Best times to visit Peru
There are two main climatic seasons to consider for the best time to visit Peru: dry (May to October) and wet (November to April) with temperatures mainly determined by altitude. Dry season means peak travel season mainly from June to August which also coincides with European and North America summer vacation periods. This is also an excellent time to tackle Machu Pichu on foot or do any outdoor activities such as mountain biking, climbing and hiking.
Best time to visit…for festivals
Peru has a fascinating range of festivals throughout the year. February brings on of the country’s biggest cultural festival – La Candeleria – in Puno, on the shore of Lake Titicaca. Expect to see tens of thousands of musicians and dancers paying tribute to the town’s patron saint (the Virgin of Candlemas), as well as their rich Aymara and Quechua heritage.
In March oenophiles should head to Ica – the heart of Peru’s burgeoning winelands. Located about 200 miles south of Lima, Ica’s Fiesta de la Vendimia (Wine Festival) is a 10-day celebration of the harvest. Expect gastronomic treats, grape-stomping, colourful parades and plenty of wine!
Cusco boats two huge festivals. The Easter festival – Semana Santa – celebrates Holy week and the Conquistadores-induced Catholicism that has blended with the traditional Incan roots over the past 500-odd years. Thousands of Peruvians line the streets to follow the parading of Christ, from the church to the Plaza de Armas. The other huge festival Cusco hosts falls on the 24th June – the winter solstice. The Inti Raymi festival is a 600-year old tradition, honouring their sun god, Inti. The week long festival is an exuberant blend of traditional music, food, songs and dances; leading up to the climatic re-enactment at the sacred Sacsayhuaman temple complex that overlooks the city.
For foodies, look no further than Lima’s Mistura Festival. Barely a decade old, but now considered the biggest food festival in South America. This 10-day extravaganza, held at the beginning of September, is the place to be to experience the finest flavours of the country and indeed continent! Everyone from Michelin-starred chefs to local farmers and food-vans will be showcasing their skills & products. Located on Lima’s iconic Costa Verde, the setting is second only to the gastronomic treats on offer!
Best time to visit…Lima
A trip to Peru should not be based on the weather in Lima. Interesting as it is, few people spend more than a few days in Lima, usually only to transit between other destinations. As a rule of thumb, December – April are the summer months, generally characterised by clear skies and warm temperatures (mid-high 20Cs). Services will be busier and more costly, especially during Easter. May – November are the winter months, with much cooler temperatures, overcast skies…but cheaper living. It is common for the sea mist to hang a foggy blanket over the city (known locally as la garua) during the winter months. Food-lovers should not miss the Mistura festival in September (see festivals section).
Best time to visit…Machu Picchu
It is important to clarify that the Inca Trail is closed for the full duration of February every year (in order for vital maintenance can be carried out); but the Machu Picchu Citadel remains open. For the best time to visit, our advice is: Do not look for the highest temperatures, as heat = rain! Although the months of November – March have the warmest weather, this is also the wettest time to visit. This can result in slippery paths, not to mention miserable camping conditions (for those doing the Inca Trail)! We feel the best weather for Machu Picchu is clear blue skies. Although these can never be guaranteed, visiting between May and October is the best time to visit Machu Picchu for this. Keep in mind that June, July and August are the busiest times, so not the best time if you are after that iconic photo of the deserted Inca Citadel!
Best time to visit…Cusco
May through to September are the best months to visit Cusco, as rainfall is minimal (under 20mm per month) and temperatures will consistently hover around 20C. June, July & August are peak months in terms of visitors, so we recommend visiting in May or September to combine good weather with less crowds. Try to avoid November – April, when rainfall is significantly heavier (especially December to March).
Best time to visit…The Sacred Valley
The weather conditions in the Sacred Valley are very similar to Machu Picchu, so the same advice applies. Really do try to avoid January and February, as the heavy rainfall in these months can result in mudslides, albeit rarely.
Best time to visit…The Peruvian Amazon
With the Amazon being a rainforest, it is difficult to visit and not get wet. However, there are still two main seasons. The dry season runs from April/May through to October, with around 60mm or rain per month (as a guide, London gets 80mm in winter). This is also a good time to see animals, as they will generally converge on available bodies of water. November through to March/April is wet season, with over 150mm per month.
Best time to visit…Puno and Lake Titicaca
At over 3,800 metres above sea level, Lake Titicaca and the shore-side town of Puno are not as susceptible to the seasons as other parts of Peru. However, May through to October are the driest months with pleasant temperatures in the mid-20Cs. If you can’t travel at this time, then aim for early February and the fiesta de la Candeleria (see festivals section).
Best time to visit…Paracas and The Nazca Lines
The best weather is between November and March, when temperatures get over 30C. More importantly, if you are looking for a flight over the Nazca Lines, this is also the driest time to visit, which means best flying conditions (and less likelihood of cancellations). For the flights, we also suggest morning flights, as they tend to experience less turbulence and clearer views.
Best time to visit…Arequipa and the Colca Canyon
The main reason people head to the Colca Canyon is to see the majestic condors soaring on the thermals. For this reason alone, it is best to visit the Colca Canyon during the warmer, drying months; so we recommend March – June as being the optimal months for viewings.