Visit Peru, an amazing South American country with a spectacular historical heritage that attracts tourists from all over the world. Archaeological findings date back to year 10,000 BC in Guitarrero Cave in the northwest. Since then, there were many traces of human life discovered all around Peru and last great ancient civilization was that of famous Inca Empire, that left great impact on the country to this day.
Magnificent Machu Picchu is just one of the Incas preserved legacies and there are more in famous Sacred Valley. For explorers of mysteries, there are world known Nazca Lines, incredible land drawings of colossal proportions, usually observed only from high ground or from the air.
And history of Peru, however captivating, is not the only reason to visit this magical country – there is expansive Amazon rainforest and mountain rivers and waterfalls, Andes Mountains, condor watching, volcanoes, Titicaca lake, long and beautiful coastline, tasty food and friendly locals. So, pack your bags and hiking boots!
1. Quick facts
- Official name: Republic of Peru
- Capital: Lima
- Population: 32 million
- Area: 1.28 million sq km (496,225 sq miles)
- Major language: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
- Major religion: Christianity
- Life expectancy: 72 years (men), 77 years (women)
- Currency: Nuevo Sol
2. Where is it?
Peru is located in northwest of South America and it shares borders with five countries: Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Brazil. It has a large coastline on Pacific Ocean. Peru is fairly large country – based on its size, it is the 20th country in the world.
3. Visa requirements
As with many countries, your passport must be valid for at least three months after you visit Peru, so please plan ahead. Most of EU countries, US, Australia, Canada, South American countries and Japan do not require visa for tourism, but you need to have return ticket.
4. Getting there
Getting to Peru is the best via one of two main international airports: Lima (LIM) or Cusco (CUZ),
Here are some flight offers to Peru from the US:
- Miami — Lima from $153
- Fort Lauderdale — Lima from $157
- New York — Lima from $181
- Los Angeles — Lima from $205
- Ronkonkoma — Lima from $289
- Tampa — Lima from $311
- Dallas — Lima from $348
- San Francisco — Lima from $379
- Fort Lauderdale — Cuzco from $403
- Atlanta — Lima from $414
More cheap flights and hotels in Peru:
5. Where to stay
Accommodation options in Peru are very diverse: from budget to high end hotels to eco and jungle lodges and even camping. There are options for all kind of tourists, individuals, groups and families.
It is up to you and your budget and personal preferences. For budget (and young) travelers, there are plenty of cheap accommodation to choose from in hostels.
For latest offers on hotels from our providers use search form below:
6. Moving Around
The fastest way to travel around Peru is via air (there are many local and international airports), but then you are missing on wonderful scenery. If you prefer renting a car, driving is a good option since roads are in good condition and you can reach all your destination easily with many stops to enjoy wonderful landscapes. You can even rent a car with a driver, so you can completely enjoy your trip.
Taking a bus, especially for long range trips is also a good option as bus transport in Peru is reliable and quite cheap. There is also option to travel by train, but railway system is not that developed and doesn’t cover entire country, so we would recommend it as a last resort.
For traveling along the coastline, you can use a boat, as this type of transport is quite developed.
Within cities, such as Lima, there is established bus transport system which can be used to move around the city. You can also use taxi service, which is very affordable.
7. Food in Peru
Peru has very diverse cuisine that consist mainly of fish, meat, potatoes, and vegetables and herbs.
Ceviche is most famous national dish, raw fish marinated in lemon juice and spices and served with corn, potatoes and onion. Papa a la Huancaína is a dish made of boiled yellow potatoes and spicy sauce. Anticuchos is usually sold as a street food – it’s various types of meat grilled as pieces or on a skewer, served with – potatoes.
One of the dishes might not be immediately accepted by western tourists – cuy chactado is basically grilled (whole) guinea pig. Not very usual destiny for animals that are kept as house pet, but this has been delicacy for thousands of years in Andes region. From healthy food (or as they call it – ‘superfood’, for some reason) menu, you should try sopa de quinoa (quinoa soup), healthy and energizing soup.
Alpaca charqui is literally meat jerky (the word ‘jerky’ originated from ‘charqui’, the more you know..), made originally from alpaca meat, but nowadays made from all kinds. Jerky lovers will enjoy this, for sure. Grilled piranha is exactly what it says – grilled fish whose name was made popular in some movies of questionable cinematic qualities. Nevertheless, highly recommended, and it is served with rice or potatoes.
