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Peru bus companies reviewed: our best and worst rides

Travelling by bus in Peru is inevitable and choosing the right bus company will not only ensure that you’ll enjoy the journey but should also guarantee that you arrive safely at your destination. The journeys are almost never short; we got so used to long-distance bus rides in Peru that towns located 4 hours apart felt like they were right next door! 

In a place where oftentimes you’ll be spending 8, 10, or even 12 hours in a bus, choosing your bus company becomes as critical as choosing your accommodation and sometimes, they’re one and the same. This is why, after 2 months exploring the land of the Incas and logging countless hours on buses, we want to share our experiences hoping they’ll help our readers choose the right company for their travels. This won’t be yet another generic list; it’s a detailed review of the pros and cons of each company we tried during our bus travels in Peru.

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If you’re looking for what to do in those amazing Peruvian destinations that you’ll reach by bus, maybe you’ll want to read some of our recent posts about Peru:

19 Travel Tips for Machu Picchu

Visiting the Uros Islands and Lake Titicaca without a tour

5 highlights of Arequipa: how to enjoy Peru’s prettiest city

Viewing the Nazca lines from the sky: what to expect

Peru bus travel: is it safe?

Well, that depends on what bus you’re on. Choosing a good company for your bus travels in Peru isn’t just a matter of comfort or money-saving; it’s mostly a matter of vital safety. Let our friend Joselin illustrate this with his real-life example. 

Joselin is an adventurous Canadian who we’ve recently met and who has been riding his motorcycle across South America for the past years. Like any foreigner who likes riding motorbikes in this continent, you can imagine that he loves speed and yet, even adrenaline-junkie Joselin says that he just can’t keep up with some bus drivers in the winding Andean roads of Peru! I’m sure you get the point now. Picking a bus company that emphasizes on the quality of its coaches, drivers, and services isn’t just for paranoids like myself

llamas grazing on roadside viewed from bus travel from arequipa to puno peru
Not all roads are this flat and straight in Peru. Travelling along winding mountain roads is very common in this Andean country. Photo from our Arequipa-Puno bus ride

To back Joselin’s claims, we’ve got the statistics from the World Health Organization. According to the WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018, most Peruvian national road-safety laws such as speed limit and drunk-driving have a level of enforcement of only 1 or 2 on a scale from 0 to 10. In a mountainous country like Peru where vehicle standards aren’t usually optimal and road conditions are even worse, travelling with a reputable bus company can save you unnecessary worries.

So, is travelling by bus in Peru still an option?

The good news is that exploring Peru by bus can be a very pleasant experience if you’ve chosen a good company. We have certainly enjoyed some really scenic bus rides in Peru (imagine crossing a National Park where herds of wild vicuñas graze in a backdrop of snowy peaks, or driving along the coast while the sun sets in the horizon), aboard coaches with excellent drivers and very comfortable seats. But just as some rides were delightful, some others were quite the nightmare. And we’re talking about the best companies here; we didn’t even bother to try the low-end buses! 

Since quality varies greatly, even between reliable firms, choosing a proper bus for your land travels in Peru can be tricky. Many people suggest to go for the well-established companies with big, new, double-decker buses which is clearly a good start, but as we’ve recently discovered, there are so many other things to consider.

vicunas grazing by the roadside taken from the journey between arequipa to puno of peru
On our bus ride from Arequipa to Puno, we enjoyed magnificent views of the Salinas y Aguada Blanca National Reserve, home of a large population of vicuñas

How to choose the right bus company in Peru?

To help you choose, we’ll be reviewing and rating 6 of the major bus companies in Peru, based on our personal experience and these 3 main criteria:

  • Safety: speed compliance, coach quality, driver skills, roadside pickups.
  • Comfort: punctuality, seat condition and legroom, toilets, meals provided (quality and quantity), noise pollution, and the availability of extra features such as blankets and pillows, USB ports/electrical plugs, WiFi, and air conditioning. 
  • Value for money: we’ll include the prices of all our bus rides in Peru, for your reference. But keep in mind that value and price are not the same thing: high quality with high price tag is of lower value than high quality at low cost.

