Peru Landmarks

For a fairly average-sized country—especially compared to its sprawling neighbor Brazil—Peru has a generous sprinkling of manmade and natural wonders. Even cooped up in a hotel room in Lima, one cannot help but spot at least a few of the country’s landmarks and be drawn to explore the city. Here are some things worth checking out around the country for those who live for the sights.

Museum of the Convent of San Francisco

The Convent of San Francisco was the capital’s cemetery until the 1800s. Although now a museum of religious art, it shows hints of its past identity—catacombs, underground tunnels, wells, and the remains of some 25,000 worshippers. Several other places of interest, including churches, museums, and historical centers, can be found within a few blocks, so it may be worth an entire day’s trip.

Plaza Mayor

Located at the center of Lima’s most historic neighbourhood, this town square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an unwitting tribute to the city’s architectural background. The buildings surrounding the area boast wooden balconies, ornate carvings, and palace sculptures, many of which date back to the mid-1600s and were reconstructed in the 1800s.

Larcomar

Larcomar is essentially a cliffside entertainment complex, built seemingly precariously on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. Once you get over the breathtaking view, you can head inland for a wide range of entertainment venues: arcades, restaurants, cafes, ice cream parlors, and dozens of stores selling everything from local handmade clothing to souvenirs.

Nazca Lines

All we know about the Nazca lines is that they were probably made by a tribe dating back to 300 BC. The drawings span over 50 square kilometers in the southern Nazca Desert. Some are seemingly random lines, while others clearly represent animals, trees, and flowers. Theories as to what they were range from alien landing strips (as some of the drawings can only be seen from over 1500 feet high) to solar eclipse predictors. Musings aside, the sight is definitely worth a couple of days’ travel out of the city.

Alpamayo

Once dubbed the most beautiful mountain in the world, the Alpamayo is a popular site for hikers because of the area’s calmness, good weather, and picturesque views. You don’t have to do the hike to appreciate its beauty—indeed, hikers warn that the path can be challenging—but its distinct shape can be seen from way off, making it one of the most striking landmarks of northern Peru.

Autumn in Lima

Summer’s on its last stretch, but in many travel hotspots, the action is still in full bloom. In Lima, activities are still lined up for the better part of the year, from festivals to public shows to beach  and sporting events. If you’re looking to visit the Peruvian capital this fall and winter, here are some things you can look forward to.

From September to November, locals gather at the Afueras de Lima for the country’s largest equestrian event. The Concurso Departamental del Caballo Peruano de Paso showcases the Peruvian Paso, a native horse breed considered a Cultural Heritage by authorities.

In between, religious festivals abound, most of them during the first weeks of October. The Virgin of the Rosary Festival takes place on the first Sunday of the month, marked by large crowds at the scenic Santo Domingo Monastery. Later in the month, you can catch the Feria Taurina del Señor de los Milagros, a bullfighting event that has taken place yearly since the 1940s.  The feast also features a procession that weaves through the city, taking off at the Church of Las Nazarenas. The El Señor Luren is a month-long pilgrimage in Ica, a nearby city, and is also worth checking out if you’re up for a road trip.

The church-centric events continue into November, starting with the San martin de Porres Festival. Like other Hispanophone countries, Peru also celebrates All Saints Day on November 1st, which is a national holiday. This is followed by All Souls Day (Day of the Dead), where locals flock to cemeteries to pay tribute to deceased friends and family members. It sounds morbid, but it’s actually a friendly festivity and a great way to understand the local culture.

December is no doubt the most festive month, as Christmas celebrations tend to start early. Throughout the month and even well into January, Christmas events dot the city and its environs, from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to the Battle of Ayacucho reenactments just a week shy of Christmas. Expect to see lots of live music, dancing, and happy crowds exchanging greetings and reveling in their own culture. It’s also a great time to enjoy the local cuisine, as restaurants often offer up their best fare around this time. If you stay until mid-January, you may also be able to catch the Three Wise Men festival, a more quiet but equally entertaining event that caps of the holiday season.

