Whether you’re exploring Lima’s culinary scene or trekking to Machu Picchu, these are the best times to go to Peru.
Peru is famous for many things, but two stand out – adventure and food. Peru is famously home to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu. And it’s not all nature and history; in the 2023 edition of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Peru holds four spots (including number one), establishing its reputation as a bonafide foodie destination. This country is bursting at the seams with culture, but certain times of the year are better than others to soak it all in.
Peru is located in the Southern Hemisphere, which means the seasons are opposite of the U.S. or Europe. The warmest month of the year is February, and the coldest is August. Keep this in mind when you are packing so you dress appropriately.
Peru’s tourism seasons fall into three main categories:
High Season: May to August
Shoulder Season: March and April, September and October
Low Season: November to March
Here are the best times to visit Peru, according to local experts.
I spoke with Saul Alvarez Montalvo, the owner and manager at SAM Travel Peru, and Alex, a professional tour guide at Lima Experience, to put together a complete guide on the best times to visit Peru, depending on your travel goals.
Related: T+L’s Travel Guide to Lima
Best Times to Visit Peru for Smaller Crowds
More than five million tourists traveled to Peru in 2019. Although the 2022 numbers were lower than pre-pandemic levels at just over two million travelers, it’s safe to say that crowds can get very heavy during the peak tourism season in Peru. For travelers looking for smaller crowds, Montalvo recommends visiting during the shoulder seasons – late April and May or September and October. “These are before and after the rainy season, [so travelers have] more chances of excellent weather conditions and fewer crowds,” says Montalvo.
Best Times to Visit Peru for Good Weather
For tourist destinations around the world, peak travel season typically falls when the weather is the best, and Peru is no exception. If you’re looking for the best weather, head to Peru anytime from May to September. Just keep in mind that crowds will be heavier during these months. The shoulder seasons are a good option if you’re looking for a bit more warmth while still avoiding the rain.
There is an exception to this rule. Peru is a large country, so the climates can vary significantly between cities. “Depending on the city you visit, you will have a much nicer or different experience,” explains Alex. “For instance, our summer season on the coast by the ocean is from early December to late February. That is the perfect weather in this area.” By June and July, this area starts getting cold and foggy. “In the highlands, it’s different,” says Alex. “From the middle of December through March is the rainy season.” So, travelers need to decide which city they want to visit and what kind of experience they want to have before determining the best time of year to visit.
Best Times to Visit Peru for Lower Prices
Travelers will find the lowest prices during the rainy season. January and February tend to get the most rainfall — around 6 inches each month, with more than half the days seeing some precipitation. If you don’t mind getting a little wet, you should be able to find some great deals. “Companies tend to offer good deals for groups during these months because of the low demand in the tourism industry,” says Montalvo.
If you visit during the rainy season, try to schedule your activities in the morning. Afternoon rain showers are common, so you’d be more likely to stay dry if you get an early start.
Best Times to Visit Machu Picchu
Montalvo recommends visiting Machu Picchu during the high season. “These months belong to the dry season, providing good weather and gorgeous views of Machu Picchu,” says Montalvo. Getting to Machu Picchu can be tricky for international travelers, so it’s important to plan far enough in advance to avoid any snags during your trip.
You cannot visit Machu Picchu without a tour guide, so they should be able to help you prepare for any weather conditions before your arrival. There are also rules for the number of daily visitors to Machu Picchu; typically around 2,500 to 3,500 people are permitted each day throughout multiple time slots from morning until evening. These rules promote the conservation of the area, so you shouldn’t expect it to be packed, even during the peak season. You’ll just need to plan far enough in advance so your dates don’t get booked up.
Best Times to Experience Lima’s Food Scene
Many consider Lima to be the culinary capital of South America. Central, ranked the best restaurant in 2023 by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, is located here. Getting a reservation at Central takes some forethought, so planning a few months before you want to go is best. Reservation periods open about three to four months prior; the April, May, and June 2024 reservation periods will likely open up in mid-January 2024. Of course, Central isn’t the only standout restaurant the city has to offer. “Lima has all different kinds of restaurants at all different kinds of prices,” says Alex.
Several holidays throughout the year celebrate Peruvian cuisine, from Pisco Sour Day in February to the Day of the Peruvian Cuisine and Gastronomy in September. During these holidays, there are festivals, tastings, and other events to appreciate and learn about the country’s food culture. And plant-based travelers aren’t excluded from the fun. “Restaurants are more open to the vegan and vegetarian side of society,” says Alex. “It’s little by little – most of the people can’t believe you can eat without a piece of meat. But now, we are being more open-minded.” For travelers who eat fish, he recommends trying ceviche, which is part of Peru’s culinary heritage.
Worst Times to Visit Peru
The worst time to visit Peru for most travelers is during the rainy season. So many of the experiences that bring travelers to Peru are outdoors; these can become much more complicated in the rain. Remember that the rainy season brings more trouble than just getting wet. Travelers will need to plan around landslides and flooding, which could potentially wreak havoc on an itinerary. However, as noted earlier, the tradeoff could be worth it for flexible travelers looking for fantastic deals and smaller crowds.
Travelers should also be aware of riots and protests, especially in the capital city of Lima. The recent riots following the removal of President Pedro Castillo in December of 2022 caused Peru to declare a months-long state of emergency. Travelers in Peru at the time saw airport closures and the closure of Machu Picchu, so it’s important to stay vigilant and aware of what’s happening in the country before you visit (of course, this advice can be applied to almost any country you visit). Montalvo says, “Travelers should monitor media outlets [to stay] updated about the advice of local authorities so they can avoid visiting Peru during riots.”
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