Peru is a country in South America that’s home to a section of Amazon rainforest and Machu Picchu, an ancient Incan city high in the Andes mountains. Most travelers visit Peru first and foremost to see the world famous 15th century Incan citadel, Machu Picchu.
The region around Machu Picchu, including the Sacred Valley, Inca Trail and colonial city of Cusco, is rich in archaeological sites. On Peru’s Pacific coast is the capital city Lima, home to collections of pre-Columbian art and famous for Nazca Lines and the Paracas wildlife reserve’s sea lions, penguins and flamingos.
Peru Travel Info
Language: The official language spoken in Peru is Spanish used by over 85 percent of the population. Other more predominantly used dialects include Quechua and Aymara. International dialects used in Peru include English, German and French.
Visa: Tourists from North America, Central America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania do not require a tourist visa to stay in Peru for up to 183 days. Travelers not belonging to the countries above must obtain a visa, the requirements include a valid visa for six months with two empty pages, a return or onward journey ticket and proof of funds.
Electricity: Peru operates on 220 volts with a frequency of 60 Hz. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
Peru Festivals & Celebrations
Fiesta de La Vendimia: Ica, a small city situated towards the southern coast of Peru, holds Fiesta de La Vendimia festival every year in March that continues for ten days. This festival is on the sidelines of grape harvest which would then go into making Peru’s best wine. The ten-day festivities are full of colorful processions, grape stomping and dancing along with lots of wine and delicacies.
Fiesta del Inti Raymi: Also known as the Festival of Sun, it is one of the grandest festivals in Peruvian calendar being celebrated every year in June. The Incas tribe believes that during this time since the Sun is at the farthest distance from the Earth, to regain their blessings from the Sun they pray for its early return.
Mistura: One of the major South American culinary festivals, Mistura takes place in Lima. It is celebrated annually in September and brings in restaurateurs, chefs, winemakers, producers, and farmers together on the same platform. The highlight of the festival is Peruvian food.
Safety In Peru
Just like most countries in South America, Peru is a relatively safe place to travel to. Thefts, bag snatching and scams are prevalent in all big cities so be mindful of this. Based on my own travel experiences in South America, I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is considered. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit Peru.
Top Things To Do In Peru
Tour the Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest commercially available lake; however, another major attraction to this lake is the suspended reed islands. The Island serves as a home to Uros tribe which is much older than the Incan civilization. The floating island makes this spot very attractive among tourists visiting Peru by giving an insight into the lives of the native Uros tribe. This best route to access this place is by taking a bus from Cusco to Arequipa or Puno.
Fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines
The strange Nazca lines, found in Nazca Desert are continuous ancient geoglyphs forming pictures of geometric diagrams and wildlife. Although there is an ample number of theories to support “the hows” and “the whys,” about the formation of geoglyphs, yet nothing seems convincing. In spite of this, the astonishing Nazca Lines of Peru are the most enchanting, exciting and atypical attraction. The best viewing angle one can get is from above, and for that, you can also book air tours.
Go Surfing in Mancora
Mancora is the best surfing haven for adventure sports lovers in Peru, situated towards the Pacific coast; Mancora is tremendously popular among tourists from all walks of life because of the scintillating beaches, enthralling surf, and magnetic atmosphere. Various other sports like Horse riding are also available. The facilities available on these beaches are world class. Travelers coming from Lima make sure to keep a pillow as the journey is over 18 hours long.
Explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas
Although the archeology of Machu Picchu is among most admired among fans and is a must visit for all those who are enthusiastic about the history and culture of places. Not only the archeological ruins but the site is also famous for its lush landscapes and booming agriculture. Adventure sports that can be enjoyed here include river rafting, mountain biking, horse riding, and hiking.
Enjoy Sightseeing in Lima
Lima is the largest metropolitan city in Peru and lies en route Cusco, but gets ignored as a tourist destination by most visitors. Lima has a rich history and culture but is not considered a safe city. It has many interesting museums, magnificent cathedrals, eerie catacombs, and delicious cuisine. The city has excellent shopping prospects and extremely energetic nightlife. The place also offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
Witness the Rainbow Mountains
Another emerging tourist spot is the Rainbow Mountains situated in the vicinity of Cusco. Visitors from all parts of the world come to experience the multicolored mountain range that showcases the diverse gorgeousness of Andes Mountain. Rainbow Mountains from Cusco is not that far; however, I recommend you to go ahead on a multi-day adventurous trekking trip to Andes Mountain. There are a lot of tour operators available offering both day treks as well as multi-day camp.
