Lima is like any other big city, busy and noisy. It is not the nicest part of Peru, but it still has lots to see and do. Lima is almost permanently covered in sea mist, so don't expect to see sunshine!
When arriving at the airport, you can get a cab to central Lima straight from inside the arrivals lounge at the baggage reclaim for about 30 soles (about £6 or $10), although you can get cheaper by going out of the airport into the car park. Bear in mind, that in busy times, it may take 30-40 minutes to get to central Lima, this is perhaps more important when going to the airport. You also have to pay $25 international airport tax when leaving, so save some dollars! You can also book all your internal flights here, average price about US$59, remember to reconfirm flights 2 or 3 times before the date.
Hostal Wiracocha (Lima 427-1178, Junin 270) - Rooms with or without baths, prices vary between US$10-20 depending on room. This hostel is useful as it is just off the main square in Lima.
Things to do
Museo de la Nacion (Javier Prado Oeste 2466, San Borja) - The best place to get an overview of Peru's archaelogical heritage. Put aside at least 4-5 hours, and, if your Spanish is no good, try and get an English speaking guide as all the writing is in Spanish. If coming from the centre, be sure to get a cab, as it is quite a long way out.
Museo de Oro del Peru (Alonso de Molina 100, Monterrico) - Awesome collection of gold/silver artifacts, as well as an arms museum with the world's best collection of fire arms
Museo de Arte (Paseo de Colon 125) - Spanning 400 years of Peruvian art
Plaza de Armas - Great examples of colonial architecture
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Arequipa is normally the place that people stay when visiting the Colca Canyon, as tours run direct from Arequipa. When arriving at the airport, there is a desk that has a list of hostels, they can provide free taxis to your chosen hostel. The town, itself, is very pleasant.
Hostal Posada de Sancho (Santa Catalina) - Single and double rooms with or without bathrooms, prices vary between US$12-20 including breakfast. Has an excellent rooftop terrace with spectacular views of the city and the mountains.
Govinda (Jerusalen 505) - Vegetarian restaurant run by Hare Krishna's, cheap prices, but don't expect excellent service.
Things to do
Monasterio de Santa Catalina (Santa Catalina 300) - Open 9-5 daily, more a mini city block with winding streets and interesting architecture. Cost US$3.50.
Museo Santuarios Andinos (Santa Catalina) - Highly recommended museum about Inca history, includes preserved ice mummies and Inca artifacts found at sacrificial sites.
La Quenas (Santa Catalina 302) - Live music from 9pm in rustic surroundings.
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Puno is the main town where most trips onto Lake Titicaca depart. It is reached by flying to Juliaca airport, and then getting a collectivo (shared cab) to Puno. It is a 445 minute journey, and costs about 5 soles per person. A word of warning, if flying out of Juliaca, make sure you leave a lot of time if getting a collectivo, as they will only leave when full. They will often take you direct to your hostel or sort out one for you before you arrive in Puno.
Puno on first glance looks a bit of a shanty town, but is actually a very cosy place, with some lovely bars, restaurants and an excellent market. Puno is also served by bus and train services to and from Cusco.
Hostal Santa Maria (Ugarte) - Basic but clean rooms with ensuite bathroom, prices vary between 15-25 soles a night.
Apu Salkantay (Lima 425) - Warm, welcoming restaurant with open hearth fire, wooden floors offering excellent alpaca steaks, as well as good vegetarian food. A place to meet other travellers.
Ekeko's (Lima 355) - Bar popular with travellers shows films every evening
Positive Vibrations (Lima) - If you like Bob Marley then you'll love this place, has a 'jungle lodge' appearance inside.
Things to do
Floating Islands (Los Uros) - Boat trips are available from the harbour, when you book your hostel, you can probably ask to have a boat trip arranged. It shouldn't cost any more than US$15.
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Cuzco is the ancient Inca capital, and also one of the most beautiful cities in South America, it is also the hub of travellers, so expect quite a bit of tourism. From Cuzco you can set up tours and expeditions, the most noticeable being the Inca trail. When looking for accommodation aim as near to the Plaza de Armas as possible. Remember to buy a visitor's ticket (Boleto touristico), which is about US$10, this will get you into all the local attractions.
