Solo Travel in Peru
Peru is a fascinating country to explore. Below is our Peru travel guide on how to travel solo in Peru including where to stay, recommended tours to Peru, where to go in Peru and things to see in Peru, and the best way to travel in Peru. Find out how to get from the airports and what to do in each place.
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- About Peru
- Peru Tours
- Accommodation in Peru
- Travelling Around Peru
- How Long Do You Need?
- From The Airport
- Border Crossings
- Plan a Trip To Peru
- How I Travelled Peru (my itinerary and costs)
Solo Travel To Peru
If you are planning to solo travel in Peru, we've given it 3 out of 5 stars. Northern Peru does not have that many tourists and parts of the country are out of bounds so check Foreign Office advice or use a tour company if you are unsure of where to travel.
If you are travelling solo in Peru, not all indigenous villages will welcome you. Some remote Andean villages live in complete isolation are not keen on visitors so stick to the tourist route if travelling alone or hire a Quechua speaking guide for the more remote areas.
In Lima, It’s fine to explore the capital during the day as policemen stand on the street corners but don’t venture out at night here. During the day, steer clear of the market if you don’t want to feel uncomfortable. Begging is increasing within the tourist destinations and as a solo you may encounter stares from the locals.
As in any other city be careful with your belongings in Lima and don’t walk about at night (Cuzco is much safer). Peru is a fascinating country to explore independently if you are unsure of the safe places to go in Peru or the best places to visit in Peru solo, you may feel more comfortable in a group tour.
Amazing Inca ruins, the Andes Mountains and fried guinea pigs. Peru is a country steeped in a fascinating history with lush scenery and colourful traditions.
The capital, Lima is a great place to start your journey. In the heart of Old Lima you can find the cathedral, museums and the Archbishop’s Palace. Places to visit in Lima include the San Francisco church and catacombs which are a definite must. This is where the locals used to bury the dead under the church and you can explore the underground caves and view the old skulls and bones.
Other things to do in Lima is to head to the main square to watch the changing of the guards that takes place daily at noon in front of the Presidential Palace.
A better place to stay at night is the affluent coastal district of Miraflores just a taxi ride away. Here you’ll find people jogging along the promenade, and people surfing the waves so don't forget to add your sportswear to your Peru packing list. Miraflores has a different feel to the rest of the capital with good restaurants and nightlife.
Lima is also a good base to visit one of the unique places to visit in Peru, the Nazca Lines in southern Peru. These giant geoglyphs are thought to be 2000 years old and the best way to marvel at these large line drawings of geometric and animal shapes, is on an aerial tour from Lima. If you’re on a budget, you can take a 7 hour bus ride from Lima and see them from the observation tower too. These Peru sights remain one of the country’s greatest mysteries.
Cusco is the oldest inhabited city in South America. It is built in the dip of a valley and is 3,400 metres above sea level. This pretty historical city attracts travellers who not only come for the Inca ancient ruins but who want to take a step back in time. Known as ‘the City of Churches,’ the city boasts tradition and legend. Take advantage of a tourist ticket which gives entry into many of the things to do in Cusco including museums, churches and the Inca site: Puca Pucara (the red fortress).
If you’re not a fan of museums you may be converted after a visit to the Museo Historical Regional and Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporaneo, another of the things to see in Cusco. For the adventurous GatG try your hand at mountain biking, hand gliding and even white-water rafting. Cusco is a good place to base yourself as a solo, as there are many tours that go from here. Take a Sacred Valley tour from Cusco, or join a Machu Picchu day trip from Cusco.
The Sacred Valley is a lush agricultural region between the towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Through the valleys are the red walls of the ruins of Pisac, a citadel that was once the entrance to the gorge with rocky overhangs, where several ancient burial sites are hidden. There is a great market here and villagers come from miles around to sell their handicrafts. There’s also a locals weavers project en route for a glimpse into local life.
Nearby is the picturesque village of Ollantaytambo, a fortress that overlooks the beautiful Urubamba River Valley and one of the Peru attractions. It is one of the biggest cities of Peru to be discovered and also the best preserved. The city was named ‘Fortress of Ollantaytambo’ by the Spaniards and has huge steep terraces that guard the fortress. The Temple of the Sun is a highlight here.
