Is It Safe in Trujillo, Peru?

Central square in Trujillo, Peru

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Trujillo on Peru's north coast is among the South American country's largest cities. The pleasant weather earned the city the nickname “City of Eternal Spring," and the area is full of lovely attractions. However, Trujillo has the unfavorable reputation of being one of the most unsafe cities in Peru. But if tourists stay in safe areas and exercise security measures, they can usually enjoy a hassle-free trip.

Travel Advisories

  • U.S. Department of State suggests tourists exercise extra caution due to crime and terrorism.
  • Tourists exploring more of Peru should avoid "the Colombian border area in the Loreto Region due to crime, or the area in central Peru known as the Valley of the Rivers Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro (VRAEM) due to crime and terrorism."

Is Trujillo Dangerous?

While Peru is known as one of the safest South American countries, many major cities have security issues and problem areas, including Trujillo. Everything from muggings, assaults, and carjackings to petty theft can take place, even during the day and with many witnesses around. Buses, including those run by tourist companies, are sometimes held up by armed gangs. However, most tourists can have a trouble-free adventure by taking basic precautions.

Trujillo is one of the oldest Spanish cities in Peru. The Moche civilization lived in the area from about 100 to 700 A.D. and the Chimú culture dates back to around 900 A.D. The historic center of Trujillo is popular and generally safe, especially during the day. But watch out for pickpockets in crowded areas. While the Plaza de Armas and nearby streets are usually safe after dark, keep a close eye on your surroundings and avoid completely empty streets.

Many of Trujillo’s main tourist attractions are just outside the city. You can visit them independently or with a reputable tour agency. Don’t trust informal guides who promise to take you to little-known spots near famous archaeological sites. This potential scam could lead you to an isolated location to be possibly robbed or raped. Stick with recognized tour operators who have offices in the historic center or those recommended by your hotel. Another potential pitfall comes in the guise of the fake shamans offering psychedelic San Pedro sessions. The traveler becomes an easy target to rob—or worse—during mescaline-induced highs caused by the ancient cactus concoction. Such scams also take place in Huanchaco, a popular beach town near Trujillo.

Is Trujillo Safe for Solo Travelers?

Trujillo can be a safe place for solo travelers who are street smart. Make sure to be extra careful at night and stay close to the historic center. Once you cross over the circular Avenida España from the historic center, you’ll enter less touristy and increasingly less secure parts of the city. Refrain from stumbling around drunk in the early hours. To lessen your chances of being targeted for crime, dress conservatively, and don't display wealth via clothing, watches, laptops, phones, or such.

Is Trujillo Safe for Female Travelers?

Female travelers in Trujillo should be able to have a smooth trip as long as they follow various safety precautions. Whenever possible, and at night, in particular, explore with fellow travelers from tour groups or your hotel. Before you head somewhere, ask locals their opinion about your destination and whether it seems safe to visit on your own. Like many places globally, it is wise for tourists, especially females, to avoid dark and deserted areas. Also, keep a close eye on your beverages and food to prevent being drugged by criminals looking to rob or rape. Never accept snacks, gum, or drinks from a stranger. Street harassment such as catcalling is common in Peru.

Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers

LGBTQ+ travelers may find Trujillo and other tourist hotspots more welcoming than some other parts of the country. The city has an annual pride parade, gay bars, and a growing LGBTQ+ community. But overall, Peru is a conservative country, and there is much progress to be made regarding the LGBTQ+ population feeling socially accepted and having legal protection. Many people keep their sexuality private, so you won't see many public displays of affection among people of the same sex. It serves gay tourists to exercise caution. 

Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers

Peru's inhabitants are a mix of mestizos (a blend of European and indigenous Peruvian), indigenous Quechuas, Europeans, Asians, and immigrants from other parts of the world. Even with the cultural diversity, prejudice and colorism are part of life in this South American country. But BIPOC travelers in Trujillo shouldn't face violent crimes related to race, as the city is on the tourist trail. Once in a while, though, visitors may have to deal with racist remarks.

Safety Tips for Travelers

There are some general tips all travelers should consider following when visiting:

  • Anywhere in Peru, dial 105 for the National Police in an emergency. If you are a victim of a crime, you can contact the Tourism Police (0800 22221). 
  • Always use a recommended and official taxi company; your hotel should be able to call a reliable taxi on your behalf. Avoid "Taxi las Americas," a company with a bad criminal reputation. Never allow another passenger you don't know to ride along with you.
  • Choose an ATM connected to a bank or secure location and be careful when leaving and with any cash used in shops. Some criminals have ways to get your bank and credit card information, which allows them to make unauthorized withdrawals.
  • Carry minimal belongings and maintain a firm grip on any day bags, which should never be out of your sight. To avoid pickpockets, store wallets in front pockets.
  • Be extra careful when walking or driving, as traffic laws are frequently ignored and unenforced. Roads are often not adequately maintained. When possible, park vehicles in well-lit areas in a paid parking lot.
Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Department of State. "Peru Travel Advisory." November 23, 2020.