If it’s your first time in Peru and you’re planning to travel by bus, you might have a few questions. Or maybe more than just a few. Well, Peru By Bus has all the answers you need!

First time in Peru

How good are the long-distance buses in Peru?

Sometimes when people think of buses in Central and South America they think of the infamous “chicken buses,” in which poultry, pigs and people mix all too freely.

A chicken bus in Guatemala

And sure, you might come across an occasional chicken in a local or regional bus in Peru. Maybe even a goat or a piglet or a baby llama. But when it comes to true long-distance bus travel in Peru, you might be surprised at how modern, comfortable and chicken-free the buses really are! In fact, the best bus companies in Peru are often better than their counterparts in countries like the U.K. and the U.S.A.

What are the best bus companies in Peru?

There are hundreds of bus companies in Peru, including small regional operators and major companies that cover most of the country and beyond. Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to travel with one of the more established and respected companies. These include companies like Excluciva, TEPSA, Cruz del Sur and Oltursa. You can read more about the best bus companies in Peru here.

What are the major bus routes in Peru?

Lima is the transport hub for the entire country, including for long-distance buses. From Lima, the major bus companies travel all along the Pan-American Highway (You’ll hear “Panamericana” a lot) that stretches the entire length of the coast.

Along the north coast of Peru, this major highway connects cities such as Chimbote, Trujillo, Chiclayo and Piura.

First time in Peru Mancora Beach

Along the southern coast, the Pan-American Highway connects cities like Pisco, Nazca and Tacna. Back in the northern half of the country, major inland routes run to Huánuco, Huaraz and Cajamarca; and another northern route heads into the jungle, passing near Chachapoyas and onto Moyobamba and Tarapoto.

The classic inland bus route in the south heads to Arequipa and up to Cusco, with an optional detour to Puno and Lake Titicaca.

How long are the bus journeys in Peru?

If you take buses from one city to the next along the coastal Pan-American Highway then travel times can be just a few hours. But many backpackers in Peru take at least one epic bus journey, often lasting more than 20 hours. In many cases, this is the overnight bus trip from Lima to Cusco, which can take between 21 and 24 hours.

First Time in Peru Bus

Lengthy trips along the coast, for example Lima north to Piura or Lima south to Tacna, can also take between 15 to 20 hours. Traveling by bus from Lima to the jungle can take even longer. For example, Lima to Tarapoto can take as long as 28 hours. Unless you have very little time in Peru, it’s normally best to break up these 20+ hour trips into smaller journeys, just to help you stay sane. That will make your first time in Peru a better experience.

Where can you buy bus tickets in Peru?

You have a few options for buying bus tickets in Peru. You can go to the bus terminal of the company you want to travel with and pay directly at the ticket counter. That’s often not ideal, especially in a big city like Lima where you’ll probably have to travel far to get to the terminal.

First Time in Peru Lima

Alternatively, you can go to an independent travel agency or ticket office, where they sell tickets for most, if not all, of the major bus companies. They earn through commission, but their ticket prices are often only slightly more expensive than buying directly with the bus company. Another option is to buy your ticket online with redBus. This is a quick and efficient way to make your purchase, and you can also easily check bus times and compare ticket prices on the website. They only work with reliable bus companies, so it is a great place to start if this is your first time in Peru.

Is Peru a safe place to travel by bus?

This is a complicated question. Peru has a bad road safety record in general, and driving in Peru is always a little risky. A string of horrific bus accidents have also attracted international media attention in recent months. Because of the often poor safety standards on Peru’s roads, it’s always best to travel with the most well-established and respected bus companies in Peru, such as those mentioned above. These companies have modern fleets of well-serviced buses.

first time in peru roads

They also have certain safety measures in place, such as driver rotation (to avoid tired drivers) and GPS tracking. They also only pick up passengers at designated terminals to avoid stopping at the side of the road and collecting random passengers off the street or highway (hence the chicken-less experience). If you stick with these bus companies, then you will greatly decrease the risk of accidents, theft and breakdowns when traveling in Peru by bus.