Sign Up
Newsletter Signup
Free Fodor's Newsletter

Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.

Passport: Your weekly travel wrap-up
Today's Departure: Your daily dose of travel inspiration

The North Coast and Northern Highlands Travel Guide

  • Photo: Chris Howey / Shutterstock

Plan Your North Coast and Northern Highlands Vacation

Once passed up for the south, the north coast and northern highlands are increasingly becoming some of Peru’s most sought-after destinations for a variety of travelers. There are beaches, mountains, green fertile valleys, dry desert, and tremendous archaeological sites and museums. Aside from the coast, where getting up and down the Pan-American Highway is quick and buses are frequent, travel

elsewhere in the region, particularly in the mountains, often requires time and patience.

Like the rest of Peru, there's incredible history behind the cities and towns you see today. It was first inhabited more than 13,000 years ago. Later, the Chavín and Moche people built colossal cities near the coast, to be replaced over time by civilizations like the Chimú and Chachapoyas. Eventually, all these were overtaken by the Inca, followed by the Spanish. Luckily, the extensive ruins and elaborate colonial-era mansions and churches are being preserved in many areas of the north.

A place of extraordinary natural beauty, the northernmost reaches of Peru have magnificent mountains, rare equatorial dry forests, and vast deserts. The steep, forested hills emerge from the highlands, and trekkers and climbers from around the world converge to hike the green valleys and ascend the rocky, snowcapped peaks towering more than 6,000 meters (19,700 feet) above the sea. The coast offers spectacular white-sand beaches, year-round sun, and an abundance of fresh seafood.

As Peru becomes a more popular international destination, tourism in the north is awakening, but is still light-years behind Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. Come now and explore the relatively virgin territory that provides a rich peek into the cultural, historical, and physical landscape of Peru.

Read More

Top Reasons To Go

  1. The Ancient World Along the coast, Chavín, Moche, and Chimú ruins date as far back as 3,000 BC. In the highlands are Wari sites, and Kuélap, a stunning complex built by the Chachapoyans a thousand years before Machu Picchu.
  2. Superb Eating The north coast undeniably has one of Peru’s most exciting regional cuisines. Abundant shellfish and extensive pre-Columbian influences make for some of Peru’s favorite dishes.
  3. Outdoor Adventure The highlands provide plenty of trekking, climbing, and rafting, especially around Huaraz, home of the highest mountains outside of the Himalayas.
  4. Colonial Architecture Trujillo, on the coast, and Cajamarca in the highlands are two of the best places for colonial architecture.
  5. Beaches The far northern coast offers year-round sun, white-sand beaches, and a relaxed, tropical atmosphere.

When To Go

When To Go

The weather along the north coast is always pleasant, although it's sunnier from November to May. The northern highlands weather is more capricious...

Read More

Check historic weather for your trip dates:

Travel Tips

The North Coast and Northern Highlands Travel Tips

See All

Advertisement

Advertisement

Trip Finder
Store
Guidebooks

Fodor's Peru

View Details
Travel Phrases

Learn Spanish Phrases before or while you're on the go!

Download Now
Travel Deals