14 places to visit in Huacachina, Ballestas, Nazca lines, Ica Peru

Home Blogs 14 places to visit in Huacachina, Ballestas, Nazca lines, Ica Peru

Located 250 km to the south of Lima, along the desert coast of southern Peru, Ica is the perfect destination for those who like adventure and nature. Being so close to Lima, Ica can be reached by bus and the most important highlights can be visited in only one day. Ica is also known for its vineyards, beautiful beaches, amazing fauna and enormous sand dunes where you can practice adventure sports such as sandboarding

If you are in Lima and are planning to visit Ica keep reading to find out our recommendations on the best places to visit in this city and also tips on where to eat, where to stay and other important information that you will need to prepare for your trip!

Places to visit in Ica

Huacachina Lagoon

The Huacachina Lagoon is a natural oasis surrounded by palm trees and is considered one of the best tourist destinations in Ica. Among the dunes you will find green waters where you can bathe and rent boats. Despite being in the middle of the desert, it has a good climate and in its surroundings you can find restaurants and places to dance. Huacachina is perfect to sit and relax while you appreciate the view of the lagoon. However, if you want to feel some adrenaline, you can also hop into a sand buggy or practice sandboarding.

To get there you can take a taxi or a motorcycle taxi, which has capacity for 3 people, from any of the bus terminals and in approximately 20 minutes you will get to the lagoon. However, if you are the adventurous type and want to do some sightseeing in Ica, you can also walk to the lagoon. Although you should know that the journey lasts 1 hour approximately.

Huacachina Lagoon
Photo by Choji Itosu

Paracas Beach

Paracas beach is famous for being the entrance to the Paracas National Reserve. There are so many things to see that it is recommended to visit it with a tour. From here you can take a boat ride to the Ballestas Islands, where you will see penguins, sea lions, and dolphins.

On the ride along the beaches you will see the World Heritage rock formation “La Catedral” and in its bay “El Candelabro“, a 1.20 (3 ft 11”) meter geoglyph that points to the Nazca Lines. Paracas is the perfect place to practice water sports . If you are interested in archeology, in Cerro Colorado you can contemplate Wari Kayan, one of the archaeological sites in Ica, where ancient human remains were found.

You can get to Paracas by public transport from Lima in approximately 3 and a half hours, or in 1 hour and 10 minutes if you come from the city of Ica. And if you choose to do tourism in Ica by plane, you can take a taxi from the Pisco International Airport and you will arrive in approximately 15-25 minutes.

Paracas beach
Photo by Choji Itosu

Ballestas Islands

If you love nature, this is the perfect spot for you. Considered the “Peruvian Galapagos”, the Ballestas Islands are famous for the great number of species of birds and fish that you can find around the area. Take a boat ride to explore these wonderful islands and you may be able to see lots of sea lions, penguins, the endemic bird Inca Tern, seals and even dolphins.

Ballestas Islands in Ica Peru
Boat ride at the Ballestas Islands

Local Winery and vineyards

Pisco is the traditional drink of Peru and has a large industry. Visiting a local winery is a great experience for those who want to learn more about the production process of Pisco and also have a taste of it. Besides having a relaxing time, this is also an opportunity to chat with the local families who produce Pisco and get to know their culture.

If you come from Lima to Ica by bus, you can get  from the bus terminal to the vineyards in 10 to 35 minutes. If you don’t want to take a tour, you should take a taxi and ask the same driver to pick you up when you are finished because there are no nearby means of transport. The most important wineries in the region include those of Tacama, Vista Alegre and Viña Santiago Queirolo, the only hotel in Peru within a vineyard.

Learning about the production process of Pisco at a local winery

Nazca Lines

Flying over the mysterious and enigmatic Nazca Lines is an incredible experience for those who like adventure and history. The origin of these lines drawn on the desert by the ancient Nazca people remain a mystery until today. Some people believe it was a calendar, others think it was an offering to the gods. There are many theories about the Nazca lines, including that they were symbols to communicate with aliens. You can choose your favorite theory

Flying over the Nazca Lines

Cathedral of Ica

This is one of the most representative historical attractions of Ica from the colonial era. Its architecture makes it one of the best places to visit in Ica. It stands out for its high relief figures and bell towers on each side. The Cathedral is located on La Libertad street in front of the Plaza de Armas. If you come from Lima to Ica by bus it will take you approximately 5 minutes by taxi. In its surroundings you will find various offers of hotels, restaurants and fast food places.

Cathedral of Ica

San Francisco de Asis Church

This church dates from the eighteenth century and has a beautiful facade. Its interior has stained glass windows were images of the life of Saint Francis of Assisi are displayed, a reflection of the religiosity of the people of Ica. This is a great place to visit during the night because its bell towers light up on Sundays and holidays creating a colorful setting. The church is located on Municipalidad Avenue, two blocks from the Plaza de Armas. If you come from Lima you can get there from any of the bus terminals.

