Follow these travel tips for an amazing trip to Peru gathered by Gilad, a traveler in his 20s with hypochondriasis, OCD and moderate anxiety.
His website Anxious & Abroad aims to show other nervous travelers and first-timers that travel isn’t just for the carefree nomadic types. It can be fun and rewarding for any kind of person — neurotic, meticulous, anxious or organized.
After visiting the Land of the Incas, Gilad gave us several tips for traveling to Peru that you might find useful. Find out what he told us:
Peru is one of the few countries that I’ve been to that has such a wildly varied abundance of natural beauty.
It has coastlines sloping down the western side, Amazonian jungles flanking the east, Andean mountains in between, and sandy deserts stretching right up to the water.
It’s truly one of the most biodiverse countries I can think of, complete with breathtaking ruins and remnants of Inca and indigenous civilizations. As a result, it has quite a bit to offer.
Luckily, one month (four weeks) is a substantial and comfortable amount of time to explore much of what Peru has to offer. It’s a large country, but it’s doable.
Let me run through my Peru itinerary with you to show how you can hit up all those highlight spots without missing any of the hot spots.
4-week Peru Itinerary
- Fly into Lima
- Bus to Huaraz
- Bus back to Lima
- Bus to Paracas
- Bus to Huacachina
- Bus to Arequipa
- Bus to Puno
- Bus to Cusco
- Fly back to Lima
- Fly Home
General tips for traveling to Peru
Look for menús (meal deals). Desayuno (breakfast), almuerzo (lunch) and cena (dinner) deals are way cheaper, more authentic and very filling.
Be aware of altitude sickness. It may not affect you, but if it does, take it easy, drink lots of water, and do NOT go on a drinking binge. (I did none of that and fainted my first night in Cusco).
Avoid food poisoning. My golden rule is to only eat at places that are busy. Empty places are empty for a reason, and it’s best not to chance it. Having said that, be open to street food because it’s often the best food in Peru.
You can get around with English quite easily. However, if you can speak any Spanish, try it! Locals really respect and appreciate tourists who try to learn their language.
Opt for local buses. This will help you save money. Unless you’re headed on an overnight journey, local buses are the way to go over tourist buses.
Peruvian food recommendations
Ceviche – probably the most well-known Peruvian meal. It’s generally a raw fish or raw mixed seafood dish dressed in lemon, onion, and herbs.
Anticucho – grilled beef heart. Surprisingly tasty.
Cuy – Grilled guinea pig, and it really looks like a grilled guinea pig. Tasty and worth trying, but not for the faint of heart.
Lomo saltado – a stir fry mix of beef, veggies, rice and french fries (yes, french fries).
Beans and rice – every day for the rest of your life.
Caldo de Gallina – a Peruvian version of chicken soup, and it’s delicious.
Quinoa and potato soup – will often be accompanied by your meal, and it’s delicious, too.
Chicha morada – a sweet drink made from purple corn. It’s often served alongside your meal.
Pisco sour – the classic cocktail of Peru.
Maracuya sour – A tangy version of the original and I just happen to be a really big fan.
Chifa – a South American take on Chinese food, and it’s actually quite good. The portions are enormous, and the prices are really low.
Maracuya – the South American version of passionfruit. They’re delicious, tangy, sweet and tropical. They look really ugly, but they taste great. I think I had a fresh maracuya smoothie every day on my trip.
Granadilla – the weirdest fruit I’ve ever seen in my life. From the outside, it looks like an orange, but when you crack it open, the interior looks like something from either the bottom of a pond or another planet. It’s crazy delicious, though. So, cover your eyes and give it a try.
While visiting the capital, these are some key Peru travel tips:
What to do
- Take a free walking tour of the Old Town
Aside from being a great spot to meet other travelers (I met 2 Dutch girls I spent 2 weeks with on this tour), the free walking tour will show you all the important buildings, restaurants and geography of the city’s iconic old town.
It’s also a great place to meet other English speakers, and it’s a really good way to orient yourself in Lima at the beginning of your trip.
- Take a graffiti tour of Barranco
Barranco is the bohemian/hipster part of Lima, and its art is really quite impressive.
This afternoon tour shows you all the best graffiti spots in the neighborhood while the tour guide explains its cultural relevance and its historical impact.
It’s a great way to get to know this up and coming part of town. We stuck around after the tour for sunset drinks on the cliffside.
- Check out the cliffs
Honestly, just walking around the outer edge of Lima, where the city hugs the shore, is pretty spectacular.
Because of the placid weather, Lima gets a bit hazy for many of its warmer months, which makes for some pretty stunning pink sunsets.
The cliffs are an awesome place to have a drink at the end of the day, but be wary, because restaurants and shops there are far more expensive than other parts of the city.
- Try surfing
I am not even remotely brave enough to try surfing, but Lima’s strategic location on the windy coast makes for some (I’m told) phenomenal surfing.
There are tons of shops that will be happy to rent boards to you and teach you the fundamentals before setting you on your way.
Tips on where to stay
- Dragonfly Hostel Miraflores – I stayed at Dragonfly a few times when I made my multiple stops over in Lima, and both times were quite pleasant. Dragonfly is a hostel chain with locations in Miraflores, Barranco, Cusco and Arequipa, and their reputation is pretty unscathed.
This particular location wasn’t exactly a party hostel, but its rooftop – complete with hammocks, a bar and foosball – is pretty fantastic. They also provide a free pancake breakfast and play reruns of The Big Bang Theory, which is not at all a bad way to start the day.
- Hostel Kokopelli, Lima – I didn’t stay at this one, but I trust the Kokopelli brand, and a bunch of my travel buddies advocated for it. Kokopelli is also a hostel chain, and it’s usually quite friendly, communal and warm. It has a reputation for being somewhat of a party hostel, but the staff is very strict about the midnight in-house partying curfew.
By: Anxious and Abroad.
Cover photo: Pxhere.
This article has been updated from the original version published on April 10, 2019.
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