The South American continent of Peru is a very popular travel destination, from its popular rain forests and jungles to the many different landscapes and scenery. It’s a truly breathtaking country, which attracts many first-time visitors seeking to explore everything it has to offer.
Aside from the amazing scenery and ancient architecture, many tourists are also attracted to Peru because of its affordability, being one of the most cost-friendly countries in South America to visit. When you combine affordability and must-see destinations like Machu Picchu, it’s no wonder why there is an abundance of interest in planning vacations and long-term travel expeditions.
Traveling to Peru, or any foreign country for that matter, can be overwhelming and filled with questions and concerns, even to seasoned travelers. If you are planning a trip to Peru then you are in luck, because we have created the most definitive Peru travel guide, complete with the most important details and answers to frequently asked questions.
This one-stop Peruvian travel guide will help you plan a trip that will be memorable and one of the best experiences of your life.
An Introduction to Peru
Peru is the third largest country in South America, with three regions that make up its nearly 1,300,000 square kilometers. These include:
The central region of Peru is made up of extraordinary mountain ranges, from the high sierra Andes, which includes Machu Picchu, which is the most globally recognizable attraction in Peru.
What many aren’t aware of though, is that this area is very unstable, with landslides, flash floods and even earthquakes occurring on a fairly frequent basis. Even so, it’s a highly visited area by incoming tourists looking to experience the sights of central Peru.
Peru’s coastal area is home to cooler temperatures, which is caused by its close proximity to both cold waters and hot sand. This creates a consistent fog in the area. Lima, the capital of Peru is located here.
Surrounding the Amazon is Peru’s forest, which is predominantly non-accessible, and not a place inexperienced travelers should explore without proper guidance. Many of the areas in this area are only accessible by boat or air, making them extremely remote.
The Top 5 Travel Destinations in Peru
With so many options available, how does one know what destinations are worth looking into, and what ones might be a tourist trap worth avoiding in favor of a more enjoyable experience?
Well, with something for everyone, from ancient ruins to modern masterpieces, Peru will provide you with an endless supply of cultural experiences. From history buffs to foodies and adrenaline junkies, there is a destination to satisfy all travelers.
As one of the top international travel destinations, we wanted to break down the top five travel destinations in Peru, highlighting their appeal and explaining why these are the most popular places to visit while in Peru.
One of the most popular destinations in Peru is Machu Picchu, which sits 2,400 meters up above the Urubamba River, is only accessible by hiking. There are multiple guided tours that take tourists on an adventurous hike, which is both challenging physically and visually breathtaking.
It’s one of the most popular activities for those visiting Peru, and once trekkers peak the clouds, they are treated to amazing views and scenery, worthy of pictures and documentation.
Along the way, hikers will pass several Peruvian towns located throughout the mountains, which provide unparalleled insight into the culture of the Incas.
If you are interested in experiencing this pre-Colombian history first-hand, it’s suggested that you book a professional excursion, with guides and staff that are experienced with the area. This isn’t a do-it-yourself activity.
Make sure to pack for the trip, wearing appropriate clothes, and packing water and snacks, along with extra camera batteries. The views are breathtaking, resulting in extra camera use.
Check out this tour that include a visit to Machu Picchu : Click here
Lima is not only Peru’s largest city, but it’s also its capital and home to more than 9 million residents. The city is nearly 500 years old, originally founded by Francisco Pizarro, a conquistador from Spain, in 1535.
There are many desirable attractions and draws to Lima, from its amazing food and culture, to its modern architecture mixed in with colonial and traditional buildings. A mix of bars, restaurants and clubs lines the streets, with local residences mixed in. It’s quite the sight to see and experience first-hand.
It’s a seafood lover’s dream, as its close proximity to the coast has made it famous for having the freshest seafood in the country. The most famous Peruvian dish, Ceviche, is wildly popular here.
The center of Lima offers an authentic look into the local culture, with plenty of markets, shops and restaurants to experience. It’s a very tourist-friendly area with an endless number of options to keep you entertained and occupied for the entire time spent in the country’s capital.
Check out this tour that include a visit to Lima: Click here
Nazca is another highly popular tourist destination in Peru, but the sightseeing is done up in the air, as the Nazca lines are best viewed from above. Originally discovered in the early 1920s, these works of art are massive images created in the desert and they are quite the sight to see, especially once you realize just how large they are.
The detail is incredible and something that needs to be seen in person. Photographs, while beautiful, do not do them the justice they deserve. Those afraid of high are able to see them from ground level, but it’s very hard to truly appreciate them without looking down from high above.