San Francisco de Asis Church

The mysterious town of Cachiche

Located in the South of Ica, it is known as the Town of Witches, because according to its inhabitants it was the meeting place for women who possessed powers.

The main attractions you can’t miss here are the “Palm of the 7 Heads“, an immense date tree, the statue of the “Witch of Cachiche“, a monument in honor of the most famous sorceress in town and the Brujas de Cachiche Theme Park, full of sorcery stories. You can also visit “ La Piramide”, a metaphysical center built from clay, where you can clean your bad vibes and observe the palm trees of the Bear and the Elephant

Cachiche is very close to tourist attractions such as the Huacachina Lagoon. To get to the town you can take a taxi from the Plaza de Armas or from any of the bus terminals and in about 15 minutes you will be in Cachiche.

Statue of Witch of Cachiche

Hacienda San José

This historical attraction is located in the Chincha province. The building with gardens and corridors dates from the 17th century, it has a Rococo-style chapel and some catacombs, which were used as a deposit and to punish slaves in colonial times. Currently it works as a country hotel with all services and is considered one of the best places to eat in Ica. Guided tours of the facilities are offered on weekends, at a cost of 20 soles for adults ($6), 10 soles ($3) for children, and free for guests, as well as tractor and mountain bike rides, dance lessons and “cajon” (a traditional instrument) lessons.

To get from Lima you can take public transport to Chincha Alta and then take a taxi. The hotel is located 20 minutes from Ica’s city center and from Jahuay beach, which is very busy during the summer, and 45 minutes from the Paracas Natural Reserve.

Hacienda San José

Stone Museum

This is a small museum with a collection of rocks that record ancient human activities. The pieces come from igneous volcanic rocks from the age of dinosaurs, which appeared in the Ocucaje desert. The founder of this archaeological site in Ica was the Peruvian surgeon Javier Cabrera Darquea, who after receiving a stone as a gift and became so obsessed that he collected 11,000 more of them.

Tickets cost 35 soles for adults ($10) and 20 soles ($6) for children under 11 years old and the entrance fee includes a guided tour. It is very easy to get there, because it located in front of the Plaza de Armas, at Calle Bolívar 170. If you come from any of the bus terminals , you only have to walk a few blocks to get there.

Engraved stone in Ica’s Stone Museum

Adolfo Bermúdez Jenkings Regional Museum

Located on Ayabaca Street, this was the first museum in which paleontological studies were carried out on pre-Hispanic human remains. It has two exhibition rooms, one where they exhibit pieces from the Paracas, Nazca, Wari and Inca cultures, and the other where you can see a mummy, objects used in funeral rituals, and remains extracted from archaeological sites in Ica. On the back there is a reproduction of the famous Nazca Lines.

Admission for adults is 10 soles ($3 approximately), for teachers, retirees and higher education students 5 soles ($ 1.28) and for children 1 sol ($0.28). This museum is at a 15 minute walking distance from the Plaza de Armas. However, we recommend getting there by taxi because the area is not very safe.

Skulls on display at Adolfo Bermúdez Jenkings Regional Museum

Marqués de Torrehermosa House

This house is one of the main historical attractions in Ica. It belonged to the mayor of the Santa Hermandad de Ica, Peru, Juan Fermín de Apesteguía y Ubago, to whom King Fernando VI granted the title of nobility. This house is the only one made with ashlar, a volcanic stone from the city of Arequipa, Peru. It is so solid that it has survived the different telluric movements that have occurred in the region.

It is located on Libertad street in the first block of the Plaza de Armas in the city center, where you can find many places to eat. You can get there in 5 minutes, from the bus terminal.

Marqués de Torrehermosa house

El Negro Beach

Located in the province of Pisco, this beach is part of the Paracas Natural Reserve and its landscape is characterized by a blue sea, golden sand and beautiful sunsets.

Here you can also practice water sports and go fishing. However, you must have in mind that there are no hotels or places to eat nearby, so you must go well prepared. To visit it you must cross the desert in a 4×4 vehicle. Since it is easy to get lost we recommend exploring it with a guide.

El Negro Beach

Sanctuary of Señor de Luren

The sanctuary of the Lord of Luren is a Catholic temple that owes its name to the patron saint of the city. It covers a complete block and is one of the most popular places in Ica because inside you can find a 1.80 m (5 foot 9”) statue of Christ with human hair. 

The temple was destroyed twice, by fire in 1918 and by an earthquake in 2007. In 2019, it was completely rebuilt. Nearby you will find hotels and restaurants. Here the festivities of the lord of Luren are celebrated, one of the cultural attractions of Ica. They begin on the third Monday of October and last 3 days, in an environment of flowers, music and fireworks.