Tourist Attractions in Peru

Peru’s tourism is among the most varied in South America, thanks to a diverse climate and topography that has given way to a wealth of natural wonders. Most people come for the Machu Picchu and other ruins around Cusco, but there’s a lot more to see and do. Indeed, it takes more than one visit to really appreciate what the country has to offer. If you’ve already seen the ruins or just want to go off the beaten path, here are some alternative tourist attractions in Peru that may be worth your time.

Islas Ballestas: Nicknamed the “Peruvian Galápagos” (referring to the famous islands off neighboring Ecuador), this small cluster is home to rare sea lions, turtles, penguins, and a variety of wild, endangered seabirds. It forms the bulk of the Paracas Natural Reserve. From offshore, the bird droppings (guano) on top of the beautiful rock formations can be mistaken for polar ice caps.

Colca Valley: Travel guide Arthur Frommer calls this the best place to see giant condors in South America. Visitors are treated to scenic volcanoes capped with (real) snow, gorges cutting through verdant valleys, and vast patches of desert. The trip there takes you through a couple of nature reserves, where on a good day you may spot local wildlife like llamas and alpacas.

Manu National Park: If you’re up for a long drive, this biosphere reserve—the country’s second largest protected area—is well worth the trip. Because it’s so remote, it has one of the best-preserved flora and fauna in the continent, with habitats ranging from cloud forests to the Andes highlands to tropical rainforests. It also has the world’s highest level of plant, bird, and mammal diversity.

Huascarán National Park: Nature lovers and adventure-seekers will love the wild topography of this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which runs almost the entire length of the Cordillera Blanca in the north. You’ll need the whole day and a good deal of stamina to explore its hundreds of glaciers and alpine lakes, and enjoy the unparalleled views from its peaks.

Llanganuco Lakes: Just a short distance from Huascarán, the Lagunas Llanganuco offer a quiet respite from the Cordilleras. The twin turquoise lakes are tucked away in a valley, fed by glaciers and always clear enough to reflect the mountains around it. Some 35 miles off, you’ll also find giant bromeliads called the Puya Raimondi, which rise up to 40 feet high and bloom just every hundred years.

Callao Peru: Popular Tourist Destination and Important Port City

Callao is a coastal suburb which is part of Lima and is a popular destination for tourists and also an important port city for Peru.  Tourists are attracted to this area especially during the summer as Callao has beautiful sandy beaches and views out to the Pacific Ocean.   This location is a favourite with tourists as the capital Peru is close by and Callao has developed to cater for tourism by building and developing infrastructure such as accommodation for the numerous tourists that visit every year.

Callao is sometimes referred to as a city but is actually part of the metropolitan area of Lima.  Many people who visit this area come from nearby Lima and are delighted by the many tourist attractions and also the beautiful sandy beaches.  A part from the beaches in and around La Punta there are a number of other tourist attractions in this area such as Puerto del Callao which has been a departure point for many ships over the last 500 years and also the Isla El Fronton and other Islands which are a short boat trip from the main land.  Many of these attractions offer a glimpse at the history of Callao especially the history surrounding the ports in this area.

Other tourist attractions in Callao include various landmarks which show the importance of this area to Peru’s history.  While visiting parts of Callao you will see many monuments and statues that celebrate the life and achievements of many important people who influenced both this area and Peru.  The district of Callao is also home to the National University and for people who enjoy looking at a country’s history Callao is also home to the Fortaleza del Real Felipe an impressive fortress that was built in the 1740s.  Another tourist attraction is the Plaza Grau which celebrates the life of Miguel Maria Grau Seminario who was Peru’s most famous admiral.  There are also many statues and monuments to other great Peruvians and many are within walking distance of the larger tourist attractions.

For visitors who are thinking of spending some time in Callao there are many great places to eat, stay and visit.  Walking around this area is a great way to see and immerse yourself in this great area of Peru.  The weather can be just beautiful so remember to take your swimmers and towel for a great day at La Punta on the beach.

