Popular Destination in Peru
Lima – The capital and the largest city of Peru is located in the central coastal part of the country in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Lima’s history shows the importance of colonial presence in the country.
Cusco – The former capital of the Incan empire with its hilly, cobble-stoned streets and unique architecture makes an impression on everyone.
Puno – Located on the shore of Lake Titicaca, with many llamas and alpacas wandering around, it is a place well worth visiting.
Puerto Maldonado – Also called the “capital of the southern jungle” is a great starting point for jungle trips around Amazon rainforest.
When to Visit Peru
Peru’s diverse landscape, which includes coastal regions, mountains, and jungles, experiences different weather patterns, making the best time to visit dependent on the activities and regions you’re interested in.
Generally, the dry season from May to September is considered the best time to visit Peru. The weather is usually dry and sunny, making it ideal for various outdoor activities, including trekking in the mountains or exploring archaeological sites. However, this period is also the busiest, so you can expect higher tourist crowds and prices, particularly in popular spots like Machu Picchu.
The rainy season, from November to March, sees fewer visitors, which can mean fewer crowds at major tourist spots and lower prices for accommodations. However, the heavier rainfalls might make some outdoor activities challenging, especially in the highlands.
Coastal Regions (Lima, Paracas, Trujillo)
The coastal areas of Peru, including Lima, have an opposite weather pattern to the rest of the country. The summer season from December to March is warm and sunny, making it an excellent time to visit the beach. On the contrary, the winter months (June to October) can be foggy and cool, although it rarely rains.
Highlands (Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca)
The highlands, including Cusco and Machu Picchu, have a clear-cut wet and dry season. The dry season from May to September is the best time for trekking, as trails are generally dry, and skies are often clear, offering magnificent views. However, it’s also the busiest time of the year, especially July and August, so expect large crowds at popular sites.
The wet season from November to March can make trekking difficult due to muddy trails and reduced visibility. However, the landscape is beautifully lush during this time, and tourist crowds are much thinner.
The Amazon Rainforest can be visited year-round but be prepared for rain at any time. The dry season (May to September) generally sees less rainfall, making it a good time for hiking and wildlife spotting. The wet season (October to April) brings heavy rains, but the river levels rise, making more areas accessible by boat.
How to Reach Peru
Traveling to Peru has become quite straightforward due to its well-connected international and domestic transportation networks. Depending on where you are coming from, you may choose to travel by air, land, or sea.
The most common way for international travelers to get to Peru is by flying into Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM) located in Callao, near the capital city of Lima. This airport serves as the main international and domestic hub in Peru.
Major international airlines operate direct flights to Lima from many cities in North America, Europe, and Latin America. These include airlines like LATAM, American Airlines, Delta, and Air France among others.
From Lima, numerous domestic flights operated by local airlines such as LATAM and Sky Airlines Peru can take you to other parts of Peru.
Sky Airlines Peru Website: https://www.skyairline.com/peru
Other important airports in Peru include Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) in Cusco and FAP Captain Guillermo Concha Iberico International Airport (PIU) in Piura.
Traveling to Peru by land is possible from neighboring countries like Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile. You can use international bus services such as Cruz del Sur or Ormeño.
These buses are quite comfortable and well-equipped for long journeys, offering reclining seats, meals, and onboard entertainment.
For those who prefer to travel by sea, Peru can be reached by taking a cruise to the port of Callao. Several cruise lines, including Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, include Callao in their South American itineraries.
Getting Around Peru
Inside the cities, there are usually no problem getting around on city buses or taxis. “Taxi” does not necessarily mean a car, the term in Peru also refers to bicycles, motor rickshaws, and motorbikes for hire. “Micros” are also convenient ways to move around the city. There are small minivans or Coaster buses, also known as “combis” and “custers”. They do not have actual bus stops but fixed routes and can stop anywhere.
The bus is the most convenient way to travel between different cities. Buses usually start from fixed points or the central bus terminal. It is a good idea to buy your ticket one day in advance. Some main roads, especially along the coastal strip, are paved, but there are still a lot of dirt roads in very poor condition. In the rainy season, landslides may block even major roads and some roads can be especially dangerous.
Because of the distances involved and the conditions of the roads in some remote parts of the country, it may be better to fly, which most people do, especially between Lima and Cusco or the Amazon and Lima/Cusco.
Travel Tips for Peru
Try the meat of a Cuy (aka guinea pig) and Alpaca. Maybe a taboo for foreigners, but for locals, Cuy and Alpaca are considered a delicacy.
Eat the delicious Churros. Churros are long sticks of dough piped out from a star-shaped nozzle straight into hot oil and fried. You can find them everywhere throughout the cities, from carts in the street to specialized churro stores in the malls.
Drink the tea from Coca leaves. Coca Tea or “Mate de Coca” is a tea made from the leaves of the coca plant. It is legal to drink this tea in Peru and it is great for adjusting to the altitude or after a heavy meal.
Learn basic words in Spanish. Locals love it when they see you are making an effort to learn their language.
Do not underestimate the higher altitude. If you do not have experience with higher altitudes above 3,500m (12,000 ft), you might have a hard time adjusting to it.
Pack for all seasons: Peru’s weather is a bit of a mixed bag. From sunny beaches to chilly highlands, you’ll need everything from sunglasses to thermals. So, layer up and pack for all eventualities!
Don’t forget travel insurance: With adventure activities like hiking, white water rafting, and paragliding on offer, it’s worth having travel insurance just in case.
Typical Costs in Peru
- Budget: For the budget-conscious traveler, hostels and budget guesthouses in Peru can range from $10 – $20 per night for a dorm bed. Some places even offer private rooms at the higher end of this range.
- Mid-Range: Mid-range hotels and private accommodations (like Airbnbs) usually cost between $30 – $70 per night. This range typically includes 3-star hotels or well-located private accommodations.
- Luxury: Luxury hotels and high-end vacation rentals in more popular areas like Lima or Cusco can range from $80 to $200+ per night. Top-tier establishments, like the JW Marriott in Lima or the Palacio del Inka in Cusco, can exceed $250 per night.
- Budget: If you’re dining on a budget, you can enjoy local Peruvian cuisine for just $1 – $5 per meal at local markets or small eateries. A plate of ceviche or lomo saltado, two traditional dishes, can be found for just a few dollars in many places.
- Mid-Range: A meal at a mid-range restaurant might cost between $10 – $20. This usually includes a main course, drink, and possibly dessert in a more formal setting.
- Luxury: High-end dining at the best restaurants can cost $30+ per person. This includes places like Central or Maido in Lima, where a multiple-course tasting menu can easily reach $100 or more.
- Budget: Public transportation is very affordable in Peru. City bus tickets cost less than a dollar, and even long-distance bus tickets for traveling between cities usually range from $10 – $30.
- Mid-Range: For more convenience, taxis and car rentals are available. Taxi fares typically start around $1 and then $0.70 for each subsequent kilometer. Car rentals can cost from $30 per day.
- Luxury: For luxury transportation, consider hiring a private car or a chauffeur service. These services are variable in price, starting from around $40 for a short journey to $100+ for a full day.