The most astounding fact is that nobody knows who created them or the reason and/or meaning behind them. Some of the Nazca drawings are geometrical shapes, crafted with precision, as well as animals, with the most famous one being a 180 meter long lizard. The mystery surrounding the Nazca drawings is one of the most appealing aspects of this travel destination in Peru.
Check out this tour that include a visit to Nazca Lines: Click here
Often referred to as the birthplace of the sun, Lake Titicaca offers amazing views of the Andean plateau. It’s one of the largest and most popular lakes in all of Peru. There are two notably popular destinations at the lake.
The first, which is the Bolivian side of the lake, is home to the Fountain of Youth. This is a very popular place to visit and take pictures, as it’s a story dating back to early times that has been passed down from generation to generation. For history buffs, the Gold Museum offers a wide range of Inca artifact exhibits.
Taquile Island is also found here, which is a relaxing spot that many visitors like to stay for a day or two, in order to experience traditional Peruvian culture. There are many small boutique hotels located on the island, offering a great way to experience the local village, cuisine and locals. Locals are very welcoming, embracing tourism and opening up their village to travelers.
Check out this tour that include a visit to Titicaca Lake: Click here
Want to see one of the most beautiful sights in all Peru and not have to fight traditional tourist crowds? Well, the Colca Canyon is one of Peru’s hidden treasures. While it’s not as world-famous as Machu Picchu, it’s as equally breathtaking.
This destination in the Andean Mountains is not as convenient to access as Machu Picchu, which is why many tourists will pass on it and opt for the more traditional attraction instead. Sitting at more than 150 kilometers from the city of Arequipa, it takes some planning to make the trip.
While most of the large attractions in Peru are easily accessible via train, which is another reason it’s such a desirable location, the Colca Canyon doesn’t have a direct train. For those with experience traveling abroad though, this shouldn’t be a problem.
U.S. tourists are amazed at its size, which is double the depth of the famous Grand Canyon, and the views are exceptional in person. Aain, photos do not do Colca Canyon justice. This area is also home to one of Peru’s most famous birds; the Andean Condor.
Check out this tour that include a visit to Colca Canyon: Click here
20 Must-Do Experiences While Visiting Peru
There are many hidden gems and destinations that are not openly talked about in the mass media. The sand dunes to the rain forests — Peru features a wide range of terrain and sights.
It’s a massive country with so many options, which is why many organized trips are typically around the 10 to 14-day mark, allowing for the visitors to take in as much as possible.
Even at the two-week mark you will not be able to experience all Peru has to offer. So, in an effort to help you maximize your trip to Peru, we decided to put together a list of the top twenty must-do experiences while visiting the country.
1.Hike the Inca Trail
Ok, so Machu Picchu is the top destination for those seeking Incan ruins and archaeology, the Inca Trail is our recommended must-visit destination for those interested in seeing ancient Inca culture and civilization.
Located in the Sacred Valley, the Inca Trail runs along the Urubamba River, all the way to the world famous Machu Picchu. Along the trail, visitors will see amazing views and landscape, filled with natural agriculture and ruins that remain untouched and completely preserved. It’s an exceptional first-hand look at ancient archaeological sites, so be sure to bring your camera.
The Inca Trail is an adventure you will want to coordinate with your travel company, and not something you will want to attempt on your own. Not only for safety reasons, but most tours will include add-ons, like mountain biking, white water rafting and even horseback guided excursions.
This is one of the most popular destinations in Peru, and for good reason — the sights and Peruvian culture is incredible along this route.
Check out this tour with amazing views, landscape and inca ruins: Click here
2.Experience the Local Cuisine
Are you a foodie? If you love experiencing new delicacies, then you need to make sure you set time aside to experience authentic Peruvian cuisine. Now, to be totally honest, Peru’s authentic cuisine isn’t for everyone. But, those with an adventurous side will love the experience. It’s truly once in a lifetime.
One of the most sought out food experiences in Peru is eating authentic Cuy from the local market. What is Cuy you might ask? It’s roasted guinea pig, and it’s something foodies from all over the world cannot wait to try when they arrive in Peru.
Another popular food experience is the country’s famous potatoes. While you might think that all potatoes are the same, think again, because Peru is home to more than 3,750 different kinds of potatoes.
All areas of Peru, from the rainforest to the coast, feature a wide range of local cuisine to dive into and experience.
3.Check out the Nazca Lines
You have more than likely seen pictures of the Nazca Lines before, as they are well documented and often discussed, as they remain a mystery to this day. They are carvings done in the desert, along the coast, south of Lima.
