The Inca Empire once ruled the mystical land of Peru and each year thousands of visitors book their Peru flights to experience the magic for themselves. Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley are among the most visited sites, but beyond these illustrious landmarks is a country blessed with the most spectacular scenery in the region; a stunning 2,000-mile coastline and thousands of miles of lush Amazon rainforest that spills into the Atlantic.
What should you expect after your flight to Peru arrives? Some of the most beautiful landscapes in South America, a trek through the Andes mountains, and interesting conversations with natives who still speak the native Peruvian language of Quechua. Peru is South America’s fourth most populous country and its culture is still heavily rooted in Amerindian and Spanish traditions.
Peru flights land in the capital, Lima. It was founded by Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador in 1535, and called La Ciudad de los Reyes (the City of Kings). It was the capital and most important city of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru and several of its fascinating buildings hail from that time. The vibrant city provides a good introduction to the country and a base from which to explore other towns, but a few days in Lima is generally more than enough. On the way to Machu Picchu is the colonial city of Cuzco which is well worth a stop. Incan descendants still live here and examples of colonial art are scattered throughout the stone-walled streets. The town of Aguas Calientes, west of Cuzco, is where tourists catch buses up to legendary Machu Picchu. Peru’s most popular destination, Machu Picchu still embraces the Inca legacies and remains one of the great mysteries of South America. Archeologists have recovered more than 50 burial sites and 100 skeletal remains in Machu Picchu. While the debate goes on over whether Machu Picchu was a forgotten city during a time of conquest, or a royal retreat before the Spanish invasion, tourists still book flights to Peru for a glimpse at its archeological stonework and clues to its mysterious past. After exploring the ruins, those in search of even more adventure could head back to Cuzco and take the train to Puno and explore the sacred Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable body of water.
Peruvian cuisine is one of the world’s great cuisines. It’s a blend of pre-Inca, Inca, Spanish, African, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French and British. Cebiche (marinated raw fish) is the national dish, but you’ll also find Cuy (Guinea Pig) on the menu in the Andes, all washed down with Inca Kola, the lemon verbena-flavored soft drink that outsells all others in Peru.
Tourists booking Peru flights and tours will get more than they hoped for – and that’s a very good thing when it comes to this South American country. It’s one of the world’s must-visit countries and it’s full of astounding geography. What’s the deepest canyon? Colca Canyon. What’s the oldest city in the Americas? Caral. Where will you see the longest waves? At Chicama. And the largest river? Peru is the source of the Amazon. What’s the world’s highest navigable lake? Titicaca. There’s much to see and do in Peru that it may seem overwhelming to figure out where to start. Here are some tips to help you plan and enjoy the smoothest possible trip.
Peru has a very diverse climate. The Andes divides Peru in two and the Amazon jungle is in the east of the country. It enjoys great variation in temperatures. The coastal region climate is subtropical and has two seasons – summer (November/December to March/April) and winter (May to October). In the summer, the weather is warm, humid and sunny with very little rainfall generally. In winter, temperatures are cooler yet still comfortable, and in various areas of the coast, rainy, damp conditions are possible but rain is still typically quite light in the form of drizzle. The highlands’ (Andes) wet season lasts from September/October through March (summer in this region), and the dry season from May through August (winter in this region). During the dry season, you’ll have clear and sunny days, but very cold nights and mornings, especially in the higher altitudes. Snow is also frequent in higher elevations (16,000 feet and above) during the rainy season, while it can occasionally fall during the dry season above 12,000 feet and higher. In the eastern lowlands, which is characterized by the Equatorial climate that feeds the Amazon rainforest, there is a tropical and humid climate, and it is rainy, most of the year.
The peak seasons differ slightly depending on where exactly in Peru you are flying, for example the coast, which includes Lima, is best to visit during the summer months of November/December to March/April. For Cuzco, the Sacred Valley, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, visit between May and September as this is the dry season. Jungle treks are much more enjoyable from May to September as well. There are also a lot of events throughout the year. The Inti Raymi festival takes place in June and is Peru’s second-largest festival. February/March sees the great Carnival, which is normally held a few days before Lent, and sees the country celebrate with music, dancing and colorful parties. The week before Easter sees the Semana Santa festival which is one of Peru’s best religious events. During any of these events or peak seasons you’ll need to make sure you secure your flight tickets in advance to have a chance of finding cheap flights to Peru.
There isn’t much of an off season in Peru as peak months for one area of the country will see an influx of tourists in another. Your best bet is to decide where in Peru you want to visit and then find cheap flights to Peru accordingly. Plan ahead and figure out which events are going on, and what the climate is like.
