Travel Tips for Peru
Peru is a great country to visit. Did you know Peru lists in the Top # 10 Best Tourist Destinations world-wide? With the following travel tips for Peru you are assured to make the most of your stay in Peru. If you are an experienced traveler or a first time traveler…. there are always things you wish you’d known before arriving at your destination.
Peru is a pretty safe place to backpack and travel around and a great destination for learning Spanish. Discover Peru with the right information and travel tips with General Travel tips, health information, COVID-19 in Peru, What to Bring to Peru, Money in Peru, Climate in Peru, Safety in Peru, Health Information, Travel Information and more. Adventure is waiting for you here in Peru!
General Travel tips Peru
Prepare for your journey to Peru
Visa information to enter Peru
Peru is an easy country to enter. People from most of the Americas and Western Europe do not need a tourist visa to enter Peru. The maximum length of stay that the authorities grant to tourists is 183 days, which cannot be extended. If you wish to stay longer in Peru for other reasons, such as business, studying or working, you need to request the relevant visa at a Peruvian consulate in your own country. It’s essential when entering Peru to present a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months from the date of entry into the country.
What to Bring to Peru
Your packing list for Peru will depend significantly on the activities you do and the regions you plan to visit. Here is a great list to start you off on your journey through Cusco. If you forget anything, do not fear! You can get many items right in Cusco, especially for camping and hiking. You can also get many over the counter medications at the pharmacy. Ask our staff if you are looking for a specific item!
- Spanish Dictionary/ Spanish App
- A small gift for the guest family
- A Backpack/ a Day pack
- Passport pouch or money belt
- Walking shoes or hiking boots
- Long pants and jeans
- Spanish grammar book in your own language (there are no Spanish grammar books or dictionaries available in Cusco)
- A sweater or fleece pullover
- T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts
- A rain jacket with hood or poncho
- Water resistant lined jacket, vest or both
- Hat or cap to protect you from the sun/ a warm hat
- Sleeping bag (for Inca Trail, or other hikes, although these can be rented)
- Water purification tablets (can be bought in Cusco as well)
- Pocket knife/ Torch/flashlight
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Toiletries and mediation (prescription medication, altitude medication, pain reliever, antidiarrheal, gravol etc.
- Plug/ adaptor
- Water bottle
- Plastic bags
- Camera, laptop, tablet, phone, chargers
- Passport, passport copy, travel insurance details
- COVID-19/ Yellow Fever (if applicable*) vaccination card
- Emergency contact, list of address, hotels, important phone numbers
- During the corona pandemic:
- PCR test result of max. 72 hours
- Facemasks/ Face screen (can be purchased at the airport)
Communications in Peru
Generally, it'll be no problem to contact home from Peru by WhatsApp, Telegram, social media, e-mail or by phone. Hotels, restaurants and cafes generally all have free Wi-Fi available. Many hotels also have a business centre. Cusco also has many places to access Wi-Fi (the Plaza de Armas) and computers to use.
Getting a Peruvian SIM card is also an option, and it will be way cheaper than getting a phone plan from back home (about PEN 15). The most popular companies are Claro, Movistar, Entel and Bitel and their offices are located all over the city.
Climate in Peru
Dry and Rainy Season
The dry “winter” and rainy “summer” seasons in Peru vary depending on the region you visit. The dry season runs from May to September while the rainy season runs from December to March. The months between (April, October and November) are the transition months between the two distinct seasons when the weather can be somewhat unpredictable.
In the Andes (Cusco, the Sacred Valley), there are two seasons: the dry season when the days are sunny, the nights cold and there is little rain; and the rainy season when rain is frequent and heavy, but rarely prolonged. If you are planning a hike, we recommend travelling during the dry season because the paths can get very muddy; also, the Inca Trail is closed for the entire month of February.
Like the Andes, the jungle (Tambopata) has two seasons: the rainy season, with abundant rainfall, and the relatively dry season, which is the ideal time to visit. Humidity is very high throughout the year. Occasional "cold snaps" occur between May and August, when the temperature falls to 8° C - 12° C or 46° F - 54° F.
The coast (Lima) is different and tends to get little rain even during the rainy season. The dry season on the coast is overcast, mainly weather with occasional drizzling rain. On the other hand, the rainy season is very hot and sunny and is known as “summertime” and is a perfect time to enjoy the pacific coast.
Money in Peru
Peru's currency is the Nuevo Sol, commonly called Sol (soles in plural). (S/.).
The conversion rate between the US Dollar and the Peruvian Sol is about $1 to S/. 4.10 (September 6, 2021).
