The Best Cities to Explore in Peru: Lima and Cusco

posted on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 at 7:57:21 PM

Plaza de Armas Lima Peru

With lush green mountains and ancient ruins, Peru offers an unforgettable destination for exploration. While some of the most well-known attractions include Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley, there is so much more to discover. Lima, the nation’s capital, features a thriving culinary scene as well as paragliding, museums and ornate cathedrals. As for Cusco, the city provides attention-worthy sites such as the Sun Temple and vibrant marketplace.

Lima

The city of Lima offers a unique blend of ancient history and modern hot spots. Start your journey at Plaza de Armas (also known as Plaza Mayor) to get a taste of colonial architecture. Dating back to 1535, this open square contains historic buildings including multiple cathedrals, the Government Palace, Archbishop Palace and a bronze fountain. Walk just two blocks to the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco, Lima, one of the most famous churches in Lima completed in the late 1600s.

There are also a multitude of museums in Lima that explore the rich history and artistic influence of Peru. Take a walk through the Lima Art Museum, the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History and the Larco Museum.

The Miraflores District is a definite must-see during your Lima travels. Miraflores is known as the trendy area of Lima and has fantastic shopping at Larcomar mall and a robust dining scene. In fact, Anthony Bourdain visited this area to try Peru’s famous Pisco Sours and Ceviche.

Miraflores also contains Malecón, a beachside area stretching across nearly 10 kilometers of boardwalk. Malecón is perfect for spending a day surfing or tanning at the beach. You can also find a number of paragliding spots. Before your exploration is complete, stop by Huaca Pucllana to see pre-Inca ruins.

Making for a great finale, Circuito Mágico del Agua is a water show located in Park of the Reserve. This impressive sight occurs daily, yet the show truly comes to life at night when the water is mixed with colorful lights creating a true spectacle.

Where to Stay: For a luxury experience, stay at JW Marriott Hotel Lima. This hotel is located in the Miraflores District, within walking distance of Larcomar mall, and boasts ocean views, an on-site spa and upscale dining. Courtyard Lima Miraflores is also located in the same district and provides chic rooms and suites that are more affordable.

The Westin Lima Hotel & Convention Center provides a destination within itself. Just 6 kilometers from Plaza de Armas, the hotel contains the largest convention center in Lima in addition to the sophisticated Heavenly Spa by Westin.

Cusco

The city of Cusco was once the capital of the Incan Empire. Now it is known as the Archaeological Capital of South America and presents a snapshot back in time. Cusco is also unique because it sits at an elevation of about 3,400 meters.

Similar to Lima, Cusco has a Plaza de Armas that acts as a central hub of the city. Snap some photos by the Cathedral of Santo Domingo and Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus, located in the square. These cathedrals offer stunning views, from the ornate architecture to the intricate interiors.

Next stop, The Sun Temple, also known as Coricancha. This amazing structure was once covered in actual gold during the Incan Empire and dates back to the 12th century. Be sure to also visit Sacsayhuamán featuring ancient ruins of a military fortress created during the Inca Empire. You may even spot llamas and alpacas roaming around the site. Sacsayhuamán is also next to the famous Cristo Blanco, an 8-meter-tall statue of Jesus Christ.

After crossing off historic attractions from your travel itinerary, spend some time at the San Pedro Market. This marketplace is massive and sells everything from tamales to sweet pastries. For more dining options, visit the San Blas Quarter. This picturesque area has many cafes, bakeries and boutiques.

If you have more time to spare in Cusco, explore the Inka Museum to see artifacts, pottery and more. Planetarium Cusco is another memorable destination where you can see the stars like never before.

For those who want to visit Machu Picchu, there are a number of adventurous routes from Cusco. Take a luxury train ride to soak in the lush scenery or hike one of the many Inca Hiking Trails.

Where to Stay: Continue the historic tradition during your stay in Cusco by booking a stay at JW Marriott El Convento Cusco. This hotel is housed in a restored convent from the 16th century and displays Incan-style architecture with stone walls and arches.

Feel like royalty when you stay in Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco, which is housed in an actual historic mansion just across the street from Coricancha.

Whether you’re seeking mesmerizing landscapes or monumental sites, Peru provides destinations for all types of explorers. Save more for your Latin American escape with Vacations by Marriott.

Return to Blog