Hostal Incawasi (Cuzco 23-8245 - Portal de Panes, 143 Plaza) - Excellent location and not too noisy. Prices vary from US$12-18, depending on room status. Also have laundry service and luggage store (which is free).
El Ayllu - Cafe that serves breakfast from 6am, good views of Plaza with classical music in background.
El Grano - Excellent oriental restaurant which caters for vegetarians
Cross Keys Pub (Portal Confituria 233, Plaza) - English pub run by British ornithologist, Barry Walker. This is the best place to meet fellow travellers and share stories. Also has good food, pool tables and happy hours.
Mama Africa (135 Espadoros, just off Plaza) - Bar and club in one, club nights play chilled dance music and there often loads of free drinks offers. Also shows video, serves food and has it's own cybercafe.
Xcess (Portal de carnes, 298 Plaza) - Pub/club that plays popular dance music, with happy hour.
Paddy Flaherty's (Triunfo - next to Cathedral) - Irish pub with a very chilled atmosphere
Things to do
The Cathedral (Plaza de Armas) - Combined with the church of Jesus Maria and the church of El Triunfo
La Compania (Plaza de Armas) - One of the most ornate churches in Cuzco
San Francisco (Plaza San Francisco) - Church and monastry
Santa Catalina (Arequipa) - Convent
Santa Domingo/Coricancha (off Av Sol) - The famous Inca ruins form the base of a colonial church. Coricancha was once the Inca's richest temple
12 Sided Inca Stone (Hatunrumiyoc) - Worth seeing this piece of geometric Inca mastery
Museo de Arqueologia (Plaza de Armas) - Contains metal/gold work, jewellry, pottery, textiles, mummies, vases and much more
Museo de Historia Regional (Heladeros) - Contains artifacts from various Peruvian cultures
Museo de Historia Natural (Plaza de Armas) - Not much here to get excited about!
Sacsayhuaman - Ruins of Inca temple/fortress, perhaps the most impressive ruins after Machu Picchu. It can be reached by climbing the steep street, Resbalosa, turning right, past the church and up until a hairpin bend littered with drinks vendors, then you leave the road for the steep climb to the top. It can take anything between 30 minutes to an hour depending on how fit you are. If your lazy a cab won't be that expensive, but not as fun!
The best way to see the rest of the ruins is to take a horse ride that takes in all the ruins except Sacsayhuaman (you'll want to spend a longer time here). You can book horse rides in the Plaza.
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The Urubamba Valley
Chincero - Inca ruins combined with a charming little Andean village including Inca ruins, a colonial church and a market. You will need your tourist card to visit here.
Urubamba - A convenient base to explore the valley, you can get connections to Ollantaytambo and Pisac here.
Pisac - 32km from Cuzco, can be reached by getting a bus from Cuzco via Urubamba, its cheap, but can be very crowded and does take a while, so ensure you set out early if you are going to take in everything! Pisac is a quite Andean village that has an excellent Sunday market, as well as the impressive Inca ruins above the village, which can be reached in 2 hours, if walking. If you decide to get a cab shop around for cab prices, as some drivers will try and rip you off. Remember to leave enough time to get back down again, if walking. Don't forget your tourist card!
Ollantaytambo - A massive Inca fortress sits ominously above this little village. The village itself has basic amenities but is very charming. You can get here from Cuzco changing at Urubamba. If you want to go to Agua Calientes for Machu Picchu, then you'll have to catch the train from here. The local train is the cheapest option, and leaves in the early evening. But it is advisable to check before going. I personally recommend Cafe de Sol (Ruins car park) which is run by a very friendly English speaking Greek lady, you can enjoy wonderful food and a drink in cosy surroundings just below the Ollantaytambo ruins.
Agua Calientes - A tiny village close to Machu Picchu, which features the hot springs popular with trekkers coming off their hikes. Trains run to Cuzco from here, but you'll have to find out in Cuzco what services are available. The tourist train is comfortable, but is VERY expensive, the local train leaves early evening. You can also get a bus to Machu Picchu from here if you are not doing the Inca trail.
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Info supplied by Andy Webb