Peru Solo Travel Guide for Women Travelling to Peru Alone

I adored Peru. I spent about three months exploring this beautiful country alone, mostly early on in my solo trip to South America. Peru is vast, and many visitors underestimate the distances required to travel between key places to visit in Peru. However, with this Peru solo travel guide, you’ll have everything you need to enjoy solo travel in Peru, including tips for solo travel to Machu Picchu and how to get around safely when you’re travelling to Peru alone.

This website contains sponsored and affiliate links. If you click through the links on this page and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support. [Learn more]

Is Peru Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

Peru has one of the best tourist infrastructures in South America due to its popularity among visitors who flock to Cusco and Machu Picchu. Getting around Peru is quite easy, although some issues, such as safety on night buses and fake taxis, still exist.

Walking around alone at night is not recommended anywhere in South America, and although you might be ok in well-lit areas where there are plenty of people, it’s best not to wander on your own. 

There is Uber in Lima, but in most other places in Peru, it’s best to ask your accommodation to order a taxi for you or make sure you book an official taxi or airport pickup if you arrive at the airport.

Be vigilant when you’re taking money out of the cash machine, and only do so during the day and at an official ATM at a bank.  Card skimming could be an issue with the pop-up ATMs, and after dark is never a good time to walk around with a wad of cash.

Be aware of your surroundings, and follow the same safety advice you would at home, and I’m sure you’ll fall in love with Peru just like I did!

Where to Go in Peru Solo

Cusco, Machu Picchu & the Sacred Valley

This is likely to be at the top of your Peru solo travel list, and deservedly so. Machu Picchu was one of the highlights of my South America trip, and although it is touristy, Machu Picchu is popular for a good reason!

However, don’t just visit Machu Picchu and head off again; there is plenty more to see in the Sacred Valley.

READ MORE: Cusco Itinerary for 2 Days in Cusco Peru

Make sure you spend enough time around Cusco to enjoy the city and explore the Sacred Valley. Ollantaytambo and Pisac are also worth a visit, and there is a multitude of day tours you can take from Cusco to visit more Inca ruins and unique locations like the Maras salt lakes.

You may like some of these tour options which leave from Cusco:

 

Lake Titicaca

The highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca, is a beautiful expanse of water that borders Peru and Bolivia. On the Peruvian side, use the town of Puno as a base to visit the Uros Islands, man-made reed islands where you can spend the night with the locals on the lake or just visit during the day.

If you choose to cross the border to Bolivia, Copacabana has a pretty bay overlooked by a viewpoint you can climb up. Tours to Isla del Solo are a chance to visit more of the lake, and you can continue to La Paz quite easily from there.

The Uros Islands made from reeds on Lake Titicaca Peru
The Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca Peru – Solo Travel in Peru

Arequipa and Southern Peru

Many visitors to Peru skip the regions between Lima and Cusco, which is a mistake. Arequipa is a lovely city known as Peru’s White City, as many buildings are made from a white stone called sillar.

Arequipa is a good base for visiting Colca Canyon to see wild Andean Condors fly and to hike along the canyon, which is around twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. You can arrange tours from most accommodation providers and tour companies in Arequipa.

It is also possible to do the hike independently, but if you are a solo female traveller, I’d recommend taking a guided tour, like one of these: 

 

Nazca

The mysterious lines in the dirt at Nazca have captivated scientists for centuries. No one really knows why or how the Nazca made the intricate shapes, which can only be properly seen from the air. Take a flight over the Nazca lines and see the bizarre markings yourself.

However, be warned that if you are prone to motion sickness, the flight is particularly vomit-inducing and I spent most of the time throwing up. If you prefer to stay on the ground, there is a viewing platform just outside the city where you can see a few of the Nazca Lines.

Nazca Lines in the Desert of Peru
Nazca Lines in the Desert of Peru – How to Travel Peru Solo

Lima and the Coast

Lima is a city not to be underestimated. Food lovers will find some of the best restaurants in the world here, and you can join food tours or take a cooking class in Lima to learn more about Peruvian cuisine.

