Iquitos’ cultural attractions, while limited, dwarf those of other Amazon cities: especially boosted by the arrival of two new museums in 2013-2014. The cheery Malecón (riverside walk) runs between Nauta and Ricardo Palma: perhaps the most diverting sight of al!
Remnants of the rubber-boom days include azulejos, tiles imported from Portugal to decorate the rubber barons' mansions. Many buildings along Raimondi and Malecón Tarapaca are decorated with these tiles.
Cruising the Amazon is an expensive business: the shortest trips can cost over US$1000. It’s a popular pastime, too, and advance reservations are often necessary (and often mean discounts). Cruises naturally focus on the Río Amazonas, both downriver (northeast) toward the Brazil–Colombia border and upriver to Nauta, where the Ríos Marañón and Ucayali converge. Beyond Nauta, trips continue up these two rivers to the Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria. Trips can also be arranged on the three rivers surrounding Iquitos: the Itaya, the Amazonas and the Nanay. Operators quote prices in US dollars. A useful booking website is www.amazoncruise.net.
The range of accommodations here is broad. Basic budget to five-star luxury are catered for, with a plethora of enterprises attempting top-end and failing. The best hotels fill fast at weekends and on major festivals. The busiest season is May to September, when prices may rise marginally. Due to the competition, even budget hotels have quite decent standards. Mosquitoes are rarely problematic in town: mosquito netting is not always provided.
The city has excellent restaurants. However, many regional specialties feature endangered animals, such as chicharrón de lagarto (fried alligator) and sopa de tortuga (turtle soup). More environmentally friendly dishes include ceviche made with river fish, chupín de pollo (a tasty soup of chicken, egg and rice) and juanes (banana leaves stuffed with chicken or pork and rice).
Drinking & Nightlife
Iquitos is a party city. The Malecón is the cornerstone of the lively nightlife scene and you can dance until dawn and beyond at the discos just outside the center.
There are a few craft stands along the Malecón selling jungle crafts. Another good place for crafts is Mercado de Artesanía San Juan, on the airport road. Don’t buy items made from animal bones and skins, as they are made from jungle wildlife. It’s illegal to import many such items into the US and Europe.