As the largest and most important port in the country of Peru, Callao is a natural place for cruise ships to stop along their way to many other Pacific Ocean ports. With its proximity to Lima, Callao is an excellent jumping off point for excursions into that city and those who have a decent amount of time often do tour the Peruvian capital. However, those who are restricted to the boundaries of Callao are by no means disappointed. Founded only two years after Lima, in the year 1537, Callao boasts a fine array of attractions and sightseeing opportunities that even the most discerning travelers will enjoy, including several outlying islands.

Sightseeing & Things To Do

Although Lima definitely gets most of the attention when it comes to Peruvian vacations, the port of Callao should not be dismissed. Since so many ships dock here, it has a bounty of great attractions and things to do. If your ship will be stopping at Callao and you won’t have time to get over to Lima, don’t stay on board – get off the ship and find out what Callao has to offer.

Since Callao has been settled for such a long period of time, there are plenty of topnotch historical attractions to enjoy. When you grow tired of learning more about the region, slip away to one of Callao’s sumptuous beaches for a relaxing and rejuvenating time. Get a few ideas about what to see by considering the choices below:

Fortaleza de Real Felipe

One of the most popular and well-known tourist attractions in or near Callao is the Fortaleza de Real Felipe. Built back in the year 1747 in order to protect Callao from invading pirates, the fortress overlooks the harbor and makes for a very commanding sight indeed. Tours of the grounds and of the buildings are available, and there is a very fascinating military museum inside the fortress as well. Between the tours and the museum, you can soak up an awful lot of knowledge about Callao and Peru in general.

Palomino Islands

There are several small islands just off the coast of Callao. For those who do not have the time to make it over to Lima, they present a wide range of fun activities and attractions. The Palomino Islands are home to a mix of many different interesting wildlife, including sea lions and sea birds. In a way, they are like a smaller Galapagos Islands and can be a great place to spend time at while in Callao.


If you’re looking for a nice beach where you can spend a few blissful hours while in Callao, head over to the La Punta region of the city. There are many suitable beaches there, but try to visit Playa Cantolao if possible.

Museo Naval

In case you are unable to make it over to the Fortaleza del Real Felipe and its military museum – or if you simply adore museums in general – then a stop by the Museo Naval, or Naval Museum, is in order. You can learn more about the rich maritime traditions of Callao and Peru, along with greater detail about its past battles with Spain and Chile.


Downtown Callao is probably the best bet for those who want to do some serious shopping while stopped at this port of call. However, if you are going to be able to make it over to Lima, you might want to wait until you are there to do your shopping. While Callao has a pleasant array of shops and boutiques, Lima is where you will find the largest concentration – and widest selection – of stores.

Best Souvenir To Bring Back To the Cruise Ship

Pisco is one of the most famous and popular liquors in Peru, and bringing home a bottle of it can help you relive pleasant memories from your time in Callao. There are places all over town where you can grab a bottle, so be sure to do so.

Eating – Sample the Local Cuisine

Peruvian cuisine is as eclectic as it is delicious. Deciding what to try when visiting Callao and Lima – when there are so many options – can be tricky. Ceviche, a fish dish that contains lemon juice, aji limo and onions, is one of the most popular and can be found all over the city. Pescado a lo macho – a fried fish with shellfish sauce and spices – is another local delicacy.

When, Where, and How

When To Go

December through February is generally considered to be the optimal time to visit Callao, Lima and Peru in general. This is summertime on this side of the Equator, and you can enjoy indoor and outdoor activities with ease.

Where You’re Docked

Callao has been a major port of Peru since its inception, and it boasts a thoroughly modern and well-appointed cruise ship terminal. It is called the Muelle Norte Terminal and is constantly being renovated and updated to keep it up to date and accommodating.

Which Cruise Ships Go Here?

Many of the major cruise lines have itineraries that include stops at Callao and Lima. A few of the largest cruise lines that stop in Callao are Fred Olsen Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises. However, there are many other options available in terms of ships, dates, days at sea and in port when it comes to Callao.