Museums, pre-Inca ruins, and a magical fountain park are just some of the attractions in Lima, not to mention paragliding or surfing off the coast! 

 

South of Lima, Paracas Natural Reserve is close to the Ballestas Islands, both impressive natural parks which can be visited on a day trip from Lima or on your way to Cusco. Further south, Huacachina is an oasis in the desert where you can party all night and explore the dunes by sandboard or buggy during the day!

A Sand Buggy in Huacachina Peru
A Sand Buggy in Huacachina Oasis in Peru

Huaraz

Huaraz is home to some of the best hikes in Peru. This town on the edge of the Sierra Blanca mountain range is a haven for hikers and mountain bikers who come to explore the breathtaking mountains and lakes of Huascaran National Park and the mountains.

Breathtaking is apt in all senses of the word; the altitude here can be tough if you’re not properly acclimatised!

Northern Peru

Firmly off the tourist trail, Northern Peru is a sadly underappreciated region of Peru. Along the coast, visit pre-Inca ruins at Chan Chan and Trujillo, surf at Huanchaco and Mancora, and inland, explore Chachapoyas to visit waterfalls and beautiful ruins around three times older than Machu Picchu.

Kuelap Ruins in the Amazonas Region of Northern Peru
Kuelap Ruins in the Amazonas Region of Northern Peru

The Amazon

The Amazon Rainforest is not to be missed. Stretching across much of the continent, you could visit the Amazon from Cusco with a tour to Manu National Park, or head to Puerto Maldonado in the south of Peru or Iquitos in the north.

Either way, you can arrange tours and stays in jungle lodges to spot wildlife and experience the largest rainforest in the world.  

 

*A note on Ayuhuasca* Ayuhuasca retreats in the Amazon are popular among tourists to Peru but if you want to take part in one you should do a lot of research before choosing a shaman. There have been reports of women being attacked and raped while under the influence of Ayahuasca so proceed with caution.

How to Travel Peru Alone Safely

Solo Travel Tours in Peru

If you like to have the comfort and security of an arranged tour, several companies run overland tours to Peru, which are a great way to meet people. Of course, taking an arranged tour will be a completely different experience from travelling independently.

I took an organised tour with Intrepid Travel from La Paz to Cusco, including Lake Titicaca and a hike to Machu Picchu, which seemed much easier than arranging everything myself. After the tour, I stayed in Peru for another couple of months, travelling around on my own.  

Some of the top tours in Peru include:

Inca Trail Express – a 7-day Peru tour run by Intrepid Travel starting and ending in Cusco including visits to Ollantaytambo, Cusco and hiking the famous Inca Trail.  Ideal if you are happy visiting most of Peru independently but want a reliable tour company for the trek to Machu Picchu  >>>Learn More 

The Salkantay Trek is a popular alternative to the Inca Trail and doesn’t sell out as quickly.  The trek is still challenging and the scenery is just as spectacular.  >>>Learn More

Absolute Peru – a 21-day tour of Peru run by G Adventures, starting and ending in Lima.  Highlights include Lima, Paracas, Nazca, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca, hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and spending some time in the Amazon.  It’s a fantastic 3 week Peru itinerary taking in the very best of Peru in 3 weeks.  >>>Learn More 

BROWSE MORE PERU TOURS

Flights in Peru

If you are short on time, flying is an efficient way to get from A to B. The vast majority of international flights arrive in Lima, and a lot of people visiting Machu Picchu take a connecting flight straight to Cusco.

However, if you fly directly into Cusco, you are more likely to suffer the effects of altitude sickness and will need more time to acclimatise to the elevation in the Andean region before attempting anything too strenuous, like hiking the Inca Trail.