Suspiro de Limeña (“a sigh of lady from Lima”) is a dessert made of caramel cream with meringue topping. Created in nineteen century, now popular country wide.
These are just few Peruvian food we recommend, there are of course many more and we will write about it in our future posts.
How safe is Peru for tourists and to move around? Peru can be unsafe place for tourists; there is a significant danger of being robbed and mugged. Tourist areas are generally safe, both for single tourists and groups or families, but extra caution for pickpocketers is advised.
Peru is not costly at all for tourists, and you can always find great deals on accommodation, meals and attraction tickets. If you travel throughout entire country, your biggest expense might be flight or bus tickets and accommodation, if you choose high end hotels.
Prices throughout Peru vary a bit, while Lima and Cusco are the most expensive for general tourism.
Peru is a country in the southern hemisphere and summer and winter are in reverse to ones in the northern hemisphere. When there is summer in the US or Europe, it’s winter in Peru and vice versa.
Additionally, as country is stretched along north-south longitude, weather changes as you travel south. Also, going to the high altitude locations in mountain can make it very cold, even in summer, so please plan to bring additional clothes.
11. Best time to visit
High season to visit Peru is between March and October, when there is dry season so trip will not be ruined by rain or bad weather conditions. This is the best time of the year to visit both Inca ruins and attractions along Amazon basin and it is especially pleasant between May and September.
12. Money matters
Peru’s national currency is Peruvian Sol (PEN). The best exchange rate is obtained from ATM machines. In large cities, there are many ATM machines available and from various local and international banks. There are much fewer ATMs when visiting rural areas, so plan ahead before going on a trip.
Some ATMs have withdrawal limit for about 700 PEN, which is around $215, so you need to take this into consideration if you need large amount of cash at once.
Major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, but please do check card charges from your bank in foreign countries before the trip.
13. What to see in Peru?
Peru is a magnificent country which should be visited at least once in a life time. There is so much to see and so much to learn and we are giving you just top destinations and attractions to start you up.
Sacred Valley. Also known as Urubamba River Valley, this area of about 60 km in length is where ancient Inca civilization resided. Located between town of Cusco and the ancient city of Machu Picchu.
Colca Canyon. One of the deepest canyons in the world, located in south Peru. Popular with hiking and bird watching especially famous condors.
Saqsaywaman. Inca ruins complex in Cusco, famous for its unique walls made of large stones fitted together without any mortar.
Moray. Located in high altitude of 3,500m and about 50 km northwest from Cusco, this ancient Inca site is known for its round concentric terraces.
Qorikancha. Remains of an important Inca temple, once covered in pure gold, located in Cusco.
Huayna Picchu. An iconic mountain raising about ancient city of Machu Picchu.
Salcantay. More than 6,200m high scenic mountain peak and part of the Andes mountain complex.
Choquequirao Archaeological Park. Ancient Inca ruins in the mountains of south Peru, similar to Machu Picchu. Featuring temples, palaces and terraces.
Taquile Island. Small island inside the lake of Titicaca, in south Peru. Offering day boat torus and shopping of locally knit fabrics.
Tambomachay. Ancient Inca site with canals, waterfalls and aqueducts located north from Cusco. It is believed that it have been built to worship water.
Manu National Park. Large national park known for its various habitats and diverse plant and animal life, located north from Cusco.
Ausangate. Located southeast from Cusco, this storied mountain rising with 6,384m peak is an important place in Incan mythology. Popular also for multi-day hikes and llama herders.
Kuélap. Remains of fortified settlement from 6th century, built by Chachapoya culture. Located in northwest Peru, in Amazonas region.
Main Square of Lima. Central plaza in capital Lima, surrounded by Government Palace, Cathedral of Lima, Archbishop’s Palace, the Municipal Palace, and the Palace of the Union.
Puka Pukara. Ancient Inca Empire military fort ruins, located north from Cusco.
Paracas National Reserve. Desert peninsula located in a marine reserve south of Lima. Featuring unique rock formations and serves as a reserve for seals, birds and other marine species.
Huascarán. Located in, Cordillera Blanca, world tallest tropical mountain range, this is Peru’s highest mountain, with scenic two peaks. Part of namesake national park, popular with mountain climbers.
Santa Catalina Monastery. Dominican monastery from 16th century, located in Arequipa, in south Peru. Offering guided tours.
