Last Updated on November 26, 2023 by Ray Roman
Peru is a land of breathtaking landscapes, ancient ruins, and diverse cultures, making it a top destination for travelers looking to experience the magic of South America.
From the bustling metropolis of Lima to the ancient city of Cusco, Peru boasts a wealth of vibrant and fascinating cities that offer something for everyone.
Whether you’re seeking to explore the rich history and culture of the Incas, sample the country’s delicious cuisine, or soak up the stunning scenery, there’s no shortage of incredible destinations to discover.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best cities in Peru, each with its own unique charms and attractions. So get ready to explore the wonders of Peru!
Lima, the capital city of Peru, is a bustling metropolis that combines modernity with ancient history. With a population of over 10 million people, Lima is the largest city in Peru and one of the largest in South America.
One of the main attractions of Lima is the historic center, also known as the “City of Kings.” This area is home to numerous colonial-era buildings, including the Plaza Mayor, the Government Palace, and the Cathedral of Lima.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history and architecture.
Lima is also a great place to experience the vibrant culture of Peru. The city is home to numerous museums, galleries, and cultural centers, as well as a thriving music and arts scene.
Cusco is a beautiful city in southeastern Peru, at an altitude of over 3,400 meters above sea level in the striking Andes Mountains.
Cusco was once the capital of the Inca Empire, and today, there are lots of ancient ruins and archaeological sites, including the renowned Machu Picchu, located just a few hours away by train.
Many visitors come to Cusco specifically to visit Machu Picchu, but the city itself has plenty to offer as well. The historic center of Cusco is filled with beautiful colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and charming plazas.
The most famous plaza in Cusco is the Plaza de Armas, which is surrounded by impressive buildings, including the Cathedral of Santo Domingo and the Church of La Compania de Jesus.
Trujillo is on the north coast. The city has a rich history, dating back to the pre-Columbian era, and boasts numerous archaeological sites, museums, and colonial-era buildings.
One of the most famous sites in Trujillo is the Chan Chan archaeological complex, which was the capital of the Chimu Kingdom, an indigenous culture that flourished on the northern coast of Peru from the 9th to the 15th century.
Another important archaeological site in Trujillo is the Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol, which are two massive pyramids built by the Moche culture, who lived in the area from around 100 AD to 700 AD.
These pyramids are adorned with intricate friezes and murals depicting scenes from Moche mythology and everyday life.
Arequipa is in southern Peru, at the foot of the Misti volcano. It is the second-most populous city in Peru and the capital of the Arequipa Region.
Arequipa has an abundance of beautiful colonial architecture, stunning natural surroundings, and a rich cultural heritage.
Arequipa is also a great base for exploring the surrounding natural attractions, including the Colca Canyon, which is one of the deepest canyons in the world and home to the Andean condor.
Visitors can also hike in the nearby El Misti National Park or explore the Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve, which is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including alpacas, llamas, and vicuñas.
Iquitos is in northeastern Peru, and it is the largest city in the world that is not connected to any other city by road.
Instead, it can only be reached by air or by boat via the Amazon River. Iquitos is known for its unique location, as well as its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.
Among the best attractions in Iquitos is the Amazon River itself, which is one of the longest rivers in the world and has a diverse array of wildlife, including pink dolphins, giant otters, and anacondas.
Visitors can take boat tours of the river or go on guided hikes through the surrounding jungle.
Another must-visit attraction in Iquitos is the Belén Market, which is one of the largest markets in the Amazon Basin.
The market is a vibrant and bustling hub of commerce, with vendors selling everything from fresh produce to handcrafted souvenirs.
Chiclayo is in northern Peru, and it is the capital of the Lambayeque Region. The Tucume Archaeological Site in Chiclayo is a sprawling complex of 26 pyramids built by the Lambayeque culture between the 11th and 14th centuries.
Visitors can explore the pyramids and learn about the culture and history of the Lambayeque people.
Chiclayo is also a great base for exploring the surrounding natural beauty, such as the Pimentel Beach, which is a popular spot for surfing and swimming, and the Chaparrí Ecological Reserve, which is home to a variety of wildlife, including Andean condors and pumas.
Cajamarca is in northern Peru, and it is the capital of the Cajamarca Region. The Baños del Inca is a complex of hot springs located just outside the city.
According to legend, the Inca emperor Atahualpa used to bathe in these hot springs, and they are still popular with locals and visitors alike for their relaxing and therapeutic properties.
You should also check out the Cumbe Mayo archaeological site, which features a series of intricate and well-preserved aqueducts that were built by the pre-Inca Cajamarca culture. The site also includes petroglyphs and other examples of ancient art and architecture.
Huaraz is a beautiful city in the Ancash region of Peru, nestled in the heart of the Andes mountains.
In Huaraz, you can visit the Huascaran National Park, which is home to the highest mountain in Peru, the Huascaran, which stands at 6,768 meters (22,205 feet) above sea level.
The park also boasts other impressive peaks, such as Chopicalqui, Alpamayo, and Artesonraju, which are popular among climbers and mountaineers.
The city of Huaraz itself is a bustling hub of activity, with a lively market selling local crafts and food, as well as a range of restaurants and cafes serving traditional Peruvian cuisine.
The Plaza de Armas, the city’s central square, is a great place to relax and people-watch, while the nearby Cathedral of Huaraz is a beautiful example of colonial architecture.
Piura is in the northwestern part of Peru, and it is the capital of the Piura region. Piura boasts warm weather, delicious cuisine, and vibrant culture.
One of the main attractions of Piura is its historic city center, which features colonial architecture, including the Cathedral of Piura and the Church of San Francisco.
The city center also has a variety of museums and art galleries, such as the Casa Museo Almirante Miguel Grau, which honors the Peruvian naval hero, and the Vicús Museum, which showcases ancient pottery and textiles from the Vicús culture.
Piura is also famous for its amazing range of cuisine and its refreshing drinks, including chicha, a fermented corn beverage, and emollient, a hot herbal tea.
Huancayo is in the central highlands of Peru, and it is the capital of the Junín region. One of the main attractions of Huancayo is the Huaytapallana Mountain, which is a popular destination for hiking and trekking.
The mountain is considered sacred by the locals, and it is believed to be home to a variety of spirits and deities. Huancayo is also famous for its music and dance traditions, which are a blend of indigenous, Spanish, and African influences.
The city hosts a variety of festivals and celebrations throughout the year, including the Huaytapallana Pilgrimage, the Feast of the Virgin of Carmen, and the Warachikuy Festival, which showcases traditional dances and music.
Best Cities in Peru Final Thoughts
Peru is a diverse and fascinating country with a rich cultural heritage and stunning natural landscapes. From the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu to the eclectic food scenes, there are countless sights and experiences to enjoy in Peru.
It is a country full of surprises, and its cities are no exception. From the colonial charm of Arequipa to the mystical beauty of Cusco, and the vibrant culture of Lima, each city has its unique personality and charm.
Peru has a well-developed tourism infrastructure, with a range of accommodations, restaurants, and transportation options available in most major cities and tourist destinations.
However, it’s important to be aware of potential safety concerns and take appropriate precautions to protect your belongings and personal safety.
The ten best cities in Peru that we have explored in this article showcase the country’s rich history, diverse landscapes, and vibrant culture.