from Cusco with Optional Lunch
7- Ride A Quad Bike Through The Sacred Valley
Riding a quad bike through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the Incan archaeological site of Moray and visiting the Maras Salt Mines is a real adventure.
You begin in Cusco, heading to Maras for a briefing about riding a quad bike.
Take care because it is easy to take your eyes off the track to gaze at the snow-capped mountains which you pass along the way.
There is time to get off to learn more from your guide both at Moray and also the salt mines.
You will be taken by a van to the mines incidentally.
Once back on your quad, it is back to base to end your tour.
Recommended tour: From Cusco: Moray and Salt Mines Quad Bike Tour
8- Enjoy The Islands
Heading out from Puno, it is great fun to visit the islands on Lake Titicaca where the Uros people live.
The islands are a human creation; the Uros used bundles of dried reeds! You will see what life is like here and about the history of the places.
The cruise to Taquile Island follows, all the time giving you great views of the Andes.
Descendants of the Incas live on the island and today they are involved in agriculture and weaving.
The hike on the island is not too strenuous and your reward is a lunch offering fresh local produce.
Along the way you will see the farms and good examples of the woven art for which the island is famous.
- From Puno: Uros Islands and Taquile Island Full Day Tour
- Puno: Full-Day Tour of Lake Titicaca and Uros and Taquile
9- Head To Humantay Lake
It is an early start to join this tour, with a drive to Mollepata initially and on to Soraypampa which is on a mountain plateau.
From there you will see Apu Salkantay which rises to 20400 feet (6230 metres) and Humantay 17225 feet (5250 metres).
The trek to Humantay Lake takes two hours and it is fairly steep although there is no hurry for you in a small group.
Once there you will get several more beautiful panoramas from above the lake itself.
The downhill trek is much easier, about an hour or so.
The lunch is served in back in Mollepata and you can expect to be back in Cusco in early evening.
Recommended tour: Cusco: Humantay Lake with Breakfast and Buffet Lunch
10- Discover Huacachina Oasis
Huacachina is Peru’s only oasis and riding over the dunes in a 4×4 followed by some sandboarding makes for an exciting few hours.
Some of the dunes are 30 metres (around 100 feet) high and you need to have your camera ready to capture on film what your eyes are seeing.
The oasis itself is a small lake surrounded by palm trees.
Sunset over Huacachinha and the desert is truly stunning and your guide will know the best place from which to get photographs as the sun goes down.
This tour is flexible and if you are in a group, ask about the alternative itineraries.
11- Admire Rainbow Mountain
Rainbow Mountain close to Cusco is another lovely tour and it’s easy to see how the mountain got its name.
After an early start out of Cusco, there is a three-hour van ride to Cusipata for breakfast with a local family.
The “Mountain of Colours” is at the end of a 3 km (1.8 mile) hike which on average will take around 90 minutes although there is no hurry.
You will certainly stop for photos across valleys and glaciers.
There is also a good chance of seeing llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas.
From the summit of Rainbow Mountain, it is time to catch your breath and take even more photos before your descent and a well- deserved lunch.
It is time for the transport back to Cusco to arrive back early evening.
Recommended tour: Cusco: Full-Day Tour to Rainbow Mountain
12- Explore The Ballestas Islands
Pisco is a southern coastal city known for its grape brandy but it is also the gateway to the uninhabited Ballestas Islands.
The trip across the water is interesting before you arrive at the marine sanctuary where you will see seals, relaxing in the sun and penguins playing in the waters.
There are huge numbers of pelicans whose white colour contrast sharply with the blue-footed boobies.
Paracas National Reserve is next, a drive through huge desert regions and the sandstone cliffs, once again a colour contrast with the blue ocean.
The final destination is beach, two in fact, Playa Roja and Lagunillas with their two maroon-coloured sand, quite unique.
13- Swim With Sea Lions
Board a yacht for a day out Palomino Islands to see Peru’s seabirds and marine wildlife but also to swim in the Pacific.
You are likely to be joined by the sea lions who call this place home.
The tour starts at La Punta Bay and heads out on a 4-hour journey past Callao and San Lorenzo Island.
The Cabinzas Islands follow, islands inhabited by colonies of guano birds.
The Palomino Islands are home to some 8000 sea lions.
Wet suits are provided for your swim, as are life jackets and once you are in the water, you will find the sea lions to be very friendly.
At all times, there are experienced guides on hand.
