Acountry defined by its vastly contrasting landscapes, historical colonial cities, and strong indigenous ties, Peru is a particularly compelling place to travel with young minds. Not only is it packed with world-renowned sights that most families wouldn’t dream of being able to see in their lifetime, but it is also packed with opportunities for your children (no matter what age) to learn and grow as young people. They can better appreciate nature and conservation in the Amazon, have their eyes opened to a more simple way of living on the Uros Islands, and wrap their heads around the mysticism behind the Inca Empire, one of the world’s most revered civilizations. Whether you take your children to Machu Picchu, the Amazon, Lima, or Lake Titicaca, though, the most important thing is your family is guaranteed to make precious memories that last a lifetime.
In this article, Totally Latin America’s travel experts explore some of our favorite family vacations in Peru to inspire your travel plans. Knowing each family has its own hobbies and interests, we have combined destinations based on cultural themes to themes of adventure, relaxation, and nature. What do you think your family would most enjoy? Read on to find out!
Cultural Contrasts of Peru: Lima and Lake Titicaca
Show your kids the diversity of life in Peru on this cultural trip to Lima and Lake Titicaca. As the capital city, Lima will introduce you to the country’s influential history and development, as well as modern life. While huacas (ancient pre-Columbian archeological sites) are spread throughout the city as reminders of the nation’s indigenous origins, the ornate Historic Centre stands proudly as a symbol of the city’s colonial era. Between visiting these major historical landmarks and museums, we recommend exploring the city’s more modern neighborhoods like Barranco and Miraflores, bohemian barrios home to Peru’s influential artists and free-thinkers. The exceptionally drastic contrasts between historical and modern Lima will be sure to capture your kids’ attention and imagination.
After a busy few days in South America’s second most populous city, change the pace of your trip with a laid-back stay on the floating village of Lake Titicaca. It is not only known as one of the world’s largest, highest, and oldest lakes but it is also known for being one of the few places left in Peru dominated by a native community (said to pre-date the Incas). This community is named after the Uros Islands which is a group of 120 man-made floating totora reed islands on Lake Titicaca. During your visit to this humbling place, you and your family will get a first-hand insight into the simple lives led by those living and working here. Your kids can get stuck into daily life on the lake by boating, fishing, cooking, and dressing up in traditional Peruvian costumes. Undoubtedly, this experience will open your kids’ screen-addicted eyes to a world they didn’t know was possible.
The Best of Peru: Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Amazon
Treat your children to the ultimate Peruvian adventure with a trip to two of the world’s most iconic travel destinations: Machu Picchu and the Amazon. While Machu Picchu will enthrall them with an insight into the lives of a mysterious ancient civilization, the Amazon will give them a place to explore, play, and learn in the beating heart of our natural world.
Start the trip to Machu Picchu with a few days in Cusco, the ancient Inca capital, to acclimate to the altitude and explore its streets. Between the historical Inca and colonial landmarks, the markets, traditional craft shops, and Peruvian restaurants, this city is the perfect introduction to Peru.
To reach Machu Picchu as a family, we recommend either taking the Vistadome train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes followed by a short shuttle bus ride, or if you are feeling energetic a 1-hour hike to the citadel. If your family is feeling fit and adventurous, you can opt for the rewarding 1 Day Inca Trail hike that takes in hidden Inca ruins en-route before at Intipunku (the Sun Gate) high above Machu Picchu.
After reaching the heights of Machu Picchu, delve into the depths of the rainforest. Although the heat, humidity, and wilderness of the Amazon can seem intimidating to those with children, the Tambopata National Reserve lodge in Madre de Dios will ensure your family’s utmost comfort., As well as a luxurious stay, the lodge promises exciting activities (like jungle treks, boat rides, piranha fishing, wildlife spotting, and conservation) geared toward adults and children accompanied by the reserve’s naturalist guides.
City, Culture, and Calm: Lima, Machu Picchu, and Paracas
If you’re looking for an ‘all-rounder’ family vacation that balances exciting activities with some quality downtime, opt for a trip to Lima followed by Machu Picchu and Paracas. A mix of city life and rural life, culture and nature, and fun and relaxation, it has everything you could ask for in a vacation.
Even if you live in a city, the bustle and sheer scale of Lima will leave your family in awe. Like any capital, Lima is all about history, culture, and cuisine. It’s home to world-renowned museums including the Larco and MALI, grand colonial cathedrals, and some of the best restaurants on earth.
After a few days in the populous city, there’s no better time to visit the country’s most remote community — Machu Picchu. Located 80 km through winding roads and over mountain passes from Cusco on a treacherously steep mountain peak, it remains a mystery how or why the Incas created such a magnificent citadel there. Following the adventurous journey to the site by train, bus, or on foot via the Inca Trail, enjoy a private family tour of Machu Picchu which delves into the architecture, history, and spirituality of the Inca people. As one of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World, it’s undoubtedly the cultural highlight of Peru and any family vacation.
To recover from a full week of exploration and adventure, swap the mountains for the coast of Paracas. Partially a national reserve, the quiet and calm region is known for its coastal wildlife like sea lions and penguins, and rugged cliffs and beaches. Meanwhile, the town itself is known for its high-end hotel resorts with on-site pools, restaurants, and spas — the perfect setting for rest and relaxation.
From the city to the country: Lima, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu
Give your children the opportunity to explore two very different but equally authentic sides to life in Peru on a vacation to Lima, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu. Lima will give your children a delicious taste of life in modern Peru which is defined by its colonial heritage, culinary scene, and artsy hipster influence. From its impressive maze of museums, mansions, and malls to its sea of people, cars, and market stalls, the city is sure to keep your kids wide-eyed and open-eared for the entire stay.
Meanwhile, the serene Sacred Valley, located at the Andean foothills near Cusco, provides a first-hand experience of Peru’s rural farming communities. Your kids will love paying a visit to a traditional alpaca farm, making traditional Peruvian textiles with local weavers, and exploring the colorful handicraft markets to pick out some handcrafted souvenirs. Once home to the royal Incas, the valley is also sprawling with ancient Inca ruins to explore.
Whilst here, stay at a traditional Peruvian homestead where you can cook as a family and explore the valley together on horseback. However, we also recommend reserving one night’s stay at the Skylodge, the world’s first suspended pod hotel. Hovering 400 meters above the valley floor, you and the kids will climb via ferrata to reach it and then zip line down after a well-rested night’s sleep.
Complete this trip with a once-in-a-lifetime tour of Machu Picchu which is just a couple of hours away from the valley by train. Located on a steep peak deep in the sub-tropical Andes, this wondrous ancient citadel will give your kids a rare and privileged insight into an even more rural Peruvian existence.
Create Your Own Family Peru Vacation for 2024
While these Peruvian family vacations are some of our most highly recommended ideas, you can create your own itinerary with our Totally Latin America Peru experts. Whether you want culture, beaches, nature, adventure, or a combination of them all, we can create your ideal itinerary of destinations complete with hotel bookings, guided tours, restaurant reservations, and more. Get in touch with us here to get started.