Giant sand dunes, snow capped peaks and Pacific surf breaks, Peru is a destination for the active traveler. But before you embark on your worldly adventures, you’ll want to read these useful Peru tips to help prepare you for a trip of a lifetime.
Not only will these tips for traveling in Peru help you as you navigate the country but its nice to be prepared for anything that comes your way. This will not only ensure an extraordinary trip but it will help you uncover the complex layers that make up this ancient nation.
In this article, I’ll go over 20 travel tips for Peru that will ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Plus at the end of the post, I’ll link any useful guides that will aid you in planning the best trip possible.
For full transparency, I have sprinkled some affiliate links in this post. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases that gives me a small commission at no extra cost to you if you decided to make a purchase. As always, I would never recommend a product or service that I didn't truely believe in. All proceeds go to keep Jess traveling and coffee ☕️. I thank you in advance.
- Machu Picchu Tickets
- Train Tickets to Machu Picchu
- Tap Water
- Peru Tipping
- Altitude Sickness
- Bus Travel
- Getting from Lima to Cusco
- Learn Basic Phrases
- Cash is King
- Feminine Products
- Be Ready to Haggle
- Budget – it’s extremely reasonable and cheap to travel Peru.
- Purchase Travel insurance before you go
- There’s so much more to Peru than Machu Picchu and Lima
- Best Time to Visit
- What to Pack
- How Long to Travel Peru
Useful Apps for Peru Travel
It isn’t as common to come across people who speak Spanish compared to other Spanish speaking nations like Mexico, therefore a few basic phrases go a long way. Here are the best, useful apps for traveling Peru.
Google Translate: Helps bridge language barriers, allowing you to communicate more effectively with locals and understand signs and menus in English.
Cabify: basically the Uber for South America.
Maps.Me: allows you to download maps offline and is an essential app for Peru if you plan on doing treks like the Salkantay Trek or the Colca Canyon. It shows every trail, displays hotels, campsites and anything you might need to know.
It even shows where all the collectivos (shared minivans) pick up & drop off stations are which is what you’ll be riding in when doing day trips from Cusco. And the best part is, its FREE!
XE Currency: Easily convert currency rates.
Trail Wallet: Helps you keep track of your expenses and make informed spending decisions. This helps stay on budget, a top Peru travel tip.
Whatsapp: Talk/text to friends and family anytime you are connected to the internet for free.
Peru Travel Tips
Buy Machu Picchu Tickets in Advance
I couldn’t write a 20 practical Peru travel tips post without starting off the list with Machu Picchu. Ahh, Machu Picchu, the main reason that millions of visitors flock to this iconic destination every year. That being said, book your tickets to the Inca citadel far in advance.
Tickets to Machu Picchu sell out quickly so secure tickets 2, 3 sometimes 6 months in advance, especially if you are traveling to Peru during peak season. They only let 2,500 people visit Machu Picchu each day and 500 of those permits go towards trekkers of the Inca Trail (300 of which go to porters and guides).
If you plan on hiking up Huayna Picchu, these tickets need to be booked farther in advance than entry tickets to Machu Picchu. Huayna Picchu is the mountain that overlooks Machu Picchu and once climbed, you’ll get an epic birds eye view. It’s one of the most epic hikes in Peru.
Buy Train Tickets to Machu Picchu Tickets Farther in Advance
Since we’re on the subject, book your transportation out of Aguas Calientes in advance too. Aguas Calientes is the gateway town to Machu Picchu and trains out of Aguas Calientes sell out quicker than trains coming in.
Purchasing your train tickets in advance, will secure your spot on the train and avoid any last-minute disappointments or availability issues. Additionally, buying tickets in advance allows you to plan your trip better, knowing exactly when you will be able to visit Machu Picchu and ensuring a smooth and hassle-free experience.
Peru has Uber
I personally love when countries have Uber because it makes the process of getting from the airport to your hotel easier, safer and more seamless. Most people traveling to Peru first arrive in Lima. As soon as you walk out of the airport from baggage claim, you will be bombarded by people wanting to give you rides and get your business.
Being able to request an uber on your phone from inside the airport takes the pressure off of haggling and finding a proper/honest cab. Better yet, do as the locals do and use Cabify – basically Uber for South America.
✈️ Travel Hack: If you own the American Express Platinum Card, you get up to $15 dollars of cash credited towards your account each month when you use Uber. This gets you a long ways in Peru and is one of my favorite traveling in Peru tips.
Tap Water is Not Safe to Drink
Here’s a Peru tip that you won’t want to forget. The tap water in Peru is not safe to drink. This is the case for most of the countries in South America. You must treat or boil your water before consuming it.
