Peru Travel Guide

By Admin | Last Updated August 29, 2019

Peru is the 3rd largest country in South America. A beautiful and mysterious country with a rich history and culture, Peru has it all – mountains, beaches, deserts, rain forests, stunning colonial cities, and the Inca civilization. Machu Picchu, the Inca settlement, is the most visited site in South America. Cusco, the ancient capital, has a history of more than 1000 years. Lima, the capital city on the coast, has many good museums and nightclubs.

Visit the coastal town of Huanchaco, the relaxing beaches at Mancora, or hike up the Andes. You can also visit Lake Titicaca and the see the Amazon rainforest. Peru is a complete country for tourists with its dramatic landscape, archeological sites, indigenous culture, and great food. Few countries offer more.

Tourism is a growing industry in the country, the 3rd biggest contributor to the economy. In fact, tourism is the most rapidly growing industry in Peru, growing at 25% over the last 5 years, which is the highest in South America. Most international tourists are from the United States, UK, France, Brazil, Spain, India, Japan, Chile, and Argentina.

3,835,000 people visited Peru in 2017, according to the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization), making it the 4th most popular country in the continent after Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.

There are 12 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Peru. Machu Picchu is the most famous.

Peru – Quick Facts

  1. Official name – Republic of Peru
  2. Capital – Lima
  3. Area – 496,225 sq miles or 1,285,216 sq kilometers
  4. Population – 32,495,510 (2019 estimate)
  5. Official language – Spanish and Quechua
  6. Currency – Nuevo Sol
  7. Major mountain range – Andes
  8. Religion – Most people are Catholics, introduced by the Spanish
  9. Time zone – UTC−5 (PET)
  10. Driving side – Right
  11. Peru has the highest sand dune in the world – Cerro Blanco
  12. Machu Picchu – One of the new seven wonders of the world
  13. Lake Titicaca – Highest navigable lake in the world
  14. Giant Andean Condor – Largest flying bird

Best Places to Visit

  • Machu Picchu – Iconic 15th century Inca ruins
  • Cusco – Former capital of the Inca empire
  • Arequipa – 2nd most populated city. Historic center, baroque buildings.
  • Sacred Valley – Center of the Inca Empire in the Andean highlands.
  • Lima – The capital of Peru
  • Iquitos – Port city. Gateway to the north Amazon
  • Nazca Desert – Archaeological site full of ancient geoglyphs. Unknown origin
  • Trujillo – City with unique architecture, traditional dance
  • Mancora – Resort town with beautiful beaches
  • Puno – City on Lake Titicaca, vibrant music, traditional festivals.

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Peru

Landscape The landscape is truly diverse in Peru. You will find the Amazon rainforest, Andes, beautiful beaches, and deserts. Rarely will you find more in a country.
Bio-diversity There are more than 28 micro-climates in Peru that host a wide range of flora and fauna.
Adventure From hiking, sand boarding, skiing to rafting, there is everything here for the thrill seeker.
History, archaeology Peru is a storehouse of historical and archaeological ruins and sites. Visit the many sites, museums, and ruins in the country.
Inca Peru is the home of the Inca Empire. There is Machu Picchu, one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Also visit Pachacámac, Ollantaytambo, Cusco, and Choquequirao, which are very impressive too.
Culture Peru is a culturally rich country, where the old amalgamates with the new in every form. There are modern cosmopolitan towns, and Cusco, the ancient capital, which has a history of more than 1000 years. Experience the unique culture of the country.
Food Choclo, Causas, Arroz Con Pato, Aji de Gallina, Coca Tea… there are many unique and yummy food to try in Peru. Go for the seafood, roasted pork, fried whole guinea pig.
Handicrafts Peruvians are great at handicrafts. Peruvian women weave very fine carpets and scarves that are eye-catching. They also create instruments by hand, jewelry, and paintings.
Mysticism Mysticism is second only to India. There is no dearth of Shamans in Peru. You can start your spiritual sojourn here.
The Amazon There are 3 Amazon regions with boat rides, waterfalls, and even mummy museums. The 3 circuits are – Tambopata, Chachapoyas-Gocta-Kuelap, and around Iquitos.
Machu Picchu is one of the new 7 wonders of the world. The Inca Empire was the most advanced pre-Colombian civilization of South America.

