Peru, in western south America, is most famous for the 15th century Incan citadel, Machu Picchu, and for the city of Cusco, the former center of the Inca Empire with its chocolate shops and cool cafes. On Peru’s Pacific coast is the capital city Lima, a bustling metropolis and one of South America’s largest cities. Travelers visit Lima for the great culinary scene, stunning colonial architecture, fascinating history and excellent museums.
PERU TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
The largest metropolitan city in Peru, Lima lies en route to Cusco and has a rich history and culture that should be explored. The Plaza de Armas and the 16th-century cathedral are the heart of old Lima Centro. It’s also home to the Museo Larco collection of pre-Columbian art and the Museo de la Nación, tracing the history of Peru’s ancient civilizations.
Hike the Inca Trail over high passes with unforgettable views, through cloud forests, and into subtropical vegetation before arriving at Machu Picchu, possibly the most famous tourist destination in South America and certainly in Peru.
Volcanoes, waterfalls, and hot springs make the Colca Canyon a top outdoor adventure destination in southern Peru. Within a bus ride of Machu Picchu this fissure is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and one of the world’s deepest. It’s a well-known trekking destination and home to soaring condors and remote traditional villages with terraced agriculture that predates the Incas.
The Ausangate Trek
This mountain range has several peaks over 6,000 m, including the sacred Ausangate which is the highest mountain in the Cusco region. No permit is needed for the Ausangate trek which is one of the few treks in Peru that you can do on horseback.
Macaw Research Expedition
The Tambopata Macaw Project is a long term research project on the ecology and conservation of macaws and parrots in south-east Peru.
Read more: Our pick of the top 10 things to do in Peru
Adventurous Traveler? Browse our
Bucket Bunny List of the top 25 travel adventures in South America.
Camp on the Bolivian Salt Flats, go Cotopaxi Horse Trekking in Ecuador or hike to Peru’s Machu Picchu. Enjoy browsing our top 25 South America Travel Adventures and be inspired to tick off a few yourself.
PERU TOP 3 FESTIVALS
La Candelaria is held in Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca and is Peru’s most colorful festival. 140,000 dancers and musicians take to the streets in one of South America’s biggest cultural festivals. The festival celebrates Puno’s patron saint, the Virgin of Candlemas, and Puno’s Quechua and Aymara legacies in a huge party with dancing and rituals.
Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun)
Since 1412, when Inti Raymi was first celebrated, ancient Incas gather each year to honor the sun god and pray for his return. The Incan celebration Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) is one of the most fascinating festivals on the Peruvian calendar and takes place annually in June to honor the Incan sun god Inti. Inti Raymi coincides with the winter solstice and harvest time, when the sun is the farthest from the earth.
The festival celebrates and showcases Peruvian food at all levels, from globally-renowned Peruvian chefs to local producers from all over Peru. Mistura is the largest annual culinary fair in South America and takes place in Lima every September, Chefs, restaurateurs, producers, farmers and wine makers come together in a celebration of Peruvian cuisine.
Language: Spanish is the most common language in Peru, but indigenous tongues such as Quechua and Aymara are still spoken in parts of the country. English is spoken in Peru, but only in touristic areas such as Cusco and Machu Picchu, or in hotels.
Visa: People from most countries in the Americas and Western Europe do not need a tourist visa to enter for a maximum stay of 183 days. Be aware that a Peruvian tourist visa is a single entry visa only and you can not extend your tourist visa once you have entered Peru. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for Peru is required (which depends on the country you are from) and how long it will take to process your visa and the cost.
Electricity: Peru uses 220 volt, 60 cycle electricity. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type found in the US, however some places in Peru may use the 2 rounded prongs instead. Buy a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
Lonely Planet Peru: Check price on Amazon
WHAT TO EAT IN PERU
Some traditional dishes that you must try while in Peru are listed below.
Cuy (guinea pig): In the Andean region, the most popular source of meat is the guinea pig. Traditionally, the entire guinea pig is stuffed with local herbs, roasted over an open fire, served with potatoes and aji sauce and eaten with hands like fried chicken.
Ceviche: Ceviche has been declared to be part of Peru’s “national heritage” and has had a holiday declared in its honor. The classic Peruvian ceviche consists of chunks of raw fish, marinated in freshly squeezed key lime or bitter orange juice, with sliced onions, chili peppers, salt and pepper.
Lomo Saltado: This dish is as popular in Peru as Ceviche and consists of strips of beef marinated in soy sauce and cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices. The locals serve this on a mound of rice with french fries on the side.
Aji de Gallina: This is a Peruvian chicken stew and considered a type of Peruvian comfort food, comprising of chicken cooked with yellow chili peppers, walnuts, spices, garlic, and turmeric.
Causa Rellena: Peruvian causa rellena is like a potato salad and is the perfect picnic recipe. Lemony mashed potatoes are layered with avocado and tuna salad, then un-molded to show off the pretty layers.
WHERE TO STAY IN PERU
Peru is a generally very affordable destination to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Peru is easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget.
Hostels and dormitories make travel to Peru affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget. Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Peru will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in Peru can cost less than $30.
If you’re looking for accommodation that includes luxury amenities and comforts then there will be endless options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like the Cusco or Lima. Whatever month you choose to visit Peru, it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have been snapped up already. Peru is a very popular destination with backpackers, vacationers and business travelers alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Peru. However, if you are backpacking in Peru or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Peru very affordable and is also a great way to meet new Peru travel buddies where ever you go.
PLAN YOUR PERU TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT PERU
The best time to visit Peru is during the dry winter season between May and September especially if you’re planning to visit Cusco or trek to Machu Picchu. During these months, Machu Picchu and the hiking trails that lead to it tend to be significantly less crowded with relatively good weather conditions. The summer season between December and March is warmer but it is also the wettest season, with frequent heavy showers.
PERU TRAVEL BUDGET
Peru is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Peru really depends on the level of comfort you want. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between $50 to $80 per day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between $80 to $150 per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and top restaurants then budget at least $250 plus per day.
IS PERU SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Like anywhere, Peru has safe and unsafe areas—but overall the country is safe for travelers. Be aware of your surroundings at all times like you would in any large city especially on public transport, public beaches and around festive periods. Take extra care to ensure that food and drink is never left unattended and don’t flash your valuable items. Based on my own travel experiences in South America I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance and I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your trip to Peru.
PERU VISA CHECKER
PERU FLIGHT DEALS
PERU TOURS & ACTIVITIES
PERU PACKING TIPS
Packing for a trip to Peru, like most other places in South America, is a breeze. You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to Peru.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our awesome finds with you.
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.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Peru include, most importantly, 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. Read our related blog post with advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.