Peru is a land of varied topography, extensive history, and lively culture. There are so many amazing places to see in this South American country, from the majestic Andes to the age-old ruins of Machu Picchu.
To make your vacation to Peru as easy and pleasurable as possible, there are a few things to know prior to packing your bags and making travel arrangements.
We’ll quickly go over 13 things you should know before traveling to Peru, from when to go to Peru to where to stay. These suggestions will enable you to get the most out of your trip, whether you’re an experienced traveler or setting out on your first major adventure. So let’s get started.
What You Should Know Before Traveling to Peru
1. When to Go to Peru
Be aware of the different weather in Cusco, as this will have a big impact on your overall experience in Peru.
May – October is the best time to visit Peru as this is the dry season in the Peruvian highlands, the most visited part of the country. During this time, you’ll enjoy sunny days and cool nights, with little to no rain. However, you can expect more travelers and higher prices.
You won’t be worse off traveling from October to April, but especially in places like Cusco or Arequipa, the probability of rain is high.
Regarding the weather in Iquitos, a popular city in the Amazon jungle, you can expect more rain during the high water season, which lasts from December to May, with swelling rivers and flooding nearby areas. However, during the low water season, which lasts from June to November, you’ll have it easier to access inaccessible locations.
As you see, deciding on which month to travel can have a notable impact on your overall travel experience.
2. Do Peruvians Speak English?
Fall in love with the different cafes and restaurants in Peru.
Don’t worry about Peruvian not speaking English. If you travel to Peru’s must-visit cities such as Lima, Paracas, Cusco, Arequipa etc. you’ll be fine.
During our tours, all of our destination expert guides speak fluent English.
In case you leave those cities, the probability of finding English speaking people and especially natives is very low and it’s recommended to go with a guide.
Peru’s communities have over 300 unofficial and almost 100 official native languages they speak all over the country, sometimes not even Spanish is spoken. Still, people always tend to be friendly to help you out.
3. What to Do Next to Machu Picchu?
Floating islands built by locals on Lake Tititcaca.
Peru is famous for its wide variety of geographical elements, which have helped to foster the growth of a vibrant and varied culture. Several indigenous communities with unique cultures, traditions, and languages are found throughout the Andes highlands.
A large area of the country is covered by the beautiful Amazon rainforest, which is home to a vast variety of plants and animals as well as indigenous cultures.
Peru’s Pacific coast is renowned for its delectable seafood cuisine and has hosted numerous civilizations throughout history.
Moreover, Peru is home to a large number of picturesque lakes, notably Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake and an important cultural and historical landmark for the Andean people.
As you can see, there’s more to Peru than “only” Machu Picchu.
4. Ceviche & Pisco
In Peru you’ll find some delicious dishes and refreshing drinks.
Peru is famous for its excellent cuisine and exotic drinks! Therefore, you definitely have to ensure trying the following two things during your time in Peru.
The most famous and popular Peruvian drink is Pisco Sour, which is made of local brandy, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, and bitters. It is a very refreshing beverage that is frequently served as an aperitif.
On the other side, fall in love with the outstanding Peruvian food and the most popular dish: Ceviche. It’s created with raw fish or shellfish that has been marinated in citrus juice, lime and combined with onions, aji peppers and other ingredients. Don’t worry, the fish is “cooked” by the acidic marinade, which gives ceviche a lively flavor.
Besides that, we recommend exploring the Peruvian street food cuisine to learn more about the different cultures that influence it.
5. Always Have Small Change With You
Make sure to change your money on the streets with officials, as they will give you a better exchange rate as your banks in your country.
Always have some small coins and change with you (1,2,5,10,20) to buy snacks, water, pay a taxi and to avoid problems with the change of 50s or 100s which can be complicated over here.
You’ll need Peruvian soles (S/) that you can change from USD to S/ on the street with officials who do money exchange (they have blue jackets and can be found around the plaza de armas in Cusco or the Kennedy Park in Lima). Make sure to check your dollar bills so can avoid falling victim to travel scams.
6. Be Aware of the Altitude Sickness
Coca tea is one of the best ways to fight altitude sickness.
Altitude sickness is a common disease that can strike those who travel to high altitudes too quickly. From mild to severe, the symptoms can include headaches, lightheadedness, exhaustion, nausea, and shortness of breath. Nothing that someone needs during his vacations!