When viewed from above they really come to life, as they feature animals, line art and many different geometrical shapes. To this day nobody knows who created them, which creates a lot of speculation and some even believe they were created by aliens.
Whoever created them did an amazing job, as they are a work of art that you will appreciate in person. If going up in the air isn’t your cup of tea you can still see the magnitude of these creations on ground level. They are massive in size, and when you see them in person you really appreciate the time and effort that went into creating the Nazca Lines.
If you want a Peruvian in-person experience you will never forget, make sure to schedule a tour in advance, as it’s a very popular destination.
4.Visit the Uros Floating Islands
It’s amazing how some of the most amazing structures, like the Egyptian pyramids, were created back in the day before modern technology and even tools for that matter. Well, the Uros Floating Islands are another great example of an amazing structure created ages ago that to this day remain eye-opening.
Located in Lake Titicaca, these floating islands were made by hand, constructed of woven reeds. These floating islands were built as a means to protect themselves. Not only did they offer protection, but they were easily moved in the event of danger. They were truly ahead of their time.
While we always encourage visitors to take lots of pictures to document their experience, it’s important to note that many of the natives do not like to have their photos taken, so please be mindful of that wiash. If you are participating in a guided tour you will be reminded of this by your tour guide.
Since this is such a popular destination, there are multiple ferry and boat tours scheduled daily that can bring you to the Uros Floating Islands.
5.Surf at Mancora
Mancora is a little fishing village that has become very popular with surfers, and for years it was a hidden treasure that not many people knew about. Many surfers from Lima and the surrounding area would make the trip to experience the surf because it was unlike any other found along the coast of Peru.
Now, it’s a popular tourist destination, but for reasons beyond just the epic waves that surfers rave about, for the warm water and waves that break perfectly, for both novice and expert level surfers.
Aside from surfing, Mancora’s consistently pleasant temperature and climate is one reason tourists make this a routine stop. Shorts and t-shirts can be worn year-round, and a jacket or sweatshirt is only required in the evening hours of the coldest “winter” months.
Peru’s sky overall is usually gray, but Mancora features bright blue skies and beaming sunshine, which is why so many locals from Lima will make the voyage down, just to experience the weather — it’s such a drastic change.
Not all of Peru’s tourist destinations are mainstream and openly talked about, but that isn’t the case when it comes to Kuélap, which is a citadel located in the northern part of the country, overlooking the Utcubamba Valley.
Two years ago, the New York Times ranked Kuélap as the 29th place to visit, and one that avid travelers needed to add to their bucket list, experiencing the incredible views in person.
It’s write-ups and mentions like that, which have led to the increasing popularity of this destination. Even with all of the acclaim and features, Kuélap still remains untouched and not overrun by tourism, like what has happened to Machu Picchu.
It’s not a destination that is on every piece of marketing material or souvenir, like Machu Picchu, and this is mainly due to its location. It’s positioned on the top of a mountain, and accessibility isn’t ideal. But, if you are up for the challenge, it’s definitely worth visiting.
7.Visit Lake Titicaca
Aside from being home to the Uros Floating Islands, mentioned above, Lake Titicaca is situated at the highest elevation for a lake, worldwide. While exploring the lake area and taking in all of the ancient surroundings, which all look untouched from early civilization you can witness the locals still inhibiting the area, living on the floating islands.
All in all, there are more than one hundred floating islands, in various sizes. Remember, they are all man-made, so many of their sizes will vary. They are not too far off the shore, and each island houses several families, from about three families per smaller island to more than ten families living together on the largest of the floating islands.
You will want to make sure you tour the islands, and experience the sensation of walking on these made-made reefs, which have an almost sponge-like feeling to the foot, and also making you feel like you could fall through them at any given moment — although you won’t — they are built very well and have withheld years of use.
Check out this tour that include a visit to Titicaca Lake: Click here
8.Check Out the Mummies of Arequipa at the Santuarios Andinos Museum
One of the biggest draws when it comes to Peru is the ancient ruins and artifacts scattered throughout the country, still in prime condition. From historians to artifact aficionados, Peru has something to satisfy all of their desires.
The Santuarios Andinos Museum is located in Arequipa, a small colonial city that has a very welcoming and charming feel, making it a very popular tourism destination on its own because of its popular volcanoes.
The museum has an attraction that isn’t known by all, and it’s something that is far too incredible to pass up once you know it’s there. The mummified remains of victims that were offered as human sacrifices back in the day can be found here, perfectly preserved. The remains are more than 55 years old, and said to be the best-preserved mummified human remains in the world.
While it might not be an attraction alone that would spark a trip to Peru, it’s worth checking out if you are in the area, and a visit to Arequipa is typically on most itineraries.
