Peru is full of spectacular sights, from Arequipa's Monasterio de Santa Catalina to the famed llamas of Machu Picchu.
These 20 photos will have you wanting to book a trip immediately.
The oceanfront in Lima’s Miraflores neighborhood includes a string of parks collectively called El Malecón. Here you can promenade, admire the gardens, gape at the vast expanse of turquoise water speckled with surfers, or run off the side of the cliff and take in the colorful views from a paraglider.
Parque del Amor
At the southern part of Lima’s El Malecón the Parque del Amor pops with brightly colored flowers and sculptures. The mosaic decorations were partly inspired by Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell in Barcelona, and feature spiraling quotes from romantic poetry.
For an eyeful of baroque architecture featuring the intricately carved closed balconies that are a hallmark of Lima’s El Centro neighborhood, head to the Plaza de Armas, where you will find the Governor’s Palace, the Cathedral, and the exuberant Archbishop’s Palace.
Plaza San Martin
If you think the light in Lima’s all-white Plaza San Martin can’t get any more ethereally beautiful, wait five minutes, and keep your camera handy.
Museo Rafael Lorca
Beyond the riot of bougainvillea and other plants in the garden of the Museo Rafael Lorca lies an equally stunning collection of pre-Columbian masterpieces, including impressive ensembles made with real gold. A collection of erotic pottery occupies its own private set of rooms off the garden. Unlike all but a handful of other museums in the world, the Larco displays everything it owns, and the rooms housing shelves of ceramics arranged by type and subject (so you might find an entire row of swan jugs, for example) will prompt outrageous flights of imagination.
Plaza de Armas
11,000 feet up in the Andes, Cusco is breathtaking in more ways than one. Coca and, even better, muna tea can help with the altitude, but when it comes to handling the overwhelming beauty of the Plaza de Armas, you’re on your own.
The Plaza de Armas in Cusco is as beautiful at night as it is by day, with the bowl of the city rising up in the background and twinkling with lights.
Houses in the Countryside
In Peru, mainly outside the big cities, residents can make money by allowing political candidates and organizations to paint slogans on their home and business walls. Most don’t bother repainting until the next election, so a drive through small towns and countryside is a lesson in local and national political history.
Julia Coffee Farm
Agricultural tourism is gaining in popularity in Peru. One excellent way to get to see a real working farm is on a multi-day excursion from Cusco to Machu Picchu organized by the Chocomuseo, which includes an overnight stay on a coffee plantation.
WHERE: Sacred Valley
On an idyllic cocoa plantation in the Sacred Valley the owners have built their own private chapel. You can visit this paradise on the Chocomuseo tour from Cusco to Machu Picchu.
When the train rolls into Aguas Calientes, it rolls into Aguas Calientes. The town at the base of Machu Picchu has grown so haphazardly that shops, hotels, and restaurants now border the rail lines.
You probably came to Peru for Machu Picchu, one of the modern wonders of the world. You won’t be disappointed.
WHERE: Machu Picchu
Many of the groundskeepers at Machu Picchu are llamas. They are allowed free range of the ancient city, which means they might walk right past you on the path.
Amazing Incan stonework and engineering—put together without using mortar— has survived for centuries, withstanding multiple earthquakes and the millions of visitors who come to Machu Picchu each year.
Parque de la Papa (Potato Park)
At the Parque de la Papa (Potato Park), celebrating Peru’s most important gastronomic gift to the world, local farmers and workers conduct informative tours in colorful traditional dress.
Colonnades in Arequipa’s Plaza de Armas are a great place to get some shade on a hot sunny day.
Buildings in Arequipa are made of white silar stone, which comes from the surrounding volcanic mountains. This ubiquitous construction material gave Arequipa its nickname, the White City, and nowhere is the city more pearlescent than in the Yanahuara district. Paradoxically, the word Yanahuara itself translates loosely to “black underpants.”
On land, they’re called dirt devils, on water they are waterspouts; here at the Laguna Salinas high in the mountains outside Arequipa, a passing whirlwind is filled instead with salt. During the rainy season, from December to June, this great salt lake attracts flocks of migrating birds, including three species of flamingo. At all times of the year, visitors are likely to glimpse alpacas, llamas, and even skittish vicunas.
Llamas at Sunset
Sunset in the mountains outside Arequipa—time for the llamas to go home and put on their pajamas.
Monasterio de Santa Catalina
The most spectacular sight in Arequipa, and one of the most spectacular in all of Peru, the Monasterio de Santa Catalina is a warren of streets and one- or two-room cells that has been home to Dominican nuns since 1579. Since the 1960s, the dwindling order has been housed in more up-to-date buildings on the premises, and the sprawling streets, cloisters, plazas, communal rooms, and private cells have been opened to tourists. It’s easy to spend half a day or longer exploring the many terracotta-red, cornflower-blue, and snow-white spaces, including the Plaza Zocodobar.