The Ultimate Peru Itinerary: From One Week to One Month of Travel
By Author Arakita Rimbayana
Posted on Last updated: 6th October 2023
Home to an abundance of cultural and archaeological sites, many of which are surrounded by breathtaking nature, Peru is guaranteed to exceed your expectations. And then there’s the local cuisine: many agree Peru’s culinary scene is one of the best in the world.
Whether you’ve got a week or two weeks in Peru (or perhaps even more), there’s plenty of time to explore the country’s famed archeological sites, hit the beach, or head into the jungle, all the while treating yourself to the country’s unique offering of traditional coastal and Andean dishes.
Machu Picchu is on everyone’s list when it comes to a vacation in Peru, and it’s to understand why. In fact, all of our four Peru travel itineraries include a visit to what is by far the country’s premier tourist attraction. But there’s plenty more to add to your Peru vacation itinerary.
Often forgotten, northern Peru also offers big adventure, from surfing to archeological sites that are significantly older – and perhaps more impressive – than better-known Machu Picchu.
Luckily, these different Peru itineraries can help you explore the country’s most acclaimed destinations and get you off the beaten trail.
What's in this article:
What should you consider before planning your itinerary?
- Altitude sickness is no joke in Peru , especially if you plan to hike or trek. Our itinerary focuses on helping you adjust to the altitude slowly while exploring the best of Peru. Generally, your body needs two weeks to get used to it completely. However, a couple of days of adjustment is better than nothing. Drinking plenty of water and having enough sleep usually help with altitude sickness. You can also consume coca leaf tea and apply herbal oil made for this type of sickness; both are available in most local markets in Peru. Alternatively, consult your doctor before departing your home country as they can prescribe you medication, such as acetazolamide, to ease symptoms of altitude sickness. It’s worth noting that eating spicy, sour, and greasy seafood combined with alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of altitude sickness. Drinking a cup of coca or muña tea in the morning and after a big meal is one of the known remedies for stomach discomfort.
- Instead of doing both the Colca Canyon hike and the Inca Trail, it’s best to choose only one, no matter how long your itinerary is. There are so many cool things to do in Peru other than just trekking, and it would be a loss to miss them while you’re here. Besides, both trails are strenuous – especially considering the altitude – and you may end up spending the rest of your vacation recovering – rather than enjoying Peru.
- Different regions in Peru usually have different weather conditions. For example, Arequipa is a high-altitude desert where the sun is quite intense, yet Lima and its shores have their own microclimate where winter days are mostly cloudy, but it almost never rains. With that in mind, before you finalize your itinerary, it’s worth reading our article on the best time to go to Peru to learn when’s the best time of the year to travel there.
- Peru is an affordable destination. Dining at a fancy restaurant generally costs less than $50 USD for two, even in the capital city, Lima, while you can expect to spend around $70 USD per night for a decent mid-range hotel, or around $15 USD per night for a bed in a dorm room. Transportation is also very affordable: flights between Lima and Cusco can cost as little as $100 USD one-way, while a bus covering this route can cost as little as $45 USD. As a result, you can cover a lot of distance during even a shorter trip. Read out complete guide to how much it costs to travel in Peru for more information.
- There are only a few direct domestic flights within Peru that don’t travel through Lima . Most flights have at least one stop in the capital city. There are plentiful bus routes throughout the country, although many routes wind through the mountains and it’s wise to always pay for a more expensive bus company, as cheaper operators can be dangerous; we recommend using companies such as Cruz del Sur , Oltursa , TEPSA , Movil and Civa for their higher safety credentials. Bus Bud is a great site for finding bus tickets before you travel, but they are often cheaper bought at the bus station directly. If you have significant issues with motion sickness, do bring medication.
- Public transport in Peru is accessible and affordable. Bus routes pass each city’s popular places, while taxis are cheap, too. A one-kilometer trip usually costs around S/4 ($1 USD) or less. Note that most taxis are unmetered, so it’s best to agree upon the fare before you get into one.
- Packing for your trip to Peru depends a lot on what you plan on doing. To visit Machu Picchu, pack light and comfortable clothing, alongside a waterproof jacket as there’s a high chance of rain. Medication to help you deal with altitude sickness (and motion sickness if you plan on taking long bus rides) is always helpful. Sunblock is very important, particularly in high-altitude destinations such as Cusco where the sun is more powerful. Packing a wide-brim hat is also useful. Check out our complete South America packing list for more details.
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One week in Peru
Overview of this one-week Peru itinerary:
- Days one and two: Cusco and the Sacred Valley
Days three and four: Machu Picchu
Day five: cusco, days six and seven: lima.
One week in Peru is enough to explore Machu Picchu and the former capital of the Inca, the historic city of Cusco before heading back to Lima for a final few days on the coast.
Day one: Cusco
Instead of Lima, make Cusco your first stop in Peru. Landing here only requires a further one-and-a-half-hour flight from the capital – and which is definitely the best way to get from Lima to Cusco. And it’s worth the chance to dive into the cultural highlights right away. Cusco also offers some of the best tour companies for Machu Picchu.
Spend your first day in Cusco taking things nice and easy; at 3,400 meters (around 11,000 feet) above sea level, this city can leave you feeling breathless. Adjust to the altitude and the low oxygen levels by exploring the old town – the focal point of this city – on foot.
Head to the Museo Inka (Inca Museum) to explore over 10,000 Inca artifacts including mummies and gold figurines, as well as the Museo de Arte Precolombino (Museum of Precolombian Art) to admire gold and silver ornaments, some of which date as far back as 1250 BC.
End your walking tour with a visit to the cathedral , where you can find painter Marcos Zapata’s famous rendition of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, just this time featuring a guinea pig as part of the feast.
If you’re still feeling good, take the 15-minute walk uphill to the Sacsayhuaman site , a walled complex that served as both a temple and fortress for the Inca and has fantastic views of the city. An easier alternative is a taxi ride from the city; expect to pay around S/10-25 ($2.5-6.3 USD), although the exact fare depends on which road is accessible on that day.
Where to stay in Cusco: Promising affordable comfort in a charming setting, El Mercado ($210 USD double) is a perfect getaway in the city center. The 32 bedrooms are decorated with modern furnishings and artwork, adding a modern twist to a historic casona .
Where to stay in Cusco on a budget: Few places offer the degree of comfort and affordability as MOAF Boutique Hotel ($80 USD). The rooms are bright thanks to plenty of natural light and have modern furnishings and pleasant neutral decoration. This helps to enhance the rooftop views available in some bedrooms, as well as in various communal areas.
Day two: The Sacred Valley
On your second day, it is time to explore the different attractions of the Sacred Valley , where the Urubamba River brings life to otherwise barren land. Take a colectivo (a public van), bus, or taxi from Cusco to the Sacred Valley and the town of Pisac . The former is the cheapest and easiest option; you’ll find they leave every ten minutes or so from Puputi Street, and cost between S/4-10 ($1-2.5 USD).
Pisac is a peaceful little town where you can hike (or take a taxi) to a magnificent Inca fortress that sits in the hills above. The views of the Sacred Valley from the site are mesmerizing. Located only an hour away from Cusco and also home to a busy daily market (although it’s best visited on a Sunday), Pisac is one of the best day trips from Cusco.
Other great options in the Sacred Valley are Moray , a series of concentric circular stone terraces that were used for testing out growing crops in different conditions, as well as the Salinas de Maras (Maras salt pans), where local people have panned for salt for hundreds of years. You can take local transportation to get to them, or book this tour that’ll take you to each.
From Pisac in the Sacred Valley, you can return to Cusco or continue downriver to Ollantaytambo , another picturesque town home to further archeological sites, as well as horseback riding, rafting and hiking tours. The train to Machu Picchu is available from both.
Where to stay in Ollantaytambo: Right next to the train station, but home to a lush garden and suntrap terrace, El Albergue ($142 USD double) is a tranquil place to while away the evening. They also have a fantastic on-site restaurant that cooks up ingredients from the hotel’s organic vegetable garden.
Where to stay in Ollantaytambo on a budget: Rustic but clean bedrooms are the norm at the affordable Picaflor Tambo Guest House ($42 USD double) run by owners who will ensure you have the most comfortable stay possible.
Head northeast along the train to reach Aguas Calientes , a small town at the base of Machu Picchu and which is filled with bars, restaurants, and markets. The train ride from Cusco to Aguas Calientes takes four to five hours, while the one from Ollantaytambo only takes one and a half hours.
If you choose the latter option, you can spend your morning visiting Ollantaytambo’s archaeological sites before departing and the afternoon in Aguas Calientes relaxing in your hotel, soaking in the thermal baths that give the town its name, or even checking out the local butterfly sanctuary .
The next day, get up bright and early to board the earliest bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu – at 5:30 am. By doing this, you can expect to be one of the first to arrive at the site. What a treat: there’s nothing like enjoying your first view of the ruins accompanied by little else than the sound of birdsong.
For the best weather – and for a clear, unobstructed view of the site’s magnificent stonework – read our guide to the best time to visit Machu Picchu and Peru in general.
Feeling adventurous? Eschew the bus and instead hike from Aguas Calientes up to the entrance of Machu Picchu.
However, depending on your fitness level, the hike can take between one and two hours – so start early if you want to see the site at its quietest.
Be aware when planning your trip to Machu Picchu that you must book tickets well in advance as there is a limit on the number of people who can enter the site per day. Your ticket gives you four hours within the grounds, and it generally takes around two hours to explore Machu Picchu.
Note that it’s now mandatory to visit with a guide, which you can hire at the entrance to the site, although you’ll have more control over the language they speak if you book with a tourism agency in Cusco.
It’s another couple of hours to your visit if you plan to hike up Huayna Picchu, too (just note you’ll need to buy a ticket with permission to visit Huayna Picchu in order to do this). This hike is strenuous, but the views across the entire site are a highlight of any trip to Machu Picchu.
It can be pricey visiting Machu Picchu, so make sure to read about how much it costs to visit the Inca citadel before planning your trip.
Return to Cusco in the evening by train.
Spend one last day exploring historic sites, as well as enjoying the city’s culinary traditions. Explore the imposing buildings of the formerly impressive Inca temple of Q’orikancha, join tourists and locals alike for locally-brewed beer in Cholos, head to the ChocoMuseo for a workshop on chocolate-making and spend an evening sampling heady pisco cocktails and listening to lively local music at the Museo del Pisco .
Wrap up your Cusco itinerary by visiting the Mercado San Pedro (San Pedro market), where you’ll find sweaters, bags, and knick-knacks made from Alpaca wool. While these are also available in other markets around the city, you’ll find them for the best prices in San Pedro.
Head back via plane to the capital city, Lima . Two days in Lima is just the right amount of time in order to get a glimpse of life in this dynamic city. Head to the trendy Barranco neighborhood , home to uber-chic cafes and chic bars in restored mansions, with all of this just a few steps away from the beach.
For an insight into the grittier side of Lima, head by taxi to the Callao neighborhood where Lima’s former shipping district and one of its most dangerous places has been transformed through street art and shops selling local arts and crafts – just don’t stray far aware from local hub Callao Monumental as the area remains dangerous for visitors.
Don’t miss the city’s renowned dining scene. For haute cuisine, head to Barranco and the world-famous Central , or dine on Nikkei (a Peruvian take on sushi) at Maido in Miraflores.
Any visitor to the city can’t miss the quintessential Peruvian dish: ceviche , so head to La Mar or Punta Azul in Miraflores to sample your newest favorite dish – washed down with a crisp glass of white or a pisco sour. After all, Peru is the best country in South America for affordable yet outstanding dining .
Spend your last days here museum-hopping (the Museo Larco is one not to miss), exploring the old town around the Plaza Mayor , or up the ante by testing the waves of the Pacific Ocean on a surfboard.
Where to stay in Lima: The Barranco neighborhood is known as a place of poets, artists and creatives, so there’s nowhere better to stay than in Second Home ($135 USD double), a grand, eight-room guesthouse in the former home of Peruvian sculptor Victor Delfin, who you might even spot pottering around the house if you’re lucky.
Where to stay in Lima on a budget: One of our favorite places to stay when we’re in Lima, the Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast ($40 USD double) is run by a Peruvian-British couple and offers a handful of doubles with private bathrooms in a pleasant residential area in Miraflores. The terrace out the back where breakfast is served is a gorgeous place to while away the day.
Where to stay in Lima on a budget: Located in Miraflores and offering a youthful, friendly guide Selina Lima ($53 USD double) is our budget pick. (read our comprehensive Selina Lima review ) . Even though it’s a hostel, comfortable and stylishly presented private rooms with private bathrooms are available.
Got more time to spend in Cusco? Read our Cusco itineraries article for trips from three to ten days in length.
10 days in Peru
Overview of this 10-day Peru trip planner:
- Days one through three: Cusco and the Sacred Valley
- Days four through seven: The Inca Trail
Day eight: Machu Picchu
Days nine and ten: lima.
10 days in Peru is the perfect length of a trip that allows you to add the Inca Trail to your Machu Picchu trip. Follow the itinerary above but, instead of taking the train straight to Aguas Calientes on day three of the itinerary above, take a hiking tour of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu .
Days four through seven: Inca Trail
The trails built by the Inca throughout the Andes were used to connect what was once a vast empire to its territories across Peru and into neighboring Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile. Known as the Qhapaq Ñan (Royal Road), many of these paths remain today and can be explored on foot – much the same way as they would have been used by the Inca royalty and pilgrims.
Hiking to Machu Picchu on the 40-kilometer (25-mile) Inca Trail generally takes four days and joining a guided tour is required. If you see three-day Machu Picchu tour operators, it is likely only for the fittest travelers, or the tour only includes part of the trail. We recommend reading our extensive guide on what you need to know about hiking the Inca Trail before signing up for any tour.
This hike is strenuous and can be dangerous in some parts. Even for experienced hikers, it’s challenging, so listen to your body, take your time, and pause if you need to. The good news is you don’t need to pack food or a tent as those will be provided by the tour company. Some companies even offer a porter service, so you don’t need to carry anything during the entire hike!
The Inca Trail leads directly to Machu Picchu through what is known as the Sun Gate – named as such because the sun’s rays pass through here on the summer solstice. The view from here is also legendary and a privilege only to those who reach the site from the Inca Trail.
Once you’ve explored this magnificent stone fortress, descend to Aguas Calientes via the path or take one of the public buses from the gate of Machu Picchu. Depending on what time you get to town and your train schedule, you can either spend the night in Aguas Calientes or go directly to Cusco, where you’ll find flights to Lima.
As per the previous itinerary, spend the last two out of your ten days in Peru tasting local dishes, visiting museums, or simply relaxing on the beaches of Lima.
Two weeks in Peru
Overview of this two-week Peru vacation itinerary:
Days one and two: Lima
Day three: pisco and ballestas islands, day four: nazca, days five to eight: arequipa and the colca canyon, days nine and ten: cusco and the sacred valley.
- Days eleven and twelve: Machu Picchu
- Day thirteen: Cusco
- Day fourteen: Lima
With two weeks in Peru, you can explore four main destinations – Lima, Nazca, Arequipa, and Machu Picchu – and famous attractions near to these main draws. Instead of going straight from Lima to Machu Picchu, spend two days exploring Lima as you would on the last days of the previous itineraries, and then take a day trip from Lima to the Ballestas Islands and Nazca.
Take the bus four hours south to Pisco , one of the most popular towns within striking distance of the city because of – well, you can guess from its name – Pisco, the famous Peruvian spirit. In this town, tourists can visit vineyards and sample their products.
However, if you’re short on time, head directly for Paracas , one of the most popular destinations to visit in Peru . This is where the boat trip to Ballestas Islands, aka the Peruvian Galapagos, starts.
While they’re certainly not as impressive as their Ecuadorian namesake, the Ballestas Islands are still full of a rabble of wildlife, that can include everything from Humboldt penguins to sea lions and pelicans. Since the entire archipelago is a national reserve, you’re not allowed to swim or disembark on any of the islands, but your two-hour boat tour will give you front-row seats to the raucous melee of sea life that lives upon them. Book with a local tour company on the day or in advance here .
Stay overnight in Paracas, ready for an early bus the next morning.
Where to stay in Paracas: Located just meters from the beach, the chic Casa Paracas ($108 USD double) will make you wish you had more time to hang here and soak up the sunshine. All rooms have their own private balconies, as well as much-appreciated air conditioning.
Where to stay in Paracas on a budget: Basic but budget-friendly, Atenas Backpacker Hospedaje ($18 USD double) is an extremely cozy home-away-from-home, with plenty of communal spaces and an extremely welcoming atmosphere.
Your next stop is Nazca , a four-hour bus journey from Paracas. This is where you’ll find the massive geoglyphs, the Nazca Lines , whose origins – and purpose – remain one of the greatest mysteries in the world. For the best views of these remarkable lines, which are in the form of hummingbirds, spiders and bold geometric patterns, take a flight over the desert from the airport in Nazca.
There’s not much to do in Nazca besides wandering around the Plaza de Armas, so get an early night ready for tomorrow.
Where to stay in Nazca: It’s no looker, but Nasca Travel One Hostel ($22 USD) has everything you need for a comfortable one-night stay and is extremely clean and comfortable, particularly as it’s a little away from the town center meaning you’re guaranteed a peaceful night’s sleep.
A six-hour bus journey from Nazca brings you to the White City, Arequipa . Situated in the volcano-studded highlands of southern Peru at 2,335 meters above sea level, Arequipa is your first introduction to altitude, so take it easy once you get off the bus.
Arequipa is a striking place: Volcán Misti stands tall above the city, and the buildings around the center are built using dazzlingly white volcanic stone.
Spend the remaining part of the day exploring Arequipa’s old town – the Monasterio de Santa Catalina , a vast and beautiful nunnery, and the seventeenth-century cathedral are two not to miss – before an evening tasting the lip-smacking rocoto relleno (stuffed spicy pepper), a traditional Arequipan dish.
For more highlights of the city, read this article about things to do in Arequipa and our guide to the best places to stay in Arequipa .
On the afternoon of day six, hop on a minivan to Chivay (3.5 hours) and then onto Cabanaconde (1.5 hours) and spend the night there in preparation for the Colca Canyon trek .
The next day, embark on the two-day Colca Canyon trek , which starts from Cabanaconde and heads down into the bottom of the canyon. Unlike the Inca Trail where you sleep in tents, you will be spending nights within rustic lodgings inside Sangalle, the oasis town at the bottom of the canyon, offering you a soft bed and a pleasant night’s sleep. But don’t be fooled: this hike is challenging.
After a day hiking into the canyon the only way back out is up – a climb of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) over a five-kilometer (three-mile) stretch.
Return to Arequipa by bus for an overnight bus to Cusco or for a final night in the city before a bus the next morning.
Where to stay in Arequipa: Set in a charming old house with a gorgeous courtyard for a leisurely cup of coffee or cold beer, La Hostería Boutique Hotel ($72 USD) double) is one of Arequipa’s (and Peru’s) most luxurious hotels . A pool, sun terrace and spa facilities are just some of the highlights here.
Where to stay in Arequipa on a budget: The family-run La Casa de Margott ($30 USD double) has clean and spacious rooms, as well as a pleasant roof terrace for lounging in.
It’s a fair distance from Arequipa to Cusco, so you can expect a ten-hour bus journey to get you from the coastal highlands and up into the Andes.
Unlike flying, which can lead to altitude sickness due to the rapid change in altitude, taking a bus to Cusco is a much gentler form of transport and gives you the opportunity to view some of the country’s incredible mountain landscapes.
Finish your itinerary by following the one-week in Peru itinerary, just shaving off a day in Lima at the very end.
Adapting this itinerary: Want to hike the Inca Trail instead? Spend days fix and six in Arequipa, then head to Cusco for the Inca trail for days seven through ten, with day eleven at Machu Picchu. Spend days twelve and thirteen in Cusco, before heading back to Lima on day fourteen.
One month in Peru
Overview of this one-month Peru backpacking itinerary:
Days three and four: Trujillo and Huanchaco
- Days six and seven: Cajamarca
- Days eight to ten: Chachapoyas
Day eleven: Lima
- Day twelve: Pisco and the Ballestas Islands
- Days thirteen: Nazca
Days fourteen to seventeen: Arequipa and the Colca Canyon
- Days eighteen to nineteen: Puno and Lake Titicaca
- Days twenty to twenty-one: Cusco and Sacred Valley
- Days twenty-two to twenty-five: The Inca Trail
Day twenty-six: Machu Picchu
- Day twenty-seven: Cusco
- Days twenty-eight to thirty: Puerto Maldonado
Do you have one whole month to spend exploring Peru? Lucky you: you’ve got time to add northern Peru to your itinerary. In addition, a slower pace of travel means your body will have the time to adjust to the altitude changes well.
One month in Peru is also plenty of time for seeing the most unmissable destinations in Peru: going to the north but without excluding Machu Picchu or the Inca Trail, as well as stopping in Pisco and the Ballestas Islands and Arequipa, plus a trip into the jungle in Puerto Maldonado.
Touch down in Peru’s lively capital city, Lima . While it might be packed with traffic and a little rough around the edges, this city is a place you’ll soon fall in love with.
Spend your days museum-hopping (the Museo Larco is one not to miss), exploring the old town around the Plaza Mayor , or up the ante by testing the waves of the Pacific Ocean on a surfboard. You can also head to the trendy Barranco neighborhood , home to uber-chic cafes and chic bars in restored mansions, with all of this just a few steps away from the beach.
Don’t miss the city’s renowned dining scene. For haute cuisine, head to Barranco and the world-famous Central , or dine on Nikkei (a Peruvian take on sushi) at Maido in Miraflores. Any visitor to the city can’t miss ceviche, so head to La Mar or Punta Azul in Miraflores to sample your newest favorite dish – washed down with a crisp glass of white or a pisco sour.
From Lima, it’s a grueling nine-hour bus journey to reach Trujillo . A better alternative is to take one of the multiple one-hour, forty-minute flights from Lima to the airport in Trujillo, which is an easy taxi ride into the city.
Trujillo is a city on few travelers’ bucket lists – but the intrepid who make it here are in for a treat. Many are unaware of the civilizations which predate the Inca Empire, but the archeological sites they left behind are often just as remarkable as Machu Picchu – made more so by the relative lack of visitors at these destinations.
Spend half a day learning about Peru’s remarkable past by taking a bus to Chan Chan , an archeological site just five kilometers away from the city of Trujillo. Chan Chan was once the capital of the Chimú Empire and is the largest adobe brick city discovered anywhere on earth, having been home to 60,000 people at its apogee around 850 AD.
At the heart of this city was a fortress where temples once paneled with gold, and courtyards and walls decorated with finely carved fish and other symbols of the sea can still be explored.
Another unmissable site to explore in the region is that of the Huacas de Moche . The two pyramids known as the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna date from 500 AD and are adorned with polychrome friezes, which have been remarkably well preserved and depict the sacrificial rituals with which the Mochica civilization has become associated. Best explored by a tour from Trujillo, they’re an easy half-day trip from the city.
Alternatively, spend a day on a tour of the Complejo Archeólogico El Brujo (The El Brujo Archaegoloical Complex), a series of small pyramids in which the mummified remains of the Señora de Cao, a shamanic leader, were discovered.
Her body – bearing tattoos of fish, snakes and spiders – as well as gold and silver artifacts found within her tomb, are on display in the on-site museum.
For a relaxing afternoon, consider dropping into Huanchaco , a beachside village a 45-minute bus journey north of Trujillo. Oozing buena onda (good vibes), it’s a great place to swim or surf. Read more about this Peruvian beach town in our complete guide to Huanchaco .
Where to stay in Trujillo: Located not far from the Plaza de Armas, Tierra Viva Trujillo ($100 USD double) might be located within a soulless tower block, but the hotel’s design and clean but chic bedrooms make up for this fact.
Where to stay in Huanchaco: Accommodation options abound, including the glorious tranquil yoga hostel, ATMA $7 USD dorm, $21 USD double), with cozy rooms and a very chilled vibe.
Days five and six: Cajamarca
Your next stop is Cajamarca , an historic Andean town sitting 2,750 meters (9,000 feet) above sea level and a six-hour bus journey east of Trujillo. Home to beautiful buildings constructed during the Spanish conquest, the city’s roots go much deeper.
Head to the El Cuarto del Rescato , the only remaining Inca building in the city and where the Inca emperor, Atahualpa, was captured and later executed by the Spanish and follow this with a trip to the Casa Museo Nicolás Puga, a privately owned museum showcasing 2,000-year-old textiles and other incredible pre-Hispanic treasures.
Adapting this itinerary: Want a more relaxing few days? Head north along the coast (10 hours by bus from Trujillo) for a few days of glorious beach time in Máncora, where the sun shines all year long, and the turquoise water temperature is pleasant for swimming and a popular destination to learn surfing or kitesurfing. A favorite among backpackers thanks to its wild nightlife, Máncora can be replaced with the neighboring surf enclave of Lobitos (1.5 hours south) or the tranquil – and pricey – luxury resorts of remote Las Pocitas. Try the truly remote bungalows at Yemaya ($126 USD double), which are right on the beach.
Spend a day outside of the city by taking a bus to the Ventanillas de Otuzco , a pre-Inca necropolis where the Cajamarca people were buried in holes cut into the volcanic rock. On your way back, visit the Baños del Inca, the Inca thermal baths that are still in use today for a relaxing soak.
Bear in mind that the bus ride up the mountains is a rough drive, and you might prefer to fly instead – although it won’t save you a huge amount of time. All flights go via Lima (1.5 hours) before heading to Cajamara (1 hour 15 minutes).
Where to stay in Cajamarca: Just off the Plaza de Armas and with a beautiful, flower-filled courtyard, El Cabildo Hostal ($35 USD double) promises comfortable, if somewhat old-fashioned, accommodation.
Where to stay in Cajamarca on a budget: Extremely comfortable and with a location good for both the Plaza de Armas and the bus station, the family-run Chakra Runa Backpacker ($12 USD double) is guaranteed to offer a warm welcome.
Days eight, nine and ten: Chachapoyas
Deeper into the Andes is the market town of Chachapoyas . Getting here isn’t easy: the most direct route is a ten-hour minibus journey, through damp cloudforest and alongside steep mountainsides. Though surrounded by spectacular views, this route is not for the fainthearted.
With that said, Chachapoyas is worth visiting for one particular reason: Kuélap. This site is known as the Machu Picchu of Northern Peru thanks to its mountain-top location – accessible only via cable car, minibus or a grueling four-hour hike – and the fact it’s the largest ancient stone structure in Peru. It also pre-dates Machu Picchu.
Read more about this magnificent fortress city in our guide to visiting the fortress of Kuélap , which is worthy of a full-day tour from Chachapoyas.
Spend the next few days exploring other key archeological sites, such as the row of ancient sarcophagi located on a wall at Karajía or dropping in at the Museo de Leymabamba , where 219 mummies from the Chachapoya people are on display.
Alternatively, take a bus to Cocachimba and hike to some of the tallest one-drop falls in the world, the dazzling Cataratas de Gocta (Gocta Waterfall).
Where to stay in Chachapoyas: The most luxurious lodgings in Chachapoyas are La Xalca Hotel ($100 USD), another colonial mansion with large, antique-furniture decorated bedrooms, some of which have pretty balconies overlooking the central courtyard and an extensive breakfast buffet. If you’re visiting in winter, ask for a room with carpet, not tiles.
Where to stay in Chachapoyas on a budget: The best budget option in town is Chachapoyas Backpackers Hostal ($22 USD), which has well-sized rooms, all with a private bathroom.
Take a flight with ATSA Airlines (only Monday, Thursday and Saturday; 1.5 hours) from Chachapoyas airport, or a minibus to Jaén (four hours) and a flight from there to Lima (1.5 hours).
Spend the afternoon relaxing or catching up on any museums or restaurants you didn’t get a chance to visit on your first stay here.
