train to Machu Picchu

The best Peru travel guide | everything you need to know!

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Peru is a great country to travel to. It has so much to offer. From the high Andes mountains to the Amazon. You can climb beautiful mountains, do adventurous hikes, and discover colonial cities. Peru has fantastic culture, the traditions and customs of the Incas are clearly reflected in the culture. Peru is certainly not a typical beach destination, if you are looking for a trip full of adventure, Peru is the place to go. Regardless of whether you are a budget traveler or not, you can have a fantastic trip to Peru. This Peru travel guide helps you plan your trip through Peru.

Salkantay humantay lake

Important information Peru

Peru at a glance: Peru is world-famous for Machu Picchu, this is beautiful, but in addition to this world wonder, Peru has so much more to offer! From the untouched rugged nature in the Andes, desert landscape, and jungle to old traditions and influences of the Incas. If you are looking for adventure Peru is the place to go.

Most popular destinations in Peru:

  • Lima: Lima is the capital of Peru and is one of the most visited cities in South America. Lima is perfect for resting on arrival and departure. The historic center and beautiful museums are well worth a visit.
  • Arequipa: The crazy thing about Arequipa is that it isn’t that well known among travelers, however, if you do some research you will find out that this is one of the best cities to visit. It is a beautiful colonial city with a cozy atmosphere. This city is also ideal to get used to the altitude.
  • Colca Canyon: Colca Canyon is not the most famous place, but it is together with the Salkantay trek for us the most beautiful hikes we did in Peru. The Colca Canyon is located in the middle of the Andes Mountains and has the second deepest canyon in the world, the Grand Canyon is the depth.
  • Lake Titicaca: Officially Lake Titicaca is a lake, but when you are at Lake Titicaca it looks like an ocean. In the Titicaca area, you have great activities which you can do, the highlight of which is the Uros Islands.
  • Cusco: Cusco is perhaps the nicest city in Peru to visit because you can clearly see the influences of the Incas in the street scene. The historic center is very nice to discover. Also, Cusco is perfect to start excursions.
  • Machu Picchu: Machu Picchu is the most beautiful place in Peru, when you are at Machu Picchu you will understand how unique it was that the people could live in this area. It is completely off the inhabited world. It is built on a mountain in a jungle valley which makes it so unique.

Currency in Peru: Peruvian Sol | 2021 exchange rate 100 PEN = €23.02 / $27.67

Tipping in Peru: In general, you are not expected to tip in Peru. Only at restaurants, 10% servicio or propina (tip in Spanish) is always added to the bill. It is a personal choice whether you pay this, it isn’t mandatory. Porters ($1 per bag) and tour guides ($?) Also expect a tip. How much you give a tour guide depends on the service they have provided.

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Religion and culture in Peru: Most Peruvians are Roman Catholic. When traveling in Peru you will notice that Inca’s traditions and customs are strongly visible in the culture of Peru. Also, you see a nice mix between Inca customs and Spanish traditions. If you pay attention you will hear, for example, the ancient Inca language Quechua. They also call this the language of the people.

Transport in Peru: The best way to travel in Peru is by using public transport, which is very good. Various airlines have routes that you can choose from between destinations. We recommend using the bus for the entire journey. For longer distances, it is recommended to use the night bus. An exception is a trip between Lima and Cusco or vice versa, you have to do this by plane.

The best time to visit Peru

Peru is a large country and can be roughly divided into three areas, each with its own climate zone, namely the coast, the Andes mountains, and the Amazon. The coastline has a maritime climate so there is little rainfall, you can visit this region all year round. The Andes Mountains have a semi-tropical climate, which means that it has dry winters and rainy summers. The best times to visit are between June and September. Finally, the jungle has a tropical climate, where the rainfall is constant all year round. You can visit the jungle all year round.

Peru has three seasons for tourists:

  • High season (June-August): Driest season, the best period to visit Peru. It should be noted that this is the busiest period due to the holiday period in Europe and North America;
  • Moderate season (September-November & March-May): Spring and autumn period, a good period to visit Peru because of the pleasant temperatures. This period is also quieter and perfect for trekking tours;
  • Low season (December-February): Rainy season, the weather conditions for activities such as hikes are not ideal during this period.