Now, our score will come on a scale from 1 to 5 as follows: 1 terrible, 2 bad, 3 just OK, 4 good, 5 excellent. This is based solely on our own personal experience with each firm. The Peru bus companies that we’ll discuss in detail here are:

  • Oltursa
  • Cruz del Sur
  • Ittsa
  • Civa
  • Movil Tours
  • Special route: Lima Airport Express
  • Notable mention: Peru Hop (only one in the list that we didn’t try)
legroom in oltursa bus peru
On the upper deck of many buses, the seats right behind the staircase tend to have larger legroom. This is great for long bus journeys!

It’s worth noting that we only travelled in double-decker coaches and except for one bus ride with Civa, we always took second class seats, which are usually located on the upper deck. Whenever possible, especially when we travelled by day, we chose the frontmost seats which offer delightful panoramic views of the amazingly beautiful Peruvian landscapes.

One last thing: keep in mind that in most Peruvian cities, the bus terminals for each bus company have different locations. In Lima we even saw the case of one company having two or three terminals scattered throughout the city, so always check carefully where your bus will be departing from.

frontmost seats in oltursa double decker bus
The frontmost seats on the upper deck offer the best views. They are also advisable for those prone to motion sickness
lake reflecting sky viewed from bus travel from puno to cusco peru
Travelling Peru by bus is a great way to admire the country's beautiful landscapes. Here's the view from our bus window, on the way from Puno to Cusco

6 Peru bus companies: our review

Oltursa: our favourite bus company in Peru

Summary: Oltursa is at the more expensive end of the spectrum, but it isn’t the most expensive bus company that we tried in Peru (Cruz del Sur was; keep reading for the review on that one). 

Our favourite thing about Oltursa was the drivers; they were all great. Our least favourite thing about Oltursa was the non-stop loud movies during the journeys; not only were they loud but they were all terrible, to say the least. 

Oltursa’s fleet is pretty modern and the buses felt very comfortable. Meals were generally good, but that seems to depend on the time of your journey rather than the duration of it. 

movie shown in oltursa bus peru
Noise pollution is our main complaint about Oltursa. This is just an example of the junk that we had to put up with during our travels

Safety rating: 5/5

  • Bus condition: great. New and clean. 
  • Drivers: great. We travelled with Oltursa 3 times (2 of them were 10-hour bus rides) and the drivers were always super careful and responsible. Didn’t exceed the speed limit many times and always drove very slowly in curvy areas, which meant no motion sickness or traffic-accident scares.
  • Roadside pickup: never. Passengers are only picked at the designated bus terminals.

Comfort rating: 4/5

  • Delays: as ever in Latin America, we didn’t expect punctuality, but the delays of our bus rides with Oltursa were almost negligible (never more than 10-15 minutes).
  • Seats: very comfortable. Recline up to 140 degrees on the upper deck of Buses Cama (Bed Buses), which are the most standard type. We hear they can recline up to 160 or even 180 degrees in VIP class, but we always went for the basic option.
  • Blankets and pillows: both provided and very clean.
  • Legroom: spacious. Comfortable, even for people much taller than us.
  • Toilet condition: very clean. Toilet paper and hand soap were available.
  • Meals: one meal was provided in every ride we took with Oltursa. Just keep in mind that, contrary to our logic, the size of it has nothing to do with the duration of the ride. Oltursa seems to operate under a “big warm lunch – small cold dinner” policy. Lunches usually consist of airplane-style chicken with rice, dessert, and a drink. Dinners are just a tiny sandwich with cookies and a drink. In general, the food quality and taste were good and we had no complaints.
  • Noise pollution: high. This is our least favourite thing about Oltursa. We don’t know about the VIP class, but the standard seats don’t have individual screens for entertainment. Instead, there are multiple screens along the corridors playing very loud (and really very bad) movies all way long. Bring good earplugs!
  • USB ports/electrical plugs: USB ports available, most of them functional.
  • Wifi: available in theory, but didn’t work for us.
  • Air conditioning: available and functional, with the right temperature.