9.Visit the Ballestas Islands
The funny thing about the Ballestas Islands is that nobody knows they exist before they arrive in Peru, but everyone visits them prior to leaving. It’s one of those tourist stops that doesn’t receive a lot of fanfare prior to leaving or while researching activities and destinations to explore, but most everyone that visits Peru will see them.
They are very close to Lima, the capital of Peru, and are home to a diverse selection of local wildlife, which is great for sightseeing. Whether it’s a boat ride or full-blown island excursion, one is sure to see a wide array of exotic birds, as well as sea lions, penguins and seals.
When you add in Peruvian Pelicans and dolphins, it creates a very action-packed wildlife and nature tour. The wildlife is out in the open, running wild and free, so it provides a much different experience than seeing them in a closed environment, like a zoo or sea aquarium.
Whether you call it Cuzco or Cusco (both are acceptable), one thing is certain — you will be visiting one of the most popular travel destinations in all of Peru. From its 1.5 million visits each calendar year, a large percentage of that occurs in June for the Inti Raymi celebration.
Cuzco is right up there with the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, coming in at the number three tourist destination in Peru. Some of the old ruins still remain, and if you look at some of the newer buildings and structures in the area you will see that they were built on top of the old Cuzco ruins, which now act as a foundation for these new structures.
While some of the attractions and locations we suggest are not the typical tourist trap, this isn’t one of those. Cuzco is highly recognized as a very popular tourist destination, so we suggest you look into a tourism card, which will provide you with multiple days of access, giving you the option to explore multiple sites and attractions.
11.Sandboad at Huacachina
Imagine being able to snowboard in Peru? Well you can, kind of. Sandboarding is very similar, but instead of boarding down cold wet snow, you board down sandy dunes in Huacachina.
This is the location of Peru’s largest sand dunes — and all of South America for that matter. Along with sandboarding, dune buggies are popular, creating a very fun party atmosphere and vibe.
Many people assume they won’t like it or they won’t be able to do it, but don’t let the name scare you — there are many ways to experience the rush, without standing on a board.
If you don’t want to do it the traditional way standing on a board you can lay down on your stomach and glide down the dune that way, with a lower center of gravity. This makes it completely safe — and fun. Someone with no experience can enjoy the rush and thrill of the dunes, and then go on a dune buggy adventure exploring the massive dunes playground.
Just a short three hour drive from the capital of Lima is where you will find the small coastal town of Paracas, which many travel experts compare to the Galapagos Islands, except for one thing — the cost.
Visiting the Galapagos Islands is towards the top of most adventure traveler’s bucket list, and for good reason. They are beautiful and a sight to see. But, a trip to them will cost you a pretty penny.
Paracas, however, is very budget friendly and easy to access. If you are visiting Peru in the summer season, then you absolutely must take a trip to Paracas, even just for a day, to experience the beauty of this little coastal gem.
If we could use just one word to describe Paracas it would be ‘bliss.’ From the beautiful coast to the many little shops and eateries, there is plenty to do, while not feeling overwhelmed by heavy tourist congestion.
Book a nice little boutique hotel on the coast for a night and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells Paracas offers.
Check out this tour that include a visit to Paracas: Click here
13.Experience the Inti Raymi Festival
This amazing cultural experience is one you absolutely have to experience if your trip is planned during the same time of this annual celebration. In fact, many travelers plan their trip around this festival so they are sure to experience it.
This celebration honors the most important god of the Inca culture, and it’s one that has happened every year, generation after generation. The official date of the Inti Raymi Festival is June 24, but the preparation begins weeks earlier.
The actual event is spread across many locations, so you are able to move around and explore while also taking in all of the many special costumes and decorations used for this magical event.
The Inca culture calls on the sun gods to shine down, providing fertilization to the land. The majority of the festivities occur in the city of Cuzco. The Plaza de Armas, a central gathering spot in the town is where a lot of the festival takes place, as well as Koricancha, the largest temple in Cuzco.
The central portion of the Inti Raymi Festival takes place at Sacsayhuaman, a large fortress-like structure that is located high above sea level, and considered to be one of the largest structures located in Cuzco.
If your trip finds you in the south west of Peru, then you must make plans to swing through Arequipa, which is known for its amazing weather and small city feeling. Not only is the weather considered to be perfect — with more than 320 sunny days recorded every year — but the scenery is picturesque.
The ridge of Arequipa is lined with volcanoes, and their peaks are covered with snow, giving you an amazing backdrop to take photographs in front of. The mountains give adventure seekers plenty to do as well, with many different hiking and biking excursions available.
