Huaraz, in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range in Peru, is a town that’s synonymous with adventure travel thanks to its location near Huascarán National Park and all of the hiking, trekking, climbing, and exploring opportunities in and around this busy high-altitude town. Here’s how to get the most out of the self-proclaimed Adventure Capital of Peru including top outdoor activities (and other things to do), where to eat, and where to sleep.
Welcome to the “Adventure Capital” of Peru
Surrounded by jagged peaks at just over 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), Huaraz has become the adventure basecamp of choice for many adventure travelers, and for good reason.
What to do in Huaraz, Peru
Travelers visit Huaraz to explore the natural beauty all around this town (or to train at the world-famous mountain guiding school in Huaraz). We clocked many miles on trails and scenic dirt roads in the area and here are our posts about top adventure travel activities in the Cordillera Blanca and Huascarán National Park around Huaraz:
Santa Cruz Trek: here’s our day-by-day trail guide for the Santa Cruz trek
Day hike to Laguna 69: here’s our post about the day hike to Laguna 69
Hiking around Laguna Parón: here’s our post about hiking around Laguna Parón
Driving the Cañon del Pato: here’s our post about the epic drive through the Cañon del Pato
Visiting the Pastoruri Glacier: here’s our post about visiting the Pastoruri Glacier
Andean vistas from Punta Winchus: here’s our photo essay from scenic Punta Winchus
Don’t expect any notable architecture in Huaraz. In 1970, a 7.9 earthquake, dubbed the 1970 Ancash Earthquake or the Great Peruvian Earthquake, triggered landslides that killed tens of thousands and destroyed Huaraz except for one street. The disaster is memorialized at the Campo Santo memorial at the slide site in Yungay about 35 miles (55 km) from Huaraz (2.5 soles or about US$0.60 to enter).
A cultural activity in Huaraz that’s worth your time is a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Ancash which is on the main plaza (5 soles or about US$1.25 to enter). It may not look like much from the outside, but this place is home to some mummies, a nice pottery collection, painted murals, and replicas of artifacts from the nearby Chavín de Huantar archaeological site including many examples of carved stone objects called tenon heads or cabezas clavas (key heads).
There are also some black and white photos of Huaraz after the devastating earthquake-triggered landslides in 1970, including photos of former first lady Pat Nixon who visited Huaraz to survey the damage from that natural disaster.
The real reason to visit his museum, however, is in the back garden where an important collection of human-like stone sculptures from the Recuay culture (200 BC to 600 AD) and the Wari culture (600 AD to 1100 AD) are on display.
Pick up a copy of the Huaraz Telegraph English language newspaper to see what’s going on in town when you’re there.
Where to eat in Huaraz, Peru
Fueling up for days full of outdoor activity is important, so it’s fair to say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day in Huaraz. Your hotel will likely include some sort of breakfast in your room rate. But if you’re looking for a change of pace or a more complete meal there are two established breakfast allstars in town.
At Café Andino they serve breakfast all day featuring big omelets, great breakfast potatoes, French toast, huevos rancheros, and French Press coffee (though it was weak for our taste). Café Andino also has a book exchange and library and they also serve lunch and dinner and they have a bar.
Though we preferred the food at Café Andino, we found the coffee at California Café to be better and stronger. We also appreciated their homemade bread (which you can buy by the loaf as well). Café California also has a book exchange. Look for our Trans-Americas Journey sticker there.
Trivio Resto Bar, co-owned by Ted Alexander who also owns Cervezeria Sierra Andina (see below), is centrally located on Parque Periodista. Opened in 2013, this place has evolved into a go-to spot for travelers and some locals with a wide-ranging menu (in English) including burgers, steaks, salads, Peruvian faves like causa and lomo saltado, soups, pastas, and more. Many dishes are created with produce from organic farms. Trivio also has all of the Sierra Andina beers on tap and in bottles and they serve well-made organic coffees. The owners of Trivio are currently in the process of adding enough solar panels to get this restaurant off the grid.
You’ll likely see craft beers from Cervezeria Sierra Andina all around Peru, but each and every one of them comes from the brewery in Huaraz where you can take a brewery tour, learn more about the beers, and buy beer. If running up and down the Andes is your thing, you can also learn more about the growing roster of Sierra Andina adventure races.
Where to sleep in Huaraz, Peru
Hotel & Bungalows Villa Valencia, a short walk from the center of Huaraz, looks pretty drab from the street. However, inside you’ll find a meticulously kept garden and a wide range of spotless rooms including small apartment-style rooms with kitchens that make it so easy to prepare packed lunches for your daily adventures (160 soles to 230 soles or US$38 to US$55 for 2 people in a bungalow depending on the season). The included breakfast was great, there’s a large parking area, the Wi-Fi worked (mostly) well, and staff members (some of whom speak English) were unfailingly helpful. Yes, there are cheaper places to stay in Huaraz, but we consider this place a real find.
We also spent a few nights at the San Sebastian Hotel where the garden was peaceful and the Wi-Fi was slow. Some rooms also had great mountain views. This hotel has since become part of an international chain called Selina which is at the forefront of the boutique hostels trend, so some changes have been made since we were there.
Cuesta Serena Boutique Hotel, about 12 miles (20 km) from Huaraz and just a few minutes from the airport, is a worthy splurge with six individually decorated suites surrounded by a lovely garden, a stone labyrinth, and a small pool. We stayed in the Vista Montaña suite which, as you might guess, has the best mountain views. Artisans from Don Bosco (an Italian NGO) did lovely woodwork and stonework throughout this place which does not put TVs in the rooms but does offer Wi-Fi.
Breakfast at Cuesta Serena, including a wide range of options from eggs and potatoes to gluten-free waffles along with great coffee, is served on a lovely patio with inspiring Cordillera Blanca views.
Continue planning your trip to the Cordillera Blanca and Huascarán National Park in Peru with our day-by-day trail guide for the iconic Santa Cruz trek, our post about the day hike to Laguna 69, our post about hiking around Laguna Parón, our post about the epic drive through the Cañon del Pato, our post about visiting the Pastoruri Glacier, our photo essay from scenic Punta Winchus, and our adventure town travel guide to Caraz.
Here’s more about travel in Peru
Here’s more about Adventure Travel in the Americas