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Peru Travel Guide

Travel Guide to Peru with Local Expertise

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Peru at a glance

From the incredible archaeological discoveries to the world’s most biologically diverse rainforest, Peru provides travelers with an endless show of both ancient and modern ecosystems and cultures. Peru is perhaps most famous for Cusco and Machu Picchu. However, these are just two colonial and pre-Columbian gems out of 11 UNESCO World Heritage sites located in the country. New archaeological discoveries at Machu Picchu, Chachapoyas, and along the Pacific coast add a sense of excitement to your trip. The wonders of Peru await your arrival, including beautifully handwoven textiles, Amazonian pink dolphins, smiling llamas, impressive Inca ruins, and pristine colonial cities. Not to mention the delicious food.

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South America’s third largest country, Peru, is perhaps the most geographically diverse country in the region. With the Amazon to the east, the Pacific coast to the west and the Andes in the middle, Peru has an eclectic and spellbinding mix of mountains, jungles, and beaches that are ready for exploration. Peru is perhaps most well-known for the Incas, but interestingly there are even more ancient civilizations to discover. From the archaeological sites of Chan Chan and Kuelap to the tomb of Lord Sipan, there is so much to learn! Pristine colonial architecture is found in most of Peru’s towns and cities, and offers travelers a glimpse into the past. Food in Peru is a dream come true - from the mouth-watering ceviche and Lomo Saltado to Ají de Gallina and Tacacho con Cecina - all washed down with a pisco sour or fruit juice, of course The culinary experience you’ll have in Peru is like no other in the region. Whether you’re hiking to Machu Picchu or relaxing on a beach with a pisco sour, Peru offers something for everyone.




This is the section with a road map to help you in planning your trip to Peru, give an idea of a general idea of the region, what areas may be of interest, visas and other great information worth considering when preparing for your journey to the region.


All travelers will need a passport valid for at least 90 days following your departure date from Peru. However, we strongly recommend traveling with 6 months validity on your passport at all times. VisaHQ can assist U.S. citizens with a full range of expedited passport services, including new passport application, passport renewal, and any required visas. Peru requires that you have adequate unused pages in your passport, allowing for any necessary stamps upon arrival and departure. Check with your airline in case you have connecting flights overseas as part of your journey to Peru. It may be the case that countries you pass through en route to your destination may require a separate transit visa.


Many of us here have families and young children and we travel with them all the time, but you do need to plan carefully. The long distances between places, the high altitudes and subsequent risk of altitude sickness, and the possibility of getting an upset stomach all need to be taken into consideration. However, Peru is a great place for kids with plenty of opportunities for them to explore the authentic culture of Peru and interact with the locals. We’re great at offering assistance as many of us here have already done it ourselves with our families. Whether exploring the narrow waterways of the Amazon, visiting a traditional market in Cusco or, climbing to the ancient Inca Citadel and World Wonder of Machu Picchu; there’s something here for all ages.


Peru’s official language is Spanish, but there are also a number of indigenous languages such as Quechua and Aymara. With about 84% of Peruvians speaking Spanish, it is by far the most widely spoken language in Peru, followed by Quechua which is spoken by about 13% of Peruvians. Quechua is mostly spoken in the highlands of central and southern Peru, and it was the language spoken during the Inca Empire. The third most widely spoken language in Peru is Aymara, but it is only spoken by about 1.7% of Peruvians. Almost all Aymara speakers can be found in the southernmost region of Peru, particularly along the border of Bolivia and surrounding Lake Titicaca where the Uros who inhabit the floating islands speak Aymara.


Peru’s gastronomic scene is a foodie’s dream come true. Even if you’re not a big foodie you won’t be disappointed once you’ve dined at one of Lima’s world-renowned restaurants. Whether it’s the ceviche, lomo saltado, Nikkei cuisine or, causa rellena, there is something to suit even the fussiest of palates. After traveling to Peru and exploring its cuisine it will be clear to you why it is referred to as the culinary capital of South America. In recent decades, Peruvian food has experienced a worldwide boom in popularity. Lima, the capital city, has produced chefs and restaurants recognized throughout the world. The flavors of Peru stem from a varied climate, a mixed population, and a history of colonization. Peruvians have experienced a renewed pride in their cooking as a result of the success that Peruvian restaurants have started to enjoy all over the world.


