If Peru is on your must-see list, you’ve got to add these beautiful destinations in the northern part of the country to your itinerary!

From the archaeological sites of Trujillo, to the sun and sand of Máncora and beyond, there’s so much to see and do along the northern coast of Peru. Swim with green turtles, take a cooking class and learn about traditional ways of making delicious dishes, and enjoy glittering nightlife—there’s something for every type of traveler.

Let’s have a look at some highlights of traveling throughout Peru’s north coast towns!

Coastal Destinations to Explore in Northern Peru


A colonial city fondly dubbed the “City of Eternal Spring” thanks to its pleasant climate, Trujillo is a blend of Spanish colonial architecture, vibrant arts, and ancient civilizations. Its historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s surrounded by archaeological sites too.

A Few Recommended Activities:

  • Chan Chan ruins: Once the largest city of the pre-Columbian era in South America, Chan Chan spans over 20 square kilometers and showcases intricately carved walls, temples, and plazas.
  • Temples of the Sun and the Moon: The Huacas del Sol y la Luna are two pyramids standing a few kilometers apart. While Huaca del Sol is among the largest adobe pyramids in Peru, Huaca de la Luna is more detailed, with preserved friezes and murals.
  • Huanchaco Beach: A popular surfing spot, it’s also home to the ancient fishing boats called “caballitos de totora” or “little reed horses.” You can often see fishermen using these boats today.
  • Marinera dance: Enroll in a local dance school and immerse yourself in this elegant and fun dance, complete with traditional costumes.


Based between the Pacific coast and the Andes, Chiclayo, also known as the “City of Friendship,” offers travelers the chance to explore a blend of natural landscapes and archaeological treasures.

A Few Recommended Activities:

  • Túcume pyramids: A collection of 26 pyramids and mounds built by the Lambayeque culture, it’s a great place to explore. The site also has an excellent museum showcasing the artifacts.
  • Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum: Discover the treasures of the Lord of Sipán, a warrior priest, and one of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century.
  • Witch Market (Mercado de las Brujas): Wander through this unique market to find a plethora of herbs, remedies, and shamanic items.
  • Local picantería: Savor regional dishes like duck with rice, chinguirito, or the sweet King Kong dessert in one of these traditional eateries.


As a sun-soaked paradise, Máncora is not just about beaches but also is home to a wide array of marine life, making it an adventurer’s and relaxation-seeker’s dream.

A Few Recommended Activities:

  • Surfing: With consistent waves, Máncora is a surfer’s paradise. Many local shops offer lessons for beginners.
  • Deep-sea fishing: Set out on a boat to catch marlin, tuna, or mahi-mahi.
  • Swim with turtles in Ñuro: Just south of Máncora, Ñuro is a small fishing cove where you can swim alongside green sea turtles.
  • Beachside relaxation: Get a massage to the soothing sound of waves or lounge on the sandy beaches.
  • Nightlife: As the sun sets, the town’s beachfront bars and clubs come alive! Dance the night away and enjoy a cocktail with new friends.

Zorritos and Punta Sal

These are the quieter siblings to the bustling Máncora but are in no way less charming: they’ve got pristine beaches, clear waters, and delicious seafood without the crowd.

A Few Recommended Activities:

  • Snorkeling and diving: The waters here are full of marine life—and dive centers in the area offer trips and equipment rental.
  • Sunset boat rides: Enjoy an afternoon out on the water with a romantic sunset to highlight your evening.
  • Seafood indulgence: Try dishes like ceviche, tiradito, or grilled fish in beachfront eateries with the fresh catch of the day.

Activities in Northern Peru for the Adventurous, Brave, and Creative

Sandboarding in the Desert

Sandboarding is similar to snowboarding, but you glide down sand dunes instead of sliding down snow-covered slopes. The northern coastal desert of Peru offers some impressive dunes perfect for this adrenaline-packed activity.

Where to Go: The region around Trujillo and Chiclayo has some sprawling desert landscapes ideal for sandboarding.


  • Wear light, long-sleeved clothing to protect your skin from the sand.
  • Always wear goggles to protect your eyes.
  • Beginners should start with a lesson from a local instructor. They’ll teach you the basics, such as stance, balance, and speed control.
  • Remember, falling on sand can be hard, so learning how to fall correctly is essential!

Cooking Classes

Exploring Peru's Northern Coast: Cooking Classes, Ancient Sites & More in Trujillo, Máncora & Beyond - Foods - Frayed Passport

Photo by Jackie Hope on Unsplash

Peruvian cuisine is globally renowned for its flavors and diversity. Northern Peru is home to unique dishes influenced by its maritime location and historical connections.

Dishes to Master:

  • Ceviche: A cold dish made from fresh raw fish cured in lime juice mixed with onions, chili peppers, and seasoning.
  • Causa: A layered potato dish mixed with aji (a type of chili) and stuffed with various fillings like tuna, chicken, or shrimp.


  • Opt for a market-to-table class. It usually starts with a visit to a local market to select fresh ingredients.
  • Be open to trying local beverages like chicha morada (purple corn drink) or pisco sour!

Ceramics Workshops

The Moche and Chimu cultures, which once dominated Northern Peru, were known for their intricate ceramic art, often depicting humans, gods, and animals.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Techniques for molding and shaping clay.
  • Ancient design principles, patterns, and symbolism.
  • Firing and painting processes to finish your ceramic piece.


  • Bring an apron or old clothes; working with clay can be messy.
  • Respect traditional designs. While being inspired is okay, refrain from replicating sacred symbols without understanding their meaning.

Horseback Riding

Riding a horse through the varying terrains of Northern Peru offers a unique and immersive perspective. Beaches like Punta Sal or the desert landscapes near Trujillo are popular spots.


  • Opt for a guided tour with well-trained horses if you’re a beginner.
  • Wear appropriate footwear (closed-toe shoes) and bring sunscreen and a hat.

Dance and Music Lessons

Music and dance are deeply ingrained in Peruvian culture. Northern Peru, with its own set of traditional dances, offers a window into the soul of the region. Dance schools or local cultural centers are great places to start. They often provide both dance and accompanying music lessons.

Dances to Learn:

  • Marinera: Often performed with a partner, this dance is graceful and vibrant, showcasing the Spanish and Andean influences.
  • Tondero: A dance that originates from the region, it represents the courtship between a couple, with movements mimicking those of birds.

Travel Tips

Ready to travel along Peru’s northern coast? Here are just a few basic tips to help you along!

  • Language: Spanish is the primary language, but many people will understand basic English in tourist areas.
  • Currency: Peruvian Sol is used. ATMs are available in larger towns, but it’s good to carry cash in remote areas.
  • Safety: Always be cautious with your belongings. Try not to flash valuable items, and consider using a money belt.
  • Transport: Buses and colectivos (shared taxis) are the primary modes of transportation. Renting a car provides more freedom—but make sure you’re comfortable driving in Peru before renting one!
  • Climate: The northern coast has a desert climate, so expect hot days and cooler nights. It’s sunnier and drier than the southern coast.
  • Respect local customs: When visiting archaeological sites or engaging in local traditions, always show respect. Ask for permission before photographing people.

If you’ve had the chance to visit Peru—the north coast and beyond—share your stories and tips with the Frayed Passport community!

Featured image by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash 

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