Hello! I wanted to share my travel guide for traveling around Peru, specifically Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu. I made a short video on my YouTube, so you can see a lot of what my family and I did on our trip. If you want to watch it, here it is!:
Anyway, if you want to see my recommendations for traveling to Peru, just keep reading!
Unfortunately, my family and I didn’t have a great experience, due to their many flight delays and poor customer service. Even though I purchased my ticket, they didn’t have a spot for me on the plane, and only wanted to reimburse me $250!
This is the airline to which Avianca eventually transferred me; the flight attendants were very attentive and kind, and I would definitely fly with them again!
Courtyard Marriott Hotel Miraflores (4 stars, ~$150/night)
Since we were only staying in Lima for 1 night and would spend most of our time exploring the city, we decided that it wasn’t necessary to stay at a 5-star hotel. The employees were resourceful and amiable; the rooms were rather spacious, modern, and clean; and the location (in Miraflores) was convenient, near many fantastic restaurants. I would give this experience two thumbs up!
Walk around the Barranco, which is said to be the most boho and romantic district in Lima. There are cool shops, restaurants, and street art everywhere; it kinda gives me Silverlake/Arts District (LA) vibes!
Being a joint store, Plantique and Puna offers you the best of both worlds—Plantique is a nursery and Puna is a clothing, accessory, and trinket store. This store was especially Silverlake-esque, with its eccentric merchandise—vintage records, cute clothes and accessories, mugs, plants… I would totally recommend swinging by Plantique/Puna if you want to buy gifts for others, or if you want to get a cheeky little something for yourself.
MATE (Mario Testino Museum)
Mario Testino has been one of my favorite photographers for a very long time. He’s famous for shooting everyone’s who anyone, such as Beyoncé, Princess Diana, Kate Moss, Justin Bieber (just to name a few)… He opened this museum, which was formerly a mansion, in 2012, where he houses a lot of his photos (many of which you have probably seen in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, etc.), and presents special exhibitions of other artists’ pieces. Testino’s art is breathtaking to see, in magazines, on your phone, and if you’re lucky, in his museum. He captures moments precisely, making the viewer feel as if he or she is there, experiencing the happenings of the photo. He stages beautifully, with his expert eye for color and composition. He encapsulates culture perfectly, photographing the traditions of a people in an oxymoronic way—with high resolution yet seamless realism. Definitely something you should check out if you’re in Lima!
Artesanias Las Pallas
Artesanias Las Pallas is a specialty shop, selling Peruvian art and treasures. It is owned by a Welsh woman who has lived in Lima for what I remember as over 50 years (need a fact check on that). She is extremely helpful and obviously passionate about her job, having an undeniable appreciation for fine art. The store has an outdoor garden, with tons of plants and pottery. This is the store to go to if you want uniquely Peruvian gifts. Oh, also there is an added bonus that the owner has a dog.
Dédalo is another trinket shop great for buying gifts. It has a really cute courtyard and cafe, if you want to hang out, reading a book and sipping tea. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this store unless you pass by it by chance, just because I think that the merchandise isn’t particularly unique. However, that is just my opinion!
I didn’t have time, but if you do, I recommend going to the beach, to hang out, parasail…
Eating is probably my favorite thing to do while I’m traveling. Eh, let’s face it: eating is my favorite thing to do wherever I am. Lima happens to be one of the food capitals of the world, famous for its, of course, Peruvian food, but also its Japanese food! Here are some of few places where we grubbed:
La Bodega Verde
To be honest, this restaurant was far from classic Peruvian fare, but it was still so delicious! Transformed from a garage, La Bodega Verde is a quaint garden cafe that offers indoor and outdoor seating. They have a variety of delicious drinks, like fresh juices, smoothies, teas, and coffees. They mostly serve sandwiches and tartines, which were also very good. I personally had a tartine with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and capers. Very standard dish, but it was tasty.
Blu is apparently the best ice cream shop in Lima, so of course I wanted to try it for myself. Since I have consumed a great deal of ice cream in my lifetime, I am rather critical of it. I thought that it had a wide variety of flavors, ranging from more sweet flavors, like chocolate and banana, to more tart flavors, like strawberry sorbet (which was quite good!). However, it wasn’t anything special; it was good, but nothing landmark.
