SOUTH AMERICA

How to travel to Peru with kids: tips for an effortless trip

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If you’re thinking of traveling to Peru with kids, you’re in for a real treat, but we know it can be hard to know what to expect and how to prepare.

This amazing country is filled with ancient ruins, stunning landscapes, and friendly people. Plus, it’s safe and perfect for families – there’s something here for everyone to enjoy.

In this article, we’ll give you some tips based on our own experience traveling to Peru with kids. We’ll cover everything from how to get around to what to avoid – so you can make the most of your trip!

With a little bit of preparation, you can easily organize an independent trip to Peru with your kids.

This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive a commission for purchases made through the links on this page, at no cost to you.

Is it safe to travel Peru with kids?

Peru is an incredibly safe country to travel to with kids. The people are friendly and welcoming, and you’ll never feel unsafe or uncomfortable there. With that said, it’s always important to take some basic precautions when traveling with children. These aren’t anything new to what you’d do in other countries, but it’s always a good idea to go over things again.

  • Be aware of your surroundings and be cautious in crowded areas. There are pickpockets around tourist areas – so be careful with your bags/wallets.

  • If you’re traveling to high altitudes, make sure to take some altitude sickness prevention measures

  • Keep your children hydrated and safe from the sun at all times, especially in Peru’s desert regions or when visiting Cusco, Machu Picchu, or other Sacred Valley villages. When you’re in those locations, it may be chilly at times, yet the sun is still quite powerful.

Peru with a baby

If you’re traveling with a baby, there are a few extra things to keep in mind.

  • Most of the time you will be carrying your baby, you can use a stroller in most cities and villages, but there are situations where this is not so practical. When exploring ruins and archeological sites, for example, the most practical way to move around with a baby is by using a carrier.

  • If your baby is not walking yet you maybe want to consider a structured backpack style carrier to distribute the weight better.

  • Diapers and formula are available at pharmacies in Lima and the other major cities, but it’s a good idea to bring extra for the first few days in.

  • Breastfeeding is the norm there, so no need to consider finding a private place to feed your baby or covering up unless of course that is your preference.
  • Make sure to have some food and snacks on hand at all times. In remote areas, it can be difficult to find stores selling things they like.

Peru with toddlers and younger children

Peru is an amazing place to travel with toddlers and younger children. There’s so much to see and do, and they’re sure to have a great time. That being said, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind while traveling with them.

  • Children will need a lot of rest when exploring the high altitudes of Cusco and Machu Picchu. Allow more time: instead of rushing and trying to visit Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley all in 2 or 3 days, plan for 5 to 7 days. Plan to explore no more than one or two big sites a day and you’ll be able to enjoy it more and your kids will have an easier time adjusting to the altitude.

  • Sunscreen, sun hats, and sunglasses are a must! The air is thinner at higher altitudes, so the sun’s rays can be stronger than what you’re used to back home. Be especially careful with children’s skin, as they’re more sensitive to the sun.

  • If your child is too young to walk long distances, you’ll probably want to bring a carrier with you even if you don’t normally use it. We used our regular baby carriers, as Liam and Santiago were 3 and they could walk a lot, but many parents also find structured carriers a great solution for this age.
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Can you visit Peru with kids independently?

Absolutely! With a little bit of preparation, you can easily organize an independent trip to Peru with your kids that all the family will enjoy. Here are a few tips for creating the most memorable trip

Planning is key – start by figuring out what you want to see and do

Make sure to research your destination before you go. Familiarize yourself with the areas you’ll be visiting and make a list of things to see and do. Peru is a big country with a lot of fantastic places to see, so based on the amount of time you have available you will need to prioritize. If the idea of planning a big trip is overwhelming take a look at this article on how to plan family trips. It breaks the task down into small bites and makes it more manageable!

Of course, another easy way is to copy our 2 weeks itinerary so you have everything ready!

Getting around Peru with kids

Once you have an idea of what you want to do, start planning your transportation. Transport options abound in Peru – from buses and trains to planes and boats.

Some buses cover long distances, and some routes feature luxury buses with lots of leg room and seats that recline almost into a bed. They are fantastic, but they may not be the best choice when you take along a restless toddler as they may prefer to move about more like on a train.

Trains in Peru offer an interesting experience, as the rails run through some spectacular scenery.