Day twelve: Pisco and Ballestas Islands
While they’re certainly not as impressive as their Ecuadorian namesake, the Ballestas Islands are still full of a rabble of wildlife, that can include everything from Humboldt penguins, to sea lions and pelicans. Since the entire archipelago is a national reserve, you’re not allowed to swim or disembark on any of the islands, but your two-hour boat tour will give you front-row seats to the raucous melee of sea life that lives upon them. Book with a local tour company on the day or in advance here .
Stay overnight in Paracas, ready for an early bus the next morning.
Day thirteen: Nazca
Arequipa is a striking place: Volcán Misti stands tall above the city, and the buildings around the center are built using dazzlingly white volcanic stone. Spend the remaining part of the day exploring Arequipa’s old town – the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, a vast and beautiful nunnery, and the seventeenth-century cathedral are two not to miss – before an evening tasting the lip-smacking rocoto relleno (stuffed spicy pepper), a traditional Arequipan dish.
For more highlights of the city, read this article about things to do in Arequipa and find out where you should stay in the White City .
On the afternoon of day six, hop on a minivan to Chivay (3.5 hours) and then onto Cabanaconde (1.5 hours) and spend the night there in preparation for the Colca Canyon trek.
The next day, it’s time to embark upon the two-day Colca Canyon trek , which starts from Cabanaconde and heads down into the bottom of the canyon. Unlike the Inca Trail where you sleep in tents, you will be spending nights within rustic lodgings inside Sangalle, the oasis town at the bottom of the canyon, offering you a soft bed and a pleasant night’s sleep. But don’t be fooled: this hike is challenging.
Return to Arequipa for a final night in the city before a bus to Puno the next morning.
Day eighteen and nineteen: Puno and Lake Titicaca
Hop on a six-hour bus that’ll promise fantastic views, especially when navigating the Salinas y Aguada Blanca Reserva Nacional, as it climbs further up into the Andes Mountains to arrive at what can seem to be the very top of the world. At this high altitude of 3,800 meters (12,507 feet) lies Lago Titicaca, a vast lake covering more than 8,000 square kilometers and spit by the border between Peru and Bolivia. It’s Peru’s most impressive body of water – and one of the most scenic lakes in the whole of South America .
You’ll arrive in Puno , the gateway for all destinations in the Lake Titicaca area. Though small, this city houses accommodations catering to travellers.
Several options for day trips from Puno are available, but the one to Uros Islands is a must. Comprising 40 islands, this man-made archipelago is the focal point of Lake Titicaca. Also known as the Floating Islands, each of the islands is made of totora or reeds woven by hand.
Besides Uros, there are two main destinations on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca: Taquile and Amantani. Both are reachable by sailboat and have been inhabited for thousands of years. Nowadays, they’re best known for their striking textile weaving and you can even spend a night here staying with a local family.
If you can, go further across to the Bolivian side to the Isla del Sol (Sun Island), which is crisscrossed with Inca archeological sites and promises, from every point on the island, spectacular views of Lake Titicaca.
Take your time exploring Lake Titicaca’s secluded corners before you move on to Cusco and Machu Picchu.
Where to stay in Puno: With a flower-filled courtyard and bedrooms tastefully decorated with art, you’ll feel a world away from the bustle of the city at Casa Panqarani ($40 USD double). It even has an excellent on-site restaurant.
Days twenty and twenty-one: Cusco and the Sacred Valley
You should be nice and acclimatized to altitude by now, but it’s still worth taking things easy by exploring the old town – the focal point of this city – on foot. Head to the Museo Inka (Inca Museum) to explore over 10,000 Inca artifacts including mummies and gold figurines, as well as the Museo de Arte Precolombino (Museum of Precolombian Art) to admire gold and silver ornaments, some of which date as far back as 1250 BC.
On your second day, it is time to explore the Sacred Valley , where the Urubamba River brings life to otherwise barren land. Take a colectivo (a public van), bus, or taxi from Cusco to the town of Pisac. The former is the cheapest and easiest option; you’ll find they leave every ten minutes or so from Puputi Street, and cost between S/4-10 ($1-2.5 USD).
Pisac is a peaceful little town where you can hike (or take a taxi) to a magnificent Inca fortress that sits in the hills above. The views of the Sacred Valley from the site are mesmerizing.
Located only an hour away from Cusco and also home to a busy daily market (although it’s best visited on a Sunday), Pisac is one of the best day trips from Cusco.
Other great options in the Sacred Valley are Moray , a series of concentric circular stone terraces that were used for testing out growing crops in different conditions, as well as the Salinas de Maras (Maras salt pans), where local people have panned for salt for hundreds of years. You can take local transportation to get there, or book this tour that’ll take you to each.
Day twenty-two to twenty-five: The Inca Trail
The trails built by the Inca throughout the Andes were used to connect what was once a vast Empire to its territories across Peru and into neighboring Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile. Know as the Qhapaq Ñan (Royal Road), many of these paths remain today and can be explored on foot – much the same way as they would have been used by the Inca royalty and pilgrims.
Hiking to Machu Picchu on this 40-kilometre (25-mile) trail generally takes four days and joining a guided tour is required. If you see three-day Machu Picchu tour operators, it is likely only for the fittest travellers, or the tour only includes part of the trail.
We recommend reading our extensive guide on what you need to know about hiking the Inca Trail before signing up for any tour; alternatively, if you want even more of a challenge, consider hiking the Salkantay trek instead .
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This hike is strenuous and can be dangerous in some parts. Even for experienced hikers, it’s challenging, so listen to your body, take your time, and pause if you need to.
The good news is you don’t need to pack food or a tent as those will be provided by the tour company. Some companies even offer a porter service, so you don’t need to carry anything during the entire hike!
Once you’ve explored this magnificent stone fortress, descend to Aguas Calientes via the path or take one of the public buses from the gate of Machu Picchu. Depending on what time you get to town and your train schedule, you can either spend the night in Aguas Calientes or go directly back to Cusco.
Day twenty-seven to thirty: Puerto Maldonado
From Cusco, it’s a 45-minute flight to Puerto Maldonado , the last stop on your adventurous month in Peru.
Located at the confluence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers, Puerto Maldonado is unlike all the other regions you have explored so far: here we’re deep into the tropical rainforest, a place renowned for its rich, untouched wildlife and extremely comfortable eco-lodges, many of which are accessed solely by boat.
Book a three-night stay in an eco-lodge located in the hard-to-reach and strictly protected Reserva de la Biosfera del Manu (the Manu Biosphere Reserve) or in one of the cheaper lodges located in the Reserva Nacional Tambopata-Candamo (Tambopata-Candamo National Reserve) Wherever you stay, you can expect to spot numerous species of monkeys, caiman, capybara and, if you’re extremely lucky, giant otters.
At the end of your stay, return to Lima by plane (1.5 hours) and onto your flight back home.
Where to stay in and around Puerto Maldonado: Located in the Tambopata National Reserve, the fantastic Tambopata Research Center ($236 USD double) is the ultimate place to stay for piranha fishing, nocturnal hiking, birdwatching, ayahuasca rituals, and more.
FAQs about planning a Peru itinerary
How much does a trip to peru cost.
Excluding your flights in and out of Peru, budget travelers can keep their daily travel here below $30 USD per person. But if you plan on staying at hotels and eating at more expensive restaurants, you should budget around $50 USD per person per day. If you’re staying for two weeks in Peru, you’ll need at least $350 USD spending money for expenses outside of tickets and souvenirs.
What should you take to Peru?
Climates and weather conditions vary considerably across Peru, so your packing list will reflect this. Make sure you have light and comfortable hiking clothing, alongside a waterproof jacket for the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu.
Bring medication to help you deal with altitude sickness (and motion sickness if you plan on taking long bus rides), as well as sunblock and a wide-brim hat.
Comfortable hiking shoes, plus a pair of trainers for inside cities, are invaluable, while plenty of layers should keep you warm as you travel from the hot, humid coast up into the mountains. For more detailed information, check out our complete South America packing list .
How far is Lima from Machu Picchu?
Technically, it’s only around 500 kilometers away. But if you plan on getting to Machu Picchu from Lima by car or bus, the distance covers more than 1,000 kilometers, and it will take more than a day in a bus. The best way to reach Machu Picchu from Lima is by flying to Cusco and taking a train to Aguas Calientes.
How can you plan a trip to Machu Picchu?
Planning a trip to Machu Picchu depends on how you want to see this archeological site. If you’re wanting to hike the Inca Trail, you’ll need to book with a tour operator based in Cusco, who will organize your permits for food, porters, accommodation, meals, transportation to and from Cusco and permits for entry to Machu Picchu.
If you want to visit independently, you will need to purchase your own tickets for Machu Picchu via the government’s website . Note that you will need to decide at the point of purchase if you want to include Huayna Picchu, Machu Picchu mountain and the Museo de Sitio Manuel Chavez Ballon (an informative museum about the site located in Aguas Calientes, not Machu Picchu).
You will also need to book your own transportation to and from the site (either via train or minivan), as well as your overnight accommodation in Aguas Calientes. We recommend arriving the day before you visit Machu Picchu but booking an afternoon ticket; by 2pm, the skies should be clear if they’re cloudy in the morning, and most day trippers and Inca Trail hikers will have left by this point, leaving the site must quieter to explore.
What souvenirs should you bring back from Peru?
Peru offers many kinds of souvenirs. We recommend buying handmade Alpaca wool products, such as sweaters and hats. They are available at most local markets, but the best and cheapest ones are available at San Pedro Market, Cusco.
World Travel Explorers
Sunday 12th of February 2023
Thanks for such a detailed guide and interesting itinerary. We're looking to go to Peru later this year and Cusco in particular sounds amazing.
Wednesday 8th of March 2023
Great - have a brilliant trip! Steph
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The Best Times to Visit Peru, According to Locals
Whether you’re exploring Lima’s culinary scene or trekking to Machu Picchu, these are the best times to go to Peru.
- Best Times to Visit Peru for Smaller Crowds
- Best Times to Visit Peru for Good Weather
Best Times to Visit Peru for Lower Prices
- Best Times to Visit Machu Picchu
- Best Times to Experience Lima’s Food Scene
Worst Times to Visit Peru
Peru is famous for many things, but two stand out – adventure and food. Peru is famously home to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu. And it’s not all nature and history; in the 2023 edition of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Peru holds four spots (including number one), establishing its reputation as a bonafide foodie destination. This country is bursting at the seams with culture, but certain times of the year are better than others to soak it all in.
Peru is located in the Southern Hemisphere, which means the seasons are opposite of the U.S. or Europe. The warmest month of the year is February, and the coldest is August. Keep this in mind when you are packing so you dress appropriately.
MIGUEL MEJIA CASTRO/Getty Images
Peru’s tourism seasons fall into three main categories:
- High Season: May to August
- Shoulder Season: March and April, September and October
- Low Season: November to March
Here are the best times to visit Peru, according to local experts.
Meet the Expert
I spoke with Saul Alvarez Montalvo, the owner and manager at SAM Travel Peru , and Alex, a professional tour guide at Lima Experience , to put together a complete guide on the best times to visit Peru, depending on your travel goals.
Related: T+L ’s Travel Guide to Lima
Maria Ligaya/Travel + Leisure
Best Times to Visit Peru for Smaller Crowds
More than five million tourists traveled to Peru in 2019. Although the 2022 numbers were lower than pre-pandemic levels at just over two million travelers, it’s safe to say that crowds can get very heavy during the peak tourism season in Peru. For travelers looking for smaller crowds, Montalvo recommends visiting during the shoulder seasons – late April and May or September and October. “These are before and after the rainy season, [so travelers have] more chances of excellent weather conditions and fewer crowds,” says Montalvo.
Best Times to Visit Peru for Good Weather
For tourist destinations around the world, peak travel season typically falls when the weather is the best, and Peru is no exception. If you’re looking for the best weather, head to Peru anytime from May to September. Just keep in mind that crowds will be heavier during these months. The shoulder seasons are a good option if you’re looking for a bit more warmth while still avoiding the rain.
There is an exception to this rule. Peru is a large country, so the climates can vary significantly between cities. “Depending on the city you visit, you will have a much nicer or different experience,” explains Alex. “For instance, our summer season on the coast by the ocean is from early December to late February. That is the perfect weather in this area.” By June and July, this area starts getting cold and foggy. “In the highlands, it’s different,” says Alex. “From the middle of December through March is the rainy season.” So, travelers need to decide which city they want to visit and what kind of experience they want to have before determining the best time of year to visit.
Travelers will find the lowest prices during the rainy season. January and February tend to get the most rainfall — around 6 inches each month, with more than half the days seeing some precipitation. If you don’t mind getting a little wet, you should be able to find some great deals. “Companies tend to offer good deals for groups during these months because of the low demand in the tourism industry,” says Montalvo.
If you visit during the rainy season, try to schedule your activities in the morning. Afternoon rain showers are common, so you’d be more likely to stay dry if you get an early start.
Chris Marinaccio/Travel + Leisure
Best Times to Visit Machu Picchu
Montalvo recommends visiting Machu Picchu during the high season. “These months belong to the dry season, providing good weather and gorgeous views of Machu Picchu,” says Montalvo. Getting to Machu Picchu can be tricky for international travelers, so it’s important to plan far enough in advance to avoid any snags during your trip.
You cannot visit Machu Picchu without a tour guide, so they should be able to help you prepare for any weather conditions before your arrival. There are also rules for the number of daily visitors to Machu Picchu; typically around 2,500 to 3,500 people are permitted each day throughout multiple time slots from morning until evening. These rules promote the conservation of the area, so you shouldn’t expect it to be packed, even during the peak season. You’ll just need to plan far enough in advance so your dates don’t get booked up.
Best Times to Experience Lima’s Food Scene
Many consider Lima to be the culinary capital of South America. Central , ranked the best restaurant in 2023 by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, is located here. Getting a reservation at Central takes some forethought, so planning a few months before you want to go is best. Reservation periods open about three to four months prior; the April, May, and June 2024 reservation periods will likely open up in mid-January 2024 . Of course, Central isn’t the only standout restaurant the city has to offer. “Lima has all different kinds of restaurants at all different kinds of prices,” says Alex.
Several holidays throughout the year celebrate Peruvian cuisine, from Pisco Sour Day in February to the Day of the Peruvian Cuisine and Gastronomy in September. During these holidays, there are festivals, tastings, and other events to appreciate and learn about the country’s food culture. And plant-based travelers aren’t excluded from the fun. “Restaurants are more open to the vegan and vegetarian side of society,” says Alex. “It’s little by little – most of the people can’t believe you can eat without a piece of meat. But now, we are being more open-minded.” For travelers who eat fish, he recommends trying ceviche, which is part of Peru’s culinary heritage.
The worst time to visit Peru for most travelers is during the rainy season. So many of the experiences that bring travelers to Peru are outdoors; these can become much more complicated in the rain. Remember that the rainy season brings more trouble than just getting wet. Travelers will need to plan around landslides and flooding, which could potentially wreak havoc on an itinerary. However, as noted earlier, the tradeoff could be worth it for flexible travelers looking for fantastic deals and smaller crowds.
Travelers should also be aware of riots and protests, especially in the capital city of Lima. The recent riots following the removal of President Pedro Castillo in December of 2022 caused Peru to declare a months-long state of emergency. Travelers in Peru at the time saw airport closures and the closure of Machu Picchu , so it’s important to stay vigilant and aware of what’s happening in the country before you visit (of course, this advice can be applied to almost any country you visit). Montalvo says, “Travelers should monitor media outlets [to stay] updated about the advice of local authorities so they can avoid visiting Peru during riots.”
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Peru itinerary and travel guide: routes for 1 week – 4 weeks.
Ah, Peru… homeland of the Incas, nucleus of the Spanish Empire, and a landscape of incredible diversity. It has a special place in our hearts, as the country where we began our travel career break in South America. But with such an abundance of attractions, it can be hard to decide what to prioritise! This Peru itinerary maps out 4 weeks of travel based on our own experiences, plus alternative options for 1, 2 and 3 weeks. We cover everything you need to know about travel in Peru including transport, accommodation, safety, what to pack and when to visit.
This article contains links to products and services we love, from which we may make commission at no extra cost to you.
In this article:
Peru itinerary: background information
Who is this itinerary for.
Do you like to pack a range of activities into your travels and experience the local culture? If so, then this Peru itinerary is for you! Our full 4-week itinerary includes a blend of city exploration, sightseeing, trekking, food culture and insights into Peruvian history.
Of course, 4 weeks isn’t a fixed amount of time, and you can pick and choose what works for your own trip. We’ve thrown in some extra suggested itineraries for 1 week, 2 weeks and 3 weeks for different travel styles too. So whether you’re here for the history, culture or adventure, you will find a Peru itinerary here that works for you!
If you’re a hiking enthusiast, you may also want to read our guide to trekking in Peru , which includes a compilation of the country’s 35 best trails.
What is the budget for this Peru itinerary?
The accommodation, transport and food we highlight in this itinerary are based on a medium backpacker’s budget. As a general guide, as a couple we spent around $5,000 US dollars during a month in Peru, which included all costs and activities. You can read a complete and detailed breakdown of the costs for our travel in Peru here .
We actually spent quite a bit more in Peru than in other countries on our South America travels, and that was because of activities. Experiences like the Inca Trail and the Amazon jungle are utterly incredible and not to be missed, but they don’t come cheap. The Inca Trail alone accounted for nearly half of our total spending in Peru.
BudgetYourTrip is an excellent free resource for planning your travel spending. It provides travel budget estimates from budget to luxury for anywhere in the world. We’ve used it around the globe throughout our travel career break and found it to be extremely accurate. For Peru it provides detailed budget guides for each city.
How many days in Peru do I need?
There is no right or wrong answer to this. It depends entirely on what you want to do and your travel style. As a rough guide:
- 1 week: a flying visit to take in a quick bucket list of activities
- 2 weeks: a decent amount of time to explore 3–4 destinations within Peru without rushing too much
- 3–4 weeks: enough time to explore a wide range of Peru’s attractions at a steady pace, with flexibility for rest days and changes of plans
Peru itinerary: 4 weeks
Our itinerary begins in Lima and ends at Lake Titicaca, so it’s perfect for backpackers beginning in Peru and continuing into Bolivia on the ‘gringo trail’. Alternatively, if you are not planning on going anywhere else afterwards, you can fly back to Lima from Inca Manco Cápac International Airport in Juliaca near Puno.
Here’s our 4-week Peru itinerary at-a-glance (read on below for the finer details, including recommendations for accommodation, food and more):
- Days 1–3 | Lima : explore the districts of Miraflores, Barranco and Centro Historico, see the ruins of Huaca Pucllana, and get familiar with traditional Peruvian cuisine
- Days 4 | travel and rest day : flight from Lima to Iquitos
- Days 5–8 | Iquitos and the Amazon : discover Peru’s largest Amazonian city and take a tour into the jungle
- Day 9 | travel and rest day : back to Lima for overnight stop
- Days 10–11 | Huacachina : relax in this desert oasis village, with options for adventure activities (dune buggies, sandboarding)
- Days 12–13 | Nazca : fly over the legendary mysterious Nazca Lines
- Days 14–21 | Cusco and the Inca Trail : discover the capital of the old Inca Empire and take on the bucket-list hike to Machu Picchu
- Day 22 | travel and rest day : journey from Cusco to Arequipa
- Days 23–26 | Arequipa and the Colca Canyon : explore Peru’s White City and trek in the world’s second-deepest canyon
- Days 27–28 | Puno and Lake Titicaca : relax in the lakeside city and visit the floating islands of Uros
Stop 1: Lima – the colourful capital
Day 1: arrive in lima.
Spend a day getting used to the hustle and bustle of the city and check in to your accommodation.
Where to stay in Lima
Miraflores and Barranco are the most popular districts for backpackers to stay in Lima. Miraflores is packed with green parks, nice buildings, shops and bars, while Barranco is more of a laid-back, bohemian neighbourhood with colourful architecture. Check out our article on the best hostels in Lima for budget accommodation, or hop over to booking.com for more options.
We usually stay in Miraflores, and this itinerary works best from there, although both are great.
Days 2–3: Miraflores, Barranco and Centro Historico
Try the boardwalk from Miraflores to Barranco begin your Lima experience. This lovely coastal walk connects the two main tourist areas, and begins with the Parque del Amor.
At lunch, try a menú del día restaurant on the streets of Barranco. Don’t miss the best sights of this colourful neighbourhood, including Puente de los Suspiros, Plaza Chabuca Granda gardens and Iglesia La Ermita.
Back in Miraflores, check out the markets. Mercado Surquillo is a huge food market popular with locals, while Miraflores Indian Market is where you can find arts, crafts and souvenirs. Hang out on Parque Kennedy and watch street performers. If you’re a food lover, it’s also well worth squeezing the popular Miraflores Trending Flavours walking tour into your itinerary.
At night, try a tour of Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores, a restored 1,600-year-old adobe pyramid. You can visit during the daytime too, but it’s extra special after dark.
For dinner: our two favourite restaurants in Miraflores are Punto Azul and El Rincón de Bigote. These are both reasonably priced and top places to try the national dish ceviche, which consists of raw fish marinated in citrus and spices.
A short bus ride will take you from Miraflores/Barranco to the city’s historic centre. Here you can see fabulous Spanish colonial buildings such as Iglesia San Sebastián and Iglesia de Santa Rosa. The Plaza de Armas is one of the icons of the city and is a good pivot point for a walking tour. You can free Lima walking tour and be shown the highlights with narration from a local expert.
Walk out to the riverfront to see the colourful hill of Cerro San Cristóbal, before heading south of the main square to Plaza Grau and Parque de los Museos. This is where you can find some of Lima’s greatest museums, including MALI , the museum of art. A little further out you can see a stunning illuminated water show every evening at El Circuito Mágico del Agua.
Up for some adventure in Lima? Then you could consider checking out the surfing scene in Lima during your stay. Read our complete Lima surf guide to find out the best spots, seasons and how to book an experience.
Stop 2: Iquitos – the Peruvian Amazon
Days 4: fly to iquitos in the peruvian amazon.
The flight from Lima to Iquitos takes around two hours. You are transported back in time to the tuk-tuk-dominated city of Iquitos, which can only be accessed by boat or air. Once a major centre for the rubber trade, it is the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon.
Where to stay in Iquitos
In Iquitos it’s best to stay as close as possible to the city centre, ideally not more than 20 minutes’ walk from Plaza de Armas. You can find good accommodation from budget hostels to luxury hotels. But as you’re in the middle of the jungle, be prepared for slow wifi and unreliable hot water supplies! For budget options see our guide to the best hostels in Iquitos , or alternatively check out booking.com .
Days 5–8: Amazon jungle tour / explore the city
No visit to Iquitos is complete without taking a tour into the Amazon rainforest. We took a 2 day / 1 night Amazon tour , which fits neatly into this itinerary, but if you have more time and want to stick around longer there are extended tours available.
For multi-night jungle tours, check first if your accommodation offers them. We booked ours this way and it worked out great. Be sure to check reviews of the tour company though. If you can’t book through your accommodation, there are tons of agencies in the city centre you can try. Booking in advance isn’t necessary, there are always spaces available.
Take a couple of days either side of your jungle tour to explore the delights of Iquitos. Don’t miss Belén Market, a huge and sprawling local market that floats on the river when high. Morning is the safest time to visit and the the best time to see the market at its most chaotic.
For a slice of Iquitos and Amazonian history, drop into the Ayapua Boat Museum and the Museum of Indigenous Amazon Cultures. These are both located along the main riverfront boulevard, Malecón Tarapaca. While you’re here, enjoy the views with a coffee at Dawn at the Amazon, and come back in the evening for a drink and a dance in the city’s liveliest bars, Arandú Bar and Musmuqui.
Have lunch in the upstairs restaurant at Casa de Fierro, the ‘Iron House of Iquitos’. Legend has it this building was designed by none other than Gustavo Eiffel. Whether or not that’s true, it’s a cool building and has nice views over the main square, Plaza de Armas. This is also a great spot to wander around on foot and enjoy the city streetscapes.
Take half a day to pay a visit to the Manatee Rescue Center out of town. Manatees are large and docile water-dwelling mammals and sadly endangered, and this place looks after them. You can learn about them, meet them and feed them.
For dinner: treat yourself to a meal at the floating restaurant of Al Frio y Al Fuego. You need to take a short ferry ride to reach it, which is all part of the experience! Try the juane, which is a traditional Amazonian dish of chicken, rice and olives boiled in a bijao leaf.
Day 9: fly to Lima with possible overnight stop
Depending on the time of your flight, or how you like to travel, it is possible to fly from Iquitos to Lima and head straight on to Huacachina by bus in a day. We preferred to take it slow, enjoy another night in Lima and then head on the next morning.
Stop 3: Huacachina – the desert oasis
Days 10–11: get active on the sand dunes in huacachina, or just relax.
Catch an early morning bus from Lima to Ica (about four hours) and then take a taxi to the desert oasis of Huacachina. If you arrive in time, take a walk to the top of the sand dunes to see one of the most spectacular sunsets you’ll ever witness. Schlepping up the sand is a lot more effort than it looks, but totally worth it!
For an injection of adrenaline, you can take a late afternoon white-knuckle dune buggy ride. These usually run from around 4pm to 6pm and culminate in a desert sunset view. In the daytime, try your hand at sandboarding – this is one of the best places in the world to do it. Or, of course, you could just relax by the pool or take a leisurely boat ride on the village lagoon.
Where to stay in Huacachina
We highly recommend staying at Desert Nights Ecocamp in Huacachina. This is camping at its poshest. Tents are kitted out with double beds and power sockets, and the on-site pool has a swim-up bar serving craft beer and cocktails. For more options, see the Ica section on booking.com .
Stop 4: Nazca – home of the Nazca Lines
Days 12–13: fly over the legendary nazca lines and explore the city.
Nazca is just a couple of hours’ bus ride on from Huacachina (via Ica). The city is most famous for the ancient geoglyphs carved into the nearby desert. The figures of animals, birds, humans and geometrical shapes have mystified scientists and archaeologists for decades since their discovery. From Nazca, it’s possible to take a flight over the famous lines and see them up-close. Check out our guide to flying over the Nazca Lines for everything you need to know.
While Nazca isn’t the most exciting of cities, there’s still plenty to see for a few hours before you take a night bus on to Cusco. Archaeology enthusiasts in particular will enjoy Museo Arqueológico Antonini (the archaeological museum). There are also various day tours possible in the region, such as the Cahuachi Pyramids, Cantalloc Aqueducts and Chauchilla Cemetery.
Where to stay in Nazca
We stayed at Nanasqa Hostel for our two nights in Nazca. A budget option, this was one of the cheapest hostels we visited in Peru, but it covered everything we needed for our stay. It’s a 15-minute walk from the Plaza de Armas and has good facilities, as well as offering a range of tours around the area. Breakfast is available for an extra cost. For more places to stay, see the Nazca section of booking.com .
Stop 5: Cusco, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
Where to stay in cusco.
We stayed in the beautiful San Blas district of Cusco before our Inca Trail tour. Just a short walk up the hill from Plaza de Armas, it’s a historic district characterised by narrow, cobbled alleys, lively markets and colonial buildings. Its elevated position also gives a spectacular view over the city, especially at night.
We’ve compiled the best hostels in Cusco to help you choose from the best budget accommodation options in the city. For a wider range of accommodation, see the Cusco section of booking.com .
Days 14 and 15: arrive and acclimatise in Cusco
Cusco is 3,399m above sea level so it’s a best to arrive at least a couple of days before you take on any hiking. A day of general wandering around and relaxing is highly recommended. Don’t do anything too strenuous in the first 24 hours, and drink plenty of water.
There is a lot to do and see around the city, including various Inca ruin sites and museums. It’s a super photogenic city; head to the cobbled streets of the San Blas neighbourhood for some of the best views. The Plaza de Armas is the main square, where you can find iconic buildings like Cusco Cathedral and Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, plus it’s a short walk to Museo Inka, the Coricancha ruins and the famous twelve-angled stone.