Airport Customs and Visa

You will need a passport to visit the country. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months. Single-entry visas have a maximum stay of 183 days a year.

However, you can get a visa at the airport or any other border town if you are from these countries – USA, Canada, Mexico, Central American countries, all South American countries, those from the European Union, Switzerland, South Africa, few Southeast Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand. 

To get a visa – 

  • Submit the filled out form.
  • Apply at the embassy or immigration office.
  • You have to show a round trip ticket.
  • Show accommodation booking.
  • Yellow fever vaccine for African citizens. Hepatitis A, B and Chickenpox.

You can carry a few items for personal use like clothes, toiletry, jewelry, medicines, books and magazines, and small personal electronic items.

Travel Tips For The First-Time Visitor

  1. Peru is a round the year destination.
  2. It is now easier to reach Lima as there are flights from throughout the world. Tourist infrastructure within the country has improved.
  3. Book early to get the best deals. Peru is becoming very popular, so the prices can be high in peak times.
  4. Hiking trails are booked 6 months in advance. 
  5. Definitely visit Lima. It is the culinary capital of South America and the start of many great adventures. 
  6. Visit Cusco after Lima. Machu Picchu, the biggest tourist draw is close.
  7. Keep important documents like your passport in the hotel. Carry a photocopy. Don’t carry a lot of money with you. Avoid too much jewelry.
  8. Use bug sprays, as Peru is filled with flies.
  9. Be careful when you are out on the road. There can be pickpockets in the busy areas.
  10. You can widely use the Peruvian Sol or US Dollar in small denominations. 

Peru is the second-largest producer of cocaine. The country’s 130,966 acres of land is under cocaine cultivation.

How To Visit Peru On A Budget

  1. Food – Eat where the local Peruvians go. Lima, Cusco and Arequipa can be expensive, so it is better to eat at local restaurants and avoid the premium eateries. Street food is often very good. Eat a hearty breakfast, and you can skip the lunch.
  2. Accommodation – There are plenty of options. Pick hostels where you can prepare your own food if you are on a budget. This will save you money. Always book in advance. Prices will be higher in peak tourist times. Remember, Peru is attracting a lot of tourists now.
  3. Tipping – Avoid unnecessary tipping. Medium and high-end restaurants take tips. But it is not expected at other places. It is not necessary to tip the taxi driver.
  4. Transport – Take public transport wherever possible. It is generally safe. When traveling between cities, use long distance buses. Airlines offer cheap flights sometimes. But they are still more expensive.
  5. Nightlife – If you are traveling on a budget, avoid the discos and nightclubs. Many of them are costly and will charge an entry fee.
  6. Shopping – There is a lot to shop, especially souvenirs, carpets, shawls, and handicrafts. Shop at the street side and at flea markets. Negotiate. Avoid the duty-free shops at the airport.
  7. Language – Pick up a few words of Spanish. You will get better prices.
  8. Money – Avoid exchanging money at the airport. You will get better rates in Lima and the other cities. Also remember, there is ATM usage fee in Peru. 
  9. Phone - Use the internet to make calls back home. 

Best Time To Visit Peru

You can visit throughout the year, but the winter season from May to September is the best time to visit Peru. It is the driest season. A trek to Machu Picchu is extremely comfortable this time of the year.

  • Summer is from December to March. It is also the wettest season.

If you are planning to visit the coastal areas, like Lima, you will find dense low-hanging fog from May to September. From November to March, the water temperature is just right for a swim.

Avoid the Amazon between October and April. Travel during the dry season, to maximize your experience.

Season Characteristics Events
Spring Between March and May. The average temperature ranges between 22-24 degrees. Spring is good for visiting the coastal regions. March 8th – International Women’s Day. April- May – Good Friday and Easter. May 1st – Labor Day
Summer Between December and February. The weather is hot and wet at this time. avoid the hilly areas and the Amazon. June 29th – The Day of Saints Peter and Paul 28th and 29th July is celebrated as Independence Day.August 30th – Santa Rosa
Autumn September, October. Average daily temperature hovers between 20-22 degrees. There will be a little drizzle on many days. October 8th – Day Battle of Angamos November 1st – All Saints Day
Winter June -August is winter in Peru. Very little rainfall. The winter is very comfortable. December 8th – Immaculate Conception December 25th – Christmas January 1st – New Year