You may have heard horror stories about traveling to and from the Lima airport. Traffic. Car break-ins. Less than appealing landscapes.
Did I mention traffic?
Someone finally got on the ball and made traveling to and from the Lima airport a little less painful with the Airport Express Lima bus. This guide takes an in-depth look into this long-awaited blue (and sometimes grey) gem.
Having lived in Lima for two years without the Airport Express bus, it gave me goosebumps when I returned for a visit, and I’m happy to share my experience with you.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we might make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Route of the Airport Express Lima bus
At this time, the airport bus runs only to and from Miraflores. If you’re in Lima for tourism, this district has got you more than covered as a base for exploring.
If you’re staying in the bohemian district of Barranco or the residential districts of Surco or San Isidro, the Airport Express Lima website recommends taking the bus to Miraflores and then taking a taxi from there to get where you need to go.
I’m not a fan of this suggestion.
However, let’s not jump ahead of ourselves here. I’ll touch on this later.
The Airport Express Lima bus runs almost every hour on the hour 365 days of the year. You can view the exact schedule here.
When traveling from Miraflores to the airport, aim to arrive early and be prepared to wait past the indicated time. Timing comes down to traffic in Lima.
Where the Airport Express bus Stops
There are seven stops in Miraflores which are scattered about the centermost part of the district. Most likely, you won’t have to walk more than 5 – 10 minutes to get to where you’re going, unless you’ve booked accommodation on the outskirts of the district.
So where exactly are these bus stops?
Airport Express Lima has a map for that.
Keep in mind that when traveling from the airport to Miraflores, the order of the stops depends on where your fellow bus mates need to get off. Therefore, the route will be adjusted to the requested stops.
Hooray for saving a few…ahem…many minutes in Lima’s traffic!
To get even more specific, below are the hotel names and addresses that go along with these stops:
Now you know where the bus goes. But how exactly do you find the bus at the airport?
Read on, dear bus rider.
International Arrivals: How to Take the Airport Express Lima Bus
If this isn’t your first rodeo at traveling internationally, you know the drill.
Get off the plane. Go through immigration. Get your bags. Go through customs. Turn left.
Yes. You’ll look like one of those cool I’ve done this a million times before travelers.
After you’ve got your bags and pass through customs, you’ll walk through a large automatic sliding door. This will lead into the area where you can sign up for (read: get bombarded with) an airport-certified taxi company.
Just look to your left, cool traveler, and at the end of the row of taxi companies, you’ll see the Airport Express counter.
It’s the only counter along the left wall. The desk is blue and well-marked with the Airport Express Lima logo.
For visual learners out there, below is a map from Airport Express Lima showing their location in the international exit area.
What happens once you arrive to the Airport Express counter
You’ll be greeted by English-speaking staff who will help you determine the best stop relative to where you’re staying if you don’t already know which stop you’ll need.
After paying (more on this below), they’ll tag any of your bags that’ll go under the bus. They’ll also give you a receipt and a luggage ticket.
Put those in a safe place. You’ll need them again.
They’ll then give you directions for walking to the bus. It’s not hard, but it can feel disorienting in a place that you’re unfamiliar with.
So, for the sake of keeping you lookin’ airport cool, I’ll break it down for you.
International Arrivals: How to find the Airport Express Lima bus
STEP 1: Pass through the sliding doors
Walk back towards the taxi company stands and exit through the sliding airport doors (opposite the doors you entered from customs).
STEP 2: Exit the airport
At this point, you’re going to be in the waiting area with a mob of people and tour agencies staring you down. Look right and you’ll see doors that lead outside. Exit through the door and leave the mob behind.
STEP 3: Walk behind the hotel
You’ll now be staring at the Costa del Sol hotel. You’ll be near the rightmost side of the hotel and you’ll see a crosswalk for crossing an internal airport road to get to the side that the hotel is on. Cross the road, and then walk to the back of the Costa del Sol Hotel.
Note: Don’t enter the hotel. Just walk around the perimeter to get to the back side.
STEP 4: Look for the blue Airport Express stand
The Airport Express bus “station” is located in the parking lot behind the leftmost side of the hotel (when staring at the hotel from the airport). It’s the last parking spot on the left of the parking lot (first row). However, if you have trouble finding it, just look for the blue Airport Express Lima stand beside the parking spot.