Walk up the hill to the north-west of Cusco’s historic centre and you will reach Cristo Blanco, the 8-metre-tall statue of Christ that looks over the city. There’s a superb view from up here, and nearby you can visit the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, one of the most important fortresses of the Inca Empire.
Tip: for a slice of Cusco city life and a cheap lunch, head to San Pedro Market at midday. You can buy classic Peruvian dishes from various street-food style stalls at very low prices.
Day 16: visit the Sacred Valley
An hour’s drive from Cusco is the Sacred Valley, the heart of the Inca Empire. With Inca ruins to explore, stunning landscapes to see and welcoming local villages to visit, it’s an excellent getaway from the city.
Our visit to the Sacred Valley was included in our Inca Trail package (see below), but it’s also possible to book day tours from Cusco.
Days 17–20: hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu
Now it’s time for the big bucket-lister. There are few experiences in life you will treasure more than the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. One of the seven modern wonders of the world, it needs to be seen to be fully appreciated, and there’s no way more rewarding than the famous four-day trek. We did it with G Adventures ; check out our review of the tour and why we think it’s the best way to do it.
Booking the Inca Trail in advance is essential. It’s also a challenging hike and requires preparation. Read our guide to Inca Trail preparation for all you need to know, as well as our complete packing list for everything you need to take.
One final thing on the Inca trail: most tour companies require you to have travel insurance (they literally won’t allow you on the trail without it). See our section on travel insurance below for our recommendations.
Day 21: rest day in Cusco
After completing the Inca Trail you will need to rest your muscles. It’s also a good opportunity to try some of the local restaurants and bars. Drop into Sumaqcha for some great Peruvian food in a cosy family restaurant, and have a relaxing beer on the balcony of Norton Rat’s Tavern overlooking Plaza de Armas.
Day 22: explore Cusco, overnight bus to Arequipa
Take a final opportunity to enjoy Cusco and tick any final activities off your list before moving on to the next destination. If you have the stomach for an early start (we’re talking 2–3am), one excellent option is to take a day trip to Rainbow Mountain , Peru’s famous multi-coloured peak. Once you’re done, it’s time to hop onto a night bus to Arequipa.
Stop 6: Arequipa and the Colca Canyon
Day 23: arrive in arequipa and explore.
If you arrive early in Arequipa the chances are you won’t be able to check into your accommodation until the afternoon. Grab a breakfast in one of the terrace bars on the Plaza de Armas, or get to know the city with a tour of the landmarks and countryside .
Arequipa is known as the ‘White City’ as many of its buildings are constructed from a pale, volcanic stone. If you want to explore self-guided, check out the city-within-a-city at the Monastery of Santa Catalina, and the quaint old neighbourhood of San Lázaro. Also head across the river to the Yanahuara district for one of the best views of the towering Misti Volcano.
Tip: for a cheap lunch, find the upstairs section in the bustling local market of San Camilo. There are various food stalls here offering great deals at lunch. Try pork adobo, a classic regional dish.
Where to stay in Arequipa
Arequipa is Peru’s second-largest city and a popular stop-off for backpackers, and so it is well equipped with a range of accommodation options. We compile some of the budget options in our guide to the best hostels in Arequipa . For alternative options all the way up to swanky hotels, check out the Arequipa section on booking.com . If you would prefer a completely private space.
Days 24–25: Colca Canyon trek
The Colca Canyon is the world’s second-deepest canyon, and is twice the depth of its more famous counterpart, the Grand Canyon in the US. We took a two-day trekking tour, which included a stop to see majestic Andean condors in flight, and a dip in some thermal springs when the hike was complete.
Our trek wasn’t without its downsides. Read about our experience and our essential tips for booking and preparation here . While we saw some of the best scenery of our travels, it was a very tough trek. It’s important to be aware of the challenges before deciding on the best way to see the Colca Canyon. A reliable option is to book with GetYourGuide , who work with the most reputable local tour companies, and offer free cancellation with all tours.
If you don’t want to trek, it’s possible to take a day tour or overnight tour to see the amazing views of the canyon and witness the flight of the condor.
Day 26: rest day in Arequipa
Just as with the Inca Trail, you will want to take at least a day to rest after completing a Colca Canyon trek. If there’s anything else you want to do while you’re in the city, check out our article on things to do in Arequipa for ideas.
For dinner: try out Mirador Misti, a concealed rooftop restaurant behind the Basilica Cathedral. This is also a great spot to simply relax with a drink in the afternoon and enjoy the city views.
Stop 7: Puno and Lake Titicaca
Days 27–28: explore puno and visit islas uros.
The bus journey from Arequipa to Puno is a weighty one of six and a half hours, which will account for most of the day. If you take an early bus, you’ll arrive in Puno in good time to enjoy the sunset on Lake Titicaca.
With a full day there is plenty of time to explore the side streets of this little lakeside town. Finish off with a walk around Lake Titicaca and some fresh seafood at one of the lakefront stalls.
Alternatively, you can take a trip to Islas Uros . These floating islands are a real highlight of Lake Titicaca, constructed entirely of reeds from the lake. On a tour you can meet the Uros people and learn how they use the reeds to build their homes and boats.
Where to stay in Puno
The hostel we stayed in Puno has sadly closed down, but there is a lot of great value accommodation for backpackers. For places to stay, take a look at the Puno section on booking.com .
Travel on to Copacabana or back to Lima
Finish your 4 weeks in Peru by either heading back to Lima for a return flight, or by taking a bus across the border into Bolivia.
Peru itinerary: 1 week
One week in Peru is a limited amount of time, so your itinerary should be very focused. We’ve put together three alternatives to suit different kinds of travellers. If you want any specific tour recommendations, feel free to drop us an email .
Route 1: Lima + Cusco + Puno
This Peru travel itinerary focuses on Peru’s classic landmarks of Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. It starts in Lima and ends in Puno.
- Days 1–2 | explore Lima : spend two days exploring the highlights of Peru’s bustling capital.
- Days 3–5 | Cusco and Machu Picchu : spend the first day in Cusco acclimatising to the altitude and do some sightseeing at a slow pace. On the second day, take a day trip to Machu Picchu. You can book your entry ticket in advance . The next day, either explore more of the city or take another day trip from Cusco, such as Rainbow Mountain.
- Days 6–7 | Puno and Lake Titicaca : if your budget allows and it fits with your travel dates, take the PeruRail Titicaca train from Cusco to Puno. This is one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys and only departs on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Otherwise, take a morning flight to Juliaca and a taxi on to Puno. Relax in the evening with some fresh fish from the lake. On your final day, take a tour to the islands of Uros.
Route 2: Lima + Cusco + Arequipa
This Peru travel itinerary focuses on the wonder of Machu Picchu and the spectacular Colca Canyon. It starts in Lima and ends in Arequipa.
- Day 1 | explore Lima : spend two days exploring the highlights of Peru’s capital.
- Days 2–4 | Cusco and Machu Picchu : spend the first day in Cusco acclimatising to the altitude and do some sightseeing at a slow pace. On the second day, take a day trip to Machu Picchu. The next day, either explore more of the city or take another day trip from Cusco, such as Rainbow Mountain.
- Days 5–7 | Arequipa and the Colca Canyon : take a morning flight to Arequipa (or an overnight bus at the end of day 4 if you’re on a budget) and spend a day exploring Arequipa’s landmarks around Plaza de Armas. On the final two days, take an overnight trek into the Colca Canyon.
Route 3: jungle + ocean + desert
This Peru travel itinerary focuses on some of the extremes Peru’s wondrous natural scenery. It starts in Lima and ends in Nazca. The bus from Nazca back to Lima takes around six hours.
- Day 1 | half day in Lima + flight to Iquitos : spend the morning/midday in Lima before taking an afternoon/evening flight to Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon. Either explore the Centro Historico at your own pace, or take a free walking tour (which run every day).
- Days 2–3 | Iquitos Amazon tour : take a two-day, one-night tour in the Amazon jungle. Check with your Iquitos accommodation in advance whether they can arrange this for you or recommend a tour company.
- Day 4 | return to Lima + explore : take a morning flight back to Lima and enjoy the rest of the day in the city at your own pace.
- Days 5–6 | Huacachina and Paracas : relax in the desert oasis village of Huacachina and visit the Paracas National Reserve, a beautiful protected coastal area of marine ecosystems and archaeological sites. Take an evening bus on to Nazca on the second day (2 hours from Ica/Huacachina, 4 hours from Paracas).
- Day 7 | Nazca Lines flight : fly over the legendary mysterious Nazca Lines in the desert.
Peru itinerary: 2 weeks
Two weeks in Peru gives you a little more flexibility to see more of the country’s attractions or take on a big activity like the Inca Trail. Once again, please feel free to contact us for any specific tour recommendations!
These are our suggested travel routes:
Route 1: Lima + Inca Trail
This itinerary option puts the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu at centre stage. It starts and ends in Lima.
- Days 1–2 | explore Lima : get to know Lima’s capital city.
- Days 3–4 | arrive and acclimatise in Cusco : take a morning flight to Cusco or an overnight bus if you’re on a budget. Take it easy for a couple of days as you get used to the altitude.
- Days 5–11 | the Inca Trail : this world-famous hike takes four days, but we recommend the 7-day Inca Trail package with G Adventures – and here’s why .
- Day 12 | rest day in Cusco : give your weary legs a bit of respite and hang out around the Plaza de Armas for a drink and some delicious Peruvian food.
- Days 13–14 | Lima + day trips : return to the capital city to finish your exploration. If you’re still feeling energetic, consider taking a day trip to Huacachina or Paracas.
Route 2: Peru highlights
This itinerary hops quickly through some of Peru’s greatest attractions, including Machu Picchu, the Amazon jungle, the Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca. It starts in Lima and ends in Puno.
- Days 1–2 | explore Lima : spend two days exploring the highlights of Peru’s bustling capital.
- Days 3–5 | Cusco and Machu Picchu : spend the first day in Cusco acclimatising to the altitude and do some sightseeing at a slow pace. On the second day, take a day trip to Machu Picchu. The next day, either explore more of the city or take another day trip from Cusco, such as Rainbow Mountain.
- Days 6–9 | Puerto Maldonado Amazon tour : take a flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon jungle (flights are one hour and cheap if booked in advance). Book onto a three-day jungle tour – Puerto Maldonado Tours is one of the best operators.
- Days 10–12 | Arequipa and the Colca Canyon : take a morning flight to Arequipa (or an overnight bus at the end of day 9 if you’re on a budget) and spend a day exploring Peru’s White City. On the final two days, take an overnight trek into the Colca Canyon (you can book via a tour company in the city or through your accommodation).
- Days 13–14 | Puno and Lake Titicaca : the journey from Arequipa to Puno takes about five hours by road. When you arrive, it’s time to relax in this beautiful high-altitude lakeside town and take a day trip to the islands of Uros.
Route 3: Lima + jungle + Paracas + desert + Cusco
This itinerary combines trips to Peru’s two most popular cities, Lima and Cusco, with excursions into the Amazon jungle, Paracas National Reserve, Nazca desert and Machu Picchu. It starts in Lima and ends in Cusco.
- Days 3–6 | Iquitos and the Amazon : take a two-day, one-night tour in the Amazon jungle. Check with your Iquitos accommodation in advance whether they can arrange this for you or recommend a tour company. Either side of your tour, explore Iquitos at your own pace
- Day 7–8 | Paracas National Reserve : take an early morning bus from Lima to the bayside town of El Chaco, Paracas, and enjoy two days exploring the beautiful national reserve.
- Day 9 | Huacachina : make a stop-off in the desert oasis village of Huacachina for 24 hours. Get the adrenaline pumping with a dune buggy tour or sandboarding, or just relax by the pool at Desert Nights Ecocamp.
- Day 10 | Nazca Lines : take a flight over the enigmatic Nazca Lines.
- Day 11 | rest day and overnight bus to Cusco : the bus journey from Nazca to Cusco is a long one of 14–15 hours and needs to be done overnight. Get plenty of rest in Nazca before you set off.
- Days 12–14 | Cusco and Machu Picchu : spend the first day in Cusco acclimatising to the altitude and do some sightseeing at a slow pace. On the second day, take a day trip to Machu Picchu. The next day, either explore more of the city or take another day trip from Cusco, such as Rainbow Mountain.
Peru itinerary: 3 weeks
Three weeks in Peru gives you a lot more wriggle room to travel slowly and spend more time absorbing the culture in each place you visit.
Route 1: the classic
This itinerary follows the classic ‘gringo trail’ through Peru’s most popular tourist hotspots, with a trip up to the Amazon along the way. If you want to hike the Inca Trail, you could cut out the Colca Canyon to make the extra time needed (if you’re new to trekking it’s not a good idea to attempt both treks in a short space of time).
- Days 1–3 | explore Lima : take time to explore the capital city at a relaxed pace over three days.
- Days 4–8 | Iquitos and the Amazon : take a two-night or three-night tour in the Amazon jungle. Check with your Iquitos accommodation in advance whether they can arrange this for you or recommend a tour company. Either side of your tour, explore Iquitos at your own pace.
- Days 9–10 | Huacachina : spend a couple of days in the desert oasis village relaxing, with the option of trying out some adrenaline activities such as dune buggies and sandboarding. Take a bus on to Nazca on the final afternoon/evening.
- Day 11 | Nazca Lines and night bus to Cusco : rise early and take a morning flight over the Nazca Lines. Then get rested and board a night bus for the journey up to Cusco.
- Days 12–15 | Cusco and Machu Picchu : acclimatise to the altitude and do some sightseeing at a slow pace. On the second day, take a day trip to Machu Picchu. The next day, either explore more of the city or take another day trip from Cusco, such as Rainbow Mountain.
- Days 16–19 | Arequipa and the Colca Canyon : take a morning flight to Arequipa (or an overnight bus at the end of day 15 if you’re on a budget) and take your time exploring the centre of Arequipa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While you’re in town, take an two-day trek into the Colca Canyon (you can book via a tour company in the city or through your accommodation).
- Days 20–21 | Puno and Lake Titicaca : the final leg of this journey is from Arequipa to Puno, and takes about five hours by road. When you arrive, kick back and relax by Lake Titicaca, enjoy the local food and take a day trip to the islands of Uros.
Route 2: the trekker
This itinerary is especially geared towards hiking enthusiasts. It begins with a warm-up day hike from Lima, before tackling two of the world’s greatest multi-day trails: the Santa Cruz Trek and the Inca Trail, finishing up with a Colca Canyon trek. It starts in Lima and ends in Arequipa.
- Day 1 | explore Lima : begin your trip with some general sightseeing around Lima’s historic centre.
- Day 2 | day hike near Lima : take a trip out of the city for a day’s hiking. Three good options for day hikes near Lima are Lomas de Lúcumo, Lomas de Lachay and Palakala Falls.
- Days 3–4 | transport to Huaraz and acclimatise : travel from Lima to the city of Huaraz, a base for trekking in one of Peru’s most stunning mountainous regions, the Cordillera Blanca. Flights do not always operate, so you may need to get a bus, which takes 6–8 hours. Once you arrive, spend a day acclimatising, as the city is higher than 3,000 metres above sea level.
- Days 5–8 | Santa Cruz Trek : undertake one of the world’s classic multi-day hiking trails, winding through Huascarán National Park and the Cordillera Blanca. You can do this trek independently or with a guide, but only go solo if you’re experienced as it’s a tough route that reaches 4,760 metres altitude.
- Days 9–10 | rest and travel to Cusco : take a day or two to relax after the trek and make your way back to Lima at your own pace. You can then travel on up to Cusco by bus or flight.
- Day 11 | explore Cusco : your body should be pretty used to the altitude by now. Take a free day to see the sights of Cusco city.
- Days 12–18 | the Inca Trail : hike the legendary route to Machu Picchu. See the sections above for our Inca Trail recommendations.
- Days 19–21 | Arequipa and the Colca Canyon : take a transit day for the journey from Cusco to Arequipa while resting off as much as you can, before a final two-day trek in the stunning Colca Canyon.
Peru itinerary package tours
If organising an itinerary and making all your own arrangements from scratch doesn’t appeal, you have the option to book onto a package tour of Peru.
This is a more expensive option of course, but for a once-in-a-lifetime trip there are big advantages to having the stress of organisation removed. Package tours in small groups are also great for meeting people and sharing the experience with new friends.
G Adventures runs a whole range of excellent small group tours of Peru. If you haven’t already, check out our account of our unforgettable Inca Trail experience with them.
Here are some of the most popular G Adventures Peru packages:
- Absolute Peru (21 days) – covering the classic highlights such as the Inca Trail, Colca Canyon, Lima, Paracas, Puno and more
- Inca Empire (15 days) – from La Paz (Bolivia) to Lima, via Lake Titicaca and Cusco for the Inca Trail
- Peru and Bolivia – Machu Picchu to the Salt Flats (16 days) – the classics of Peru and Bolivia including the Inca Trail and a Salar de Uyuni tour
- Amazon to the Andes (9 days) – Cusco, the Inca Trail and Amazon exploration from Puerto Maldonado
- Amazon riverboat adventure in depth (9 days) – extensive Amazonian experience from the base of Pacaya Samiria National Reserve near Iquitos
- Peru Multisport (15 days) – exploring the country’s highlights through a mixture of hiking, biking, kayaking, whitewater rafting and more
For more of our top picks, see our guide to small group tours in Peru .
Peru travel guide and tips
The information in this Peru travel guide covers all the basics you need to know for planning a trip.
Best times to visit Peru
Peru is a country of great geographical diversity and the climate varies depending on the local conditions. The country is located entirely inside the tropical region, and so there is a wet season and a dry season. Temperatures do not differ drastically throughout the year.
The dry season, Peru’s winter, runs from May to September. Although it’s a little colder this is a good time to visit, especially for trekking, as you can expect a lot less rain.
We spent our month in Peru in June/July, at the high point of the dry season. The weather worked out perfectly for the range of activities we did throughout the country, including exploring the main cities, touring in the Amazon jungle and hiking the Inca Trail.
In April/May and September/October, at the beginning and end of the dry season, there are fewer tourists around. This makes it a good option if you want to avoid the crowds, but the weather is more volatile.
Getting around Peru
Travelling by bus is our favourite way to get around Peru. In general the services are high-quality and comfortable. It’s also the cheapest way to travel between major destinations, and on overnight buses you get the bonus of saving a night’s accommodation costs.
Several bus companies operate in Peru and there are usually multiple daily departures between the main cities and tourist destinations. Busbud is a great service for finding routes and comparing the best prices.
Our preferred bus company in Peru is Cruz Del Sur . We use them for all of our overnight journeys. Their buses are comfortable, equipped with an entertainment system and you are provided with blankets, pillows and food.
When booking buses you will often see different price options for varying standards of comfort. ‘Semi-cama’ usually features partially reclining seats, which we found to be fine for sleeping. ‘Cama’ is a premium option with fully reclining seats. If you don’t see these terms, then check the fine print to see the kind of seating you are booking.
An alternative option for travelling by bus is Peru Hop , which gives you an open ticket for multiple stops. It costs a bit more, but it’s well worth it if you want to maintain some flexibility in your schedule. You can also book tours through them, and they provide a hassle-free border crossing into Bolivia (we used this and it made the process completely straightforward).
Peru’s major cities and tourist destinations are well connected by air, and services are reasonably priced if booked in advance. Flying will save time and hassle if you’re not on the tightest of budgets. Some destinations in the Peruvian Amazon, such as Iquitos, can only be reached by flight.
Several airlines operate in Peru. We used StarPeru for our trip to the Amazon, which is the country’s main budget airline and often has the cheapest prices.
We recommend using Skyscanner to find the best available flights and prices. Tip: if you can be flexible with your schedule, set the travel dates to ‘whole month’ and then ‘cheapest month’.
The matrix below shows typical flight times and prices between major destinations in Peru. Prices are based on the cheapest fares booked in advance:
Safety in Peru
Peru, in general, is not a particularly dangerous country to travel in. However, crime against tourists does occur, especially in big cities. Trekking in Peru also comes with its risks if you are not adequately prepared.
These quick tips will help you stay safe in Peru:
- Always watch your belongings . Theft is by far the most common crime against tourists in Peru. Be particularly vigilant in bus stations, big cities and crowded areas. If anyone approaches you, take care not to be distracted from your valuables. We learned this the hard way in Buenos Aires .
- Educate yourself about the most common travel scams . This article on the most common travel scams in Peru will give you a good overview.
- Keep your valuables somewhere secure , and if you must carry anything expensive then don’t flash it about. Stay in accommodation that has lockers, and preferably 24-hour security.
- Don’t wander into any neighbourhoods you don’t know about , and always ask for advice from your accommodation about places to avoid.
- Avoid walking around at night . If you’re ever unsure, take a taxi. Also, only use ATMs in the daytime.
- Be careful and vigilant when crossing roads , especially in cities.
- Before you travel to your next destination in Peru, look up the standard taxi fares (or ask your accommodation). This will help you avoid getting swindled by taxi drivers when you arrive.
- Make sure you take the necessary steps to combat altitude sickness if you’re hiking in regions like Cusco. See our Inca Trail preparation guide for more advice on altitude.
- Don’t attempt any trekking unguided unless you are an experienced hiker. If you do want to trek independently, go in a pair or group, and make friends and family at home aware of the route you are taking before you set off.
In case anything does go wrong while you’re in Peru, you should make sure you are covered. Which brings me to…
Travel insurance for Peru
It’s wise to consider investing in travel insurance for your Peru trip. It’s unlikely you will come to any harm, but in case something does happen – such as having your bags stolen, or getting injured on a hike – it’s best to know that you will be covered. Medical care, in particular, can incur astronomical costs if you are not insured.
We recommend SafetyWing Nomad Insurance for travel insurance in Peru. They offer a choice of simple, affordable, subscription-based insurance policies that are designed for people who will be travelling overseas for long periods of time. If you’re in Peru on a one-off trip, they also provide the option to buy a one-off insurance policy for specific dates. See their pricing tool to get some costs in just a few seconds.
SafetyWing’s policies all include cover for hiking up to 4,500 metres, which is great news, as it means you’re covered for the Inca Trail!
Organised tours in Peru
Small group tours are growing in popularity as a safe way to explore Peru with health and hygiene concerns taken into consideration. G Adventures has capped most of its tour group sizes at 12, and introduced a Travel with Confidence policy with a range of new health and safety measures. Read our guide to the top 10 small group tours in Peru , which highlights our favourite packages.
What to pack for Peru
What you need to bring to Peru depends on where you’re going and when you plan to visit. If you are only planning to do general sightseeing in cities, then you can pack fairly light. However, if you’re heading to the Amazon jungle or planning to trek, then you will need to pack accordingly.
Our Inca Trail packing list gives an exhaustive lowdown of everything you need to bring for trekking in Peru. If you’re heading to the Amazon, our Iquitos travel guide includes a section on what you need to pack for the jungle.
If your Peru travels are part of a longer trip, then take a look at our guides to the best backpacks and best hiking boots for travel.
Budget travel tips
Peru is not an expensive country for general travel. However, if you’re not savvy then the costs can rack up quickly. These tricks will help you to avoid unnecessary expenditure:
- Try to avoid ATMs that charge withdrawal fees. Most in Peru don’t, but some (like the GlobalNet ATMs in airports) charge a few dollars for a withdrawal.
- Use a prepaid money card like Monzo or Revolut . These are great for managing your money, and they offer free withdrawal up to a certain threshold each month.
- Eat in menú del dia restaurants . You will find them in towns and cities across the country offering set-lunch meals at very low prices.
- Do your own cooking. If you’re staying in hostels, check that they have good kitchen facilities. Also look out for accommodation that offers free breakfasts.
- Shop in local markets whenever you can find them. Groceries are a lot cheaper in these than in shops and supermarkets.
- Tap water in Peru is not safe to drink, so you will need to buy bottled water. To save money, buy large bottles (supermarkets usually sell 7-litre bottles) and decant them into smaller bottles.
- Take overnight buses for long journeys. It’s the cheapest way to travel and saves you a night of accommodation costs.
- Never get into a taxi without agreeing a price.
- Consider Couchsurfing for free accommodation.
Useful Spanish phrases
Peru is a Spanish-speaking country and, like other places in South America, there is a lot of local slang incorporated as well. These handy Spanish and Peruvian slang phrases will help you to navigate your way through the country.
- Hola – hello
- Por favor – please
- Gracias – thank you
- Disculpe – excuse me / pardon
- De nada – you’re welcome
- Habla Inglés? – do you speak English?
- No hablo Español – I don’t speak Spanish
- Me llamo – my name is / I am called
- Buenos dias – good morning / good day
- Buenos tardes – good afternoon
- Buenos noches – good evening
- Mucho gusto – nice to meet you
- Cuánto es? – how much is it?
- La cuenta, por favor – the bill, please
- Socorro! – help!
- Una cerveza, por favor – a beer, please
- Luca – a Peruvian sol, the currency (like ‘buck’ for dollar or ‘quid’ for pound)
- Pata – friend/pal/mate
- Pitri mitri! – cool!
- Bacán! – cool!
- Tono – party
- Chela – beer
- Jama – food
- Porfa – please ( por favor in short)
- Bamba – fake
- Monse – stupid
Are you travelling elsewhere in South America? Check out our ultimate South America bucket list and our itineraries for Patagonia , Bolivia and Chile .
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Alex is the co-founder and chief blogger at Career Gappers. He has travelled to over 50 countries and is a passionate advocate for taking career breaks.
32 thoughts on “ Peru itinerary and travel guide: routes for 1 week – 4 weeks ”
The pictures of Huaraz look incredible, I wish we’d been there! Next time we visit Peru we’ll be sure to head north of Lima to explore some more.
Definitely! I’m hopefully hiking the Alpamayo circuit in the next year, which you should totally look into!
Wow this is such a detailed itinerary! Thank you so much for sharing everything you learned and experienced. It sounds like an awesome trip and is definitely a part of the World I would love to explore.
Peru is on my dream bucket list. Great post ?
Wow I love that this was such an in-depth guide! I really hope I get to make it to Machu Picchu one day, but I heard they may be closing it off to tourists in a few years!! I have to hurry up lol.
This is a great itinerary! Peru creeps a little higher on the list every time we see posts like these. The Jungle tour and seeing the dolphins sounds amazing.
I would love to have a month to explore this area. Your itinerary is so cool ?
Whenever I hear about Peru, it’s always about the Inca Trail and Machu Pichu but your itinerary covers so much more! I especially like the look of Puno and Lake Titicaca! Such a great itinerary!
I haven’t been to Peru but if I do, I’ll refer to your post for research. Thank you for writing such a comprehensive post!
Machu Picchu is definitely on my bucket list. Perfect itinerary to bookmark for future use!
This is such an elaborate post. One can find all possible information here. Thanks for sharing it.
Guys, you rock – this is like a short issue of Lonely Planet! I really appreciate thoroughly researched and written posts. I was there only for three weeks, so I missed most of the Amazonas-region, so I agree that 28 days are a good period of time – although pretty pricey.
You fished for piranhas?/ Very brave! Hope they taste amazing what with all the flesh they chow down. You definitely immersed yourself in the culture and went above and beyond what most travellers do. Peru is definitely on my list to explore. Peruvian food is said to be the French food of South America. They do own ceviche after all.
This article was great! Loved the pics! Very informative ?
This is amazing! I can’t believe you kept to your budget so well, I really need to learn the art of budgeting when travelling. I would absolutely love to spend a month travelling around Peru, it sounds like you got to see and do so much! I went to the desert for the first time this year in Jordan and absolutely fell in love, so would love to try sandboarding in Peru!
Well that’s a pretty impressive itinerary on good budget! Thanks for being so open about the money topic 🙂
This is amazing!! The ultimate guide to PERU!!! I wish I had 28 days to explore one country!! I even feel that wouldn’t be neough with all the history and stuff to do!! i loved that you shared your budget as it would be my husband and self as well. so keeps me realistic!
