Cusco has two seasons – the rainy season from November to April and the dry season from May to October. The best time to visit Cusco and hike the Inca Trail is during its dry season, which also means that tourists will be everywhere.
Lima, however, features sunny, humid and hot summers from December to April, with the temperature exceeding 30°C, followed by cloudy, damp, and cool winters from May to November.
I picked late March to early April (3/31 – 4/8). It did rain every day during my time in Cusco, but was only around noon and evening times, which didn’t impact my sightseeing plans at all. The temperature was around 5-15°C, and most of the time it felt like 20°C with the sun out. Lima was quite on the contrary – sunny, hot and humid all the time during my stay, with every day above 30°C.
If you plan to visit both Lima and Cusco in one trip around the similar time as mine, make sure to pack both summer and light winter clothes.
Uber is wildly used and highly affordable in Lima and Cusco. A few bucks can take you for a long ride.
Also highly affordable. CA$ 80-90 can get you a 4-start hotel, Hilton kind. But of course, you need to book as early as possible.
I stayed at Illas Inn in Cusco. It’s a boutique hotel in an unbeatable location – literally 2 minutes’ walk to the PeruRail Cusco station. The staff was super nice during my stay, providing personalized service and some great insider tips for travelling in Cusco.
In Lima, I booked Wyndham Hotel. Its location is superb, in a safe and clean area right in the heart of the city. It also has a rooftop pool bar, offering stunning views of Lima. The common areas were clean and well-maintained. My room had a fabulous city view.
🎒 Items to Pack
- Passport or any applicable travel documents
- Printed Tickets – required if you are taking PeruRail to Machu Picchu
- Currency Exchange
- Laptop, AirPods, AirTag
- Chargers – Laptop, iPhone
- Charger Converter – in Peru, the power plug sockets are type A and C. The standard voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 60 Hz
- Lightweight jacket for Cusco
- T-shirts and summer tops for Lima
- Long pants
- Umbrella / Poncho
- Medication – ibuprofen, acetazolamide, or dexamethasone for high altitudes
- Bug repellent for Machu Picchu
💡 Things to Know
SIM Card – DO NOT buy it at the Lima Airport – the price is ridiculously high. If you need a SIM card immediately, check out the Claro shop at national departures (2nd floor of the airport) and you may be able to get a better deal. If you are not in a hurry, you can get much better deals in the Lima city area. Check here for more SIM card options.
Altitude Sickness – If you travel to higher than 8,000 feet above sea level without letting your body adjust to the new altitude, you may experience altitude sickness due to the low oxygen levels in the air. Symptoms include headache and nausea. Here are some tips from CDC and Cleveland Clinic to avoid altitude sickness:
- Ascend gradually. Avoid travelling from a low elevation to an elevation higher than 9,000 feet (2,750 m) above sea level in one day.
- Rest and adjust. Spend a few days at 8,000–9,000 feet before travelling to a higher elevation. This gives your body time to adjust to the lower oxygen levels. Alternatively, consider taking day trips to a higher elevation and then returning to a lower elevation to sleep.
- Avoid alcohol. Don’t drink alcohol or do heavy exercise for at least the first 48 hours after you arrive at an elevation above 8,000 feet.
- Stay hydrated. Drink 3-4 quarts of water per day.
- Don’t eat too much but make sure your carbs intake: Eat a diet that’s more than 70% carbohydrates.
🍽️ Recommended Local Eats
- Inca Cola
- Pisco Sour – An alcoholic cocktail originated from Lima, Peru, made with Pisco brandy, simple syrup, lime juice, egg white, and a few dashes of bitters.
- Chicha Morada – Sweet, cool, purple fruit juice made from purple corn.
- Lucuma Juice
- Lemongrass Lemonade
- Amazon Coffee
- Lucuma – A Peruvian fruit
- Granadilla – Native to the Andes Mountains, similar to passion fruit
- Camu Camu – Cherry-like fruit from the Amazon rainforest
- Aguaymanto – Peruvian groundcherry
- Aguaje – Native to the tropical Amazon region of Peru
- Pepino Mellon – Original of the Peruvian Andes
- Maracuya – Passion fruit
- Peruvian/Inca Corn
- Ceviche / Canta Rana – National Peruvian dish.
- Cuy – Roasted or baked guinea pig. Available in Cusco.
- Alpaca – Available in Cusco only.
- Causa Rellena – Made with yellow potatoes and either tuna salad or chicken. Causa Vegetariana – Veggie option.
