Attractions Nearby Lima, Day Trips and Excursions
As such a popular and modern city, visitors staying in Lima are strongly advised to leave some time to explore the surrounding attractions. Lima is close to a number of beautiful beaches and coastal attractions, including those within Callao
and La Punta, being well connected by the Pan-American Highway .
Head to the south-east of Lima and you will eventually reach the must-visited city of Cusco
, a real 'must-see' if you can possibly make it. Being so close to Machu Picchu
, Cusco enjoys tremendous popularity, with many attractions celebrating its rich Inca past, although it is a rather expensive place to stay for long.
Lying to the south-east of Lima is the city of Ayacucho
, which is close to Abancay, Huancavelica and Quillabamba. After Cusco, Ayacucho really is one of the most appealing Peruvian cities and visitors will be able to soak up its colonial past and marvel at its skyline, which is very much dominated with the spires of churches
. The Semana Santa
(Holy Week) celebrations each Easter and nothing short of spectacular and the fresh mountain air is always very bracing. Art lovers will appreciate the exhibits at Ayacucho's Museo Arte Popular
on the Portal Union, and at the 17th-century cathedral on the Plaza de Armas.
Cajamarquilla is amongst the most important of all the towns within the northern highlands and is situated to the north of Lima. The colonial-style metropolis is really very historic and it was here in the mid-15th century that the Inca people arrived and created the Inca Andean Highway, which today still connects both Quito and Cusco. Attractions in Cajamarquilla are open most days, closing for lunch between 13:00 and 15:00, and include the El Complejo de Belen complex, the Inca Ransom Chamber (El Cuarto del Rescate) and the Folklore Museum (Museo de Etnografia).
Home to the beaches of La Punta
, the National Museum of Callao and a thriving port, the city of Callao is often described as being a coastal suburb of Lima and is just a matter of minutes to the west of Peru's capital. Callao's other attractions come in the form of the Monumento a Bolivar
, the Monumento a Grau, the Museo Naval (Navy Museum
) and also the Museo del Ejército (Military Museum) at the Fortaleza del Real Felipe.
Chaclacayo stands to the north-east of Lima and enjoys a fairly elevated setting, allowing it to bask in the sunshine, above the grey mist that is the 'garua'. The village of Chaclacayo is around 650 metres / 2,130 feet above sea level and features some very affordable 'cabins' and local vacation hotels. Local Peruvians regularly come here on day trips, looking for some sun and blue skies.
Chosica is a vibrant and popular resort town on the Carretera Central, north-east of Lima. Although visitor numbers to Chosica are down in recent years, Chosica still lends itself to a very relaxing excursion, particularly suiting those looking for a little respite, away from the hectic city. Nearby are the ruins of Marcahuasi, while accommodation is Chosica comes at a range of prices.
As Peru's premier fish port, some areas of Chimbote
are a little fragrant, although as you approach the city centre, those fishing smells soon dissipate. Chimbote is to the north of Lima and although it is fairly light on tourist attractions
as such, it is a very good place to stay overnight, if you are planning to catch one of the early morning buses headed for Huaraz, along the scenic Canon del Pato stretch. Adjoining the city of Chimbote is the Mountain of Peace (Cerro de la Paz) and also the Mountain of Youth
(Cerro de la Juventud).
Cusco can be found to the south-east of Lima and was historically the very heart of the Inca civilisation. There are innumerable museums
and world-class attractions within Cusco, although a large number will require that you first purchase a 'tourist ticket' (boleto turistico). The Cusco Cathedral
(La Catedral) dominates the Plaza de Armas
and took almost an entire century to build, with the first brick being laid as long ago as 1559. Many of the blocks used to construct the cathedral were actually taken from the Inca site of Saqsaywaman.
is located to the east of Lima and a rather strange city, with many areas appearing almost out of the Wild West. Serving as a hub for the entire region and the Rio Mantaro Valley, attractions
in Huancayo range from hiking through the Andes and rather exciting mountain biking, to camping, jungle tours and horseback riding. The fiestas
of Huancayo are a real treat and it is said that every single day there is some king of celebration taking place around the Rio Mantaro Valley. The geological formations named the 'Torre Torre
' warrant some attention.
Sited to the north of Lima and relatively close to Chimbote, Huaraz boasts some of the most breathtaking mountain views that you are likely to experience in Peru. Huaraz is a tourist hotspot for lovers of the 'great outdoors' and offers an array of trekking opportunities and similar recreational attractions, such as mountaineering, rock climbing, mountain biking, white-water rafting (river running) and even skiing, in the Cordillera Blanca. If you are planning any Andean adventure, then Huaraz really is the place to do it. However, do be warned - time to properly acclimatise to the high altitude is very important.
The wineries of Ica are almost legendary in Peru and just one of the reasons why so many people choose to visit this city each year. Ica stands to the south of Lima, where it has become known for its lively festivals and enormous sand dunes, where you can sandboard. 'Pisco' brandy is produced in Ica and is the national beverage of Peru, while close by, the Huacachina Lagoon is actually South America's one and only oasis. The Museo Regional de Ica is a true highlight and must-see for any tourists coming here.
Machu Picchu is situated a fair distance to the south-east of Lima and is really too far to even consider a day trip. However, it is well connected by trains and buses, and since it really is such a spectacular site, it definitely does deserve a mention. The ruins of Machu Picchu are open daily, from dawn until dusk, and tend to be most heavily visited between the hours of 10:00 and 14:00. The touristy town of Aguas Calientes makes a good base for those headed to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas
or the world-famous Inca Trail
Open hours: daily - dawn to dusk
Admission: charge, discount available to students and children, children eight years old and under are free, limited visitor numbers to 2,500 per day, 5-days minimum advanced booking is recommended
The strange and rather curious lines of Nazca have remained a mystery for many years, since being discovered in 1901 by a local Peruvian archaeologist. However, it was not until the late 1930s when they really came to the world's attention, after a scientist flew over this part of the desert and quickly noticed the wonderful figures and shapes created by these carvings in the ground below. Today, many people choose to take a 30-minute plane trip over the Nazca attractions and this is quite inexpensive, although if you suffer from motion sickness, you may well find that the bumpy flight makes you a little queezy. Alternatively, head to the observation tower at Mirador, to the Museo Didactico Antonini, the Planetarium Maria Reiche or to the neighbouring Cahuachi pyramids. The World Monuments Fund (WMF) has included the Nazca Lines as part of their Global Watch List of endangered heritage sights but are hopeful that managed tourism and education of visitors will assist in their protection.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 17:00
Admission: charge for tours
At just over 30 km / 19 miles to the south-west of Lima, the ancient site of Pachacamac is well placed for a day trip and therefore extremely popular with tourists looking to escape the confines of the city. Pachacamac was once a thriving Inca city and today, the remains of various palaces and pyramids have become a major draw card, along with an onsite museum. This is the closest major Inca site to Lima and the most significant. The Temple of the Sun (Templo del Sol) is a real highlight and those who climb to the very top will be greeted by superb coastal views. Guided tours of the renovated House of the Chosen Women (Palacio de las Mamacuna) also come highly recommended.
Open hours: Tuesday to Sunday - 09:00 to 17:00
Admission: charge, discount available to students
The archaeological site of Puruchuco really found itself in the headlines relatively recently, when in 2002, literally hundreds of well-preserved artefacts and mummies where discovered here, within its vast Inca cemetery. Puruchuco serves as one of the biggest Inca finds in history and the sheer quantity of graves offers a real insight into the culture of the Incas. A reconstruction of the house of an Inca chief suggests how life was once led here, and comes complete with its very own 'guinea pig ranch'.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 17:00