Traveling solo is on the rise, and many women are leading the pack. As a result, female solo travel in Peru is also increasing in popularity. Studies show that women account for more than 75 percent of solo travel worldwide! In fact, one in five women have traveled on their own at least once in their lives, according to a study by Visa.
Are You a Solo Female Traveler?
There are number of important questions to ask yourself, as a solo female traveler. Firstly, “Am I going to safe?” “Will there be a language barrier, if so, how do I navigate my way around it?” “Are there any social and cultural norms that I should aware of?” “Will it be easy to get around?”
Whether you are a first-time solo traveler or this is your preferred way to travel, it’s always useful to be aware of your surroundings and know a thing or two before you arrive. First and foremost, women are more likely to be attacked by a close friend or relative, so it is already proven that you are statistically safer around strangers. Secondly, Peru is one of the safer countries in South America, therefore it is a perfect option for solo or first time travelers. Cusco is also a predominately catholic country; the culture is focused on making sure women are respected and taken care of. Another important thing to note is that the majority of touristic places have individuals that are bilingual, speaking both Spanish and English.
Compared to other parts of the world, taxis here are very cheap, so you can always grab your own private taxi during the day or call a driving app at night, like Uber or Indriver. Lastly, yes sexism is a thing, this is rooted in the belief that men are protectors and women are more damsels in distress. As long as you show you are confident and ignore what does not affect you directly, you will do just fine. Also note that there is constant police presence in touristic areas like Plaza De Armas and others. Stick to the tried, trusted, and tested areas; utilize a bit of street smarts, and there should be little to nothing to worry about.
Below we delve deeper into safe places to stay, activities to do, transportation and neighbourhoods among many other things.
Is Peru Safe for Solo Females Traveler?
In short, yes. Due to Machu Picchu and many other fantastic spots, Peru has excellent tourist infrastructure. In fact, it has one of the best in all of South America. Because of this, it’s fairly easy to get around, and locals are used to seeing visitors everywhere.
There are still a few issues, which arise more in the evenings on buses and in unlicensed taxis. If you take the same precautions as you would at home, and stay alert and aware of what surrounds you, you shouldn’t have any issues at all!
What to do, see and Visit in Cusco when traveling by yourself?
There are plenty of trips with tour companies you can go on that allow you to make friends along the way. The famous Machu Pichu treks are perfect for exactly this! As one of the main tourist attractions in the country, there are always plenty of people on the trails to Machu Picchu. It’s the perfect opportunity to make friends from all around the world!
The Sacred Valley is a wonderful place to explore and there are a many towns that are well worth the visit. Try to at least make it to Pisac and Ollantaytambo, as well as a handful of the other villages in between. These small quaint towns are full of magic. The weather is pleasant and they have seen a number of ex-pats settling along the length of its river banks.
In the city of Cusco itself, there are many museums to visit, as well as trying out some of the local chocolate or very tasty Peruvian coffee. We also recommend that you try a new eating spot each day as there are hundreds of great places to choose from. The food in Cusco is an electric mix of different flavors and cultures. We are certain you will find something that will enchant your tastebuds. Walking through the historical center is simple enough, or you can join a culinary tour or bar crawl.
Before venturing away from the city, ask your hotel reception which areas they recommend and areas they believe are safe. The city of Cusco is very walkable and the cobblestone streets are always inviting. Don´t be shy, enjoy the historical city by foot, just be weary of your surroundings. Avoid carrying expensive things on your person and don´t flash large bills of money.
How to Travel Safely By Yourself
Getting to and from Cusco can be done in a few different ways. Let’s take a look at each one to help you make the best decisions when traveling alone. We’ll also check options for getting around the city easily and securely.
Flying into and around Peru – There’s no doubt that flying is the quickest option. The added advantage is that there are now a number of local low-cost airlines available. Making air travel, the cheapest, quickest and most convenient way to move around the country. There will be plenty of taxis that can take take you to your reserved hostel or hotel, but we reccomend sticking to apps like Uber and Indriver so that you do not get overcharged.
You also need to keep in mind that if you are flying into Cusco, you will likely feel the effects of the altitude a little more. Before embarking on any trekking adventure, you should spend a couple of days in the city to acclimatize.
Trains in Peru – Travelling by train isn’t such an easy option, and only a few places are accessible this way. Although, there is a line from Cusco to Machu Picchu, so if you’re only planning a day or two there this is the quickest and safest option. You can also get a train to Puno to visit Lake Titicaca. Essentially train travel in Peru, is not the most convenient or accessible, but it is definitely a luxurious experience.
Buses in Peru – This is a most common way for the locals to get from one city to another. The prices are more economical, but it can take an overnight ride to get there. Its also a very convient way to travel to the smaller, less accessible towns in Peru.
Be aware when booking regarding the reputation of the company. Some are much better than others, and you’ll want to go with the ones that are a little more upmarket to make sure you’re safe. Some even offer fully reclining seats and in ride movies! Be sure to do your research when booking a trip by bus.
More information about the bus companies here!
