After an exciting whirlwind of nonstop adventures through Lima and Cusco, and trekking to Machu Picchu, I guarantee you will be ready to slow down and relax. If you’re looking for the perfect seaside destination to experience coastal Peruvian culture and sip on a few Pisco sours, then I have just the place (and the guide) for you. Here’s my ultimate Paracas travel guide!
Paracas is a cute, little beach town located about three hours south of Lima, by car. Beautiful vistas, delicious seafood, luxury resorts, adventurous excursions, and rare marine life abound in Paracas.
If that sounds like the place for you, then read on for our guide to Paracas, complete with where to stay and what to do while you’re there.
Paracas, Peru Travel Guide: Everything You Need to Know
Is Paracas, Peru worth visiting?
This is a question everyone wants an answer to.
In short, yes, Paracas is worth visiting.
Let me paint you a picture of our time in Paracas. First, we checked ourselves into our beautiful beachfront resort. We booked in for massages. We lounged by the pool in our cabana and ate our weight in fresh ceviche. And we drank plenty of Pisco sours.
But also, we visited the national marine reserve, boated out to the Islas Ballestas, encountered some amazing wildlife, wondered at the mysterious Nazca lines, and explored the small town.
If that sounds like a good time to you, then yes, Paracas is certainly worth visiting.
How long should you stay in Paracas?
Up to four days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Paracas. This will give you enough time to see all the sights and still relax a bit.
Where to stay in Paracas, Peru
We decided we wanted to spoil ourselves a bit, so we checked into Paracas’s swankiest resort: Hotel Paracas: a Luxury Collection Resort. And can you blame us, after four days of hiking, biking, rafting, and zip lining all the way to Machu Picchu?
Since Paracas town is tiny, the accommodation options are slim; we stayed at one of the few five-star resorts in town, though there are a couple of four-star properties, as well as plenty of budget hotels and hostels.
Budget-friendly hotels in the area are Aranwa Paracas Resort & Spa and Casa Paracas.
Top-rated hostels in the area are Atenas Backpacker Hospedaje and Hospedaje Daniel’s House, both of which are located steps away from the beach.
You can find great deals on Paracas accommodations here!
Hotel Paracas: a Luxury Collection Resort
For the most part, our four-day stay in Paracas was spent on the property. We just wanted to kick back and relax, before our flight back to Los Angeles. Plus, since we had the cutest beach villa around, it was hard to stray too far!
We lounged in the cabanas by the pool, explored the resort‘s restaurants, hit the spa for massages; in other words, we did a whole lot of nothing. And it was exactly what we needed to rejuvenate! It was perfect.
Click here to book your stay at otel Paracas: a Luxury Collection Resort!
How to get to Paracas, Peru
Paracas, Peru lies three to four hours south of Lima, depending on traffic. But since traffic is insane in Lima, you can pretty much count on a four-hour journey.
There are two ways to arrive in Paracas: by bus or car.
You can either arrange for a private driver, or you can rent a car and drive yourself; these are definitely the pricier options.
The easiest, cheapest way to Paracas, would be to take the bus with Cruz del Sur. We booked first-class tickets (they were only a couple dollars extra — totally worth it) and enjoyed an ultra-comfy bus ride in giant leather seats with personal screens to watch movies.
The best things to do in Paracas, Peru
Explore Paracas town
When it comes to the “downtown” of Paracas, there’s not a whole lot to do. After roaming the town for an hour or two, you’ll have seen it all. This is partially due to the fact that an 8.1 magnitude earthquake devastated much of Paracas back in 2007.
However, as you walk through the sleepy town, you’ll enjoy shopping for Peruvian handmade goods and chatting with the locals. There are also plenty of restaurants throughout the town and along the boardwalk where you can enjoy some ceviche, and maybe a Pisco sour!
Experience the Islas Ballestas
The Islas Ballestas are widely known as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos.”
While a trip to the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador will likely cost you thousands of dollars, a short trip to the Ballestas will cost about $30 USD per person. You can book a tour of the Islas Ballestas here!
