Planning a Trip to Peru: What to Know, Do, and Budget

Machu Picchu Peru
Located in South America, Peru is both charming and majestic. I’ve lived in Peru for a year now, and the country has a very special place in my heart. My favorite thing about Peru is how diverse it is—in activities, food, and natural landscapes. Peru’s landscape is out of this world—including mountains, deserts, beaches, and jungle terrain. Peruvians also take tremendous pride in their history and in their food—in fact, Peru is a top culinary destination in the world. If you’re anything like me, you’ll spend a lot of time eating during your trip and loving just about every meal. 
 
This page is full of information to consider while planning a trip to Peru. If you have any further questions after reading this guide, feel free to ask them in the comments below.
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Basic Tips: What to Know When Planning a Trip to Peru

Language in Peru

Peruvian Spanish is the official language of Peru and is spoken by the majority of the population. Quechua, Aymara, and some other indigenous languages are also spoken in some areas throughout the country.

While planning a trip to Peru, it would be a good idea to learn some basic Spanish phrases. Duolingo offers a great program for learning basic Spanish quickly. 

When to Visit Peru

Peru is a great destination year-round and the weather varies depending on which region you’d like to visit. The best time to visit Lima is from December to April when the weather is warmest. The best time to trek Machu Picchu is during the dry season, which runs from May–September … during this time, the weather will be colder but there will be less precipitation.

Currency & Payment

The official currency of Peru is the Sol. Credit cards are accepted as a form of payment in most established stores, accommodations, and restaurants. Places in smaller towns and local vendors in big cities typically only accept cash. ATM’s are widely available.

Transportation

Transferring between regions in Peru is possible via bus or plane. Major cities like Lima offer public buses and cabs. Ride share apps such as Uber work in major cities. In some cities, motor scooters are available instead of taxis. Always be sure to negotiate the rate before getting into a motor scooter. If taking a cab, make sure they are licensed and use a meter.

What to Pack for a Trip to Peru

Jagsetter in Peru with mountains in the background. Wearing a backpack and sleeveless tank top.

Here’s a list of suggested items to pack for a trip to Peru. These items are what is suggested to pack beyond what you’d automatically think to bring (i.e., clothes, etc.)

  • Power adaptor: Peru uses 220 volt, 60 cycle electricity. Travelers will require a voltage converter for 110-volt devices. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat types found in the US and Canada, though some facilities use the 2 rounded prongs instead.

  • Small backpack: If you’d like to go hiking or on an excursion, bring a small backpack that you won’t mind getting dirty to easily carry your things in. 

  • Comfortable shoes: You’ll do a lot of walking in Peru and will also likely participate in many outdoor activities, so bring some comfortable shoes. Be sure to bring shoes with a good grip if you plan to hike mountains like Machu Picchu. 

  • Layers: Dress in layers when visiting Peru. In cities like Lima, the temperatures often drastically change between day and night (warm during the day and cold at night).

  • Waterproof Gear: If you plan on going hiking in a place like Machu Picchu, then bring waterproof gear. Precipitation can unexpectedly occur in the mountains. 

What to See and Do in Peru

Girl on an adventure in the Peruvian Amazon. Holding a sloth monkey who has his arms around her shoulders and his eyes open. The background is the Peruvian Amazon with green grass and palm trees. The sun is shining bright.

Here’s a list of some top things to experience while on a trip to Peru: 

  1. Experience Cusco: Cusco was once a part of the Inca Empire and is now known for its archaeological remains and architectural remains. The town itself is adorable with lots of great restaurants and shops. There are many excursions that can be taken from the town; such as a hike on Rainbow Mountain or a tour of The Sacred Valley. The town is also the hub that tourists must go through in order to hike the infamous Machu Picchu. 

  2. Hike Machu Picchu: As one of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu is incredible and one of those places that photos don’t do justice. It’s an Incan work of art, set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, above the Urubamba River valley. Visitors can opt to take a day trip to/from the mountain from Cusco or embark on a longer, several day trek up the mountain to view the ancient wonder. 

  3. Spend Time in Lima: The city is Peru’s capital and is bustling with tons to do. Lima is a culinary capital of the world and the food in the city is incredible. Visitors can also spend time at the beach and watch surfers on the coast… or do some shopping in Barranco—the cities art district. Lima is active 24/7, 7-days a week. 

  4. Go to the Amazon: There are many towns worth visiting in the Peruvian Amazon; the most famous being Iquitos. Iquitos is a cool city with a jungle-vibe that’s located along the Amazon river. From Iquitos, visitors can take a two-hour boat ride deeper into the Amazon and spend a few days camping within the jungle for an adventurous experience. 

  5. Visit Arequipa: Arequipa is a colonial town with Spanish-style homes that are mostly the color white. The town is surrounded by three volcanoes. Visitors can take a hike on Colca Canyon, which is the second deepest Canyon in the world. 