The streets are made of cobblestone, making you feel like you have been transported back in time, and far away from the larger Peurvian towns. The locals are very laid back and you will notice that the Arequipa lifestyle is one that favors outdoor adventures and nature.
Arequipa is undoubtedly one of Peru’s most beautiful destinations.
15.Hike in Huaraz
The Peruvian Andes Mountains are a popular travel spot for adventure seekers and hikers who want to experience the best rock climbing and hiking trails the country has to offer.
Huaraz, a city located in the Andes Mountains, is a good central spot to stay for these types of activities, as the mountains all surround this little town. Huaraz gives you easy access to all of the best trails for your own exploration, and it’s also home to many of the best guided tours available.
Also, since you cannot hike every minute of the day, Huaraz is a great “base,” with many restaurants and cafes to explore, due to its fairly large population. It’s the second largest populated city in the region and still has an authentic Peruvian feel.
Even if not everyone in your travel group is up for hiking the Andes, there is no shortage of activities in Huaraz to keep them occupied.
16.Visit Rainbow Mountain
Machu Picchu is so popular because of its vibrant color — the blue skies, the green grass, the ruins, etc. — it’s a visual masterpiece. Seeing it in person is amazing, but it’s not the only jaw dropping mountain that should be on your list.
Vinicunca Mountain is a little hidden gem that is just as beautiful — if not more — than the famous Machu Picchu. It’s commonly referred to as Rainbow Mountain, and after one look at it you will realize why.
It’s a brutal hike according to many, and its high altitude can be tiring for some, but once up top it makes the effort worthwhile. It’s definitely not a walk in the park, but inexperienced hikers can make the climb, albeit a little slower.
One thing to note though, is that the season plays a big part in just how vibrant and colorful the mountain is.
For those that love architecture, especially that of cathedrals, need to make sure to block out a couple of days in Trujillo. This isn’t a good one-day stop, though, so if you are limited on time this might not be the best choice for you.
But, if you have a couple of days, this is a must-see stop. You will want to book a boutique hotel in Trujillo, but the actual sites are located outside of the city’s center. The main cathedral occupies one side of the Plaza de Arman, with additional churches an arms reach away.
There is a seemingly endless number of religious structures, all incredibly magnificent in terms of detail and craftsmanship. The Plaza de Armas is also typically home to some dance performances on the weekends, and even if there is nothing scheduled you are sure to see some interesting culture in the area.
The annual Festival Internacional de la Primavera occurs in early October, so if you visit during that time be sure to plan accordingly — you won’t want to miss that.
18.Explore the Amazon Rainforest
Most travels associate the Amazon Rainforest with Brazil, but Peru is right behind, with the second largest portion of the area being in its country. As you can imagine, entry into the rainforest isn’t easy and there is a lack of major infrastructure making the travel to and from more difficult than other tourist attractions.
The best way to experience the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil is to fly into one of two airports — Puerto Maldonado or Iquitos. If you are staying in a major area of Peru you can get a quick flight over inexpensively, and then you are brought in by boat, which is a couple more hours of travel.
Because of the travel required to access the Amazon Rainforest, it’s suggested that you stay in a jungle lodge for a couple nights, which is an experience in itself. From the rain drops and sounds of nature to hearing the animals of the rainforest all night, it’s an adventure you will not soon forget.
Check out this tour that include a visit to amazon rainforest: Click here
19.White Water Rafting on the Rio Apurimac
One very popular activity in Peru is white water rafting, and there are many options available, but at the top of the list is the Rio Apurimac, which provides a ride that is both scenic and thrilling.
You start at the top of the Andes Mountains, where the water is slow flowing, only to gain speed as you travel down, with views of the canyons as you embark down into the Amazon.
It’s a thrilling sightseeing adventure, especially for those staying in Cuzco, as it’s a quick trip. There are many group adventures that you can join, giving you the opportunity to meet and interact with other visitors.
This isn’t an activity you can do unsupervised, so be sure to look for a guided tour. Most will stop half-way down the river for a lunch break at a scenic area, giving you a great opportunity for pictures.
20.Explore the Sacred Valley
Fifteen kilometres north of Cuzco is El Valle Sagrado, which is more commonly referred to as Sacred Valley. Its close proximity to Cuzco makes it a great day trip, where you can explore the village and it’s many markets and structures.
The Pisac and Ollantaytambo citadels are popular attractions here, along with the adjacent Inca architecture. While it’s a quite charming area that doesn’t mean it lacks excitement for adventure seekers. Some of the best rock climbing and white water rafting can also be found in Sacred Valley.