From Peruvian boobies and Humboldt penguins to cormorants and pelicans, you will see thousands of birds. You’ll also encounter lots of lazy sea lions sprawled out along the rocks. If you’re really lucky, you might also spot a pod of dolphins!
For those who haven’t grown up by the beach, the Ballestas are fascinating. After a 40-minute boat ride from Paracas, you’ll find yourself surrounded by marine wildlife you may never have laid eyes on before. I do have to tell you though, the islands are covered in bird poo… so they absolutely reek.
Book your tour of the Islas Ballestas here.
See the Nazca archaeological sites
Throughout Southern Peru, there are many interesting pre-Inka archeological sites to explore, like the Nazca Lines.
The mysterious Nazca Lines are geoglyphs that were etched into Southern Peru’s desert landscape by the Nazca people, between 200 BCE and 600 CE. Just inland from Paracas, in and around Nazca, there are over 10,000 lines, stretching over more than 1,000 square kilometers, depicting figures like animals, humans, and plants. Many of these lines were actually pointing toward water sources or connected to sacred sites.
If you’re looking for an adventure, you can even book a helicopter tour to fly over the Nazca Lines! Super affordable, thrilling, and totally worth it. Click here to book your helicopter flight over the Nazca Lines.
However, you can also see a giant geoglyph on your way to the Ballestas. This geoglyph, known as the Paracas Candelabra, has been dated back to 200 BCE. While its meaning and creators are unknown, there are some interesting theories about the symbol. Read more about it here.
Adventure in the Paracas National Reserve
The Paracas National Reserve is another huge draw to Paracas. Including the Paracas desert, coast, and sea, this area is committed to protecting Peru’s unique marine ecosystems and its pre-Inka archaeological sites (such as the Candelabra).
Within the Paracas National Reserve, you can check out the wildlife, go fishing, diving, kayaking, and hiking, and you can also go on ATV tours and sandboarding tours!
Click here to book your ATV tour of the National Reserve.
A Complete Travel Guide to Paracas, Peru
Well, there you have it – my complete guide to Paracas, Peru, with the best things to do and where to stay!
If you’re a fan of marine adventures, fresh seafood, and history, Paracas is somewhere you shouldn’t leave off of your Peru itinerary. And if you’re anything like us, you’ll crave a few lazy days by the sea after climbing in high altitude all the way to Machu Picchu!
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Have you been to Paracas before? What did you think of it?
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Victoria @The British Berliner says
‘Sounds marvellous. Funnily enough, when I think of Peru, I don’t think of the beach at all just the mountains!
Most people don’t! But it was a nice change of pace after seeing Cusco and the Andes.
Tara Higgins says
WOWOWOWOOWOWW. This looks incredible. I’m so excited for you and to hear that you’re enjoying your time in South America. Please head to the South Pacific soon?
WE WISH! Maybe late 2017… :)
Abi Kennedy says
Wonderful post! The photos really justified the beauty in Peru! Thanks for sharing this!
Glad you enjoyed it!
Amanda | Lesson Plans & Layovers says
What a lovely idea venturing to Paracas after tackling Machu Picchu!
It was a nice way to relax after the trek for sure.
What an incredible place to visit! I love that it has a little bit of everything: the beach, archeological sites, and gorgeous natural sights. If we’re ever in Peru, I’ll have to put this on our itinerary!
For those who don’t live near the beach, it’s definitely worth a visit!
Rocio & Julian says
Looks like a great nature retreat, super nice! Seems like a totally different area as to Machu Picchu and the other sites you saw. Thanks for the inspiration, will definitely add it to our list of things to see when touring around South America.
Thanks for stopping by! It is a lovely place to relax and check out the nature.
Anne Grinham says
Is it possible for you to let us know which hotel you started at? We are looking now as we’re going in September this year. Was it Hotel Paracas?
Hi Anne! Yes, it was Hotel Paracas. Here is our affiliate link to the hotel for booking! Enjoy your trip and let us know if you have any questions! :)