The well-preserved colonial architecture, pleasant climate, and archaeological sites have made Trujillo a popular tourist destination. The Plaza de Armas and beautifully maintained colonial buildings make central Trujillo a delightful place to while away an afternoon. Occupied for centuries before the arrival of the Spaniards, ruins from the Moche and Chimú people are nearby, as is a decent museum. Combine this with a selection of excellent hotels, restaurants, and cafés, and you'll see why the City of Eternal Spring, officially founded in 1534, competes with Arequipa for the title of Peru's "Second City." The only serious problem for tourists is trying to fit in the time to visit all the sights—literally, since many places close from 1 to 4 for lunch.
Come to this noisy but cheerful eatery for good Peruvian and Italian dishes, excellent coffee, an enormous selection of desserts, and free filtered water. Try the seco de cabrito, a local delicacy made of stewed goat.
It's crowded and busy, but a fun place to eat that specialises in regional cuisine. Start with an industrial-size portion of spicy cebiche de lenguado (sole marinated in citrus), followed by rice smothered with camarones (shrimp) or mariscos (shellfish). Join the many other enthusiastic diners at this local spot. There's a second location near the Huacas del Sol y de la Luna in the village of Moche.
This elegant restaurant in the Hotel Libertador offers diners a beautiful space and delicious food. An impressive bóveda, or vaulted brick ceiling, arches over the dining room and plants fill the niches. The house specialty is the local delicacy, shámbar stew, garnished with canchita (fried bits of corn). It's served only on Monday.
People come here for the best pizza in town. Select from a large list of pizzas, with every topping imaginable, or choose one of the many other dishes, mostly pasta, but also meat and poultry options. The deer head in the entryway, the stained-glass windows, and the small wooden bar add to an old-school atmosphere. There's an excellent selection of South American and European wines.
Romano offers good food and friendly
service. For dinner, enjoy seafood and pasta dishes, followed by excellent
homemade desserts. Skip the dimly lit front room and, via a long,
fluorescent-lighted hallway, enter the small, cozy back room with natural light
and a more congenial feeling.
Born in Chiclayo decades ago, the Fiesta chain is widely considered the preeminent dining choice for those looking for modern interpretations of Peru's northern coastal cuisine such as arroz con pato (duck with rice) or suckling goat. This location, a sleek multilevel modern bistro open since 2008 in Vista Alegre, has become the city's top choice for fine dining. Try the creative dishes like grouper cebiche served hot and innovative cocktails, nearly all of which utilize pisco.
Luna Rota Pub
Luna Rota has live local music most evenings when it's open; if not, a DJ fills in. The dance club downstairs mainly attracts a 40 and over crowd, but upstairs the disco music blasts away. The party doesn't get started until about midnight and lasts until the wee hours of the morning.
In a converted mansion with a friendly vibe, Tributo has live music, mainly cover or "tribute" (hence, the name) bands on weekends.
Runa's Martini Lounge
Conveniently set in a lovely colonial building just off the plaza, this sleek bar and lounge attracts an upscale, 20 to 40-year-old clientele who are content with skipping the club scene. Happy hours and frequent drink promotions keep the cocktail prices down.
For made-to-order boots or belts, check out this shop.
There's a wide selection of handicrafts here, mostly knickknacks made from seashells and totora reeds.
Pick up pieces of stylised Peruvian jewelry here.
One look at the elaborate courtyard with its two levels of white columns, enormous tiles, and three-tiered chandeliers and you'll know why this is called a palace rather than a house. From the intricate white-painted metalwork to the gorgeous Italian marble furnishings, every detail has been carefully restored and maintained. Originally built in 1842, it's now the home of the private Club Central de Trujillo. The club only allows visitors limited access.
Huaca Arco Iris
Filled with intriguing and unusual symbolic carvings, and with an urban backdrop, is the restored Huaca Arco Iris or Rainbow Pyramid. Named for the unusual rainbow carving (the area rarely sees rain), it's also known as the Huaca El Dragón, or Pyramid of the Dragon, because of the central role dragons play in the friezes. This structure, built by the early Chimú, also has a repeating figure of a mythical creature that looks like a giant serpent. On the walls, mostly reconstructions, you will see what many archaeologists believe are priests wielding the knives used in human sacrifices. Half-moon shapes at the bottom of most of the friezes indicate that the Chimú probably worshipped the moon at this temple.
Museo del Juguete
Puppets, puzzles, toys, games. What could be more fun than a toy museum? This private museum houses a large collection of toys from all over the world and shows the transformation of toys through the centuries. The toys from pre-Colombian Peru are especially interesting, giving a seldom-seen view into the daily lives of ancient people. You can't play with the toys so it may not be appropriate for very young children.
Museo de Arqueología
Originally built in the 17th century, this museum displays pottery and other artifacts recovered from the archaeological sites surrounding Trujillo. There are excellent reproductions of the colorful murals found at the Huaca de la Luna, the pyramids southeast of the city.
Museo del Sitio
Begin your archaeological exploration at Chan Chan's Museo del Sitio. The entrance fee includes admission to the museum, plus Chán Chán, Huaca Arco Iris, and Huaca Esmeralda, so hold onto your ticket (you may also go directly to the ruins and purchase the same ticket there, for the same price). This small but thorough museum has displays of ceramics and textiles from the Chimú empire. From Trujillo, take a taxi or join a tour from an agency. Each location is a significant distance from the next. At the museum, and all sites, there are clean restrooms and a cluster of souvenir stalls and snack shops, but no place to buy a full meal.
Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol
When you consider that these temples were built more than 3,000 years ago, the mud and adobe pyramids near the Pan-American Highway and Río Moche are quite impressive. The Moche people were the first to spread their influence over much of the north coast, and all subsequent civilizations, including the Chimú and Incas, built upon what this group began.The smaller of the two pyramids—the only one you can actually tour—is the Huaca de la Luna, the Pyramid of the Moon. The adobe structure is painted with anthropomorphic and zoomorphic reliefs. Many of the figures picture the Moche god Ai-Apaec, whereas others depict fanciful creatures, notably dragons; the use of dragon images may point to cultural and commercial exchange between the cultures of South America and Asia. The Moche expanded the pyramid several times during their reign, covering up the exterior's original reliefs. Since 1990 archaeologists have slowly uncovered the ancient layers of the pyramid. Walk through to its very heart to glimpse some of its first facades. On most days you're able to watch archaeologists as they uncover multicolor murals. Facilities include a flashy new museum not far from the entrance, a small craft market, cafeteria, restrooms, and parking area (free).Although the nearby Huaca del Sol, or the Pyramid of the Sun, sits along the same entry road, it's not yet ready for the public. Standing more than 40 meters (130 feet) high—slightly shorter than it originally stood—with more than 140 million bricks, this is the largest adobe-brick structure in the New World. Scattered around its base are what some archaeologists believe are "signature bricks," with distinctive hand, finger, and foot marks that identify the community whose labor produced the bricks for their lords. Researchers believe that the pyramid served as an imperial palace for the Moche people. Once a storehouse of untold treasures, it has been stripped clean over the centuries by huaqueros. So great were its riches that in 1610 the Spanish diverted the Río Moche to wash away the pyramid's base and lay bare the bounty within. Although many tourists wander around the base, this is not recommended as the structure may not be solid and it's possible to destory part of this important temple with a single step.
Casa del Mayorazgo de Facala
The open courtyard, from 1709, is surrounded by beautiful cedar columns, greenery, and bankers—as with many colonial mansions, this one is now owned by a bank. However, Scotiabank welcomes tourists and clients into the house to see its wonderfully preserved beauty. Notice the classic brown stucco-covered thick adobe walls and Moorish-style carved-wood ceiling. The security guards are happy to answer questions about the house.
Casa de la Emancipación
This branch of Banco Continental is unlike any bank you've ever been in. Go through the central courtyard and up to the small art gallery on the right. Enjoy the current exhibition, anything from modern to traditional artwork, and see a scale model of Trujillo when it was a walled city. Continue to the back, taking in the chandeliers, the large gold mirrors and the small fountain, and imagine the day that, in this house, the city declared its independence from Spain on December 29, 1820. It later became the country's first capitol building and meeting place for its first legislature.
Much like the other Chimú pyramids, the ruins' most interesting aspects are the carved friezes, un-restored and in their original state. The images include fish, seabirds, waves, and fishing nets, all central to the life of the Chimú. Like other Chimú pyramids on the northern coast, the ancient temple mound of Huaca Esmeralda, or the Emerald Pyramid, is believed to have served as a religious ceremonial center.
The sprawling adobe-brick capital city, whose ruins lie 5 km (3 mi) west of Trujillo, has been called the largest mud city in the world. It once held boulevards, aqueducts, gardens, palaces, and some 10,000 dwellings. Within the city were nine royal compounds, one of which, the royal palace of Tschudi, has been partially restored and opened to the public. Although the city began with the Moche civilization, 300 years later, the Chimú people took control of the region and expanded the city to its current size. While less known than the Incas, who conquered them in 1470, the Chimú were the second-largest pre-Columbian society in South America. Their empire stretched along 1,000 km (620 mi) of the Pacific, from Lima to Tumbes.Before entering this UNESCO World Heritage Site, see the extensive photographic display of the ruins at the time of discovery and post-restoration. Then, begin at the Tschudi complex, the Plaza Principal, a monstrous square where ceremonies and festivals were held. The throne of the king is thought to have been in front where the ramp is found. The reconstructed walls have depictions of sea otters at their base. From here, head deep into the ruins toward the royal palace and tomb of Señor Chimú. The main corridor is marked by fishnet representations, marking the importance of the sea to these ancient people. You will also find renderings of pelicans, which served as ancient road signs, their beaks pointing to important sections of the city. Just before you arrive at the Recinto Funerario, the funeral chamber of Señor Chimú, you pass a small natural reservoir called a huachaque. Forty-four secondary chambers surround the funeral chamber where the king Señor Chimú was buried. In his day it was understood that when you pass to the netherworld you can bring all your worldly necessities with you, and the king was buried with several live concubines and officials and a slew of personal effects, most of which have been looted. Although wind and rain have damaged the city, its size—20 square km (8 square mi)—still impresses.
The enormous, elaborately carved wooden door is a stunning entrance to this beautifully restored neoclassical mansion from the early 19th century. The house is owned by Peru's Central Bank; simply inform the guard that you'd like to go inside and look around. Don't miss the lovely rococo furniture and the fine collection of pre-Columbian ceramics.
Monasterio El Carmen
Still used as a nunnery, this handsome monastery, built in 1725, is regarded as the city's finest example of colonial art. It has five elaborate altars and some fine floral frescos. Next door is a museum, the Pinacoteca Carmelita, with religious works from the 17th and 18th centuries and an interesting exhibition on restoration techniques.
Plaza de Armas
Brightly colored, well-maintained buildings and green grass with walkways and benches make this one of the most charming central plazas. Fronted by the 17th-century cathedral and surrounded by the colonial-era mansions that are Trujillo's architectural glory, this is not, despite claims by locals, Peru's largest main plaza, but it's one of the nicest.
This private museum in the basement of a gas station has a 2,800-piece collection, mostly concerning indigenous cultures. Of note are some spectacular portrait vases from the Moche civilization and whistling pots, which produce distinct notes that mimic the calls of various birds.