Aguas Calientes is the little town close to Machu Picchu, the most famous Inca ruin of all and Peru tourist attractions. The frontier town nestled in the hills gets its name (‘hot water’ in Spanish) from the hot springs. It’s a busy town with a large market and is mystical at night with the mist from the mountains and the sounds of the Vilcanota River as it echoes through the town.
Take a trip to Machu Picchu from here (meaning ‘old mountain’). Buses start from 5.30am in the morning when you can visit the lost city for sunrise. Discovered in 1911 by an American historian, Hiram Baingham, the site which spans five square kilometers is now one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Seeing this majestic site is one of the spiritual things to do in Peru and standing at the top is absolutely breathtaking and magical.
You have to pay to enter and also for the bus to take you there. If you want to take a Machu Picchu souvenir stamp with you, make sure that it isn't stamped inside your passport as it can make it invalid.
Peru tourism now restricts the number of visitors to Machu Picchu to help preserve the environment so book ahead as places are limited. This also applies to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The busiest time is July to August.
The highest city in Peru is Puno at 3830m above sea level. This is the gateway to Lake Titicaca, a lake the size of an ocean which rests on the border of Peru and Bolivia, known as the birthplace of the Incas. The world's highest navigable lake should definitely be on your Peru itinerary. Puno’s main square is like a mini city and you can buy hats and jumpers for really cheap prices. The city comes alive with monthly festivals but wrap up warm as it gets very cold at night.
A visit here is not complete without a boat trip to the Uros floating islands of the Uros People who isolated themselves centuries before. Taking a boat trip on Lake Titicaca to visit this tribe is one of the top things to do in Peru for a cultural experience. Over 35 reed islands exist and only a small number are open to visitors. Here you can purchase handmade tapestries made by the islanders to support their way of life.
Taquile is a port of call on the way to the floating islands, where the locals wear different coloured hats depending on their married status. There’s a great view of the lake from here.
Arequipa is one of the must sees in Peru, known as the ‘White City,’ it is one of the most beautiful cities in Peru, and perfect if you’re travelling overland to Chile. Surrounded by volcanoes the city has so much history. If you like museums you’ll like Arequipa. Things to do in Arequipa include meandering around Plaza de Armas where you’ll find plenty of cafes and travel agencies in the square.
The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa is the most spectacular building here and dominates the square in its dazzling white stone. Peek inside Santa Catalina Monastery which was once home to over 400 people. Make sure to see the ice maiden, one of the unusual things in Peru to see. Her story is fascinating and the 20 minute film explains why she was sacrificed to the mountain gods. Arequipa is a beautiful and fascinating city and from here you can take a Colca Canyon tour.
Adventure in Peru
One of the fun things to do in Peru is surf, and for surfer chicks, the coastline is where it’s at. The beaches in Peru are fantastic for surfing especially Mancora and Huanchaco, a charming fishing villages known for its traditional reed boats.
When in Huanchaco, delve into the history of the Chimu people by paying a visit to the Chan Chan Ruins, one of the country’s archaeological sites. This honey-coloured UNESCO World Heritage Site was once the capital of the Chimu civilisation, and was abandoned by the Incas in the 15th century. You can take a bus along the beach from Huanchaco to the first site and then get a taxi to visit the other two. As one of the lesser-known Peru sites, if you’re exploring the coastline of the country, it is one of the places to see in Peru.
When you’re on the coast and amongst the country’s sand dunes, one of the unique things to do in Peru is to whizz down a dune in the name of sand boarding. You can also take a sand buggy tour through Huacachina’s Desert, a must do in Peru if you love adventure but be prepared for an exhilarating ride.
Hiking is amongst the best things to do in Peru. This country with its ancient sites, and varying landscapes is a hiker’s dream. It’s also one of the cheap things to do in Peru if you are keen to explore alone but you may want to team up with others on join a Peru adventure tour for more remote areas. Expect to see some llamas when you hike. These popular animals in Peru are considered sacred.
