Peru is a country that has a lot to offer. Due to the geographic position and Andes mountain range, you can experience the tropical rainforest, dry Pacific coast, snowy mountains, and all the regions that lie in between those extremes. Not to mention the rich history of the area that makes your trip really special. We hope this Peru travel guide can help you plan your trip, learn about the must-see places in the Netherlands, give you travel tips and ensure you make the most out of your trip to 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.
While you can certainly visit Peru during any time of the year, certain seasons will offer different scenery, options, and weather. Peru has a lot of different ecosystems, so there is no consensus on the best times to go, just differences in each region throughout the year. December to March is the best time to visit north of Peru. June to November is the best time to visit the rainforest areas and May to October is the best time to visit Cusco.
The capital city of Lima has the Jorge Chávez International Airport with frequent flights all over the world. The city of Iquitos in the Amazonas region has connections by boat to Leticia in Colombia and Tabatinga in Brazil.
There are three road crossings from Ecuador to Peru. The two closer to the coast are the more conventional ones. The border is only open during daylight hours. Peru Hop offers bus passes that can take you from La Paz to Lima with beautiful and unique stops along the way. Ordinary buses are also available and provide a direct service.
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.
Do 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.
Do 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.
Do 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.
Do 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.
Price Range for Hotels
Hotels in Peru are very common and fairly cheap. If you are a low budget traveler, you can live on $20 per day without a problem. Basic hotels or hostels (hospedajes) can be easily found all around Peru. The cost per night is about $3-5 for a shared room in a youth hostel. For a room in a nicer hotel, you can expect to pay around $30 per night or more.
Cost of Meals
It is relatively cheap to eat in the restaurants around Peru. There are a lot of very cheap restaurants ($0.50-1.50), but maybe this is not the best place to save your money. In somewhat better restaurants you can get lunch and dinner menus for $2 -3. Of course, in every city you can find restaurants where you can spend $20 and more if you want.
If you are interested in what we did and how we pulled it off in a short amount of time check out our 9 day itinerary here.