The Train to Machu Picchu from Cusco Peru
The Train to Machu Picchu from Cusco Peru

Trains in Peru

Unfortunately, there are very few trains in Peru and no trains from Lima to Cusco. However, trains do run from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu mountain.

If you are visiting Machu Picchu, at least one of your journeys to or from Machu Picchu will probably be by train. This service is very popular, and prices reflect that – the tickets are not cheap. However, it is definitely worth it to visit Machu Picchu!

Buses in Peru

Some buses in Peru have a less than stellar reputation for safety, both in driving safety and security on board. Cruz del Sur is the best bus company in Peru; they are clean and comfortable and require ID to board. If they aren’t available on the route you want to take, try Oltursa or Ceva.

Buses in Peru
Buses in Peru

Guided Buses in Peru

If this is your first solo travel adventure or if you would like a little more security, Peru Hop is a great way to travel between Lima, Cusco and Lake Titicaca, calling at Arequipa, Nazca, Huacachina and Paracas along the way.

These buses have an English-speaking guide who can arrange your hostel bookings, group tours and activities, and they also arrange pickups from and to your hostel with door-to-door service, so you don’t have to worry about getting to and from the bus stations by yourself.

Peru Hop is quite a bit more expensive than normal buses in Peru, but during my first visit to Peru, it was worth the extra cost for peace of mind. They also offer shorter trips to Lake Titicaca and Huacachina.

 

Taxis in Peru

There are problems with fake taxis in Peru, particularly around Lima and Cusco, so if you plan to take taxis, I’d recommend asking your hotel or hostel to book one for you. When you arrive at the airport, make sure you take an official taxi, which you book at the booth at the airport and pay for before you get into the taxi.

Uber in Peru

I usually recommend taking Uber or a similar service while travelling as it offers more security than a normal taxi. However, I have read very mixed reviews of Uber in Peru, especially when travelling from the airports in Lima and Cusco into town.

There seems to be a relatively common scam where drivers say you didn’t turn up, so you get charged a cancellation fee for no reason. So it would probably be better to take an official taxi from the airport or arrange an airport pickup in advance.

Hiking the Inca Trail Solo

It is not possible to hike the Inca Trail completely alone; you need to have a guide. Only 500 Inca Trail permits are available daily (about 200 for travellers and 300 for porters and guides), which can sell out up to six months in advance for peak times.

However, the traditional Inca Trail isn’t the only way to get to Machu Picchu, and other Machu Picchu treks, such as the Salkantay Trek or the Inka Jungle tour, can be booked much later.

Claire at Machu Picchu - Traveling Peru Solo
Claire at Machu Picchu – Traveling Peru Solo

Machu Picchu Solo

The rules that came into effect in 2018 state that you can’t enter Machu Picchu without a guide. If you don’t go with a pre-arranged tour, you can arrange a guide at the entrance to Machu Picchu, but it would be cheaper to join fellow travellers and share your guide instead of having a private tour on your own.

That said, if you manage to get some time alone in at Machu Picchu, I highly advise finding somewhere quiet to sit and admire the citadel and take some time to really appreciate where you are. In 2021, even more new rules came into effect, limiting the time you can stay in Machu Picchu to 4 hours.

However, it seems that you may be able to buy a second ticket to allow you to come back the following day or the same afternoon to enter by yourself. Make sure that you check the most recent rules before your visit so you are up to speed as it isn’t always clear what the current regulations are.

Volunteer in Peru

If you plan to travel Peru for several weeks, volunteering in Peru can be a great way to settle into life in the country. Work exchange programs like Worldpackers and Workaway list hundreds of volunteer placements where you can find work in hostels, with families, on farms – basically anything you can think of! You usually work 5 or 6 days a week for a few hours daily in exchange for a bed and food.

I’ve teamed up with Worldpackers to offer all Tales of a Backpacker readers a $10 Worldpackers promo code, which means you only need to pay $39 USD for a full year’s verified membership.

