Peru is an amazing destination, with incredible attractions in different cities. Of course, the highlight is Machu Picchu, a real must-see in South America, but there's a lot more to Peru than the magnificent Inca citadel. Rare wildlife, rainbow mountains and lost cities await. Discover the best things to do in Peru, an amazing destination.
Which are the most important destinations to visit in Peru?
Lima is the capital city. Let me say, that international travellers are usually thinking in Cusco and Machu Picchu and it´s ok, but the charms of the capital, are often overlooked. With coastline, mountains and jungle mere hours from the capital, Lima offers respite and exciting alternatives to the stifling crowds. There are lots of things to do, many for free. Every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 12.30pm you can join a 90-minute tour of the UNESCO-listed colonial town. No booking required, just show up at Plaza Peru by the small fountain. Visit the incredible Larco Museum with more than 45.000 elements from the inca empire and more.
The Nazca Lines are huge, intricate drawings etched on to the barren landscape of Peru’s coastal desert around 400km south of Lima. Enigmatic and mysterious, the figures of people and animals etched into the desert dust have long mystified the experts.
Puno is a city in southern Peru located next to Lake Titicaca, one of the largest lakes in South America and the highest navigable body of water in the world. The city is a regional commercial hub and is also considered the "folk capital" of Peru, for its traditional festivals with lively music and dance performances. Iconic sites include the Cathedral of Puno, an Andean baroque-style construction, and the 19th-century Yavarí steam ship (now a hostel). Enjoy the incredible Titicaca Lake and the islands of Uro and Taquile, and discover the local culture.
If you´re looking for Amazonas, you can visit Puerto Maldonado, the main city of the Department of Madre de Dios in Peru. The city itself has not too many tourist attractions, but it is the starting point for jungle trips and visit the peruvian Amazonas.
One of the highlights in Peru is Cusco. It is a city in the Peruvian Andes that was the capital of the Inca Empire and is known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. The Plaza de Armas is the center of the ancient city, with galleries, carved wooden balconies and ruins of Inca walls. The convent of Santo Domingo, in baroque style, was built on the Temple of the Inca Sun (Qoricancha) and has archaeological remains of Inca stonework. Of course, Cusco is the gate to visit the incredible Sacred Valley of the Incas, and the famous citadel of Machu Picchu, a must-see in Peru and South America.
So, enjoy Machu Picchu of course. This ancient Inca city is one of the most precious treasures in Peru. Its name means old mountain, and refers to the place where it is located, at about 2453 meters above sea level, in a rocky premonitory between Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. It is common for travelers to feel altitude sickness during the climb, so a previous night or two in Cusco would be perfect to be aclimatized for the visit.
You could hike the Inca Trail. This unforgettable four-day walk is one of the world's greatest, using stone Inca stairways to pass deserted villages and fields terraced onto sheer Andean slopes. But be warned: numbers are limited.
How I get around when I arrive in Peru?
Well, of course by air is the main way to arrive to Peru, and there are many options available to travel from one city to the next destination. From boats, to buses and trails, and of course internal flights. Buses are great for some trips, for example from Cusco to Puno. Generally though, reliable service, low fares and a comprehensive network of routes mean traveling by bus is the preferred way to get around Peru for locals and travelers. The quality of the vehicles generally corresponds to the popularity of the destination; luxury coaches take passengers on longer trips, often offering onboard entertainment and meals.
Because the bus is the standard transport for Peruvians, depots can be found in most town centres, offering impressively regular services. However, a bus company's ticket office and its departure point aren't always the same place. Lima has an overload of bus companies, some of which have their own private terminals away from the congestion of the city centre. Make sure you check where your bus leaves from.
And what about trains? Well, there are two main lines, the Central Railway (Tren de la Sierra) and the Southern Railway (Ferrocarriles del Sur del Peru). Both are engineering marvels, achieving the impressive technical feat of crossing the Andes. The Central Railway peaks at a whopping 15,800 ft (4,835m) above sea level. The railways offer an enticing experience, steaming through the Peruvian peaks. There are generally three classes of tickets available, although some trains are reserved for locals and others only for travelers. The basic "Economico" trains are almost always crowded and notoriously thick with thieves, so make sure to keep a close eye on your things. The more expensive services offer waiters, restaurant carriages and increased security.
Train travel in Peru is a bit of a novelty, sold as an experience rather than a practicality (excluding passage in and out of Aguas Calientes on the way to Machu Picchu). It's worth trying out, but don't rely on rail as a big part of your travel plans.
Finally, you have internal flights. You have daily frequences between main destinations in Peru. It´s a good idea to fly from Lima to Cusco for example, to start the visit to the incredible area of the Incas and of course Machu Picchu.
What`s the best time to visit Peru?
Well, the best time to visit Peru is during the dry season and it´s between May and October, especially if you plan to go on a trek and visit the area of Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley and Cusco. It is a wonderful time, with sunny days and bright blue skies, but early booking is crucial because it’s the peak season. Book in advance. It´s important to know that more rain between November and April, with the wettest months being January and February. Travel at this time does offer the advantage of fewer visitors, greener scenery, and some lower rates for flights and hotels, but of course weather is not the best during that period.
Please note, Inti Raymi is a highlight itself, during June. It is a month of festivities in Peru, many building up to the Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) toward the end of the month. A wonderful alternative festival is Corpus Christi, which falls on the ninth Thursday after Easter
Is it safe to travel to Peru?
Traveling around Peru is relatively safe. But, the key to staying safe is being prepared for any issues that might come your way. These are the things you need to know about crime, scams and safety in Peru. Despite this continuing improvement, poverty is still a problem in Peru, so there's no guarantee you won't fall foul of local crime. Peru is unfortunately infamous for petty crime, even among its South American neighbors. This doesn't mean you need to be forever clutching your valuables to your chest, but you should practice your street smarts: Dress casually when you are out and about in town, don't carry any more cash than you need for the day, keep it along with your passport and documents close to your body, keep your camera packed away when not in use, avoid hanging your bag over the back of a chair in restaurants, keep it in sight and close. Similarly, don't leave your wallet or purse sitting on the table top which makes for an easy snatch and grab. As you can see, the usual cares.
Which documents do I need to enter to Peru?
Well… passport, and you have to check if VISA is required or not. For US Travellers, and most european countries, visa is not required. Check with your local embassy to see if you need visa to enter to Peru.