Hike the Colca Canyon
Colca Canyon does not only attract hikers and trekkers but also draws other tourists to witness its spectacular beauty. The Colca Canyon is famous because it is two times deeper than The Grand Canyon of United States, but ist walls are not perpendicular. This place is the habitat of unique Andean Condor, a massive bird with the biggest wingspan measuring over 3 meters. Tourists can easily book adventure tours to this place from Arequipa, the second major city of Peru.
Wildlife-watching on the Ballestas Islands
You can reach the Ballestas Islands from Paracas, a beach town by a boat and the entire trip takes around 2 hours. The islands have many rare birds in the Paracas National Park, like penguins, pelicans, cormorants, Inca terns, and Peruvian boobies. You can also spot sea lions, dolphins, turtles, and even whales in this park. The Island and the national park offer an excellent wildlife watching experience to its visitors.
Sandboarding and Dune Buggy in Huacachina
Huacachina is situated in the proximity of Ica (Ica is famous for its wine festival) and is a desert village with a small natural lake and enormous dunes on all sides. This desert village is a retreat for every traveler and is increasingly evolving into one of the most sought-after Peruvian destinations because of the adventure sports, like sand boarding and dune rides (I highly recommend this place). Do keep an eye on your speed as falling although is not dangerous, yet makes you swallow sand.
Explore the Amazon Rainforest
Peru is the second country to have a significant portion of the Amazon rainforest after Brazil. The Amazon rainforest constitutes 60 percent of Peru. Puerto and Iquitos, are the two primary access points that lead to the vast Amazon. I would recommend taking a flight to both places because the roads are bad. Reaching out to Amazon rainforest is one of the wildest things an adventurer lover can experience; sleeping in the heart of Amazon jungle while it rains along with the eerie sounds of animals is one in a lifetime experience.
Other than these top things to do in Peru, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in Peru that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In Peru
Some of the best traditional Peruvian cuisine that you must try while visiting is listed here:
Ceviche: Ceviche is the national dish of Peru and an excellent version of marinated fish. The locals marinated seabass in lime juice, salt, onion, and hot chili for a few minutes. The fish is tender gets served with crisp onions, boiled corn, and sweet, creamy potato.
Lomo Saltado: This dish is as popular as Ceviche and is made of strips of beef marinated in soy sauce and is cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices until a thick gravy gets prepared. The locals serve on a mound of rice and french fries on the side
Aji de Gallina: Shredded chicken smothered in a thick gravy made of cream, cheese, ground walnuts, and Aji Amarillo. The sauce is flavorful, and the ingredients balance one another perfectly. Peru is in love with sauces, and here the sauce is mixed with chicken and served with rice, black olives, and boiled potatoes
Cuy (guinea pig): In the Andean region, the most popular source of meat is the Guinea pig. Traditionally, the entire animal is stuffed with local herbs and then roasted over open fire. It is served with potatoes and aji sauce and eaten with hands like fried chicken.
Causa (Potato Casserole): Meaty, fleshy potatoes are mashed and mixed with mayo and layered with avocado, olives and hard-boiled eggs. More mashed potatoes are laden on the surface and then another layer of the ingredients, making it lasagna-like dish.
Where To Stay In Peru
Peru is a very affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Peru is easy even if you’re on a tight budget. Peru hostels and dormitories make travel here very affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. Peru is a very popular year-round destination.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Peru.
If you’re backpacking in Peru or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in South America very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
Peru Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit Peru
The best time of year to travel to Peru, if like most visitors you’re planning to visit the Cusco area or trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is in the driest season, winter, from May to September. The summer is fromDecember to March and is the wettest season with frequent heavy showers. The dry season between May and October sees sunny days, bright blue skies in the Andes and chilly nights. Winter time is Peru’s peak season so booking in advance and be prepared for larger crowds and price hikes.
Peru Travel Budget
Peru is a very affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip to Peru really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between $35 to $50 a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $50 to $100 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget about $250 plus a day.
- Budget: $15 – $35
- Mid-range: $35 – $100
- Splurge: $100 +
Meal For One
- Budget: $8 – $25
- Mid-range: $25 – $60
- Splurge: $60 +
Peru Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to Peru, like most places in South America is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for dry season and warm, waterproof clothing for trips during the rainy season.
Be prepared for the weather to get extremely hot during the summer so pack a high factor sunscreen and a sun hat. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in Peru. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques (aimed at tourists) than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your South America trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Peru include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to Peru check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate South America Packing List For Female Travelers.