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Grab your bucket list, because there’s one dream destination you may not have considered yet.
You can search the world for a dream vacation. Many people spend weeks, months, or even years planning for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe, or Asia, but Peru is one hot destination that has been flying under the radar for lots of travelers out there.
The South American country is probably best known by people who want to explore ancient Incan ruins, trekking to Machu Picchu by the thousands every day. While Machu Picchu is certainly a top reason to visit this diverse, rich, and beautiful country, there’s even more to discover while you’re there.
Adventurers will love the incredible landscape and scores of outdoor activities, from the colorful Andes Mountains to the waterfalls of the Amazon region. Foodies will love sipping on Pisco Sours in local bars and dining on everything from fresh ceviche to Amazonian snails in Lima. History and art nerds will get a kick out of visiting the Nazca Lines or seeing handicrafts made by locals in the Sacred Valley. And there’s plenty of luxurious places including world-class hotels and fabulous resorts to relax in no matter where you go.
Simply put, there’s something for everyone in Peru.
Not only is Peru better than ever, but its also easier to get to than ever, making it a truly excellent vacation option for people of every budget. The best time to go to Peru is during the dry season between June and September, offering an amazing summer trip for anyone looking for somewhere interesting and new to explore.
But just in case you’re not convinced, here are the very best reasons to visit Peru.
1. Machu Picchu, Obviously
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It’s clear why this ancient ruin attracts more than 5,000 visitors a day. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and declared one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” according to Frommers. Visitors who love the great outdoors can take a four-day Inca Trail hike that leads to the ruins if they really want to see the beautiful scenery that surrounds Machu Picchu.
2. Montaña de Siete Colores (Mountain of Seven Colors) is an Instagram Filter IRL
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If you’re looking for an envy-inducing Instagram pic, look no further. Vinicunca, also called Montaña de Siete Colores (Mountain of Seven Colors in English), is located in the Andes mountains, near Cusco. So you can take a colorful hike in the mountains and stay in the nearby city of Cusco for a trip that’s truly rich in culture, history, and natural beauty.
3. Cusco's Rich Art and History
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Speaking of Cusco, if you can take the altitude (it’s over 11,000 feet above sea level), you won’t regret exploring this exotic city. Cusco has so many fascinating features for history and art lovers. For instance, according to The Points Guy, you can visit mummies at Museo Inka; visit the city’s one-time religious center, the Temple of the Sun; or shop until you drop in San Blas. It’s also one of the best (and most affordable) international places to retire.
4. Lima Is a Foodie Paradise
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Lima is home to a diverse cultural heritage, and that makes it an incredible place for food lovers. Street food is certainly budget-friendly and just as delicious as any cuisine you can find in a fine dining restaurant, but there are also lots of spots to grab a good meal that range in price and style. Munch on incredible dishes like ceviche, empanadas, butifarra (sausage), and a local Andean delicacy: dry guinea pig meat.
5. Experience Culture and Luxury at Lake Titicaca
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Visitors to Peru’s Sacred Valley must stop at Lake Titicaca, which is one of South America's largest lakes and the world’s highest crossable body of water (sitting at 12,500 feet). A new resort hotel, Inkaterra Titilaka, is there to cater to your every need if you’re looking for a little luxury. Visitors can also tour the area to see the fantastic sights or hit up the markets to watch locals making traditional crafts.
6. The Beaches Are Exquisite
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While most people think of the mountains when they think of Peru, you might be surprised that the country has an impressive coastline as well. Máncora is a must for anyone who loves to lounge on the beach. People love to flock there to catch some waves, as it’s one of the world’s top destinations for surfing.
7. The Nazca Lines Are Fascinating
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Conspiracy theorists and UFO enthusiasts have to put Peru on their travel bucket lists if only to take a look at the mysterious Nazca Lines, located in southern Peru. Made up of 300 different figures over 386 square miles (1,000 square kilometers), the lines have been the subject of many theories as to how they appeared — including a few centered around aliens. Take an aerial tour to really get a good look at the fascinating figures.
8. Thrill-seekers Can Get Their Kicks in the Amazon
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The Peruvian Amazon takes up roughly 60 percent of the country, so you can’t possibly say that Peru is just the Andes. The best part about visiting the Peruvian Amazon is its accessibility. Unlike Brazil, getting to the Amazon is much easier: only a 2-hour flight from Lima to Iquitos, the gateway to the rainforest. From there, you can take tours, including an Amazon cruise.
9. You Can Relax at an Oasis in Huacachina
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According to The Telegraph, there’s a beautiful lagoon in southwest Peru called Huacachina. It’s a popular destination for people looking for a break from the hot, dusty desert, and it’s considered one of the most peaceful places in the country. You can relax by the water or enjoy some sandboarding — kind of like snowboarding, but on the sand — while you’re there.
10. The Belmond Andean Explorer Is One of the Best Ways to See the Sights
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South America’s first luxury sleeper train is a truly majestic way to get around. It goes along one of the highest train routes in the world (16,000 feet above sea level) and has several itineraries for guest to choose from. Depending on where you’d like to go, you can travel to places like Cusco, Lake Titicaca, the Sumbay Caves, and the La Raya Mountain Range. Catch amazing natural views of the landscape and wildlife, including alpacas.
11. Nothing beats an Ice-cold Pisco Sour on a Hot Day
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If you haven’t tried this quintessential Peruvian cocktail, you’re in for a treat. You can find this drink pretty much anywhere in the country. It’s made with lime juice, simple syrup, ice, egg white, Angostura bitters and pisco, a brandy made by distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit. Kind of like a whiskey sour, only better.
12. It’s Easier to Get There than Ever Before
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According to The Points Guy, getting to Peru is much easier these days than it has been in the past. You can find flights to Peru from Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington D.C. popping up more and more. Even big carriers like American Airlines offer direct flights to Lima from Dallas and Miami. It’s also a fairly inexpensive city to visit, so it’s a great place for traveling on a budget.
Source: Travel+Leisure, MAY 26, 2019