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Peru is one of the world’s most beautiful destinations. From the soaring ancient Andean peaks upon which the Incas built their historic fortress of Machu Picchu to the cobbled streets and colonial architecture of Cusco and Lima, plus endless stretches of coast, Amazonian jungle, the world’s highest-altitude lake, and even a dune-filled sandy desert, there’s just so much to see.
Peru also boasts one of the best (and most under-recognized) food scenes in the world, both traditional and contemporary, great nightlife in its major cities, amazing craft markets, and locals who are famously open and welcoming to visitors. That said, Peru is big (twice the size of Texas!) and it’s complex and, well, it’s a whole lot to take in. A well-planned guided tour is a great way to see the country. Whether you want a quick tour just to get the lay of the land, something more in-depth, or a tour that offers special access to certain sites, there’s something out there for you. Here are the very best Peru tours that Viator has to offer.
Best Introductory Tour: 7-Day Lima and Cusco Tour w/Overnight at Machu Picchu
Meet and fall in love with Peru on this week-long tour that takes you to Peru’s two largest cities, as well as its most famous ancient wonder. It’s a relatively low-cost tour with lots of free time for self-guided sightseeing built in, so it’s ideal for people who want a bit of guidance but also a bit of time to themselves. The tour starts in cosmopolitan Lima, with a day of guided sightseeing in the city’s historic center and a full free day to do and see anything you’d like.
On the third day, you’ll fly to Cusco (the domestic flight is not included in the tour price) and be welcomed to this high-altitude city with a cup of mate de coca, a local remedy for altitude sickness that has been used since before recorded history. In Cusco, you’ll visit a number of this city’s spectacular Incan ruins over the course of two days, as well as enjoy some free time for shopping or sightseeing.
From there, it’s on to Aguas Calientes by train (and it’s a spectacularly beautiful train ride) and then up the mountain to the fortress of Machu Picchu by bus. You’ll have a final day of leisure in this area, where you can re-visit the fortress, climb one of the other nearby mountains, or simply enjoy the charming town of Aguas Calientes.
At the end of the day, it’s back to Cusco by train for a final overnight before flying back to Lima. This tour includes all hotel rooms and daily breakfast, as well as entrance fees to attractions.
Best Comprehensive Tour: 15 Days: Amazon, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca & More
If you’ve got two weeks to spend, you won’t find many more spectacular ways to do it than this. The tour combines a significant amount of guided excursions with ample leisure time for you to spend exploring at will. Though the tour starts in Lima, it immediately heads out on a short domestic flight to Puerto Maldonado, where the first leg of your tour, an Amazon jungle adventure, begins.
You’ll take a boat to a jungle lodge, which will be your home for the next few days, packed with riverboat rides, visits to different nature preserves, and wildlife encounters aplenty. From there, it’s on to Cusco via airplane, where you’ll have the other half of your travel day to rest and acclimate to the high altitude before taking on this gorgeous historic (and prehistoric) city on a walking tour.
After a short trip to the ancient salt mines at Maras and the archaeological sites at Moray and Ollantaytambo, you’ll hop a train to Aguas Calientes, from which you’ll visit Machu Picchu. And that’s just week one.
Week two takes you to Lake Titicaca, the folkloric city of Puno, the Colca Canyon, the colonial city of Arequipa, a flight over the mysterious Nazca Lines, the penguins and fur seals of the Ballestas Islands, and so much more. There’s no way to see everything in a large country like Peru in just two weeks, but this tour shows you a whole lot and offers a good balance of ancient and modern, rural and urban, guided and free.
All lodgings are included (at three-star level with a four-star upgrade available), as are ground transportation, excursion fees, attraction tickets, and many meals.
Best Camping Tour: Overnight Hiking & Camping Trip to Rainbow Mountain
If your idea of a great trip involves hiking boots and tents rather than city centers and hotel breakfasts, this short but very sweet hiking and camping tour might be perfect for you. You’ll head out from Cusco to the province of Quispicanchis, with a couple of quick sightseeing stops on the way.
The outdoor portion of the trek begins at midday after a picnic lunch and includes a moderate ascent followed by a longer hike through gently-sloping meadows. You’ll set up camp and enjoy a freshly-prepared dinner near the home of a traditional llama-farming family and will have a chance to meet them and ask them questions about themselves and the area.
After breakfast the next morning, you’ll hike off to the Rainbow Mountain, a breathtaking geological structure formed by multicolored layers of sedimentary deposits. The early hour of the hike means you’ll beat the crowds and have ample time to explore this natural wonder before many others arrive. After lunch and a hike back to camp, you’ll be driven back to your hotel in Cusco.
Best Jungle Tour: 5-Day Wildlife Tour in Pacaya Natural Reserve
Peru has a large number of nature preserves and other protected areas, some of which are particularly well-suited for visitors. The Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is one of the largest, and if you want to see Amazonian wildlife, you really can’t beat this trip into its interior.
It departs from the Northern city of Iquitos, so you’ll need to make your way that far, but the tour company handles the rest. You’ll depart Iquitos for a 90-minute car ride followed by a three-hour boat ride, at which point you’ll make landfall at a small village within the preserve.
You’ll spend the rest of the day taking a small hiking tour and a boat excursion into a lagoon to look for the famous Amazonian pink dolphins. You’ll spend the night in a local house. The next three days offer a full-throttle jungle experience, beginning with a three-hour boat ride further into the jungle to set up camp. (Yes, camp.)