STEP 5: Hand over your receipt
Give the person working at the stand your receipt, and they’ll place your bags under the bus.
STEP 6: Get on the bus!
Get on the bus, hook up to the free WiFi, and enjoy the ride!
Domestic Flights: How to take the Airport Express bus from the Lima airport
If you’re arriving in Lima from a domestic flight, the process is nearly identical to the international arrival.
The blue Airport Express counter is located by the exit door of the baggage claim area in the ground transportation zone. Therefore, you’ll have to walk by it when exiting the airport—it’s hard to miss.
When you exit the airport from the domestic area, you’ll be closer to the left side of the Costa del Sol Hotel. Walk behind the hotel. Then, follow steps 3 – 6 from above.
But…What happens if you pass the Airport Express counter inside the airport?
Should you be so caught up in the excitement of arriving in Lima that you pass through the exit gates before signing up for a bus, rest easy. Simply walk out to the bus behind the Costa del Sol Hotel and the Airport Express staff there will be able to help you get a ticket.
That said, if you pre-purchased your bus tickets, it isn’t necessary to stop at the Airport Express stand inside the airport. Instead, you can head right out to the bus.
Travel Tip: When traveling from the airport to Miraflores, sit on the right side of the bus (passenger side) to enjoy ocean views (and vice versa when traveling to the airport). Just don’t expect to see anything stunning right away…the views will start about half way through the ride.
How to Take the Airport Express Lima Bus from Miraflores
When traveling from Miraflores to the Lima airport, the Airport Express Lima bus will pass by every stop. This is because no reservation in advance is required to take the bus.
Unlike at the airport, there aren’t any signs at the Airport Express stops indicating that you’re in the right place. Therefore, if you haven’t already purchased your tickets, all you need to do is stand in front of the hotel near the road and wave down the bus as it approaches. For the Larcomar stop, which is the only non-hotel stop, the bus stops near the J.W. Marriott (but on the side of the Larcomar Mall).
There’s no need to get carried away with your waving. The driver will be on the lookout for you.
If you already purchased your tickets, the driver will automatically stop. No waving required.
Getting on the bus in Miraflores
Once the bus stops, you’ll be greeted by an English-speaking Airport Express staff member who will help you with your bags and take your payment (if you haven’t already pre-purchased your ticket).
Depending on their schedule, the English-speaking staff member may stay on for the whole ride, or they may get off before you depart Miraflores to greet the next bus arrival.
Your driver may or may not be fluent in English.
If you need something urgent during the bus ride and your Spanish is no bueno, your driver will be able to make a call so that you can talk with an English-speaking Airport Express staff member.
When you arrive at the airport, you’ll be dropped off directly in front of the entrance to the check-in counters.
Cost of the Airport Express Lima Bus
The cost for the Airport Express Lima bus is the same, regardless of where your stop is. Below is a table of costs valid as of April 2019:
|Route||Price per Person 16 years and older||Price per child 4 – 15 years old||Price per child under 4 years old|
|Airport – Miraflores one way (or vice versa)||$8 USD||$6 USD||Free|
|Airport – Miraflores round trip (or vice versa)||$15 USD||$12 USD||Free|
You can double-check prices here along with seeing special prices if you’re a Peruvian resident.
There’s a drop-down box on the Airport Express Lima website that lists the cost in U.S. dollars, Peruvian soles, Brazilian Reales, the Euro, and the British Pound. This is a bit misleading for non-USD holders since you’re only able to pay in USD or Peruvian soles.
The payment options vary slightly, depending on where you purchase your tickets, so let’s take a closer look at this.
Paying Online (aka pre-purchased tickets)
If you pre-purchase your tickets online, you’ll need to pay by credit card. As with anywhere you pay for the bus, the only currency you can pay in is USD or Peruvian soles.
The Airport Express payment page is secured through GoDaddy. There’s the option to pay with any major credit card, plus an “other” section, if you have a card that isn’t listed.
No need to print your ticket. Showing the confirmation from your phone is acceptable.
Paying In Person at the Lima Airport
Paying at the airport for the Airport Express bus is straightforward. You can pay via any major credit card, U.S. dollars, or Peruvian soles. They’ll have plenty of change for you if you choose a cash option.