Value rating: 4/5

Our travels with Oltursa

  • From Ica to Nazca: 4 hours, S/.27 per person (USD 8)
  • From Nazca to Arequipa: 10 hours, S/.75 per person (USD 22.5)
  • From Lima to Huaraz: 10 hours, S/.46 per person (USD 14)
advertising billboard in oltursa bus terminal in lima peru
Buying your Oltursa tickets online is cheaper. We can vouch for that

Note that you’ll get a 10% discount if you book your tickets online through Oltura’s official website. The process is easy and credit card payments go smoothly. You don’t need to print your tickets to board the bus. Just show the voucher on your phone and your original ID.

You can also buy your tickets directly at the bus terminal or any Oltursa office, but you won’t get any discounts. We always booked our Oltursa tickets online and never had any problems.

Ittsa: a cheaper but still pretty good option for Northern Peru

Summary: Ittsa surprised us with a pretty comfortable ride despite the lower price that we paid for it. Our coach wasn’t the newest, which was evident from the aged curtains and chairs, but the seats were super comfortable and reclined farther than those of other companies.

The driver, the on-board service, and the meals were all great. Of all the bus companies that we tried in Peru, Ittsa was the only one that offered two meals during an 8-hour ride.

Unfortunately, Ittsa’s coverage is limited to the northern coast of Peru, which is not the most touristic part of the country. Ittsa travels along the coastal highway connecting Lima and the border town of Tumbes, passing by Chiclayo, Trujillo, and Piura.

ittsa bus parked in the terminal
Double-decker Ittsa bus

Safety rating: 5/5

  • Bus condition: very good. Not the newest, but still very comfortable.
  • Driver: great. Always careful and driving below the speed limit.
  • Roadside pickup: no. Passengers are only picked at the official bus terminals.

Comfort rating: 4.5/5

  • Delays: none.
  • Seats: very comfortable and super reclinable (160 degrees).
  • Blankets and pillows: only pillow available; no blanket but it wasn’t needed anyway. It seems that their other types of buses such as the Super Cama, offer both blanket and pillow. Ours was Semi Cama.
  • Legroom: super spacious.
  • Toilet condition: very clean. Toilet paper and hand soap were available.
  • Meals: two meals were served during our 8-hour bus ride with Ittsa. For breakfast, we got a sandwich and a hot drink. For lunch, we got chicken and rice with an addition of salad and something resembling a giant hashbrown, plus a drink. Both meals were very tasty and bigger than with any other bus company we tried in Peru. 
  • Noise pollution: high. Loud movies playing nonstop in the background are a common thing for bus travelling in Latin America, so bring your earplugs.
  • USB ports/electrical plugs: functional electrical plugs available under each seat.
  • WiFi: available and functional! Quite slow, though.
  • Air conditioning: available but broken for a few seats.

Value rating: 4/5

Our travels with Ittsa:

  • From Trujillo to Piura: 8 hours, S/.40 per person (USD 12)
chicken and rice meal onboard of ittsa bus peru
Ittsa surprised us with the biggest and yummiest bus meal we had in Peru

You can buy your tickets online via Ittsa’s official website, or at any Ittsa office. There’s no price difference. If you buy your tickets online like we did, there’s no need to print anything prior to your trip. Just show up at the bus terminal before your departure time, where they’ll give you the printed boarding pass.

Civa: a decent company for long journeys and border crossing

Summary: our bus rides with Civa were our longest in Peru (12 hours each). Both of these rides involved crossing the border between Peru and Ecuador and it all went smoothly. 

That said, we think that the drivers could be better. In general, they had the tendency to speed over the limit. Thankfully, the way between Piura and Guayaquil is pretty straight; maybe this is why they felt free to speed up? Hopefully, that won’t be the case in mountainous roads. 

We took the VIP seats on our way to Ecuador, but the standard seats on our way back to Peru. And although we thought it wouldn’t matter, it did: VIP seats recline 20 degrees more than regular seats, which is crucial for better sleep. That’s not to say that the standard seats are bad, but they’re definitely less comfortable.

different types of civa buses
Different types of Civa buses and their features. We only travelled in SuperCiva buses, which are the ones covering the route Piura-Guayaquil

Safety rating: 4/5

  • Bus condition: great. Big and modern fleet.
  • Drivers: average. Not the most careful ones, but also not the craziest we had in Peru. This was a pretty straight highway, which helped a lot for a smooth ride. We don’t know how Civa drivers behave on mountain roads, though.
  • Roadside pickup: never. Passengers are only picked at the official bus terminals.