Astrid y Gaston
Astrid y Gaston is a gourmet Peruvian restaurant with unique twists on classic dishes, fantastic service, and a gorgeous patio. This restaurant and modern Peruvian restaurant Central are named some of the best restaurants in the world. We made reservations a few weeks in advance, due to its huge popularity. I unfortunately didn’t take any pictures of the food, but I did feature video clips of some of the dishes in my YouTube video. We ordered raw scallops, topped with, what I remember, an apple and avocado sauce, which although it sounds odd, was very delicious. We also ordered gyozas, or dumplings, a traditionally Japanese dish. My brother ordered guinea pig, which is a delicacy in Peru. My brother’s opinion is that guinea pig is very fatty, so if you’re into that, then I would go for it! I ordered uni pasta, which was so good! I’m not even that into uni, but I thought it was delicious and would recommend it to anyone who’s into sea urchin.
The flight from Lima to Cusco is a little bit over an hour long, so the flights are often cheap (under $100 roundtrip). My experience was nothing special, but I didn’t mind because it was such a short flight.
JW Marriott El Convento Cusco (5 stars, ~$200/night)
Previously a convent, the JW Marriott is an amazing hotel that keeps the integrity of the old Cusco building. The moment you walk into the lobby, you’ll notice that there is an assortment of teas, including the infamous coca leaves tea (which also makes cocaine, lol). Coca tea is said to help ease altitude sickness, which is common upon arrival to Cusco. Like the Marriott we stayed at in Lima, the rooms were quaint. The breakfast was really good, in my opinion. The best part of this hotel was the location—it takes approximately five minutes to walk to the city center. The Marriott is fantastic, if you’re willing to splurge on your lodging.
To be honest, we didn’t do much in Cusco. We mostly walked around the city, which is small, old, and gorgeous, stalking alpacas. Unfortunately, the people who own these alpacas are extremely aggressive, demanding money constantly. I know that this is their jobs, but we had paid them the equivalent of $10 for a few pictures. Also, it doesn’t seem like they are very humane in their care of the animals. I did get some photos with the fluffy animals that seem to be smiling all the time!
This restaurant was recommended by the hotel front desk. It’s a fusion between Japanese and Peruvian food. I forgot to take pictures of the dishes, but we got fries with the house-special dipping sauces, ceviche, pork chops, and seafood rice. It was tasty, but nothing particularly unique.
You can probably tell by the name that Cicciolina is an Italian restaurant. The menu is very traditional, with a variety of appetizers, like salads and carpaccio, entrees, such as pastas and meat dishes, and desserts. I didn’t find it extraordinary, especially because it’s Italian food in Peru.
Machu Picchu, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, is an Incan citadel above the town Aguas Calientes. People travel from all over the globe to see this breathtaking ancient city above the clouds. Getting there, however, is not so simple. Here are my tips on visiting Machu Picchu:
You can buy tickets for Machu Picchu tickets online, at http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/,
or in person at the Ministry of Culture, located in Lima, Cusco, and Aguas Calientes.
Navigating the website is a bit difficult, so here is a blogpost that is super helpful:
If you are just looking to walk around the citadel and take a tour, I would recommend just buying tickets for Machu Picchu. Huaynapicchu is a steeper mountain trail that takes a few extra hours to climb; if you’re not in good shape, I would strongly discourage you from buying tickets for it.
MY MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE IS TO BRING YOUR PASSPORT WITH YOU. THEY WILL CONSTANTLY ASK FOR YOU TO SHOW YOUR PASSPORT, SO DON’T FORGET IT.
Keep in mind that you have to arrange to be driven to the train station, and purchase train and bus tickets to get to Machu Picchu, since it is not included in the ticket you purchase with the Ministry of Culture (this ticket only includes entrance into the city). I would recommend looking online or going to any travel agency in Cusco or Lima to arrange a car ride to the train station, and purchase your train ticket (which will take you to Aguas Calientes) and bus ticket (which will take you from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu).
Car Ride from Cusco to train station ~ 2-3 hours
Train to Aguas Calientes ~ 1-2 hour
Bus Ride up to Machu Picchu ~ 20 minutes
- Wear sunscreen. Since you’re at such a high altitude, there will certainly be a lot of sun exposure.
- Wear bug spray. I unfortunately didn’t do this, so I got bug bites all over my legs.
- Bring water and lunch. The food sold at Machu Picchu is overpriced and not good.
- Get a private tour guide. They don’t charge very much, and they are extremely knowledgable about the history of Machu Picchu.
I really hope you guys found this blog post helpful or enjoyable to read! If you have any questions, shoot me a DM on Instagram, @aimeepham. Till next time!