Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro founded Piura as the first Spanish city in Peru in 1532. In a country where Inca ruins and trekking rule the scene, this first city is now a mere stop before heading north to Ecuador or south to Huaraz. If ruins and hiking have left you dazed, Piura isn't the resting place you're looking for. It's a hot commercial city located inland but welcoming enough with options for budget travelers as well as for high rollers.
The city's African heritage has made Piura famous for black magic and the tondero, a lively folk dance in which performers dance barefoot to strong, rhythmic music wearing bright, multicolored outfits. This part of the culture isn't, however, all that obvious. From day to day, the downtown area is packed with people, cars, taxis and motorcycles scurrying left and right. The Plaza de Armas is a good place to sit back and decide what will be your next destination. At night, the city's roar feeds on but has a generally safe feel. Families pour into the florescent-lit department stores and couples walk the sidewalks.
A common day trip from Piura is to the town of Catacaos, 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) south. There you will find crafts made of hay and cotton, and also gold and silver filigree. About five kilometers (3.1 mi) south of Catacaos, you can find the archeological remains of Narihuala. What's left of the TallĂˇn culture there hasâ€”like other ruinsâ€”fallen prey to culprits such as huaqueros, time and weather damage.
(Altitude: 29 m/95 ft, Population: 248,000, Phone Code: 073)