What to Pack for Peru
Updated: Jun 3, 2019
Packing for Peru means getting ready for one of the more diverse terrains you’ll probably ever experience. And for adventurers, Peru won't disappoint - just make sure you pack accordingly and leave some room for shopping!
We took a two week trip trekking through the natural wonders of this amazing country, meeting all the nicest local people, and sampling exquisite cuisine. In those twelve days alone, we managed to see the ocean in Lima, a volcano in Arequipa, glaciers, lakes, mountains, and even jungles outside of Cusco. It felt like a different country every stop we made.
It was the trip of a lifetime, with private Pisco Sour lessons and the opportunity to hold a baby Alpaca (whom sneezed in our hair… boy was that appetizing)!
One of the best parts of visiting Peru was learning first hand how colorful and intricate their authentic Peruvian looks are. Women wear ballet flats with knee high socks, a poodle-like skirt paired with a button down cardigan, and most importantly, an original top hat made of felt with two long braids down each side.
It’s important to note that not everyone dresses like this, so if you're a tourist, it's acceptable to wear civilian clothes without any strict rules. It is also important to know that depending on which city you visit, your attire may vary greatly due to weather changes.
We spent most of our time in Cusco, a larger town in the middle of Peru next to the Amazon, aka the epicenter to day hikes and trips to famous tours like Machu Picchu. That is also where you’ll find some of the best shopping, which of course was our biggest takeaway! You’ll see a gazillion little stores along the cobblestone streets, filled with adult Alpaca sweaters, hats and scarves. The higher end stores will carry “baby” Alpaca which is much softer and more expensive. After talking with the locals, it appears no harm is done to the animals in making the clothing and the baby Alpaca are about one year old before they shear their fur for production.
Now onto style! In Cusco especially, you’ll find that almost every tourist is decked out in hiking clothes and shoes. The streets are narrow, slick, and uneven, so rocking the hiking boots all day wasn’t the worst idea. Ditch the heels and pack to be practical in this country. Peru is more rugged than we anticipated, and locals dress fairly casually in jeans, sweaters and sneakers. Temperatures stay in the low 60’s to low 70’s pretty much all year round, so you’ll be safe with jeans and layers throughout the day.
Here’s our ideal outfit for a day in Cusco to stay warm and comfortable:
If you’re feeling adventurous and made arrangements for day hikes through the peaks of the Andes, make sure to pack quick drying material since rain can come and go. Also include your best hiking shoes (Merrells, Columbia, The North Face, or Keens are our favorites!) Lastly, lightweight breathable hiking pants, a tank top and a lightweight jacket will be perfect. The beginning of the hike may be chilly, but you’ll be sure to warm up once you get moving.
Planning a day to Machu Picchu? Who doesn’t when they’re visiting Peru! Machu Picchu is an incredible site, and definitely worth while, however we recommend packing a nicer every day outfit since it doesn’t require much activity besides slower informative strolls through the windy fortress. Sturdy, comfortable, flat shoes are great, but otherwise feel free to look your best since you’ll be taking lots of pictures here!
Another amazing site was Arequipa, a beautiful quaint little town south of Cusco. This area is way less hilly than Cusco, and slightly more upscale. If Arequipa is on your itinerary, pack a few more fashionable outfits with layers for the warmer sunny days and the cooler evenings.
Here’s our suggestion for your look in Arequipa:
Our last stop was Lima, the bustling capital right on the ocean. Lima is known for its ceviche and some of the finest restaurants in the world, however Lima has it’s rugged activities as well. If the you’re on the adventurous side, bust out the hiking gear you packed for Cusco and head out to the rolling sand dunes an hour outside of the city. Be sure to pack a bandana to keep the sand out of your face!