Comfort rating: 4/5

  • Delays: with a 1.5h delay, Civa holds the not-so-proud record of our most delayed bus ride in Peru.
  • Seats: comfortable enough to sleep well. They recline up to 160 degrees on VIP class and 140 degrees on the standard class. 
  • Blankets and pillows: clean blankets available, but no pillow.
  • Legroom: spacious and comfortable.
  • Toilet condition: very clean. Toilet paper and hand soap available. Separate toilets are available for women and men.
  • Meals: dinner was served during each one of our overnight bus rides with Civa. We got the usual chicken and rice combo with dessert and a drink.
  • Noise pollution: yes, but movies were played only until midnight.
  • USB ports/electrical plugs: USB ports available, but not all functional.
  • WiFi: available in theory, but didn’t work for us.
  • Air conditioning: available and functional, although a little on the cold side.

Value rating: 4/5

Our travels with Civa:

  • From Piura to Guayaquil: 12 hours, S/.120 per person (USD36). VIP fare.
  • From Guayaquil to Piura: 12 hours, S/.83 per person (USD25). Standard fare.

Like with every other company, you can get your tickets either personally or online at Civa’s official website. We used both methods and they both worked out fine. Prices are the same regardless of the method that you choose.

meal onboard of excluciva bus
The VIP meal on the SuperCiva bus wasn't too impressive. But it sure tasted better than it looked

Cruz del Sur: too expensive for what it is

Summary: Cruz del Sur is said to be the best bus company in Peru but to be honest, it didn’t quite live up to its reputation. The fleet is new but apart from that, we don’t see what the hype is all about. 

The drivers were not exactly careful and exceeded the speed limit all the time. Long delays were not uncommon. Food quality was poor. On the bright side, their coaches have personal screens for each seat, meaning that there’s no noise pollution.

We believe that Cruz del Sur built its reputation some years ago as “the best bus company in Peru” but then stopped caring about maintaining its quality standards. Yet, it remains the biggest and best-known bus company in Peru. Their coverage across the Peruvian territory is pretty good.

cruz del sur bus on the road
The buses of Cruz del Sur are new and comfortable, but that doesn't make it the best company. Safety should always come first!

Safety rating: 3/5

  • Bus condition: great. New and clean, although not all buses are the same size and smaller coaches are less comfortable.
  • Drivers: bad. In all three of our bus rides with Cruz del Sur, we got careless, kind of aggressive drivers that speeded way too much and abruptly used the breaks way too often. More than once, we had to just close our eyes in panic not to witness the potential car crash we’d be involved in, especially when sitting in the front row. This way of driving seems to be pretty common all across Peru, but a reputable bus company like Cruz del Sur should control better the quality of its drivers.
  • Roadside pickup: never. Passengers are only picked at the official bus terminals.

Comfort rating: 4/5

  • Delays: common and considerable. Two out of three rides were delayed for about 45 minutes.
  • Seats: comfortable, but not as much as Oltusa’s or Ittsa’s. Standard seats recline up to 140 degrees. VIP seats are said to recline up to 160 degrees, but we didn’t try them.
  • Blankets and pillows: both provided and very clean.
  • Legroom: spacious. Comfortable, even for people taller than us.
  • Toilet condition: very clean. Toilet paper and hand soap available.
  • Meals: one meal was provided in every ride we took with Cruz del Sur. The meals were always a tiny sandwich with almost no filling, and a drink.
  • Noise pollution: none. Personal screens are available for each seat, so you don’t have to stand hours of crappy movies if you don’t want to. Earphones are not provided any more, due to their new company policies.  
  • USB ports/electrical plugs: USB ports available and functional.
  • WiFi: available in theory, but didn’t work for us.
  • Air conditioning: available and functional.

