The Most Dangerous Cities in Peru

All cities are mad: but the madness is gallant. All cities are beautiful: but the beauty is grim.
— Christopher Morley


HOW TO PERU TRAVEL TIP: Save money and stay safe when going to/from Lima Airport by using the Official Bus service inside the Airport called Airport Express Lima

Peruvian cities are a splendid mix of culture and chaos — mad, gallant, beautiful and, at times, grim. Despite the madness, no city in Peru is dangerous enough to warrant avoidance.

Some urban centers, however, have developed a reputation for being unsafe, at least in comparison to other cities.

For would be visitors it is important to mention that Lima Airport (LIM) is located in the city of Callao. The airport is located 10kms from Lima’s Historical Centre and 17km from the tourist district of Miraflores. This area, although not mentioned below, is certainly one of the more dangerous areas in Peru and your caution is adviced. If travelling to or from the airport in Lima. There is now a direct bus link between there and Miraflores via the new official Airport Express Lima.

The Peruvian Public’s Perception of City Safety

In October 2011, the El Comercio newspaper — with the help of the Ipsos Apoyo polling firm — asked the Peruvian public which three cities they considered the most dangerous in Peru.

The exact wording of the question was “Por lo que ha escuchado, ¿cuáles son las tres ciudades más inseguras del Perú?” (“From what you have heard, what are the three most unsafe cities in Peru?”). The results — obtained from 1,200 people living in the nation’s 16 principal cities — were as follows:

Lima 75%
Trujillo 52%
Chiclayo 22%
Puno / Juliaca 14%
Ayacucho 13%
Chimbote 13%
Piura 10%
Arequipa 10%
Iquitos 7%
Pucallpa 7%
Ica 6%
Huancayo 5%
Cusco 5%
Cajamarca 3%
Tacna 2%
Tumbes 2%
Other 3%
Don’t Know 4%

Lima, Arequipa, Trujillo and Chiclayo are the four most populous cities in Peru. It’s perhaps no surprise to see three of them at the top of the results. Big cities often have a reputation for being unsafe, with higher crime and traffic accident rates, more gang violence and other such indicators or urban insecurity.

Did you know? - The Tourist Information Center at 799 Avenida Jose Larco in Miraflores offers important free information for all travelers to Peru. Visit our blog for more information!

Again, you don’t need to avoid any of the cities listed above (unless you hear otherwise — potentially violent strikes and protests, for example, can sometimes place areas off-limits). At best, the results are a rough indicator of where you should be extra cautious in Peru.

If you are (still?) interested in a trip to any of these cities in Peru we suggest you check out a tour comparison website with heaps of info and all the different options for taking that trip of a lifetime.

Quick Tip:  If traveling to or from Lima Airport, it is strongly recommended to use the luxury Airport Express Lima  bus to get to or from your hotel. Safer and cheaper than a taxi with no baggage limit as well as Free WiFi and USB chargers onboard, it is ideal for travelers.

The Most Dangerous Cities in Peru: What Do You Think?

Which three cities do you think are the most dangerous in Peru (through experience, by reputation or otherwise)? The poll below includes all the cities from the results above — you can select three cities. If you choose “Other,” it would be great if you could expand upon your choice in the comments section below. Thanks!

A culture, we all know, is made by its cities.
— Derek Walcott

The city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo.
— Desmond Morris


  • El Comercio: “El miedo gana la batalla: el 84% de peruanos siente temor en las calles” (link)
  • Ipsos Apoyo: Opinión Data; October 17, 2001 (link)
  • Los Andes: “Juliaca es la cuarta ciudad más peligrosa del Perú” (link)

(Peru map © CIA World Factbook)


  10 comments for “The Most Dangerous Cities in Peru

  1. Stuart
    January 16, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    1,200 people in 16 cities? Exceptionally poor surveying. If they did the same survey today, the results would likely be completely different.

    There’s no way Lima tops Chimbote, Chiclayo, Trujillo, Piura and Tumbes. I imagine the 75 people they think represent Lima all lived the same bad area.

    • January 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      Kind of odd, isn’t it? El Comercio apparently commissioned the survey — I’m surprised they accepted it with only 1,200 people questioned.

      I did try my hardest (I promise!) to find some decent crime/traffic accident stats by city (or anything else that could be used to measure city “safety”), but all I could find were figures by department on the INEI website (like “offences committed”):

      Also, did you see the other poll results in the Ipsos Apoyo pdf (link above)? 84% of people questioned felt unsafe walking in the street — seems high, but I guess it depends on your notion of “unsafe.”

      I did come across another poll, but it seemed a bit random (Tarapoto the 6th most dangerous city in Peru??):

      Anyway, thanks for the comment. I was hoping to get a discussion going, so good to see it started.


      • Stuart
        January 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm

        I think “random” is the best word to describe the results of any Peruvian poll. I’ve never seen one done in Peru with more than a 1000 or so people questioned. And the vast majority only question people in Lima.

        I’d take your average southern city over your average northern city any day. And your average jungle city over most. Generally, I think things are going downhill again.

        • TheAllKnowing
          July 18, 2013 at 9:05 pm

          el comercio does not do polls. Its a newspaper and on their website they make sub surveys that are quick and expire in about a day. then they make a quick article about it if u want real polls go to el ministerio publico but since u obviously dont know anything im lettin you know

    • Mia Zacher
      November 11, 2016 at 9:51 am

      Wow I would really like to know how many people have actually been there. To the TRUE parts of Peru. I went for two weeks and I don’t think it is supremely safe but It is not horrible. These sights make Peru and its people seem like criminals. Maybe if they weren’t scavaging for their next meal then they wouldnt do this. They have family and loved ones to support. I also have family in Chimbote and my family is good. They are all good people. There will be criminals everywhere. I would just hope people who are “voting” on which country they think has the most crime or is least safe have been there and seen both good and bad. Then understand it and then they can vote I guess.

      • November 14, 2016 at 10:34 am

        Hi Mia. The article points out on more than one occasion that no city in Peru is dangerous enough to recommend avoiding. I have no idea why you think an article like this makes “Peru and its people seem like criminals.” It’s simply about the cities in Peru that are considered the most dangerous, compared to other cities in Peru. And I imagine that most people who took the time to vote have been to these cities (the majority of votes are probably from expats and Peruvians). Thanks.

  2. VicMan
    January 24, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Why El Callao is off the survey ? El Callao isn´t Lima. WE have 24 departamentos and 1 provincia constitucional El Callao. And if they do now the survey the results would be El Callao the most dangerous of all the cities of Peru, followed by Trujillo and Lima. And I don´t know why Olanta Humala isn´t complying his word. He said he is going to change the schedule of policemen in order to make them work in streets security and not how they do now. 1 day working( hard to trust it ) and 1 day off what they usualy work as watchmen of private companies using their uniform and weapons. Humala promised it would change in less of a year but it isn´t happening and the other change would be a better train for them and improvements of law enforcement. He´s failing his promises and we´ll see and increase of delinquence and crime. What are they waiting for ? maybe to be that bad as Colombia or Venezuela or Mexico are ?

  3. Walter
    February 17, 2016 at 10:55 am

    I have lived in Lima for almost a year now and I see what the news says and I cannot agree the city is as bad as they like to say. Lima is a City of nearly 9 million people and yes there are problems but I in no way feel unsafe walking the streets. I’m North American, very white and have nice cars and Clothes and not once has anyone approched me with mal intent. As wit any City if you walk around with your eyes pointed down, take the fear the news promotes to heart and start walking fast you open yourself up to being the next target. Keep your head up, eyes and ears open and things should be fine.

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