While it’s possible to fly within Peru and there are some (scenic) train routes, buses remain the cheapest option for getting around the country. Since bus companies in Peru range from dangerous to luxurious — and any possible step in between — it’s always a good idea to do the research before you plan the trip.
Getting to Peru by Bus from another Country
Many travelers prefer to travel by land rather than flying. That’s especially true when the airfares are considerably more expensive than the bus tickets. There are buses from all countries bordering Peru to the capital of Lima. You can travel from Lima to Quito (Ecuador), Bogota (Colombia) and even all the way to Buenos Aires (Argentina).
Getting around in Peru : Buses from One City to Another
Traveling by bus in Peru is the cheapest way to get around. Many private companies operate buses on Peru’s roads and offer low fares. Generally speaking, you can travel over 2,000 km for under US$30; traveling in the mountain regions is actually cheaper than traveling on the highways.
The bus conditions ranges from dangerous (think old ex US school bus) to luxurious. On high end buses (such as those operated by Cruz del Sur) there are good on board facilities (snack bar and entertainment). Toilets are still a problem (especially if you are a woman). Most companies offer at least two levels of services and the long journeys are almost always overnight. So if you want to travel by day and see the scenery, you need to break the journey into smaller chunks, stopping in cities along the way.
Buses travel with good regularity and there aren’t delays (on the paved roads). When traveling in the mountain areas, especially during the rainy season, delays are possible due to the landslides.
Most often the bus terminals are located in the city centers and almost every Peruvian city has at least one bus terminal. In Lima, many private companies have their own terminals so make sure to do the research before planning a trip.
It’s best to buy the tickets in advance from the bus company offices. Some bus companies also offer the possibility to book the tickets online. Do remember that most bus companies only offer Spanish as language of choice on their websites (but in many cases it’s easy to figure your way around and at least find the price for a certain route , if not being able to book the ticket online).
Some of the best bus companies in Peru to consider for your journeys are:
- Cruz del Sur : it is a big company with a very good reputation. It is highly recommended by fellow travelers. They are reliable and comfortable. The Lima — Cuzco route will set you back US$68.43 one way.
- Civa is safe and reliable. The prices are also reasonable and they connect to cities all the way to the Ecuadorian border. The Lima — Cuzco route will set you back US$33.50 (economy ticket) one way and you can even choose the seat in the bus.
- Oltursa has its fare share of fans but their buses rarely stay on the highways. Plus the website is in Spanish only.
- TEPSA is one of the oldest bus companies in Peru. The website is also in Spanish only but you can find the prices and routes easily. The Lima — Cusco route will set you back 140 soles / US$52 one way.
- Cial is safe and reliable but definitely a mid-range option. The Lima – Cusco route will set you back from 120 soles / US$44.60 one way.
- ITTSA is secure, punctual and comfortable but the website is in Spanish only. They offer a limited number of routes compared to the other companies (so no Lima —Cusco route to compare prices, sorry). The Lima — Trujillo route will set you back from 55 Soles / US$20.50 one way.
- Linea offers a wide range of buses, from decent economy ones to excellent high end buses. They are a good option for traveling north of Lima. The website is in Spanish only but you can find your way around. The Lima — Trujillo route will set you back from 45 Soles / US$16.80 one way.
- Movil Tours is not as luxurious as the top end companies but they are reliable, safe and offer affordable fares. The website is in Spanish only and a bit hard to figure out (yes, they do offer the Lima — Cusco route).
- Ormeno : is another big company, reliable and comfortable, but a bit overpriced. And their website can give anyone nightmares (currently it’s not possible to see the routes or prices).
- Flores offers anything from decent economy to modern buses but they are quite overpriced. And the website is in Spanish only.