Check out this tour that include a visit to Sacred Valley: Click here
What Are the Typical Costs of a Trip to Peru?
One of the reasons traveling to Peru is popular is the cost — when it comes to cost-per-day, Peru is one of the most budget-friendly travel destinations when you consider the experiences available.
For the absolute bare minimum (hotel, food and transportation), in USD, the following daily costs should be budgeted for:
Low budget: $35 per day/traveler
High budget: $55 per day/traveler
Again, this is per person on average and this is for the bare necessities. The higher the budget, the more you can do and see. But, as you can see from the range, it’s very affordable, which is why so many people book long-term treks through Peru — you can do and see a lot for a very reasonable amount of money.
Now, for those with higher budgets, you can experience the finest hotels and restaurants in Peru, for an incredible experience. If you are willing to spend more, you can have the very best at your disposal. If you are on a tight budget, you can still have an amazing experience, but you will get what you pay for, when it comes to accommodations.
To some this isn’t an issue, because to them it’s just a place to rest. They would rather experience more sights and adventures, rather than have a more luxurious hotel stay.
How to Budget for a Typical 15-Day Tour of Peru
So, now that we have very basic daily budget information laid out, now you need to know about the other costs associated with booking a trip to Peru. Even on the high side at $55 per day, it seems very affordable, but you have to be fully aware of the other additional expenses that will come up.
While you can technically travel to Peru and get by on that amount, you aren’t going to be able to do much exploring, and that is what we are going to cover here. There are four things you need to take into consideration:
In the figure in the previous section we included food, but not drinks. This can add up, especially if you have cocktails, wine or beer with your meals. Budget significantly more if adult beverages are on the menu.
If you are planning a 15-day trip to Peru you will need some basic items like toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc. Try to pack enough with you, but if you need to buy them in Peru wait until you are in the main areas like Lima, where the grocery stores are a bit more affordable.
Activities like visiting Machu Picchu and checking out the Nazca lines are all best experienced via a professionally guided tour. They are not only safer, but more informative as well.
You can take short flights almost everywhere, and they are more cost-friendly when booked in advance, but for last minute travel they can be expensive. Most of the main attractions and destinations are available by bus or via transportation from and to your hotel from various companies
Money Saving Tips
Negotiate fares prior to leaving: You never want to depart prior to agreeing on a price, because if not, the taxi driver may try to charge you a higher rate knowing you have no other option than paying what they say. Agree to a price before the journey begins.
Take public buses over taxis: The public transportation in Peru is much more affordable than taxis. Get schedules and plan travel in advance to save money.
Eat at local establishments rather than touristy restaurants: The touristy hot-spots will be priced higher and be more crowded. Look for establishments where the locals eat — the food will be better as well.
Look for non-touristy activities: Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail are must-see, but don’t be afraid to also look for some fun activities that aren’t so touristy. There is a lot of affordable adventure, like hiking and rafting that can be done through smaller, less touristy companies.Buy tour packages direct: Buy tour packages directly from the source. Not only is it cheaper, but you will ensure you are buying a valid Peru tour package and not a scam. If you are scammed you will be out of the money — always buy direct from the source even if a third party claims to have lower prices.
The Best Hotels for Your Stay Throughout Preu
In our opinion, these are the best hotels in Peru, and most definitely worth looking into for your lodging needs.
Lima, the capital of Peru, has an endless number of choices when it comes to booking a hotel. Here are a few to consider, each of which boast amazing reviews online across the many different platforms.
JW Marriott Hotel Lima
This hotel is visually stunning — with its glass structure and unique design. Its proximity to some of the best luxury shopping Miraflores has to offer as well as top restaurants also make this a highly popular hotel in Lima.
The amenities are nice as well, with a full fitness center and spa on-site, along with an outdoor pool to relax at and enjoy the summer weather. The hotel also has on-site restaurants that both feature ocean views.
Belmond Miraflores Park
The Belmond Miraflores Park sits on a cliff with an amazing direct ocean view, close to shopping and dining, and all of the hot spots in the Miraflores mecca. On-site amenities are first-class and they also have suites available with their own private pools.
Country Club Lima Hotel
For those that prefer a more historic feel over modern, this is a great choice. The hotel itself is home to hundreds of pieces of original artwork, giving it a very museum-like feel. While the vibe is historic, the amenities and luxuries offered are far from that. On-site dining features Perroquet, and award winning Peuruvian delight.
Lima, the capital of Peru, has an endless number of choices when it comes to booking a hotel. Here are a few to consider, each of which boast amazing reviews online across the many different platforms.
JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
Originally a convent from the 16th century, this hotel has been transformed into a modern work of art, featuring every luxury you could ever desire. There is even an on-site museum, featuring two exhibits of Preuvian art.
Palacio del Inka
This hotel is classified as a historical landmark, as it was a mansion built more than 500 years ago. Located just a few thousand feet from Cuzco’s main center, this is a great location that offers both convenience and pampering. A top rated spa and fitness center are accessible by all guests and the rooms provide a great view of the Andes mountains.
Belmond Palacio Nazarenas
What is fascinating about this hotel is its foundation, as it’s built on actual stones that were once part of the Inca walls located in the center of Cuzco. The attention to detail at this Cuzco hotel is magnificent. There are also many on-site activities you can take advantage of like yoga, cooking classes and meditation sessions.
Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu)
Need a hotel for your Machu Picchu adventure? Here are three of our favorite choices to consider — they are great lodging options for those planning a hike up one of the most famous mountains in the world.
Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel
This hotel is very close to the Inca ruins, giving you easy access to explore them, as well as daily views of them, in addition to the Andes mountains in the background. Sitting at the foot of Machu Picchu, guests have easy access to all that the sanctuary of Machu Picchu has to offer.
One of the nice benefits of staying at this hotel is the option to book guided excursions directly at the hotel, requiring no additional travel. If you want to explore on your own as well, that is fine — you have direct access. After a day of hiking take advantage of the luxurious spa for the royal treatment, complete with full body massages.
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
One of the most affordable luxury hotels in direct proximity to Machu Picchu, they ahve a full staff of trained guides to help you get the most out of your time here. The riverside setting of the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel makes it a haven for birds — here you can see more than 200 different species.
Sacred Valley Nazca
The Sacred Valley area of Peru is desirable because of its location, along with there being so much to do and see, literally just steps outside of most hotels in Sacred Valley Nazca. Here are some that are definitely worth looking into.
Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado
This is a genuine 5-star hotel, with amazing luxury amenities and service, located in a quaint meadow. The rooms are all suite-style, with amazing furniture and decor, and the spa is renowned for its treatments. If you are looking to be pampered while on vacation in Peru, this hotel is a great choice.
Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba
A great central hotel, located between Machu Picchu and Cuzco, it’s set in a countryside with endless views of the valley and mountains. The property is more than 100 acres large, making you feel like you are secluded and away from the touristy madness. If this interests you, make sure to book in advance as there is a very limited number of rooms.
Sonesta Posada del Inca Yucay
Yucay is 60 minutes outside of Cuzco, and this hotel features 88 rooms on a large spacious property that is located deep in the Sacred Valley. Everything you could need is on the hotel property, from shopping to restaurants — you don’t have to go far to experience a great time.
There are many affordable luxury hotels in Colca Canyon, offering outstanding service at a reasonable price. These are great options to inquire about availability.
The El Refugio hotel sits overlooking the Colca River. It’s a great location for those that plan on exploring nature in the area. Enjoy your private terrace with amazing views, or explore all of the amazing sights located on the 33-room property.
Casa Andina Standard Colca
Chivay, the small town that is home to the Casa Andina Standard Colca hotel that features private cottages for its guests. Each with its own patio and garden gives the guest the feeling of being in a very cosy cabin in the heart of nature. This is a great choice for those that want more of a camping-feel.
Some of the best canyon views can be found at the Colca Lodge, which is rated one of the top luxury hotels in Colca Canyon. While the setting is rustic, the actual property is modern as it’s a recent build. Explore nature and then come back to your room and enjoy a relaxing thermal bath.
Puno (Lake Titicaca)
Puno, south or Peru, is home to Lake Titicaca, a very popular tourist destination. If you plan to spend time at the lake, then consider one of these highly recommended hotels in Puno.
This is a lodge with a twist — it has all of the luxury amenities you could want, in a lake setting. For those on a budget, this is a great option because they do provide free breakfast for guests — a perfect way to start your day without breaking the bank.
Uros Aruma Uro
Are you traveling with pets? If so, this hotel on Lake Titicaca is pet-friendly, and also features free breakfasts, on-site dining and tour booking. Please be aware that guests share bathrooms — something not all travelers are comfortable with.
Sonesta Posadas del Inca Lake Titicaca
This is the most bang for your buck, as it’s affordable and located very close to the activities most desirable to visitors. You aren’t going to find a 5-star spa here, but if your main goal is having fun at the lake, this is a great choice.
How to Get Around Peru (Economical Cost-Friendly Transportation)
Buses and trains are a great option, and can take you virtually anywhere you want to visit throughout the country. Buses are going to be your most affordable option, and just to give you an example, you can travel from one side of Peru to the other end for about $30.