  6. Head to Puno and See Lake Titicaca: Puno is a city in southern Peru on Lake Titicaca, one of South America’s largest lakes and the world’s highest navigable body of water – which is shared with its neighboring country, Bolivia. 

  7. Eat, Eat, Eat… and Drink: Peruvian cuisine is some of the best in the world. You can rarely go wrong with any Peruvian restaurant. The most famous dish in Peru is Ceviche, which is usually made of fish and lemon. Adventurous eaters can try Cuy (guinea pig), a traditional dish that is offered in many restaurants. Lastly, visitors must try the Pisco Sour—a popular alcoholic drink that is made with pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white. Click here to read about some of the best Peruvian street food to try

  8. Check out the Beaches in Mancora: Mancora is a beach town that’s located in the Piura Region, on Peru’s northwest coast. The town has a supremely chill, local beach vibe about it. Mancora is also a great surfing spot and has good waves for beginners.

  9. Go on an ATV Ride Through Paracas: Paracas is a National Reserve that’s best explored by ATV. The natural landscape in Paracas includes desert dunes, ocean, and large rock formations. Exploring by ATV will give you a chance to cover a lot of ground. 

  10. Take a sand dunes tour through the Huacachina Desert Oasis: Huacachina is a desert oasis and tiny village just west of the city of Ica in southwestern Peru. It can be explored by sand buggie—which is a thrilling and fun tour that will have you whipping up and down desert dunes. During the tour, visitors can opt to go “sandboarding” down the dunes—which is a lot like snowboarding, just with sand.

Fast Facts About Peru

View of home and mountains in Piura, Peru

I don’t know about you, but I love to know a handful of facts about a place before I visit. Here are some facts about Peru that you may have not already known!

  1. There are over 3,000 different varieties of Potato grown in Peru.

  2. Machu Picchu is of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

  3. There are 90 different micro-climates in Peru.

  4. Peru grows more than 55 varieties of corn…more than anywhere else on earth. 

  5. The Amazon is the largest river in the world by volume… and it starts in Peru.

  6. 60% of Peru is covered in prime Amazon Rain Forest.

  7. Nazca Lines, which are are a group of very large geoglyphs formed in the soil, can be seen by plane in Southern Peru. How they came to is a mystery; some say that it was the work of aliens. 

  8. A community named the Quechua live on floating grass islands in the middle of Lake Titicaca. To get from place to place within their community, they have to paddle on top of a boat made of straw. 

  9. Peruvians are a spiritual people…and, it has the second-largest amount of Shamans in the world, second to India.

  10. There are 10 million alpacas in the world, and over 3 million of them live in Peru.

Budget Suggestions to Consider While Planning a Trip to Peru

View of a home overlooking the ocean in Lima, Peru

Here’s a look at what you might spend on the basics during a trip to Peru. Costs may fluctuate based on the region that you visit or the time of year that you go. This estimate is based on what it would cost to go to Lima, Peru between the months of December – March.

Item Budget Mid-Range High End Notes

Accommodation

$8 - $15/Night (Hostel Dorm or a Shared Room in an AirBNB)
$20 - $65/Night
(AirBNB or Hotel)
$80 - $200/Night
(Hotel)
There are many options for affordable accommodation in Peru. Hostelworld.com, Booking.com & AirBNB are good resources.

Food

$3 - $5/pp/meal
(Street Food)
$7 - $25/pp/meal
(Average Restaurant)
$30 - $90+/pp/meal
(High-End Restaurant)
Ask for the "Menu del Dia" at local restaurants during lunch hours and you'll get a 3-5 course meal at a discounted cost.

Alcohol

$4 - $6
(Domestic Drinks)
$6 - $12
(Imported Drinks)
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Transportation

$0.580/each way (Local Transport)

$2 - $6 (average cost per trip in Lima)
(Public Taxi or RideShare App)
$20/hr
(Private Taxi Organized in Advance)
Moto-taxis's are the method of transportation in most cities outside of Lima. Prices range pending on distance & city but will typically run around $0.25 - $2.00/trip.

Virtually Explore Peru from Home

With recent turn of events that have impacted the ability to travel easily, I wanted to share some virtual resources available for those who want to satisfy their wanderlust and explore Peru virtually from home. If are currently planning a trip to Peru; then these can serve as great tools for getting amped for your trip! 

Note: the links on this curated list will navigate you off of this page & take you to an external website. 

  1. Cook the best ceviche with chef Melissa in Lima, Peru via Airbnb Online Experiences

  2. Discover Peru in 8K

  3. Take a virtual tour of Machu Picchu from the comfort of your couch

  4. Go on a 360 tour of Cusco, Peru

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