October to February typically has the cheapest flights to Peru, with the exception of certain events which will increase the price of flight tickets. You’ll want to make sure your flight tickets are secured at least 4 to 5 months in advance or, if you can book, even earlier. If you can be flexible with your dates and location then you’ll easily find the cheapest flights to Peru with little difficulty, however you might need to be lenient with certain weather conditions. If you’re flying into Cuzco, especially if you are flying from Lima to Cuzco if you are exploring different parts of the country, then aim to sit on the left-hand side of the plane for absolutely stunning views.
Jorge Chavez International Airport near Lima is by far the most popular airport in Peru. It takes just over eight hours to fly there from Los Angeles or New York and a little under ten hours from Chicago.
Most of the major U.S. carriers offer direct flights to Peru, including American Airlines, Delta, United and JetBlue. Spirit Airlines is also an option for direct flights, and if you’re traveling from somewhere international, check for flights with Aeromexico and Air France.
Jeans, t-shirts and long-sleeve shirts are all good choices for your trip to Peru. You may also want to bring some pants that convert to shorts, because temperatures can change quite a bit throughout the day. Check out the weather for the area you plan to visit and the season when deciding what to pack, as it varies from region to region.
The major airport in Peru is the Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM) in Lima. It’s only around 7 miles away from the city center so finding your way isn’t too problematic; however, your options are slightly limited. The easiest way is to find a taxi booking desk in the arrival area. Make sure you agree on the fare before you begin the journey, and make sure you have agreed to currency in PEN as some taxi drivers like to scam passengers and confuse them into thinking the amount was in dollars instead. Failing that, you can ride a bus, however they do not enter the airport grounds and instead you can find them around a fifteen-minute walk away from the airport. The fare for the bus is incredibly cheap, however, if you’re not keen on taking public transport your best bet is a taxi.
Once you’ve settled in to your hotel and are ready to explore the country, there are a few different options you can utilize to get around. Here are some tips:
Air: Several airlines fly domestically including Aero Condor, the country’s oldest airline, which connects 11 cities including Lima, Arequipa and Iquitos. Star Peru links nine cities including Lima, Trujillo and Chiclayo. LC Peru flies between Lima and Huanuco, Huaraz, Jauja, Andahuaylas, Atalaya, Ayacucho and Cajamarca.
Rail: Peru Rail offers travel to Machu Picchu, Cuzco, Sacred Valley, Puno, Lake Titicaca, Arequipa and Colca Canyon. There are luxury trains such as the Hiram Bingham, which travels between Cuzco and Machu Picchu, while the Vistadome runs between Cuzco-Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley-Machu Picchu. Backpacker carriages are for no-frills travelers and are available on the following routes: Cuzco-Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley-Machu Picchu and Cuzco-Lake Titicaca.
Bus: There are several private bus companies offering low-fare service throughout Peru including Ormeno and Cruz del Sur.
Car Rental: Renting a car is easy. Budget and Avis are just two of the most-recognizable companies operating in Peru.
Lima is where most travelers begin their vacations in Peru, and it has much more than just an airport to offer. The city’s Miraflores District lies right next to the Pacific Ocean, and it offers shopping during the day with fun bars and clubs at night. Being so close to the ocean, Lima has excellent seafood, in particular its ceviche. Since the city is on a cliff, you can also go paragliding.
Machu Picchu has long been Peru’s most popular tourist attraction, and for good reason, as it’s a spectacular monument of Inca civilization. Most travelers take one of the trains from Pueblo Machu Picchu up to the site, just make sure you book in advance as they can and do sell out. Consider staying in Pueblo Machu PIcchu for one night before going up to get used to higher altitudes.
If you don’t mind taking a short flight while in Peru, you can visit the Amazon rainforest. You can enter from Iquitos or Puerto Maldonado, and while you could get there by car, the roads aren’t the best and flying is the safer option. Expect to see some fascinating wildlife, and there’s even a jungle lodge where you can spend the night.
A few hours south of Lima is a village called Huacachina, a small oasis in the middle of a large desert. Not only is it a great place to relax, but you can also go sand boarding and take a high-speed dune buggy ride.
Planning to hit a couple more destinations after Peru? Cheapflights can help you make sure you get the best deals. You can fly back to the United States on the same carriers that fly directly into Peru, or book a flight to an international destination. You can find terrific flight deals for popular routes from Peru at https://www.cheapflights.co.uk.
Since Jorge Chavez International Airport is so busy, it can take time to check in and make it through security, especially in the mornings. Plan to arrive a bit early to avoid any issues.
Once you choose a destination and departure city, be sure to check out our Peru airport guides for detailed travel information and helpful tips.
The following chart gives approximate journey times from Lima (in hours and minutes) to other major cities and towns in Peru.
Note: (a) Approximate travel times are given for travel by bus. (b)* Includes one stopover.
(prices quoted are from London)