Value rating: 3/5

Our travels with Cruz del Sur:

  • From Lima to Ica: 4 hours, S/.45 per person (USD 13.5)
  • From Arequipa to Puno: 8 hours, S/.75 per person (USD 22.5)
  • From Puno to Cusco: 8 hours, S/.37 per person (USD11.1), but these were discounted seats (keep reading to learn how to get those). The regular prices are much higher.
cruz del sur terminal
Cruz del Sur bus terminal in Lima

You can easily buy your bus tickets in any Cruz del Sur office, or online through their official website. To save money, book your seats some days in advance. This is because Cruz del Sur always has few discounted seats, which sell out pretty fast. You’ll recognize them by their names: other than VIP and Regular, you’ll find fares called Insuperable and De Ocasión. Nobody really knows what the differences are, but there shouldn’t be any: they are just regular seats at lower prices. 

These seats are randomly scattered throughout the bus, so oftentimes you’ll have a cheap one next to a regular one, which is still worth getting if you’re travelling with somebody else. These offers are not limited to online booking, so ask the person at the counter if you buy your tickets personally. If you buy them online like we did, you don’t need to print anything to board; just your e-voucher and original ID will do.

Movil Tours: “fool me once…”

Summary: Our ride with Movil Tours (aka Movil Bus) was cheaper than with the higher-end bus companies such as Oltursa and Cruz del Sur, but the advantages stop there. 

The worst part of our experience with Movil Tours was the driver. Loyal to the movie choice for the night, The Fast and The Furious (I swear I’m not making this up), he drove like a maniac through the winding mountain roads that separate Huaraz from the coast of Peru. He was so fast, that we arrived in Trujillo 1.5 hours earlier than expected! This was a dangerous and quite disgusting ride where many of us threw up non-stop for hours. We’ll spare you the details about the final state of the toilet in that bus, but the take-home message is: never ever again with Movil Tours!

Also, organization is pretty terrible and the boarding process was a complete mess. We won’t bore you with the details, but we promise you that this was the most chaotic boarding experience that we’ve had in the whole of Peru (dare we say South America?).

P.S.: to convince you to stay away from MovilBus, we’ve recently read the experience of the fellow bloggers from Laidback Trip, being involved in a car crash while travelling with MovilBus in Peru. Thankfully they’re fine, but this just confirms our fears about this company. It just isn’t safe!

movil bus from movil tours
Our ride on this bus was a total nightmare. Never again will we ever take Movil Tours

Safety rating: 2/5

  • Bus condition: decent. Not the newest but still looking modern.
  • Driver: the worst we had in Peru. Careless and irresponsible.
  • Roadside pickup: no. Passengers are only picked at the official bus terminals.

Comfort rating: 2/5

  • Delays: 1-hour delay due to chaotic boarding. 
  • Seats: not very comfortable, even though they recline to 140 degrees (and maybe more in the VIP zone).
  • Blankets and pillows: none available.
  • Legroom: limited and uncomfortable, even for short people like us.
  • Toilet condition: probably fine before the prolonged, collective throw up. Afterwards, however…
  • Meals: one meal was served during our 8-hour ride with Movil Bus. It consisted of a small sandwich, cookies, and a drink.
  • Noise pollution: yes. The usual loud movies were playing in the background although to be fair, they stopped around midnight to allow people to sleep (those who weren’t too sick to sleep, anyway)
  • USB ports/electrical plugs: none.
  • WiFi: no.
  • Air conditioning: available and half-functional.

Value rating: 2/5

Our travels with Movil Tours

  • From Huaraz to Trujillo: 8 hours, S/.45 per person (USD 13.5)

We tried to book our tickets online through the official website of Movil Bus but it never worked, so we had to look for an office and get them personally. Looking back, that should have been a sign to run away from this company. But live and learn, right?

Special route: Lima Airport Express

Summary: Lima Airport Express offers a safe, comfortable, and reasonably-priced transfer to the Miraflores district of Lima, which is where most tourists stay. There are 7 stops distributed across Miraflores, so there was always one close to our Airbnb. We never had to walk more than 3 minutes to reach our place. 

We took this bus twice during our stay in Peru and have no complaints about it. The buses are pretty new and comfortable and there’s functional WiFi available onboard. The staff is fluent in English.