Sanctuary of Señor de Luren

Where to stay in Ica

If you are traveling to Ica you have two options. You can stay in the city or in Huacachina.

In the city hotel offers vary a lot and you will find all kinds of prices. From $15 per night in he cheapest hotel to $33 per night. If you will be only staying for a day or two we recommend the cheaper hotels. They are comfortable and have a private bathroom, cable and hot water.

If you don’t want to stay in the city and want to be surrounded by nature, you can stay in Huacachina. Here you will find many hostels where you will be surrounded by a fun environment and have the chance to make new friends. However, if you are traveling with your family or are looking for a romantic getaway you can choose a hotel or a resort where you will find a more peaceful environment to relax and spend some quality time.

Remember: You can book your hotel in advance using Booking.com or if you prefer to have a local experience you can book a room or apartment in Airbnb. If you don’t like the conventional tours, remember, Airbnb also offers local experiences for you to enjoy and get to know the city in a different and more personalized way.

A view of the Plaza de Armas

Transport and distances

If you are in Lima, you can get to Ica by bus. The journey lasts approximately 4 and a half hours. Depending on the bus stops, it may be a little longer. If you use private transport or car you can get there in 3 and a half hours.

Pisco (a stop on your way to Paracas) is 3 and a half hours from Lima. From Pisco to Paracas it is 25 minutes.

Ica Sand dunes
Photo by Choji Itosu

Where and what to eat in Ica?

Near the main square you can find many restaurants where you can eat for a very low price. For instance, there are menu places where you can have a plate of steak with potatoes, rice and salad for only 10-15 soles ($3-5).

If you want something more elaborate you can also find other restaurants near the plaza that are a little bit more expensive and serve pasta and seafood. 

Another alternative is visiting the country restaurants outside the city center, these are highly recommended. 

If you want to try traditional food we recommend the following:

  • Carapulcra: Dish made with dried potatoes, pork, garlic and several ajís (peppers).
  • Dry soup: Carapulcra with spaguetti.
  • Chickpea Salad: Onion, lemon, chili and chickpeas.
  • Chupe de pallares verdes: Soup based on beans, onion, milk and cheese.
  • Of course, you can’t go without having a taste of delicious glass of local wine and Pisco.

If you want to know more about delicious food to try in Ica read this article in our blog.

When to visit Peru?

The best months to visit the coast of Peru are the summer months (from January to March) if you want to visit the beaches and tour the coastline. However during the summer temperatures can go from 21ºC to 26ºC (70ºF to 80ºF) in Lima and 30-35º C (86ºF – 95 ºF) in Ica. So if you don’t like the heat you can visit it during spring or autumn (April-May or October-November). During the spring the weather can go from 15ºC to 21ºC (60ºF to 70º F).

If you plan to visit Cusco or Machu Picchu the best time is June to mid-September. During these months the temperature can go from 0ºC to 15ºC (32ºF to 60ºF) and the city sees fewer rain showers.

If you plan to visit Peru’s jungle The the best time is during the dry season, which lasts from June to October. During these months the temperature can go from 18ºC to 32ºC (64ºF to 90ºF). Overall the weather is nice and it will let you trek or spend long days exploring because rain is less frequent. During the rainy season it rains heavily and almost daily, making the soil slippery and dangerous to walk on. 

Remember: If you have not bought your plane ticket yet, Kayak.com is a great site to start planning your trip. They will let you compare the prices of different airlines and even send you a notification when the price of a ticket changes or goes on sale.

What clothes to pack?

If you are visiting many regions in Peru you will need different types of clothing.

In the coast of Peru temperatures are never too cold. However, since they are near the sea, nights can get a little bit breezy so make sure you pack a light jacket. In the case of Ica, due to temperature changes in the desert we recommend that you wear several layers of comfortable clothing. This way you can adapt to different temperatures. Also don’t forget to pack:

  • Sunglasses and sunblock
  • Water
  • Hat for the sun
  • Comfortable shoes

If you are traveling to Cusco or Machu Picchu you need to pack comfortable clothes and shoes because you will be doing a lot of walking. If you are planning to do the Inca Trail remember to bring some hiking boots that are already broken in to avoid blisters. Also, make sure you wear mosquito repellent and, if you want extra protection, tuck your trousers into your socks. Finally you may need to pack warm sweaters and a rain jacket.

If you are traveling to the Jungle, remember the weather here is hot and humid all year round. Make sure that you have plenty of clothes for every day that you are there. Make sure to wear light clothing because heavier materials trap more heat and moisture. Also, avoid wearing bright colors and perfume because they attract mosquitoes. In addition to repellent you may also need malaria medication that can be prescribed by a doctor.

These are our traveling tips for you to enjoy your trip to Ica, Peru to the fullest. We hope to see you soon!

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