Knowing when to plan your Peruvian vacation can be tricky, and you must consider several factors. Of course, the time of year and weather conditions are some of the most important aspects when booking a trip to Peru. For example, the coast is extremely hot and sunny between December and March, especially in the north. It’s cooler, with a hazy mist between April and November. In the Andes, however, December to March is the rainy season, and it’s more or less dry from June to September. It’s similar in the Amazon Basin, although more rain and downpours are heavier, and it’s hot year-round. Here is a run-down of the best months to visit Peru.
It’s worth looking at the weather patterns to assess when to visit Peru; the climate varies according to visit Peru; the temperature according to different geographical regions and the altitude. Each area has a diverse, varied climate and environment, from the coast to the Amazon basin to the Andes. Whereas the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere are from June to August, the height of the summer along the desert coast more or less fits the expected image of the Southern Hemisphere. That’s to say, it’s extremely hot and sunny between December and March, especially in the north, cooler and with a frequent hazy mist, known as garua, between April and November. That said, it’s only in the polluted environs of Lima that the coastal winter ever gets cold enough to require a sweater.
Lima is at its most pleasant between December and March (temperatures around 24˚–27˚C). From June to September, a low mist descends over the valley where the city sits, although temperatures are still between 15˚-20˚C in June and 15-19˚C in September. Swimming is possible all year round, though the water itself (thanks to the Humboldt Current) is cool-to-cold all -year-round, meaning that to swim or surf for any length of time, you’d need to wear a wetsuit. Apart from the occasional shower over Lima it hardly ever rains. The freak exception, every few years, is when the shift in ocean currents of El Niño causes torrential downpours, devastating crops, roads and communities all down the coast. Trujillo and further north experience better coastal weather than Lima or the south. It's warm and dry; without the fog you get around Lima or the intense heat of the northern deserts.
In the Andes, the seasons are more defined, with heavy rains from December to March and a warm, relatively dry period from June to September, with sunny days and chilly nights…it is winter after all! Inevitably, though, there are always some sunny weeks in the rainy season and wet ones in the dry. There is quite a difference between temperatures during the day and at night, so be sure to pack warm clothing.
A similar pattern dominates the Amazon Basin, though rainfall here is heavier and more frequent, the rainiest period being November to April. And it’s hot and humid throughout the year, with temperatures regularly reaching 32˚C.
It’s challenging to choose the best month to visit Peru because of the change in the weather across the different regions. January is the best month for a trip to the coast for fantastic weather, while May to September is the ideal period for visiting the Andes, Machu Picchu and the Amazon when it’s driest. Since you’re unlikely to find the best time to visit all areas on a single trip, there's little point in worrying about it. The country’s attractions are broad enough to override the need for guarantees of good weather.
Winter in the Northern Hemisphere tends to be the Southern Hemisphere’s summertime, and vice versa. So, if you are looking for the best time of year to visit Peru and you are heading for the coast, December through March is the hottest time to travel, and there’s very little rain. Conditions on the coast are ideal for swimming and beach activities.
In the Andes and the Amazon Basin, these warm summer months are the rainy season (December to March). Temperatures are warmer; however, the rains make it feel just as cold as in winter. Local people don´t usually refer to summer or winter as just ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ seasons. With this in mind, the wet season in the Amazon is hot, humid and wet. December to February can be the best time of year to visit Peru if you are traveling to the coastal regions, especially in the north. You can expect temperatures to be hot and sunny at around a pleasant 29˚C. There will be very little rainfall in coastal regions. During the December to February period, you can expect the rainy season in the Amazon Basin and the Andes. Water levels are high at this time, and flora and fauna are abundant. At this time of year, the Inca Trail is closed during February due to possible landslides and maintenance. Machu Picchu itself remains open during this period.
For those coming from the Northern Hemisphere, spring is considered to be roughly from March to May. From March, we are heading into Autumn, and the temperatures on the coast begin to get milder. It’s still wet within the Andes, but you will find that it’s quieter with fewer crowds on the trails. The rainforest is still hot and humid – as it is all year. It is still hot in the coastal areas from March to May, but temperatures are beginning to drop. March is the end of the rainy season in Machu Picchu, and you can expect the area to be drier and warmer by May. You may find this period quieter, and getting a permit for trekking the Inca trail is more accessible. It's the rainy season in the jungle at this time of year, but the vegetation is lush.
Winter in the Southern hemisphere is generally considered the best time to visit. Dry conditions and warm weather make this an ideal time to visit Peru. Cusco is at its best, and you can make the most of the Andes’ fantastic trekking opportunities. It is cold though, when the sun goes down, so take extra layers. The Amazon is hot all year but at its driest during the May to September period. June to August is the peak time to visit Machu Picchu, so it’s hectic. There is less rain in the Andes at this time of year, and it’s an excellent time to travel for those who want to go trekking or climbing. You’ll get some incredible views of the mountain peaks and clear blue skies. Temperatures are much milder on the coast – at around 18˚-22˚C– than between December and March. Lima is also shrouded in grey mist at this time of the year. The coolest temperatures occur from June to October (lows of 15˚C and highs of 19˚-20˚C). In the Amazon, temperatures are hot and humid, but this is the dry season, so there will be less rainfall and lower water levels.
Early spring (September and October in the Northern Hemisphere) is a good time to visit Cusco, Machu Picchu and the rainforest. It rarely rains in Cusco and around Machu Picchu during September and October, so it’s an ideal time to visit weather-wise. But remember that good weather brings more visitors, and trails will be at their busiest. For those who want to travel to the coast, the temperatures are much cooler at this time of year but still a pleasant 23˚-25˚C. The rainforest is hot with less rainfall than from November to February, making it an excellent time to visit and discover wildlife, flora and fauna. It’s also an ideal time to see Colca Canyon and Arequipa. From September to November, the temperature in Lima and Trujillo is cooler.
Machu Picchu is an unmissable highlight of any trip to Peru. In high season, the entire Sacred Valley swarms with visitors from June to SeptemberSacred Valley swarms with visitors, and it might be challenging to avoid the crowds. The Inca trail is closed in February, usually the wettest month. It closes for annual maintenance and repair, although Machu Picchu is still open. If you plan to go in the high season, you must book several months ahead as the trail is so popular. The area is quieter from October to April, but it’s wetter. The month of May is quite a good choice as it’s the end of the rainy season, and the sky will be bright and clear with excellent views. Several alternative ancient sites in Peru are Peru well worth visiting, which tend to be less busy than Machu Picchu.
In conclusion, the best months to visit Peru, assuming you want to visit Machu Picchu and the Andean region of Cusco, is in winter from May to September, which coincides nicely with the holidays in The US and Europe. However, this is not the best time for the coastal region, with somewhat lower temperatures and no sunshine. The good news is that Peru has special activities all year round, and if it is cold and grey in one part of the country, another part will be experiencing glorious weather!