The organisation and logistics of the Lima Airport Express are great and we didn’t need to worry about anything, not even where to get off. When our stop was approaching, a staff member onboard called our names, helped us unload our bags, and even made sure that we knew how to reach our accommodation after getting off the bus. 

For detailed information about prices, stops, timetables and more, visit the official website of thee Lima Airport Express

lima airport express bus counter
The ticket counter of Lima Airport Express is conveniently located in the arrival hall

Safety rating: 5/5

  • Bus condition: great. New and comfortable. Only one deck.
  • Driver: great. 
  • Roadside pickup: never. Passengers only board at the airport, or at the official stops on the way back.

Comfort rating: 5/5

  • Delays: none. Buses depart every hour, sharp. 
  • Seats: comfortable.
  • Blankets and pillow: none available.
  • Legroom: not super spacious, but comfortable.
  • Toilet condition: very clean. Toilet paper and hand soap available.
  • Meals: none.
  • Noise pollution: none.
  • USB ports/electrical plugs: available and functional.
  • WiFi: available and functional.
  • Air conditioning: available and functional.

Our value rating: 5/5

Our travels with Lima Airport Express

  • From Lima Airport to Miraflores: 1.5 hours on average, depending on the traffic. S/.25 per person (USD 8)

You don’t need to book your tickets in advance. They can be easily purchased at the counter of the Lima Airport Express, which is located right at the exit of the arrivals hall (national and international). All tickets are available for any departure; so in case you miss one bus, just take the next one.

When you buy your tickets, you’ll need to indicate the stop where you’ll get down, but don’t worry if you don’t know this beforehand. The staff will ask you for the name or address of your hotel and assign you to the most convenient stop.

Note that there’s a little discount if you buy roundtrip tickets: S/.48 per person (USD 15). But even without the discount, for those travelling alone or in small groups of 2-3 people, the Lima Airport Express is better than taking a taxi, which will charge you at least S/.65 (USD 20) per way. Plus, it’s way safer.

Notable mention: Peru Hop – the convenient but more expensive alternative that we didn’t try

The concept of Peru Hop is pretty cool: a hop-on/hop-off bus that covers all the major tourist attractions in Peru (and Bolivia). You choose a circuit, get your ticket, and hop on/off wherever and whenever it suits you best. Transport is from door to door. The pass is valid for 1 year, in 1 direction. 

Easy, convenient, and safe. What’s not to love?

Well, in our case, it was a matter of price. Even though we followed the same route as Peru Hop to explore the southern part of Peru (Lima-Ica-NazcaArequipaPuno-Cuzco), we found out that buying individual tickets for each stretch with well-known bus companies, was cheaper than taking the Peru Hop. 

Here’s the price comparison based on the Peru Hop’s Full South to Cusco pass, which covers the full U-shaped circuit from Lima to Cusco:

Peru Hop: $199

Our total cost: $78.7 (S/.259). Breakdown: Lima to Ica S/.45, Ica to Nazca S/.27, Nazca to Arequipa S/.75, Arequipa to Puno S/.75, Puno to Cusco S/.37.

However, if you’re on a tight schedule and don’t want to spend time searching for your next bus tickets or to try your luck with a different bus company every time, this might be a good option for you. And to be fair, Peru Hop is more than just the bus service; they also have qualified guides on board and other advantages which details we’re fuzzy on, but that many have reportedly loved.

Check out the official website of Peru Hop for more details. They have really good reviews on TripAdvisor and their website provides lots of free, useful information for travellers in Peru.

peru hop advertisement in lima airport express bus
Peru Hop ad aboard the Lima Airport Express. Their motto "don't be a typical tourist" doesn't sound exactly right to us but still, this bus company is said to be the best

And the winner is…

After 2 months of exploring Peru by bus, we have tried and reviewed 5 long-distance bus companies and rated them according to our personal experience in terms of safety, comfort, and price. Our rank from best to worst is:

  1. Oltursa (our favourite bus company in Peru)
  2. Ittsa
  3. Civa
  4. Cruz del Sur
  5. Movil Tours (our absolute worst bus experience in Peru)

Have you explored Peru by bus? Do you agree with the ranking of our review, or did you have a completely different experience? Help other travellers choose the best Peru bus companies by commenting in the box below!

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