Smaller villages and towns can be explored by renting a car which gives you maximum flexibility to go where you want when you want. Just keep in mind that driving in Peru is not for the faint of heart, but it is absolutely feasible. We rented a car while in the Sacred Valley and it was the best way to explore it!

Of course, if your budget allows then you can hire a car with a driver which will take a lot of the hassle out of driving in an unknown country. During our journey from Lima to Huacachina, we did this. It made the trip more convenient, but because of what we learned in the Sacred Valley, we believe that renting a car would have saved us money.

It doesnt matter how challenging the hike is, when you reach the top you feel rewarded for all the effort
It doesn’t matter how challenging the hike is, when you reach the top you feel rewarded for all the effort

Book your tickets to visit Machu Picchu before anything else

The ticket to visit Machu Picchu is the most important one and it should be booked as soon as possible. Spaces are limited and they tend to fill up quickly, especially during the high season (May-September). We recommend you check availability even before you book your flight.

There are different types of tickets, with prices varying depending on what you want to visit. You can check this article with all the details on how to book.

You may also need an additional permit if you wish to hike one of the two trails that lead up to Machu Picchu (the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trail). They can sell out months ahead during the high season so make sure to book these in advance as well.

We personally didn’t consider hiking the trails, but if you are fit enough this could be a once in a lifetime experience.

Be prepared for different altitudes and weather conditions.

Peru has a variety of climates and altitudes, which can be challenging if you’re not used to it. The biggest concern for many travelers to Peru is altitude sickness.

The higher in altitude you go the thinner the air becomes, and this can cause problems including mild headaches, nausea, or dizziness – all serious issues that need immediate attention if they persist too long without getting better.

Symptoms usually go away after a day or two of rest and acclimatizing to the altitude, but it can be a more serious issue for some people.

Most people will start feeling the effects of altitude sickness at around 2,500 meters above sea level.

Avoiding altitude sickness in Peru

Altitude sickness is a real concern when visiting Peru, as many of the tourist destinations are located high in the Andes Mountains. The best way to avoid it is by slowly acclimatizing to the altitude.

If you are flying from Lima to Cusco, the best option is to move immediately to a lower altitude. Take the opportunity to explore for a couple of days the Sacred Valley, which is located at a lower altitude than Cusco.

Watch out for altitude sickness if you’re traveling with a baby or young child – they may not show symptoms until much later than adults do! However, it is also true that children are less affected by altitude sickness than adults.

Another thing to consider is the weather – Peru has a very wide range of temperatures and conditions.

For example, in Lima, the temperatures can range from 21 degrees Celsius to 29 degrees Celsius. In Machu Picchu, the average temperature is 16 degrees Celsius, but it can drop to zero degrees at night. Be prepared for all weather conditions and pack accordingly!

Oximeter

HOT TIP: if you are concerned about altitude sickness, before traveling to Peru buy an Oximeter, this device will help you to measure the concentration of oxygen in your blood. If you are suffering from altitude sickness, your oxygen level will be lower than normal and this device can help you to monitor the situation. We used one and it was also reassuring to check the kids were good!

alpaca
Alpaca are like house pets in Peru

Pack light and practical

If you are going to spend more than a week in Peru then chances are you will likely move around a lot. In general, when traveling with young kids you often end up carrying luggage and kids at the same time.

In Lima there are well-paved streets but many smaller villages have roads that can be less safe and are tricky to pull large suitcases along.

Consider bringing a cabin trolley and a backpack to make transport easier. You can hold your child if needed while lifting the luggage.

It is also very important to pack practical clothes that are comfortable and can be worn in different weather conditions. Think about layers, waterproof and windproof clothes – especially if you are planning to visit Machu Picchu.

You will also need a good pair of shoes, especially if you are planning to hike. You don’t need anything special just some walking shoes that are not slippery and comfortable to walk a lot.

Always carry snacks and some food

One thing to keep in mind: when traveling in rural areas, it can be difficult to find stores selling snacks and drinks your kids will like. Make sure you have plenty of snacks and water on hand at all times – you’ll be glad you did!

Peru tours with kids

If you would rather not worry about the details of traveling to Peru with kids, there are plenty of tour operators who offer family-friendly tours. While you may not need to have a full trip planned, you can choose to delegate some of the more difficult elements of your trip.

