--cue Guns 'N Roses song here--
Iquitos has a very laid back feel to it, even with hundreds of moto-taxis (think tuk-tuks but far less romantic) and motorcycles whizzing by. The colonial center is on the smaller side and will be especially appealing to those who appreciate the beauty of decaying colonial architecture. It’s a heady mix - the old contrasted with the new liberally adorned empty beer bottles, chip bags and plastic water bottles discarded in the streets. That said, it has does have a certain tropical charm and vibe that is easy to enjoy.
The tidy little main plaza [or Plaza de Armas is it in known in every city in Peru], is a nicely landscaped and well-maintained space. It becomes particularly attractive in the evening when the lights are on, the fountain is running and people are scattered about. On a short stroll from the plaza to the Malecon on any given night, you will find many locals, street vendors and performers, Sunday evenings being especially busy. Having a drink or dinner on the malecon provides excellent people watching, especially if you are fond of South American Hippies selling handmade jewelry and the police presence they attract.
The malecon fronts houses and buildings that float when the river is full (approx. Dec - May) and sit on dry river bed when the river is low. Walking along the malecon provides interesting views of this part of the city as well as the truly spectacular scenic backdrop of the jungle and river. In the dry season, you can see locals playing soccer, volleyball or hiking along the dry, semi-forested riverbed.
Further up the malecon, where its name changes to Ramirez Hurtado and it becomes a bit seedier, is Belen. At its center is an expansive market with everything - vegetables, fruits, prepared foods, meats, clothing, that left sock you lost in the dryer last year. It goes on for blocks. One of the most impressive markets this side of Bangkok.