Overview

Introduction

Few if any South American countries can match Peru’s astonishing diversity. The intoxicating blend of cultures and extraordinary archaeology, dazzling wildlife and jaw-dropping scenery, make it a particularly compelling destination whose iconic sights – Machu Picchu in particular – have long excited the popular imagination. About five times the size of the UK and with widely dispersed sights, Peruvian itineraries need to be carefully considered and planned.

Spain’s 16th-century defeat of the Inca empire and conquest of Peru brought seismic changes to the Americas, opening the door for the continent’s colonisation by it and Portugal. With its capital in Lima (formerly the ‘City of Kings’), the so-called Viceroyalty of Peru prospered for two centuries on gold and silver shipped back to Europe and profoundly changed indigenous culture.
Yet despite their incredible achievements – from monumental architecture and road-building to skilled weaving and agricultural techniques in demanding terrain – the Incas’ huge empire endured for barely a hundred years.

Peru’s human story is much more ancient; civilisations such as the Norte Chico (the Americas’ oldest) date back to the 32nd century BC. In its wake came others such as the Chavin, the Nazca and the Sican. Today these mysterious cultures are not simply abstract or intangible: Peru has more archaeological sites than any of its neighbours, and world class museums to display and explain their relics. So while visitors inevitably make for the ethereal Machu Picchu, it’s the tip of an archaeological iceberg. Sites like Moray, Winay Wayna and Ollantaytambo are just a few of the many jewels in the Inca crown.Add to this the Nazca lines (huge enigmatic geoglyphs carved onto the desert floor), or Chavin de Huantar (a 2,500 year-old fortress temple), the ancient city of Túcume with its adobe pyramids and citadels, or the remote 12th-century fortress of Kuélap cresting a cloud forest hilltop, and its wealth of sites might seem daunting.

Stretching like an intricate spine the length of Peru, the Andes lend spectacular scenery, from its highest peaks in the mighty Cordillera Blanca range to the deep shimmering waters of lofty Lake Titicaca. This roller-coaster terrain and its myriad habitats help bolster almost unrivalled biodiversity. Desert-like country fills the stark plains to the west beside the Pacific. To the east spreads the lush impenetrable vastness of the Amazon basin with, in particular, the Manu Biosphere Reserve affording one of the world’s great wilderness-and-wildlife spectacles.

Yet nature and archaeology have not completely outgunned today’s living urban Peru. Lima is a modern buzzing capital with a celebrated foodie scene. Arequipa and Cuzco are stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites, their appealing and vibrant townscapes subsuming previous Inca settlements and in some cases visibly built atop peerless Inca masonry.

Peru holidays at a glance

  • Immense archaeological heritage
  • Inca trail - one of the most iconic treks in the world
  • Machu Picchu - Inca city suspended high in the cloud forest
  • Lake Titicaca - the world’s highest navigable lake
  • Cusco - once the most important city of the Inca Empire
  • Sacred Valley - a lush agricultural region of great beauty
  • Colca Canyon - catch a glimpse of the mighty Andean condor
  • Peruvian Amazon - one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.  Cruises and lodge-based stays
  • Diverse wildlife and exotic bird species
  • Delicious cuisine and the national tipple Pisco Sour
  • Breathtaking train-rides through the Andes
  • Walking, trekking and white-water rafting
  • Vibrant indigenous markets
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Getting There

There are direct flights with British Airways from London Gatwick to Lima.
There are also flights to Lima from London airports via Europe which include KLM (via Amsterdam),  Air France (via Paris) and LATAM Airlines, Iberia and Air Europa (via Madrid). Other options include Avianca (via Bogota) to both Lima and Cusco. LATAM Airlines also fly from London Heathrow via Sao Paulo to Lima. Also there are flights from London Heathrow to Lima via  Miami with American Airlines.  Any flights via the US require an ESTA application.  Regional departures include Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

Inti Raymi

Inti Raymi (Peru) 24 June

To the sun-worshipping Incas, the winter solstice was a very important and sacred day in the calendar. Academics, archaeologists and historians combine forces to present a fascinating event. The central event in Cusco is acted out below the imposing fortress of Sacsayhuaman, 2 km outside the city. It is celebrated throughout the country with religious ceremonies, lively dancing and colourful festivities.

Please note that booking more than 6 months in advance is strongly recommended.

Procession of Lord of the Miracles

Procession of Lord of the Miracles (Peru) 18-19 & 28 October

An enormous image of the Señor de los Milagros, patron saint of Lima, is paraded through the city streets on a massive wood and silver float (on the shoulders of 30 men) decorated by flowers among a haze of incense and a mass of purple-clad miracle worshippers. The ritual has spread throughout the country as accounts of miracles continue to be reported.

Foreign Office advice

We’ve partnered with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Aware campaign to help provide top tips and advice for planning for your trip abroad. It’s important to do some research before you travel to learn about any necessary visas and vaccinations required for entry to your destination, understand any unusual laws and customs and to be aware of the latest travel advice for the region. Click on the link below for more information on what to prepare for your trip overseas. You can also sign up for email alerts and follow @FCOtravel on Twitter for alerts whilst you are away.

Visit gov.uk/travelaware for more information

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Peru boasts wonderful archaeological sites such as an Inca city suspended high in the cloud forest and its rainforest is home to an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife. It is also the foodie hub of South America.

Will Rist
Will Rist
Best time to go
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC
Time Difference

GMT - 6 hours

Currency

Nuevo Sol or US dollar

Language

Spanish

Average flight times

12 hours 30 minutes. BA direct flight from London Gatwick

  • Average temperature

    Average rainfall

Talk to our Peru expert

Will Rist
Will Rist

Peru boasts wonderful archaeological sites such as an Inca city suspended high in the cloud forest and its rainforest is home to an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife. It is also the foodie hub of South America.

Call one of our experts to discuss your next holiday with Sunvil on

020 8758 4774

We're open tomorrow at 9:00 AM

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
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