This is amazing!! Ya’ll did some serious leg work to put this itinerary together. I haven’t been to Peru yet but it’s on my list. And thanks for the travel tips – it’s always helpful to know which are the best companies to go with as far as buses and such!
This is just what I needed. Been trying to find something on Peru detailed to rest my heart for my trip and of year. Thanks for putting this together!
Such a useful guide! Looks like an amazing trip, you did well not to go too much over budget! Thanks.
I always love seeing itineraries from people to get an idea on how long to travel. It seems like a month would be great for the area and you saw and did a lot.
Is it really that expensive? Or you chose exclusive stuff! Cause Peru is one of the top of my bucket list and I have really small budget. god this is a lot!
super interesting. I’m literately in the process of deciding if I want to go to Peru or Chile, so this article was perfect for me. Looks amazing. I haven’t been to South America yet and I’m really looking forward to go
This is such an impressive post! Maccu Picchu is on top of my bucket list. I used to say to myself that the moment i visit Macchu Picchu and some parts of Peru, i will be ready to die. I love seeing such updated and detailed itinerary. I’ll be bookmarking this for future reference.
Peru looks amazing! I’d love to visit one day and this is such an amazing itinerary, I will definitely come back to this post if I plan a trip to Peru in the future ?
Fab article. So much info here might have to think about travelling here! Thanks
I will go to South America in the next few month. Not sure if I will go to Peru, but it looks really interesting. Did not plan anything so far 😉
Great! I’ve been hooked on Peru ever since the first time that I read ‘Tintin and the Prisoners of the Sun’. I Also studied Archaeology and Prehistory at university, and have a fascination with pre-Colombian civilisations in South & Central America. Basically, I guess I need to go there!
It s a pleasure seeing you guys travel like this. I simply love, love, love what you guys do. Need small help planning my Peru and Bolivia itinerary, wanted to know if trek to Huyana Pichu is possible the same day as Machu Pichu? or we come back to Aguas Calientes and trek the next day? And, should we come back to Ollantaytambo from Machu Pichu or is there any other going back to Cusco?
Hi Kaity, thanks for your comment, and it’s exciting to hear you are visiting Peru and Bolivia! It’s definitely possible to combine a trip to Machu Picchu and climbing Huayna Picchu on the same day. We didn’t do it ourselves, but we met others who did. You will just need to make sure you buy the necessary passes in advance (or if you are going with a tour company, they may be able to organise it for you). It would also be possible to do it over a couple of days with a stay at Agua Calientes if you are going independently. Also, it’s possible to take the train from Machu Picchu to either Ollantaytambo or Cusco 🙂
If you need any more help in planning your trip, feel free to drop us an email! I’m on [email protected] .
many thanks for thei guide it os really very helpful and ptragmatic , you guys you are amzing
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it and found it useful 🙂
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Nomadic Matt's Travel Site
Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer
Peru Travel Guide
Last Updated: September 1, 2023
Travelers flock to Peru to hike the famous Inca Trail, explore the lush jungles, and devour their way through the incredible food scene of Lima.
But while the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu attract the majority of the attention (2,500 people visit Machu Picchu every day), there is much more to see and do in Peru if you’re willing to get out there and explore.
From the famous Lake Titicaca to the beaches in the north to the vibrant indigenous culture, Peru is bursting with things to see and do.
While many travelers just visit for a week to see the highlights, you can easily spend a month here (or more) and still not see everything.
Best of all, traveling around Peru is inexpensive. You don’t need a lot of money to visit here (even if you hike the Inca trail).
This guide to Peru can help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most out of your time in this beautiful destination!
Table of Contents
- Things to See and Do
- Typical Costs
- Suggested Budget
- Money-Saving Tips
- Where to Stay
- How to Get Around
- How to Stay Safe
- Best Places to Book Your Trip
- Related Blogs on Peru
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Peru
1. Explore Machu Picchu
This legendary “lost city of the Incas” is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in South America. Here you have the chance to wander around the old Inca city observing ancient aqueducts, granite and limestone temples, and other forms of Inca architecture that are all beautifully preserved. There are two ways to see Machu Picchu depending on the amount of adventure and exercise you want. There is a 4-day/3 night hike that takes you through 43 kilometers (26 miles) of steep, yet scenic uphill terrain along winding Andean mountain trails starting from Ollantaytambo. The Inca Trail gets you to the majestic Machu Picchu at dawn in time to see it before the clouds arrive mid-morning. The alternative is to wake up super early to get the train there and enter along with the tour groups competing for the beautiful morning sunset photos. (There are also longer 7-8 day hikes too if you want an even bigger challenge. Multi-day hikes start around 2,600 PEN. You can also just buy a day pass if you don’t want to hike.
2. Check out Lima
Lima is a chaotic and beautiful introduction to the country. Check out the trendy, vibrant Miraflores neighborhood that overlooks the Pacific and has plenty of restaurants and bars to try. Also, visit the Larco Museum to see its pre-Columbian artifacts, the Aliaga House for Peruvian art and artifacts, and Plaza Mayor for colonial beauty. Tour the city’s colorful markets for both food and shopping, wander around the world’s only Cat Park, or check out the Park of Love for good luck in love. At night, head to the artsy Barranco district for the nightlife and try a local drink with pisco, a local brandy. The city is a foodie hub too so don’t forget to try the ceviche!
3. Fly over the Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs that dominate the San José desert and Nazca Valley. There are over 10,000 lines and 300 different plant and animal figures that make up this UNESCO World Heritage Site. No one really knows how they got there (maybe aliens?) but the park itself is free to visit. If you want to splash out and get a better view, take a scenic helicopter or plane tour (they cost around 400 PEN).
4. Relax at Lake Titicaca
This stunning lake covers over 7,790 square kilometers (3,000 square miles) and sits at 3,810 meters (12,500 feet) above sea level, making it the world’s largest high-altitude lake. With deep blue water and spectacular sunsets across the lake lined with snowy mountains, this lake attracts people from all over the world to the nearby towns, which offer a mix of colonial architecture and bustling markets. There are three islands on the lake that are home to pre-Inca ruins: Isla del Sol, Taquile, and Amantani. Every year, the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca at Puno celebrates the Fiesta de la Virgen de Candelaria in February. However, the best and driest time to visit is June, July, and August.
5. Hike the Colca Canyon
Other things to see and do in peru, 1. hike the inca trail.
Getting to Machu Picchu is best via the famed Inca Trail . This multi-day hike allows you to see the mountains, jungles, and follow the route the Incas used to take. It is a truly spectacular hike, but it is challenging and you may experience altitude sickness. There are two ways to do this hike: you can sign up to be part of an organized tour, or you can hire your own private guide. You cannot hike the trail independently. Tours start around 2,600 PEN for a 4-day, 3-night tour with a reliable, reputable company. The final leg of the hike can actually get a bit crowded, so if you can do a longer 7-day hike you’ll be able to beat the crowds and enjoy the incredible landscape before you arrive. The driest time is May-October but also unfortunately the most crowded. If you go from November-April, prepare for mud and perhaps rain but fewer crowds.
2. Visit the Islas Flotantes de los Uros
The Floating Islands of the Uros may sound like an Indiana Jones title, but it is actually the name of the group of man-made islands in Lake Titicaca. The islands are home to the indigenous Uros people who have built their own houses, islands, and boats from the tortora reeds which grow along the banks of the lake. This is an extremely touristy site and is a bit exploited as such, so it’s not for everyone. The boat tours start at 165 PEN.
3. Surf at Máncora Beach
Great fresh seafood, watersports, horseback riding, whale watching, fishing with locals, visiting the mangroves, and plenty of relaxation are the order of the day at this popular beach resort. Máncora is one of the finest beaches in South America and its year-round sunshine, two ocean currents, and beginner-friendly waves also make it Peru’s surfing Mecca. Accommodation prices can be expensive from December to March, so it’s best to book in advance. Whale watching costs 135 PEN, surfing classes start at 95 PEN, and SUP tours with sea turtles cost 175 PEN.
4. Step back through time at Batán Grande
Batán Grande, also known as the Sicán Archaeological Complex, is an archaeological site comprising 50 pyramids and tombs, which are thought to date to 750-1300 CE. Located near Chiclayo, this site was once the ancient Sicán capital and has yielded many impressive pre-Columbian artifacts. For example, a gold Tumi ceremonial knife weighing almost seven pounds was recovered from one of the royal tombs! Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks for the day.
5. Discover Cusco
This colonial city is a major tourist destination and sits on Inca-built stone foundations not far from Machu Picchu. The area is popular with trail walkers, history lovers, and party goers who come to enjoy the city’s nightlife and festivals. Cusco is the undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas and an essential part of your trip to Peru. The Cusco Tourist Ticket grants admission to most of the popular archaeological sites and attractions in the Cusco area (with some notable exceptions, including Machu Picchu). Note that transportation and guide services are separate. You can purchase either a 10-day pass that includes admission to over 16 sites (130 PEN) or one of several different “circuit” tickets that include admission to a smaller number of sites and are valid for one day only (70 PEN). Be sure to visit Coricancha (15 PEN) and Sacsayhuaman (included in the Cusco Tourist Ticket) during your visit. Right outside Cusco, take a day trip to the incredible Rainbow Mountains. For great food, head to Green Point. Plan to spend around 3-5 days in Cusco as there is plenty to see and it’s a good place to acclimate before doing any hiking as the city sits at 3,200 meters (10,500 feet) above sea level.
6. Get your Amazon fix in Iquitos
Accessible only by boat or plane, jungle-locked Iquitos is the largest city within the Peruvian rainforest. The city sits at the mouth of the Amazon and is the perfect destination for eco-tourism. The nearby Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is Peru’s largest reserve at two million hectares. It’s home to a huge range of nearly 1,000 birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, and more. A 3-day, 2-night tour through the reserve starts from around 1,400-1,500 PEN per person including food.
7. Sandboard in Huacachina
This little town is a desert oasis and a welcome relief after hiking through Machu Picchu. It’s very affordable and hostels here offer great deals for sandboarding and sand buggy tours around the nearby dunes. Two-hour tours cost about 100-125 PEN, which includes a sand buggy driver and sandboard rental. Most tours leave around 4pm so you can catch the sunset on the dunes. There is also a lagoon surrounded by palm trees in Huacachina, and you can rent a rowboat to paddle around it. A half-hour rental costs around 5 PEN per person. Huacachina is easily reached by bus from Lima, Cusco, Nazca, Arequipa, and Paracas.
8. See penguins in Paracas
Paracas is in the south of Peru and is sometimes called the “Poor Man’s Galapagos” for its impressive wildlife, consisting of over 400 different species. Thousands of birds, as well as large sea lion and penguin populations, call the area home. You can visit the Paracas National Reserve via an organized boat tour. Be sure to go early. A full-day tour of Paracas includes a boat trip to the Islas Ballestas and a bus trip around the national reserve in the afternoon. It costs about 150 PEN.
9. Walk through the White City
Arequipa is a beautiful city with a historical center that was constructed primarily from volcanic rock. Start getting to know the city by wandering around the Plaza de Armas and take in the city’s architecture over a glass of wine overlooking the main square with views of the stunning Basilica Catedral de Arequipa. Then, visit the gorgeous, vibrantly colorful Santa Catalina Monastery, see a frozen Inca mummy, and enjoy the local cuisine with favorites like shrimp soup or spicy stuffed peppers. It’s easy to see why Arequipa is undoubtedly one of the most beloved destinations in the country; everyone who visits here loves it.
10. Go to El Parque de la Reserva
This park in downtown Lima is home to the largest water fountain complex in the world, called El Circuito Mágico del Agua . There are 13 distinct fountains in total, including the Tunnel Fountain of Surprises, the Children’s Fountain, and the Fantasia Fountain, whose water jets are synchronized to music during the evening laser light shows. The park is open daily from 3pm-10pm, with beautiful, colorful light shows taking place at 6:50pm, 7:50pm, 8:30pm, and 9:30pm. The entrance fee is 4 PEN. The park also hosts a lot of events and is a popular place with dog owners too.
11. Visit Chachapoyas
This region in the Andean mountains was home to the Chachapoya civilization that lived there between 500-1432 (they were eventually conquered by the Aztecs). Today, you can visit Kuelap, the fortified city at known as “The Machu Picchu of the North.” The ruins are accessible via a guided tour, 4-hour hike, or cable car from the nearby town of Nuevo Tingo for 21 PEN roundtrip. Be sure to also visit Gocta, a beautiful waterfall that, at 770 meters (2,526 feet), is one of the tallest in the world. You can get there by taking a tour from Chachapoyas.
12. Tour Trujillo
Trujillo is the second-oldest Spanish city in Peru, located on the coast with eternal spring-like weather and widely considered the capital culture of Peru. While here, visit the archaeological site of Chan Chan, the world’s largest adobe city ever built and the largest pre-Columbian city. It was built by the Chimu, a civilization that inhabited the area until 1470 when they were defeated by the Incas. Admission is 11 PEN. Be sure to also visit Huanchaco, a small fishing town directly on the beach.
13. See Vinicunca, Rainbow Mountain
Chances are you’ve seen these colorful mountains on social media. Over the past few years, Rainbow Mountain has become a huge tourist attraction. Just keep in mind that the colors are not as vivid in real life and the place is super crowded (it’s a very popular site). Day trips and multi-day hikes are available from Cusco, usually starting around 110-135 PEN per person. There is also an “Alternative” Rainbow Mountain called Palcccoyo where you can enjoy an incredibly colorful scenic panoramic at 5,200 meters (17,060 feet). If you want to escape the hordes of people (though it’s also pretty busy these days).
14. Hike the Salkantay
If you want an alternative to the busy Inca Trail, try hiking the Salkantay. It sees a fraction of the tourists and is half the price of the Inca Trail — but just as stunning! There aren’t as many ruins, but there are epic mountain views and summits of up to 5,200 meters (17.060 feet)! Hikes can vary in length, but the 7-day hike offers the best views. You’ll need to be in decent shape though. 5-day hikes start around 1,700 PEN.
Peru Travel Costs
Accommodation – A bed in a 4-6-bed dorm costs 35-65 PEN while a bed in a dorm with 10 or more beds generally costs 32-38 PEN. A private room costs 115-170 PEN per night. Free Wi-Fi is standard and most hostels also have a kitchen or include free breakfast.
Budget hotel rooms with basic amenities like Wi-Fi, TV, and occasionally free breakfast cost around 85-105 PEN per night.
On Airbnb, which has limited availability in Peru, private rooms average around 100 PEN while entire homes start at 200 PEN per night. Book early though or prices will double.
For those traveling with a tent, wild camping is permitted as long as you’re not on somebody’s land.
Food – Cuisine in Peru varies from region to region, though you can expect to find staples like potatoes (most potatoes in the world originated here), quinoa, seafood, and indigenous animals like guinea pig and alpaca. Be sure to try ceviche, which is the national dish (it’s a seafood dish with fresh raw fish). Other popular dishes include stir-fried beef, roasted cuy (guinea pig), arroz con pato (rice with duck), and roasted chicken.
Overall, dining out in Peru is very inexpensive. Street food is incredibly cheap, costing 5-7 PEN for a meal from a parrilla (grill) set up on the side of the road. A plate of food at a casual takeaway restaurant serving Peruvian cuisine costs around 10 PEN.
A meal of traditional cuisine at a casual restaurant with table service costs around 15-25 PEN. If you want to splash out, a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant costs 45 PEN.
Fast food (think McDonald’s) is 20 PEN for a combo meal. A large pizza is around 28-30 PEN.
Beer is around 8 PEN while a glass of wine or a latte is around 9 PEN. Bottled water is 2 PEN. A cocktail is 15-20 PEN and up, though many restaurants have extended happy hour specials (sometimes even all day).
If you plan on cooking, expect to pay 60-80 PEN per week for groceries such as pasta, rice, seasonal produce, and some meat. The best places to shop are the local markets, though Plaza Vea is the big grocery store chain with affordable prices as well. However, given how cheap food is here, it’s best to just eat out all the time. Buy snacks and fruit at the markets but eat out all other meals.
Backpacking Peru Suggested Budgets
On a backpacker’s budget of 135 PEN per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, eat out for a few meals at cheap local street stalls and cook some meals, limit your drinking, take the bus to get around, and do mostly free or cheap activities like relaxing on the beach and going hiking.
On a mid-range budget of 400 PEN per day, you can afford a private Airbnb room, eat out for all your meals, drink more, take the occasional taxi to get around, and do more paid activities like going surfing or day-tripping to Machu Picchu.
On a “luxury” budget of 700 PEN or more per day, you can stay in a hotel, eat out anywhere you want, drink as much as you’d like, take some domestic flights, and do a longer multi-day trek to Machu Picchu. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in PEN.
Peru Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
Peru is generally pretty cheap, but it is easy to splash out here on food and tours. Here are a few hacks to cut down your costs in Peru:
- Stay at hospedajes – These are family-run hotels and are the cheapest accommodation you can find outside of hostel dorms. Try to stay in these as often as possible.
- Take public transportation – Embrace public transportation to get around — it’s super affordable so skip the taxis. You’ll save a fortune.
- Eat the meal of the day – These are set meals, often including multiple plates, that restaurants offer. Look around for set menu meals to eat out on the cheap.
- Travel off-season – For a low-cost trip, the best times to visit Peru are the fringe months of April and May or September and October. Prices are usually cheaper during these months.
- Take the colectivos – These are cheap buses that cost around 2-10 PEN for a ride. They are a bit confusing as they don’t necessarily have a schedule, but there is always a door person whom you can ask if the bus is going to your location. There are not always marked bus stops, so look for gathering crowds.
- Book tours last minute – If you are looking to do the Inca Trail and have a bit of extra time to wait for a deal, showing up in Cusco and booking a last-minute tour can save you lots of money. Booking months in advance means paying the premium price but if you can wait your patience may be rewarded. I wouldn’t recommend trying to get on last-minute if you have your heart set on doing it though since it might not work out.
- Go on a free walking tour – This is a great way to learn the history behind the places you are seeing and avoid missing any must-see stops. Free Walking Tour Peru has tours that can guide you around both Lima and Cusco. Just remember to tip your guide at the end!
- Bring a water bottle – The tap water here isn’t safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle with a filter to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.
Where to Stay in Peru
Peru has a ton of hostels. Here are some of my favorite places to stay throughout the country:
- Pariwana Hostel (Lima)
- 1900 Backpackers Hostel (Lima)
- Loki Hostel (Cusco)
- Kokopelli (Cusco)
- Wild Rover Hostel (Cusco)
- Hospedaje Turistico Recoleta (Cusco)
- Arequipay Backpackers Downtown (Arequipa)
- Loki del Mar (Mancora)
- The Point Mancora Beach (Mancora)
How to Get Around Peru
Public transportation – City buses cost around 1.50-3 PEN per trip. Microbuses ( colectivos ) are available and prices vary depending on the distance. Trips generally cost 2-10 PEN, though they are a bit hectic and take some getting used to.
Bus – Buses can take you all over Peru and are the most common way to get around for budget travelers. The usual price for a 10-hour bus journey is around 40 PEN depending on how nice the bus company is. You can use Cruz del Sur to look up bus schedules and prices. Keep in mind that any journey through the mountains will be a slow ride! Lima to Cusco takes over 21 hours and costs 185 PEN, though you can get a ticket for as low as 39 PEN if you book in advance.
Peru Hop is another reliable and comfortable bus company designed for backpackers. This bus is a hop-on/hop-off service you can take around the country. Three-day journeys from Lima to Cusco start from 683 PEN, while 7 days in Southern Peru costs 836 PEN.
Flying – Peru has five international airports (Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, Iquitos, and Piura), as well over a dozen airports with domestic service. LATAM, Avianca, and Star Peru are the main domestic airlines.
Flying between destinations isn’t always the cheapest option, but it’s a whole lot quicker. A flight from Lima to Cusco takes just over an hour (as opposed to the 21 hours by bus) and prices start around 250 PEN. Lima to Arequipa starts around 200 PEN.
Train – Like the rest of South America, the rail system in Peru is basically non-existent. There are nice tourist options though, like PeruRail and Inca Rail, which both run trains between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu Pueblo (the gateway to Machu Picchu). On PeruRail, tickets start from 179 PEN. Inca Rail also runs between Cusco and Machu Picchu Pueblo with tickets starting around 220 PEN.
From Lima, there’s just one train: the Ferrocarril Central Andino, the world’s highest passenger train, which travels across the Andes to Cerro de Pasco and Huancayo. One-way fare starts from 230 PEN. However, service is limited — sometimes the train only runs once a month. Journeys are currently suspended due to Covid so be sure to check their website for updates.
Car rental – I don’t suggest renting a car here as the drivers are aggressive, the roads are poorly maintained, and accidents are common. If you do decide to rent a car, use Discover Cars to find the best prices.
When to Go to Peru
Peru has just two seasons: wet and dry. May through October is the dry season, while November through April is the rainy season. The wettest months are from January to the end of April. This isn’t a great time to visit Peru — at least not in the mountain areas, where roads and hiking trails may become blocked or closed.
Most people come to Peru from the beginning of May to the end of November, with July and August being the busiest months. May and September are great months to visit, as tourism slows down slightly but temperatures are still pleasant.
If you want to spend more time in the mountains, June to September has clear, sunny days (but chilly nights). This is a good time to trek the Inca Trail. It’s also the best time to visit the Amazon Basin, when mosquitos are fewer.
Temperatures on the desert coast can get as high as 25-35°C (77-95°F) from December to April, while temperatures cool off from May-October. In the highlands from May-October, you can expect temperatures to reach 20-25°C (68-77°F).
How to Stay Safe in Peru
Peru is a pretty safe place to backpack and travel around, even for solo travelers, and even for solo female travelers. Your biggest worry is petty theft, which is rampant in the bigger cities and on overnight buses. Don’t flaunt expensive jewelry or belongings. Avoid taking your phone out in public if you can. Lock your bags on overnight buses and keep your valuables secure and out of sight. It’s easy to get robbed if you aren’t careful here (especially at night).
If you’re in Lima, don’t walk around alone at night, unless you’re in the safer neighborhoods (Miraflores and Barranco). Smaller cities and towns are perfectly safe to walk around alone day and night.
Solo female travelers should generally feel safe here, however, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.).
Scams aren’t super common but if you’re worried about getting ripped off, here’s a list of common travel scams to avoid .
If you’re doing any hiking, check the weather in advance and bring plenty of water. If you’re hiking to Machu Picchu, arrive early to adjust to the altitude. 3-5 days early can make all the difference!
If you experience an emergency, dial 011 for assistance. If you’re in one of the bigger cities, you can also seek out the tourism police.
For more in-depth coverage of how to stay safe in Peru, check out this post that answers some frequently asked questions and concerns.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Peru Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
- SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
- LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
- Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
- Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!
Peru Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Peru travel and continue planning your trip:
The 4 Best Tour Companies in Peru
Is Peru Safe to Visit?
How to Hike the Inca Trail
How to Turn Right at Machu Picchu and Find Atlantis
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Choosing when to go to Peru is complicated by huge differences in temperatures across the country’s different regions. The best time to visit Peru will depend on which regions you intend to go and what activities are you planning to do.
What is the best time to visit Peru
Best months to visit peru, climate in peru, peak season in peru, the wet season in peru, the dry season in peru, best time to visit machu picchu, best time to visit lima, festivals and public holidays in peru.
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12 days / from 6970 USD
Peru - the modern, the iconic, the wild
Spend 12 days in magnificent Peru - famous Machu Picchu, legendary Titicaca Lake and the wild Amazon await. This tour is great for foodies with amazing Peruvian delights, for history and culture lovers in the Sacred Valleys as well as wildlife enthusiasts in the Amazon. Something for everyone!
14 days / from 6565 USD
Best of Peru & Galapagos Islands
Split your South America trip into two fascinating countries: Peru with Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, as well as ocean-facing capital Lima. Afterwards, proceed to the Galapagos Islands. You will stay on 3 different islands and explore many more.
8 days / from 2250 USD
The Enigmatic Sites of Peru
Explore the stunning sights of Peru. From the enigmatic Nazca Lines to the historical monuments of Cusco, this trip has it all. Visit the impressive Machu Picchu, a world heritage site, and hike up the magnificent Rainbow Mountain for breathtaking views.
16 days / from 4665 USD
Hiking Adventures in the Sacred Valley
A unique adventure including a challenging hike to the legendary Machu Picchu. Witness the mesmerizing Rainbow Mountain on a private tour, soar above the enigmatic Nazca Lines, and embrace the thrill of sandboarding amidst the dunes of Huacachina. Breathtaking landscapes and cultural treasures await
4 days / from 950 USD
Active Machu Picchu
An unforgettable adventure from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Sleep in community houses and local accommodations to immerse yourself in the rich culture. Feel the thrill as you mountain bike through rugged terrains, soar through the air on exhilarating ziplines, and hike amidst breathtaking landscapes.
5 days / from 995 USD
The "new" Machu Picchu - Chachapoyas
An incredible journey to Chachapoyas, Peru's hidden gem. Explore the ruins of Kuelap, an ancient fortress shrouded in mystery. Discover the breathtaking Gocta Waterfalls, one of the tallest in the world. Immerse yourself in Chachapoyas' rich culture, scenic landscapes, and archaeological wonders.
The dry season (May to September) is considered the best time to visit Peru . It's also high tourist season in. Coastal areas, including Lima and Paracas, have mild temperatures and minimal rainfall. It's an excellent time for visiting popular attractions like Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley , and Cusco . The Andean region experiences colder temperatures, particularly at higher altitudes, so be prepared for cooler weather if you plan to visit areas like Arequipa or Puno.
During the wet season (November to March) there's more rainfall, especially in the Andean region and the Amazon rainforest. Trekking routes, such as the Inca Trail , may be closed due to heavy rains and landslides. However, the wet season can be an excellent time to visit the coastal regions, including Lima and northern Peru, as they experience warmer temperatures and fewer tourists.
The shoulder seasons (April and October) mark the transition between the dry and wet seasons. The weather can be more unpredictable, with occasional rainfall. It's a less crowded time to visit popular sites like Machu Picchu, and you may find better deals on accommodations and tours.
Planning a trip to Peru? Perhaps our local experts in Peru can help you!
Morning sun rising with cloudy on Aden Mountain at Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru © Shutterstock
It’s challenging to choose the best time to visit Peru because of the change in the weather across regions. January is the best month for a trip to the coast for fantastic weather, while May to September is the ideal period for visiting the Andes, Machu Picchu and the Amazon when it’s driest.
Since you’re unlikely to find the best time to visit all areas on a single trip, there's little point in worrying about it. The country’s attractions are broad enough to override the need for guarantees of good weather.
Weather in Peru in January
Expect warm temperatures and abundant sunshine in Peru in January. Coastal areas like Lima enjoy average temperatures of 25-28°C (77-82°F), perfect for beach visits and water activities.
In the Andean highlands, temperatures range from 10-20°C (50-68°F), ideal for exploring ancient ruins like Machu Picchu. The Amazon rainforest experiences high humidity and temperatures around 25-30°C (77-86°F).
For your holidays in Peru in January, try our tailor-made trips to Peru .
Weather in Peru in February
The weather in February is still pleasant weather and largely dry. Along the coast, temperatures hover around 25-28°C (77-82°F) with minimal rainfall, perfect for beach outings.
In the Andean highlands, temperatures range from 10-20°C (50-68°F), providing comfortable conditions for exploring Cusco and Sacred Valley 's archaeological wonders.
The Amazon rainforest experiences tropical weather, with temperatures around 25-30°C (77-86°F) and occasional showers.
Weather in Peru in March
Rainfall increases in the Amazon in March but the northeast coast still experiences temperatures of 25-28°C (77-82°F) and minimal rainfall.
In the Andean highlands, temperatures range from 10-20°C (50-68°F), creating comfortable conditions for hiking.
Explore a hidden gem in Peru with our tailor-made trip . Discover rarely visited destinations, uncover rich archaeological remains, and be amazed by vast nature and stunning landscapes.
