International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987


Culture Corner

Getting Around Lima

Public transportation is, without question, the most common way to navigate and get around Lima. The Lima public transportation system includes the city buses (combis/colectivos and micros) and taxis. Students can expect to use public transportation on a daily basis, and sometimes, several times a day.

Commutes around 25-35 minutes and sometimes more are commonplace and expected-it's simply a part of everyday life in Lima!

Aside from public transportation, many Peruvians walk from one place to another. While public transportation is convenient, the city is pedestrian friendly and walking is a great way to see the city, avoid too many connections/traffic jams, and get some exercise.

To learn more about the different ways to navigate Lima, please read the descriptions below.

Types of Transportation

In Lima, there are two types of buses: the "combi" or "colectivo" (basically collective minivans) and the "micro" (short for "microbus" and larger than the combis). Both the combis and micros are fast and inexpensive ways to travel around the city, however ISA recommends using the larger micro when busing from place to place. Public buses are the most common means of transport in the Capital and greater Lima. Users of most buslines usually wait no longer than fifteen minutes. Most trips, including those to distant areas, take less than 40 minutes. Buses are available 24 hours a day but their frequency decreases after 12:00 a.m.

There are more than 180 lines in the city of Lima and several routes provide connection to the greater metropolitan area. The normal fare is 1.20 soles ($0.40 USD), but you might be charged less if the distance is not very far. Upon boarding, indicate your destination and the driver will tell you the fare.

Combis are very prevalent in Lima and many locals use this service to get around the city. There are NO automatic ticket machines that issue tickets, but each combi is equipped with staff that, in addition to yelling out the various stops along the route, will also be responsible for collecting your fare.

You will always need exact change to pay a micro, combi or colectivo. If you don't have change, you will more than likely be asked, "¿No tienes sencillo?" ("Don't you have smaller change?").

In order to figure out your route, ask your host family or the owners of the student housing which bus to take. Each bus is painted with the names of the streets where it travels along its sides. Some buses use abbreviations such as "Tdo"(todo) to mean that they will go down an entire street. It's best to always ask before you get on the bus if they are going to your area or street. They will quickly tell you yes or no. When you reach your destination, indicate that you would like to get off the bus by saying "baja" (getting off).

When finding transportation to the Universidad del Pacifico (UP), most ISA students look for the micro or combi that says Salaverry, which is the name of the street on which the UP campus is situated. On rare occasions, students will have to take more than one combi or micro to get to the UP campus. Some students are able to walk from their housing to the UP and do not need to take a city bus.

When finding transportation to the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP), most ISA students look for the micro or combi that says Universitaria, which is the name of the street on which the main entrance to the PUCP campus is situated. Another option is to take combis or micros that go to Plaza San Miguel, a large mall next to the PUCP campus. On rare occasions, students will have to take more than one combi or micro to get to the university. Some students may be able to walk to school.

Street taxis in Peru do not use a meter. You will need to negotiate your price before getting into the vehicle. Depending on the distance, a street taxi costs between 5 and 10 soles. You are not required to tip taxi drivers, nor do they expect a tip. It is recommended that you use a radio taxi (a taxi that you call for in advance) rather than flagging down a taxi on the street. Radio taxis are generally safer than street taxis, especially at night. Radio taxis have a set price that is non-negotiable, and although they are more expensive than street taxis, they are more dependable. If you are leaving a late-night establishment, such as LarcoMar, please be sure to call a radio taxi 20 minutes before leaving. The radio taxi will give you clues that will help you identify your taxi. Do not leave the site or ask the taxis out front if they are your taxi because they will say yes. Also be careful at the airport and bus terminals. Only take taxis that you order from booths inside the terminals, rather than the taxis that are waiting on the street.

If you do take a taxi directly from the street, it is recommended that you choose a newer, clean-looking taxi that is obviously being serviced regularly, and be sure that you have the exact change necessary to pay the driver. Also, have your money ready to pay upon arrival. Never take the TICO taxis. They are small, yellow taxis and would not hold up well if there was an accident. At night it is NOT recommended that you take street taxis alone, especially if you do not know the best way to get to where you are going.

Your site-specific orientation handbook that you will receive before departing for your program includes a list of recommended radio taxis.

Buses are an inexpensive way to travel outside of Lima to almost anywhere in the country, with the exception of Machu Picchu and the jungle. Some of the most popular bus companies leaving from Lima
are Cruz del Sur ( - the most recommended), Ormeño, Oltursa, Ittsa, Enlaces, Peru Bus - Soyuz (, and Tepsa ( The quality of the service will vary according to the price of the ticket. Most of these buses offer "bus cama" which will allow for a more comfortable, spacious ride.