A Useful Guide to Visiting Peru
Peru is located in south America with borders with Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia, and is most famous for the Inca Ruins at Machu Picchu, Peruvian food and the very strong Peruvian drink called Pisco Sour, but what else can you enjoy in Peru?
Peru offers a lot of diversity as it comprises the Amazon rainforest and the Pacific coastal desert.
The Peruvian currency is the Sol and it is fairly stable, and the official language of Peru is Spanish. Outside of the tourist spots in Peru, English is rarely spoken so practicing a bit Español is always a feature or a holiday in Peru!
At the time of writing (November 2019) there were no direct Peru flights from the UK. Both Iberia and Air Europa fly from Madrid into Jorge Chávez Airport (LIM) in Lima is the Peru. Travel in Peru is easy with modern airports, planes and buses.
Peru tourism continues to grow because of the attraction of Machu Picchu, but controls have recently been put on the number of tourists that are allowed to visit the Citadel in one day.
Details of the weather in Peru can be found here.
The Population of Peru in 2017 was 32 million and you will find the Peruvian people very friendly and that Peru is very safe compared to most of south America.
This article takes you through the principal destinations in Peru, where to visit and things to do, and at the end suggests your ideal way to visit them.
Unless you are flying into Cuzco from Bogota or La Paz or arriving from Bolivia by road via Lake Titicaca, then Lima will be your likely entry point. This is an excellent guide to Lima.
The first thing that you will notice in the Peru capital of Lima from June to November is a fog. The locals call it la garua, a sea mist caused by warm winds interacting with the cool water of the ocean.
In the north is the city of Caral, the oldest civilization of America, and to the south is the Archaeological Complex of Pachacamac. In the main square (Plaza Mayor) you will find the Lima Cathedral Lima and Government Palace. Lima will be the best place to learn about the Peruvian history as there are several excellent museums.
You will probably stay in Miraflores which has some of the best beaches in Peru, and has great views of the Pacific Ocean. In Miraflores, you will find exquisite Peruvian food in gorgeous restaurants, such as Ceviche and Japanese Peruvian fusion , and an excellent choice of 5 star-hotels.
Cusco is located in the south east of Peru at 3,400m above sea level in the Peruvian Andes mountain range, so breathing could well be an issue. It is known as the gateway to Machu Picchu, capital of the Incan Empire and is an amazing city.
To get to Cusco from Lima you will need to use Peruvian Airlines as there are no feasible road or rail routes.
Cusco has an excellent range of hotels bars, restaurants and clubs all located around Plaza de Armas. We really like the JW Marriott with its oxygenised rooms. Stay for 3 days, if you are worried about acclimatisation.
The city’s cobbled streets have Inca buildings and colonial style structures everywhere. It is worth visiting San Pedro Market to see how the locals live. We recommend finding a ‘free tour’ to have the best experience.
Outside the city you can explore the Peru Sacred Valley, which is full of Incan culture and ruins, and take a trip to Ollantaytambo, one of the last Incan towns to fall. It may be the best to see these on the way to Machu Picchu.
Many articles have been written about Machu Picchu, which we will not attempt to repeat here, but we think that Machu Picchu is the best of the 7 wonders of the world.
The trip from Cuzco to Machu Picchu can be made in several ways, at different times of the year, so we have written a guide on how to travel to Machu Picchu using Peru Rail. You can also take the Inca Trail if you are feeling very energetic.
Machu Picchu is at a lower altitude than Cuzco, so the altitude is unlikely to be a problem. There are a few steep climbs in Machu Picchu but these should be not too hard after staying in Cuzco for a few days.
The main thing to understand is when you are visiting Machu Picchu is that you will be probable be staying (unless you do a day trip from Cuzco or staying at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge) at Aguas Calientes, which is not the nicest place in the world. So, unless you are staying at the Inkaterra, one night should be enough.
The Peruvian Amazon rainforest covers about 60% of the country and is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world – where the anaconda calls these lands its home.
One of the quickest ways to get to the Amazon is by plane from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado—only a 50-minute flight. The best place to stay is at the Inkaterra Hacienda Concepción, an eco-friendly lodge that offers a wide range of tours.
Iquitos is unique city in that it is the largest city in the world inaccessible by roads, and is the gateway to exploring the Amazon.
Some of the most popular Peru jungle tours along the river include butterfly farms, animal orphanages and protected nature reserves with birdwatching.
Lake Titicaca, is located on the Peru Bolivia border in the Andes Mountains, and the world’s highest navigable lake. Lake Tittikaka was believed by the Incas to be the birthplace of the sun.
Puno is a port city on the shores of Lake Titicaca on the Altiplano of Peru. Its biggest attraction is as a departure point for the famous floating islands on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca.
None is more enchanting than Isla Taquile, where visitors can spend a night in a homestay Isla Taquile and shouldn’t be missed, as it offers a pocket of centuries-old culture so enthrallingly distinct from that on the mainland.
You can get to Puno by plane from Lima and Cusco, take a bus from Cusco (about 18 hours with Peru Hop), or take the 1920s-style Pullmam type train which lasts about 10 hours 30 minutes to cross the Peruvian Andes.
The Best Way To Visit Peru
We suggest visiting Peru in the order of the destinations in this article. If you have the time, it is a good idea to extend your holiday into a Peru and Bolivia tour, crossing the border at Lake Titicaca where Peru bus company Peru Hop turns into Bolivia Hop.
The winter in Peru (May – September) is the driest season and therefore the best time to go to Peru, especially if you’re planning to visit Cusco or trek to Machu Picchu, but the summer is also fine if you don’t mind getting wet (which being British you will not!)