Arequipa Church with the Misti Volcano Behind on sunset, Arequipa in Peru © JorgeAndres/Shutterstock
Weather in Peru in April
April in Peru brings favourable weather for exploration. Coastal areas like Lima enjoy temperatures around 23-27°C (73-81°F) with minimal rainfall, perfect for coastal activities and exploring archaeological sites.
In the Andean highlands, temperatures range from 10-20°C (50-68°F), providing pleasant conditions for hiking the Andes or visiting cultural gems like Arequipa. The Amazon rainforest experiences warm temperatures around 25-30°C (77-86°F) and increased rainfall, offering vibrant ecosystems and unique wildlife encounters.
With our tailor-made trip to Peru for nature lovers , you can explore one of the most ecologically diverse countries on earth. Peru boasts an impressive range of ecosystems, with 84 out of the 103 known ecosystems and nearly 90% of the world's recognized climates found within its borders.
Weather in Peru in May
May to September is considered to be the best time to visit Peru. The weather in May is still comfortable for exploring much of Peru. Temperatures in Lima hit around 21-24°C (70-75°F) and there isn't much rain.
The Andean highlands have similar temperatures to April, ranging from 10-20°C (50-68°F), providing pleasant conditions for visiting Machu Picchu or trekking through the Sacred Valley .
The Amazon rainforest has more showers and warm temperatures that hit 25-30°C (77-86°F).
Weather in Peru in June
Temperatures in Lima start to drop to around 18-21°C (64-70°F) in June, though rainfall remains minimal.
Colder temperatures are felt in the Andean highlands, dropping to 5-15°C (41-59°F), providing cool but manageable conditions for exploring the Inca Trail or visiting Lake Titicaca .
The humid Amazon rainforest experiences Peru's warmest June temperatures of between 25-30°C (77-86°F) with regular rain showers.
Weather in Peru in July
In July temperatures drop again to around 17-20°C (63-68°F) but there is still little rainfall, meaning this can be a good time to explore the city.
Temperatures in the Andean highlands stubbornly stay at around 5-15°C (41-59°F), providing cool weather for trekking to Machu Picchu or visiting Cusco .
The Amazon rainforest remains warm and humid with regular downpours.
Machu Picchu, Peru © Shutterstock
Weather in Peru in August
August in Peru has pleasant weather for hiking the Andean highlands and trekking the Inca Trail .
Lima is largely dry, despite temperatures falling again to around 16-19°C (61-66°F), whilst the Amazon rainforest experiences thes warmest temperatures of around 25-30°C (77-86°F) with occasional showers.
Weather in Peru in September
The low mist that descends over the Lima Valley in June will start to clear with temperatures sitting around 16-19°C (61-66°F) and occasional showers, creating a refreshing time to explore the capital.
In the Andean highlands, the relatively dry period starts to ease, ushering in more rain. This can be the time to explore cultural gems like Arequipa rather than hiking.
The Amazon rainforest is warm, with temperatures around 25-30°C (77-86°F), wet and vibrant.
Weather in Peru in October
Lima welcomes its coolest temperatures in October (lows of 15˚C and highs of 19˚-20˚C), whilst the Amazon heads into its hot and humid dry season with less rainfall.
It hardly rains in Cusco or around Machu Picchu either, so weather-wise it can be a good time to visit, though many will have the same idea.
Weather in Peru in November
The coastal regions of Peru, such as Lima, have seen temperatures stick around 20-23°C (68-73°F) with more chance of rain.
The air is fresh and crisp in the Andean highlands with little chance of downpours and warmer temperatures that fluctuate between 10-20°C (50-68°F).
It’s also much drier in the Amazon and a good time to visit.
Weather in Peru in December
Coastal regions like Lima experience temperatures around 21-24°C (70-75°F) with minimal rainfall, providing ideal conditions for beach visits and water sports.
In the Andean highlands, temperatures range from 10-20°C (50-68°F), creating pleasant weather for trekking to Machu Picchu or exploring the Sacred Valley .
The Amazon rainforest experiences temperatures around 25-30°C (77-86°F) with occasional showers, offering lush landscapes and incredible biodiversity.
Rainbow mountains or Vinicunca Montana de Siete Colores, Peru © Shutterstock
It’s worth taking a look at the weather patterns to assess when to visit Peru; the climate varies according to different physical characteristics and by altitude. Each region, from the desert coast, to the Amazon basin, to the Andes, has a different and varied climate and environment.
Whereas the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere fall around June to August, the height of the summer (verano) along the desert coast more or less fits the expected image of the Southern Hemisphere.
That’s to say it’s extremely hot and sunny between December and March (especially in the north), cooler and with a frequent hazy mist, known as garúa, between April and November. Only in the polluted environs of Lima that the coastal winter ever gets cold enough to necessitate a sweater.
The peak tourist season in Peru generally coincides with the dry season, which runs from May to September. During this period, the weather is usually favorable with minimal rainfall, making it an ideal time to visit popular attractions like Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and Cusco.
The peak season attracts a significant number of tourists, so popular sites can be more crowded, and prices for accommodations and tours may be higher. It's advisable to book your travel arrangements well in advance if you plan to visit Peru during the peak season.
In the Andes, the seasons are more obviously defined, with heavy rains from December to March and a warm, relatively dry period from June to September, the peak season. Inevitably, though, there are always some sunny weeks in the rainy season and wet ones in the dry. There is quite a difference between temperatures in the day and at night, so be sure to pack warm clothing.
In the Andes and the Amazon Basin locals consider the rainy season (December to March) to be winter. To minimise the confusion it’s probably clearer if you just refer to seasons as the ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ season. With this in mind, the wet season in the Amazon is hot and humid.
In Arequipa in the south, the temperatures are really pleasant at this time of year. During the December to February period, you can expect the rainy season in the Amazon Basin and the Andes. Water levels are high at this time, and flora and fauna are abundant. At this time of year, the Inca Trail often closes during February due to possible landslides and maintenance. Machu Picchu itself remains open during this period.
For those coming from the Northern Hemisphere spring is considered to be roughly from March to May. From March the temperature on the coast begins to get milder. It’s still wet within the Andes, but you will find that it’s quieter with fewer crowds on the trails. The rainforest is still hot and humid – as it is all year.
In March to May, it is still hot in the coastal areas, but temperatures are beginning to drop. March is the end of the rainy season in Machu Picchu, and you can expect the area to be drier and warmer by May.
Average rainfall in Peru
In the coastal regions, such as Lima and the northern coast, the average annual rainfall is relatively low, ranging from 0 to 100mm (0 to 4 inches) per year. These areas are characterized by arid and desert-like conditions.
In the Andean highlands the average annual rainfall varies between 500mm and 1,000mm (20 to 40 inches). The rainy season in the highlands coincides with the summer months, from December to March.
Inca trail in Peru © Shutterstock
To minimise confusion we’re talking about the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere – which are Peru’s winter months. Dry conditions and warm weather make this an ideal time to visit Peru.
Cusco is at its best and you can make the most of the Andes’ fantastic trekking opportunities. It is cold though when the sun goes down, so take extra layers. The Amazon is hot all year but at its driest during the May to September period.
December to February can be the best time of year to visit Peru if you are travelling to the coastal regions, especially in the north. You can expect temperatures to be hot and sunny at around a pleasant 29˚C. There will be very little rainfall in coastal regions.
There is less rain in the Andes at this time of year and it’s a good time to travel for those who want to go trekking or climbing. You’ll get some excellent views of the mountain peaks and clear blue skies.
Temperatures are much milder on the coast – at around 18˚-22˚C– than between December and March. Lima is also shrouded in grey mist at this time of the year. The coolest temperatures occur from June to October (lows of 15˚C and highs of 19˚-20˚C).
In the Amazon, temperatures are hot and humid, but this is the dry season, so there will be less rainfall and lower water levels
Machu Picchu is an unmissable highlight of any trip to Peru. In high season, from June to September, the entire Valle Sagrado swarms with visitors and it might be difficult to avoid the crowds. If you plan to go in the high season, you need to book several months ahead as the trail is so popular.
The whole area is quieter from October to April but it’s wetter. The Inca trail is closed in February, which is usually the wettest month. It closes for annual maintenance and repair, although Machu Picchu itself is still open.
The month of May is quite a good choice as it’s the end of the rainy season, and the sky will be bright and clear with excellent views.
Rough Guides tip: check our Rough Guides Itineraries
Woman in Cuzco, Peru © Marco Alhelm/Shutterstock
If you are working out the best time to visit Peru and want to discover Lima at its best, the ideal period is between December and March. This is the the warmest time of the year, when the sky is bright and sunny, and it’s a wonderful time to stroll around the colonial architecture and coastal park.
If you visit between April to November, you may experience a blanket of grey mist, although it hardly ever rains in the capital.
Festivals big and small are cause for celebration throughout Peru – from major cities to small towns and villages. These events centre around elaborate costumes, parades, music and dancing and, of course, food and drink. It’s quite common to stumble into a village fiesta, with its explosion of energy, noise and bright colours.
The main national holidays are those at Easter, Christmas and during October, when everything closes up for the holidays – worth bearing in mind if planning a visit to Peru at these times.
- 1st New Year’s Day. Public holiday.
- 2nd Candlemas. Folklore music and dancing throughout Peru, but especially lively in Puno at the Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria and in the mountain regions.
- Carnival. Whilst the date varies from year to year, Carnival is widely celebrated immediately prior to Lent, throughout the whole country.
- Semana Santa (Easter/Holy Week). Superb processions all over Peru (the best are in Cusco and Ayacucho); the biggest is on Good Friday and in the evening on Easter Saturday, which is a public holiday.
- 1stLabour Day. Public holiday.
- 2–3 Fiesta de la Cruz (Festival of the Cross). Celebrated all over Peru in commemoration of ancient Peruvian agro-astronomical rituals and the Catholic annual calendar.
- Beginning of the month Corpus Christi. This takes places exactly nine weeks after Maundy Thursday, and usually falls in the first half of June. It’s much celebrated, with fascinating processions and feasting all over Peru, but is particularly lively in Cusco.
- 24 Inti Raymi. Cusco’s main Inca festival dedicated to the Inca deity, Inti.
- 29 St Peter’s Day. A public holiday all over Peru, but mainly celebrated with fiestas in all the fishing villages along the coast.
- 15–17 Virgen de Carmen. Dance and music festivals at Pisac and Paucartambo.
- 28–29 National Independence Day. Public holiday with military and school processions.
- 13–19th Arequipa Week. Processions, firework displays, plenty of folklore dancing and craft markets take place throughout Peru’s second city, Arequipa.
- 30th Santa Rosa de Lima. Public holiday.
- End of the month, Festival of Spring. Trujillo festival involving dancing – especially the local Marinera dance and popular Peruvian waltzes.
- 8th Public holiday to commemorate the Battle of Angamos.
- 18–28th Lord of Miracles. Festival featuring large and solemn processions (the main ones take place on October 18, 19 and 28); many women wear purple for the whole month, particularly in Lima, where bullfights and other celebrations continue throughout the month.
- 1st - Fiesta de Todos los Santos (All Saints Day). Public holiday across Peru.
- 2nd Día de los Muertos (All Souls Day). A festive remembrance of dead friends and relatives that is taken very seriously by most Peruvians and a popular time for baptisms and roast pork meals.
- 1–7th Puno Festival. One of the mainstays of Andean culture, celebrating the founding of Puno by the Spanish conquistadors and also the founding of the Inca Empire by the legendary Manco Capac and his sister Mama Ocllo, who are said to have emerged from Lake Titicaca. October 5th is marked by vigorous, colourful, community dancing.
- 1–30th International Bullfighting Competitions. Bullfights take place throughout the month, and are particularly spectacular at the Plaza de Acho in Lima.
- 12–28th Pacific Fair. One of the largest international trade fairs in South America – a huge, biennial event, which takes place on a permanent site on Av La Marina between Callao and Lima Centro.
- 8th Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Public holiday.
- 25th Christmas Day. Public holiday.
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Home » Itineraries » Peru Itinerary
The landscape of Peru is all about drama. It goes from soaring mountains to plunging valleys–most dotted with ancient ruins alongside modern farms and towns. It was this landscape that was our first introduction to the glory of South America. In our short, 10 day Peru itinerary, we saw numerous ruins throughout the Sacred Valley, the imposing Machu Picchu, islands in Lake Titicaca, and the sights of the larger cities of Cusco and Lima.
10 Days in Peru
Day 1: arrive in lima, day 2: sacsayhuaman ruins, day 3: pisac and ollantaytambo in the sacred valley, days 4 & 5: machu picchu, day 6: cusco, day 7: cusco to puno, day 8: islands of lake titicaca, days 9 & 10: visit lima, peru travel recommendations.
The first day was exclusively a travel day from the US (10+ hours flying from the East Coast). While it’s not exciting, it’s important to account for this when you’re planning a Peru trip and considering how much time will be needed away from work and home. We arrived in Lima around 10pm and spent the night at the hotel airport.
Hotels by Lima International Airport
Airport hotels are all about convenience. The Wyndham Costa del Sol Lima is a great option because it actually connects to the airport for maximum ease, and it even has a pool.
Another great option is the nearby Holiday Inn Lima Airport .
Day 2 of our 10 days in Peru brought an early-morning flight to Cusco and the real start of our Peruvian adventure.
The first stop on our Peru itinerary was the ruins at Sacsayhuaman in the Sacred Valley, northwest of Cusco. Built around 1100, this was the historic capital of the Inca Empire. Miraculously, the massive stones at Sacsayhuaman were all carefully cut to fit together and assembled without mortar.
In the afternoon, we headed to the Living Museum of Awanakancha, a collective that features local weavers and craftspeople making indigenous items. About 25km from Cusco, they also have a large group of llamas and closely-related animals such as vicuna and alpaca. We fed the animals and watched them run wild before heading to Urubamba for a much-needed good night’s rest.
The morning began with a 45-minute drive north from Urubamba to Pisac. At over 11,000 feet, the Pisac ruins tower over the valleys below. We spent several hours hiking among the footprints of the stone buildings and over the agricultural terraces before heading in to the main town. Note that if you live at sea level or aren’t in the world’s best shape, this hike could be a bit challenging (it was for us). Luckily, it was also gorgeous and completely worth the sunburn.
It was a market day in Pisac (markets take place on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday), so we had the chance to indulge our love of local experiences like this. We spent a long time wandering the aisles of textiles, souvenirs, fresh produce, and meat, even trying a few fruits that don’t grow in North America. The activity and all the locals in their traditional dress were amazing sights and really a highlight of our 10 days in Peru.
After a stop for lunch, we drove 1.5 hours northwest from Pisac to the ruins of Ollantaytambo. In the 1400s, these ruins were the Incan emperor’s estate. The storehouses and terraces are spectacularly preserved.
Hotels in the Sacred Valley
The peaceful Sonesta Posada del Inca Yucay Hotel was our home for two nights in the Sacred Valley. Its setting among the mountains and beautiful architecture can’t be beat.
One day isn’t enough to see Machu Picchu and, for many people, this is the most important stop in Peru, so we dedicated portions of two days to this magnificent site. In the morning of Day 4, we took Perurail to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo) where we boarded the bus bound for the main archaeological site.
Machu Picchu itself is stunning and better than any photo you’ve ever seen of the ruins. After a quick break for lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, we spent much of the late morning and afternoon wandering among the buildings. In the evening, we returned to Aguas Calientes to wander the town. Day 5 of our Peru vacation brought a similarly lovely adventure with another trip up to the ruins and several hours walking around before taking the train back to Cusco.
Hotels near Machu Picchu
The Hotel Hatun Inti Boutique Machupicchu was our base for exploring Machu Picchu. With jacuzzi tubs and views over the river, this hotel is top-notch.
Cusco was once the capital of the Incan Empire and receives a steady stream of millions of tourists each year for good reason. It is full of history, beautiful buildings, and good food. Every street feels like an opportunity to discover something new. Our walking tour of Cusco was one of the highlights of our Peru trip itinerary.
Hotels in Cusco
Close to restaurants and shops and with an amazing breakfast spread, Casa San Blas Cusco was our favorite place to stay in Peru. In the old center of Cusco, the hotel is quiet and has stunning views yet is close to everything.
The seventh day of our Peru adventure brought a long drive south from Cusco to Puno , a town at the edge of Lake Titicaca. We stopped several times along the way at various ruins to break up the journey. Our stops included:
- Archaeological park of Pikillaqta, a pre-Incan development of the Wari peoples
- Church of San Pedro of Andahuaylillas, a 16th century church with what is considered the “Sistine Chapel of the Americas”
- La Raya Pass, a mountain pass with amazing views
- Archaeological site of Raqchi, which contains the remains of the massive Temple of Wiracocha as well as 200 stone storehouses
- Pukara, a museum and 6000-year-old archaeological site
The next stop was Puno to visit Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable body of water in the world. More specifically, we were visiting the Uros islands and Taquile in this massive lake. From Puno, it was a 10-minute drive to the pier and an hour on the boat to the manmade islands of Uros. These unique islands are made from tightly interlaced reeds, but every step around the island is a bit squishy and damp, as you’re well aware that you’re in the middle of Lake Titicaca.
From Uros , we headed out across Lake Titicaca to Taquile, a nearby natural island. Our boat dropped us off on the south side and we climbed to the top, stopping for a traditional lunch along the way. We explored the town for a few hours before returning to Puno.
Hotels in Puno
Our base during our time in Puno was Hacienda Plaza de Armas . While not a luxurious property, it was clean, comfortable, and super-affordable.
We had planned to spend nearly two full days wandering the beautiful city of Lima. Unfortunately, a bit of food poisoning put us behind schedule, but we still got to see plenty of the highlights of Lima . We wandered Plaza Mayor, visited the main square, and marveled at the catacombs of the Monastery of San Francisco. After some time strolling the malecon, it was time to board our late flight bound for the US after a great trip.
Hotels in Lima The Miraflores district of Lima is the primary tourist district, featuring parks, beaches, and great restaurants. We stayed at the well-located Casa Andina Premium Miraflores .
Tour Operator : While we normally plan all of our trips independently, for our time in Peru we went with a specialist in the region, Kuoda Travel , which offers luxury private tours in Peru. There are also some great Peru tours with Intrepid Travel or find the right Peru tour for you.
Hotels : Peru has a staggeringly broad range of accommodation options. We recommend looking at Booking.com for a comprehensive selection of Peruvian lodging options.
Travel Insurance : Visiting Peru and Machu Picchu is a trip of a lifetime. Given the relative cost of 10 days in Peru, this would be one instance where we’d buy travel insurance. We bought our travel insurance from Travel Guard .
Booking through these sites may help support Travel Addicts and earns us a few pennies, at no additional cost to you.
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Wednesday 26th of April 2023
Hi - this itinerary looks perfect for us. Am I correct that you flew from Lima to Cusco but the return trip was all driving with these stops along the way? Was driving in Peru relatively easy? Thanks!
Tuesday 30th of May 2023
Yes, we flew from Lima to Cusco. Then drove from Cusco to Puno/Lake Titicaca. We then drove to Arequipa (we were supposed to have time in Arequipa, but my illness threw the schedule off). From Arequipa, we flew back to Lima early. We hired a driver for the trip (money well spent), but I wouldn't be opposed to driving (particularly the Cusco to Puno portion, which was very easy).
Thursday 10th of March 2022
We are group of 3 and want to visit Peru in May.
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10 Day Peru Itinerary: Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, & the Amazon
Julie Last updated: July 8, 2023 Itinerary , Peru 61 Comments
Peru is an extraordinary travel destination. With this Peru itinerary, you can visit the historic city of Cusco, tour several small towns in the Andes Mountains, walk on the famous Inca trail, spend a day at magical Machu Picchu, and even explore the steamy Amazon jungle.
Peru still remains one of our favorite travel destinations. It’s a fabulous mix of history, outdoor adventures, dramatic landscapes, and culinary delights.
Before traveling to Peru, Tim and I put tons of research into the best things to see and do in this diverse country. The result was this itinerary, our exact route through Peru. This is probably the best 10 day trip we have ever taken, and that is saying a lot. It was adventure after adventure, with 10 days of thrills, new travel experiences, and unforgettable moments.
I hope you enjoy Peru as much as we did. And if you are like us, you will be dreaming about returning again someday.
10 Day Peru Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Lima Day 2: Cusco and the Sacred Valley Day 3: Cusco and the Sacred Valley Day 4: Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Day 5: Machu Picchu Day 6: Zip-Lining in the Sacred Valley Day 7: Mountain Biking in the Sacred Valley or Visit the Rainbow Mountain Day 8: Amazon Day 9: Amazon Day 10: Fly Home With More Time Best Time to Go Vaccinations Tips to Have the Best Experience Recommended Reading
Peru Itinerary Day 1
Arrive in Lima
Most international flights to Peru arrive in Lima, the capital city.
Our flight arrived at 9 pm, so we simply went to our hotel, slept, and went right back to the airport the following morning to fly to Cusco.
If you arrive midday, you have the option to spend the afternoon touring Lima, or you could catch a flight and continue on to Cusco, the choice is yours.
If you plan to see a little bit of Lima, the best spot to go is Miraflores . Just be aware that it takes about 45 minutes to travel between the airport and downtown Lima.
Where We Stayed
Bed and Breakfast de Kike. This small, budget B&B is located about 15 minutes from the airport. Our experience here was good and bad. Kike and his wife are wonderful. They speak a tiny bit of English, so I was forced to practice my Spanish, which was a great warm up for the rest of the trip. Plus, the cost of the B&B includes your transportation to and from the airport. You stay in one of two bedrooms in their house that share a bathroom. The house is in a noisy neighborhood (we had trouble sleeping through the noise at night, but this is our only complaint). It’s nothing fancy, but if you are in search of culture or seeing “real Peru,” consider this B&B.
Peru Itinerary Day 2
Cusco, Pisac, & Sacsayhuamán
Take the first flight of the day to Cusco. It takes one hour to fly between Lima and Cusco. Along the way, you’ll get your first glimpse of the Andes Mountains. It’s a gorgeous flight!
Once in Cusco, check into your hotel.
Cusco sits at an elevation of 11,152 feet. Some people can experience mild symptoms of altitude sickness at this altitude. Symptoms include mild headaches, loss of appetite, and nausea. It’s important to go slow, drink lots of water to stay hydrated, and avoid drinking alcohol.
The afternoon will be spent touring the towns and sites near Cusco.
Pisac is famous for its Sunday market. This is when many Peruvians do their shopping for fruit, veggies, and meat, but it is also a huge draw for tourists.
Wander the maze of shops, have lunch, and if you are here on Sunday, take a stroll through the market. While at lunch, try the coca leaf tea. Coca leaves are grown in Peru the tea helps to lessen the effects of altitude sickness.
LEARN MORE: Shopping at the Market in Pisac
Pisac Ruins (Parque Arqueologico de Pisaq)
This is where you get your first glimpse of ancient Incan ruins. These ruins sit on a hillside overlooking Pisac. Plan on spending about one hour here.
Take it easy walking up and down the hills, since you are at a higher elevation. Just walking uphill had me winded, and halfway up a flight of stairs I would have to stop to catch my breath.
Next up is Sacsayhuamán, ancient Incan ruins with a crazy name. The pronunciation of Sacsayhuamán is almost identical to “sexy woman,” which of course was great joke material for Tim.
Sacsayhuamán is an Incan fortress perched atop a hill overlooking Cusco. This was the site of a ten month battle between the Inca and the Spanish in the 1500’s that the Spanish eventually won.
What is so impressive about Sacsayhuamán is how these gigantic stones were carved so perfectly by the Incas and put together like a jigsaw puzzle. The stones are enormous, some much taller than Tim, with the largest stone weighing more than 126 tons! How did the Inca, with only the technology of copper and stone tools, carve and fit these gigantic rocks together so perfectly? It’s an impressive site to see.
Another impressive site is the view over Cusco.
Getting around: To get to Pisac, the Pisac Ruins, and Sacsayhuamán, we hired a driver through our hotel, the Rumi Punku. To get from Cusco to Pisac it takes 45 minutes to one hour.
Dinner in Cusco
End the day with dinner in Cusco. We recommend Cicciolina . This was our favorite restaurant of the entire trip (we ate here twice). The pisco sours are awesome, but you will have to wait until your return trip to Cusco later this week. Enjoy the food (we recommend the ceviche) but hold off on the alcohol to avoid altitude sickness.
The Rumi Punku Hotel. Rumi Punku in Quechua (the native language of Peru) means “Stone Gate.” The front door and the foundations of this hotel are the original Incan stonework from 600 years ago. We loved this hotel. It’s located just a few blocks from the heart of Cusco, the rooms are clean and comfortable, and the staff is amazing.
Peru Itinerary Day 3
Cusco and the Sacred Valley
Spend the morning exploring Cusco. Places to visit include Plaza de Armas (the main square), the Qorikiancha (the Inca’s Temple of the Sun), and the San Blas area (a maze of hilly, scenic streets).
Plaza de Armas
The afternoon will be spent exploring the Sacred Valley of Peru, ending in Ollantaytambo. We hired a driver through our hotel for this drive.
Chinchero is a small Andean village that sits at 12,000 feet elevation. It was here that got a lesson on weaving and did a little shopping. This is definitely geared towards tourists but we really enjoyed this visit. Tim and I were the only visitors and I had more opportunities to practice my Spanish. Plus, the blankets are gorgeous and this is a great spot to buy souvenirs to take home.
Our driver also took us on a brief tour of Chinchero while we were here. As you visit the Sacred Valley, you’ll learn that there are clusters of Incan ruins scattered throughout this part of Peru.
The Urabamba Valley, a section of the Sacred Valley that sits between Chinchero and Ollantaytambo, is simply gorgeous. Enjoy the views!!
Ollantaytambo is a small town filled with hostels, small hotels and restaurants, and a small market. This is the final stop on the road to Machu Picchu. From here it’s a two hour train ride to Machu Picchu.
Spend the afternoon exploring the fortress ruins of Ollantaytambo . It looks and feels like a thousand steps to get to the top of the fortress, but it’s worth it for these amazing views. Plus, you are at a lower elevation now (at about 9,000 feet) so the effects of the altitude are less here.
Sol Ollantay Hotel. This is a no-frills, nothing special hotel located in the center of Ollantaytambo. If you are a budget traveler, this is a hotel to consider.
We also stayed at Hotel Pakaritampu for 2 nights (days 5 and 6 of this Peru itinerary). This is lovely, boutique hotel just a few blocks outside of the heart of Ollantaytambo.
Peru Itinerary Day 4
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
The Inca Trail is one of the world’s best multi-day hikes. It takes 4 days to walk the entire trail and visit Machu Picchu. On this itinerary, there is not enough time to walk the entire trail. Fortunately, for those short on time, there is a one-day Inca trail option. And that’s what you will do today
From Ollantaytambo, you will board the train to Aguas Calientes, getting off at km 104 to start your hike to Machu Picchu.
The one day hike takes you from the Urabamba River Valley, up and over several mountains, ending 15 km (9 miles) later at Machu Picchu. You get to walk the final section of the Inca Trail, visit lots of Incan ruins along the way, and enjoy the amazing view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate.
Some people say that the one day hike is not worth it, but we disagree. It’s a gorgeous hike and getting that first view from the Sun Gate, a place you reached with your own two feet, is much more special than hopping off of a bus and walking to a viewpoint. This one day hike still remains one of our favorite day hikes of all time.
In order to do this, you must hire a guide. We used Pie Experiences and had a good experience. Your tour company will book your train tickets, entrance tickets into Machu Picchu, accommodations in Aguas Calientes, and provide you with a hiking guide. I recommend booking this excursion six months in advance, since Machu Picchu is growing in popularity and many people want to have this same experience.
LEARN MORE: Hiking to Machu Picchu along the Inca Trail
Hiking to Machu Picchu
The 15 km (9 mile) hike takes most of the day. But what an awesome day it is. Here are some photos of what you will see along the hike.
