Dramatic volcanoes and canyons, high-altitude lakes, unique Andean cultures, historic cities, beautiful beaches, and extreme adventure sports, Peru has it all. This western South American country is also one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world and has habitats ranging from Pacific coastal regions to lofty Andean peaks to dense Amazonian rainforests to vast stretches of arid desert. Many of the Peruvian cities are also steeped in history while others serve as gateways to major Peruvian attractions. According to a report by Observatorio Turístico del Peru published in New Peruvian, the popularity of Peruvian cities have been estimated based on the tourist arrivals to these cities from the United States. The percentages provided in the table provided below mention visitors from the US but also reflect trends from other nations.
Lima, the Peruvian capital city, is the country’s most visited city. Lima’s rich history, architecture, and culture act as tourist magnets drawing people from all corners of the globe. At its peak, Lima was the main hub of politics in South America. Today, the historic center of Lima with its many churches, mansions, and monasteries remind one of the bygone eras. Museums hosting great works of art are also part of the city’s major attractions. Lima also serves as the gateway to other Peruvian tourist destinations involving beaches, natural reserves, outdoor adventure sports facilities, and more. The exquisite cuisine and lively nightlife of Lima are also popular among tourists. The city’s popularity in the country’s tourist map is evident by the fact that 91% of the visitors to Peru from the US arrived in Lima.
Located in southeastern Peru, Cusco is one of the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. It was the Inca Empire’s historic capital from the 13th until the 16th century. In 1938, UNESCO designated Cusco a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although several major earthquakes struck the city, its Inca stonework architecture survived. Cusco also serves as a gateway to the Machu Picchu which is considered to be one of the world’s most popular bucket-list destination.
The southeastern Peruvian city of Puno is located on Lake Titicaca’s shores. It is a picturesque city with Lake Titicaca and the Uros Floating Islands as the biggest attractions. Puno is also located near the Peru-Bolivia border that makes it one of the regular stops for tourists traveling on the South American tourist trail. Those visiting the city can also experience its unique Andean culture while enjoying modern facilities too. 25% of all American tourists traveling to Peru visit Puno making it the third most popular Peruvian city.
Peru’s second most populous city is also one of its most visited destinations. The historic center of Arequipa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is known for its baroque buildings made of white volcanic rocks. Arequipa also offers excellent traditional cuisines. Surrounded by three major volcanoes, the city also offers dramatic landscapes like the Colca Canyon. Rafting and trekking are enjoyed by the more adventurous tourists visiting the city.
The city of Ica is located in southern Peru. It is known for its excellent museum and has the finest winery in the country. The Nazca Desert surrounding Ica is noted for its dunes and Nazca Lines (very large geoglyphs created between 500 BC and 500 AD). Thus, 14% of all American tourists to Peru make sure they visit Ica to explore the city and its surroundings.
A coastal city in northwestern Peru, Trujillo is a treasure trove of numerous attractions. The prehistoric Moche and Chimu cultures thrived in the region. The judiciary of modern Peru was born here. The city also served as the country’s capital on two occasions. Trujillo is often deemed the "Capital of Culture of Peru”. Numerous events of national and international interest and cultural festivals like the National Marinera Festival and International Book Festival are held in the city. The temples of the Sun and Moon and the Chan Chan are two renowned archeological sites of pre-Columbian monuments located in the city.
The small port town of Paracas is a top tourist hub as its port acts a jumping port for tours to the Paracas National Reservation and Islas Ballestas. A visit to the former offers tourists an excellent opportunity to learn about the unique Paracas culture as well as observe the endemic birds of Paracas. Thus, 6% of all American tourists to Peru visit this Peruvian city.
The Huaraz city of Peru is located along the River Santa in the middle of the Callejon de Huaylas Valley. Tourists to the city can experience excellent outdoor adventures like trekking, skiing, rafting, biking, climbing, and more. The Huarascán National Park near the city offers fantastic sceneries. Ruins of ancient civilizations can also be visited here.