Having to buy bottled water on a daily basis can add up and isn’t the most cost effective route especially if you are traveling on a budget. An easy solution is to bring a water purifying water bottle such as the life straw or use water purification tablets.
This makes it very convenient to always have drinkable water on hand and will be a life saver if you plan on doing some long treks such as the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trek. I would like to add that I brushed my teeth the entire 2 months in Peru with the tap water and never had a problem.
Let’s talk about tipping in Peru. Most restaurant and bar bills include a 10% gratuity. It’s customary to add an extra 10% if the service has been satisfactory. Most Peruvians only tip one or two soles at small “mom and pop” restaurants that do not add a tip to the bill.
If you’re traveling to Peru, chances are you’ll be spending some time in the mountains. Time spent at elevation means that you’ll probably encounter altitude sickness at some point. A top Peru tip is to give yourself time to adjust to elevation before setting off on any sort of hike or trek.
This means that on the first day that you arrive in elevation whether its Cusco, Arequipa, Puno or the Cordilleras, should be nothing more than acclimatization. You should be drinking lots of water, resting and taking it easy the first couple days at your destination in the mountains.
Here are some tips to help prevent/tend to altitude sickness.
- Coca leaves are a traditional way to relieve altitude sickness by chewing it or making tea with it. Coca leaves can be bought at any local supermarket and are available in most restaurants.
- Sorojchpills are pills you can buy at the local pharmacy that help with altitude sickness.
- Muna – is an herb that can be found in the mountains. You can pick it, rub it in your hands and inhale it. Or put it in tea and drink it. It’s also a digestive.
- Allow 24-36 hours of acclimatization before setting off on a hike.
- Ascend gradually.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid booze and cigarettes.
Bus Travel in Peru
Bus travel in Peru offers a convenient and affordable way to explore the country’s diverse landscapes but…it’s not always the most comfortable.
The extensive bus network connects major cities, towns and some remote regions. This makes it easier for fellow travelers experience the beauty of Peru.
There are various bus companies to choose from, ranging from budget-friendly options to more luxurious services with amenities like reclining seats, tv’s and Wi-Fi.
While travel times can vary and chances are you’ll definitely experience a delay – I can promise you that you’ll always have a terrific story to accompany the journey.
The safest and best bus companies in Peru are Cruz del Sur, Peru Hop, and Oltursa. Cruz del Sur taking the top spot. I was extremely comfortable and enjoyed my bus trip on Cruz del Sur. Far back lay down seats, bathroom, space for my backpack in the space above me and privacy.
Fly from Lima to Cusco
Since we covered bus travel above, let’s talk about when we shouldn’t bus travel in this traveling Peru tips post. If you’re only visiting Peru for a couple weeks and the main reason for your trip is to visit Machu Picchu, then do yourself a favor and fly to Cusco from Lima!
Bus rides from Lima to Cusco is minimum 20 hours and that’s if you pass through the Andes, which is where most of the bus hijacking’s occur. I traveled through Peru for 2 months. We hadn’t even been in Peru for a week before we experienced our first 26 hour bus journey!
Woof. Throw in the 7 hours working on our laptops in a not so comfortable coffee shop, you’re looking at a full 33+ hours of sitting, waiting and dreaming about your next hotel. Learn from my mistake and put this Peru tip in action.
Learn Basic Phrases in Spanish
I’ve heard it before traveling to Peru, but for some reason I was still surprised to learn that a lot of people don’t speak English. This is especially true when you get out of the tourist traps and into the less visited parts of Peru.
Knowing some basic phrases in Spanish will go a long way and this is probably my top Peru tip. Here are a few key phrases that come in handy:
- Hola = Hello
- Ciao = Goodbye
- Por favor = Please
- Gracias = Thank you
- Lo siento = Sorry
- Sí = Yes
- No = No
- Yo hablo un poco Espanol = I speak a little Spanish
- Cuanto = How much
- Buenos días = Good morning
- Buenas tardes = Good afternoon
- Buenas noches = Good night
- ¿Dónde? = Where?
- Mucho gusto = Nice to meet you
- ¿Cómo estás? = How are you?
- Estoy bien – It’s good, I’m well, It’s fine
- ¿Qué hora es? = What time is it?
- ¿Cómo se dice…? = How do you say…
- Estoy perdido/a = I am lost
- Yo no comprendo = I do not understand
- Por favor, habla más despacio = Please speak slower
- Muy bueno = very good
- La quinta – the check
Cash is Still King
Cash is the preferred way of paying for things in Peru. Even most hostels and budget hotels will allow you to book a reservation online but you’ll have to pay cash aka soles when you arrive.