We arrived at the Sun Gate at 3 pm. This first view of Machu Picchu was one of the highlights of the entire trip. To hike all day through these mountains and then have this view is really something special.
From the Sun Gate, you will hike down into Machu Picchu and have the opportunity to take more photos. It’s closing time, so you won’t have any time to explore today, but you will tomorrow!
Take the bus down to Aguas Calientes, have dinner, and get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow will be a busy day with an early start.
Rupa Wasi Lodge. This is a mid-range hotel in the center of town. The décor is nice but the hotel really wasn’t anything special. We didn’t have a bad experience, but I can’t say that I’d recommend it. Check it out on Trip Advisor but there are lots of other places to choose from. The best place in town is the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel.
Peru Itinerary Day 5
Rolling out of bed before sunrise can be painful. But it’s worth it today.
Get in line for the bus to Machu Picchu. These early buses will deliver you to Machu Picchu in time to watch the sunrise. It is magical, as long as the weather cooperates.
Spend all day exploring Machu Picchu. Our day started off with a one hour tour, provided by Kenny, our hiking guide with Pie Peru. After the tour, Tim and I were free to explore on our own.
How Long Should You Spend at Machu Picchu?
We visited Machu Picchu several years ago, before visits were limited to half-day time slots. You can visit Machu Picchu all day but you will need to reserve tickets for the morning and afternoon sessions. Your tour operator should be able to do this for you, or you can book your tickets here.
Is it worth visiting Machu Picchu for one full day? Absolutely. Tim and I usually grow bored of places rather quickly. For us, Machu Picchu was different. There is certain magic here, and we were just captivated by the views and splendor of Machu Picchu. Plus, with a full day, you can thoroughly explore Machu Picchu and spend some time getting away from the crowds at quieter, less visited areas.
Machu Picchu is open from 6 am to 5:30 pm (Group 1 from 6 am to noon and Group 2 from noon to 5:30 pm). It may sound like a long day, but we recommend staying until closing time. During our visit, most people cleared out by 4 pm, which meant we got to wander through Machu Picchu with hardly anyone else around. That may be different now that there are shorter time slots to explore Machu Picchu.
LEARN MORE: Magical and Mystical Machu Picchu
Midday, you can have lunch at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge , located right outside of the entrance to Machu Picchu.
While you are here, consider the climb up Huayna Picchu, the peak that forms the backdrop for all photos of Machu Picchu. Only 400 people are allowed to climb per day so your tickets need to be purchased well in advance of your visit. We were unable to do this climb, as our tour operator failed to order our tickets prior to our trip. It was a huge disappointment and a lesson learned (always double check to make sure your tour operator books your excursions). You can have your tour operator book this for you, or you can do this on your own.
Take an evening train back to Ollantaytambo and get settled into your hotel (we stayed at Hotel Pakaritampu).
Peru Itinerary Day 6
Zip Lining in the Sacred Valley
Today is a day that is just pure fun.
Natura Vive is a company that runs a via ferrata and zip line in the Sacred Valley. This was a first for Tim and I: our first time zip lining and our first time doing a via ferrata. And it was a perfect experience.
We spent about an hour and a half climbing up the rocky face of a mountain in the Urabamba River Valley. The higher we climbed, the better the views. We always felt perfectly safe, but there were enough tricky spots (tightropes and steep climbs), to really keep things interesting.
To get back down to the valley floor, you take a series of thrilling zip lines and one final rappel down the steepest section of the mountain.
This experience was a blast! Our guides, Jorge and Alfredo, were tons of fun. Seeing the valley while clinging to the side of a mountain was a huge thrill.
If you want the ultimate sleeping experience, consider spending the night in the Skylodge Adventure Suites , one of the glass pods that are attached to the mountain. This is a new addition since our visit and it looks awesome.
Tonight, sleep in the Skylodge Adventure Suites or in Ollantaytambo.
Peru Itinerary Day 7
Mountain Biking in the Sacred Valley (or the Rainbow Mountain of Peru)
You have a choice today: mountain biking in the Sacred Valley or making a day trip out to Vinicunca, the Rainbow Mountain of Peru. During our visit to Peru, the Rainbow Mountain was not a common thing to do. The popularity of this place has exploded in the past few years, thanks to Instagram. So even though we didn’t do it, I wanted to include it in this Peru itinerary, simply because it has become so popular.
Mountain Biking in the Sacred Valley
This is definitely not a popular thing to do. But if you like getting off the beaten path and enjoy biking, this is something to consider. For us, it became one of the most memorable days of our visit to Peru.
We spent the day with Gravity Peru, a small company that takes people on mountain bike trips through the Sacred Valley. Our guide, Chet, picked us up at our hotel and drove us to Moray, where we would start our next adventure of the trip.
Moray is another popular Incan ruin to visit in the Sacred Valley.
For the next several hours, Chet led us through small towns and farms in the Sacred Valley. We got a much closer look at Peruvian rural life than if we had driven through this area in a car. Along the way, we ate lunch in Maras and visited the salt mines in Salineras .
Most of the journey is downhill, so it’s not overly strenuous. However, we were using downhill mountain bikes, bikes that are heavy and can be a little difficult to control, especially if you are not used to them. Tim and I have lots of experience road biking but this is something entirely different. I felt a little in over my head, trying to navigate this heavy bike down winding, rocky trails.
And then, I wiped out. It wasn’t a bad fall, but I hit my hand just right, enough to fracture one of the bones in my left hand. Fortunately, we were almost done, so we ended up walking my bike back to the car.
Fortunately, we were also heading back to Cusco. Tim and I spent the rest of the day at a clinic, where I got x-rays and had a plaster cast put on my hand. Sure, breaking my hand was a bummer, but what an experience, going to a clinic in Peru! Since I work in orthopedics I found the entire experience fascinating. And now I had an unexpected Peruvian souvenir…a plaster cast and a crazy memory.
Our day ended back at Cicciolina , and now, since we were acclimated with the altitude, we could have as many pisco sours as we wanted to.
LEARN MORE: Mountain Biking, a Broken Hand, and a Visit to a Peruvian Clinic
Rainbow Mountain Day Trip
The Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca) is located 140 km southeast of Cusco. You can visit Rainbow Mountain on a long day trip from Cusco. Most tours will pick you up from your hotel in Cusco at 2:30 to 3:30 am (that is not a typo…your day will start in the early morning hours) and return to Cusco between 6:30 to 7:30 pm. Seeing the Rainbow Mountain requires a rather strenuous hike at 16,500 feet, so it is a challenging day. But those who do it say it’s a phenomenal experience.
In order to do this on this itinerary, return to Cusco at the end of day 6, after zip lining. Then, you will spend all day today on the trip to the Rainbow Mountain.
If this is something you are interested in doing, check out these tours on GetYourGuide.
Tonight you will sleep in Cusco.
Peru Itinerary Day 8
Today it is time to say goodbye to Cusco and the Andes Mountains for an altogether different landscape…the Amazon rainforest.
Take an early morning flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado . It’s another short, scenic flight. The landscape quickly changes from rugged mountains to a flat forest basin, bright green in color, with rivers snaking through the rainforest.
As soon as you step off the airplane, the hot, muggy air envelopes you. What a difference from the cool, dry air of the Andes Mountains.
Your destination is the Tambopata National Reserve , a nature reserve in the Peruvian Amazon basin and one of the most accessible parts of the Amazon from Cusco.
There are a small number of hotels and tour operators that offer package tours to this part of the Amazon. We chose the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica because they got rave reviews on Trip Advisor, not only for their accommodations but also for their food and their excursions.
Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica
At the airport, we were greeted by one of the Inkaterra staff members. It was a short truck ride to the Madre de Dios River , our route into the Amazon rainforest. Tim and I boarded a small, wooden boat and were taken 45-minutes downstream to the Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica.
For two nights you will stay in a cabana, which is really just a nice screened-in porch with a bed, bathroom, and small living area. From our cabana we could look out over the Madre de Dios River. Neon green parakeets take over the nearby trees during the day.
At the Inkaterra, all of your meals are provided and the food is phenomenal. In order to save energy, the power is turned off during the afternoon hours and then again at nighttime. There is no air-conditioning, and it can be an adjustment, getting used to the hot, oppressive, sticky air.
The Inkaterra has a number of excursions to choose from, depending on how active you want to be. On our first day, we took a one hour tour into the rainforest, learning about the trees, termites, birds, and the local wildlife.
At sunset, we took their Twilight River Excursion , looking for caiman in the Madre de Dios River. We did get to see a few caiman, but what was more memorable was the feeling like we were in the middle of nowhere. Here we were, out in a small boat in the Amazon, looking for alligators, and feeling far, far away from home. It was wonderful.
LEARN MORE: An Introduction to the Amazon Rainforest
Peru Itinerary Day 9
Continue your exploration of the rainforest. We spent the first part of the day on an excursion to Lake Sandoval, a guided walk through the rainforest and a canoe trip around the lake. We got to see spider monkeys, howler monkeys, leaf cutter ants, birds, tarantulas, and capuchin monkeys.
In the afternoon, we went on a tour of the canopy bridges in the trees of the Inkaterra. It was awesome seeing the jungle from this vantage point.
Our last excursion of the day was a one hour nighttime walk in the forest. Talk about freaky! Our guide, Wilson, was searching for snakes, but we never got lucky (or maybe we did, depending on how much you want to see a snake). But Wilson did show us the tarantula that sleeps in the tree right outside of our cabana. That’s probably not the thing you want to see right before bedtime!
The Inkaterra offers many more excursions and part of the fun is picking out what interests you the most. Our favorite was the canopy tour.
Peru Itinerary Day 10
Fly Home or Continue Your Journey
Today you will begin your journey home. Most likely, you will fly from Puerto Maldonado to Cusco to Lima to your hometown. Or, for those with more time, continue your journey.
With More Time
If you have several more days or longer, consider adding these places to your Peru itinerary:
Add a few more days and walk the entire Inca Trail Lake Titicaca Arequipa Colca Canyon Chan Chan Archeological Zone The Nazca Lines Sandboarding in Huacachina Hiking in the Cordillera Blanca
Best Time to go to Peru
May through October, the dry season, is the best time to visit Peru. The peak months for tourism are July and August, so expect large crowds and higher prices for food and accommodations. For that reason, May and September are great months to visit Peru.
November through April is the rainy season. The Inca trail can be downright soggy during these months. The Inca trail is closed every February for maintenance of the trail.
We visited Peru the last week of April into early May, taking a chance with the weather. We had some cloudy days and we flew out of the Amazon during a torrential downpour, but otherwise, the weather was perfect. Since this was shoulder season, crowds were low and we had many spots all to ourselves. Our guides kept telling us what a great decision we made to visit Peru before peak season.
The CDC and WHO recommends you have the following recommendations if you are traveling to Peru:
- Yellow Fever
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
We were vaccinated for all of the above (Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A & B, and typhoid) but not rabies.
Malaria is present in the Amazon, so you will need to take prophylactic anti-malarial medication. We took Malarone because of its low side effect profile, but there are many options.
Dengue Fever, Zika Virus, and Chikungunya have also been reported in Peru. Make sure you use insect repellent if you are visiting the Amazon or if you are visiting Peru during the wet season.
For more information, visit the CDC website.
Tips to Have the Best Experience
You can get traveler’s diarrhea in Peru. To reduce your risk, only drink bottled water. Do not drink tap water or use ice made from tap water. Only eat fruit and vegetables that you have washed in purified water.
Altitude Sickness (Soroche)
When you arrive in Cusco, you will immediately feel the effects of being at a high altitude (11,152 feet, 3,399 meters). Symptoms can include fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, lack of appetite, or in severe cases, vomiting. For most people the symptoms are mild and nothing more than a nuisance.
To lessen the effects of the altitude, there are several things you can do. Stay hydrated, avoid alcohol, and keep your activity to a minimum. Drinking coca leaf tea helps a lot, but avoid doing this late in the day because it can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. You can also take Diamox, a diuretic that helps combat the symptoms of altitude sickness. You will need to get this from your doctor before traveling to Peru.
Bring Ear Plugs
In Lima and in Cusco, dogs roam the streets. They seem to sleep the day away and then end up howling throughout the night. If you are a light sleeper, bring ear plugs!
Learn at Least a Few Sentences of Spanish
You can travel through Peru without knowing one word of Spanish and get along fine. However, if you really want to engage with the people and be able to travel off of the main tourist trail, knowing Spanish is key.
I am not fluent in Spanish, but I can speak and understand enough to talk to taxi drivers, order in restaurants, and have short conversations. Speaking a little bit of Spanish opened us up to experiences with people that we wouldn’t have had if I only spoke English. I highly recommend learning at least a few sentences before you arrive in Peru.
If you want to learn a language, Fluenz is an awesome tool that teaches you the basics all of the way to fluency. Most programs have 5 levels. One level is enough to learn the basics and to be able to converse with people when you travel. I have used Fluenz to learn basic Spanish, French, German, and even Mandarin. If you want to learn more, visit the Fluenz website.
Recommended Reading Before You Go
If you want to do some reading before your trip to Peru, here are several books to help you understand the history of the Incan people, the history behind Machu Picchu, and how to decipher a menu. Turn Right at Machu Picchu is a wonderful book and a worthwhile read even if you don’t visit Machu Picchu. The Last Days of the Incas is an eye-opening historical account of the Incan Empire and their downfall with the arrival of the Europeans.
Do you have any questions about this Peru itinerary? Comment below!
More Information for Your Trip to Peru
PLACES TO GO IN PERU: Explore the Sacred Valley near Cusco, go shopping in the Pisac Market , walk the one day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, spend the day exploring Machu Picchu , and venture into the Amazon rainforest .
TRAVEL ITINERARIES: For more travel itineraries for destinations around the world, take a look at our Travel Itineraries page.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide.
TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more travel ideas, here are 10 unique destinations to put on your travel wish list and 10 bucket list destinations from around the world.
Read all of our articles about Peru in our Peru Travel Guide.
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Absolutely love your site and it has been an inspiration for our family of four during our trips to Turkey, Scotland, England, France and the Balkans in 2024. My husband and I would like to plan Peru in 2025, and were curious what month you travelled. We were thinking March would be best for us, but have read many conflicting opinions on the weather at that time. Your pictures appear to not be summer, so wondered what your experience was in that temperature and when you went. Thank-you so much for everything and for your help from afar with our bucket list!
Hello Sarah. Our visit to Peru took place from the end of April into early May. It’s shoulder season, and can be rainy, but we got very lucky with the weather. Our visit was also in 2012, just so you know. We loved visiting Peru at this time (April into May) since crowds were relatively low and the weather was good. It’s a place I hope to get back to soon…this continues to be one of my favorite 10 day trips in the world. Cheers, Julie
Hello! I love your guides and they are always the first spot I look. My family (3 in our 20s, 2 in their late 50s) is planning a 2 week vacation for next summer and are stuck between Peru and Slovenia. We love nature, hiking, and mountains. Both places seem amazing! Peru seems to offer everything from hiking to food and history and is a dream trip for us. We’ve heard that Slovenia is a wonderful, off the beaten path destination. We did a hut to hut hike through the Austrian Alps last summer and would add one to your Slovenia itinerary as well. Do you have a recommendation on your favorite destination? And if you’d pick Peru, would you add the extra flight, and muggy heat to see the Amazon if you were to do it again? Thank you!!
Hello Anna. That’s a great question. I still view this 10 day trip to Peru to be one of the very best trips we have ever taken. Like you stated, it checks all the boxes for food, history, and landscapes. If you like multi day hikes, there are several options in Peru, a great add on to this trip. If I was choosing between Peru and Slovenia, it’s easy, I’d pick Peru. Don’t get me wrong, we really enjoyed Slovenia as well, but we thought Peru was magical. And yes, I’d add on the Amazon. It was still incredible to see, despite the heat. Taking a trip where you visit a few historic cities, mountain villages, hike to Machu Picchu, and venture into the Amazon is truly an unforgettable experience. Cheers, Julie
I would like to add Colca Canyon and Cordillera Blanca, but I can’t figure out the best ways to get there. Do you have any suggestions?
That’s a great question and the Cordillera Blanca is an area I would love to visit on our next trip to Peru. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about it, or Colca Canyon, to offer solid advice. Hopefully more searching online or a good guidebook can give you better info. Cheers, Julie
Thank you so much; your website is my favorite travel guide!
I’ve never booked a private guide when traveling internationally and have always just used public transportation. When hiring a driver from your hotels, did you book that ahead of time or when you got to the hotel? Also, more importantly, how much would something like that cost? I know your trip was many years ago, but knowing how much it was then could still be helpful. I’m adding all of this up and it’s seeming like it’s going to cost almost $2k per person, plus flights.
Hello Samantha. We arranged our driver through the hotel ahead of time. We don’t have the price written down anywhere and Tim and I just talked it over and we can’t recall what we paid. It could have been something like $50 USD per day but that is a guess. I recommend reaching out to your hotel and getting updated pricing. There might be public buses that you can use to get around that could save you a lot of money. I hope you get to the Cordillera Blanca and Colca Canyon on your trip too…they look amazing! Cheers, Julie
Hi Julie and Tim- we are looking into travelling to Peru this September. I had a few questions ( just started to research) :
1. Is it easy to get by if we don’t speak Spanish ? Do lot of the tour operators/guides speak English ? 2. How would you rate the one day hike to Machu Picchu ? Is it all uphill or mix of uphill and flat ? Can be done if moderately fit ? 3. Do you think it will be hard to find vegetarian food options ? 4. How many days minimum would you recommend ?
Hello Indira. In Peru, I found it helpful to know basic Spanish. Tour operators speak English and English is spoken in the cities and larger towns. But our driver that we hired could not speak English so knowing Spanish was very helpful. If you are moderately fit you can do the one day trek to MP. If I remember correctly, it is more up than down but there are some flat sections mixed in. But it is a beautiful hike! We did this trip 10 years ago and I can’t remember what we ate, unfortunately, so I can’t 100% say it will be easy to find vegetarian food. If you want to do everything in this itinerary, 10 days is the minimum. If you only want to do Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley you need one week. Cheers, Julie
Hi Julie , thank you for the amazing write up. You mentioned that you did not take your kids along . Do you think this is strenuous for a 9 year old?
I don’t think it is too strenuous for an active, adventurous 9 year old. The main reason we didn’t take our kids was because of Tyler’s peanut allergy, and then once in Peru, learned it wasn’t much of an issue. I still regret not taking them. The most strenuous part is the hike on the Inca Trail and I’m not sure if kids can do the via ferrata or bike tour, so you may have to make a few changes. However, we would have taken our kids on the hike if they were 9 or older. This is such a wonderful trip and even with everything we have done, is still one of my favorites. I hope you make a lot of great memories in Peru. Cheers, Julie
Awesome , thank you.
Hi Daiana, How was your trip to South America? Was Rio worth the long and expensive flight? We are planning a similar trip, except we are trying to decide whether to go to Rio or do the Amazon rain forest.
Thank you so much for all the amazing articles! I’ve been following your adventures for a long time and got a lot of useful information each time 🙂
We are now planning our first trip to South America and have a few concerns regarding the health risks, and the information I found online even on official sites is sometimes mixed. Our itinerary will be Rio de Janeiro – Lima – Cusco (and the towns around) – Machu Picchu. Since we are not planning to go to the Amazon, are the same 5 vaccines you mentioned recommended? Also, I’ve read that if you don’t plan on going into the Amazon Rainforest than you shouldn’t take malaria medicine, because the risk is low compared to the side effects. Is this true or should we get it anyway?
Thank you, Daiana
We did not have rabies vaccine but I list it since it is recommended by the CDC. If you don’t plan to go to the Amazon, you might not have to have the Yellow Fever vaccine. We took malaria medicine prophylactically, because of our time in the Amazon, and did not have any side effects (we have also taken it for other trips around the world and had no issues). Again, you might not need malaria prophylaxis, if you aren’t planning to visit the Amazon. You will need a prescription for the malaria pills and I recommend talking more with your doctor about this. But the other vaccines (Typhoid Fever, Hep A and B) are a good idea because of the possibility of food borne illnesses. Cheers, Julie
Hi! Thanks for writing this guide. For the day hike to Machu Picchu did you meet the tour guide after you got off the train in Ollantaytambo? And then after the hike you take the bus back and stay in Aguas Calientes. What happened to your belongings in between?
We met our guide at 104 km of the train ride between Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu. We left our luggage at our hotel in Ollantaytambo and only brought the bare essentials in our day packs to Machu Picchu. After visiting Machu Picchu, we stayed in Ollantaytambo a few more nights before going back to Cusco. Cheers, Julie
Thanks for replying so quickly! Another question- why stay in Ollantaytambo after Machu Picchu instead of Cusco? Is it easier to do the ziplining and the rainbow mountain tour from there?
The ziplining is located very close to Ollantaytambo, so stay in Ollantaytambo after Machu Picchu if you want to go ziplining. The Rainbow Mountain is located east of Cusco. So, it’s best to stay in Cusco to visit the Rainbow Mountain as a day trip from here. Cheers, Julie
Thank you for such an incredible website! We have used your itineraries a few times traveling stateside. This will be our first international trip with our kids (ages 25, 21 & 20). However, we only have 8 days. If you had to cut a day or two off, where would you? Is one day in the Amazon enough, in your opinion? I’m thinking a total of 3 hotels in the areas you mentioned…just trying to decide what experiences to cut – so difficult, as it all looks amazing. Thank you for any input you might provide.
Hello Sarah. I recommend taking out the Amazon. One day is not enough time to fly out there and experience it. For me, it was great to see the Amazon, but my favorite experiences in Peru were the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. It truly is an amazing area and I would love to get back there again, hopefully sometime soon. Have fun with your kids! Cheers, Julie
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© Gianella Castro
Peru is as complex as its most intricate and exquisite weavings. Festivals mark ancient rites, the urban vanguard fuels innovation and nature bestows splendid diversity.
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Travelers have their heads literally in the clouds when visiting the walled jungle fortress Kuélap in the northern highlands of Peru – the gateway to the…
The largest lake in the Cordillera Blanca — a snowcapped range of the Andes in west central Peru — and a gorgeous natural reservoir, Laguna Paron is a…
Chavín de Huántar
Huaraz & the Cordilleras
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If there's one must-see archaeological site in the region, this is it. The Temples of the Sun and the Moon, attributed to the Moche period, are more than…
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Parque Nacional Manu
This vast national park in the Amazon Basin covers almost 20,000 sq km and is one of the best places in South America to see a stunning variety of…
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Traveling to lesser-known pre-Incan archaeological sites, lush jungles and tranquil beaches almost always requires a bit of land transport in Peru.
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The Best of Peru in 7 days: A Comprehensive 1 Week Itinerary
Welcome to Peru, a captivating land of ancient civilizations, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant culture. In this comprehensive Peru in 7 days itinerary, we invite you to embark on an unforgettable journey through the best that Peru has to offer.
From the bustling streets of Lima to the awe-inspiring ruins of Machu Picchu, from the mystical beauty of the Sacred Valley to the natural wonders of Lake Titicaca and the Amazon rainforest, each day of this itinerary promises to immerse you in the rich tapestry of Peru’s history, nature, and diverse cultural heritage.
Prepare to be amazed as you walk in the footsteps of the Incas, explore ancient ruins, taste the flavors of Peruvian cuisine, and connect with the warmth and hospitality of the Peruvian people. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or an adventurer seeking new experiences, Peru offers a remarkable blend of ancient wonders and contemporary charm.
Get ready to experience the best of Peru in one week, where ancient mysteries meet modern marvels, and where the allure of this extraordinary country will capture your heart. Let’s begin this immersive journey into the heart and soul of Peru.
Day 1: Exploring the Historic Streets of Lima
Start your Peruvian adventure in the vibrant capital city of Lima. Begin your day by exploring the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the “City of Kings.” Stroll along the colonial streets and marvel at the beautifully preserved architecture that showcases Lima’s rich history.
Visit the Plaza de Armas, the main square of Lima, surrounded by iconic landmarks such as the Presidential Palace, the Cathedral of Lima, and the Archbishop’s Palace. Take a moment to appreciate the intricate details and grandeur of these historic buildings.
Next, venture into the San Francisco Monastery and Catacombs, a fascinating complex dating back to the 16th century. Explore the underground catacombs and witness the eerie beauty of the bone-filled chambers. The monastery itself boasts stunning architecture, ornate chapels, and a remarkable library housing ancient texts.
For lunch, indulge in Peru’s renowned culinary scene. Lima is a gastronomic capital, offering a wide array of culinary delights. Taste traditional dishes such as ceviche, anticuchos (grilled skewered meats), and causa (a layered potato dish) at one of the city’s many acclaimed restaurants.
In the afternoon, head to the Larco Museum, a treasure trove of pre-Columbian artifacts. Admire the impressive collection of ceramics, gold and silver jewelry, textiles, and ancient artifacts that showcase Peru’s rich cultural heritage. The museum is located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion and also features stunning gardens.
As the evening sets in, take a leisurely stroll along the Miraflores boardwalk. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the stunning coastal cliffs. Miraflores is known for its lively atmosphere, with bustling shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Grab a refreshing drink or sample some Peruvian street food while enjoying the ocean breeze.
Day 2: Discovering the Mystical Wonder of Machu Picchu
On day 2, prepare for a truly awe-inspiring experience as you visit one of the New Seven Wonders of the World: Machu Picchu. Catch an early morning flight from Lima to Cusco, the gateway to this ancient Inca citadel.
Upon arrival in Cusco, take a scenic train ride through the breathtaking Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes, the town located at the base of Machu Picchu. From there, board a shuttle bus that will transport you up the winding mountain roads to the entrance of Machu Picchu.
As you enter the citadel, be prepared to be captivated by the majestic ruins and the incredible mountainous backdrop. Explore the intricate stone terraces, impressive temples, and ceremonial sites that make up this mystical archaeological marvel. Learn about the fascinating history and significance of Machu Picchu from your knowledgeable guide.
Spend the day wandering through the ancient city, taking in the awe-inspiring views from vantage points like the Sun Gate or the famous Inca Bridge. Capture the moment with photographs that will forever remind you of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
In the afternoon, descend back to Aguas Calientes and take some time to relax and rejuvenate. Explore the town’s charming streets, visit local markets, or soak in the natural hot springs for a soothing experience.
As the day comes to an end, savor a delicious dinner featuring traditional Peruvian cuisine. Reflect on the wonders you have witnessed and prepare for the adventures that await in the coming days. Tomorrow, you’ll continue your exploration of Peru’s rich heritage as you journey through the Sacred Valley.
Day 3: Exploring the Sacred Valley and its Ancient Ruins
On day 3, immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes and ancient wonders of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. After breakfast, embark on a scenic drive through the picturesque countryside, surrounded by towering mountains and terraced fields.
Your first stop is the town of Pisac, famous for its vibrant market. Explore the bustling stalls filled with colorful textiles, handmade crafts, and fresh produce. Engage with local artisans, learn about traditional weaving techniques, and perhaps pick up a unique souvenir to commemorate your journey.
Continue your journey to the archaeological site of Pisac, perched high above the valley. Explore the terraced ruins and marvel at the strategic location that provided a natural defense for the Incas. Admire the intricate stone work, agricultural terraces, and ceremonial structures that offer a glimpse into the lives of the ancient inhabitants.
Afterward, enjoy a delicious lunch featuring traditional Peruvian cuisine at a local restaurant in the Sacred Valley. Indulge in regional specialties such as roasted cuy (guinea pig), alpaca steak, or quinoa-based dishes.
In the afternoon, visit the fortress of Ollantaytambo, a significant archaeological site that showcases impressive Inca architecture. Climb the massive stone terraces and explore the ancient temple complex, imagining the strategic military operations and religious ceremonies that once took place here.
As the day winds down, check into a charming hotel in the Sacred Valley where you can relax and enjoy the serene surroundings. Unwind with a leisurely walk through the peaceful landscapes or indulge in a soothing spa treatment to rejuvenate your senses.
