Our Peru Packing List – What to Pack for Lima, Cusco and Puno

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Putting together a complete Peru packing list can be bewildering — especially if you plan to visit many parts of the country. After all, Peru weather and climate are drastically different in each part of the country.

For example, you’ll need a packable jacket for the Inca trail and higher altitudes, but thinner clothes for the Amazon. It’s good to have a swimsuit for the coast, but a scarf for the Andes. Crazy, right?  In order to help you (and myself) pack efficiently for your upcoming Peru travel, I created this packing list for Peru.

Putting together a Peru packing list can be bewildering — especially if you plan to visit many parts of the country. After all, Peru weather and climate are drastically different depending on where you are. That’s why I created a packing list for Peru. peru travel tips | peru travel guide | peru travel clothes | lima peru travel tips | lima peru travel packing lists | cusco peru outfit | cusco peru what to wear | cusco peru travel | machu picchu travel tips | machu picchu travel packing lists

Ultimate Peru Packing List

Peru’s geography is shockingly diverse. That’s one of the main reasons why it’s hard to know exactly what to pack for Peru. Some countries have the beach. Others have the desert. Peru has both, along with the Amazon rainforest, the Andes Mountains and high plateaus. Peru has them all, and each has its own climate and weather patterns. Dressing in layers is the key when you think of what to pack for Peru.

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What to Pack for Lima Peru

For many travelers, Lima is the gateway to Peru. You may travel to Peru to visit Machu Picchu in Cusco, but if you have time, we highly recommend exploring the capital. Lima has lots of fun things to do. It’s also close to beaches and the desert, both of which have dramatically different weather than higher-altitude places like Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. I’ll focus on what to pack for Lima first.

Casual Dressy Clothes

Being the capital of Peru, Lima is the most cosmopolitan city in the country. You’ll likely see lots of well-dressed locals, especially in the Miraflores district, where you’re likely to be staying. If you plan to spend time in Lima, then I suggest adding one or two dressy-casual outfits on your Peru packing list. Now you’re set to experience Lima’s dynamic culinary scene and have a few great meals. Trekking clothes are great for the trail, but not for white-tablecloth dining.

From our experience, local women tend to wear sundresses or pants and blouses. Yet we recommend avoiding high skirts or revealing tops to avoid unwanted attention. If you prefer dresses, Keiko suggests something comfy like something from levaca that’s easy to wash, dry, and pack (wrinkle-resistant). They’re perfect for your packing list for Peru.

levaca Women Summer Short Sleeve

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Comfortable Pants or Leggings

Stretchy jeans, loose-fitting pants or leggings are a good addition for any packing list for Peru. Lima isn’t cold like Cusco Peru, but rather warm and humid. While wearing shorts and T-shirts is certainly acceptable, many local men in Lima wear trousers and local women wear sundresses, loose pants or legging, and a loose, oversized shirt.

Those loose fitting pants or leggings are perfect for a flight day as well. One or two should be on the list of what to pack for Lima, Peru.

Goodthreads Men's 5-Pocket Chino Pant

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Buttery Soft Classic Leggings

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Comfy Sandals or Shoes for City Walking

As you plan what to pack for Lima, you need to remember that Lima is fairly warm all year around. When making your packing list for Peru, you may prepare for hiking in Machu Picchu or exploring the Amazon, but you don’t want to walk around in Lima city in hiking boots.

Read More: Guide to Buying the Best Travel Shoes

At the same time, your luggage space is limited, so I suggest finding some lightweight sandals. Comfy walking sandals should be on the Peru packing list if you plan to spend more than a day in Lima, Peru. Skechers’ Meditation-Studio Kicks or Sanuk Women’s Yoga Sling 2 Print Vintage are Keiko’s top picks. For men, I’d recommend Vans slip-ons. They’re comfy and take up little space, although now that I’m a geezer, I usually put a cushioned insole in them.

Skechers Women Meditation

Check Price: Skechers Meditation-Studio Kicks

Sanuk Women's Yoga Sling 2 Print Vintage

Check Price: Sanuk Yoga Sling 2 Print Vintage

Vans Slip-on Core Classics

Check Price: Vans Slip-On Classics

Light Jacket or Windbreaker

Lima’s climate is somewhat similar to the nearby desert, albeit not as extreme. It’s cool in the morning and after sunset. With this in mind, add a light jacket to your list of what to pack for Lima Peru.

