A sleepy yet prosperous city, Cajamarca is nestled in a gorgeous, fertile valley dotted with eucalyptus groves and roving cattle. Brimming with Andean charmm it is the most important city in the northern highlands.

Cajamarca is perhaps best known historically as the place where the Inca Empire began its end.

The city is renowned for its rich cheeses and dairy products, and its mild, dry and sunny weather makes it a lovely place to visit throughout the year. Highlights of the city of Cajamarca include the Plaza de Armas, its majestic Spanish-colonial churches, and the Baños del Inca (Inca baths). This little-known destination is almost untouched by international tourists. 

Recommended For

  • Culture Connoisseurs

Things to do

  • Visit the Iglesa Belén on a walking tour of the historic city center
  • Visit El Cuarto del Rescate (Ransom Room) where the last Incan emperor Atahualpa was imprisoned

Guide to Cajamarca

Cajamarca is the cultural and commercial center of the Peruvian highlands. Not many tourists typically pass through Cajamarca and it is certainly an off-the-beaten track destination. Cajamarca is usually visited in conjunction with the Chachapoyas region, home of ancient cultures, waterfalls and a museum with Peru’s largest collection of mummies.

In recent years, the area has also become the home to many major gold mining operations. Large mines like Yanacocha attract workers from all over Peru and stimulate the nearby economy.  Most famously, Cajamarca is known as the place where the Inca Empire began to come to an end. It is a historic town that witnessed the capture of Inca Atahualpa in 1532 when Pizarro and the Spaniards invaded Peru. The town is most lively around the beginning of February during Carnival, when costumed revelers fill the streets.

Things to do in Cajamarca

In the colonial town center, the attractive Plaza de Armas, bordered by majestic churches, is definitely worth a visit, as well as the famous Baños del Inca, or Inca baths. On the outskirts, Cumbemayo is a fascinating natural area with large rock formations to explore.

How to get to Cajamarca

There are direct flights from Lima to Cajamarca. In addition, a visit can be combined with Chachapoyas, about seven hours drive away, and the Moche Route, covering the coastal Northern cities of Chiclayo and Trujillo, during a custom Peru tour.

When to go

The town especially comes alive each year during Carnival, a bright and exciting time to take a trip to Cajamarca if you are interested in Peru festivals. During the drier seasons, from May to October is ideal for a visit. Travel from November to March can include heavy downpours.

Highly recommended accommodations in Cajamarca

The best hotel in Cajamarca is the Costa del Sol. It is ideally situated on the main Plaza de Armas, with views of the square from its restaurant.