The rest of the trip is spent looking for wildlife, canoeing, learning about medicinal plants, and simply enjoying the remoteness of the place. On your final day, you’ll make one last stop at the village, where you can buy crafts or do a bit more exploring, and then it’s back to Iquitos.
All meals, transport, and necessary gear (including mosquito nets) are included, but you’ll need (and very much want) to bring your own rubber boots.
Best Adventure: 4-Day Machu Picchu with Biking, Rafting, Ziplining
Perhaps camping and some gentle hikes aren’t quite enough adventure for you? If you want something a bit bolder, consider this high-impact tour that combines a variety of adventure sports with some of Peru’s finest sightseeing opportunities.
On your first day, you’ll travel by bus through the picturesque Sacred Valley of the Incas until you arrive at the mountain Abra Malaga. From there, you’ll take a three-hour mountain bike trek through rural villages and mountain scenery until you meet back up with your bus, which will take you to Santa Maria for whitewater rafting. You’ll spend the night in an eco-lodge.
The next day is a hiking day, where you’ll make your way on foot along the ancient Inca Trail, ending your day in Santa Teresa, where you’ll stay in a family home. Day three takes you on foot to the town of Aguas Calientes (with a ziplining excursion on the way), and day four takes you from there to Machu Picchu with an early departure so you’ll arrive at sunrise for a tour with your guide.
Serious hikers can go even further, to the higher peak of Huayna Picchu, and everyone has plenty of time for exploration of the site. After a few more hours in Aguas Calientes, you’ll head back to Cusco by train. It’s an intense trip, but if you love action, it’s an amazing one.
Best Amazon River Cruise: 4-Day Amazon River Luxury Cruise
If you’d like the Amazonian experience but perhaps without the sleeping-on-the-ground bit, consider visiting the region on a luxury tour boat. This all-inclusive four-day trip lets you stay comfy in the privacy and luxury of your own suite on this small (16-cabin) boat while also seeing, hearing, and interacting with the people and wildlife of this stretch of the river.
Daily shore excursions include a side trip to the Yacapana Isles, famous for their iguanas, the Yarapa River, where the pink dolphins play, and the tiny local villages of Magdalena and Puerto Prado, the latter of which is home to the Cocama people, known for their arts and crafts (available for purchase, of course).
You’ll also be able to see a great deal of wildlife and scenery from the boat itself and even spend some time fishing for piranhas, among other unique onboard activities. Healthy gourmet food is provided for all meals, and transport to and from the Iquitos airport is included.
Best Inca Trail Tour: 4-Day Trek to Machu Picchu Through the Inca Trail
The historic road to Machu Picchu is via the Inca Trail, a high road through the Andes Mountains that is considered one of the world’s most beautiful hikes. The number of people allowed to hike the Inca Trail daily is limited, as are the number of tour companies allowed to lead hikers, so book early if this sort of trek appeals to you.
It’s not easy — it’s at a very high altitude and includes some serious cliff edges — but it is exquisitely beautiful and a real personal triumph to complete. This small-group tour includes not only the ascent to Machu Picchu itself, but stops at a number of smaller archaeological sites over the course of four days of trekking, including Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca, as well as overnight camping accommodations high in the Andes, offering probably the most beautiful morning views you’ll ever see in your life.
Again, it’s an intense trip, but one worth training for. Food, ground transportation, camping equipment, professional guides, and porters to carry shared equipment are all included.
Best Cusco Tour: Cusco by Night: Planetarium Cusco, Dinner and Pisco Sour
Whether you’re just passing through Cusco for a day or two or you’re spending a longer portion of your trip here, consider this tour, which lets you see the sights of the city lit up in the twilight. Your ebullient local guide will pick you up at your hotel and then take you on a walk to a non-touristic local green market to sample the wares and learn a bit about local foods.
From there, you’ll take a ride to Cusco’s renowned planetarium, where you’ll see a public presentation about the stars of the night sky (for Northern Hemisphere-dwellers, they’ll be largely unfamiliar) as well as the history of Incan astronomy, which was highly advanced.
Afterward, you’ll head back to the city center for a traditional dinner of roasted chicken (don’t be turned off by the simplicity — the roasted chicken in Peru is life-changing), accompanied by the Peruvian national drink, the Pisco Sour.
When dinner is finished, your guide will take you on a nighttime walking tour of the Plaza de Armas and its surroundings and teach you a bit about the history of the Incas as well as colonial history. It’s a pleasant way to spend a very typical local evening and really get a deeper sense for the soul of Cusco.
Best Lima Tour: Private Full-Day Best of Lima Tour
Odds are good that your Peruvian trip will take you through Lima at some point, and if it does, you won’t find a better, more comprehensive tour than this private tour. It’s an ideal way to spend the first day of your tour, so as to get a lay of the land and orient yourself, and it’s also an excellent way to spend a single day’s visit, as you’ll see more of Lima this way than you could on your own.
Your private driver and English-speaking guide will escort you to all of the city’s major sightseeing spots and offer insight into their history and cultural context. Stops include the UNESCO-listed San Francisco Convent, the Larco Museum, the Morro Solar in Miraflores, the Huaca Pucllana (a pre-Incan pyramid in the middle of a modern neighborhood), and the Inca Market.
It’s a luxurious and yet surprisingly affordable way to see this fascinating city, so don’t hesitate.