Colorful buses speeding through the streets, taxi drivers joking and fighting for your business right outside the airport doors, traditional women selling candies on public transportation and businessmen honking as the sit in yet another traffic jam: transportation in Peru may seem wild to the newcomer, but don’t let it daunt you! The old days of what you read above are now able to be admired from afar, complemented by a wave of new, affordable airlines, vying for your business with no-change fees, free meals and low fares, apps for taxis that will retrieve you comfortably and safely within the cities, and beautiful trains that can escort you from one world-class destination to another.
Since it’s hard to know where to start within all the transportation options in Peru, here we have them laid out for you!
Getting Around the Country of Peru
Most tourists will enter Peru through the country’s largest airport: Jorge Chavez International Airport in Lima (city of Callao). From here, you can travel by air, land and even water in some areas to get to anywhere else in the country.
If you prefer to fly, you’ll notice that most destinations can be reached by a one or two hour flight- maximum! Almost every city has an airport (except Lake Titicaca in Puno), and there are a ton of airlines offering low fares even up to the last minute. Furthermore, some offer packages through travel agents if you plan to fly to multiple destinations.
Flying is easy, saves a ton of time, and many of the airlines are registered for rewards programs that work with larger, international airlines so you can even use your miles back home!
Buses, rental cars, trains and private transfers: the options for traveling by land are endless! Of course, this is more time consuming than flying, but in some cases has things to offer that you’ll miss on the flight.
Buses start at very low fares, and Peru is known for having reputable, safe and very nice, new buses. You can take a bus to anywhere in the country that is reachable by land, and they can usually be booked or changed at the very last minute if you feel the need.
Trains are very popular for getting to Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca, and many offer scenic trains in which you can see the landscapes you pass through panoramic windows. The trains are mainly available between destinations in which you cannot fly, and are a more comfortable alternative to the buses in these areas. Train cars range from basic to complete luxury, and some even have entire train cars that can be rented out to groups (more information on these at the bottom of the post).
Rental cars are perhaps the least advisable for long distances, but can be great within cities or for those who have previously visited Peru and know where they want to go. For long distances, renting a car isn’t ideal for first-time visitors to Peru, and we would recommend you look into a private transfer if car travel is what you prefer.
Private transfers can be arranged through any travel agency, and are often included free of charge in tour packages. These can be used for any type of distance, come with a local driver, and are great if you want a very personalized journey (read the end of the post for how to book these).
If you’re a fan of traveling waterside, you can book journeys that cruise along the Amazon river, or sail along the country’s coast. These all need to be privately arranged through a travel agent in advance.
The type of transport that is best between any two cities (and available options) may vary; we currently have posts detailing how to get from Cusco & Machu Picchu to Lima, the Amazon, and Lake Titicaca, and you can always contact our specialists for advice on other routes that don’t have their own post yet.
Within the Cities
In larger cities in Peru, you’ll have the options of traveling with the locals on public transportation, taking taxis, or relaxing in private cars with drivers. Your options vary a bit by city.
Public Transportation in Lima
The capital, Lima has the most options for public transportation. El Metropolitano is the rapid transit bus system in the city, and by far the easiest and most reliable public transportation. You can find prices, routes and timetables online. The Lima metro, an above-ground train, also operates on one line and is currently expanding.
Public Transportation in Other Cities
Cities such as Cusco and Arequipa also have bus systems, but taxis tend to be just as cheap and much easier here, so public transportation isn’t worth it for visitors.
Everywhere in the country, taxis are readily available and very easy (though you may hit traffic in Lima). If taking a taxi, make sure to negotiate a price beforehand. If they have a meter, ask that it be turned on. You can ask any hotel to call a cab for you, use the EasyTaxi app, or hail one from the street (but for a sense of security, we recommend having one called or using the application).
The most comfortable way to travel, you can hire a driver for your stay in any city who will escort you around. It can be quite affordable, and is well worth it for groups traveling together (or for those who want to see a lot without the hassle of always getting a taxi). These can be booked through travel agents.
However you like to travel, there’s an option that is best for you and your trip to Peru! If you prefer private transfers, hiring cars and drivers, or would like help booking any of the other travel options above (flights, trains, buses, Amazon cruises, etc.), we are happy to help you here or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also explore our tours here, many of which include all transportation for you.