Packable jackets are best. If not, get something wrinkle resistant that you can easily stuff into luggage. As for what to pack for men, I like this Charles River Pack-n-go Windbreaker design. For women, this Sofra Thin Cotton Zip Up Hoodie Jacket for women can be on the Peru packing list.

Read More: How to Choose the Best Jacket for Travel

Charles River Apparel Pack-n-go Windbreaker

Check Price: Charles River Apparel Pack-n-go Windbreaker

Sofra Women's Thin Cotton Zip Up Hoodie Jacket

Check Price: Sofra Women’s Thin Cotton Zip Up Hoodie Jacket

Swimsuits

Most travel to Peru involves places like such as Machu Picchu or Puno. You don’t need swimming suits for high plateau locales like this, of course. But in Lima, you’re right on the Pacific coast, and I was very happy that we had swimsuits on our packing list for Peru.

In fact, one of our strongest memories of Peru travel thus far was swimming with sea lions near Palomino Island, which is an easy day trip from Lima. This wasn’t a few sea lions: we’re talking hundreds! Then there is surfing in Lima. We’ve been surfing in Spain, Costa Rica, and Indonesia, and next time we visit Peru we’re trying some surfing in Lima. If that’s your plan too, then put a swimming suit on your Peru packing list.

HOTAPEI Tankini Set Two Piece Swimsuit

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Milankerr Men's Swim Trunk

Check Price: Milankerr Men’s Swim Trunk

What to Pack for Cusco Peru

Once the capital of the Incan Empire, the city of Cusco is a UNESCO Heritage Site and the main hub of travel in Peru. After all, this is where many people arrive to visit Machu Picchu. In fact, what to pack for Cusco actually changes depending on how you plan to visit Machu Picchu. For example, will you hike the Inca Trail or will you reach Machu Picchu via train and bus?

In this Peru packing list, we’ll focus on those who are taking the bus and train to Machu Picchu. The gear required for the Inca Trail would be a different post. If you plan to visit Machu Picchu without hiking (like we did), here are our suggestions for your packing list for Peru. This Peru packing list can surely be used for traveling to Puno, Lake Titicaca and the rest of Peru’s high-plateau destinations.

Thermal Base Layer

The city of Cusco is approximately 3,400 meters / 11,200 feet above sea level. At altitudes like this, Cusco weather runs from chilly to freezing, depending on the season and your tolerance for cold. With this in mind, some warm base layers would be good to pack for Cusco mornings and evenings.

As the temperature rises in the afternoon, you can always take off an outer layer. When it drops again after sunset, you put a layer back on. Keiko and I are wimps when it comes to cold weather, so a thermal base layer is definitely what to pack for Cusco for us.

WuhouPro Women's Ultra Soft Microfiber Fleece Thermal Underwear Long Johns

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FITEXTREME Mens MAXHEAT Compression Performance Long Johns Thermal Underwear

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Packable Warm Jacket

Like we said earlier, think layers when you pack for Cusco. The temperature can rise and fall suddenly here, sometimes just by clouds covering the sun. We think a packable warm jacket is what to pack for Peru in these high-altitude situations. We both have North Face Thermoball jackets and love them.

Best Travel Jackets How to Choose the Best Jacket for Travel jackets for women

Check Price: The North Face Women’s Thermoball

Best Travel Jackets How to Choose the Best Jacket for Travel jackets for women

Check Price: The North Face Men’s Thermoball Full Zip Jacket

Rain Jacket

If you travel in Cusco during its wet season (Nov-Apr), then a rain jacket should be on your packing list for Peru. Don’t be like me. I didn’t have a decent rain jacket and thought I’d just buy one once I arrived in  Lima. But guess what: Lima has close to 1% chance of precipitation year round. Not the best place to buy a rain jacket. I found some, but not what I wanted. Get your rain jacket before you arrive in Peru.

