Below is a detailed travel guide for Peru. You don’t need to book Peru tours to experience what Peru has to offer. Take some notes from my tips and tricks to build the perfect Peru travel itinerary.
Sol(es) is the currency in Peru. The currency code for sol is PEN. Depending on where you are, such as the touristic districts, the dollar will not get you far.
There are two major seasons in Peru that you need to consider, summer and winter. Summer months are December to April and winter months are from May to November. Summer months are extremely rainy and wet causing some excursion destinations to be inaccessible. However, Peru’s weather is almost unpredictable, especially at higher altitudes. Winter is the preferred months.
You can find affordable AirBnb’s and hostels throughout Peru. The only problem that I came across in the Airbnb’s are that they are poorly heated – you will be sleeping in cold nights during the winter. Our hosts accommodated us with extra blankets to keep us warm. You can also ask your host before your trip to get prices on tours or transportation. You can find a bed for as low as 24 PEN.
Navigating Peru is fairly easy if you have google maps or maps.me on hand when using buses, Ubers, taxis, private van companies, and rentals.
There’s good food all around. If you want to save a few bucks, avoid the places the tour guides are bringing their clients, or avoid the central tourist areas in general. I would be cautious of the cebiche, and I would ask the locals before eating it from street vendors.
Some popular Peruvian dishes that you MUST try:
If you want something vegan there’s
Of course, there are plenty more dishes. These dishes are the only two I tried and surprisingly enjoyed.
Many excursions are overpriced if bought in the U.S. Try asking your host for prices beforehand or wait until you get into the city. Usually, if you wait until last-minute, prices drop tremendously.
Keep in mind that when you pay for a tour, it doesn’t include the park entrance fee – usually, it only costs 10 PEN.
Explore Lima – This major city is the gateway into Peru. Lima is the capital of the country and is broken down into many districts where you can find great food, hang out at Kennedy (Cat) Park, run or surf on the beach, or explore some art. Miraflores and San Isidro is more upscale and contains an Inca ruin within the city. In Barranco, you can find street art all around town and is the spot for late night parties. At Plaza Mayor, you can find beautiful colonial architecture, such as the Governors Palace or the Cathedral. Inside the cathedral is a catacomb waiting to be explored.
Ride Dune-buggies and Sandboard in Huacachina – Huacachina lies four hours south of Lima near the city of Ica – it’s a small desert town with a lagoon, that covers half of the area, in between giant hills of sand dunes. Adventures race across the dunes on a heavy-duty dune-buggy. The adventure also includes sandboarding down steep hills of sand. Lastly, if you are taking the last tour of the day, you get to watch the sun set over the dunes and the desert lagoon.
Visit the Penguins and Beach Life of Paracas – Two hours south from Lima is a desert with a beautiful beach. Hundreds of large sand dunes lead to coast lines of red sand and blue waters at Playa Rojas. From the coast can take a tour that allows you to visit the islands where penguins and other life inhabits, known as the Poor Man’s Galapagos. You can also rent out ATV’s to explore the hills of the sand dunes.
Explore a Seven Wonder of the World, Machu Picchu – In the thick tropical forest of Peru and at 8,000 feet in elevation lays Machu Picchu. View one of the best panoramic sights you can find on Earth and one of the most pristine and enormous ruins. This Incan ruin makes the highlights of many Peru travel itineraries. Machu Picchu can be visited as a day trip, 2-day hike or the full 4-day Inca Trail hike.
Get more information about Machu Picchu
Hike through the Huayhuash range in Peru – Huaraz is one of the top hiking towns in the world and it’s not a wonder why. It’s surrounded by miles of beautiful mountains and many pristine lakes. If you can do the full Huayhuash Circuit, you can still do day trips – the views do not disappoint.
Take a Flight to Arequipa – Take a trip to the second populous metropolis of Peru, Arequipa. A flight to Arequipa will take about 1.5 hours from Lima, but it is worth it to put in your Peru travel itinerary if you can fit it in. The city is filled with amazing architecture and history. Near Arequipa is the Colca Canyon and Misti Volcano.
Maras, Moray, and Ollantaytambo – The Salineras de Maras has been used to mine salt for many centuries, and currently, it holds over 6,000 salt pans where workers mine. The Moray ruins is a little off the beaten track, but still fairly popular. You can find circular terraces that people believe used to be a site for agriculture. Ollantaytambo is a little town filled with cobblestone roads and is also home to an Incan ruin. The town also hosts a major train station to Aguascalientes. Maras and Moray are both near by each other and are about an hour away from Cusco. Ollantaytambo is another hour from Maras. My group of 5 paid a random taxi to drive us to each location and waited for us until we reached Ollantaytambo for a total of 150 PEN.
Adventure to Lago Humantay – Lago Humantay (Humantay Lake) is one of the most scenic areas of Peru that I experienced. You can take a day tour here or go self-guided. The drive is about three hours, and the hike is about 1.5 hours one way. I paid 40 USD for my tour, which included a small breakfast with coffee and a lunch buffet.
Experience the Colors of Rainbow Mountain – Rainbow Mountain (Montana de Colares) lies in the Vinicunca mountain. Its altitude is approximately 16,000 feet in elevation, and the hardest day trip you can take in Peru. It’s a 3 hours ride from Cusco to the start of the trek, and 2-3 hours hike one way.
Hiking the Ausangate Trek in Peru – This Andean mountain is sacred to the Quechua people of the Andean region of Cusco. This is a 4-5 day trek on snow capped peaks of the highest mountains in the area (20,944 feet). The final stretches will take you to the Rainbow Mountain viewpoints, and has been said to be more worth it than a day trip to Rainbow Mountain.