For example, you can book an overland tour from Lima to Cusco that includes transportation and accommodation. You may also want to arrange for a private guide when visiting Machu Picchu or the Sacred Valley, so that your kids are entertained with stories about these incredible places!

Here are some of the best tours and excursions you may wish to consider:

Lima: 2-Day Tour to Paracas, Pisco Vineyards, and Huacachina

Unless you decide to rent a car in Lima, joining this tour is one of the best ways to experience Ballestas islands, Pisco and Huacachina. Public buses and connections are available, but they are not so straightforward as you would like. This tour includes the 2 hour boat tour to the Ballestas island, the buggy and sandboarding tour in Huacachina, and the vineyard tour in Pisco.
This tour wasn’t available when we went to Peru or it would have probably been my first choice.

HOT TIP: If you book this tour and then change your mind and cancel up to 24 hours in advance you will receive a full refund.

Note: Children under 8 years old will need their parents or guardians to sign a full responsibility form in order for them to ride the buggy.

Cusco: Full-Day Sacred Valley and Maras Tour

As I mentioned above, ideally I recommend you to spend at least 2-3 days in the Sacred Valley. If you are really short on time, however, then this tour is perfect. It is quite intense so it is better if your kids are a little older but you will cover lots of sites. Includes visiting: Cinchero, Moray, Salineras de Maras, Ollantaytambo, and Pisac!

HOT TIP: If you book this tour and then change your mind and cancel up to 24 hours in advance you will receive a full refund.

weather

Best time to visit Peru with kids

It is hard to pick the best time of the year to visit Peru. Each season has its pros and cons that you should consider before choosing when to plan your trip. It also depends on your itinerary.

As a really general rule: April to October is the best time to visit the Andean villages, while November to February is the best time for Lima, the coastal region, and especially the North.

If you are planning to visit the Amazon, the best time is between December and May when it’s not as hot. The jungle will be lush green with lots of wildlife around.

If you are looking for very dry weather, then the best time to go would be from May through October. This is of course also the high season, so places will be crowded and more expensive. If you are planning to go during this period make sure you book your Machu Picchu tickets well in advance.

note

Things to do and things to avoid in Peru with kids

Planning an itinerary to visit Peru with kids is not much different than without – with a few exceptions. There are many great outdoor activities in Peru, including hiking and trekking. The key thing to remember is to take it a little slower, allow a little more time than usual to get to places, and take plenty of breaks.

Lima

Lima is a great city for families. There are many fun things to do in Lima with kids and it can be a good base from which to explore further afield too.

Base yourself in Miraflores, explore the coast with a bike, make your first encounter with ruins at Huaca Pucllana, and visit a Museum of Contemporary Art or the Zoo.

Do not miss the magical fountain show at CIrcuito Mágico del Agua! Read here how to spend 2 days in Lima

Cusco

Cusco is a great place to visit with kids too. The city is rich in history and culture, and there are plenty of activities to keep the whole family busy.

Wondering the ancient streets is safe and enchanting, you can visit a family-managed Observatory, take them to the chocolate museum, and let them experience their first encounter with Peruvian cuisine at one of the many great restaurants! Just on the outskirts of the city they can safely run between the spectacular walls of the Sacsayhuaman Fortress and learn about Incan history.

Cusco--Full-Day-Tour-to-Rainbow-Mountain

A popular attraction to visit from Cusco are the Rainbow Mountains. You can reach them with a day tour, but you will need to start in the middle of the night around 4am. The kids will love it but be aware that it will be a really long day and it is a tough and tiring hike.

HOT TIP: If you book this tour you change your mind and cancel up to 24 hours in advance and you will receive a full refund.

Huacachina
Huacachina

Machu Picchu

Since Machu Picchu is the most popular attraction in Peru you’ll find a lot of kids there too (lots of Peruvian kids or visiting from other South American countries).

One of the great things about Machu Picchu is that there are plenty of places to explore and it’s a relatively safe place for kids.

Visiting Machu Picchu with kids is absolutely feasible, just remember that if your kids are still quite young you probably will need to carry them. Most of the areas are safe but in some cases, the boundaries are not really defined and too dangerous to let a toddler wander around.