For visitors visiting high-altitude areas in Peru, such as the Andes Mountains and the city of Cusco, which is located at a height of more than 11,000 feet, altitude sickness can be a serious problem. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the nation, Machu Picchu, is situated at a high altitude and can be dangerous for those who are not acclimated.
For that reason, we highly recommend to rise gradually, maintain hydration, abstain from alcohol or tobacco use, and think about taking medicine, such as Soroche to prevent altitude sickness.
With the help of our blog article, how to avoid altitude sickness, you’ll be perfectly prepared.
7. No Travel Visa Necessary
Have always a copy of your passport and other travel documents with you.
For most western countries, there is no visa necessary to travel to Peru. You’ll probably receive between 30 to 183 days.
It’s important that you check your passport and that it has at least six months validity before entering the country. However, it’s always best to double check with your embassy in order to avoid any problems.
8. Don’t Drink Tap Water
In Peru you’ll find plenty of little shops (“Tiendas”) where you can buy water or other beverages.
In case you’re thirsty, it’s better to have a bottle of water with you all the time. It’s not recommended to drink tap water, as it’s not filtered and can cause you some serious stomach problems or diarrhea.
9. Ask to Take Pictures
During our tours, you’ll learn more about the incredible history of the Incas.
Before taking pictures of locals, please ask them for permission, as it’s a matter of respect to do so. They are usually happy to take a picture with you, but some may feel annoyed or even ask for money.
10. Use Taxis in Peru
Before entering a taxi ask for the price as they don’t have a taximeter.
Uber and Cabify can be a good help for transport, especially in Lima, Cusco or Arequipa. In case there is no Uber or Cabify there are lots of taxis available.
The taxis in Peru don’t have a taximeter and drivers are used to negotiating, so don’t be shy to do that. You’ll probably have to ask 2-3 taxis to get a decent price but it’s not too difficult.
A question we get a lot is whether renting a car is a good option to explore Peru. We think it is not a good idea because driving in Peru can be challenging due to bad road conditions, lots of traffic and safety issues.
11. Bring an Adapter to Charge Devices or Buy One Here
Don’t forget an adapter, as otherwise you can’t take incredible pictures of your time in Peru.
Bring an adapter to charge electronic devices. Be aware that Peru (220V) uses a higher voltage than the US (120V). Further, a mobile charger is always a great help in case your phone battery is low and you are in the middle of nowhere.
12. Check Your Vaccinations
Don’t forget to consult your doctor to see which vaccinations you’ll need before coming to Peru.
Before coming to Peru, it’s important to consult your doctor and check which vaccinations you’ll need for your specific travel plans and individual health status.
Some of the vaccines that are commonly recommended for travelers to Peru are:
- Standard vaccines: Such as Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, yearly flu shot, corona vaccination, are up-to-date.
- Hepatitis A: This vaccine is highly recommended for every who is travelling to Peru due to the risk of food and water contamination.
- Typhoid: Is a vaccine that gets recommended for travelers to Peru who will be eating and drinking outside of major hotels or restaurants.
- Yellow fever: This is an optional vaccination if you are planning a trip to the jungle.
- Rabies: Is recommended for travelers who will be spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas or working with animals.
As we have said before, please contact your doctor to determine which vaccines are recommended for your specific travel plans and individual health status.
13. Where To Stay?
You will stay in some of the most unique places in the world during your time in Peru.
For many of you, it will be the first time coming to Peru and you might be wondering what kind of accommodations are available or what are the best places to stay in Peru.
But don’t worry, there are plenty of options that suit every budget and preference!
Here are the different options that you have:
Local Homestay or Guesthouse: If you want to immerse yourself in Peruvian culture and have a more traditional experience, this is the best option for you.
Hostels and Backpacker Lodges: Peru offers the right accommodation for every budget and so you will find many hostels and backpacker lodges suitable for explorers on a smaller budget.
Hotels & Resorts: If you want a luxurious experience, you can choose between budget and luxury options.
No matter what type of accommodation you prefer, make sure you research the different options and book in advance, especially during peak travel season. There are also various options for those that look for unique accommodations in Peru.
Get Ready for Your Time in Peru
Equipped with those 13 things to know before traveling to Peru your journey will already be much easier and comfortable.
Now, it’s time for you to check out the top things to do in Peru. See you soon in Peru!