Columbia Women's Arcadia II Rain Jacket

Check Price: Columbia Women’s Arcadia II Waterproof Rain Jacket

Columbia Men's EvaPOURation Rain Jacket

Check Price: Columbia Men’s EvaPOURation Waterproof Rain Jacket

Travel Umbrella

You’ll need a rain jacket for Machu Picchu, as it’s frequently wet there and no umbrellas are allowed. Yet there are certain rainy-day situations when you’d just prefer using an umbrella. For example, when we just wanted to walk from our hotel to a nearby shop or restaurant. Taking off a rain jacket and walking into a cafe with a soaking wet jacket is a bit much.

Small, travel-friendly umbrellas are on our packing list for Peru and just about anywhere we go. It should be small and lightweight enough to pack easily, but sturdy enough to handle a gust of wind. Keiko actually uses hers even when it’s not raining (as her sun protection). Packing a travel umbrella for Cusco would keep you dry.

Bodyguard Travel Umbrella with Teflon Canopy

Check Price: Bodyguard Travel Umbrella with Teflon Canopy

Sunblock / Sunscreen

If you’re prone to sunburn, then sunscreen is what to pack for Peru. Even if you’re NOT prone to sunburn. Peru is near the equator and the high-altitude locations can scorch your skin quickly. Remember that UV goes straight through clouds. Furthermore, Cusco’s altitude also means that there’s less atmosphere between you and the sun, which means higher expose to UV radiation.

Keiko learned it hard way. She usually tans quickly and rarely burns, so she often skips applying sunscreen. She thought one cloudy day in Cusco was like any other day. Sunscreen in on our packing list for Peru, but she used an umbrella instead. It was super windy that day, which meant the umbrella didn’t cover her so well. The next day, her cheeks were slightly scorched. Never underestimate the power of the sun, especially in high-altitude places like Cusco. Do you know what to pack for Cusco? Sun Screen for sure.

Sun Bum Sun Care Pack

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UV-Cut Sunglasses

As mentioned above, Cusco’s altitude and position on the equator mean you are exposed to higher and harsher levels of UV. Protect your vision as well as your skin. Pack a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from harsh UV in Cusco. I tend to buy polarized sunglasses. Fishermen and water sports people want them because they cut down on reflections on lates and the ocean. I like that too, but I enjoy them because they also cut down on reflections in windows and make the contrast between clouds and sky more stark and pleasing to my eyes.

Sports Polarized Sunglasses

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Wide Brim Bucket Hat

Seeing a theme here? Sun protection is what to bring to Cusco, and a packable, wide-brim hat is on our list of what to pack for Peru. Sure, bring a baseball cap too, if you like. It’s certainly better than no hat at all, but baseball caps won’t cover your ears and neck. A wide brim hat is essential for people like me with pale skin and short hair.

I was grateful to have a wide brim hat in Machu Picchu even when it was cloudy. As you know, UV goes right through the clouds and you are closer to the sun at high-altitude places like Cusco.

Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney II Sun Hats

Check Price: Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney II Sun Hats

Foldable / Packable Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is also important in sunny, high-altitude places like Cusco Peru. Even more so in Puno, where Lake Titicaca is located. Besides, Machu Picchu doesn’t allow plastic bottles. Therefore, your Peru packing list should include a reusable water bottle.

Any reusable bottle would be good enough to pack for Peru, but a foldable water bottle is even better to pack for Cusco travel since it saves you space.

Genius Earth Foldable Water Bottle - Collapsible, Portable, Silicone Drink Bottle

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What to Pack for Peru in General

Much of what to pack for Peru is the same as what you’d pack for just about anywhere: socks, underwear, a few t-shirts, etc. Then, of course, there is the travel technology, such as phones, cameras, and computers. Don’t forget to bring batteries, chargers and plug adaptors if you need them! Below are my suggestions for other important items to pack for Peru.

Eye Masks, Ear Plugs, and Melatonin

A good night’s sleep is a great thing to add to any Peru packing list. But since slumber is hard to pack for Peru or anywhere else, do the next best thing and bring what you need to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Items like these help you sleep better not only in the hotel but also on the planes and buses — both of which will likely play a role in any Peru travel. For example, traveling in Peru often means getting from one faraway place to another. You can hire private drivers, but most people (including us) either fly or go overland by bus. I always use earplugs and an eye mask in these situations, and I know many more who swear by melatonin as what to pack for Peru travel or anywhere else.