Day 4: Immersing in the Cultural Delights of Cusco
Today, you’ll dive deeper into the cultural riches of Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire. After breakfast, embark on a scenic drive through the Andean highlands, marveling at the breathtaking landscapes along the way.
Upon arrival in Cusco, take some time to acclimate to the altitude. Cusco sits at an elevation of over 3,000 meters (10,000 feet), so it’s essential to rest and hydrate to avoid altitude sickness.
Start your exploration of Cusco with a visit to the Plaza de Armas, the heart of the city. Admire the colonial architecture, including the Cusco Cathedral and the Church of the Society of Jesus. Step inside these magnificent structures to marvel at the ornate altars, religious art, and intricate craftsmanship.
Next, wander through the narrow cobblestone streets of San Blas, a bohemian neighborhood known for its art galleries, workshops, and craft shops. Explore the local artisan markets and discover unique handmade souvenirs, such as textiles, pottery, and silver jewelry.
For lunch, savor the flavors of Cusco’s culinary scene. Sample traditional dishes like rocoto relleno (stuffed spicy pepper), lomo saltado (stir-fried beef), or a hearty plate of cuy al horno (oven-roasted guinea pig). Wash it down with a refreshing glass of chicha morada, a purple corn-based drink.
In the afternoon, delve into the history of the Incas at the Qorikancha, also known as the Temple of the Sun. Marvel at the remaining Inca stonework within the walls of the Santo Domingo Convent, which was built upon the ruins of the ancient temple. Learn about the Inca’s astronomical knowledge and their reverence for the sun.
As the day unfolds, visit the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman, an impressive Inca fortress located on the outskirts of Cusco. Marvel at the massive stone walls and the precision with which the stones were fitted together. Enjoy panoramic views of Cusco and the surrounding mountains from this elevated vantage point.
In the evening, take some time to immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Cusco’s vibrant nightlife. Explore the local bars, cafes, and restaurants that line the streets, offering a mix of traditional and contemporary entertainment.
After a day filled with cultural exploration, retire to your comfortable accommodation in Cusco, reflecting on the fascinating history and vibrant culture you have experienced. Tomorrow, you’ll embark on a journey to the enchanting waters of Lake Titicaca.
Day 5: Cruising the Enigmatic Waters of Lake Titicaca
On day 5, prepare to embark on a captivating journey to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and a place of immense natural beauty and cultural significance. After breakfast, depart from Cusco and travel by scenic road towards the town of Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
Upon arrival in Puno, board a comfortable boat and set sail on the glistening waters of the lake. Marvel at the expansive blue expanse, surrounded by the majestic Andean mountains. Lake Titicaca is not only a natural wonder but also a place deeply rooted in the traditions and beliefs of the indigenous communities that inhabit its islands.
Visit the Uros Floating Islands, a unique and fascinating attraction. These man-made islands are constructed using totora reeds, which grow abundantly in the lake. Interact with the friendly Uros people, learn about their traditional way of life, and witness their impressive craftsmanship.
Continue your exploration with a visit to Taquile Island, known for its stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage. As you step onto the island, you’ll be greeted by locals dressed in vibrant traditional clothing, showcasing their unique textile weaving techniques. Take a leisurely walk along the terraced hillsides, enjoying panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
Immerse yourself in the island’s culture and traditions by enjoying a delicious lunch prepared by the islanders. Experience their warm hospitality and learn about their ancestral customs and beliefs, passed down through generations.
In the afternoon, return to Puno and spend some time exploring the town at your leisure. Wander through the bustling markets, where you can find a variety of handmade crafts, textiles, and traditional souvenirs. Take a moment to savor a cup of mate de coca, a tea made from coca leaves known for its invigorating properties at high altitudes.
Day 6: Unveiling the Colossal Nazca Lines and Chauchilla Cemetery
On day 6, prepare for a day of mystery and discovery as you explore the enigmatic Nazca Lines and the ancient Chauchilla Cemetery. After an early breakfast, board a domestic flight from Juliaca to Nazca, located in the coastal desert region of Peru.
Upon arrival in Nazca, head to the Nazca Lines viewing platform, where you’ll witness the colossal geoglyphs etched into the desert floor. These massive figures and intricate geometric patterns, spanning several kilometers, have puzzled archaeologists for centuries. Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the Nazca Lines during a thrilling optional flight tour, which offers a unique perspective of these ancient wonders.
Next, venture to the nearby Chauchilla Cemetery, an archaeological site that provides insight into the burial practices of the Nazca civilization. Explore the open-air cemetery, where well-preserved mummies, pottery, and artifacts are displayed. Learn about the customs and rituals surrounding death in ancient Nazca culture.
As you journey back to Puno in the evening, take in the breathtaking views of the Peruvian landscape, transitioning from the arid desert to the stunning Andean mountains. Reflect on the mysteries and marvels you have encountered throughout the day.
Upon returning to Puno, enjoy a delicious dinner featuring regional cuisine and relax in your comfortable accommodation. Tomorrow, you’ll venture into the Amazon rainforest for an unforgettable exploration of Peru’s natural wonders.
Day 7: Immersion in the Amazon Rainforest
On day 7, get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure deep into the lush Amazon rainforest. After breakfast, transfer to the airport and take a short flight from Puno to Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to the Peruvian Amazon.
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by your experienced local guide who will accompany you throughout your rainforest exploration. From Puerto Maldonado, take a boat ride along the Madre de Dios River, immersing yourself in the sights and sounds of the pristine rainforest.
Arrive at your eco-lodge, nestled in the heart of the Amazon jungle. Settle into your comfortable accommodations, which blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings, offering an authentic rainforest experience.
In the afternoon, embark on a guided nature walk, venturing deep into the rainforest. Your knowledgeable guide will introduce you to the incredible biodiversity of the Amazon, pointing out unique plant species, spotting colorful birds and monkeys swinging through the canopy, and sharing fascinating insights about the delicate ecosystem.
As the sun begins to set, embark on a thrilling evening river excursion, allowing you to witness the nocturnal creatures that come alive in the rainforest. Keep your eyes peeled for caimans, capybaras, and other fascinating wildlife that thrive in the darkness.
Return to the lodge and enjoy a delicious dinner featuring local flavors and fresh ingredients. Afterward, you have the opportunity to participate in a captivating evening activity, such as stargazing or listening to the enchanting sounds of the rainforest at night.
Peru in 7 days Itinerary Conclusion
As your exhilarating 7-day journey through Peru comes to an end, take a moment to reflect on the incredible experiences and memories you’ve made along the way. From exploring the ancient wonders of Machu Picchu to cruising the mystical waters of Lake Titicaca and venturing into the depths of the Amazon rainforest, you’ve witnessed the diverse beauty and rich cultural heritage of this captivating country.
Peru has captivated travelers for centuries with its blend of history, natural wonders, and warm hospitality. Whether you’ve marveled at the ancient ruins, indulged in the tantalizing flavors of Peruvian cuisine, or interacted with the welcoming local communities, your journey through Peru has been a true exploration of the senses.
As you bid farewell to this remarkable country, carry with you the cherished memories and newfound appreciation for Peru’s ancient civilizations, awe-inspiring landscapes, and vibrant culture. Let the spirit of adventure and discovery guide you as you continue to explore the wonders of our world.
Safe travels, and may your next adventure be as extraordinary as your Peruvian odyssey.
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7 Days in Peru: A Best Travel Guide
Day 1: Arrive In Lima and Stay A Night
Day 2: take a morning short flight to cusco, and explore the city, day 3: explore the sacred valley, day 4: take machu picchu excursion in aguas calientes, day 5: take a train back to cusco, day 6: rainbow mountain (mount vinicunca) hike, day 7: departing, parting notes:.
Peru is a diverse country in western South America blessed with one of the ancient cultures that are not found anywhere else, and there are a lot of things to do in Peru during your Peru travel. For an active traveler, Peru is a paradise with giant dunes, wonderful peaks, paragliding, and rafting with plenty of adventurous activities that come along the way.
A guide on things to do in Peru for a short Peru travel in seven days is provided here for those who want to experience the maximum with a short time of seven days along with the list of things to do in Peru. From the challenging adventure sports to different flavored gastronomic to meet your appetite, the guide will cover to make your travel to Peru a memorable one, be a personal trip, a family trip or a business get together.
Lima is the capital of Peru and also the most populated city of Peru, by the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Jorge Chávez International Airport is the nearest airport at 11 kilometers from Lima located at Callao. At the center of Lima is Plaza de Armas and also Miraflores at the city’s peripheries, the main places to visit. There is plenty of parks to relax out and enjoy the gardens or visit the Indian Market for traditional novelties and Alpaca attire as perfect souvenirs. Along the downtown is the 16th-century Cathedral that took 80 years to build in the magnificent style of the Spanish Empire. The Casa Aliaga, which is a majestic castle from the old era that still is held by the same family, was established by chief conquistador Francisco Pizarro for his captain Jerónimo de Aliaga in 1535.
Miraflores is the best place to stay in. It is one of the safest and upscale districts located next to the coast with a large number of hotels. Selina Miraflores, Pariwana Hostel Lima, and The Tierra Viva Miraflores Mendiburu are few of the best hotels. For budget-conscious travelers, a historical Center is a good option though not as safe as Miraflores. Almost all the hotels have the standard upscale features of pools, pubs, great food, barbeques, clubs, golf, and tennis clubs with fancy bars. Just before falling off to sleep, just run through the list of things to do in Peru, from the Peru travel plan so as not to miss out on anything and also to maintain the schedule.
There are regular flights from Lima to Cusco with a typical travel time of one hour and twenty minutes. Plenty of flights are available during the daytime, and the frequency decreases over the day time. Cusco is located at 11,150 feet (3,400 meters) from sea level and makes an interesting place to start the exploration of the Peru travel plan. There is plenty to visit and absorb into the beauty like the Cusco Cathedral at the Plaza de Armas, Qorikancha temple, and Sacsayhuaman. Plaza de Armas is the cultural epicenter of Cusco lined with restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. In the middle is a manicured garden and statue of the great Incan ruler Pachacuti. The cathedral is a mark of the Spanish takeover with a unique Peruvian trace in the reproduction of Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ with a guinea pig appearing on a plate.
Sacsayhuaman is an ancient Inca site and a religious site and also the site where a gory battle between the Spanish conquistadors and Inca forces took place. The planetarium located near Sacsayhuaman offers fabulous sights of the stars from the Cusco’s high elevation is one place not be missed the astronomy has played a huge role in the lives of people thereby influencing crop cycle and religious ceremonies. The San Pedro Market is a sight to be witnessed always bursting with vegetables, fruits and meat stalls where the newest fresh items are sold in the morning. Being an upscale city, it never fails to impress even those looking for a good nightlife with plenty of bars and cafes available. Visiting Cusco with its ancient and contemporary sites with shopping in plenty makes Peru travel one of the first things to do in Peru.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas, also known by the name Urubamba Valley is along the river Urubamba at an elevation of 3,000 meters (9,800 ft.). It is located in the Andes of Peru, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Cusco. Visiting and exploring the Sacred Valley is one of the valuable things to do in Peru during your Peru travel.
The Sacred Valley is a foremost tourist spot owing to its most famous archaeological site. The valley stretches from Pisac to Ollantaytambo used for agriculture due to its fertile soil by many civilizations till finally occupied by Incan Empire and finally the Spanish invaders.
Pisac has an opulent Incan history, a famous textile market, and unique salt pools. The ruin of the erstwhile town is a sight to watch and wonder the architectural planning. The bustling market is the place to buy vibrant Peruvian textiles, pottery, and jewelry. Ollantaytambo town is an hour, and a half drive from Cusco with its magnificent 600-year-old fortress with temples and terraces made with huge stones with great precision. Dating back to Inca's time, the streets are narrow with cobblestone, and along with the town the irrigation stream runs through. Though the ruins are the main attraction, there is not much to see apart from the delightful views from the top of ruins, and it’s time to retire from this leg of Peru travel and things to do in Peru activity.
Aguas Calientes is a little town which can be gained easily by train though buses are also available. It is the ideal point to stay at the start of the expedition to Machu Picchu, stay at Tierra Viva, a well-located hotel is suggested. It gets busy as tourists plan to visit Machu Picchu with Aguas Calientes as the gateway. The travel from Cusco if of one hour and 45 minutes by train to Aguas Calientes. Aguas Calientes has good thermal baths and once can take a hike to Putucusi Mountain, which offers a good view of Machu Picchu. From Aguas Calientes on a private tour, one can get full attention from the personal guide who will provide valuable information and history about the temples, sites used for sacrifices, and hills that are terraced. Suggestions for best viewpoints and vantage points for taking pictures will be an asset with personal guides. This personalized sightseeing is worth of Peru travel and in the list of valuable things to do in Peru tour. The journey amongst the ruins of Machu Picchu feels like a dream with the guide talking through important locations like the Sun Stone, Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Three Windows. As one enters the archaeological spectacle located at 7,970 feet (2,430 m) above sea level, a two- and half-hour tour of Inca fortress begins with its terraced hills, mountains, llamas, the Royal Tomb, the Sacred Plaza, and the Main Temple. Inside the Temple of sun, one can see on a granite alter a semicircular rock structure, the place where Incan priests had made sacrifices. The ruins are a sight to behold, giving an insight into the planned life of Incas centuries ago.
The travel back from Machu Picchu to Cusco as a part of Peru travel, the direct travel without changes trains is by using the services of PeruRail that provides direct service. The duration of travel can be between three to four hours to the Poroy station, which is about twenty minutes outside of Cusco.
The other option, Inca Rail, provides service till Ollantaytambo, from where another connection train to Cusco has been used. Three classes are available for tourist passengers using PeruRail, Expedition Vistadome, and Hiram Bingham. The Expedition class is the budget option of PeruRail, which is a comfortable and reasonable option with an average cost of about $65 for one way.
The Vistadome class is a mid-range option of PeruRail with air-conditioning and panoramic windows, costing about $100 and a cheaper alternative option to Hiram Bingham. The luxury class, Hiram Bingham costs little over $400 is named after the man who rediscovered Machu Picchu. The Hiram Bingham class is decorated like a 1920s Pullman carriage having polished wood and brass. A welcome show with dances and music of the region awaits. The coach comprises a bar car, observatory, gourmet lunch, and VIP entrance at Machu Picchu station with a guided tour. A good Peru travel by train is incomplete if not done as a part of things to do in Peru tour. An advance ticket book is recommended for a hassle-free, enjoyable trip.
From Cusco city at 3.5-hour travel lies Vinicunca is also known as the Rainbow Mountain, the very plan of doing a hike at the Rainbow Mountain invigorates the list of things to do in Peru done so far and moving ahead. It is believed that the colorful look is due to the melting of ice on the mountain surface over a long period. The water getting mixing with minerals, iron rust, and iron sulfides, limonite, and chlorites give the bright colors of red, yellow, green, purple, and red, resulting in a rainbow color imposed mountain. At an elevation of 12,139 feet (3,700 m), panoramic views glacial peaks, the Andes and rocky hills are breathtaking and allow memorable photos to be taken. A Rainbow Mountain tour starts from $30 from Cusco with a juddering bus ride that starts early morning around 3 am.
There is a small village just at the start of the hike to have breakfast or something to eat out, and finish one has any urgent personal chores. The trek is a day-long for the to and fro walk. At the altitude of reaching near 14,000 feet to 17,000 feet, the trek can be demanding though the route is beautiful with local villages along the way. The temperature along the trek can vary drastically, so having the jacket to beat the cold and having sunscreens are highly recommended. It is better to get used to or acclimatized in Cusco before the trek to Mount Vinicunca so that your body is prepared for high altitude trek and faces no sickness. The entrance charge is $3 for the 6-mile trek that includes, visiting Vinicunca by trekking, viewing the breathtaking panoramic views an adventurous hike in the list of things to do in Peru is accomplished on Peru travel.
It's time to travel back and have the next plan up for the next visit. After reaching back to Cusco after the tiring but adventurous hike, you can take up some rest before catching up on the return travel. Feeling exhausted, one needs a good rest and plenty of food to have back the energy and zest. There is a good amount of outbound flights from the Jorge Chávez International Airport, if not plenty. Few hotels around do provide complimentary airport drops at the scheduled time providing comforting service during the last leg. If there is sufficient time available before the departure of the flight, you can have a quick tour of the city to grab some souvenirs and last-minute purchases that you had missed! There is a new transport service, Quick Llama, for quick Airport drops for as less than $5 in case of having to miss out time due to any unforeseen delays.
Peru, South America’s third-largest country is made up of diverse geography, mountains, beaches, rain forests, and deserts. With the mixed culture of people, multitudes of cuisine in terms of varieties is the place to reckon. A short visit with family or friends is worthwhile, and for those limited by a shorter plan, a seven-day planned Peru travel with a list of things to do in Peru would be handy that will guide people to visit the important and magnificent places with proper planning. Peru has different types of ecosystems, with most of them being undisturbed unlike others around the globe, a visit to feel nature is worth every effort. The best time to visit Peru in between June and August, which is also the busiest and crowded time due to the high influx of tourists. Another alternative for the low crowded season is March to May or September to November. With the peaks of Andes Mountains, the dense Amazon jungle, and coastal deserts, Peru puts forward diverse geography as its varied population of multiple civilizations that thrived for centuries here. With multiple modes of transport like taxies, trains, and planes one can travel across Peru, covering its large landscapes with varied geography. Buen Viaje!
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Peru Route Planner: Classic Itinerary
Chris VR / TripSavvy
There is a well-trodden tourist route in the southern half of Peru , commonly referred to as the Gringo Trail. This classic Peru itinerary encompasses many of the nation’s most famous attractions, including Machu Picchu , Lake Titicaca, and the Nazca Lines. With good connections by bus and plane, the route is flexible enough to accommodate schedules ranging from 10 days to a month or more.
Most travelers arrive in Lima , so we’ll take that as our starting point (you can easily join the Gringo Trail if you’re entering Peru overland from Bolivia or Chile).
How many days you spend in each location will depend on the amount of time you have and your personal preferences, so the days listed are a rough guide only.
Lima (1 to 4 days)
Many tourists arrive in the capital and leave just as quickly. If you only have 10 to 15 days in Peru, you’ll probably only need a day or two in Lima, perhaps more if you like big cities. Take a day to explore the historic center and eat at a good cevicheria (ceviche restaurant). There are many more things to see and do in Lima , so stick around if you have the time.
Pisco and Paracas (0 to 2 days)
Head south from Lima and you’ll pass through Pisco and Paracas. If you’re short on time, both cities are candidates for exclusion. The Islas Ballestas National Reserve is a big draw for nature lovers, so set aside a day or two in Pisco or Paracas if you want to explore the nearby islands and their natural inhabitants (Humboldt penguins, Peruvian boobies, pelicans, and more).
Ica (0 to 2 days)
The next stop is the city of Ica, another place to bypass if you want more time elsewhere. Ica is a major producer of pisco , so a day sampling Peru’s most famous alcoholic beverage may be in order. Pisco and sandboarding are perhaps a poor combination, but you won’t find bigger dunes than those in the nearby village of Huacachina. This little oasis is Peru’s sandboarding hotspot, so extreme sports fanatics should consider an overnight stay.
Nazca (1 to 2 days)
Head farther south and you’ll arrive in the uninspiring city of Nazca. The city may not have much to offer, but the nearby Nazca Lines more than make up for it. If you arrive early in the morning, you can take a flight over the Nazca Lines and visit some surrounding attractions before moving on to Arequipa later in the day.
Arequipa (2 to 4 days)
The attractive colonial heart of Arequipa is well worth a day or two of exploration. Don’t miss the impressively vast Santa Catalina Monastery . You’ll also find plenty of excellent restaurants, bars, and discos. Rugged landscapes surround the city, so trekkers should set aside at least a day or two in Arequipa. Highlights include the descent into Colca Canyon and the ascent of the El Misti volcano.
Puno and Lake Titicaca (2 to 5 days)
Lake Titicaca , in short, is spectacular. The lakeside city of Puno, known as Peru’s folkloric capital, is the main base for tourists on the Peruvian side of Titicaca. From Puno, you can spend three or four days exploring the lake and its islands, including the Islas Flotantes and various archeological sites. If you’re short on time, you can still see Titicaca’s main attractions in two full days. If you have days to spare on your Peru itinerary, consider a trip over to the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, particularly to the Islas del Sol y del la Luna.
Cusco and Machu Picchu (2 to 5 days)
You could easily spend a month exploring the city of Cusco and its surrounding area. Machu Picchu is the main attraction, but further sites of comparable interest lie scattered across the region. Visitors also have Cusco’s regional cuisine, nightlife and cultural heritage to discover. While a month would be ideal, you can still pack a lot into two or three full days. Of course, if you want to hike the classic Inca Trail , you’ll have to set aside four days for the trek alone. If time is short, a one-day tour to Machu Picchu may be a wiser choice.
Adjusting the Classic Peru Route
Adding up the days spent on the above Peru itinerary, we have eight days at the lower end and 24 at the higher end. Including travel time, that would make roughly 10 days for the short tour and 28 days for a more comprehensive trip (depending on your primary mode of transport in Peru ).
Unexpected bumps in the road can soon upset a well-planned itinerary, so having one or two free days is a good idea. If you find yourself with time to spare at the end of your trip, you could perhaps make a short trip into the jungle or along the north coast of Peru .
How to Travel From Lima to Cusco, Peru, by Bus, Car, and Plane
Top 20 Things to Do in Lima, Peru
Trekking the Two-Day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
18 Inspiring Aerial Images of Peru
The 12 Most Popular Cities in Peru
Backpacking Peru Tips for First Timers
Your Trip to Lima: The Complete Guide
The Top 20 Things to Do in Peru
Travel Inspiration: A Visit to Cusco
The Best Time to Visit Peru
Lake Titicaca Travel Guide: Planning Your Trip
Your Trip to Chile: The Complete Guide
The Complete Guide to Peru's Sacred Valley
Tips for Picking a Machu Picchu Tour
Where to Go in 2021: 10 Future Trips You Can Start Planning Now
Is It Safe in Peru?
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10 Days in Peru: The perfect itinerary when short on time
Learn all you can do with just 10 days in Peru. Where to go, tours to take, cities to explore and much more.
If you only have 10 days in Peru, then you need to get as much out of it as possible. It’s very easy to unintentionally fill your itinerary with boring activities and airport delays. This country has enough to surprise everyone, whether it’s the culture, the once-in-a-lifetime landscapes, or the warm people.
The typical tourist has a reasonably predictable route. Arriving at Jorge Chavez Lima Airport in Lima you will most likely explore the capital city for a few days, and then go back to the airport to take a flight to Cusco. Once in Cusco, you’d take a day or two to get used to the altitude, visit Machu Picchu, then a trip back to Lima. It’s not bad, but to spend 10 days in Peru – you’re definitely missing a lot out.
There’s nothing wrong with this route, but it excludes all of the other incredible places that Peru has to offer . With 10 days in Peru you have so much more potential for a great trip than the traditional route.
The ‘traditional’ route for your 10 days in Peru may make you feel comfortable but you will only see two cities. In a country like Peru two cities is not enough. With ten days you can see 5 different incredible places, all throughout Southern Peru if you choose to travel with Peru Hop.
There’s never enough time to explore all that Peru has to offer, which is why Peru Hop was made. Peru Hop is a hop on, hop off bus service that travels to unique and incredible destinations through the south of Peru.
Peru Hop offers you this itinerary for 10 days in Peru for you to take advantage of all your time here.
Did you know: Peru Hop was setup by 2 Irish guys in 2013 and has been voted #1 Travel Company in Peru for 2023 – Click here for more info .
Day 1: Lima – arriving into the capital
Lima is the second largest desert city in the world. No matter what time of the year you arrive, it won’t be raining in Lima. That’s the reason outdoor activities are such a popular thing in this city. Make sure you pack a light jacket if you are traveling in winter time.
As travelers you probably know that the first day it is better to take it easy, especially if you come from a country with a different time zone. Avoid the stressful jet lag . Follow our tips to explore Peru in 10 days – Have a nice and chill first day, get a Peruvian breakfast and get ready to get to know the famous Lima.
Explore the city on day one of your ten days in Peru and enjoy the magnificent architecture, such as La Plaza de Armas, Plaza San Martín, and Chabuca Granda boulevard. You can take a Lima Walking Tour or see the most emblematic places of the capital by bus.
If you enjoy exercising then you can also take a city bike tour, some of which include top gastronomy stops to try the worldwide famous traditional Peruvian food. For all foodies, learn how to make delicious Peruvian dishes with one of the best 3-hour cooking class in Lima (no experience needed). Don’t miss a visit to the Circuito Mágico de las Aguas and walk around the bars and restaurants of the bohemian district of Barranco . In fact, if you’re wondering what the top 10 things to do in Lima in one day are, then look no further. Remember, you’re leaving early tomorrow morning to discover Peru, so sleep well.
Day 2: Paracas – the adventure begins
Get picked up by the 7am Peru Hop bus and start making your way to Paracas in a luxury bus. On the way to Paracas there is an amazing and exclusive stop that very few tourists know about… but first! A delicious breakfast – this place sells the best, and the freshest bread in all Peru.
After breakfast, you will travel to Chincha to explore the Secret Slaves Tunnels – a hidden place that was built at the end of the XVII century, found underneath what is now a luxury hotel. The Hacienda San Jose used to be an infamous sugarcane plantation that had thousands of slaves working who were trafficked in illegally. Our local guides will tell you the story of the tunnels, from what they were used for, to when it was finally abandoned.
You will arrive at the beautiful coast town of Paracas at approximately 2pm. This place is the perfect time to enjoy some carapulcra or sopa seca; two of the most traditional dishes of the Ica region, or enjoy some ceviche next to the beach! You can also enjoy the biodiverse environment and the stunning landscapes. Spend the night in Paracas and enjoy our exclusive hopsters’ discounts at many hostels and hotels in the area.
Day 3: Huacachina – the amazing desert oasis
You’ll start the day with two fantastic activities in Paracas: A boat tour to the Ballestas Islands to see the Humboldt penguins and sea lions – If you haven’t booked it then don’t worry, our onboard guides will help you and will recommend you an operator. You can even book on the bus! After you’re free to enjoy a tour through the Paracas National Reserve a stunning reserve full of scenic views that will take your breath away.
After midday you can head to Huacachina, the only desert oasis in South America . Here you’ll be able to zoom up the hill on the buggies (also known as the dunes rollercoaster), and slide down, Tony Hawk style through the highest dunes in South America.
Nights at Huacachina are quite chill and relaxing. You can opt for a night town walk or if you want to go partying and dancing. You can stay at Wild Rover Hostels, also the Peru Hop meeting point for departures and arrivals.
Day 4: Nazca – options to view the mysterious Nazca Lines
After another exclusive Peru Hop stop at the Pisco Vineyard where you can learn about the Peruvian national drink and enjoy some free samples. If you want to take a Nazca flight you will miss this part and head right to Nazca. For those who want to see the Vineyard, we will make our way to Nazca after.
Once in Nazca , you can climb the Nazca Lines Viewing Tower and enjoy some of the Nazca Lines for free – This is another exclusive Peru Hop stop. You can also choose to book a flight to enjoy them all as well. We don’t spend much time in Nazca, as past the lines, there isn’t much going on. You can hop off if you like, but most continue on.
Don’t worry about the night bus! Our luxury buses are really comfortable, we have lots of blankets so you don’t have to worry about being cold and our drivers care so much about the safety that you’re going to enjoy a splendid night trip.
None of our drivers speed (we know this because each bus is monitored by a GPS tracking system 24/7) and they swap shifts every 5 hours of trip so they are well rested. Once you wake up you’ll find yourself in the lovely city of Arequipa. Think about it this way: 1 night on the bus, 1 extra day.
