Peru is a popular destination for travelers in South America, and it’s not hard to see why!
Peru has long attracted adventurous travelers interested in the lure of exciting exploration, historic ruins, immersive experiences, and incredible food.
You’ll no doubt be awe-inspired by one of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu. However, Peru is much more than just these famous ruins. With access to the Amazon Rainforest, some of the best hiking on the continent, white sand beaches, and vibrant towns, Peru has something to offer every type of traveler!
Best Time To Visit Peru
Peru is an incredible destination to visit all year round. But there are things to consider when planning your trip, such as what kind of weather conditions you want to travel in, whether or not you want to hike the Inca Trail, and what your travel budget is.
Read on to learn about all of this and more!
Weather in Peru
Peru has pretty good weather all year, with the average temperature ranging from a low of 13 to an average high of 26 degrees Celsius, with May and October being the coldest months.
Most of South America sits in the Southern Hemisphere, including Peru, which has three different climate zones:
- A desert coastal strip known as La Costa: this is where you can find the capital city of Lima.
- This area has a mild climate that is cloudy and foggy in winter and comfortably warm in summer.
- The mountainous Andean zone, La Sierra; this area has Arequipa, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Puno within it.
- This zone can be more or less cold depending on the altitude.
- And the Amazonian forest, La Selva; here you can find the cities of Iquitos, Tambopata, and Manu.
- This spot enjoys warm weather all year round.
Peru’s geographical diversity means that each region will have a different climate. If it’s hot along the coast, it might be very chilly up in the mountains, and the rainforest is usually warm and humid.
Due to its proximity to the equator, Peru technically only has two seasons. The rainy/wet season is the Peruvian summer, which lasts from December to April, and the dry season, winter, which lasts from May to November.
Peru’s Rainy Season (Summer)
The rainy season comes with heavy rain and lasts from December through April. Due to the continuing rains, one of Peru’s top attractions, the Inca trail, closes in February, the wettest month of the year. Late April is the end of the wet season and comes with way less rain and only sees an average rainfall of about eight days.
Peru’s Dry Season (Winter)
Winter in Peru runs from May to November. During this time, mountainous places frequently see bright, sunny days but chilly nights. This is also peak season for tourism in Peru due to the summer holidays in the northern hemisphere you’ll see a lot of tourists from up north during this time.
The average daytime temperature in Peru’s Amazon region and the lower portion of the Andes mountains is 30 to 33 degrees Celsius throughout the year. The maximum temperature can climb a little bit more during the “dry months,” with the hottest months being July and August, plus, it can feel even hotter due to the high humidity.
Peru’s Shoulder Season
The shoulder season, between October to November, is also the best time of the year to visit Peru. This is the end of the dry season and there aren’t many people in the Andes and Amazon regions of Peru in October. During this time, travelers will experience a pleasant climate and rates are often more affordable than during peak season, but it is still a good idea to reserve tours and accommodation well in advance if you plan to go during shoulder season.
As for Peru’s coastal tourism, October and November are perfect months to visit the beach towns, especially those north of Lima, where there are warmer temperatures. Prices tend to be less expensive than during its peak season, which is from December to March.
These shoulder months are the perfect time to visit Peru if you’re looking for decent weather, affordable prices and fewer people.
Peru’s Peak Tourist Season
The busiest time for tourism in Peru is July and August. Since there is not much rain and the skies are clear during this time, it’s the best season for mountain hikes and sightseeing. When planning a trip during this time, keep in mind that North Americans, as well as people in Europe, have their summer vacation around this time.
Since it is low season along the coast, July and August are other excellent times to visit beach communities, where the weather is still ideal and prices tend to be cheaper than during its peak season.
The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
The Inca Trail is the most famous hike in South America and is hiked by thousands every year! Wind your way up, down, and around mountains on the ancient trail laid by the Incas from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu. Experience views of snowy mountain peaks, distant rivers, ancient ruins, and cloud forests during this unforgettable four-day trek. The best part of your journey might be when you finally step through the Sun Gate and see the stunning city of Machu Picchu for the first time.
Guide to Hiking the Inca Trail in Peru
Hike the ancient Inca Trail, a challenging four-day trek through gorgeous landscapes, with the most impressive ancient site in Peru as the destination, Machu Picchu!
- Follow the footpaths of the Inca and explore the Andes the way the locals did – by foot!
- Trek through beautiful scenery and see a variety of flora that changes with the seasons
- Pass several small ruin sites like Llactapata, Tambo, and more
- Breathe in Peru’s fresh mountain air
- Climb the long steep path to Warmiwañusca, better known as Dead Woman’s Pass – the highest point of the trek
- Walk through the Sun Gate and catch your first glimpse of the forgotten city of Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail takes four days to complete.
The Inca Trail is 43 kilometers long.