Soles are the currency of Peru and roughly 4 soles = 1 USD. Soles is obviously the main form of payment but I had the option of paying with USD’s several places in Peru.
Contrary to many blogs that I read in preparation for my trip to Peru, credit cards were accepted at many restaurants, hotels and even some stores. If paying with a credit card, there is usually a 4% charge added to your bill. Even though that may not seem like a lot, that small surcharge adds up especially if you are pinching pennies and traveling Peru on a budget.
ATM’s can be found mostly everywhere in Peru and are easily accessible to meet the banking needs of both locals and tourists. They can be found throughout the country in major cities, towns and even in some remote areas. Obviously just make sure you use a machine that is in a well lit area to avoid any potential scams.
Most ATMs accept international cards, allowing for easy cash withdrawals in both Peruvian Soles (PEN) and USD’s. There were 3 different machines/banks to withdrawal funds from, Scotiabank did not work for me but the Globalnet did, so make sure you try others if your withdrawal doesn’t work on the first go around.
It is important to note that some ATM’s may charge a small transaction fee, so it is advisable to check with your bank beforehand or get a bank account that reimburses you for ATM fees. I personally use Charles and Schwab and have been a loyal customer for years.
Since Charles and Schwab reimburses any and every foreign transaction fee you can use an ATM as frequently as you’d like knowing you will get those fees paid back. This is not only a great way to save money on foreign fees but it allows you to stay safe as your travel. Carrying a lot of cash on your person at once makes you a target for common theft.
Ahh the food, this is going to be the tastiest Peru travel tip in this article. I could go on and on how amazing the food is in Peru but you’ll figure that out quickly once you arrive.
Peru is renowned for its diverse and delicious cuisine. The country’s cuisine is a melting pot of flavors. One iconic dish is ceviche, which consists of fresh fish or seafood marinated in lime juice, combined with onions, chili peppers, and other seasonings.
Another popular dish is the Lomo Saltado. I had the best meal of my life in Cusco at a restaurant called Morena Peruvian Kitchen and it was the Lomo Saltado. Seriously, I dream about this dish often 🤤.
Adventurous eaters can also sample traditional dishes such as Cuy (guinea pig) – I recommend to do this only in Cusco or Arequipa.
Feminine Hygiene Products
Okay this is a one of my top tips for traveling Peru and it only pertains to the ladies. Contrary to what I read online, I found it almost impossible to find tampons in Peru. Pads no problem, tampons were like non existent. I’d recommend to pack an adequate supply of your preferred products, especially if you are like me and travel for months on end.
A great eco-friendly and cheaper substitute is a menstrual cup. A Menstrual Cup is a reusable feminine hygiene product that provides an eco-friendly and convenient alternative to traditional pads or tampons.
One of the main advantages of using a menstrual cup is its long-lasting nature, as it can be reused for several years with proper care and cleaning. Plus it’s cost-effective, which helps save hundreds of dollars a year.
Be Ready to Haggle
Haggling is a weird thing. I know it makes lots of people feel a bit uncomfortable at first, I know it did with me. But the reality is, you’ll get ripped off if you don’t haggle and prices are marked as such for haggling to occur. A good place to practice is in the San Pedro Market in Cusco.
I met a fellow traveler who went on a free walking tour and learned to tell the difference between hand made alpaca or something made in a ‘factory’ with synthetic material. Doing something like this will make the act of haggling much easier.
If budget is a concern, this will be a top Peru tip. You can spend $50 a day in Peru, living comfortably and not denying yourself any comforts or pleasures. It is possible to get by on $15 -20 a day traveling Peru but that’s only eating street food and staying in a bed in a dorm.
For a slightly higher budget it’s nice to have your own room and bathroom. If you have a budget of $100 a day, you’ll get to stay in some of Peru’s nicest hotels and travel the country by plane.
Best Time to Visit Peru
Of course one of the top traveling in Peru tips is when to go? Dry season lasts from March through October, this means warmer weather at night and blue bird skies during the day. The best time to visit Peru is in the shoulder months of dry season – March-May or October-September.
Traveling to Peru during dry season also means busy season, especially June to August. But if you time it right, you can travel during the off peak months which allows you have the best of both worlds – great weather and thinner crowds.
I spent 2 months traveling around Peru during the shoulder months of April and May. I couldn’t of asked for a better time. It never rained, it was never that crowded.
Plus I was able to book accommodations and transportation the day before with ease and for a cheaper price than if I traveled to Peru during the busy season.
Rainy season is November through April with January and February being the wettest. Don’t forget to pack your rain gear.
