18 Best Things to Do in Trujillo Peru
We could have made a list of our favourite 100 things to do in Trujillo Peru, but we’ve narrowed it down to the most spectacular 18 and included our favourite accommodation pick for all budgets. Trujillo in Northern Peru is a blockbuster town surrounded by the remains of ancient civilizations, a thriving traditional fishing community, beautiful colonial architectural styles, and fun activities like sandboarding. So here’s our complete list to keep you happy in Trujillo Peru for at least a month!
Related article – 8 Top South American Destinations To Visit
1. Chan Chan
Constructed around 900 AD by the Chimu people, Chan Chan was the biggest city in the Americas and the biggest adobe city on the planet at its height about 600 years ago.
It served as the center of the Chimu Kingdom until it the Inca civilization conquered it in the 15th century and is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
The cultural and architectural value of these remaining pyramids and city structures is immense. Today, you can visit the partially-restored site where you’ll be able to visit the Nik An Palace and see the remains of eight others.
The site is located about five kilometers west of Trujillo in the Moche Valley.
2. Trujillo Toy Museum
If exploring old pre-Columbian ruins bores your kids, then they and you (the young at heart!) will appreciate the Trujillo Toy Museum and its unique collection of toys from all over the world.
While some of the toys are modern, many of them are hundreds of years old.
As you browse the displays, you’ll see dolls, trains, puppets and so much more. You’ll also appreciate that this little museum is housed in a beautiful colonial mansion on Jirón Independencia.
A little coffee shop is on site so you can grab a drink or snack on your way out.
3. El Brujo Archaeological Site
One of the most fascinating archaeological sites in Peru is the El Brujo Archaeological Site which features the remains of several civilizations including the Moche culture.
As you explore this vast site, you’ll see various structures dating back to the period between the 1st and 8th centuries including Huaca Prieta, Huaca Cao Viejo, Huaca Cotada, and the artfully-decorated 30-metre high pyramid called the Sacrifice Wall.
Also on site is a museum where you’ll learn about the history of the place and the people who once lived there and see interesting artifacts including the mummy of The Lady Of Cao who once ruled the Moche Culture.
El Brujo is situated in the Chicama Valley about an hour’s drive from Trujillo.
4. Plaza de Armas of Trujillo
In the central zone of the Historic Centre of Trujillo is the popular gathering place and main square of Plaza de Armas of Trujillo.
The streets Pazarro, Independencia, Orbegoso, and Almagro make up this square, and in the centre is the beautiful Freedom Monument which was created by the sculptor Edmund Moeller.
There are benches so you can take a break and admire the unique architecture of the buildings that make up the square.
5. Huaca Esmeralda
Although these ruins are smaller than many of the ruins around Trujillo, Huaca Esmeralda is just as fascinating.
This Chimu Temple which dates back to the beginnings of the Chimu culture was accidentally uncovered in the 1920s and you can still see the ancient drawings on the walls depicting fishing nets, waves, and birds.
6. Sample Local Traditional Dishes
While the local food of Trujillo has many Peruvian influences, its traditional dishes are unique from anywhere else in the country.
Some of the dishes you’ll hear about in the region include Ceviche, Shambar, Sopa Teologa, Pescado a la Trujillana, Cabrito con Frijoles, Pepian de Pava and Frijoles a la Trujillana. Many restaurants around Trujillo serve traditional food.
El Rincon de Vallejo claims to serve the best Shambar in the world and Dulceria San Martin serves traditional desserts.
Much of the local food is very nutritious but don’t forget to follow your meal with some corn beer, or Chicha de Jora as it’s known locally.
7. Museum of Modern Art
As you browse the Museum of Modern Art in Trujillo, you’ll see an amazing collection of modern art from all over Peru and the rest of Latin America including a collection of works by the local artist Geraldo Chavez.
Staff members are very knowledgeable about the art showcased in their museum and are happy to provide information. Be sure to ask about the sculptures in the garden.
8. Huaca Arco Iris
Also known as The Huaca del Dragon, the archaeological site of Huaca Arco Iris showcases the remains of a 12th-century Chimu Temple.
This temple is thought to have been used for religious and ceremonial purposes and it’s better preserved than many of the ancient sites in the area.
As you explore the grounds, you’ll see thick defensive walls that surround the temple and rainbow wall drawings. You can also go to the top of the temple where more artifacts are on display.
Huaca Arco Iris is located in La Esperanza which is about four kilometres from Trujillo.
9. Playa Varadero
For those days when you want to escape the heat and take a refreshing dip in the ocean, Playa Varadero is only a short drive away from Trujillo in Huanchaco.
This beautiful, sandy beach is also the perfect place to take a long walk by the shore or watch one of the spectacular sunsets the area is known for.
Several eateries are located close to the beach so you can enjoy dinner overlooking the ocean before heading back to the city.
10. Huaca del Sol y Huaca de la Luna
Huaca del Sol y de la Luna translates to Temples of the Sun and Moon and this archaeological site dates back to the Moche culture, 700 years before the Chimu culture.