Recommended tour: Palomino Islands: Swim with Sea Lions in the Pacific Ocean
14- See The Salt Mines
The main part of this day trip is the Salineras Salt Mines.
Before you reach there, you will be driven from Cusco for around an hour to Chinchero, a place famous for its traditional ancient textiles and the weaving process itself.
On to Moray, you will see a place where the Incas developed their circular terraces and used an irrigation system to make the land more fertile.
The Salineras Salt Mines of Maray are a further hour away.
They are actually a collection of terraces from a water stream on the mountain.
Over time this salt spring flowed into up to 1,000 pools.
The pool water’s evaporation leaves pure salt behind, salt that has been gathered since before the times of the Incas.
Recommended tour: Cusco: Chinchero, Moray, and Salt Mines Tour
15- Go White Water Rafting
The Chili River close to Arequipa, south of Cusco and due west of Bolivia’s capital, La Paz.
It has some powerful rapids for those with experience of white-water rafting but also a chance for beginners.
They are graded as Class II, III and IV with Class II suitable for beginners.
The river is just 20 minutes from the city with the starting point, the ‘Gruta de la Virgen de Chapi’.
After a safety briefing, you will get everything you need to ensure your safety before starting out.
There is a 6-kilometre (3.7 mile) descent in a 6-person raft with an experienced guide of course.
The experience on the water is a little under two hours.
Recommended tour: Arequipa: Chili River Rafting
Culture And Other Tours In Peru
16- Explore The Capital
There is plenty of Spanish colonial architecture in the centre of Lima to enjoy, and equally impressive 17th and 18th-century paintings, wooden verandas, and mirrors available for inspection in museums and on the streets.
Landmarks include the monuments in Plaza Mayor, the cathedral, the Palace of the Union, the Archbishop’s Palace, and the Municipal Palace.
The Baroque-style San Francisco Monastery is impressive and you can explore its catacombs.
There are the old city walls and the historic bridges over the River Rimac.
You will even see one of Peru’s oldest bars Cordano.
Recommended tour: Lima: City Tour with Pickup and Drop-Off
17- Taste Peruvian Cuisine
If you want to grasp what Peruvian cuisine involves, a great way to do it is to go with an experienced guide who will take you to several different places to sample local favourites.
This is a morning tour with breakfast and lunch, with the walking exercise helping to create an appetite for lunchtime.
You will be walking in one of Lima’s nicest neighbourhoods, Barranco.
You can expect to sample some 15 different flavours in the fruits, the drinks and the assorted dishes.
This is also a chance to meet the locals who create and present the things you taste.
Look out for lomo saltado (a stir fry with sirloin and vegetables), ceviche (a seasoned fish dish), pisco sour (a local cocktail), and much more.
18- Sample The Local Wine
The wine region in Peru is centred around the city of Ica where the local favourite pisco is also produced.
You will visit two wineries, one the oldest vineyard in the country where you can sample both the wines and pisco.
Tacama vineyard dates back to Spanish times and the 16th Century.
Modern production techniques exist today of course.
El Catador is your second winery and you will see the clay jars, “botijas”, in which the juice of crushed grapes ferment.
If you wish, you can purchase a traditional lunch here, as well as buying the wine and pisco it produces.
Recommended tour: From Ica or Huacachina: Wine and Pisco Vineyards Tour
19- Sit Back And Enjoy Cusco
Cusco itself is worthy of a tour and an open top bus from the bus station is a good way to see its highlights with the whole trip taking 2.5 hours.
There are a few archaeological sites such as Sacsayhuaman and Q’enqo, while the shamanic centre is interesting.
See a traditional Inca ceremony and stop at an alpaca wool weaving centre.
The white statue of Christ overlooking Cusco is a place where the panoramas are unforgettable.
Recommended tour: Cusco Open Tour: Open Bus City Sightseeing Operator
20- Join A Cookery Class
If you want to expand your knowledge of Peruvian cuisine, this is your chance.
You will start in the market, buying the produce you need, taking the advice of your professional guide.
You will use ceramic pots like those used over centuries in Peru.
The choice of menu allows for vegetarians but otherwise, the most popular dishes are fish, “Pescado a la Chorrillana” and “Ceviche”, chicken, “Aji de Pollo” “Causa Limeña”, a vegetable-based starter or “Lomo saltado”, Stir-fried beef with a starter, “Papa Rellena”.
Looking for more tours in the world’s most popular places, check out these: