Peru is known for its rich history – the Inca legacy, the Spanish conquistadores, stunning colonial architecture and breath-taking ancient ruins. While it’s difficult to walk more than a few feet in many parts of the country without casually stumbling across the remnants of ancient civilisations, it can be easy to overlook the buildings dedicated to housing historical artifacts under one roof – so here’s a guide to Peru‘s top museums!
The Stamp Museum
The Postal and Philatelic Museum (Museo Postal y Filatelico) was one of our favourite museums in Lima, with rare stamps and a surprisingly fascinating history of the Peruvian postal service – did you know that Peru was one of the first countries to have a domestic air mail service? True. Since April 2011 the site now houses the Museum of Peruvian Gastronomy (Museo de la Gastronomia) which is the only museum dedicated solely to Peruvian cuisine. There are various permanent exhibits, such as the Pisco room which takes visitors through the Pisco production process, as well as a multimedia room showing interviews with celebrity chefs discussing their passion for Peruvian food.
Address: Jr. Conde Superunda 170, Lima, Peru
Opening hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 19:00 to 17:00
Entrance fee: S/. 3.00
The Gold Museum
Opened in 1968, the Gold Museum of Peru and sister exhibit Weapons of the World (Museos Oros del Peru – Armas del Mundo) display over 25,000 pieces between them. Visiting the weapons gallery, ceramics gallery, and of course the thousands of gold artefacts dating from pre-Inca times to the colonial period is like stepping into a time machine; truly this is one of the most impressive private collections on Earth.
Address: Alonso de Molina 1100, Monterrico, Santiago de Surco, Lima, Peru
Opening Hours: Monday through Sunday, 10:30 to 18:00
Entrance fee: Adults S/. 33.00; Children under 11 S/. 16.00
TLimahe Larco Herrera Museum (Museo Arqueologico Rafael Larco Herrera) opened its doors in 1926 and takes its visitors through 3000 years of Peruvian history. The building itself is a testament to Peru’s varied cultural past; this 18th century colonial mansion was built right on top of a 7th century pre-Columbian pyramid and sits in the midst of stunning gardens. For only a few extra soles on top of the admission price we recommend hiring a guide for a tour through the museum – it’s well worth the small extra cost and certainly the best way to make sure you get the most out of your visit. Apart from the permanent exhibits focused on ceramics, culture, metals, textiles, and even an erotic gallery, the Larco museum offers the opportunity to peruse its storage gallery and the 45,000 artefacts housed there. We also highly recommend taking in a meal at the museum’s restaurant – the food here is quite impressive in its own right and likely to be the best lunch you’ve ever had at a museum. If you visit no other museums in Lima, make time for this one!
Address: Av. Bolivar 1515, Pueblo Libre, Lima 21
Opening Hours: Monday through Sunday, 09:00 to 22:00, including holidays
Entrance fee: Adults S/. 30.00; Children S/. 15.00
Museum of Andean Sanctuaries
Although dozens of mummies have been found throughout the Andes, Juanita is arguably the most famous – she even made the cover of Time magazine in 1995! If you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in the lovely White City of Arequipa, this is a must on your to-do list. Even if you’ve seen photographs or television programmes about Juanita, there are numerous artefacts on display in the museum which can only be seen in person as photography is strictly prohibited. The museum, although relatively small, provides a fascinating insight into Inca culture, the practice of human sacrifice, and the journey Juanita made to her final resting place in the mountains.
Address: Urb. San José s/n Umacollo Arequipa
Opening Hours: Monday through Saturday, 09:00 to 18:00; Sunday 09:00 to 15:00
Entrance fee: Adults S/. 15.00; Students S/. 5.00; Children under 5 free
The Koricancha, which you will no doubt see spelt with every possible combination of Ks, Us, Os, and Qs, is easily one of the most interesting museums in Cusco, and that’s saying something! When the Spanish first encountered the Koricancha it was in use by the Incas as one of the most revered temples in Cusco, dedicated to the sun god Inti. The floors were covered in sheets of solid gold, golden statues filled the courtyard, and indeed it was the most important temple in the entire Inca Empire. Sadly, the Spaniards’ lust for gold and power, and their recognition of the temple’s importance meant they set about demolishing it straight away, building their own Church of Santo Domingo right on top of the site. Although the inferior construction techniques of the Spanish have seen most of their colonial buildings crumble in earthquakes over the centuries, the strong Inca wall foundations have allowed this site to stand, meaning modern-day visitors can marvel at the Inca stonework, standing as if it had been built only yesterday.
Address: Plazoleta de Santo Domingo s/n – Cusco
Opening Hours: Monday through Saturday, 08:30 to 17:30; Sunday 14:00 to 17:00
Entrance fee: Adults S/. 10; Students S/. 5; Children under 10 free
More of Peru’s Top Museums…
And there’s plenty more! Peru is a country with a fascinating history, so visiting museums and learning about ancient cultures and civilizations is an absolute must! Check out the top holidays to Peru for some more ideas…