- Rocoto Relleno – Peruvian version of stuffed peppers.
- Lomo Saltado – Marinated strips of sirloin steak stir-fry with soy sauce, chopped red onion, tomatoes, crispy French fries and the unmissable ají amarillo, served with rice on the side.
- Pollo a la Brasa – Peruvian rotisserie chicken.
- Anticucho – Peruvian beef heart kebabs.
- Tiradito – A Peruvian raw fish salad, with a spicy citrus sauce. It’s a lighter version of ceviche.
- Papa Rellena – Peruvian stuffed potato.
- Pachamanca – Traditional Peruvian dish that’s cooked underground with the help of hot stones.
- Chupe de Camarones – Peruvian shrimp chowder that combines a spicy broth with chunky vegetables, poached eggs, and lots of tasty shrimp.
- Arroz Chaufa – Peruvian’s version of Chinese fried rice.
- Ají de Gallina – Peruvian chicken stew. The name translates to “chicken chilli” or “hen’s chilli” in English.
- Butifarra – Peruvian sandwich, a crusty white bun filled with ham, salsa criolla, lettuce, radishes, and chilli peppers.
🍨 Snacks & Desserts
- Canchita – A snack food made of roasted or deep-fried corn kernels.
- Picarones – A Peruvian dessert that originated in Lima. Made of squash and sweet potato, served in a doughnut form and covered with syrup.
- Alfajores – Two soft cookies with manjar blanco (dulce de leche) with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.
- Turrón de Doña Pepa – Yummy cookie 🙂
- Suspiro de Limeña – A Peruvian dessert that originated in Lima, translates to “sigh of the lady from Lima” in English. It’s a creamy, caramel like pudding topped with a Port flavored meringue and sprinkled with a touch of cinnamon.
- Lucuma Ice Cream
- Mazamorra Morada – A Peruvian pudding made with purple corn.
- Arroz Zambito – Peruvian brown rice pudding.
Day 1 (Mar 31): Toronto ➡️ Lima ➡️ Cusco
Day 2-5 (Apr 1-4): Stay in Cusco
- Experience the grandeur of the Plaza de Armas and Cusco Cathedral
- Count angles at Twelve Angled Stone
- Worship Qorikancha, the Inca Sun Temple
- Walk along the Avenida El Sol
- Check out the San Pedro Central Market
- Immerse in the splendid Machu Picchu – check out this post for the 1-day ultimate travel guide
- Pick souvenirs at Centro Artesanal Cusco
- Take photos with an alpaca
- Alpaca Burger at Chakruna Native Burgers
- Ceviche and Causa at Morena Peruvian Kitchen
- Cuy at La Quinta
Day 6-8 (Apr 5-7): Stay in Lima
- Roam around the Plaza Mayor de Lima (Lima Main Square), visit the Government Palace of Peru, Casa de la Literatura Peruana (House of Peruvian Literature), Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima
- Check out Chinatown
- Enjoy the beautiful music water fountains performance at Circuito Magico del Agua (Magic Water Circuit)
- Parque John F. Kennedy (Kennedy Park) and Parque 7 de Junio (Miraflores Central Park)
- Stroll along the Malecón de Miraflores (Miraflores Boardwalk), check in at the Love Park, Espigón Waikiki, Beach Viewpoint and Lacomar, watch the sunset by the coastline
- Walk around the Barranco District, take photos of the murals, and cross the Bridge of Sighs without breathing to have your wish fulfilled
- Ceviche and Chaufa at El Mundo Del Cerdo
- Lomo Saltado at Tanta
- Chicken Empanada and Lucuma Juice at Delicass
Day 9 (Apr 8): Lima ➡️ Toronto
Here are the Google Map pins:
Full album for a visual itinerary:
👛 Expense Breakdown
|Transportation||Toronto – Lima||3/31 – 4/8||CA$680.21|
|Transportation||Lima – Cusco||4/1 – 4/4||CA$260.10|
|Stay||Stay in Cusco||4/1 – 4/4||CA$223.50|
|Stay||Stay in Lima||4/4 – 4/8||CA$376.04|
|Transportation||Cusco – Machu Picchu (PeruRail Expedition)||4/3||CA$173.38|
|Attraction||Machu Picchu Ticket||4/3||CA$138.41|
|Transportation||Uber in Cusco and Lima||4/1 – 4/8||CA$50.87|
|Other||Restaurants and souvenirs||4/1 – 4/8||US$200.00|