When is the best time to visit Peru? Well, usually, we would specify winter, summer, spring, or fall. However, in the case of Peru, its location in South America near the equator means that there are only two main seasons: the wet and the dry season. Since this country is incredibly diverse and features various climates, it’s impossible to make a blanket statement naming one particular time of year as “the ideal time to travel.” For example, Peru has three main geographic zones: the coastal plain, the Andean highlands, and the Amazon Basin. So, to put it simply: the best time to go to Peru depends on where you’re going in the country and what you plan to do there.
While most tourists prefer to visit Peru during the dry season, others choose to skip the hustle and bustle of the busiest time of year. With this in mind, this article breaks down the best time to travel to Peru (in general terms) as well as the best time to go to Machu Picchu, Cusco, the Peruvian Amazon, and Lima, specifically. We’ll review peak times to visit each region and options to visit during the shoulder season. We hope that this information helps you to plan your ideal vacation to Peru!
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What is the best month to visit Peru?
Are you looking for a quick answer? In general terms, the best time of year to visit Peru would be during its dry season: between May and October. Nonetheless, if you travel during these months, make sure to book your flights, accommodations, and tours far in advance.
This advice is particularly crucial if you’re hoping to trek the Inca Trail or visit Machu Picchu. July and August bring the highest number of visitors, coinciding with summer vacations in Europe and North America. To avoid large crowds, consider booking your trip for May or September. This way, you’ll experience some of the best weather in Peru, but with fewer tourists around.
Following the dry season is the wet season, running from November to April. As a warning, the worst time to travel to Peru is between January and April, a.k.a. the wettest months. However, you shouldn’t completely rule out a vacation during this period of time. As a matter of fact, one of the most popular Peru trip ideas is to visit in March or April so you can squeeze in the Galápagos Islands while you’re nearby. Note that the Inca Trail closes during February due to heavy rainfall, so avoid a February trip if this activity is important to you.
Peruvian holidays are another essential factor to take into account when planning your vacation. Remember that Peru is in the Southern Hemisphere; therefore, December and January are Peruvians’ peak summer travel months. So, you may see an increase in flight and hotel prices. Prices also spike further around Christmas and leading up to the new year, making it harder to find good deals on hotels around these dates. Some of the main public holidays to note include Peruvian fiestas patrias (independence celebrations) on July 28-29 and Semana Santa (Holy Week).
Best time to visit Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is one of the most visited attractions in Latin America. Due to its location in the Andes highlands, Machu Picchu experiences both a wet and a dry season. During the dry season (approx. April-November), you can expect sunshine and clear blue skies, leading to stunning views of the surrounding Andean peaks. The absolute best time of the year to go to Peru to visit Machu Picchu is between May and September, coinciding with the driest season.
Note that June, July, and August are the busiest months to go to Machu Picchu. The climate for Peru is particularly agreeable during these months; additionally, the high season aligns with summer holidays in the Northern Hemisphere. So, if you want to trek the Inca Trail and see Peru’s Sacred Valley during specific dates, plan your trip up to 12 months in advance. However, if you’d prefer to hike the Inca Trail outside of the high season, we recommend visiting Peru in September or October.
If you visit Machu Picchu from December to March, you should be aware of certain conditions. First of all, the Inca Trail is closed during February due to the substantial precipitation that this area receives. Nonetheless, Machu Picchu is open year-round, so you can still visit. Just keep in mind that if you specifically want to hike the Inca Trail, you’ll need to plan your trip for any month except February.
During the wet season, come prepared for the rain and varying temperatures due to thick cloud cover. Dress for the Peru climate by purchasing a thick rain jacket and non-slip hiking boots. You’ll probably get a little wet, but your visit to Machu Picchu can still be an enjoyable experience! Moreover, many travelers prefer to visit during this season to avoid large crowds and peak prices.
Best time to visit Cusco
Due to its proximity to Machu Picchu, the dry season is also the ideal time to visit Cusco. In general, the best months to travel to Cusco are between May and October. However, June, July, and August are the busiest months for tourism in the city. This time of year leads to significant spikes in prices for accommodations and tours! Note that Cusco also celebrates Inti Raymi during June, a traditional religious ceremony honoring the Incan sun god (Inti) and marking the winter solstice. If you’d prefer to avoid the crowds, we suggest planning your trip during the shoulder season in May or September.
By comparison, the worst time to visit Cusco is during the rainy season (November through April). Remember that the highest amount of rainfall occurs between December and March. Instead, consider April, which is the ideal time to go to Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Galápagos Islands in one trip.
Many tourists in Cusco plan to visit other popular destinations in Peru as well. For example, the dry season (May-October) is the best time to travel to Cusco and Lake Titicaca. From Cusco, you can reach Juliaca by plane in approximately an hour. Then, it’s only a one-hour drive to Puno. From Puno, it’s easy to catch a flight back to Lima and head home. Visitors during early February won’t want to miss the Fiesta de la Candelaria on Lake Titicaca, a festival honoring the Virgin of Candelaria.
