PERU TRAVEL GUIDE

Peru has a lot to offer adventurous travelers looking for a unique experience. It’s a fascinating country full of stunning scenery, the ruins of the ancient Inca civilization, and charming small Andean towns to explore. You’ll want to take a journey to Machu Picchu, visit lively Lima and Lake Titicaca. And don’t forget all the delicious food. Learn about traveling to Peru — when to go, where to go and what to see, eat and drink along the way.

Check out our other destination guides for inspiration or for tips on planning your next vacation.

Historically, Peru was the location of the dominant early cultures in South America. The city of Caral has pyramid remains dated to between 2000 and 2600 BC, which may make it the oldest city in the world. Peru is also the home of the Nazca Lines, the football field size drawings in the ground that are only apparent from the air.

The Incas are a mysterious civilization, but one that was clearly dominant during its time. The Incas were based in modern day Peru. Although it was not a major city, Machu Picchu is the best known archeological remains of the Incas.

Where to Go

lima peru

Lima

Lima is a bustling city of about 8 million people and is a city of contrasts. It has everything from 17th century colonial architecture to glass-faced skyscrapers.

Machu Picchu

Cuzco & Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is the best known archeological remains of the Incas. It was discovered in 1911. A visit starts in Cuzco where you can catch the train to Aguardiente and Machu Picchu.

Lake Titicaca

The lake is massive, covering 8,000 square kilometers and is the highest navigable lake in the world, forming most of Peru’s border with Bolivia.

when to go

The best time to visit Peru is during the winter, which is the dry season in Peru, from June to August.

Off-season in Peru is the months of May and September, when you can avoid crowds and pay less for hotels and tours.

Summer in Peru is the rainy season and not a great time for hiking and trekking. I would personally avoid going in December and January.

What to eat & drink

Peruvian cuisine is excellent and a real highlight of any Peru holiday, with all the regions having different specialities. Coastal dishes owe a lot to African and Spanish influences, tending to be quite rich and often reasonably spicy. Seafood is, unsurprisingly, excellent. The coast is also the birthplace of the national dish: ceviche. This is a selection of fish pieces marinated in lime juice and is absolutely stunning – we urge you to try it even if you’re not usually too keen on fish!

Peru has several excellent national beers, probably the best of which is Cuzqueña. All the beers are lagers but you can often get cerveza malta – a kind of dark, hoppy lager which is similar to an English Brown Ale. Peru is starting to make some good wines, particularly reds but is not as far down the road as Chile or Argentina in this respect. The country does, however, produce one of the great world brandies: Pisco. This is also the source for what must be one of the world’s best cocktails: the Pisco Sour. Made from Pisco brandy, egg-white, cane sugar syrup and limes it is a great aperitif, although you may find yourself drinking more than just one.

Cebiche Mixto

What to Eat in Peru

Arroz con Marisco
Chicarones
Leche de Tigre
Churros
Ceviche
Cuy (Guinea Pig!)
Lomo Saltado

Pisco sour

What to Drink

Pisco Sour
Mate de Coca
Peruvian Chilcano
Inca Kola
Cremolada
Chicha Morada

Travel Tips

Expect to eat between 1:30-3:30pm and 8:30-11:30pm. 

Peruvians always arrive at least 30 minutes AFTER the arranged time.

When drinks are poured, wait until everyone is served to say “Salud” and take your first sip.

Cuzco is at a high altitude, so you can expect to experience some sort of altitude sickness. You may need to take it easy the first few days to acclimate. You can find altitude sickness pills at the local pharmacy, or drink some coca tea.

Book reservations as early as possible for Machu Picchu and pack layers, plus a bag lunch so you can enjoy your time there to the fullest.