What to Pack for Peru Tips
If you plan on doing some trekking, make sure you bring:
Peru has a beautiful coast line and in the North you’ll have summer weather:
- Power Bank Charger
- Life Straw Water Bottle
- Packing Cubes
- Comfortable Shoes for Walking
- Biodegradable Wet Wipes (Toilet Paper isn’t always around when you need it in Peru)
What to buy in Peru:
- Alpaca Scarf
- Alpaca Sweater
- Hiking Poles
How Long to Visit Peru
How long to travel Peru? The average American only gets about 2 weeks of vacation time, but if you have the gift of time, spending a longer period of time in Peru as you can will only increase your experience.
Two weeks in Peru allows you to hit all the highlights and have one grand adventure like hiking the Salkantay Trek or Colca Canyon. I spent 2 months traveling around Peru and the only reason we left was because our visas were about to run out.
Purchase Travel Insurance Before You Go
I know you probably hear travel bloggers preaching about getting travel insurance before you go travel, but there’s a reason. Travel insurance is an important part of planning any trip!
It is an essential way to protect your finances and provide peace of mind while you are away from home. Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses, trip cancellation, lost or stolen luggage and even airfare to get you back home in case of an emergency.
I had a friend who unfortunately broke her back snowboarding in Australia. Fortunately for travel insurance, she was able to have her medical bills taken care of and flown back home to the United States with only having to pay the deductible out of pocket.
I use SafetyWing Insurance. It includes medical and trip coverage even for my brief visits back home to Hawaii for up to 30 days.
It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind when traveling in foreign territory. Not only is this a top travel tip in Peru, but it’s a top travel tip in general. Check them out and see if there’s a plan for you.
There’s more to Peru than Machu Picchu
Alas, we’ve come to the end of our Peru tips list. Peru is most associated with Machu Picchu and yes, visiting the infamous Inca citadel is a must visit place in Peru but I am hear to tell you that there is so much more to Peru than Machu Picchu.
Peru has some incredible destinations and I promise you’ll be searching for flights in no time. Check out the post below for more details of the 15 best places to visit in Peru.
Rather have someone else plan the logistics for you? Exploring a country on a tour is a great way to see a lot of highlights in a short period of time, great to meet fellow like minded travelers and takes all the planning out of the equation so all you have to do is show up and have a good time. Here are a few great Peru Tours to check out.
📌 Tours in Peru:
Peru Travel Vlogs
Would you rather see what it’s like to travel Peru? Joe and I filmed several travel vlogs while we explored this fantastic country. Check them out after you finish reading this post and please subscribe or give us a thumbs up. It doesn’t cost you anything and really helps us be able to continue creating free content for you to enjoy 🙂.
Best Things to do in Peru
Just wait til you find out all the awesome things to do in Peru, it’s life changing.
- Homestay on Lake Titicaca
- Eat adventurously – Guinea Pig
- Fly Over the Nazca Lines
- Climb Huayna Picchu for a Birdseye view of Machu Picchu
- Take a Boat Ride through the Amazon
Accommodations in Peru
A bed in a dorm will cost 2- 10 USD’s per person. You can get comfortable accommodation for $20-$25 a night for 2 people. A higher budget allows you luxury that’s worth the cost. Peru is a great place to travel on a budget and ball out in luxury.
Below are city specific Peru Travel Guides for accommodations to help plan your trip.
Onward Travel from Peru
- Press North to Ecuador to hike volcanos and adventure in Banos.
- Cross over into Bolivia via Lake Titicaca.
- Head deep into the rainforest into Brazil.
- Discover Colombia’s vibrant towns.
- Adventure down South and explore Chile.
Peru Travel Guides
📍Plan your Trip:
- The Ultimate Guide to Peru
- 17 Useful Tips to Know Before Traveling to Cusco
- 14 Remarkable Things to do in Peru
- 15 Incredible Places to Visit in Peru
- 20 Essentials Tips for Traveling Peru
🗺 How long to travel Peru? 2 Week Peru Itinerary
☔️ Best Time to Visit: Shoulder months of dry season – March-May or October-September.
💰 Average Daily Budget: $40 - 50 a day for basic accommodations and sit down meals.
⛺️ Peru accommodation Guides
- Machu Picchu
- Best Hikes in Peru
- Trekking Salkantay Independently
- Sacred Valley
- Exploring Cusco
- Hiking Colca Canyon
- Homestay on Lake Titicaca
- Lima's Food Scene
- Trekking Cordillera Blanca
- Huacachina Desert Oasis
🧳 What to Pack: Salkantay Trek Packing List
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