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Peru Travel Guide

With the stunning Andes peaks for the hikers, coastal bliss for the surfers and beach bums, exotic jungle for the Amazonian explorers and colonial cities for those in search of the best pisco sour, Peru serves up a limitless feast of adventure. While Machu Picchu may have initially piqued your interest, there are many more highlights that will surprise and enthral you.

The Highlights

  • Cusco

    The gateway to Machu Picchu and South America’s oldest continuously inhabited city, Cusco is both a cosmopolitan city and historical goldmine. Here you can visit the colourful markets and ornate cathedrals while you acclimatise to high altitudes.

  • Lima

    The capital of Lima is a charm to discover, from the Museo Larco, which houses some of the most important pre-Columbian artefacts, Plaza Major and Casa di Aliaga, South America's oldest house. Outside of the city, there are surf-friendly beaches and vineyards waiting to be explored.

  • Nazca Lines

    The Nazca Lines have baffled experts since they were discovered. Huge geoglyphs can be seen from the air in the shape of a hummingbird etched in the Peruvian desert by the Nazca people, who predated the Incas.

  • Vinicunca (Rainbow Mountain)

    A beautiful, multi-coloured (hence the nickname) mountain situated southeast of Cusco standing at 16,500 feet above sea-level, the trek here is one of the most challenging in Peru due to altitude, but also utterly rewarding.

  • Lake Titicaca

    South America's largest lake, Lake Titicaca, sits high in the Andes and is bordered by Peru and Bolivia. You can see the hand-made floating islands built of reeds, where 2,000 native Uru people still live today.

  • Colca Canyon

    Easily accessible from Peru's second largest city, Arequipa, the Colca Canyon is Peru's third most-visited attraction and twice as deep as America's Grand Canyon. Spend a few days hiking and exploring these epic landscapes. 

The Basics

When to Visit

when to visit
  1. Peak Season

    July to August; mid-December to mid-January

    Throughout July and August, Westerners on summer vacation trek to Machu Picchu while exploring the rest of the country during the dry Peruvian winter. Flights, hotels and tours book up fast. Mid-December through January is the best time to visit the coast around Lima thanks to the warm weather. 

  2. Low Season

    October to mid-December; February

    The beginning of the rainy season means fewer crowds and likely lower flight and hotel prices. In the mountains, roads can become impassable due to large amounts of rain. Temperatures are mild along the coast, but a thick fog called La Garúa can impact views. The weather in the jungle stays fairly consistent throughout the year, but with more mosquitos and higher water levels in rivers as a result of significant rainfall during this time. In February, the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance which greatly impacts the number of tourists.

Peru Tours

  • Sustainable Tourism in Peru

    Travelling responsibly means respecting the communities, culture and environment of the places you visit. Keep these tips in mind when travelling to Peru:

    Go green. Be environmentally conscious on the road by taking short showers; turning off the lights in your hotel room when you leave; and resisting the urge to collect any plants, seashells, or other natural flora.

    Respect cultural differences. Before travelling, read about the local culture and customs – even just knowing the dress code and a few basic phrases in the local language will go a long way.

    Support local businesses. Enjoy a more authentic experience and directly support the local economy by travelling with a local guide, eating in local restaurants, buying from local artisans, and staying in locally-owned and operated accommodations.

    Wherever possible, avoid single-use plastics. Pack reusable items such as your own shopping bags, utensils, a water bottle, and a straw. These items are typically lightweight and compact, and will greatly reduce your consumption of plastics.

    Be conscious of overtourism. Opt to visit the lesser-known regions of Peru or travel outside the peak season – you'll likely even get a better deal and won't have all the crowds!
  • Sustainable Tourism in Peru

    Sustainability is a deep-rooted value in Peru. The country has an abundance of natural resources, bountiful biodiversity, and a high level of government involvement in sustainable development and conservation.

    Controlled Capacity in Machu Picchu
    As one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world, these "lost" ruins of the Inca Empire attract people from all over the world to Peru every year. When the number of visitors in Machu Picchu began to cause harm to the site and its surrounding area, the Peruvian government took action to limit the number of daily visitors in an effort to protect the impact of over-visitation on Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. The Inca Trail is also closed every February for maintenance and for the safety of visitors, as there are typically heavy rains at this time of year.

    A Journey in Sustainable Tourism
    Did you know that 17% of Peru is protected land? The country takes conservation seriously, and PromPeru, the nation's tourism board, published a guide, A Journey in Sustainable Tourism, that is filled with information on the many opportunities for ecotourism in Peru, and authentic cultural experiences that visitors can partake in. The guide goes beyond Machu Picchu and provides information on the country's diverse regions.

FAQs about Peru

  • Do you tip in Peru?

    There isn't much of a tipping culture in Peru, but it is recommended to leave a tip of 10% in a restaurant, although service charges can already be included on the bill. In smaller, family-run restaurants, tipping is not customary, but a few soles are perfectly reasonable.
  • What is the internet access like in Peru?

    Internet connection can range in quality, but you should have no problem with day-to-day tasks like emailing or surfing the web. Wi-Fi is available in many cafes, hostels and hotels for free, but outside urban areas, this is not as common.
  • Is the tap water safe to drink in Peru?

    No. Buy bottled water, boil the tap water or use water purification pills.
  • Can I use my credit cards?

    Yes, credit cards are widely accepted throughout Peru though fraud is common. To avoid theft, protect your pin while using ATMs and always check for anything unusual that may be attached to card readers. Please check with your bank about any foreign transaction charges.
  • What are the public holidays?

    Along with common public holidays such as New Year's Day, Christmas and Good Friday, Peru has Three Kings Day on January 6, Labor Day on May 1, Fiestas Patrias on July 28, Battle of Angamos on October 8, All Saints' Day on November 1 and Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.
  • What are the toilets like in Peru?

    Clogged toilets can certainly occur in Peru, so there may be a bin provided to dispose of toilet paper. There are not many public restrooms outside and you should always carry around spare toilet paper.