The best period to visit Peru: The moderate season is the best period to visit Peru (we traveled to Peru in September). During this period, prices are significantly lower than the high and low seasons. It is also a lot quieter than the periods from June to August. For the low season, you expect prices to be lower, but this is not the case. Prices are very high during the holiday period between December and January.

Is Peru safe to travel?

Peru is very safe to travel to. There are still places like Lima where pickpockets are active. If you use your common sense and prepare, nothing will happen. If you follow the tips below, you will most likely not experience any problems:

  • Busy places such as airports, bus stations, and markets are attractions for pickpockets. Carry your bag in front of you to avoid pickpockets;
  • Walk purposefully wherever you go, so don’t walk down the streets afterward and show that you’re lost. This can attract pickpockets. If you are lost and want to look at your map, go inside a shop to orientate or ask for help. This tip only applies to Lima and Cusco. This doesn’t apply to the smaller towns and cities;
  • If you take a taxi in the evening from the airport or station, you must take an official taxi. Better pay a little more than getting into unpleasant situations afterward.

Travel insurance

World Nomads travel insurance policies offer coverage for more than 150 activities. Get a quote, make a claim, or buy or extend your policy while on the road.

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Best things to do in Peru

Do the Salkantay trek and hike to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail is the most popular hike to Machu Picchu. We did the Salkantay trek and loved it! In our opinion, this is the best hike we have ever done. In our article on the Salkantay trek, you can read all about this and you can also read why we didn’t do the Inca Trail.

Hike in the Colca Canyon

If you like adventure you should hike in the Colca Canyon. The rugged landscape, the views, and the small villages that you pass make it a great hike to do in Peru. Not every traveler does this or they do a simplified version which is a shame. We’ll tell you everything you need to know in our article: Colca Canyon hike.

Visit Arequipa

Arequipa is one of the nicest cities you can visit during your trip to Peru. What is immediately noticeable is that all houses are white, this is because they are built by volcanic rock. This makes the street scene very beautiful. The cozy atmosphere of the city and the imposing volcanoes in the area make Arequipa the city to discover.

Discover the old city of Cusco

Cusco is the place where you should have been. The nice thing about Cusco is that you can still clearly see the influences of the Incas in the street scene. Cusco itself is fun to discover with the historic center as the highlight. Cusco is also the ideal city to start excursions. Curious about Cusco read it here.

Behold the natural wonder in Paracas

Paracas is often skipped which is a shame. In our opinion, this is a hidden gem. In Paracas you can do two fun excursions, visit Paracas National Reserve and the Ballestas Islands.

Sandboarding in Huacachina

Huacachina is a small village between Paracas and Arequipa that annually attracts many travelers to do a super fun activity: sandboarding over the large dunes in Huacachina.

Best Travel Itinerary for Peru

When you travel through Peru you need an itinerary. Most travelers have +/- 3 weeks to discover Peru. Peru is a very large country, so it isn’t possible to see all of Peru on one trip. We recommend that you determine in advance which places you want to see and select a part of Peru for your trip based on this. The advantage of Peru is that traveling between places is easy. You can take a night bus between many destinations so that you travel while sleeping. This means you don’t lose much time traveling.

We have made a Peru travel route, we have also done this ourselves. Our travel route through Peru has a good mix between nature, adventure, culture, cities, and an acceptable travel time. You don’t want to be on the road all the time during your trip. In our Peru itinerary, you can read what the best places are to visit. If you want more information about a specific destination, you can simply open the article and read all the detailed information.