The journey to Machu Picchu will start in Peru’s city of Cuzco at “Kilometer 82”. This trailhead is situated 82 kilometers along the railway from Cuzco, on the way to Machu Picchu.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The ideal times to trek the Inca Trail is in late March, April, May, September, October, and early November. The dry season months of June, July, and August are still fantastic, but it will be way busier during these times.
The Inca Trail gets to about 13,828 feet above sea level and Cusco is over 11,000 feet. Many visitors to Cusco have moderate symptoms of altitude sickness including headaches, nausea, exhaustion, dizziness, and vomiting; however, these normally go away once you’ve adjusted to the altitude. So make sure to give yourself time in Cusco before starting the Inca Trail. You should get used to the altitude in around 12-24 hours after the arrival.
- The Inca Trail closes every February, the wettest month of the year, for maintenance.
- In January, Inca trail permits go on sale, and popular months quickly sell out.
- During peak season, make sure to book your Inca Trail trek 6 months in advance.
- If you plan on going during the wet season, book at least 3 months in advance.
- Make sure to train for your trek! You’ll be hiking for about 7 hours each day at high altitudes, you will enjoy yourself more if you’re fit.
Other Peru Treks to Machu Picchu
Did you know there are hiking trails other than the Inca Trail that take you to Machu Picchu? Read on to learn all about these other amazing options!
Length: 5 days
The trek begins from Mollepata town, located 3 hours from Cusco. When compared to the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek is more difficult and is well-known for its mountainous landscapes and turquoise lakes and of course, Machu Picchu’s ancient ruins.
Back Door to Machu Picchu
Length: 1 day
Here’s a fantastic alternative for people who don’t have the time or want to take on a full-on journey to Machu Picchu. Make your way to Santa Teresa; from here a 2.5-hour walk will take you to Aguas Calientes, the closest city to Machu Picchu. During this flat and relatively easy hike, you will likely see orchids along with other flowers, bananas, coffee plants, and a variety of birds.
Length: 3 days
Three days of hiking through the highlands around the Sacred Valley awaits hikers on the Lares Trek. Along the way, you’ll see the friendly faces of locals and pass through farms and remote communities. It’s the ideal Andean adventure, filled with breathtaking sights like rivers, waterfalls, lagoons, and snow-capped mountain peaks.
Machu Picchu is the site of an ancient 15th-century Inca citadel, high in the Andes of Peru. It is one of the most famous and spectacular sets of ruins in the world. As one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, it receives over one million visitors every year. The building technique that the Incas are so famous for is called ashlar. Stones are cut in such a way that they fit perfectly together without having to put mortar between them.
The Best Time of the Day to Visit Machu Picchu
Try to visit Machu Picchu at 6 AM or after 3 PM for the best experience. In the early morning, travelers can experience the sunrise and avoid the crowds. After 3 pm is also an excellent time if you like to sleep in more since most people visit in the middle of the day.
Travel Tip: Machu Picchu Tickets occasionally sell out (usually in July or August, the busiest time) so for your best chance to visit Machu Picchu, make sure to buy tickets in advance.
How To Get To Machu Picchu
The best way to get to Machu Picchu without trekking is an easy and comfortable option – take the train! Two well-known train companies in Cusco, Peru Rail and Inca Rail, provide the Cusco-Machu Picchu route. The two luxury train rides with panoramic viewing carriages are the Vistadome and Hiram Bingham, on these trains you can enjoy fine dining, cocktails, and wine. Nothing compares to taking a relaxing and luxurious train ride to the stunning Inca city of Machu Picchu!
Travel Tip: Make sure to get train tickets to Machu Picchu in advance, they are available 3 weeks before your desired travel date.
Best Places To See Outside of Machu Picchu
The coastal capital city of Lima has top-notch cuisine, incredible historic sites, and magnificent natural landscapes that make Peru a must-visit destination for every kind of traveler. From exploring the historic city center, paragliding above the coast, indulging in Peruvian food and dancing late into the night. These are only a few of the fantastic things Lima has to offer.
Aguas Calientes (or Machu Picchu Pueblo)
Machupicchu or Machupicchu Pueblo, also known as Aguas Calientes, is a place in Peru that is part of the Urubamba Province’s Cusco Region. It is well-known for its hot springs and for serving as a gateway to the nearby Inca Ruins, Machu Picchu. The Mercado Artesanal, a prominent craft market, is surrounded by a plethora of local restaurants and businesses. Other must-visit attractions in the area include the gardens with birds and orchids at Los Jardines de Mandor and a local conservation initiative called the Butterfly House.
Whatever you choose to do in the Amazon, you will have a genuinely unique experience exploring wetlands and the jungle. Learn about fascinating cultures and see amazing wildlife like wild cats, macaws, and monkeys. When journeying through the Peruvian Amazon, there will never be a dull moment.
