Nazca is the base from which most travelers choose to visit the famous Nazca Lines, the 300-odd geoglyphs mysteriously etching the desert nearby. The sight is undeniably one of the most impressive sights in Peru, and certainly in coastal Peru.
The city of Nazca is located almost halfway between Lima and Arequipa in terms of road travel time. Nazca does have an airport, but this is used only for flights from Nazca over the Nazca Lines. Travel to Nazca, therefore, is almost all from either Lima to the north or from Arequipa to the south and by road. Nazca can also be visited by direct bus from Cusco. From Nazca city, tours can then be booked to fly over the Nazca Lines.
See this 5-day gastronomy, history, and wildlife itinerary from Lima to Nazca for more on what this region of Peru can offer.
Duration: 7.5-8.5 hours
Nazca's position on the Carretera Panamericana Sur, within an easy weekend trip south from the capital, makes booking a private transfer a good option for many travelers. The road here is also one of the best in Peru. Nazca is commonly factored into a trip with Pisco, the Paracas Reserve, and often Ica.
Nazca is slightly too far from Lima to do a day trip here, so if you wish to visit you would need to overnight in Pisco/Paracas or Ica. Private transfer is the quickest and most expensive way of getting from Lima to Nazca, albeit also a very popular one.
Buses run at least hourly throughout the day/week from Lima to Nazca. Bus companies plying the Lima-Nazca route include luxury operator Cruz del Sur, who have around 18 daily departures from their Javier Prado terminal at all times of the day. Most buses are direct; you can also change in Pisco or Ica.
To see the Nazca Lines from Nazca, there are two options. Easiest and cheapest is to catch a bus for 30 minutes north from Nazca along the Carretera Panamericana Sur, where there is a mirador (viewpoint) with restricted views of some of the Lines. But you will not get nearly as good a view as you will from a plane. Most people tend to fly over the Lines to get the best possible view. Several airlines offering flights over the Nazca Lines have offices in Nazca city, including Aeroparacas. Flight time is around 30 minutes.
Overall, traveling from Lima to the Nazca Lines is the most popular. See more about the journey in How to Get from Lima to Nazca.
Duration: 10-12 hours
Nazca is about halfway between Arequipa and Lima, so can easily be factored into a return trip to the capital. The Carretera Panamericana Sur is a very good road and private transfer is possible, though it can be pricy given the distance involved.
By bus, travel time is between ten and twelve hours depending on the operator. Luxury companies such as Cruz del Sur have better buses and so the journey is quicker, not to mention much more comfortable. Cruz del Sur has three to four daily departures from Arequipa's main bus terminal, two in the day and two at night.
For travel between Nazca and the Nazca Lines, see the previous option.
Duration: 13-14 hours
It is also possible to reach Nazca by direct bus from Cusco. In fact, Nazca is a common stop-off by bus between Cusco and Lima as it breaks the otherwise day-long journey. Most Lima-bound buses from Cusco stop in Nazca, including luxury operator Cruz del Sur who have two daily departures.
One bus or another will be making the journey every hour, although a lot of the departures are overnight. However, the road from Cusco to Arequipa (and from there onto Nazca and Lima) is better, so a lot of travelers take the route to Nazca and Lima from Arequipa, as per the previous option, in preference to this one.
For travel between Nazca and the Nazca Lines, see the first option.