Once you are a verified member, you can apply to and message all the hosts on Worldpackers and volunteer all over the world. What are you waiting for?! Read more about travelling the world for free, or get your discount here!

GET YOUR DISCOUNT

Accommodation in Peru

Hostels in Peru for Solo Travellers

As a solo traveller, I usually prefer to stay in hostels as you can meet fellow travellers and socialise whenever you like. Private rooms in hostels offer the best of both worlds, so you can have your own room and privacy and still enjoy the social aspect of travelling.

If you are backpacking in Peru alone, hostel dorm beds are the cheapest way to travel. Before booking a hostel, read the (recent) reviews on sites like Hostelworld and check out the photos and location of the hostel to make sure you’re happy with it. 

I use Hostelworld for a lot of my hostel bookings and love how it rates all the hostels by price or rating, so you know you’re getting a decent place. I usually choose hostels with a rating of at least 9, which are the best.

Some of our favourite Peru hostels include:

Top Lima Hostels

  • Mama Backpackers – the best-rated hostel in Lima, famed for a friendly welcome and homely atmosphere, and including a free breakfast >>>BOOK NOW
  • Pariwana Hostel Lima – One of the most popular hostels in Lima and a great place to go if you want to party.  There is an in-house bar and it is located right on Parque Kennedy >>>BOOK NOW

Top Cusco Hostels

BROWSE ALL HOSTELS IN PERU

Psygon Surf Camp hotel in Mancora Peru
Psygon Surf Camp Mancora Peru

Hotels for Solo Travellers in Peru

I usually prefer to stay in hostels or Airbnb when I travel alone. However, I love finding small, family-run hotels, which can be excellent value and a great way to meet local families who really help you settle in. As with hostels, read all the reviews carefully before you book.

You can check hotel reviews and book the best options on Booking

BROWSE ALL HOTELS IN PERU

Airbnb in Peru

The original style of travel with Airbnb when you book a private room in someone’s house can be a nice way to get to know people and give some extra security – as long as you choose somewhere with lots of positive reviews. 

Read reviews carefully, and if you prefer to only stay with female hosts, you can click and read more about the hosts before you book. Read more about how to use Airbnb for the first time and check out available Airbnbs in Peru.

If you prefer to book your own apartment then I usually prefer to check what apartments are available on Booking.com as they often have better cancellation terms and no extra fees. 

Peru Safety Tips to Enjoy Your Solo Travel in Peru

Learn Some Spanish

Although most people involved with tourism will speak English, being able to speak some Spanish will transform your solo travel experience in Peru.

Talking to local people gives you a perspective of Peru you would never be able to do without speaking Spanish, so take some lessons before you get to Peru, or consider taking some classes while you are there. If you plan to spend a long time in Peru or South America, you won’t regret learning at least a few words!

There are language exchange programs in Cusco, Lima and various other places in Peru if you’d like to learn as you travel or take some classes before you go.

Be Prepared for Attention

Female solo travel isn’t that common in Peru, for Peruvians at least. Although more foreigners are travelling to Peru alone, don’t be shocked if your mere presence fascinates Peruvians.

They may stare or ask you questions about why you are in Peru alone, so don’t take offence. As frustrating as it might be to be asked where your husband is or why you’re not married for the hundredth time, they don’t mean any harm!

Don’t Walk Alone at Night

This is obvious for most places, particularly South America, where walking around on your own at night is just not done – for men or women. Most places during the day are perfectly fine, but double-check with your hotel or hostel if unsure.

Be especially wary in and around bus stations, airports and busy tourist areas as thieves and pickpockets prey on tired, disorientated tourists who have just arrived in town.

Have you been travelling to Peru alone? Do you have any other tips for solo female travellers in Peru? Please leave your comments below.

1 thoughts on “Peru Solo Travel Guide for Women Travelling to Peru Alone

  1. Arfan says:

    I just wanted to say that your article on solo travel was really helpful and well-written. Keep up the great work, and I’m looking forward to reading more from you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *