Peruvian Culture


Primary Author
Chara Scroope,

Basic Etiquette

  • Peruvians tend to take great pride in their appearance and presentation. Most will wear nice clothing and will avoid wearing their old or dirty clothes in public.
  • People may make a distinction between hora peruana (Peruvian time) and hora iglesia (‘English time' or ‘on time'). Peruvians will often prioritise people and relationships rather than strict adherence to time frames. Indeed, arriving at events later than the designated time is quite common.
  • Remove your hat and sunglasses when entering a church.
  • It is considered poor etiquette to put one’s feet up on a chair, table or desk.


  • In Peru, it is typical for friends and family to visit one another unannounced. However, it is considered polite to make advance arrangements.
  • It is considered rude to turn down an invitation to join someone at their home. Such an invitation is usually made to try and establish a personal friendship and rejection is interpreted as a lack of interest in building a relationship with the other person.
  • When arriving, guests are expected to greet everyone present.
  • Regardless of whether a visitor was expected, hosts will always offer their guests a drink (e.g. water, juice or soda) and may provide other refreshments.
  • Declining refreshments is not considered impolite. However, refusing a more substantial meal may be interpreted as offensive.
  • Hosts appreciate a special acknowledgement of children in the home – for example, bringing a small gift for the children.
  • It is also polite to show concern for the health of the hosts’ family and their relatives.
  • Although the practice is declining, it was once common for hosts to invite people visiting late in the afternoon to stay for lonche (a light breakfast-style meal served around 6 pm).


  • When directed to the table, let the host seat you as they may have a specific place they would like you to sit. 
  • Men and women generally sit on opposite sides of the dining table.
  • The host will often begin the event with a toast, usually the word ‘salud’ or with the phrase ‘buen provecho’ (‘enjoy your meal’).
  • Guests are expected to eat all of the food that is offered. Reasons for not eating a particular dish should be given tactfully.
  • It is considered impolite to converse with only one person at the dining table without including others in the conversation. If this happens, Peruvians may say, ‘Secretos en reunión es mala educación’ (‘It is bad manners to tell secrets at gatherings’).
  • In the mountainous regions of Peru, a feast called ‘pachamanca’ is common during celebrations and events. This feast often has a large audience and a wide variety of food prepared in an earthen oven.

Gift Giving

  • When visiting someone’s home, guests are not expected to bring gifts. However, small gifts such as fruit, chocolates or good quality liquor are welcome.
  • Gifts that are sharp such as knives or scissors may imply an intention to ‘sever’ ties with someone. Thus, avoid giving gifts that may be interpreted as cutting off connections.
  • Gifts are usually nicely wrapped.
  • Peruvians tend to open gifts when they receive them.

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