Every adventure-seeking family with a great appetite should have Peru on their “dream destinations” list.
This South American gem welcomes children of all ages, from its mountainous landscapes and endless miles of shimmering coastline to the hidden wonders that may be found when setting foot in the Amazonian jungle.
Peru’s magnetism lies in its diverse geography and abundant ecosystems. This territory is home to thousands of plant and animal species and boasts one of the world’s richest biodiversity levels, providing a great chance to enrich any child with Earth’s treasures and natural beauties.
Here’s what you need to know about visiting Peru as a family.
Is Peru good for kids?
Watch your children’s eyes glimmer with wonder as the tour guide narrates ancient Peruvian myths — the ultimate stories — and as they delight in exploring archaeological sites scattered throughout the country.
No matter where you decide to spend your time in Peru, you can be certain that there will always be activities to do with your kids, regardless of their age.
While Peruvian culture values family, you may find that the country’s infrastructure is not fully child friendly, especially when in rural regions. So, if you’re traveling to Peru with a newborn or toddler, make sure to pack a stroller, carrier and their favorite snacks to make getting around easier.
Where is best in Peru for kids?
If your children enjoy being outdoors, nearly every corner of Peru can be an ideal setting for them to learn about the world’s natural treasures.
Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm is located in the Amazonian city of Iquitos and is sure to capture any child’s attention, but especially those with an interest in insects and animals. If your kids are aquaphiles, take them to the Reserva Nacional de Paracas.
Besides the stunning beaches that contrast with the desert, consider a boat cruise to Islas Ballestas to get a close look at penguins, sea lions and local birds.
Ask your hotel’s receptionist to recommend a guided tour and don’t forget to pack windbreakers for all the family – this is known as a prime kitesurfing destination for a reason.
El Circuito Mágico del Agua, located in Lima’s historic center and made of 13 fountains, is a testament to the city’s push to support public spaces. Take your family to a stunning water show at night, featuring brilliant lights and music.
Best things to do in Peru with babies and toddlers
Stroll around Miraflores, Lima’s friendliest neighborhood
The best way to see Lima with kids is to take a leisurely stroll through the charming streets of Miraflores neighborhood and along the malecón, a scenic walkway that weaves along the oceanfront cliffs.
You’ll find everything from pastry stores to playgrounds and a beautiful sunset (if you time your walk just perfectly).
And if your little one is amused by animals, head over to Parque Kennedy, a haven for stray cats and kittens.
They’re well taken care of by the municipality of Miraflores, which provides them with food, water, vaccinations, and even has an adoption booth set up for anyone interested in taking one home.
The park is free to visit and is best between 7am and 11pm when there are street vendors and colorful art, and markets at weekends.
Come face to face with alpacas
A scenic 35-minute car drive from the imperial city of Cuzco, Awana Kancha is a free, interactive hillside farm and museum dedicated to the exhibition of the animal breeding and handmade textiles that are emblematic of this Andean region of Peru.
Give your young children the opportunity to pet and feed camelids (alpacas, llamas, guanacos and vicuñas) under expert supervision.
Afterwards, you will be able to witness and appreciate the process of turning the wool of these animals into natural fibers used for beautiful knitwear.
Best things to do in Peru with school-age kids
Make your way to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is a site that your children will remember forever, no matter their age. The gateway town of Aguas Calientes, which sits at the base of this legendary mountain, is both lively and scenic and welcomes travelers from all around the world.
A train ride with companies like PeruRail or Inca Rail will take you around three hours from Cuzco to the Aguas Calientes train station. Relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery alongside your children, observing the transition from city to towns, highland to jungle.
Upon arrival to Aguas Calientes, you’ll board a bus for a zig-zagging, 20-minute ride up the mountainside that will drop you off at the official entrance to Machu Picchu.
Note: Hiking from Aguas Calientes is very steep and takes about 1½ hours. It is not recommended to do with children, which is why a majority of the visitors opt for the bus.
Embark on an Amazonian adventure
If your budget allows it, staying at an all-inclusive jungle lodge is the ideal way to get to know the Amazon as you won’t have to worry about the logistics of getting from the airport to your tucked-away accommodation.
Lodges such as the Tambopata Research Center and Taricaya Eco Reserve contribute to the conservation of the rainforest and its natural fauna through sustainable techniques such as dedicating hectares of land to research and data collection as well as restoring endangered species.
They each offer family-friendly excursions and activities led by local guides.
Whether it be getting a bird’s eye view of the rainforest from the research center’s canopy tower or the opportunity to interact with rehabilitated animals, don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for your children to see and learn about creatures that can only be found deep in Peru’s Amazonian jungle.
Tour a food market and treat your family to the world’s finest culinary experience
Even the pickiest guests will be unable to resist the unique flavors and the incredibly fresh produce of Peru.
After all, traditional dishes from all regions of the country have fed the inspiration of top Peruvian chefs like Virgilio Martinez and Gastón Acurio.
Children with an appetite will be tempted by classic foods like aji de gallina (creamy chicken stew) and tallarines verdes (noodles with Peruvian-style pesto).
Market tours are widely available in the capital city as well as Cuzco, Arequipa and even the bustling jungle city of Iquitos, and the whole family will be amazed to learn about (and try) the diversity of fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants.
Best things to do in Peru with tweens and teenagers
Learn to surf in the Costa Verde
Lima’s shoreline is a terrific spot for teens to catch their first wave. Make your way to Miraflores and head down to Playa Costa Verde. You will immediately notice the local surf crowd.
Simply approach any sun-bleached surfer with a wetsuit on their hip and ask about local and nearby surf classes. There are almost always surf instructors available who are eager to teach.
Lessons are available all year and cost US$20–25 per session, including a wetsuit and board. Two places with experienced instructors include Pukana Surf and Anka Surf School.
Take a ride through Huacachina’s sand dunes
Huacachina is an oasis in the midst of Ica, a region characterized for its expansive desert located four hours south of Lima. One of the most popular attractions is the adrenaline-filled dune buggy trips that maneuver up and down the sand dunes and around the oasis.
While children over the age of eight are normally permitted to participate in the tour, it’s best to save this experience for the older kids for safety reasons.
- If you’re spending the majority of your trip in Cuzco or anywhere in the Andes region, consider planning your travels between the months of April and October to avoid this region’s rainy season.
- Watch out for soroche, also known as altitude sickness. Adults are more prone to it than children but give your whole family time to adapt to the change in altitude. Keep well hydrated and seek medical attention if your symptoms are severe.
- Summer runs from December to March and is the best season to cruise the Peruvian coast and visit its beaches, but is also the most popular time so book well in advance.
- Make sure your dengue and malaria vaccinations are up-to-date when traveling through the Amazonian jungle. Pack lots of bug spray and consult your family physician about any other health-related concerns.
- Keep cash with you at all times. Unless you’re in a big city, ATMs are scarcely seen in Peru’s more isolated places.
- Buy your ticket to Machu Picchu before booking your flight, especially if traveling between the months of May and September.