Learning Spanish in Peru

Ask anyone who’s had to learn or teach a second language, and they’ll be quick to say that it’s all about immersion. You can learn all the grammar and spelling rules, and even read literature in that language, but if you don’t pit yourself against native speakers, not much of it will stick.

That’s why South America, and especially Peru, is a popular destination for aspiring Spanish speakers. As a former Spanish colony, Peru has ties with the Spanish on more than the linguistic level. In a Peruvian school, you’ll learn more than just the words—you’ll also learn the stories behind these words, and gain a new appreciation for the culture.

Peruvian Spanish schools can be found all over the country, but are more common in touristy areas like Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa. They range from large institutions, sometimes affiliated with national universities, to small private outfits. Teachers can be language professionals, writers, or journalists, or people from unrelated fields who are simply doing it for fun. An intensive full-time course usually involves two or more mentors, allowing you to get used to different accents.

Courses can be designed for absolute beginners, meaning your Spanish is limited to sí, no, and buenos dias, if even that. If you already speak it a little, there are intermediate and low intermediate courses. Advanced courses are for those who are already quite conversational and would like to work on their accents, refine their grammar, or widen their vocabulary. Doing all these levels can take up to a year, after which a typical student can usually get around on his own.

What’s great about learning Spanish in Peru, besides the immersion factor, is that you get to meet people from all over the world as well. Language learners in Peru can come from all walks of life—professionals looking to further their career in Latin America, new immigrants, or tourists learning for the fun of it. If you don’t have a common language and are forced to speak in Spanish all the time, you’ll pick it up even faster.

If you have the time and budget, consider signing up for a cultural Spanish course—a program that teaches you not just the language, but Peruvian culture and history as well. It’s a great way to use your newfound skills beyond introducing yourself and talking to hotel clerks, and you’ll have more than just a new vocabulary to bring home with you.

Peru Landmarks

For a fairly average-sized country—especially compared to its sprawling neighbor Brazil—Peru has a generous sprinkling of manmade and natural wonders. Even cooped up in a hotel room in Lima, one cannot help but spot at least a few of the country’s landmarks and be drawn to explore the city. Here are some things worth checking out around the country for those who live for the sights.

Museum of the Convent of San Francisco

The Convent of San Francisco was the capital’s cemetery until the 1800s. Although now a museum of religious art, it shows hints of its past identity—catacombs, underground tunnels, wells, and the remains of some 25,000 worshippers. Several other places of interest, including churches, museums, and historical centers, can be found within a few blocks, so it may be worth an entire day’s trip.

Plaza Mayor

Located at the center of Lima’s most historic neighbourhood, this town square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an unwitting tribute to the city’s architectural background. The buildings surrounding the area boast wooden balconies, ornate carvings, and palace sculptures, many of which date back to the mid-1600s and were reconstructed in the 1800s.

Larcomar

Larcomar is essentially a cliffside entertainment complex, built seemingly precariously on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. Once you get over the breathtaking view, you can head inland for a wide range of entertainment venues: arcades, restaurants, cafes, ice cream parlors, and dozens of stores selling everything from local handmade clothing to souvenirs.

Nazca Lines

All we know about the Nazca lines is that they were probably made by a tribe dating back to 300 BC. The drawings span over 50 square kilometers in the southern Nazca Desert. Some are seemingly random lines, while others clearly represent animals, trees, and flowers. Theories as to what they were range from alien landing strips (as some of the drawings can only be seen from over 1500 feet high) to solar eclipse predictors. Musings aside, the sight is definitely worth a couple of days’ travel out of the city.

Alpamayo

Once dubbed the most beautiful mountain in the world, the Alpamayo is a popular site for hikers because of the area’s calmness, good weather, and picturesque views. You don’t have to do the hike to appreciate its beauty—indeed, hikers warn that the path can be challenging—but its distinct shape can be seen from way off, making it one of the most striking landmarks of northern Peru.