Things to consider: reaching Machu Picchu is nowadays really easy, but you can still experience it the old way by hiking the Inka Trail. This is an amazing experience, but do not take it lightly. If you are considering this option make sure your kids are prepared for it and that they can walk long distances. The trail is not easy, and there is a lot of elevation change, so be prepared for some tough conditions. I would not consider it with kids younger than 6-7 used to hiking (unless of course if you are prepared to carry them)

Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley is also a great place to visit with kids, as there are many villages with markets and Inca ruins nearby. Ollantaytambo is a great place to start, as it’s an easy Inca ruin to visit and has a great market.

Salinas de Maras is a must-see with kids. There are so many colors, and kids will get a kick out of walking around the slippery, salty pools. Just be prepared for them wanting to go back multiple times!

Moray, Chinchero, Urubamba, and Pisac are other smaller places where to get close to the Peruvian culture

pisac
Chincero
We based ourselves in a lovely hotel near Urubamba, in the Sacred Valley, called “Tierra Viva Valle Sagrado Urubamba”. We stayed there 5 days which gave us great time to visit all the amazing sites in the Sacred Valley

The Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon is full of wildlife and will make for an unforgettable experience for your children. Kids can learn about all kinds of unique animals that otherwise they would only see in books.

However, the Amazon rainforest could be a place to avoid if you have very young kids as you would need to protect yourself from Malaria. The disease can be contracted in the Amazon rainforest, so it is essential to take precautions if you are visiting this area.

If your children are a bit older, Iquitos is a great place to visit. The city is home to the Amazon jungle, and kids will love learning about all of the animals and plants that live there.

There are also plenty of tours available, so kids can learn about the jungle while also getting to see it up close.

Arequipa

Arequipa is a warm, vibrant city, and many of the attractions are kid-friendly. The Monasterio de Santa Catalina is a must-see, and there are plenty of other churches and cathedrals to explore.

The Juanita Museum is interesting and interactive for kids.

From Arequipa it is easy to access the Colca Canyon, but this could be another tough hike for the little ones. If you want to visit as a day trip you will need to leave in the middle of the night. You can opt for a 2 day tour that will take you to the canyon and back, but there is a lot of hiking involved.

HOT TIP: If you book this tour and then change your mind and cancel up to 24 hours in advance you will receive a full refund.

Lake Titicaca

The Lake Titicaca tour will take you to the floating islands, where you’ll get a glimpse into life on the lake. The kids can also take part in making and paddling their own reed boat, which is a great experience for them.

Pacific coast

Nasca Lines
The Nasca Lines are an interesting phenomenon to see, and kids will love trying to guess what the drawings represent.

Ballestas islands
If your kids are older, consider a trip to the Ballestas Islands. The area is also known as “The Galapagos of the Americas” due to the abundance of wildlife.

The islands are a great place for kids to learn about ecology, and it is an easy half-day trip.

Huacachina Oasis
The oasis is a wonderful place to visit, and you can take the kids sandboarding down the dunes.

HOT TIP: not all companies will accept bringing young kids. Ask beforehand to avoid surprises. We ended up contacting a few in advance and booked a private sandboarding tour that they tailored for us.

extra

The extra step to prepare for the trip


Before traveling, there are a few things you should always do, but they’re especially important if you have children with you:

  • Get travel insurance. Axa (the one we use) and CoverForYou are both good options.

    Never leave without one. It covers delays, flight cancellations, and medical assistance. We relied many times on travel insurance even when in Peru. While in Arequipa one of our kids had a high fever and the travel insurance reimbursed all the cost of getting a private doctor to come to the hotel to check him out. We also used the insurance when we were in Japan and Santiago fell off the bike, when our luggage was broken by an airline, and also when I was unwell on a trip to the USA.

  • Check if you need any specific vaccinations (the NHS website is a great source of info even if you are not from the UK)

  • Plan how to pay abroad. Nowadays there are several ways to bring money with you without carrying cash and paying extortionate exchange fees.

    The best options are the Curve cards and some other reloadable cards like Wise or Revolut. We used Curve and Wise and we had no issue paying or withdrawing money.

    The Curve card is one of my favourite cards and I have owned one since it was launched on the market.
    The most important thing? The basic card is free, infact you will receive £5 if you try it using this link

I hope this blog post has helped you to plan your trip to Peru with your kids. We’ve covered everything from what to pack, how to get around the country, and where not to go if you have young children in tow. If there are any other questions or things that we didn’t address here please leave a comment below!

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