Originally I planned to spend a quick couple of days in Trujillo on my way down south. However, and as usual, when I travel with a loose schedule, nothing really goes as planned. Trujillo turned out to be a charming city, with lots of activities close by. As I was Couchsurfing and had an open schedule, I ended up staying for a week. Here are a couple of things to do in Trujillo and the area around. If you’re passing by, definitely make sure to check it out!
A little about Trujillo
Trujillo is the third biggest city of Peru and the capital of the “La Libertad Region”. the third most populated region in Peru. This region is the only Peruvian region that has a coast, highlands, and rainforest all within “close” proximity. Because of that, you can find a huge variety of things to do here.
Trujillo is located close to Huanchaco, a small beach town with great surf. It also has a bunch of ruins from the Pre-Inca societies Moche and Chimu both in the very city center, and a short drive away. In addition, Trujillo has a flourishing cultural life in its city center.
Things to do in Trujillo Peru
1. Check out the main square and the area around it
The main square of Trujillo is surrounded by colonial colorful houses, museums, bars and small places to eat. This beautiful yellow church in the picture above is located in one of the corners of the main square and is totally free to enter. Spend a day walking the streets there!
2. Chan Chan and the Museum of the Moon
Carvings in the walls in the Chan Chan ruins, supposed to be sea otters.
The Chan Chan Trujillo ruins are the largest ruins in South America from the pre-Columbian era, dated from around AD 1300. They cover about 20 sq km and are you can see them as huge hills in the otherwise flat desert landscape. Although the ruins are big, there are only one of the seven sights that are open for visitors at the moment, as frequent floods from the close by river El Niño have ruined a lot of the sights. But the part called “Tschudi” is restored, and still really impressive. When I was there, parts of the Tschudi complex was closed after the massive floods in the whole north of the country earlier the same year.
Chan Chan, meaning sun, named after the climate in the are, was the capital for the Chimor people. The Chimor ruled from 900 AD shortly after the Moche culture ended, to 1470 AD when they were conquered by the Incas. Huaca de la Luna, The temple of the Moon
Visit the Temple of the Moon constructed during the Moche civilization. The temple is impressive and consists of 8 layers of construction. The Moche people simply continued to add new layers on top of the old ones during the years. That way it has been expanded, re-built and remodeled by different rulers.
The guided tour through the temple of the moon is included in the entrance ticket of 10 soles(2,5 US$). The fact that they kept on building new construction on top of the old ones for centuries, makes it remarkably well kept. Definitely worth a visit!
You can visit both sights on the same day, remember to bring your student id for cheaper entrance!
3. Go to a Marinera dance show
If you’re wondering what do to in Trujillo in Peru, attending a Marinera dance show is definitely an experience not to miss.
Marinera is a Peruvian traditional dance from Trujillo. I stumbled upon a Marinera show in the main square on one of my days in Trujillo. I even got to participate in a free crash course. I loved it so much that my Couchsurfing host brought me to another show the day after. The second how was with horses and dancers, a bit outside the city. The entrance was 20 soles and you can find it offered every Friday through. If you want to go, several of the travel agencies around the main square sell the tickets to go. Definitely worth the time and money to see these amazing dancers flirt their way through an hour of traditional dance!
If you’re interested in Marinera, check out this post for more traditional dances around the world!
4. Eat at the market
As in every city, I recommend visiting the central market. Trujillo is no exception. The market has a variety of food, juices, and menus for really good prices. You’ll sit down and eat next to the locals of Trujillo, which for sure is proof that you get to eat the real deal. The market also houses a whole lot of other stuff, that you didn’t think you needed. Definitely fun to check out, and located not far from the main square.
5. Check out the worlds longest wave, Chicama
A couple of hours away from Trujillo in the town of Malabrigo, you can check out, and surf the worlds longest wave. It’s supposed to be about 4 km long on good days. Locals have confirmed that the wave has been ridden 2.2 km in one go, but nobody has done the whole 4 km. Even if you’re not a surfer, it definitely is a sight!
6. Take a trip to Huanchaco
Huanchaco is a little surf town is just a 15 min taxi ride or 45 min by bus. Yes, I took the bus, and it takes a couple of detours it takes a bit longer. Still, it’s easy enough to visit from Trujillo, and therefore definitely worth at least a day trip.
A lot of people choose to stay here and make Huanchaco their base for exploring the are. Huanchaco has more hostels, bars and, if you choose to stay in Huanchaco, you have the beach right outside your door. It’s the perfect place to learn, or improve your surfing skills! I have to say that the waves were pretty crowded when I was there though.
Huanchaco claims to be home to the first surfers in the world. The fishermen used to surf their characteristic small reed boats, called “Caballitos de Totora”, into shore after fishing. Caballitos de Totora more or less translates to “small horses of reed”. These boats are all along the beach of Huanchaco and if you want to pay, you can even try them out yourself. I figured it was better to stay on the beach and observe though, hehe.
Huanchaco is more touristy then Trujillo, but worth checking out for the surf and party scene.
I hope this article inspired you to spend some of your time in Trujillo on your next adventure!
HEY friends! Are you headed for Peru and want more tips about things to do places to go? Check out my post about things to do in Lima! I LOVED Lima and I recommend everyone to check this city out!
To get from Trujillo to Lima, you can fly, but there are a lot of buses going in all kinds of price and comfort ranges. The bus from Trujillo to Lima is about 8-9 hours, and if you’re not in a rush I definitely recommend staying in Huaraz in the Andes on your way!