Absolutely jam-packed with recognizable tourist attractions, there is no shortage of sights to be seen and wonders to be had for your time in Peru.
A trip to South America would not be complete without a visit to the sacred Machu Picchu. However, this modern Wonder of the World is just a glimpse of what Peru has to offer when it comes to culture and beauty. Fly over puzzling geoglyphs in Nazca or discover the history and complexity of advanced ancient civilizations on the Choquequirao Trek.
Peru startles with its variety. Whether it’s parched coastal desert, jagged Andean peaks or the biodiversity found in the lush Amazonian Rainforest, Peru really is an adventure waiting to be had!
Follow along with our absolute best money saving tips below and find out how we were able to travel Peru for Cheap-(ish)!
Currency: 3.4 Sol = 1USD
Region: South America
Our Top 5 Must-Do's
Found on many backpacker’s bucketlists this iconic sight is a must for visitors to Peru. Take a tour through the Incan structures or simply sit up the top and enjoy the panoramic view as the clouds roll in.
Seen many times on your Instagram feed no doubt, Rainbow Mountain lies in the Andes of Peru. Mountains lit up in various colors as a result of minerals mixing with the sand on the hillside. This sight is a 3 hour drive from Cusco followed by a 6 mile hike to reach the lookout. Rainbow Mountain Guide.
Located off the coast of Paracas lies what is known as the ‘Poor man’s Galapagos’. These islands are inhabited by 1000’s of seal and penguin colonies. Take a boat tour to see Penguins, Seals, Native Birds and much much more.
NAZCA FROM ABOVE
The lines are found in a region of Peru 200 miles southeast of Lima, near the modern town of Nasca. In total, there are over 800 straight lines, 70 animal and plant designs and 300 geometric figures, also called biomorphs.
The desert and the sea come together in spectacular landscapes in Paracas, in the department of Ica, just a few hours south from Lima lies this, lesser known, tourist destination. Located in Paracas National Park these cliffs are absolutely jaw-dropping.
It won’t take long when visiting Lima’s Coastline to spot a paraglider overhead. This popular tourist activity is a good way to get a little adrenaline fix while staying in the city. Try it for yourself and take in the breathtaking view over the cities coastline and beaches.
Being one of the 4 South American countries that hold the Amazon River, it would be a shame to visit this country and not experience the raw beauty of the Amazon. So head to the port town of Iquitos which will be your base camp for exploring the Amazon.
A hidden gem. This is a relatively unknown archaeological site often attributed to the Incas but on further inspection probably was a product of some higher civilization whose technology has been lost in history. This site is a 20 minute taxi ride from the Ollantaytambo town centre.
Wedged between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titikaka is the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable body of water in the world. Within the lake can be found a string of floating islands, made by the inhabitants with straw. Each island has a life span of 20 years and has entire communities living on them. Although we do recommend visiting this landmark from the Bolivian side if you are crossing the border.
Take a few days to explore the pebbled streets of this famous town. Often used by tired backpackers to chill out, prolong their travels a little and maybe even check out the nightlife scene.
Known as Machu Picchu’s little stepbrother, the Choquequirao Trek is adventure in the truest sense. This trek sits beyond the Inca Trail in south Peru, leading travellers through the Andean Mountains to an ancient city with sections still being excavated by archaeologists to this day.
Budget & Costs
Peru is absolutely full of amazing hostels and there is definitely no shortage for choice here.
Hostel dorm rooms can come in as low as 25 PEN per night, although most are going to be around 50 PEN. You can expect to pay between 75-140 PEN per night for a private room which is a good option for couples. A night in a 2-star budget hotel with the basic amenities in Peru starts around 40 PEN. We recommend using Booking.com as they provide the best rates and most options for hotels.
With Airbnb, you will be able to find shared rooms starting around 40 PEN and entire homes from 140 PEN per night. You can find a $39 Coupon for AirBnB here.
Peruvian Food is all about big flavors and big spices. If you’re not a fan of carbs though, you’ve come to the wrong place! Expect to have both rice and fries accompanying every meal.
You can find very cheap food from street stalls and markets where you can pay between 3-6 PEN for a mean. If you want a sit-down restaurant you can usually get lunch and dinner menus for 12-20 PEN.
The local delicacy is Cuy, but make sure you have the stomach for it before you try it. It’s Guinea Pig.
For a 10-hour bus ride through Peru, you can expect to pay around 40 PEN depending on the bus company you choose. A taxi around Lima should cost no more than 60 PEN. Lima has brand-new, clean intra-city buses. These buses are fairly safe and cost 0.50-3 PEN per trip. Microbuses (colectivos) run as well, and prices vary depending on the distance, but will always cost less than 2.50 PEN. They are a bit hectic and take some getting used to. Uber, operates in three cities in Peru: Arequipa, Lima & Cusco.
If you are one of the three people on the planet that have not yet used Uber, you can use this link for $15 off your first ride.
130-180 PEN / 40-55 USD
(Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. This also depends greatly on the number of tours you do! Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
Money Saving Tips
1. Cook For Yourself
If you are staying at hostels (which you should be if you’re trying to save money!!) then always try to find one with a kitchen available. When you’re travelling it can be tiring but this single habit will save you the most money if you can adopt it. Shop at a supermarket (Metro was our favorite) and cook your favorite meals for a fraction of the cost of eating out!
2. Use the Bus System (sometimes)
Most advertised guided trips are able to be done for a fraction of the cost if you take public transportation instead. It will take a lot longer as the public buses make A LOT of stops, but if money is a priority this can help a lot!
For longer haul trips be sure to check both buses and planes, as we found that SOMETIMES flights are cheaper **be aware of luggage costs**
We use SkyScanner.com to find the best rate.
3. Save Money on Water.
As is the case with a lot of developing countries, tap water in 99% of the country isn’t safe to drink. If you aren’t travelling with a water bottle with an in-built filter or a steri-pen, then you will end up buying A LOT of water! We found the best option was to buy 1.5L Water bottles from the local corner stores. Try to avoid buying water bottles from restaurants because you will easily pay 2 to 3 times as much. However, most restaurants won’t care if you carry your own.
4. Travel in Off-Season
Simply by travelling in the low season you can find spectacular deals up to 50% off which will go a long way in saving you money on your trip. Consider travelling during the months of April and May or even September and October to get great deals on your travel.
5. Learn the Language!
We’re a big advocate of cultural immersion, which includes learning the language! You’d be surprised just how much money you can save by talking to locals, haggling/bargaining, or even just being given a lower price because they’re happy you’re trying! We found that especially in Peru, there aren’t that many people who speak English fluently, and while they may want to help you they’re simply unable to due to the language barriers. 4
The Pilgrim -
Peru Travel Film
Check out one of Tom’s earlier films from his time in Peru. It showcases a lot of the sights and attractions mentioned above and gives a very good glimpse of what you will see when you visit Peru. Check it out!
The first time Tom visited Peru was actually part of a University trip which had him spending a month in the country for the purpose of filming a documentary.