Peru itinerary

Best dishes in Peru

The food in Peru is delicious. Peru is also known for having some of the best cuisines in South America. Dishes you must try when in Peru:

  • Ceviche: Ceviche is arguably Peru’s most famous dish. Ceviche can be found all over Central and South America, but in Peru, you eat the best Ceviche. This dish consists of fresh raw fish marinated in lime. It is recommended to do this when you are near the coast, such as Paracas.
  • Lomo Saltado: Where ceviche is the most famous dish, lomo saltado is the best dish in our opinion. Lomo saltado consists of pieces of beef, onions, and tomatoes. This is prepared in a wok with soy sauce. This is served with rice or chips. You can also order it with chicken or alpaca.
  • Cuy al Horno: Cuy al Horno is a guinea pig from the oven. A special dish for the locals and very special to try for yourself. The Peruvians eat this dish on special occasions, such as a birthday. You see this dish on the menu regularly because tourists want to try it.
  • Rocoto Relleno: This is a spicy pepper filled with meat and vegetables. Often it is served with chips. A delicious dish if you like spicy food.

Budget type for Peru

Peru isn’t the cheapest country to travel to in South America, however, if you compare it to America or Europe it is cheap. This makes it an ideal destination. In Peru, you can have a great trip no matter what your budget is. Depending on what type of traveler you are, you have to take into account a budget of:

  • Budget traveler: if you have a tight budget and you pay close attention to what you spend, $25 – $35 per day may be sufficient.
  • Mid-range traveler: if you want something a bit more luxurious, such as doing a few more expensive activities or staying at nicer accommodations, a budget of $35 – $70 per day will be okay.

Do you now want to know more about how much it costs to travel through Peru and how much it costs in particular if you use ours Peru itinerary you can read this article for all the detailed information: Peru trip cost. For each cost category, it is explained in detail what the costs consist of and how you can save on them. You can also read how much our trip cost.

Where to stay in Peru

In Peru, you can stay very basic to very luxurious. At every destination, there are enough choices for every type of traveler.

Searching for the right accommodation is time-consuming. To help you, we wrote an article on basis of our Peru itinerary where we give accommodation recommendations for each destination. If you want to save yourself a lot of time, we recommend reading our article about the best places to stay in Peru and book the desired accommodation directly. This way you assure yourself of a place to stay. An advantage is that you still retain your flexibility because if you book via our links you can adjust your reservation free of charge up to two days before check-in.

Peru hotel

What to pack for Peru

In Peru, you will experience many different weather conditions. One day you are at sea and it is 10 degrees and the wind blows hard, the other day it is cold and you are hiking at a height and the other day it is very hot. This means you have to pack your bag smartly. The most important tip that we can share with you is: pack as little as possible. Also, work mainly with layers and don’t pack large winter coats, for example. This saves you a lot of space in your bag. We recommend the packing list below for Peru:

  • Swimming and (hike) clothes (pack as light as possible, work with layers)
  • 1 pair of good walking shoes, 1 pair of slippers
  • Hat, gloves, thermal clothing
  • Toiletry bag with stuff
  • Mosquito spray
  • Sun protection
  • Crazycap (UV water bottle)
  • Personal items
  • Medication
  • Drybag
  • Sleeping bag
  • Quick-drying towel
  • Rain jacket (for the rainy season)
  • Medical kit (very important for your personal safety!)
  • Other (zip bag, combination lock, and universal charger)

Other travel tips from this Peru travel guide

  • Make sure you have the correct vaccinations. Contact your own doctor for more information.
  • Before traveling to Peru, try to speak a few words of Spanish. We heard from travelers that it was sometimes difficult for them to communicate because they didn’t speak English very well.
  • Try to arrange everything yourself and don’t do an organized trip. This saves you a lot of money and you keep your flexibility during the trip. There is nothing more fun than going on an adventure yourself.
  • Pay as much as possible with cash (withdraw money at the banks). Also, bring a credit card should something happen to your normal bank card.
  • Enjoy your holiday and let yourself be surprised! Peru is one of the most beautiful countries you can visit. You are going to have many adventures in Peru.
  • If you travel to Peru by plane and you are looking for a car to rent, you can rent it through Rentalcars. We use Rentalcars when we want to travel by car to discover new destinations. They’re easy to use and book with.
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Hello, we are Cynthia & Alexander, the team behind Travel Your Memories! Traveling is our passion. When it comes to exploration, we love sharing our tips and adventures to inspire you. Welcome to Travel Your Memories, where we share our love for travel with you! Read our story.

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