Converting Your Money into Soles
We recommend converting your money to Soles once you arrive in Peru as the exchange rate should be better here than in your home country. There are lots of small changing booths located near the tourist centre of any city in Peru. We recommend that you ask about the exchange rate at multiple booths or "casas de cambio" to see where you will receive the best quote.
Most merchants won't accept your money if it's too worn out or ripped so, please bring new bills to Peru. When you exchange your money, don't hesitate to ask the changer for a different bill if you think the one they gave you is too worn out or if it's ripped.
Using an ATM in Peru
Most touristic areas have ATMs available, including 24 hour ATMs. If you take money out of an ATM in Peru, you will have the option to take out the money in Soles or US Dollars. We recommend withdrawing cash in US dollars and then go to a money-changing house to convert it to Soles.
For Americans, Scotiabank appears to have low withdrawal fees for using ATMs in Peru especially if you have a Bank of America card. Scotiabank is a common bank in Peru, and you should not have problems finding an agent.
For Europeans, we recommend withdrawing money from BCP (Banco de Crédito) or the Banco de la Nación o Scotia bank. The only fee you will be charged with will be from your own bank. We recommend taking the maximum amount of 200 USD or 700 Soles to avoid high costs with your personal bank.
We always advise having some cash on hand in case using an ATM isn't an option.
Paying with Cash or Card
Many tourist shops, souvenir shops, museums, restaurants, hotels and tour agencies in Peru take credit and debit cards, including Visa and MasterCard. However, market stalls, street vendors, and smaller stores or restaurants will typically only accept cash.
Make sure to tell your bank beforehand that you will be travelling to Peru so that they can lift certain restrictions from your card to use it abroad. Also, be aware that your bank may charge you a fee for international transactions.
Keep your Money
Once you have your money, you need to know how to keep it safe from pickpocketing.
We recommend that you store your money, phone, and documents in a money pouch under your clothes or in an inside pocket of your jacket or backpack that is not easily assessable. In addition, keep an eye on your valuables, especially in crowded streets, markets, tourist hot-spots, and when using the local transportation. In general, you should only take the amount of money you will need for your day's activities and leave your extra cash and cards in a secure location in your hotel room.
Expenses in Cusco
The following list gives you an indication of what you may wish to plan for your stay in Cusco. This information is accurate at the time of writing (update: September 2021) but can change any moment.
|Taxi||S/. 5 – 10 around Cusco city|
|City bus||S/. 1|
|A Set meal in a cheap restaurant||S/. 6 – 20|
|Meal for 2 in a mid-range restaurant (3 course)||S/. 40 – 120|
|Domestic beer in a bar or café||S/. 7 – 20|
|Personal size bottle of water||S/. 1 – 2|
|Cappuccino in a nice café or restaurant||S/.5 – 15|
|Laundry Service||S/. 3 – 5 per kilo|
Safety in Peru
Here are some general tips for personal security for your time living and travelling in Peru.
First, it is important to come well prepared. Before you leave, we recommend you research your destination, including local laws, customs, culture, and monitor travel warning tips and alerts. You can read travel tips on Trip Advisor or in Facebook groups, or elsewhere on the internet. Leave a copy of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home, and pack light, leaving any item you could not replace at home.
While in Peru, we recommend you:
- Carry contact information for the nearest embassy or consulate.
- Carry a photocopy of your passport and entry stamp; leave the actual passport securely in your hotel.
- Follow all local laws and social customs.
- Do not wear expensive clothing or jewellery.
- Always keep hotel doors locked, and store valuables in secure areas.
- Call for emergency services while in Peru, dialling 116 for the fire department and 105 for the police. Write these numbers down to carry with you during your trip.
- Travel in groups, do not leave food or drinks unattended and use caution if a stranger offers you food or drink.
In case you are a victim of a crime:
- Victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact their embassy for assistance.
- Report crimes to the local police and contact your embassy in Lima. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
- See your embassy webpage for more information on crimes overseas.
Health Information Peru
Jetlag is a temporary sleep disorder that can affect you if you travel quickly across multiple time zones. It occurs when your body is out of sync with your new time zone, in this case, Peru. Fatigue, gastrointestinal problems and difficulty concentrating are the most common symptoms. You will generally need about a day to recover for each time zone you crossed. Sunlight is the best tool to helping your sleep-wake cycle. Morning light helps to adjust to an earlier time zone (travelling eastward), and evening light will help you adapt to a later time zone (travelling westward). Melatonin is a commonly accepted part of jet lag treatment. You can also modify your sleep schedule in the days before your trip. It is essential to stay hydrated, limit alcohol and get quality sleep.
