There’s no way around it—Chiclayo is a whirlwind. With so much history and so many ancient sites, this modern city by the Valley of Pyramids is anything but short on adventure. If you only have a few days in Chiclayo to pack in all of the sites, grouping the attractions by geographic location will you help you squeeze it all in.
Day 1: Lambayeque Valley
Even the shortest visit to Chiclayo should begin with the most famous sites. This area is known for its archaeological wealth (both literally as well figuratively), and many of the region’s most fascinating sites lie north in the Lambayeque Valley. Before the desert sun gets too hot, spend the morning touring the pyramids at the sprawling ruins of Túcume. These 540 acres are home to 26 different pyramids, one of which—Huaca Larga—is believed to be largest pyramid built anywhere on Earth. Once sufficiently humbled by the size of Túcume, head over to the town of Lambayeque to tour the Royal Tombs Museum of Sipan. This is where you’ll find the enormous treasure buried with the Lord of Sipan before heading across town to the Brüning National Archaeological Museum to photograph rooms filled with gold and jewelry of ancient kings.
Day 2: Markets and Forests
Start the day off at Mercado Modelo in the city center of Chiclayo, making time for the Witch’s Market and its mysterious shamans and healers. Then head north again to Batán Grande and the dryland Pomac Forest to walk beneath the shade of carob trees between the remains of eroded pyramids. Linger for a while in the green of the forest. Before making your way back to Chiclayo, stop at the Sicán National Museum for a final dose of treasure.
Day 3: Ancient Remains
For as organized and clean as museums can be for showcasing historical finds, nothing beats walking the grounds where the treasure was originally pulled from the ground. At Huaca Rajada, to the south of the city, visit the site where the Lord of Sipan was famously excavated and discovered. The ground at this site is pockmarked with holes from grave diggers, historians and scientists, and visitors can see a replica of how the ancient king was found buried in his infamous tomb. On the way back to town, pick up some authentic crafts or souvenirs at the Mercado Artesenal, and spend the evening strolling the city beneath the lights of the illuminated cathedral.