My travel experience in Peru: Machu Picchu, Cusco & Lima

travel experience in peru

This post is also available in: Español

I had always wanted to travel to South America to taste the delicious food, explore the incredible landscapes and learn about the history. When my friends wanted to travel to Peru, I didn’t think twice and joined their trip. In today’s post I tell you how my travel experience in Peru was, in Machu Picchu, Cusco and Lima; a journey I will never forget.

Arrival in Cusco

We travelled directly to Lima, but only to spend the night in a hotel near the airport, to fly to Cusco the next morning. There are several flights from Lima to Cusco during the day and the journey takes an hour and a half.

It was a very smooth flight and the views from the window flying over the Andes Mountains were amazing.

When we arrived, we took a cab from the airport to the hotel, just 600 meters from Cusco’s main square. After a few hours discovering Cusco, I felt some symptoms of altitude sickness. It is recommended to take coca tea or leaves

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Plaza de Armas city of Cusco

That afternoon, we went to the Plaza de Armas (the main square) and had a hard time getting there due to the crowds. There, we tried a traditional Peruvian food at one of the restaurants in the square. I had the traditional ‘Lomo Saltado’, which is a dish that includes sliced meat served with rice. I didn’t dare try the ‘Cuy chactado’, which is a fried guinea pig!

Then, we took a cab back to the hotel, as it was on a hill and with the altitude it is not advisable to hike That night we relaxed in the charming Peruvian courtyard typical of hotels and went to sleep early, because the next day we would climb Machu Picchu.

Trip to Machu Picchu

We had already booked the Machu Picchu sunrise tour, because it is recommended to buy tickets in advance online, especially if you visit in high season (from June to September).

When we got up, we had a big breakfast and then we were picked up to go to Ollantaytambo. There, we would take a train to Aguas Calientes (the closest town to Machu Picchu), which normally takes 2 hours.

We booked along with the tour the extra option of Peru Rail’s Vistadome train. It takes an hour and a half, but seems shorter as you get distracted by the incredible scenery surrounding you outside the windows. Aguas Calientes is isolated from all roads and surrounded by stone cliffs and forests. However, the small town is full of tourists traveling to Machu Picchu.

aguas calientes train to machu picchu

We stayed in a simple hotel, but we didn’t need more for one night. Especially, because we had to get up at 4 am the next day to start the trip to Machu Picchu. That night we took the opportunity to have dinner at one of the many restaurants in town.

Machu Picchu at sunrise

We got up around 4 a.m. because we were picked up at the hotel in Aguas Calientes. We booked early so we could see the Citadel at 6 am, instead of 2 pm. We had heard that it was busier in the afternoon than in the morning, so it was worth the early start. I was curious to see if what the social networks reflect is true, I was very excited.

citadel machu picchu

Once we arrived at the entrance, I stamped my passport with the Machu Picchu stamp. There we met a tour guide. Totally recommended to know the history of what you see while you are walking.

passport stamped with the stamp of machu picchu

The tour lasted about 2 hours walking around the ancient city, so afterwards we decided to go up to “the Sun Gate”, one of the places to see inside Machu Picchu (the main gate). From there, you can get a panoramic view of the Citadel.

The return and the train to Machu Picchu

After a long morning exploring Machu Picchu, we descended to Aguas Calientes. On the way back we stopped at the ‘Butterfly House’ where we learned about the life cycle of butterflies and were able to see different types of species.

Before taking the train back to Ollantaytambo we stopped at the market near the station to buy some souvenirs. The train back was as good as the way there. The staff dressed up and performed a typical Peruvian dance which created a very good atmosphere all the way.

machu picchu market

We arrived late in Cusco, so we decided to go to bed early to get up early and see the city before flying to Lima in the afternoon.

Visiting Cusco

After breakfast, we decided to walk through San Pedro Market. As soon as we entered we were introduced to a colorful variety of fruit, spices and clothing.

It was great to see the culture of the country in such a small area. Then, we headed to the Plaza de Armas where we began the City Tour of Cuzco.

On the tour route, we learned about the history of the city, including the ancient Inca walls. In addition, we walked around the San Blas neighborhood and up to San Cristobal where there was a great viewpoint from where you could see all of Cusco.

san blas neighborhood

After the tour, we decided to have lunch at Pachamama Restaurant where we enjoyed typical Cusco dishes. I would have liked to have had a little more time in Cusco and have visited Rainbow Mountain or Vinicunca. However, I am sure that I will return to traveling in Peru and will have time to do so and even do another Machu Picchu trip.

Trip to Lima

We arrived in Lima excited to explore the city. Our hotel was in the San Isidro neighborhood, next to Miraflores. We walked around the Plaza de Armas, which is and entered the Cathedral (it’s very cheap).

The next day we explored the Miraflores area. It has a nice coastal path on top of a cliff and offers spectacular sea views. Also, very near is the Parque del Amor (Love Park), with a huge sculpture of a kiss that is quite striking.

kissing statue in lima's love park

We had been recommended to visit the Barranco district, and there we went. In this area the houses are colorful and bright and there are a lot of graffiti and murals, I couldn’t stop taking pictures at every corner!

You can’t leave Lima without trying ceviche, tiradito and local seafood. Not for nothing Lima is the gastronomic capital of Latin America 😉

typical peruvian food

My travel experience in Peru was one of the best of my life. I can’t wait to go back to visit everything I didn’t and repeat what I have already seen. Have you ever been to this country? What did you like the most?

Lily

Lily is happy with a backpack on her back. Every year she travels through one country in Latin America and has repeated several times, especially Peru where she says she feels at home (although she says the same about Argentina, Chile and Bolivia).

She loves ceviche, hiking and Sunday picnics with her friends, although whenever you ask her, she's always planning her next destination.

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