15 Prudent Peru Travel Tips to Know Before You Go
My first trip to Peru I pretty much hated it. The weather was absolutely awful and I spent way to much time nursing hangovers and swiping Tinder. It was miserable and I never planned to visit, again.
But, I decided to give it a second go. A couple buddies were visiting and the weather was supposed to be better. I figured a few months wouldn't do any harm. So, I booked a ticket to Lima.
And I'm glad I did. After my second stay in Lima, I've become a big fan of the city and country. Peru has a lot to offer novice travelers and digital nomads.
With that in mind, I wanted to share a few Peru travel tips I've learned.
15 Prudent Peru Travel Tips to Know Before You Go
There's not much of a learning curve to traveling in Peru. It's pretty straightforward, as the country is firmly placed on the “Gringo Trail” and the economy is bolstered by tourism.
However, a few quick tricks and tips could make your travels so much better. So, here's a few Peru travel tips I learned after two trips to the country:
Don't Sleep on Lima
Nearly every gringo flies into Lima, stays a couple nights at a hostel, gets drunk, and then heads somewhere else. It's rare a traveler spends more than a week in this giant, bustling city.
But Lima has a ton to offer the average traveler. The Pacific Ocean views are magnificent, the nightlife is popping, and there's enough to do here to keep people entertained.
If you have some time to spend in Peru, make sure to give Lima a go. It's a great city that's sure to please.
No Visa Needed
You don't need to apply for a visa or anything before coming to Peru as an American. Just show up with your Passport and you're good to go.
In fact, they didn't even check my luggage when I arrived my last trip. I grabbed my bags and security simply whisked me on through to the taxi line.
While certain South American countries, like Brazil or Bolivia, charge gringos for a visa – Peru doesn't. A huge plus in my book!
Workout on the Malecon
Gyms in Lima, Peru are pretty damn pricey. In fact, I was shocked how much it costs to get a one-month membership to a gym in Miraflores.
Instead, live like a local and head down to the Malecon in Miraflores. You'll find tons of places to jog, run stairs, do yoga, and get a callisthenics workout in.
During November through May, you can expect sunny ocean views and a lot of sunshine. It's the perfect place to get a great outdoor workout in. Plus, you're sure to make some local friends while you're at it.
Pay Attention to the Weather
Speaking of weather – I've said it once and I'll say it again, pay attention to the weather before traveling to Lima. Well, really anywhere in Peru.
Winter in Peru is May through October. During these months, places like Lima might get sunshine for a few hours a week. Your days will be filled with grey skies and cool weather.
Not exactly the tropical vacation many of us had in mind. However, from November through early May, Peru is filled with sunshine and great temperatures. As such, I've found it's best to visit during this time.
Use Peru Hop
I'm not a fan of buses in Peru. In fact, they can be downright scary – but we'll get to that in a minute.
Peru Hop, on the other hand, might be the absolute best way to travel throughout the South of Peru. The company is owned and operated by two Westerners living in Peru. These guys know the country like the back of their hand and offer incredible deals.
In fact, it's often cheaper to book a hassle-free, all-inclusive type of package with Peru Hop then to try and book stuff on your own. They've negotiated prices for you and don't rip off fellow foreigners.
The company operates in:
- And More!
If you're planning to move around Peru, it's worth checking out the Peru Hop website and seeing if one of their many itineraries fit your travel needs.
Learn a Little Spanish
Peru is a Spanish speaking country. While the country does a great job with tourism and many Peruvians working in the industry speak English, you'll struggle a bit without speaking Spanish.
Speaking Spanish allows you to get so much more out of your travels. Ordering food at a restaurant becomes easier, getting directions isn't next to impossible any longer, and you'll actually be able to have real conversations with locals not trying to sell you something.
Luckily, it's not hard to learn Spanish these days. Just click here to start today!
Get Adjusted to Altitude
The Andes Mountains runs throughout Peru. As such, many of the tourist hotspots offer stunning views and great hiking, but high altitude.
You'll want to be ready for a little altitude sickness when visiting Machu Pichu and Cusco. Sitting at 11,152 feet, it's pretty easy to find problems with the altitude in Cusco.
My first night in Cusco I got absolutely wasted and woke up the next afternoon feeling like death. The combination of a hangover and altitude sickness had me struggling.
While I'm no expert, it's a good idea to lay off the booze your first few days in Cusco and let your body adjust.
Machu Pichu is a MUST
While the potential altitude sickness in Cusco might suck, Machu Pichu is 100% worth it! Sure, it's a complete tourist trap and some of the shady characters in Aquas Caliente will piss you off.
But, who cares?! It's one of the great archaeological wonders of the world, and quite possibly the most important tourist attraction in all of South America.
If you come to Peru and don't visit Machu Pichu, you made a big mistake.
Don't Use Global Net ATMs
You'll see Global Net ATMs all over Lima. Legit everywhere. Don't use them!
I've never seen such insane ATM fees to pull out less than $150 USD of currency in my life!
Try and find any other ATMs to use in Lima. You'll be able to pull out nearly twice as many Peruvian Soles in one transaction and you'll save 30-40% on ATM fees.
Get Out of the Hostel
Hostels are crazy popular in Peru. If you're a young backpacker, they're great. If you're a normal, functioning adult – not so much. My best advice? Stop staying in hostels.
See, Airbnb has great options all over Peru, especially in Lima and Cusco.
You can get a fully furnished apartment for the same price as a mid-range hotel or private room in a hostel. For the same price as a hostel dorm, you can get a private room in a house or apartment off Airbnb.
Both options will offer you more privacy and comfort than a hostel or hotel. Highly recommended.
Focus on Food
Peruvian food is consider the best cuisine in South America. Only Mexico rivals Peru in terms of culinary excellence throughout all of Latin America.
You'd be a fool to visit Peru and not try out a few of the popular dishes. While you could spend weeks trying all the dishes and restaurants in Lima, there's a few foods that stand out.
No matter what, make sure you try Ceviche and Lomo Saltado.
- Read More: A Gringo's Guide to Peruvian Food
Feel Free to Breathe Easy
Peru is a South American country. The region generally isn't considered safe. Places like Brazil, Venezuela, and even Colombia continually rank among the most dangerous countries in the world.
But, there's good news. Peru isn't like that. In fact, many parts of Peru are exceptionally safe.
Lima boosts the safest neighborhood in all of Latin America – Miraflores. Cusco is a tourist hotspot and does a great job of protecting tourists.
Outside of petty theft, you won't have much to worry about in Peru. The murder rate is exceptionally low for Latin America and the country is generally a bit more conservative than their neighbors.
Just read a little about safety in Peru and then breathe easy while traveling throughout the country.
Uber is Awesome Here
I was baffled the first time I took an Uber in Peru. Going from Miraflores to the historic center of Peru took about 25 minutes, yet it only cost me 14 soles. That's less than $5 USD!
Uber here works well and is 100% safe. Plus, it's incredibly cheap. If you're looking to move around Lima with ease, just Uber everywhere.
Don't Forget Arequipa
For many a traveler, a Peru trip equals Lima, Cusco, and Machu Pichu. I went down a similar path to start my Peru travels.
While Cusco and Lima are certainly great cities, I definitely regret not checking out Arequipa. A few buddies of mine went and had an amazing time in the city of nearly a million people.
If you're looking for a hidden gem in Peru, give Arequipa a try. It's not necessarily hidden, but it's pretty solid for a second-tier city in South America.
Just Fly Everywhere
Do not Google, “Peru bus crashes” right now! Just. Don't. Do. It! Seriously, Peru seems to have a huge problem with bus crashes.
The mountainous terrain and lack of infrastructure is a huge issue. Outside of Peru Hop, I won't ride a long distance bus in the country.
It's just not worth it, especially when flights throughout the major cities in Peru are so cheap. You can get one-ways between Cusco, Lima, and Arequipa for $50-100 USD. A bus ticket costs at least $30 for such a long ride.
Why risk it? Just check out airlines like Peruvian Air and Star Peru.
Peru Travel Tips: A Gringo's Guide
Peru is a fantastic country for travelers, especially those with limit Latin America experience. With a little planning and prep, you're sure to have a great time in the land of Alpaca, Ceviche and Pisco Sours.
I know I did! Use these Peru travel tips to make your stay even better. If you have any comments or questions about traveling in Peru, sound off in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.