The profusion of archaeological remains in the surrounding mountains is the main reason to linger here. Locals boast Huánuco’s perfect elevation gives it the best climate in Peru: indeed, after the tempestuous altiplano (Andean plateau), the city seems positively balmy. It certainly makes a convenient stopover on the Lima–Pucallpa jungle route. Nearby is one of Peru’s oldest Andean archaeological sites, the Temple of Kotosh, while up in the hills sit the still-more-impressive ancient ruins near La Unión and Tantamayo.

Huánuco lies on the important Inca route from Cuzco to Cajamarca, the key settlement in the north of the empire, and developed as a major way station accordingly. The Incas chose Huánuco Viejo, 150km west, as their regional stronghold, but the exposed location prompted the Spanish to move the city to its current scenic setting on the Río Huallaga in 1541. Today, little is left of Huánuco's colonial past.