Planning a Trip to Peru: What to Know, Do and Budget (2020)

Located in South America, Peru is a country that’s both charming and majestic. A trip to Peru can provide adventure outdoors, exploration of rich historical sites, and exposure to its vibrant culture. It’s hard to think of a country with more diverse landscapes than Peru. Peru boasts a landscape that includes mountains, deserts, beaches, and jungle terrain. Peruvians take tremendous pride in their history and in their food. Peru is a top culinary destination in the world.

Picture of a girl on a Trip to Peru while visiting Machu Pichu in Cusco
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What to Know Before You Go on 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.

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 also 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

Here’s a list of suggested items to pack for a trip to Peru…in addition to what you’d automatically think to bring. 

  • 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 can often be warm by day and cold at night. 

  • Waterproof Gear: If you plan on going hiking in a place like Machu Pichu, then bring a waterproof gear as precipitation can be frequent and unexpected depending on when you visit. 

What to See and Do in Peru

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 to see. 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 a jaw-dropping sight to see. 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 opt to take 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 a party 7-days a week and you’ll always find something to do here, day or night. 

  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 a truly 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 that you find yourself in. 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.

  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 connects dessert to the ocean. It’s an incredibly magnificent place and best explored by ATV. 

  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

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 for a Trip to 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. 

Item

Budget Travel

Mid-Range

High End

Notes

Accommodation

$8 – $15/Night (Hostel or a shared room in an Airbnb)

$20 – $65/Night 

(Airbnb or hotel)

$80 – $200+/night (Hotel)

There are many options for accommodation in Peru. Hostelworld.com, Booking.com & Airbnb are good resources for affordable housing.

Food

$3 – $5/meal
(Local Food)

$7 – $25/meal
(average restaurant)

$30 – $90+/meal
(high-end restaurant)

Ask for the “menu del dia” during lunch at local restaurants and you’ll get a 3-5 course lunch for $4-$10. 

Alcohol

$4 – $6
(Domestic Drinks)

$6 – $12
(Cocktails, Wines, etc.)

Transportation

$.80/way 

(public transport)

$2 – $6/average cost per trip (Uber or Taxi within Lima).

$20/hr (average cost for private car ordered in advance)

Moto-taxis transport passengers in towns outside of Lima. An average moto-taxi ride is 1-6 Peruvian SOL or $0.25 – $2 USD.

Virtually Explore Peru from Home

With COVID-19 and the change that the travel landscape has recently seen, I decided to make some virtual resources available for those who want to satisfy their wanderlust and explore Peru virtually from home. If you have a trip to Peru planned; 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