Peru is home to some of the most stunning and accessible ruins and relics from the pre-European age. From Kuelap and Chan Chan in the north to mystic Machu Picchu in the south, the jungles and deserts of Peru are filled with a seemingly unending supply of artefacts from the Inca, the Mapuche and other lesser-understood peoples.
Without a doubt, the centre of Peru’s tourism is Machu Picchu and the nearby city of Cusco. While it’s a highlight for most visitors, it’s far from the only thing the country has to offer. The coastal cities of the north and jungle-bound communities east of there are fascinating, and house museums and ruins far older, yet just as complex, as the Inca ruins in the south.
Lima, Peru’s capital, has great surf and paragliding within minutes of the centre. Protective police officers will try to encourage tourists away from some areas of the city, while others are reasonably safe, as long as you watch for pickpockets. South of the capital, towns such as Ariquipa and Ica make great bases for hiking, climbing, rafting and sandboarding, with the added bonus that they’re close to Peru’s small wine region, including the first vineyard planted in South America.
Getting to and from Peru
Flights into Peru arrive from almost every South American country, as well as North America and Europe. There are also limited flights from Asian airline Korean Air. Most international flights arrive in Lima, with many tour groups jumping straight onto another flight to Cusco.
The most popular way into Peru is by land border, often on a coach or by taxi. There are land borders with Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil and Chile.
If travelling by coach, you may have to disembark to have your baggage checked by customs, or the bus conductor will collect all passports and documents, returning them before departure. If travelling by car (your own or a taxi), you may be able to remain in the vehicle, or may be asked to get out while customs checks your vehicle and bags.
There is a train which runs between Tacna, Peru and Arica, Chile in the south. It’s a pretty bumpy ride! Make sure you are at the station at least half an hour before departure, as you’ll have to pass border control and customs at the station on both ends.
Peru travel resources
Check out our Peru and Bolivia podcast or browse the articles below.