The “city of ceviche” is a popular next stop after exploring Ica’s desert. But to arrive in Lima, you’ll first need to do more traversing through dry terrain with sandy hills as a backdrop. I recently embarked on a bus trip from Ica to Lima and will share some key takeaways to help with your trip planning.
The only road from Ica to Lima
When choosing the best way to get from Ica to Lima, your options are simple: Rent a car or take a bus. That’s right—there isn’t an Ica to Lima flight or train.
I don’t know about you, but being initiated into Peruvian driving is an activity I’m happy to keep off my bucket list. Luckily, there are several bus companies to choose from if you decide to let a local do the driving.
Some popular buses that travel from Ica to Lima include:
- Peru Bus
- Cruz del Sur
By now, you’re likely wondering how long the bus ride is from Ica to Lima. You can expect it to take at least five hours, including a brief stop in Paracas. However, if you arrive in Lima during rush hour, you can pretty much bet on it taking longer.
Must-knows about the Ica bus station
On the day of your Lima travels, triple check which bus company you’re traveling with. Ica has several brand-specific bus stations, most of which sit near each other and Ica’s main plaza.
Regardless of the company you book through, plan on arriving at their respective bus station at least 30 minutes before your departure. That way, you’ll have time to check in your luggage at the front desk—a requirement before you board the bus if you’re traveling with large bags. The bus stations offer waiting rooms where you can spend any remaining time. They’re often equipped with vending machines, ATMs, and a little shop.
Since Ica is a common stop for buses traveling from Nazca, there’s a chance your bus won’t arrive on time if it encounters delays on the road. So, don’t be alarmed if the bus station staff holds off on announcing your boarding gate until your bus parks.
Tips for booking your Ica to Lima bus ticket
If you’re a wing-it kind of traveler, you’ll be glad to know that it’s usually okay to book Ica to Lima bus tickets shortly before you travel. Of course, you might not get a great seat or your preferred departure time. But as long as you’re not traveling around a holiday or special event, you should be fine.
Choosing your bus schedule
The buses from Ica to Lima run a handful of times throughout the day, 365 days of the year. You can hop on an early morning bus to arrive in time for your first Limeño lunch. Or, head to the Ica bus station after your sunset dune buggy tour.
Before you book your bus ticket, visualize traffic. Lots of it. It may seem silly to you as your bus flies down the Pan-American Highway, the road that leads up to Alaska. But once you approach Lima, expect to stare at the bumper in front of you with near-standstill traffic. Needless to say, if you’re flying home the same day you depart Ica, it’s best to overestimate how long it’ll take to arrive at the Lima airport after your bus trip.
Booking the most scenic seat
If you can’t imagine having a better view on a bus than if you were to rent a car and drive, think again. Most Ica to Lima buses have two floors. Although the first floor typically has better reclining seats (up to 160 degrees instead of 135-140 degrees), the second story offers the best views, pending availability.
To snag a seat with a stellar view, book any spot in the front row of the second floor. For the cream of the crop vista, choose the window seat on the driver’s side. That way, you’ll have an even clearer view of the ocean. If you happen to pass by a coastal section of the road at sunset, have your camera ready for Instagram-worthy photos.
Getting off at the right stop in Lima
Like in Ica, Peru, many bus companies in Lima have their own stations. The most popular bus station area in Lima is around Javier Prado. When I took my Cruz del Sur bus, this was our one and only stop.
Nevertheless, you might be on a bus that makes two or more bus station stops in Lima. If that’s the case, your driver will ask which stop you want to get off at when you board the bus. If you don’t know which is the best fit for you, let them know where you’ll be going in Lima.
As a reminder, almost all buses stop in Paracas during the journey to Lima. Paracas is only about an hour bus ride away from Ica. So, if your “arrival” in Lima feels 80% too soon, it probably is. Don’t get off the bus.
For the car sickness prone
Getting from Ica to Lima, Peru involves a pretty flat drive. Yes, there are some curves. And, yes, you’ll encounter a handful of hills. But with the Andes well to the east and the ocean to your left, you don’t have to worry about stomach-wrenching switchback turns. Furthermore, steep drop-offs are next to none, and altitude sickness won’t be an issue since you’ll be at sea level.
Personally, I loved the drive from Ica to Lima. Thanks to beautiful scenery, the 5+ hours passed quicker than I expected. Now that you know how to get from Ica to Lima, I hope you enjoy it just as much.
If you’re using Lima as a base and plan to explore the surrounding areas, here are four weekend trips to check out.