Peru is a land of extremes. You'll need layers of clothing for a daytime hike, a swimsuit at the beach, and a thick alpaca blanket on a cold night up in the Andes. Whatever your travel plans, here's a comprehensive list that will have you packing your bags like a pro.

What to Take: Clothing & Shoes

What you wear in Peru depends on when you're visiting and where you're going. The rainy season in Peru is from November to April, and the dry season is from May to October. Here's a breakdown of what to pack during each season in different areas of the country.

Rainy Season

No matter where you are in Peru during the rainy season, be sure to bring your rainboots, raincoat or poncho, and umbrella. Opt for light fabrics that won't be too heavy when they get wet, especially in the wettest period of the year between January and April. This is especially important in the highlands where the temperature is milder (hovering around 60°F) and the climate is characterized by heavy rains.

At the same time of the year, desert coastal areas — including Lima and beaches in the north — are dry and warm, ideal for sipping a beer by the beach. If you're heading there, pack a bathing suit (or two) and some light cotton clothes.

For a visit to the Amazon rainforest, prepare for steamy temperatures (90°F is standard) and frequent rain showers. For ideas on how to plan a rainforest visit on a budget, check out this recommended itinerary.

Dry Season

May to October is the most popular time to visit Peru, as it's the time of the year with the best weather. Packing is a little simpler during the dry season: you can trek to Machu Picchu under clear blue skies wearing just shorts and a t-shirt. However, the higher in elevation you go, the colder it will get at night. So it's wise to bring warm pajamas and a wool sweater, at a minimum.

Keep in mind that you don't have to bring everything from home — you can buy alpaca sweaters, scarves, and hats almost anywhere in Peru. For more information on shopping for alpaca products at the famous marketplace at Pisac in the Sacred Valley, take a look at this article.

Along the coast, temperatures are milder and the climate is more humid. A light jacket may come in handy on windy days, but otherwise, pack lightweight clothing and a swimsuit. 

The Importance of Sun Protection

Sunscreen is a no-brainer if you're headed to one of Peru's beaches. But a word to the wise: you can get sunburned on top of one of Peru's mountains, too. Make sure to bring broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF, as the weather can change quickly from pouring rain to blazing sunshine. Read this article for more on the best day hikes in the Sacred Valley outside Cusco.

If you're visiting Peru during the dry season, take your sun protection game one step further: bring a hat and sunglasses for extra protection.

Electronics to Bring — and Those to Leave Behind

If you're interested in photography, a trip to Peru is the perfect excuse to upgrade. Consider investing in a high-quality camera so that you can capture the beauty of Peru in all its glory. 

A power adapter is another prerequisite for travelers to Peru. Electrical outlets are different from those in North America, and smaller hotels usually don't have adapters for you to borrow, so you'll want to arrive prepared to plug in.

Leave the hairdryer at home: most hotels provide them. But bring your cell phone; it's handy for maps and travel arrangements. Be aware, though, that even if you have a local SIM card, some parts of the country are so remote that you won't have service.

Gear for Day Hikes & Overnight Treks

Peru is world famous for hiking. No matter the length of the hike, a few packing tips are key. Bring clothes you can layer, as the temperature can vary drastically from day to night. Comfortable athletic gear and pants that can zip into shorts are a popular option. 

Having the right hiking boots is also key. You'll definitely encounter some mud (and maybe some rain) on your trek, so consider choosing waterproof boots. In fact, the more waterproof items you have, the better. Packing a rain jacket and plastic bags to store wet clothes is also recommended.

When it comes to toiletries, pack everything you'd need for camping, including toilet paper and any personal medications. With high elevations in the Andes, coca tea doesn't always do the trick, so it may be wise to buy Acetazolamide (the most common type of altitude sickness pill).

For day trip options — like a hike to Rainbow Mountain or a two-day homestay experience on Lake Titicaca — you won't want to lug your heavy suitcase or backpack up the side of a hill. So make sure you bring a smaller daypack or a light weekend bag to pack essentials, like water, sunscreen, bug spray, a light jacket, and overnight necessities like a toothbrush and pajamas. 

Overnight hikes require more organization. On the popular hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you may not shower for days, so clean underwear and socks are the top packing priority. (If you do have the option for a shower on one of the days, bring flip-flops and a towel.) Read this article for the ideal five-day itinerary along the Inca Trail.

For challenging hikes through areas like Cordillera Blanca, trekking poles may come in handy to steady yourself on steep inclines. Of course, on a longer trip, you'll also need to bring an insulated sleeping bag. During long treks, being warm and comfortable at night is crucial for getting enough rest, so choose wisely.

Quick Reference: The Ultimate Packing List

  • raincoat or poncho
  • umbrella
  • lightweight clothing for layering
  • bathing suit (or two)
  • lightweight shorts and pants 
  • t-shirts
  • warm pajamas
  • wool sweater
  • light jacket
  • nice outfit for a night out in Lima
  • cross-body purse for city touring
  • high SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen 
  • brimmed hat 
  • warm hat
  • sunglasses
  • camera
  • power adapter
  • cell phone
  • sneakers or other walking shoes
  • hiking boots (waterproof is ideal)
  • daypack or small overnight bag
  • toiletries
  • toilet paper
  • personal medications
  • Acetazolamide (altitude pill)
  • plastic bags
  • bug spray
  • underwear and socks (wool for hiking)
  • flip-flops
  • quick-dry towel
  • trekking poles (for challenging hikes)
  • insulated sleeping bag (for overnight hikes)
  • language app or dictionary for Spanish and Quechua

Have more questions about Peru? Take a look at our comprehensive FAQ for traveling around the country.