Adequate health facilities are available in Lima and other major cities. Care in rural areas is generally inadequate. Public hospital facilities are often well below tourist’s perception of normal standards. Private, urban health care facilities are often better staffed and equipped.
Pharmacies are widely available. However, some medications might not be offered, and brand names will differ from products in your country of origin. Exercise caution if you explore herbal and folk remedies.
Make sure you are up-to-date on all routine vaccines before every trip. Some of these vaccines include:
- Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Flu (influenza)
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
The yellow fever vaccination is not required for entry into Peru and travelers limiting their itineraries to Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail do not need the yellow fever vaccine. Yellow Fever is only needed for the rainforest.
Hepatitis A and B, typhoid and rabies vaccinations are recommended and Malaria medication is recommended for certain travelers based on where you are going, how long you are staying and what you will be doing. We recommend you consult with your doctor, or a travel doctor, at least a few weeks before arriving to Peru.
*Please bring your vaccination card if you are vaccinated. Read more about corona in Peru at our special COVID-19 in Peru page.
Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. We strongly recommend travel insurance and supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the Government of Peru to ensure the medication is legal in Peru.
Brushing Teeth and Tap water
Tap water in Peru isn’t safe to drink. You are welcome to boil your water.
If you don't want to boil your water or don't have the use of a stove, then you can use chlorine tablets or drops to purify your water. You can also buy bottled water. Whether you brush with tap water or bottled water depends on your body and what you are comfortable with.
Eat Safely in Peru
The real danger to your stomach comes from food. Most high-end restaurants in Peru, especially tourist restaurants, have a very clean standard and you shouldn't have any problems with the food they serve.
Less touristy places, and especially market stalls and street vendors, are the places you need to watch out for. You should watch out for fresh salads, fresh fruit, and ice. This is because the fresh salads and fruit might have been washed in unclean water or could still have bacteria. You need to watch out for ice because it could’ve been made with un-purified tap water.
If you do get sick, take Pepto-Bismol, Diamode for diarrhea and make sure you drink plenty of clear fluids, as it’s easy to get dehydrated.
If you don't get better after a few days, we recommended that you seek professional medical help. There are public hospitals and private health clinics. Ask for a recommendation to the best private health clinic in the area because the services are better and faster than in public hospitals.
We recommend that you take toilet paper with you everywhere while traveling in Peru. While some touristic locations have toilet paper in their bathrooms, many do not. Please bring your own toilet paper or you may find yourself in an awkward situation.
COVID -19 in Peru
Please see our COVID-19 FAQ page for more details about the situation around COVID-19 in Peru, tips for travel in Peru during the pandemic and our AMAUTA COVID-19 protocols.
Important Phone Numbers in Peru
Health Emergency: 117
Crime Emergency: 105
Fire Emergency: 116
Tourist Police: 0800-22221
(English Speaking staff)
Altitude Sickness (soroche)
If you plan to travel to beautiful cities such as Cusco, Huaraz, or Puno, all located at a high altitude, you may feel some effects from the elevation. The symptoms of altitude sickness (or ‘soroche’ as it’s called in Peru) can include shortness of breath, headache, nausea and problems sleeping.
You can pack medicine to help with headaches or nausea. There is also a pill, Diamox, to help with altitude sickness. If your symptoms are moderate to severe, you should go to a local health centre where they can supply oxygen. If you want to trek to Machu Picchu (the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek) or climb Rainbow Mountain, for example, we recommend arriving at Cusco at least 48 hours before you start to acclimatize.
Once you arrive at a high altitude, you should avoid alcohol, smoking, heavy foods, and physical exercise. You should also drink a lot of water, about 4-5 litres a day and try mate de coca, tea made from coca leaves. Do not drink coca tea before bed because it’s a stimulant, but instead try muña tea.
Another thing to remember is that higher altitudes significantly increase the risk of sunburn and sunstroke. Remember to wear sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect your eyes. Even if it’s overcast, the sun can still be very damaging. The air is also excessively dry at high altitudes, and you might find that your skin dries out. Use a moisturizer and some Vaseline
Travel Information in Peru
Generally, it is pretty safe and relatively easy to travel around by yourself in Peru. Many – not to say all – students take the opportunity to explore during the weekends or after finalizing the Spanish course at AMAUTA. Peru is full of amazing tourist highlights and interesting places to visit.
There are buses, planes, and taxis all over the country as well as hotels of all categories. There are all kinds of travellers and tourists around and it will be easy to meet other people.