Cotton Sleep Eye Mask

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EarPeace Sleep Ear Plugs

Check Price: EarPeace Sleep Ear Plugs

Nature Made Melatonin 3 mg Tablets

Check Price: Nature Made Melatonin Tablets

Stomach Medicine

When considering what to pack for Peru, make sure to have some stomach medicine with you. No matter how comfortable you are with street food or other cuisines, it’s best to have stomach meds on your Peru packing list. That goes double for parents.

After eating at countless local restaurants or street food stalls in Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and many others, I think we can handle pretty much anything. In fact, I used to pride myself on having an iron stomach, but I still always carry the right meds with me and have occasionally needed them. We always have meds for indigestion, upset stomach, and diarrhea. Make sure they’re on your packing list for Peru, as well.

Imodium

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DiaResQ Children's med

Check Price: DiaResQ Children’s Diarrhea Relief

Motion Sickness Medicine

Keiko and our daughter occasionally get carsick on windy roads. That’s why motion sickness relief medicine was on our Peru packing list. We knew that there would be long bus rides on curvy roads.

In addition, the high altitude and lower oxygen levels of Cusco and Puno have been known to make some people nauseous even when they don’t have a history of it. You may not normally get motion sickness, but it’s helpful to have medicine on your Peru packing list just in case. Especially since you’re likely to take buses.

Dramaine Motion Sickness Relief

Check Price: Dramamine Motion Sickness Relief

Pocket Tissue

When you go to a public restroom in Peru, don’t expect there to be tissue available. Don’t be caught off-guard when you need it. It’s best to carry several packs of travel-size tissue in your bag when traveling to Peru. It should be anyone’s packing list for Peru.

Kleenex Facial Tissues, On-The-Go Small Packs, Travel Size

Check Price: Kleenex Facial Tissues, On-The-Go Small Packs, Travel Size

Headlamp

Even if you have no plans to camp or hike the Inca trail, it’s still a good idea to have a headlamp on your Peru packing list. Headlamps are small enough to throw into your luggage and end up being quite useful for any kind of travel. For example, if the power goes out, you can use your phone’s light, but then your battery drains and one hand is occupied holding the phone. Headlamps are brighter and leave both hands free.

They’re also useful once the kids are asleep: we use the red light to navigate a dark hotel room without waking them up. Then there was the time when my daughter dropped a small earring under the bed. Out comes the headlamp. We use them on dimly lit streets at night as well. Small, packable and powerful, headlamps are what to pack for Peru or anywhere you go.

Check Price: Black Diamond Storm Headlamp

Travel Insurance

Ok, you can’t “pack” travel insurance, but it should be at the top of your packing list for Peru. Don’t leave without it. Travel insurance has been very important for us in our travels. We haven’t used it a lot, but when we did, it made a big difference. In fact, we had travel insurance for Peru, and we needed it. Don’t forget to buy travel insurance — especially when visiting high-altitude places like Machu Picchu or Lake Titicaca in Peru.

Altitude sickness is no joke. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it hit some of us hard. For example, my only issue was an occasional headache, but altitude sickness flattened our daughter. Her nausea was debilitating, and we had to have a doctor visit our hotel.

I know someone else who had to cut their Cusco travel plans short and fly back to Lima at sea level. That was not part of their plan. As a result, they had to book new flights and a new hotel in Lima. To their relief, it was all covered by travel insurance. You may be the toughest and healthiest amongst your family and friends, but don’t visit Peru without travel insurance.

Get Quotes: World Nomads Travel Insurance

What Does Your Peru Packing List Look Like?

How does your Peru packing list compare? What’s missing from mine? Have I forgotten something must-have items for Peru travel? I might have. Let me know in the comments below. This packing list for Peru may grow and expand as needed for future readers!

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This costs you nothing, but we might receive a small commission if you buy something from your Peru packing lost or book a hotel using these links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find the best family Peru travel experience. If you know what to pack for Peru and can advise on what to add to our Peru packing list, let us know!

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