Autumn in Lima

Summer’s on its last stretch, but in many travel hotspots, the action is still in full bloom. In Lima, activities are still lined up for the better part of the year, from festivals to public shows to beach  and sporting events. If you’re looking to visit the Peruvian capital this fall and winter, here are some things you can look forward to.

From September to November, locals gather at the Afueras de Lima for the country’s largest equestrian event. The Concurso Departamental del Caballo Peruano de Paso showcases the Peruvian Paso, a native horse breed considered a Cultural Heritage by authorities.

In between, religious festivals abound, most of them during the first weeks of October. The Virgin of the Rosary Festival takes place on the first Sunday of the month, marked by large crowds at the scenic Santo Domingo Monastery. Later in the month, you can catch the Feria Taurina del Señor de los Milagros, a bullfighting event that has taken place yearly since the 1940s.  The feast also features a procession that weaves through the city, taking off at the Church of Las Nazarenas. The El Señor Luren is a month-long pilgrimage in Ica, a nearby city, and is also worth checking out if you’re up for a road trip.

The church-centric events continue into November, starting with the San martin de Porres Festival. Like other Hispanophone countries, Peru also celebrates All Saints Day on November 1st, which is a national holiday. This is followed by All Souls Day (Day of the Dead), where locals flock to cemeteries to pay tribute to deceased friends and family members. It sounds morbid, but it’s actually a friendly festivity and a great way to understand the local culture.

December is no doubt the most festive month, as Christmas celebrations tend to start early. Throughout the month and even well into January, Christmas events dot the city and its environs, from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to the Battle of Ayacucho reenactments just a week shy of Christmas. Expect to see lots of live music, dancing, and happy crowds exchanging greetings and reveling in their own culture. It’s also a great time to enjoy the local cuisine, as restaurants often offer up their best fare around this time. If you stay until mid-January, you may also be able to catch the Three Wise Men festival, a more quiet but equally entertaining event that caps of the holiday season.

Tourist Attractions in Peru

Peru’s tourism is among the most varied in South America, thanks to a diverse climate and topography that has given way to a wealth of natural wonders. Most people come for the Machu Picchu and other ruins around Cusco, but there’s a lot more to see and do. Indeed, it takes more than one visit to really appreciate what the country has to offer. If you’ve already seen the ruins or just want to go off the beaten path, here are some alternative tourist attractions in Peru that may be worth your time.

Islas Ballestas: Nicknamed the “Peruvian Galápagos” (referring to the famous islands off neighboring Ecuador), this small cluster is home to rare sea lions, turtles, penguins, and a variety of wild, endangered seabirds. It forms the bulk of the Paracas Natural Reserve. From offshore, the bird droppings (guano) on top of the beautiful rock formations can be mistaken for polar ice caps.

Colca Valley: Travel guide Arthur Frommer calls this the best place to see giant condors in South America. Visitors are treated to scenic volcanoes capped with (real) snow, gorges cutting through verdant valleys, and vast patches of desert. The trip there takes you through a couple of nature reserves, where on a good day you may spot local wildlife like llamas and alpacas.

Manu National Park: If you’re up for a long drive, this biosphere reserve—the country’s second largest protected area—is well worth the trip. Because it’s so remote, it has one of the best-preserved flora and fauna in the continent, with habitats ranging from cloud forests to the Andes highlands to tropical rainforests. It also has the world’s highest level of plant, bird, and mammal diversity.

Huascarán National Park: Nature lovers and adventure-seekers will love the wild topography of this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which runs almost the entire length of the Cordillera Blanca in the north. You’ll need the whole day and a good deal of stamina to explore its hundreds of glaciers and alpine lakes, and enjoy the unparalleled views from its peaks.