Cordillera Blanca is the highest tropical mountain range in the world and the place to visit in Peru for some serious hiking and climbing. Many of its peaks reach more 6000 metres high, and trekking here is rewarded with view of mountains, valleys and glacial lakes.
For the wildlife Girl about the Globe, south of Lima and along Peru’s coast is Paracas National Reserve. As the oldest marine reserve in Peru, it is the place to spot dolphins, sea lions and even humpback whales.
Dining in Peru is an experience and if you’re lucky you’ll have live music whilst you're eating as locals play their latest tunes on traditional wooden instruments. Italian food seems popular and the wood clay ovens are a warm welcome to cold weather.
Try Chica, a traditional drink made from corn and herbs or a Pisco Sour cocktail. From their national dish – ‘ceviche’ (raw fish marinated in lime juices and spices) – to Argentine steak and guinea pig, they cater for everyone’s tastes, no matter how adventurous.
Visit Peru for ancient civilisations, lush scenery and an insight into a South American way of life.
When you tour Peru, drink coca tea or chew coca leaves to alleviate altitude sickness.
If you visit Peru in February you may find yourself caught up in the annual water festival with locals trying to drench you!
If you feel more comfortable in a group in Peru for either part of your trip or the whole duration, G Adventures is a responsible tour company which mainly caters towards budget travellers. Most tours have an average of 10 people and there is no upper age limit. Once you book your trip you pay extra for any excursions you want to do when you’re there.
Gadventures Peru tours range from 5 days Trekking the Inca Trail, an 11 day Explore Machu Picchu Tours with G Adventures including the Amazon River, a G Adventures Classic Peru 12 day tour beginning in Lima and ending in Cusco seeing the best of Peru, or an epic 51 day trip from Rio to Lima.
There are several Peru trips to choose from whether you are just planning on visiting Peru or travelling through more countries in South America. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company.
Intrepid Travel is similar to G Adventures with an average of 12 people on each tour. They tend to use hotels instead of hostels and have a more comfortable style of accommodation hence the trips can appear a bit more costly than G Adventures. They offer a 7 day Inca Trail express from Cusco, a 15 day tour of Real Peru or an epic 32 day tour from Lima to Rio de Janeiro. Read our Intrepid Travel Reviews
With both tour companies you share a room with someone of the same gender or you can pay extra for your own room.
Edgar Adventures – A Peruvian based travel company offering Peru guided tours in Lake Titicaca, Cusco, and Colca Canyon. They also offer trips to Machu Picchu Peru. Edgar Adventures specialise in sustainable and responsible travel.
Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and tours in Peru destinations. Choose from a Rainbow Mountain Peru tour, a visit to the Uros Islands from Puno or a Moray and Salt Mines quad bike tour. There are several to choose from including Peru tours from Lima, Sacred Valley Peru tour and tours to Machu Picchu. It’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online.
Accommodation in Peru
If you are backpacking Peru and travelling Peru on a budget, you’ll find plenty of basic accommodation including hostels in Peru to meet like-minded others. There are guest houses and home stays for those looking to stay with locals instead of fellow travellers. You’ll also find Peruvian guesthouses, jungle and eco lodges and the more luxurious hotels on Booking.com. You can even camp if you are feeling adventurous.
Airbnb connects you to staying with locals whether you choose to just book a room or a whole apartment. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
Below are our recommended Peru hotels for solo female travellers, as recommended by women travelling to Peru alone. For all other accommodation types, click the link below.
Solo Favourite – Hotel Antigua Miraflores, Lima
Situated in a safe area, Hotel Antigua Miraflores is in the perfect spot for access to the beach, evening shows as well as restaurants and nightlife. Prices from £79 p/n. Find out more…
Solo Favourite – Tandapata Boutique Hotel, Cusco
We love this boutique hotel accommodation in Cusco with its friendly staff. Not only is it exceptionally clean and chic but it is close to the fayre to pick up an artisan souvenir. Prices from £53 p/n. Find out more…
Solo Favourite – Hotel Hacienda Plaza de Armas, Puno
Not only is this 3 star hotel in a great location in the main square of Puno but it also looks out to the cathedral. It’s the perfect place for exploring and Lake Titicaca is really close too. Prices from £38 p/n. Find out more…
How Long Do You Need?