Paying in Person at a Miraflores Bus Stop
Paying in cash is best if you’re traveling from Miraflores without a pre-paid ticket. However, make sure that you have the exact amount, since they can’t guarantee that the drivers will have change.
If you spent the remainder of your soles on that last souvenir and the thought of paying a hefty fee at the ATM to take out money makes you cringe, there is the option to pay via credit card. In this case, they’d send someone to meet you upon your arrival at the Lima airport so that you can pay.
On the off chance that your credit card doesn’t work, as a worst-case scenario, there’s an ATM in the check-in area of the airport.
You can expect to arrive at any given point in Miraflores anywhere from 40 – 60+ minutes after the bus departs, depending on traffic.
If you think that your late-night arrival/departure will make for a shorter trip, think again.
The roads around the airport are a zoo at night. Arriving on a weekend morning is the best time to avoid (extra bad) traffic in Lima.
As you enter into Miraflores, an English-speaking Airport Express staff member will board the bus. He or she will have a device with all your names and where you’ll be dropped off.
Not only will they call your name and help get your bags when you exit the bus, but they’ll make sure you know how to walk to your accommodation from there.
Remember, when traveling from the airport into Miraflores, don’t worry if the bus stops out of order. They know where you need to get off and will let you know when.
Psst…Will you be heading to Machu Picchu? If so, head over to my post about ending the debate on whether it’s best to start your trip from Cusco or the Sacred Valley.
The Goosebump Worthy Bus
I may have exaggerated a little when I said that I got goosebumps getting on the Airport Express Lima bus.
However, the bus has a number of noteworthy features to make your ride a comfy one.
Take a look!
Airport Express Bus Features
- Semi-bed reclining seats
- Air conditioning and heating
- Free Wi-Fi (which works even when the bus is sitting in the parking lot)
- USB charging ports
- Unlimited free bags (they have compartments on board about the size of overhead bins on a plane. All remaining luggage goes under the bus)
- Bathroom on board
Airport Express Bus Safety Features
- You’re guaranteed a new bus, since they’re replaced every 3 years
- GPS system to track location and the driver’s speed
- Irizar branded and operated by DC Travel SA which has an excellent reputation in Peru
- Regular maintenance checks to comply with motor vehicle laws
To Tip or Not to Tip?
Tipping is common practice in tourist settings in Peru. That said, since you’ll be passed among different staff members during your experience with Airport Express, there isn’t a whole lot of time to build a relationship with those helping you.
I got off at the last stop in Miraflores and didn’t see anyone tip along the way.
Interestingly enough, later, when I looked through Airport Express Lima’s website, I noticed a note that staff members aren’t allowed to accept tips.
The Color Dilemma: Blue vs. Grey
If you’ve gone on Airport Express Lima’s website or picked up a brochure in Peru, you’ll see the image of a pretty solid blue bus.
Naturally, that’s what I was looking for when I bought my bus ticket.
As it turns out, the bus is only sometimes blue. Other times, it’s grey on top and light blue on the bottom. It also wasn’t marked with the Airport Express Lima logo, as seen in pictures.
This is what my bus really looked like:
To be fair, it seems that the only difference between the blue bus and my blue-grey bus was the color. The bus was clean, new, and had all amenities that Airport Express promises.
Is it better to pre-purchase Airport Express tickets?
Although they make it easy to purchase tickets on the spot, whenever possible it’s best to purchase your Airport Express bus ticket in advance. This will help you in a few ways:
- You’ll get to skip any line there may be at the Airport Express counter when exiting the airport.
- If you pass through baggage claim with little time to spare before the next bus departure, already having your ticket in advance could make the difference between making the bus and waiting another 30+ minutes for the next one.
- Airport Express gives pre-purchased ticket holders preference, if the bus is full.
The good news?
There are 45 – 50 seats on the bus. This, coupled with such frequent departures, makes availability a rare issue.
When you shouldn’t take the Airport Express Bus
A certified airport taxi to Miraflores for four costs roughly $20 USD total.
At $8 USD per adult for the bus, it doesn’t take a mathematician to realize that the bus is most economical for only one or two travelers.
Don’t believe me?
Take a look at this chart taken directly from Airport Express Lima’s website. Keep in mind that the $6 USD starting price is for children, not adults.
I’m all about taking the Airport Express bus.
But, let’s face it.
You’ll save time and money by taking a taxi if there are three or more of you traveling.