Llanganuco Lakes: Just a short distance from Huascarán, the Lagunas Llanganuco offer a quiet respite from the Cordilleras. The twin turquoise lakes are tucked away in a valley, fed by glaciers and always clear enough to reflect the mountains around it. Some 35 miles off, you’ll also find giant bromeliads called the Puya Raimondi, which rise up to 40 feet high and bloom just every hundred years.

Callao Peru: Popular Tourist Destination and Important Port City

Callao is a coastal suburb which is part of Lima and is a popular destination for tourists and also an important port city for Peru.  Tourists are attracted to this area especially during the summer as Callao has beautiful sandy beaches and views out to the Pacific Ocean.   This location is a favourite with tourists as the capital Peru is close by and Callao has developed to cater for tourism by building and developing infrastructure such as accommodation for the numerous tourists that visit every year.

Callao is sometimes referred to as a city but is actually part of the metropolitan area of Lima.  Many people who visit this area come from nearby Lima and are delighted by the many tourist attractions and also the beautiful sandy beaches.  A part from the beaches in and around La Punta there are a number of other tourist attractions in this area such as Puerto del Callao which has been a departure point for many ships over the last 500 years and also the Isla El Fronton and other Islands which are a short boat trip from the main land.  Many of these attractions offer a glimpse at the history of Callao especially the history surrounding the ports in this area.

Other tourist attractions in Callao include various landmarks which show the importance of this area to Peru’s history.  While visiting parts of Callao you will see many monuments and statues that celebrate the life and achievements of many important people who influenced both this area and Peru.  The district of Callao is also home to the National University and for people who enjoy looking at a country’s history Callao is also home to the Fortaleza del Real Felipe an impressive fortress that was built in the 1740s.  Another tourist attraction is the Plaza Grau which celebrates the life of Miguel Maria Grau Seminario who was Peru’s most famous admiral.  There are also many statues and monuments to other great Peruvians and many are within walking distance of the larger tourist attractions.

For visitors who are thinking of spending some time in Callao there are many great places to eat, stay and visit.  Walking around this area is a great way to see and immerse yourself in this great area of Peru.  The weather can be just beautiful so remember to take your swimmers and towel for a great day at La Punta on the beach.

Learning Spanish in Peru

Ask anyone who’s had to learn or teach a second language, and they’ll be quick to say that it’s all about immersion. You can learn all the grammar and spelling rules, and even read literature in that language, but if you don’t pit yourself against native speakers, not much of it will stick.

That’s why South America, and especially Peru, is a popular destination for aspiring Spanish speakers. As a former Spanish colony, Peru has ties with the Spanish on more than the linguistic level. In a Peruvian school, you’ll learn more than just the words—you’ll also learn the stories behind these words, and gain a new appreciation for the culture.

Peruvian Spanish schools can be found all over the country, but are more common in touristy areas like Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa. They range from large institutions, sometimes affiliated with national universities, to small private outfits. Teachers can be language professionals, writers, or journalists, or people from unrelated fields who are simply doing it for fun. An intensive full-time course usually involves two or more mentors, allowing you to get used to different accents.

Courses can be designed for absolute beginners, meaning your Spanish is limited to sí, no, and buenos dias, if even that. If you already speak it a little, there are intermediate and low intermediate courses. Advanced courses are for those who are already quite conversational and would like to work on their accents, refine their grammar, or widen their vocabulary. Doing all these levels can take up to a year, after which a typical student can usually get around on his own.

What’s great about learning Spanish in Peru, besides the immersion factor, is that you get to meet people from all over the world as well. Language learners in Peru can come from all walks of life—professionals looking to further their career in Latin America, new immigrants, or tourists learning for the fun of it. If you don’t have a common language and are forced to speak in Spanish all the time, you’ll pick it up even faster.

If you have the time and budget, consider signing up for a cultural Spanish course—a program that teaches you not just the language, but Peruvian culture and history as well. It’s a great way to use your newfound skills beyond introducing yourself and talking to hotel clerks, and you’ll have more than just a new vocabulary to bring home with you.

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