One of the biggest attractions in the Peruvian Andes is the Imperial City of Cusco. The Inca Empire’s former capital is an amazing city to explore and the gateway to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. See Cusco’s beautiful and unique architectural style, pet alpacas, taste delicious Andean cuisine, see the rainbow mountain, and much more!
The magnificent Lake Titicaca, a sparkling inland lagoon that the Inca thought to be the birthplace of the sun, is nestled on the high Andean plateau. It’s not difficult to see why spending a few days admiring stunning views, exploring islands, and discovering fascinating archaeological sites is a must when visiting Peru.
Located around 400 kilometers south of Lima, Peru’s coastal desert is home to the enormous, intricate Nazca Lines. Experts have long been baffled by the intriguing and otherworldly images of people and animals carved into the desert sand. They may be up to 2,000 years older than the Incas, but Nazca’s harsh environment has limited erosion and helped to preserve the lines. Take a flight to get the best views of these interesting archaeological sites.
A Cloud Forest is a type of rainforest that is typically significantly higher in altitude. They offer the ideal habitat for a wide variety of flora and animals, many of which are unique to these areas. Within a day’s drive of Cusco, Manu National Park is home to what is likely Peru’s best-known cloud forest region, a must-see for nature lovers!
Huacachina Sand Dunes
Sandboard down giant dunes at a tiny oasis in the southern Peruvian desert! The largest dunes in South America are in Huacachina. Get to the summit of these massive sand dunes in powerful dune buggies, once you arrive at the top, you’ll be treated to amazing views of the tiny Oasis town below. Flying down a huge sand dune on a snowboard (sandboard?) is one of Huacachina’s most unique thrills!
The Paracas National Reserves near Pisco, sometimes known as Peru’s Galápagos, is made up of islands, oceans, deserts, and beaches. The islands, which are rough and rugged, are home to colonies of sea lions, penguins, and seabirds, such as albatrosses, boobies, and pelicans. The islands are a protected reserve and the best way to explore them is by a wildlife boat cruise. Wildlife lovers need to visit the Ballestas Islands.
The Lost City of Choquequirao is one of Peru’s most stunning locations. It is larger and more remote than its more well-known cousin, Machu Picchu, as well as is more challenging to access. It is perched high on a hilltop and has amazing views of the surrounding mountains and jungle. This Lost City is strange, magical, and surprisingly lacking in tourists. The site frequently has new discoveries made by archaeologists.
Mancora, a coastal town in northern Peru, is well-known for its immaculate beaches, excellent surf, and laid-back vibe. The nicest sandy beach in Peru may be found there, and the ceviche(a seafood dish where diced cubes of raw fish, are marinated in a lemon or lime juice mixture) there is among the best in the world. Mancora is calling if relaxing on the beach and catching waves are your thing.
Peru is home to an astounding variety of natural beauties, but Rainbow Mountain is a unique, multicolored mountain that has become famous on social media, making it a popular tourist attraction in South America. The best time to visit Rainbow Mountain is between April through November, during the dry season where you are basically guaranteed blue skies, warm weather, incredible views, and perfect trekking conditions. Early in the morning or late in the evening, just after sunrise or just before sunset, is the best time to visit to avoid crowds.
Amazing Events to Experience Throughout the Year in Peru
Cajamarca Carnival – February
One of the most well-known carnivals in the world, the Cajamarca Carnival is celebrated annually in Cajamarca, Peru. The festival is the wildest event in the country, drawing over 60,000 guests annually from all over the world. Throughout the carnival season, the city will host a variety of activities and events. Next year this carnival will take place from February 18–22, 2023.
Inti Raymi – June
The Sun God is the star of one of the most significant and enduring celebrations held on June 24 in Peru: the Inti Raymi, or “Sun Festival.” On this day, tens of thousands of domestic and international tourists wander through Cusco’s historic center and gather on the esplanades of its most important attractions to take part in a special day of cultural events aimed at appreciating the Inca legacy.
More than 800 individuals, including actors, dancers, and musicians, adorned in traditional clothing appear in a number of performances that take place in the city’s Main Square as well as at the temple of Qorikancha and the Sacsayhuamán Archaeological Park.
Mistura Culinary Festival- September
Peruvian cuisine is some of the best in the world. The best way to experience it is in September when the Mistura Culinary Festival takes place. With o ver 200 local restaurants and bars, outdoor vendors, and food carts, over half a million visitors stop by to enjoy the festival’s offerings over the course of the festival.
Puno Week – November
Puno Week honours the legendary birth of Manco Cápac, who is regarded as the first Inca. This involves a pretty amazing recreation of his landing on the shores of Lake Titicaca, and it’s also a good justification to party all week long.
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