If you don’t want to go so far, consider popular day trips from Cusco, like Rainbow Mountain. This colorful mountainside is located about a three-hour drive from Cusco and has become a top-rated attraction in recent years. For a clear view of the colors, the best time of year to visit Rainbow Mountain is also during the dry season!
Best time to visit the Peruvian Amazon
The best time to visit the Peruvian Amazon depends on the activities you’d like to do there. For example, if you want to observe the native fauna, you’ll want to travel to the rainforest between June and September. During the dry season, animals stay closer to the rivers, making them easier to spot on your tour. Furthermore, there aren’t as many mosquitos during this time of the year, presenting another ideal reason to visit! However, even if you choose to travel here during the dry season, you’ll still want to bring plenty of insect repellent.
You can expect average temperatures around the 80s during the dry season in the Amazon Basin. Another advantage to visiting during this time of year is the opportunity to see both Machu Picchu and the Amazon in one trip. The flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado only takes an hour and is pretty affordable when booked in advance.
As expected in the Amazon rainforest, there is heavy rainfall, especially between October and April! The good news is that the temperatures don’t vary much during the year, although nights can be a little chilly. While many visitors prefer to travel to the Amazon jungle during the dry season, others prefer visiting during the wet season.
With heavier rainfall comes higher water levels along the rivers. Thus, the rivers in November and April are easier to navigate and perfect for exploring the Amazon by boat. You can also reach smaller tributaries deeper in the rainforest that are inaccessible during the dry season. We always suggest traveling in a group with an experienced guide, as the jungle can quickly become dangerous. Native fauna is also more difficult to spot without an expert guide, as they spread out through the wilderness during this season.
Best time to visit Lima and the desert coast
Since Lima is located within a coastal desert, it doesn’t have a rainy season like other areas in Peru. Furthermore, temperatures here are relatively moderate throughout the year. Interestingly enough, the best time to visit most areas of Peru is the worst time to visit its capital. In fact, this sprawling city experiences a dense fog from May to September, thanks to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Locals call this phenomenon “La Garúa,” meaning “drizzle” or “mist” in Spanish.
Since La Garúa occurs during Lima’s winter season, you can expect low temperatures and some drizzle. Many people compare Lima to California during this time of year, specifically to San Francisco’s climate. However, there are also some advantages to visiting Lima during the winter. For example, Peru’s fiestas patrias (independence celebrations) on July 28 and 29 feature exciting parades and festivals throughout the city.
In general, the best time to visit Lima and the coast is from December to March, corresponding to Peru’s summertime. The city is warm and sunny during this season, with high temperatures ranging from the 70s to 80s. The heat creates excellent swimming and surfing conditions along the coast. Additionally, Lima is known for having particularly vibrant sunsets during the summertime.
Although summer is the peak season for tourism here, the capital city can feel empty at times. Many locals spend their summer vacations by the beach, just south of Lima. In most cases, it’s hard to schedule a trip to Peru when the climate is good in both Lima and the country’s other most popular attractions, such as Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. Nonetheless, Lima is considered the food capital of Peru, and you don’t need good weather to enjoy a nice restaurant!
Cheapest time to visit Peru
If you’re less concerned about experiencing the best weather in Peru and more worried about planning a budget-friendly vacation, we’ve got you covered. The low season in most areas of Peru coincides with the wet season, running from late October to mid-December (before the holidays) and then from mid-January through April. However, remember that this is considered peak season for the capital city of Lima.
As a general rule, thrifty travelers should avoid visiting destinations in the Andean Highlands during June, July, and August. You won’t find many deals on travel plans during these peak months for Machu Picchu or Cusco tourism! Keep in mind when searching for flights that it’s often cheaper to travel on a weekday than over the weekend. Even if you don’t find a cheap flight, the good news is that accommodations are very affordable in Peru. For example, staying in hostels or family-run hospedajes is a great way to save money during your trip.
Instead of traveling in the middle of the low season, consider traveling during Peru’s shoulder season. For example, if you visit during April or October, you have the best chance of catching ideal weather while still avoiding the high season crowds. Just remember to plan your trip outside of Semana Santa (Easter week) if you choose to visit in April.
Public holidays in Peru
As we previously mentioned, it’s essential to take Peruvian public holidays into account when planning your vacation. These events include New Year’s Day (Jan 1), Maundy Thursday and Good Friday (Easter week), Labor Day (May 1), Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (Jun 29), Fiestas Patrias (July 28-29), Feast of Saint Rose of Lima (Aug 30), Angamos Battle Celebration (Oct 8), All Saints’ Day (Nov 1), Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8), and Christmas Day (Dec 25).
Books on Peru travel
When planning your trip to Peru, you may also want to consult some of the latest Peru guidebooks. Just click on the book covers to look inside these travel guides! If you don’t want to carry a physical copy around, you can always download the Kindle version to your phone.
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This article was initially published in July 2019 and has since been updated.