There’s also a bus company called Peru Hop that is fantastic for those who want to visit a lot of places with a high-security level. They include an English-speaking guide and you can hop on and off at any location you like.
Taxis in Peru – There are plenty of unlicensed taxis around. It is often easy to spot them, but not always. It’s best to get the number of a good company and always use them. Just ask the people at the reception in your hotel or hostel.
If you have the Uber app, they now operate in Cusco and this is probably the safest way to go. It works just the same as it does everywhere else, so for those who are familiar with it, use it.
Walking Around Peru – In many places around the country, especially city centers, it’s easy to walk around to the main points of interest. There are also bars, restaurants, banks, shops, and any amenity you can think of in these parts, so if you really want to save some cash, walking is the best option and very feasible.
Where to Stay as a solo female traveler
If it’s within your budget, there are a lot of many nice hotels around. However, a lot of solo travelers are looking for more economical options, which means hostels. There are various types in Cusco such as partying hostels, or quieter ones, upmarket or more budget friendly. There will certainly be a hostel that suits your preference
*** We recommend choosing options close the Historical Center, in the neighbourhoods of San Blas or near Plaza De Armas. This is because many things are easly accessible from here and its safe.
You’ll also find some with private rooms and others with dorms to share. So, this is up to you to find the best place. Accommodation tends to be safe and secure in the city and many places have rooms to keep your luggage while you travel to other places.
AirBnb has also taken off big time in Cusco. If you are a fan then you will find some lovely apartments or rooms around the city for a very reasonable price. Choose an apartment with plenty of reviews to guide your choice.
When looking for the safest neighborhoods to stay in, keeping near the center is the best option. Here, you’ll be close to all the main attractions and have a wide variety of places to eat and drink as well as access to banks and shops. San Blas is a popular part of town and is very bohemian. They have lots of reasonably priced hostels, hotels, and apartments.
The Plaza de Armas is the center of the whole city and is a top spot to stay in, too. However, being right in the main square means you will pay a little more.
Some Tips to Enjoy Your Travels as a Solo Female
Learn a bit of Spanish; You don’t need to be an expert, but learning a bit is fun and the locals will appreciate it. Of course in the center, or in restaurants, and on tours the people will speak English. However, if you plan to go to the market, it’s good to know a little something.
Take advantage of the fact that you are alone to take some private or group lessons so that you can advance quickly.
Don’t be surprised by the attention; The Peruvians rarely travel alone, especially if they are female. So you may get a few looks from fascinated locals. They don’t mean any harm, and in Cusco there are plenty of tourists, so it isn’t as hard to fit in here.
Don’t walk alone after dark; This is probably the same in your home country. The later it gets, the better it is to walk accompanied or get a taxi door to door. Just be a little street smart and take the right precautions.
Make sure you’re insured; We strongly recommend having travel insurance. You may not need it, but healthcare here is very expensive and they’ll likely charge you a hefty amount knowing that you are from overseas. An adventure type of insurance will cover all activities you do. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Take some time to volunteer; If you have the extra time, this is a wonderful thing to do. Whether it be visiting small rural villages with donations or handing out food or teaching a bit of English, you’ll be helping out the local community. Many people aren’t as fortunate as you, and giving them a bit of aid when you have time will make them and you feel good. It is also a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and learn things you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere!
Enjoy the freedom; Traveling alone means you have the freedom to do absolutely anything you wish. Don’t let anything hold you back and make sure you book the activities you always wanted. Don’t be afraid to make new friends.
Be confident; Make sure you walk with confidence and show it in everything you do. Locals can easily spot tourists who look disorientated, and they may be targeted more for pickpocketing.
Have a plan; It’s exciting, stepping out into the world all by yourself and doing as you please. However, it’s still always best to have a plan and stick to it whenever possible. Keep in touch regularly, let people know where you are going and avoid dodgy places.
In the unfortunate event of trouble: Approach the tourist police. They speak English and are trained to deal specifically with tourist and are always patient and helpful.
Solo female travel in Cusco Checklist
Things to Keep in Mind When Traveling Alone
Keep all valuables close to you and in places where they can’t easily be seen or taken.
Only carry a small amount of cash on you at a time.
Don’t flash expensive items around.
Don’t put important items in your back pockets.
Dress casually to not draw too much attention to yourself.
Keep photocopies of all your important documents safe. (passport, credit cards, ID) We recommend a copy on a drive or cloud and also with a family member.
Use ATMs inside a bank rather than on the street to avoid scammers.
Be careful where you set valuables in a restaurant. Keep them on your person.
Only book with reputable companies and agencies.
Use only taxis with a phone number on them or ones you know are licensed.
Don’t walk around alone at night in quiet areas.
Carry your hotel, hostel, or apartment info on you at all times in case you get lost.
Keep in constant contact with family back home so they know you are safe.
Come and Enjoy the Beautiful City of Cusco as a solo female traveler
As you can see, Cusco is a safe place with a lot to do. Coming by yourself just means that you will be able to enjoy everything you want without being tied down. We really recommend it. Just be sure to stay safe and check out all your options before making a decision. We wish you the best of luck and safe travels!!!