Transport in Peru
- Bus Travel in Peru: long distance
Many local buses are overcrowded, poorly maintained, and lack safety features such as seat belts. Many tourist bus companies offer overnight options to travel to different cities. The safest company is Cruz del Sur. But, there are a lot of other bus companies including Tepsa, Oltursa, Civa and Movil Tours. Long distance travel in one of those companies is relatively cheap and comfortable.
- Public Transportation within the cities
You are also welcome to take the public busses, combis or local taxis when traveling around the city. Combis are minivans that take people around and are often faster and more direct than most buses. Buses are very cheap and are a poplar mode of transportation with the locals.
The most common and the safest mode of transportation for tourists is the official taxi (they usually have a lit company number of the roof). Many other people operate out of unofficial taxis in their private vehicles. We do not recommend unofficial taxis, but if you use them please be cautious. Uber is also active in Peru.
Prices vary significantly from city to city but always ask the taxi driver the price to your destination before entering, because taxis are not metered in Peru.
How to travel from Lima to Cusco
The fastest and easiest way to travel between Lima and Cusco is undoubtedly by plane. Flights are between $ 85.00 and $ 150.00, cheaper prices are available depending on baggage needs and promotions, for a one way ticket and run between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. only. Most travelers and students arriving from Lima to Cusco do so by air.
Two routes: via Ayacucho or via Arequipa
However, if you want to go overland, there are two options. The first route will lead you to Cusco via Ayacucho, Andahuaylas and Abancay and is really beautiful. However, most parts of the road are unpaved (and the buses and the hotels are bad) and it might be a little too much for the traveller who has just arrived to Peru. All together, it will take you about 24 hours to get to Cusco. There are several bus companies that offer this service throughout the year; however, the route is too dangerous to consider in rainy season.
The second option will go to Arequipa first, and then to Cusco. The Lima - Arequipa part is fast: the majority of the trip is via the Panamerican highway, along the coast. Buses are fine and depart about every half an hour from Lima. Arequipa is a beautiful, colonial city, where you might want to consider staying a day or so before continuing the trip. But if you prefer, there is a direct connection to Cusco that departs between the hours of 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. The road is not too good, it might be freezing cold at night and the bus crowded. Now you will start traversing the Andes, this is the real side of Peru! You will arrive in Cusco in the early morning, between 4:00 and 8:00.
Tourist Destinations Within Peru
Peru is a country of culture, beauty, history and fantastic scenery, with many opportunities for travellers. If you learned Spanish in Cusco, a must-see attraction, of course, is the ancient Inca City of Machu Picchu – a highlight of any trip to South America. Other highlights we recommend in the Cusco neighbourhood are the Sacred Valley, Rainbow Mountain, Lake Humantay, and the less-visited Southern Valley.
But there is much more to discover throughout Peru. From Cusco, you can take the bus and travel to Puno and Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Or you go to Arequipa and visit the Colca Canyon, from where you can continue your trip to the famous Nazca Lines. Nearby Nazca, you find Ica, where you can try your luck sandboarding in the dunes.
The Peruvian rainforest is only half an hour by plane (or a night on the bus) from Cusco, where you can make boat trips, go piranha fishing, zip line, and night walks to search for caimans.
If you are into city life, don’t miss out on Arequipa and Lima, and if you travel up to northern Peru, you might enjoy Trujillo, or Huáraz, a mecca for hikers. In Lima, don’t forget to visit Miraflores, bohemian Barranca, take a bike tour, see one of the fantastic museums, have dinner in world-class restaurants, and taste the famous Peruvian cuisine.
Peru is one of the unique destinations on the continent.
New: do you have questions about tourism in Peru?
Tourists currently in Peru may consult iPeru for the latest guidance for tourists. iPeru has a WhatsApp number that will respond to questions in English: (+51) 944 492 314.
Working Opportunities in Peru
Officially, your tourist visa doesn´t allow you to work in Peru and it is complicated to get a working permit. However, there certainly are opportunities to stay a little bit longer and Cusco and work. Most of the available jobs for foreigners are in restaurants and bars; what you should do is just pop by once you are in Cusco. It will be hard to arrange something beforehand via the internet.
You can also try to get a job as an English Teacher at one of the Language Schools in Cusco; however, most of these jobs are normally for native, qualified English teachers with a TELF certificate. There might also be a couple of travel agencies that could hire you. AMAUTA SPANISH SCHOOL also hires foreign people (sometimes in exchange for Spanish classes).
If you are interested in one of our Job Opportunities in Peru, check our page and feel free to contact us.