For every destination that you could name in Peru, there are ten more that you've never even heard of. These off the beaten path destinations offer all of the majesty and wonder of famous places like Machu Picchu and Cusco with half the crowds. Untouched jungle, empty beaches, and quaint, quiet towns await those who step off the gringo trail.
Discover the cloud forests of Moyobamba, unwind on the laid-back beaches of Punta Sal, meet the artisans of the Mantaro Valley, and explore the first Andean cities of ancient Calca.
Off the beaten path destinations in Peru may be set in isolated locations and have more rustic hotel options, but are always worth the journey. As such, they align well with curious and adventurous travelers.
If you are looking to venture away from the gringo trail while continuing your exploration of Peru's ancient history and cultures, look no further than the northern city of Chiclayo. Here you can find some of Peru's most fascinating archaeological sites.
The Lord of Sipan is the star of the show and one of the most important archaeological finds in the last 30 years. Affectionately known as the Tutankhamun of the Americas, this is one of the most intact ceremonial tombs found in Peru. The tomb has since been rehoused in a museum in Lambayeque, and you can still visit the crumbling adobe pyramids where they were found.
One of the most interesting places to explore in the city is the Mercado Modelo, where an ancient 'witches market' offers all kinds of trinkets and potions to those in need of nature's magic! Chiclayo is also well known for its culinary scene, especially the incredible seafood. If you haven't tried Ceviche yet, this is your chance to do so!
No trip to Peru is complete without venturing into the Andes and the Amazon, but the lesser visited coastline is well worth seeking out. The coastal city of Trujillo, 350 miles (560 kilometers) north of Lima, is a great base for discovering the area. The city itself is a pleasure to explore, with large open squares surrounded by colorful colonial buildings.
The ancient civilizations of the Moche and Chimu built elaborate temples and cities around Trujillo and there are numerous ruins standing the test of time. The Moche Temples of the Sun and Moon, and the archaeological Chimu complex of Chan Chan are not to be missed.
Within the city limits, you'll also find the beach town of Huanchaco, where you can go to find world-class surfing and traditional seafood restaurants.
For memorable mountain vistas and trekking without the crowds of the Sacred Valley, make your way to Huaraz. Despite being a mere 250 miles (400 kilometers) from Lima, this super high-altitude mountain town feels like a world away from the busy capital.
Trekking is the order of the day in Huaraz and there are plenty of stunning trails to discover. The blindingly vibrant turquoise of Laguna 69 is just a day hike away and there are lots of options for longer excursions.
For those who'd rather soak in the mountain views without the exertion, many boutique hotels in Huaraz have made a point of positioning themselves in sight of the Cordillera Blanca range.