Reality Check: What the website says vs. what to expect
The quotes below were taken directly from the Airport Express Lima website.
I’ve got something to say about them…
“Give yourself around 30 minutes to pass through immigrations.”Airport Express Lima Bus
Can I get a hallelujah?
Sure, it’s possible.
However, immigration isn’t the only obstacle you’ll need to calculate into your timing.
Getting through immigration, baggage claim, and customs in 30 minutes at the Lima airport is better than chocolate cake at breakfast. Especially if you arrive on a morning flight. I’m talking about 1:00 am -ish morning here, which is when a ton of international flights arrive.
Plan for closer to 60 minutes to get through everything, and be happy if it’s less.
If you’re arriving in on a domestic flight, 30 minutes to get off the plane and pick up your bags is totally doable.
“Miraflores is extremely safe at all hours”Airport Express Lima Bus
Is any city really safe at all hours?
Don’t get me wrong- I lived in Miraflores for two years, and it’s a very safe district…relatively speaking.
This statement is referring to bus stops in Miraflores being a short walk from most hotels. If you’re traveling to and from the airport, most likely you’re going to be carrying everything you brought with you on your trip.
Miraflores isn’t immune to robbery, especially at night.
Even if your hotel is located just a few blocks away from the bus stop, I implore you to analyze your surroundings and use common sense. Is walking a short distance at an off-hour of the night/morning really worth the risk of having all your stuff taken?
Taxis are plentiful in Lima, so don’t hesitate to take one. Just remember, always use a taxi app or have your hotel call a taxi for you. Taking taxis off the street in Lima is a big no-no.
“We recommend to get off our bus at the Larcomar stop in Miraflores and take a taxi from there.”
Airport Express Lima Bus
This is Airport Express Lima’s suggestion if you’re traveling to Barranco, San Isidro, or Surco.
If you’re on a super tight budget and aren’t traveling with valuables, fine.
However, for most people, the money you’d be saving isn’t worth the hassle of getting on the Airport Express bus, waiting for it to depart, getting off the bus, and then calling a taxi from Miraflores to take you the remaining way.
“Bus only stops for 30 seconds.”
Airport Express Lima Bus
Let’s remember- this is a bus, not a train.
To clarify this misleading sentence from Airport Express: The bus only stops for 30 seconds to look for people who need to get on.
After they spot you, a staff member will get off the bus and help you with your bags for however long that may take.
FAQs About the Lima Airport Express Bus
Is there assigned seating?
No. However, the first row of the bus is reserved for people with disabilities, the elderly, pregnant women, etc.
What happens if the bus is full?
It’s an unlikely scenario. But, if you find yourself encountering a full bus and are set on taking the bus, all you can do is wait for the next one.
Does the bus run on holidays?
The bus runs 365 days of the year. If you’ll be using the bus on a holiday, I recommend checking the Airport Express Lima website to see if there are modified departure hours.
Is the bus punctual?
The bus is punctual when leaving the Lima airport. When traveling from Miraflores to the Lima airport, traffic and delays at the pickup stops can happen.
Is the bus wheelchair accessible?
Are pets allowed?
Only service animals are allowed on board. You must carry the appropriate documentation to show upon your arrival (i.e. what the airport requires).
Can I bring food on board?
According to Airport Express Lima’s website, food is not allowed and the only beverage permitted is water. From my experience, this rule isn’t enforced.
You already know that I got goosebumps taking the Lima Airport Express bus. As a solo female traveler, these kinds of buses are especially appreciated for cost savings and safety.
The staff was helpful and pleasant, the bus came with everything it promised, and it’s a solid saving for people traveling alone or in pairs.
Do you still have questions about how to take the Airport Express Lima bus? Leave a comment below I’ll be happy to help.
P.S.- Check out our post Peru’s Underdog: 10 Things You Miss by Skipping Lima and our wheelchair user’s version for ideas on how to spend your time in the culinary capital of the world.
Calling All Animal Lovers!
If it breaks your heart to see homeless dogs and cats, volunteering or donating to an animal shelter in Lima is an excellent way to do your small part to help.
Fundación Rayito and Patitas con Futuro are two shelters in Lima that are active in their community. They take in abandoned and abused animals, run spay and neuter campaigns, and promote animal care education.
Laura has been wandering the globe for over a decade. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.