At least one week for Lima, Cusco and the Sacred Valley. To see all the best places in Peru, you need to allow two weeks to include visiting Machu Picchu (a must see in Peru).
Travelling Around Peru
How to get around in Peru – When you are traveling in Peru, buses and trains run from Peru major cities and towns but they are time consuming so if you are short on time, consider taking one of the domestic Peru flights with Peruvian Airlines for ease.
How easy is it to travel around Peru? Easy! The best way to travel around Peru is by bus. The bus transportation in Peru is great, and takes you to the main Peru locations for all your sightseeing. They are the best way to travel around Peru overnight. You can choose from a semi-cama (a chain that reclines) or a cama – a more reclinable seat.
How To Travel Around Peru in comfort – To travel Peru by bus, there are a number of bus companies Peru: Cruz del Sur, Movil Tours, Linea and Oltursa and Perurail operate the train lines and train travel. The train from Aquas Calientes to Cuzco has comfortable seats and provides a meal on board (you can see the start of the Inca trail from here too). Always make sure a taxi is licensed by checking documentation in the front window before getting in.
Unless you’re a confident driver, driving in Peru isn’t really recommended even if you want to go on road trips. Driving from Lima to Cusco for example is on windy, mountain roads and you need to be careful of other drivers wanting to overtake on steep bends. With buses being so cheap, it’s easier to use this Peru transportation to get around the country.
To hire a car we recommend pre-booking your car rentals with Avis so you can collect your car when you arrive at the airport.
From The Airport
Lima – A taxi will cost £20 for the 30 minute journey into Lima (more to Miraflores).
Cuzco – If you have hardly any luggage you can take the bus for 0.50 N.Sol which will take you to Almagro and Avenida Sol. If you have luggage grab a taxi, only £2 for the 10 minute journey.
Feel more confident with someone waiting for you at the airport when you pre-book a transfer with Hoppa, a reliable and safe service for solo females.
Travelling Onwards (check visas before you travel)
Peru to Chile – From Tacna to Arica in Chile. Take the bus from Lima to arrive the next morning. Then an international bus or a shared taxi from Tacna to Arica (takes 1 hour and costs approximately £7).
Peru to Bolivia – From Puno take a 2 hour bus ride to the Bolivian border. You can travel onward to La Paz by boat then bus.
Peru to Brazil – From Puerto Maldonado take a minibus to Inapari (4 hours), then cross by the bridge or ferry to Assis Brasil.
Peru to Ecuador – A bus from Lima to Mancora then across to the river border of Huaquillas. You will need to speak Spanish here as the border can be sketchy.
Where can I go from here?
Ecuador 1.5 hrs
Bolivia 2.25 hrs
Brazil 3.5 hrs
- Can I drink the water? Not recommended.
- Is tipping expected? Yes for tours and porters, no for taxis or restaurants but 10% service charge is sometimes included.
- Fixed price or barter? There can be a local price and a ‘tourist’ price. Generally bartering is only for markets here.
- Any ATMs? Yes but take cash too.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Right.
- Good for vegetarians? Not great! Their delicacy is guinea pig.
- Any Seven Wonders of the World? Yes Machu Picchu.
Plan a Trip To Peru
Budget – £35 a day
Capital – Lima
Population – 29.4 million
Language spoken – Spanish, Quechua
Best Time to Go – The best month to visit Peru is either February, March or April.
Did you know? That Machu Picchu was the only Inca Ruin undiscovered by the Spanish during their rule.
Volunteer with Globalteer and work at projects like Picaflor House Community Project, helping underprivileged and disadvantaged children. You can volunteer as a teaching assistant helping with English classes, games, sports and arts, all whilst being in the amazing Andes mountains. Volunteer placements are from 1 to 12 weeks and start from £373 / US $450. Discover more here
Mind Body & Soul
Weather in Peru – Below is an annual weather chart from January to December
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