Generally speaking, Peru is safe but you should keep an eye out for pickpockets, especially in the larger cities. Remember you’re a foreigner and will already stick out, so watch your valuables and don’t wear lots of expensive jewelry or show off your latest iPhone, camera or laptop. Try not to take out of the hotel more cash than you need that day and keep it along with your passport and documents in a money belt under your clothing. At restaurants, don’t hang your bag over your chair and keep it in sight at all times. Similarly, make sure you don’t leave your cell phone or purse sitting on top of the table as it is an easy target for opportunistic thieves.


Make sure to take precautions against altitude sickness if you’re traveling to the highlands, some prescription medications such as Diamox can help with your acclimatization. It’s best to understand altitude sickness to combat it effectively, as altitude increases, the percentage of oxygen in the air is reduced, and oxygen molecules per breath reduced. During the first few days at high altitude take deep breaths, drink plenty of water, eat lightly, and stay calm. If you are experiencing altitude sickness, continuing on to higher altitude without proper acclimatization can lead to the potentially serious, even life-threatening altitude sickness. No mandatory vaccinations are required to visit Peru. We do recommend visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to make sure everything is up to date. We recommend travel insurance with World Nomads, they have Standard & Explorer Plans available.


Peru’s official currency is the Nuevo Sol (S/) and the exchange rate as of 2018 is approximately ~ S/ 3.30 to US$1.00. We recommend bringing cash in US Dollars as they can be easily exchanged throughout the country. Visa is the most widely accepted bank card although MasterCard, Diners Club and, American Express are accepted in most places. When exchanging money, ask for a mix of small bills and larger bills as if you’re visiting some of the smaller towns or villages, they may not accept the larger bills as they may not have enough change for you. We also recommend using the Foreign Exchange Bureaus instead of the high-street banks when exchanging money as they have slightly better rates and you may find that they charge lower commissions. We recommend visiting the website XE Currency Converter to get current exchange rates.


As a result of the geographical diversity of Peru, making your way from one destination to another on your own can be tricky. For cross-country travel, we highly recommend taking a domestic flight as you’ll save time and it’s also much more comfortable than the long-distance buses. If you have a shorter journey between two destinations you can travel by bus. Although the trips with the Cruz del Sur Bus Company are more expensive than the other bus companies, the extra safety, comfort, and reliability make it worthwhile to pay slightly more. When traveling within a city, you can use local transport such as combis and buses but their driving can be a little erratic. Use taxis with caution as they don’t use meters so you will have to try and haggle the fare before getting in which is why if you’re thinking of getting a taxi, we would recommend using Uber.


Electricity in Peru runs at 220 Volts, so transformers may be necessary for travelers from the USA. Just be sure to check your item’s label before plugging it in. If you are planning to use anything with a three-prong plug, bring an adapter, as some establishments only have two-prong outlets. If you’d like to learn more about the types of plugs in Peru, check out the website What Plug Info – Peru. Depending on where you are from, you may need a plug adapter or voltage converter. When using a plug adapter (which simply changes the shape of the plug so it will fit in the outlet) make sure the voltage of the appliance is compatible. This information is listed on the appliance. For example, North American visitors can usually use a plug adapter with a laptop computer since most laptop computers can accept 120-220V and no voltage converter is required. This may not be true for other appliances such as hair dryers. The appliance may not be designed to work at 220V.

Related Blog Articles

Find out more about the culture, lifestyle, and places to travel in Peru. We’ll be looking at a range of destinations, traditions and travel tips for this incredible country in our Travel Blog. What’s better is you’ll be hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth – people living and working right here in Peru. Learn about our favorite restaurants in Lima & Cusco, research different experiences to explore, or stay informed about upcoming festivals taking place across the country. Visit our Travel Blog for travel tips, inspiration and all the latest! Some of our favorite articles on Peru: 


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