Amantaní. Small, circular shaped island in Lake Titicaca. Offering cultural tours to learn about its Quechua inhabitants.
Larco Museum. Former mansion converted into museum of pre-Columbian artefacts, located in Lima.
Lares trek. High altitude hike trek from village Lares, going to Cusco and to Machu Piccu. It takes several days on the scenic hike,
Gocta Waterfall. Very tall, over 770 high waterfall in a tropical jungle. It’s a two tiered waterfall, located in Amazonas region, and one of the largest in the world.
Qenko. Located in Sacred Valley, northeast from Cusco, these ruins are of an ancient Incan temple, consisting of tunnels carved from rock.
Tipon Archaeological Site. Located 24 kilometres east from Cusco, this large site has very diverse and elaborate terraces, channels and water fountains.
Sillustani. Pre-Incan burial ground with unique massive cylindrical tombstones. Burial ground with cylindrical tombs. Located near town of Puno on Titicaca lake.
Tambopata National Reserve. Located in southeast Peru, near Bolivian border, this biodiverse area features rainforest and small Lake Sandoval. Famous for its colorful parrots and macaws.
Chavín de Huantar. Located on the banks of the Mosna River in center west Peru, this archaeological site contains ruins and artifacts dating back to 1200 BC.
Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. Located in northeastern Peru, this reserve features vast Amazon jungle with the El Dorado lagoon. Apart from diverse biosphere, this reserve also has about 100,000 indigenous inhabitants.
Misti. Locally also known as Putina or Guagua Putina, this volcano is located in southern Peru near city of Arequipa. Popular for hiking and mountain climbers.
Alpamayo. Iconic mountain peak located in Cordillera Blanca, north of Lima. It is pyramide shaped, ice covered mountain top, popular with experienced mountain climbers.
Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima. A 17th century Baroque-style Roman Catholic church and monastery located near Plaza Mayor in Lima. Featuring large library and underground catacombs.
Cusco Cathedral. Built over the period of hundred years in 16th and 17th century, this ornate cathedral is located in central Cusco. Famous for its colonial era paintings.
Pikillaqta. Pre-Columbian ruins of a sacred ritual site ow Wari people, located about 20 km east fro Cusco.
Huaca Pucllana. Remains of a pre-Incan period pyramid located in Lima. Sven layers steped pyramid featuring guided tours and a museum.
Larcomar. Outdoor mall in Lima, built into the sea cliff, featuring restaurants, shops, movie theater and bowling. Popular with tourists.
Raqch’i. High altitude archaeological site located in San Pedro District, southeast from Cusco.
Patallacta. Also known as Llactapata or Q’ente Marka is an archaeological site in Peru located northwest from Cusco. Featuring concentric terrace construction on a hilltop.
Government Palace of Peru. Originally built by Pizarro in 16th century, this palace today is government seat and official presidential residence. Popular for guard changing ceremonies.
Temple of the Moon. Ancient Incan temple ruins placed in a shallow cave. Located near famous Machu Picchu.
Chachani. Extinct volcano near the city of Arequipa, popular for mountain climbing.
La Huaca del Sol. Moche civilization temple, dating back to 100 CE, located in the northern coast. The temple served as a royal residence, ceremony site and burial site.
Cathedral of Lima. Central Catholic church with a museum in capital Lima. Built during 16th and 17th century, it features gold plated altar and a museum.
San Pedro Market. Colorful and lively market in Cusco. Local produce and souvenirs.
Túcume. A pre-Hispanic era site in northwest Peru, south of the La Leche River. Large archeological site with 26 major pyramids and mounds. Offering guided tours and a museum.
Chauchilla Cemetery. Ancient cemetery located in the south of Peru, near Nazca, famous for its mummies.
Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipán. Pyramid-shaped museum exhibiting elaborate funerary objects from the pre-Inca Royal Tombs of Sipán, located in Lambayeque, northwest of Peru.
Historic Centre of Lima. Central area of capital Lima with several famous landmarks and city views.
Nazca lines. Amazing large earth drawings in south Peru, near town Nazca, covering about 1000 sq km and consisting from about 300 drawings. Best visible from the air or from hilltops.
Interesting facts about Peru
- Potatoes originate from Peru. Now there are about 3,000 types of potatoes grown there.
- The Inca Empire was once largest civilization in Americas.
- It takes about 600 hours to make one Peruvian poncho. That’s why it lasts a lifetime.
We hope you enjoyed reading about Peru!