Now, there are low end buses and more luxurious options, but for short trips of a couple hours or less, you can ride economy buses for less than $2 per hour.
Trains are also another option, but they require booking far in advance; typically two week prior is a good rule of thumb to adhere to. Some prefer the comfort of a train for long distance travel, so plan accordingly.
Best Times to Visit Peru
The dry season, which occurs from May through October, is known as the best time to visit Peru. These months typically have the brightest blue skies and sunny days. Because of this, these months book full quickly, so if you want to book a trip to Peru at the best time of the year you will need to plan in advance.
January and February are the wettest months, making them the cheapest in terms of hotel rates, with dates between November through April also having a high likelihood of rain. While the rates are lower, you also have to understand that you might not be able to partake in all of the outdoor activities and adventures due to them being rained out.
In terms of temperatures, coastal towns will always be a bit cooler, while some areas, like Machu Picchu, will remain a consistent temperature throughout the year.
Tips to Help You Stay Safe During Your Visit to Peru
While Peru is an amazingly beautiful country to visit, you need to take precautions to remain safe, the same way you should for all international travel.
Here are a few tips to help you stay safe while traveling throughout Peru.
Pack Immune Boosters: Being in a new country and climate can be brutal on your immune system. Taking a booster daily can help you battle off colds that would otherwise make your days miserable.
Know Your Routes: Always know where you are going and the best way to get there. If not, cab drivers will take you on longer routes to rack up a higher fare.
Watch Your Valuables: Some areas of Peru that are tourist hot-spots will be frequented by pickpockets and petty criminals. If you aren’t careful you could be a victim. Losing a wallet and passport overseas can really complicate your travel and ruin your trip.
Consider Travelers Insurance: While you might not need it — what if something does happen? There are many affordable options available worth considering.
Essential Clothing Items to Pack for Your Trip to Peru
If you are planning a long trip to Peru you will want to make sure you have clothes to last the entire journey.
When it comes to clothes, you will want to focus on comfort, as a lot of the activities and sightseeing involves a lot of walking and hiking. Pack plenty of cotton t-shirts and shorts, along with comfortable long pants and jeans, as well as plenty of socks and underwear.
If you plan on being active you will need to allocate a few outfits a day, as you can get rather sweaty hiking and will want to change into clean clothes. Most hotels will have on-site washers and dryers, so be mindful of that when packing.
You will also want to pack some warm clothes as the evenings can get breezy, especially in the coastal areas. A dressy outfit or two doesn’t hurt either if you plan on hitting up some of the world famous Peruvian restaurants.
As far as footwear is concerned, pack athletic sneakers for hiking and comfortable shoes for walking around town — remember, a lot of the streets are cobblestone, which isn’t the most comfortable on your feet.
Lightweight jackets are also a good idea. Also, don’t forget bathing suits and sandals for the beaches and hotel pools.
Must-Read Books to Prepare You for Your Peru Vacation
Want to do a little reading prior to your vacation to Peru? There are several great books available, with these three being our top recommendation.
- Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time
This book by Mark Adams dates back nearly ten years, but it’s still a great read for those interested in Machu Picchu and plan on visiting the lost Incan city. Machu Picchu’s rich history is explained very well and it’s a great book to read before, which will perfectly prepare you for the experience.
- The Heights of Machu Picchu
This book written by Pablo Neruda is another great read for those planning on visiting Machu Picchu, which is a destination the majority of travelers to Peru take in. A poet, Neruda’s book is a 12-part story of his journey to the Inca city. It’s a classic piece of literature that comes highly recommended.
- The Conquest of Incas
John Hemming wrote this book back in 1970, and it’s one that will take you through the journey of the Incas — a nine day trip along the famous Inca trail. Since it’s a place you are more than likely to visit on your trip to Peru, it’s a great cultural tuneup that will give you insight on that journey prior to seeing it first-hand.
The Best Guide Book for Your Peru Adventure
Peru is an amazing country with so much to see and experience. We suggest that you prepare for your trip by reading a travel guide — but also bring it with you as a resource. With so many on the market we felt it would be beneficial to highlight the most comprehensive one, in our opinion, available:
Lonely Planet’s Peru Travel Guide (ISBN: 9781786573827)
It’s nearly 600 pages and highlights everything from Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, to Lake Titicaca and the famous nightlife found in Cuzco. It can be found at all major bookstores as well as online in both physical print and digital download.
Aside from its information, it also has plenty of images and maps — all in full color. There are unbiased tips, insight and reviews as well. It’s a great tool that can help make your trip to Peru even more satisfying.