The Temple of the Sun is closed to the public but you can visit the Temple of the Moon, which is 500 metres away. It’s a well-preserved site thought to have once been used as a ceremonial center.
Ancient paintings can still be seen on the walls of this remarkable structure on the bank of the Rio Moche only five kilometres from Trujillo.
11. Go Sandboarding
Trujillo is surrounded by desert landscapes that are perfect for sandboarding.
Salaverry, Huacachina, and Conache are popular areas to participate in this wildly fun sport that involves surfing down giant dunes on a board that’s much like a snowboard.
If you’ve never sandboarded before, several companies are offering half-day trips to popular sandboarding locations so you can learn from the pros.
12. Museo Huacas de Moche
The Moche culture was one of the most successful civilizations in pre-Hispanic Peru and you can learn more about their history at the Museo Huacas de Moche through several interpretive displays.
The on-site exhibits showcase many artefacts including ceramics and figurines.
Many of the artifacts were excavated from the Huacas de Sol y de la Luna and date back to the period between 100 and 900 AD.
13. Casa de la Emancipacion
Although it currently houses a bank, the Casa de la Emancipacion still has many of its original colonial features including Cajabamba marble flooring.
This period mansion is where the city’s independence from colonial rule was officially declared in 1820.
Inside, you’ll find an art gallery with several exhibitions that rotate from time to time and a room with antique furniture.
The property also hosts many events, including live music, so be sure to check the schedule if you wish to plan your visit around one of these events.
14. Lake Conache
Only 16 kilometres away from Trujillo in the town of Santo Domingo is a beautiful, natural escape from the noise and crowds of the city.
Lake Conache is a popular place for swimming, boating, and fishing.
The lake is surrounded by dunes and a forest and this unique ecosystem is home to an abundance of wildlife including egrets, tilapia, and wild ducks.
15. Go for a Ride on a Caballito de Totora
For an adventure like no other where you can go on an exciting journey while mingling with some of the friendly locals, strike up a conversation with the fishermen who have the reed boats along the beach in Huanchaco.
For around $35.00, they’ll provide a lesson on how the boats are made and take you out of one of those boats for a few hours to do some fishing before heading back to shore.
16. Trujillo Cathedral Basilica (Catedral de Trujillo)
While exploring Trujillo’s Historic Center, it’s impossible to miss the bright yellow Catedral de Trujillo. You’ll find in in the northeastern corner of the Plaza de Armas.
Also called the Cathedral Basilica of St. Mary, this massive structure with its two impressive bell towers was constructed in the 1600s.
The inside features baroque and rococo altarpieces from the 1700s and a Museum of Religious Art showcasing beautiful paintings depicting Christ’s resurrection and John the Baptist.
17. Site Museum
The Site Museum is a must-see after you visit the ancient archaeological sites around Trujillo because many of the artifacts on display were discovered at these sites.
This modern museum houses items that are anything but modern including ceramics and textiles dating back to the period between 100-600 AD.
18. Carmen Monastery
Another large church in Trujillo is the 18th-century Carmen Monastery.
Featuring colonial architecture on the exterior, the interior is home to the Carmelite Museum which showcases 150 paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries including a depiction of The Last Supper.
This colonial art exhibit is the most important in the city.
Where to Stay in Trujillo
here are our three top choices for where to stay in Trujillo – the best budget, mid-range, and splurge options in the city!
If you’re traveling on a budget and want a fantastic place to stay without breaking the bank, Yaqta Hostel has all the amenities you need in a central location only 100 meters from Trujillo’s main square.
Sleep soundly in a spacious, clean room and enjoy access to laundry facilities, free Wi-Fi, and a full kitchen.
There’s a lively rooftop bar and lounge and a living room where you can lounge and meet other travelers. From time to time, the hostel hosts events such as barbecues and happy hour.
The property is under 24-hour security.
Gran Bolivar Hotel
If the hostel scene isn’t your scene but you want to save some money, the Gran Bolivar Hotel is a great choice.
At this hotel, you’ll enjoy stylish air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a fitness centre.
Every morning, a full American breakfast is served in the El Carabobo Restaurant which also serves international and local dishes throughout the day.
This hotel is centrally located a few blocks away from the city’s main square and within walking distance to Trujillo City Cathedral, Wholesale Market, and many of the city’s top attractions.
Casa Andina Private Collection Trujillo
If you’re looking to splurge on your accommodations and treat yourself to a little luxury, Casa Andina Private Collection Trujillo is a 5-star property located in Trujillo.
A complimentary breakfast is served each morning at the on-site restaurant and you’ll enjoy access to a wide range of amenities including an outdoor pool, a spa and wellness center, and a fitness center.
The air-conditioned rooms feature safes and private bathrooms and some have spectacular views of the city.
Within walking distance, you’ll find the Archaeology Museum, Trujillo’s Main Square, and many other attractions.