You have a few options when it comes to intercity transportation in Peru. Luckily for you, there is always a cheap option available if you know where to look.
Cities in Peru are often very far apart, upwards of eight hours driving. There are two main ways to get from one city to another in Peru, by plane or by bus.
Bus travel in Peru
Which bus companies are recommendable?
Many bus companies offer over-night options. The safest company, but also the most expensive, is Cruz del Sur. They've received a bazillion gold starts for excellence and all the hype from most travel guides. In recent years, however, a lot of other high-end bus companies have also joined the ranks of Cruz del Sur including Tepsa, Ormeño, Oltursa and Flores.
If you're looking to stretch your travel budget for as long as possible, however, and want to find a more economic option, Civa and Ittsa are not a bad option. Civa especially offers some low-end options such as a S/.75 ($27) bus ticket from Lima to Cusco, a 24 hour trip.
If you are looking for a truly cheap way to travel, many local “mom-and-pop” type companies run a single route between two or three local cities. You can find these options by visiting the local bus terminal in the city you're visiting.
Tips for travelling by bus in Peru
If you choose to travel by bus, no matter how safe a company they reportedly are, be highly aware of your possessions. While high-end buses like Cruz del Sur are known for their extreme security, you should still be conscious of your things. This is more and more important the lower down you go on the economic scale of bussing options.
The more economic your choice of transport is, the more you need to be super careful of petty theft. Don't leave anything valuable in your backpack, especially if you plan on sleeping during the trip. Keep your documents, money, and phone in a money pouch under your clothing.
Take everything with you should you get off the bus for any reason. Be aware that many of the cheaper busses and local 'mom-and-pop' type companies make frequent stops in small towns along the way to pick up and drop off passengers. This means the trip is both longer than the high-end busses that don't stop like this, and presents more opportunities for thieves along the way. These buses also often let street-side vendors and preachers get on the bus to hawk their wares, or religion, before disembarking in the next small town.
Many of the cheaper buses also make restaurant and bathroom stops in hole-in-the-wall places many tourists would feel uncomfortable in. Are you ok stopping at 8 or 9 at night, it's already totally dark, on the side of the rode in the middle of nowhere to use this one odd, half-falling apart grimy cafeteria? If so, great! It will be an experience you won't likely forget, but as always, be aware of your things, the people around you, and where you are.
Domestic flights in Peru
If you are pressed for time and have the money to spend, elect to take the plane while traveling between cities in Peru. You'll arrive much faster and have extra time to spend exploring your new destination.
Most visitors elect to take the plane from Lima to Cusco, for example, seeing as it's a one hour plane ride but a 24 hour bus ride through high, windy mountain roads!
Be aware that if you fly domestically in Peru you will be subject to a small fee as a foreigner. Many visitors elect to travel with the airline company Lan, which offers great service. If you want a slightly more economic option, go with StarPeru which also has good service.