Day 5: Arequipa – home to the 2nd deepest canyon in the world
Arequipa is one of the most beautiful cities in Peru. It’s historical centre has been declared UNESCO cultural heritage site and its one of the main places in Peru where amazing, once in a lifetime traditional dishes are prepared. Thanks to the bus trip, your body will be already adjusted to the altitude so you probably won’t have issues exploring the city on the same day.
A perfect way to spend the fifth out of you ten days in Peru is in Arequipa, exploring the city and trying all the dishes you possibly can. Our local guides will recommend you places to go, what to eat, and where to stay in Arequipa.
Spoiler alert : Picanterias are a big thing here you should try as much food as possible. The Rocoto Relleno is a MUST!
Arequipa is below the legendary Andean volcano “Misti” – an actual ACTIVE volcano.
So to get back to you itinerary. It’s been just 5 days, and you have seen 5 cities already. Can you see how you are taking really advantage of your time?
Day 6: Colca Canyon (Arequipa)
This is an optional tour but highly recommended. Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world and you have the chance to visit it in a full day. In fact, if you want to spend more time here, there are two and three day hikes available. This place is special in the whole of South America because you are able to see the majestic Andean condor here.
Since you are short on time, it is best for you to go back to Arequipa City, get rest and ready for our early trip the morning to the Inca homeland: Cusco.
Day 7: Cusco – welcome to the capital of the Incas
Our trip to Cusco will start very early in the morning from Arequipa. We will stop to have breakfast and to enjoy the unforgettable Lagunilla viewer in Puno. Here, you’ll be able to appreciate the wonderful landscape of Lake Titicaca – The highest navigable lake in the world.
It’s a road trip day and you’ll see lots of the beautiful views that Peru’s highlands have to offer. Before arriving to Cusco, we’ll have lunch on a cheap but excellent restaurant. We’re going to arrive in Cusco in time for the sunset.
You’ll have the rest of the day/night to acclimatize your body and get used to the altitude. While you’re waiting, you can explore the historical centre of Cusco at night. Surrounding the Plaza de Armas there is the amazing architecture of the city – From incredible churches, to big houses and convents built on the Inca stone walls.
Even though the nightlife in Cusco is known for being very VERY wild and active, we strongly recommend to rest if you are doing Machu Picchu the next day. You want to be able to enjoy this site properly!
Day 8: Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the 7 New Wonders – Machu Picchu!
A trip to Machu Picchu is a dream come true. This place so full of energy, history and culture is a fantastic place to admire, from the bottom to the top. Though there are a few treks and tours to get to Machu Picchu that are 100% worth it.
Dedicating a full day to Machu Picchu is the right thing to do. Here I’ll give you a brief summary of how to get to Machu Picchu:
A full day (Recommended if you have just 10 days in Peru)
- Take a bus to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley
- Get a train to Aguas Calientes (the town of Machu Picchu)
- Once in Machu Picchu town, you can whether take a walk or a bus to the entrance
IMPORTANT: Tickets to Machu Picchu or tickets for the train must be purchased prior to travel especially if you decide to come during high tourist season. If you need any help to plan your itinerary, please feel free to contact us.
2 Day tour to Machu Picchu:
All the same steps from before, just that instead of going up the same day, you’ll stay in Aguas Calientes one night before going to the amazing citadel early in the morning.
Trekking to Machu Picchu:
This is an option for travellers that have more time available and that come specifically to do the Inca Trail (one of the most spectacular treks of the world) – you’ve got to book this trek at least 6 months prior, as they only admit 500 trekkers per day. Other options are the Inca Jungle Trek (4/5 days) or the Salkantay Trek (4/5 days).
Day 9: The Amazing Rainbow Mountain
Another day in Cusco, another adventure. Today you have the chance to explore another of the main reasons Cusco is such an emblematic stop for travellers. A visit to the rainbow mountain is a difficult but worthwhile experience.
This tour usually takes 15 hours so you’d have to leave before dawn. Once there to get to the top will take you 2 hours. However, this is a landscape that will take your breath away. Rainbow Mountain is a view that you’d only see once in your life .
On your way back to Cusco, you’ll be tired but satisfied that you have visited an unforgettable destination. You can take a night walk on the city for your last night and maybe buy some souvenirs or even try some traditional drinks.
For trips to Rainbow Mountain, we highly recommend booking with Rainbow Mountain Travels , the top-rated operator with a safety guarantee and being one of the first to arrive!
The last day – what’s next?
Your trip in Peru is almost done, but that does not mean you cannot still enjoy some more! Take a flight back to Lima or hop on to Bolivia – And start a new adventure with Bolivia Hop . The best way to take full advantage of this is leaving Cusco very early to Lima or La Paz (Wherever you choose) to enjoy a full day at your destination before flying back for your flight home.
You might think that this is all you can do in 10 Days in Peru . Usually, people think that ten days in Peru is not enough time – Which considering all that Peru has, it actually isn’t. But Peru Hop makes you use your time for the best and take advantage of the full route from Lima to Cusco.
This is just a sample of all you can see and do with only ten days in Peru. If you have other options in mind or a different traveling style then feel free to contact us and will happily set an itinerary adapted to your personality, time and expectations.
With our Hop on/Hop off system you have the chance to explore on a flexible way without losing the freedom to play your own way to discover the real Peru .
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Peru Travel Advisory
Travel advisory june 1, 2023, peru - level 2: exercise increased caution.
Last Update: Reissued with updates to crime information.
Exercise increased caution due to crime, civil unrest, and the possibility of kidnapping . Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Do not travel to:
- The Colombian-Peruvian border area in the Loreto Region due to crime .
- The Valley of the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM), including areas within the Departments of Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica, and Junin, due to crime and terrorism .
- The Puno Region, including the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, and the Apurimac Region due to civil unrest .
Country Summary : Crime, including petty theft, carjackings, muggings, assaults, and other violent crime, is common in Peru and can occur during daylight hours despite the presence of many witnesses. Kidnapping is rare, but does occur. The risk of crime increases at night. Organized criminal groups have been known to use roadblocks to rob victims in areas outside of the capital city of Lima.
Demonstrations occur regularly throughout the country. Public demonstrations can take place for a variety of political and economic issues. Demonstrations can cause the shutdown of local roads, trains, and major highways, often without prior notice or estimated reopening timelines. Road closures may significantly reduce access to public transportation and airports and may disrupt travel both within and between cities.
U.S. travelers participating in Ayahuasca and Kambo ceremonies should be aware that numerous persons, including U.S. citizens, have reported that while under the influence of these substances, they have witnessed or been victims of sexual assault, rape, theft, serious health problems and injuries, and even death.
Currently, U.S. government personnel cannot travel freely throughout Peru for security reasons . Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Peru.
If you decide to travel to Peru:
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans as needed.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program ( STEP ) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter .
- Follow the U.S. Embassy on Facebook and Twitter .
- Review the U.S. Embassy webpage .
- Review the Country Security Report for Peru.
- Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist .
- Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.
Colombian-Peruvian border area in the Loreto Region – Level 4: Do Not Travel
Drug trafficking and other criminal activity, combined with poor infrastructure, limits the capability and effectiveness of Peruvian law enforcement in this area.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens as U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling within 20 kilometers of the border with Colombia in the Loreto region, except on the Amazon River itself, without permission. This includes travel on the Putumayo River, which forms most of the Peru-Colombia border.
U.S. government personnel must receive advance permission for any travel to the Peruvian-Colombian border.
Valley of the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM) includes areas within the Departments of Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica, and Junin – Level 4: Do Not Travel
Remnants of the Shining Path terrorist group are active in the VRAEM. The group may attack with little or no warning, targeting Peruvian government installations and personnel.
Drug trafficking and other criminal activity, combined with poor infrastructure, limit the capability and effectiveness of Peruvian law enforcement in this area.
U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling in the VRAEM except for certain areas during daylight hours. U.S. government personnel must receive advance permission for any travel to the VRAEM. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens due to these travel restrictions.
The Puno Region, including the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, and the Apurimac Region– Level 4: Do Not Travel
The Puno and Apurimac regions, including areas previously frequented by tourists near Lake Titicaca and the cities of Puno and Apurimac, were epicenters of recent violent civil unrest and have yet to recover.
Local police and emergency services do not have the same capacity to respond to traveler emergencies in these regions as elsewhere in Peru.
U.S. Embassy personnel are currently prohibited from traveling to the Puno Region, including Lake Titicaca, and to the Apurimac Region.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas .
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Peru tours & trips.
Land of the Incas and home to the magnificent Lost City of Machu Picchu , discover a country rich in culture and history. From hiking the Andean highlands to meeting locals on the Uros Islands of Lake Titicaca , a Peru vacation offers a myriad of activities to satisfy every appetite. Try ayahuasca with a shaman in the Amazon , step back in time at Lima's incredible museums, squeeze in a trek to the vibrant Rainbow Mountain, or pair your Peru tour with the Galapagos Islands for the perfect South American adventure.
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Peru's Best: Machu Picchu - Rainbow Mountain - Humantay Lagoon
- €140 deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.
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- Hike through the legendary Inca trail, across beautiful Andean mountain passes, past dozens of mysterious Inca relics and through dense cloud forests.
- Explore the spectacular ruins in the lost city of Machu Picchu, majestically perched on top of a remote mountain.
- Float along the waters of Lake Titicaca and glimpse into the indigenous life of island communities.
- Cut into a slice of Lima’s colonial heritage showcased by ornate mansions, plazas and cathedral. Discover an interesting mix of Spanish colonial and Incan architecture in the colourful city of Cusco.
- Stay in a remote eco lodge and plunge into the heart of the Amazon rainforest at the Tambopata National Reserve.
- View the fascinating Nazca Lines, a series of ancient, mysterious geoglyphs engraved in the desert.
- Relax in the refreshing oasis of Huacachina or indulge in some exciting sand-boarding and sand-buggying in the surrounding desert landscape.
- Watch giant Condors fly over the Colca Valley near Arequipa and go river rafting amidst stunning scenery in the Colca Canyon.
- The Inca Trail leading up to Machu Picchu is closed for maintenance during the month of February.
- May to September offers clear weather and is the peak tourist season.
- The Peruvian coast is best experienced between December and February.Avoid referring to the natives as ‘indio or indios’.
- For a different take on Peru’s heritage, try a culinary tour.
- Popular souvenirs include Alpaca wool sweaters, llama rugs and silver jewelry.
- There is a ‘no food or beverage policy’ at Machu Picchu but there are restaurants outside the entrance in case you’re hungry.
- Avoid touching stray dogs even if they appear friendly.
Peru Trip Reviews
"We had a magical and wonderful trip in Peru. There were such seamless transitions from various cities and sites. The crew was also very helpful and kind."
"The tour was absolute perfection! The hotels (Hostel Porta in Lima and Amaru 1 in Cusco) exceeded our expectations considering the reasobale cost. The tour guides were awesome and the transportation was efficient and comfortable. The hike to Machu Picchu were just wonderful. I highly recommend this tour to anyone who wants to visit Peru."
"The tour was an amazing way to discover Peru and had a true culinary experience. It was great to combine culture and cuisine and enjoy such a beautiful country. The food in Cusco was sumptuous and Machu Picchu was definitely a wonder to be seen."
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A Complete Guide to Lima, Peru – Travel Tips and 3 Day Lima Itinerary
If you’re heading to Peru, then visiting its capital city, Lima, is a must. You can spend as little or as long as you wish, but about 3 days in Lima would give you the greatest chance to see the best of the city.
Lima is a city that’s got just about everything for an unforgettable city break. Do you want to learn about history? There’s plenty in the Historic Centre , not to mention the ancient pyramid in the middle of the upscale Miraflores District . Fancy seeing some murals and street art? Lima’s Barranco district has got you covered. Do you want to relax in parks and enjoy some nature in a busy city? There are plenty of unique parks in Lima, some where you can even play with cats. Is finding great restaurants and cafes with good food your priority. Well, there’s no shortage of places in Miraflores or Barranco. Perhaps shopping is your weakness? Then head to a unique shopping mall built into the side of the cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
If those weren’t already enough reasons to spend a few days in Lima, then you can even do some adrenalin-fuelled activities in the city, such as paragliding or surfing.
If you’d like to see what we got up to in Lima, then make sure to watch Part I and Part II of our Lima videos on YouTube. For more Peru videos, check out the Peru Playlist on our YouTube channel.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if you click a link and purchase something. Clicking these links won’t cost you anything, but it will help us to keep this site up and running! Learn more about our affiliate policy.
Table of Contents
All You Need to Know About Lima, Peru
Probably the best way to introduce you to Lima is to share some interesting facts about it:
- Lima was founded on the 18th January 1535 by Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro.
- The city was called La Ciudad de los Reyes which translates as “The City of Kings.” It became the capital of the Viceroy of Peru until Peru gained independence in 1821. The city then became the capital of the Republic of Peru.
- Lima is the largest city in Peru and the fifth-largest city in South America.
- It is also the second most populated city in South America. Nearly a third of Peru’s entire population lives in Lima.
- Lima is located on a desert strip between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains. It makes Lima the second largest desert capital city after Cairo in Egypt.
- Being a desert city, Lima never experiences proper rain, only the occasional drizzle. This makes the city one of the driest capitals in the world.
- Although located in a desert, Lima’s climate is quite unique. On one side, the cold Humboldt Current produces high humidity with clouds and mist. On the other side, the Andes Mountains block tropical conditions from the Amazon basin. They also create several micro-climates in the city.
- You can visit an ancient Peruvian pyramid in the middle of an upscale area of the Miraflores district.
- The city is home to one of the smallest churches in the world, the Chapel Our Lady of the Rosary, located in Rimac district.
- You’ll see a lot of black vultures circling the sky. Despite their bad reputation, these ‘gallinazos’ are actually cleaning up the city.
Is Lima Safe?
Lima is the biggest city in Peru, and just like any big city in the world, it also means that crime will naturally be higher. However, this doesn’t mean that you should skip visiting the capital. Quite the opposite. We think you should definitely spend at least 3 days in Lima, because there’s a lot of interesting things to do there.
Although we felt safe during our visit and I’m sure you will too, it’s good to be aware of a few things prior to your visit. Below, we list a few health and safety precautions you should bear in mind before and during your travels around Lima. However, for more official safety advice please visit the Government’s website.
Have Travel Insurance (Our Top Lima Travel Tip)
One thing that many of us often overlook is travel insurance. However, it is a very crucial part of your travel planning. You just never know what might happen during your trip. So, having good travel insurance that protects you in case of cancellations, theft, injury, and illness is more important than ever these days.
We appreciate that this is something that you have to pay for and in most cases you’ll never have to use. However, if something does happen, it’ll quickly become one of the best investments you’ll make.
These days we never go anywhere without travel insurance, so make sure to buy one prior to your trip too. There are many different companies out there offering different levels of coverage depending on your needs. For reference, we use SafetyWing which offers great coverage at a much more affordable price than most other insurances. Plus, you can pay for it monthly too!
Our favourite feature of SafetyWing is that they allow you to sign up even if your trip has already started which many other companies wouldn’t do.
Crime Related Lima Travel Advice
Just like in any densely populated city in the world crimes are not uncommon. Whilst we never felt unsafe during our 3 days in Lima, here are a few safety tips based on our experience and research.
- Don’t walk alone at night. Whilst some areas such as Miraflores and Barranco are pretty safe even at night, if you’d need to walk a longer distance on your own get an Uber / Cabify instead.
- Lima has 43 districts or barrios . Many of them are safe, but just as many are best avoided by tourists, especially at night. It’s even suggested that you shouldn’t be walking around at night in the Historic Centre , which is buzzing with tourists during the day.
- Try to avoid using public transportation during rush hours. It’ll be super crowded and you’re more likely to get pickpocketed.
- Always put your valuables away when using public transportation or walking somewhere less touristy. Even in more touristy areas, I suggest keeping an eye on your valuables such as phones and cameras. We used money belts to store our cash and travel cards and always felt more secure with these.
- You’ll see that many people wear their backpacks on their front on public transport and in more crowded places.
- Book your accommodation in safe neighbourhoods, so you won’t have to worry about your belongings when you’re out exploring.
Health Related Lima Travel Tips
One thing you want to avoid on your holiday is getting sick, especially in a foreign country where you might not even speak the language. Here are a few of our personal health related tips to reduce the risk of getting ill. For more official information, check out Peru-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) .
- Avoid drinking the tap water. I suggest boiling your water, using a filtered bottle such as WaterWell or buying bigger bottles of water (4 or 6 litres) and filling up a reusable water bottle. This will help you to reduce your plastic waste too.
- Whilst you should avoid tap water, make sure to actually drink enough purified water to avoid dehydration and other issues such as altitude sickness, especially if you’re heading to the Andes after Lima.
- There are many pharmacies in Lima where you can buy medicines, so only bring your prescribed medication.
- I suggest buying some altitude sickness tablets in Lima if you’re heading to higher altitudes afterwards.
Natural Disaster Related Lima Travel Tips
Natural disasters are something you won’t be able to avoid if they occur during your stay. However, knowing what to do in case of an emergency is important.
Lima is located in a subduction zone which means that the city is prone to frequent earthquakes. Whilst we didn’t feel any during our one week in Lima, we did experience a 4.7 magnitude one whilst hiking in the Colca Canyon which caused a lot of damage to the area.
We recommend reading the US Federal Emergency Management Agency’s advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.
How to Get to Lima?
By plane – Obviously the easiest and least time consuming way to reach Lima is by flying to Jorge Chavez International Airport. Depending on where you’re coming from, there are many direct flights between Lima and other major cities in North, South and Central America. From Europe you can fly direct to Lima from Amsterdam, Paris or Madrid.
Top Tip – Book your flight ticket with WayAway, a flight aggregator that provides you with the best rates on airline tickets.
Click here to get 10% off from your WayAway Plus membership plan, which gives cashback on flights, accommodation, car rentals, tours, and more.
By bus – If you’re coming from neighbouring countries, then you can opt to take an international bus to Lima too. There are a lot of different companies that provide these services such as Peru Hop. Transzela and Grupo Ormeño .
Bus travel between countries in South America is a popular and affordable way between locals and backpackers alike. Travelling by bus will also give you the chance to stop at other places of interest along the way. Our main online sources that helped us to find bus routes and companies operating to and from our next destination were Busbud.com , Rome2Rio and Moovitapp.
Are you planning your next destination in Peru? If so, then make sure to read our detailed guide on how to travel by bus in Peru.
How to get from Lima Airport to Lima city?
Lima’s airport is located around 15km away from the Miraflores district, where most tourists usually stay. Whilst you can get to Miraflores by public buses, it would take you over an hour with possibly a change or two.
For this reason, we recommend booking an official taxi at the airport. Just before you get out of the arrivals area there will be a few different options where you can book your journey. We booked it with Green Airport S.A and it cost us around S/.60 (~US$15 / £13). They normally have a set fare depending on which district you’re travelling to. The journey can take anywhere between 30 to 45 minutes depending on traffic.
Top Tip – Make sure to always get an official taxi even if it costs you a little extra. You’re always the most vulnerable when arriving to a new country.
Where to Stay in Lima?
Lima has plenty of safe districts but also many less-safe neighbourhoods for tourists. Many people stay in one of the following areas: Miraflores, Barranco or San Isidro.
These districts are filled with hotels and hostels catering for all interests and budgets, so you’ll find a lot of foreigners in these areas. They are also packed with cool cafes, bars and restaurants. Many of the main tourist attractions are also located in these neighbourhoods, apart from the Historic Centre. For reference, we stayed in the centre of Miraflores and we felt perfectly safe.
Based on our research prior to visiting Lima, it’s advised not to stay in the Historic Centre (Centro Historico), as it can get less safe for tourists at night.
Best Ways to Move Around Lima
On foot – Whenever we can, we enjoy exploring a new place on foot. You can discover so much more than by taking taxis everywhere. Luckily, the main districts of Lima such as Miraflores and Barranco are both safe and walkable areas. The main attractions are relatively close to one another, so make sure to put some comfortable shoes on and see some parts of Lima on foot.
If you’ve just arrived to the city, it’s always a good idea to join a walking tour where you won’t just see, but also learn, a lot about Lima.
By Bike – If you don’t want to explore only on foot, then why not rent a bike instead? Lima is a relatively flat city and has great cycle lanes, so it’s easy and safe to explore it by bike. There is a great public bike sharing service called CityBikeLima which offers very affordable bike renting options.
Alternatively, for an even more fun experience you can join an organized bike tour. This is an excellent way to explore the city and learn more about it.
Metropolitano – If you’re visiting other districts in Lima, then we recommend using public transport. El Metropolitano is Lima’s bus rapid transport system that’s been operating since 2010. It allows you to get from A to B very quickly. If you’re staying in either the Miraflores or Barranco Districts of Lima, then the best way to get to Centro Historico will be with this bus.
To use the bus, you’ll have to buy a card first which costs less than S/.5 ($US 1.3 / £1). Multiple people can use the same card, so no need to buy more than one card. Then you’ll have to top up the card with some credit and you can then use this card to enter the bus platforms.
Metropolitano has 16 bus routes and nearly 80 stops in Lima. So, I recommend planning your journeys in Moovitapp or Google Maps to see which bus stop is the closest to where you are staying. For example, if you’d like to visit the Historic Centre, you should get off at Estación Central. From there, you can easily explore this area on foot.
Uber / Cabify – Nowadays Uber is probably the most common way to move around in cities across the world. You can also download the Cabify app which works the same as Uber in South America. Both Uber and Cabify in Lima can be relatively cheap, really depending on how far you’re travelling and the time of day. It’s easy to use and you can see how much your ride will cost before you book it. Having a local SIM card will make it easier to book and follow your route.
Taxi – You can also use taxis to get around the city. You have to make sure that you use an official taxi, which are normally yellow or white. Unfortunately, many taxis could look like official taxi cabs but they aren’t. So you have to be cautions when flagging down one on the street. Whenever you can we recommend booking a taxi with your hotel / hostel. Especially going to / from the airport or bus stations. However, if you have to flag down one, make sure to agree the destination and price in advance and in Soles, Peru’s currency. Also worth noting is that during rush hours the fare will be higher.
How to Spend 3 Days in Lima, Peru
Day 1: explore the miraflores district of lima.
You should start your 3 days in Lima by spending a day in the Miraflores district. You can do just about anything in this neighbourhood from learning about history, relaxing in beautiful parks, doing some water sports and other adventures. Here are a few things you shouldn’t skip in Miraflores:
- Huaca Pucllana, the Pyramid of Lima. Located in the middle of the Miraflores district is the ancient Peruvian pyramid known as Huaca Pucllana. You can take a guided tour through the site for S/.15 (~$US4 / £3). Visiting the pyramid is a must in Lima.
- Parque Kennedy. A must visit park for cat lovers. There are dozens of them in this park who are looked after by a team of volunteers.
- Malecón de Miraflores . It is a set of boardwalks that run along the cliff edges with stunning views of the Costa Verde, also known as the bay of Lima. It has plenty of points of interest along its length making it a top thing to do when you only spend 3 days in Lima.
- El Parque Del Amor, Lima’s ‘Love Park’. The park was built to celebrate all forms of love. Its main feature is the ‘El Beso’ (The Kiss) statue and curved benches decorated with colourful mosaics that were inspired by Parc Güell in Barcelona.
- Larcomar Shopping Mall. Built into the cliffs in perfect harmony with nature and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the shopping mall is something you shouldn’t miss during your 3 days in Lima.
- La Marina Lighthouse. This 22m tall active lighthouse was built in 1900. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset from.
Additional activities to consider in the Miraflores district would be to rent a bike, go surfing or paragliding.
Click here to read our detailed guide about the best things to do in the Miraflores District of Lima.
Day 2: Walk Around the Barranco District of Lima
Barranco is known as the ‘SoHo’ of Lima and is packed with renowned art galleries, boutiques and trendy coffee shops and bars. Whether you’re into history, art, architecture or just want to try out some trendy restaurants and cafes, you have to visit this neighbourhood during your 3 days in Lima. Below are a list of things you should do in Barranco:
- Bridge of Sighs. The wooden bridge was built in 1876 to join the two sides of the gorge. It used to be a meeting point for philosophers and poets before it became a meeting point for young couples.
- Murals and Street Art. The streets of Barranco are like an outdoor art gallery filled with amazing murals and street art. If you love street art then you must fit this in to your 3-day Lima itinerary.
- Bajada de los Baños. You can make your way down this old walkway underneath the Bridge of Sighs. It was once used by local fishermen to access the beach. However, today it is filled with hip bars, restaurants, cafes and street art.
- Art Gallery or Museums. Barranco is the area to go if you’d like to visit an art gallery or museum such as Jade Rivera’s Studio , MAC , Museo Pedro de Osma or the Electricity Museum .
Click here to read our detailed guide about the best things to do in the Barranco District of Lima.
Day 3: Visit the Historic Centre (Centro Historico) of Lima
You really can’t skip visiting the Historic Centre of Lima during your 3 days. Here you can learn a lot about the city’s history and also find some of the most impressive architecture dating back to the 16th century. Here are a few places to add to your itinerary:
- Plaza Mayor. Lima’s main plaza was at the foundation of the ‘City of the Kings’ in 1535. It is also the place where Peru’s independence was declared.
- Church and Convent of San Francisco. The Baroque-style Roman Catholic church and monastery has a beautiful library and underground catacombs. You can take an unforgettable guided tour for S/.15 (~US$4 / £3).
- Magic Water Circuit. Possibly the coolest way to end your 3 days in Lima is a visit to the Magic Water Circuit. For only S/.4 you can enjoy 13 interactive fountains that are illuminated every night with an impressive lightshow at the biggest fountain.
Click here to read our detailed guide about the best things to do in the Historic Centre of Lima.
Final Thoughts on 3 Days in Lima Itinerary
As you can see, the capital is packed with amazing things to do, so 3 days in Lima can be easily filled. Whether you’re into history, street art, nature, water sports or other adventures, you can definitely do all of them in this city. I think our favourite neighbourhood was Miraflores where we could see many of Lima’s best sights. Of course, exploring the bohemian Barranco district and visiting the Historic Centre allowed us to see some amazing street art and learn more about Lima’s history.
Have you ever been to Lima before? How much of the city did you manage to explore? Let me know in the comments below.
Now, let your adventure begin,
Our Top Travel Resources
Accommodation: For hotels we always use Booking.com and Hostelworld for hostels. We also book longer stays on Airbnb or Vrbo.
Flights: To find the best flight prices we always check Skyscanner , Google Flights or WayAway. Then we also check the airlines’ websites too for comparison.
Car Rentals: We use Discover Cars when we want to rent a car as it compares local, national and international companies.
Activities: If we book organised tours we always check either GetYourGuide or Viator.
Foreign Currency: Whenever we can we prefer to pay in local currency and for that we always use our Wise card. We can easily withdraw money from the ATM or pay by card at most shops and restaurants.
Travel Insurance: We never go anywhere without travel insurance. You never know what will happen on your trip, so good travel insurance like SafetyWing can protect you in case of injury, illness, theft and cancellations.
eSIM and VPN: To get data abroad we use Airalo which is an app that allows you to download a prepaid eSIM to your phone in over 190 countries. Make sure to have a VPN to avoid hackers accessing your personal data when using public WIFI. We use Surfshark which is the only VPN that offers one account on unlimited devices.
Remember…It all starts with a Pin…
A Guide to Visiting the Ollantaytambo Ruins, Peru
10 Best Things to Do in Arequipa, the White City of Peru
Best Things to Do in the Miraflores District of Lima, Peru
Hiking in the Sacred Valley Without a Guide or Tour (Ollantaytambo, Maras, Moray and Pisac), Peru
A Guide to Visiting Pisac Ruins, Peru
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Thanks for sharing! As always your guide is packed with really useful information!👏🙂
Thank you Karan, we’re glad you found this post useful 🙂
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Women Blazing Trails
10 Weird Things I Learned About Being a Solo Female Traveler
Posted: November 12, 2023 | Last updated: November 12, 2023
Ten years ago, if you would have told me I’d be a solo female traveler, one day I’d ask what you were smoking. It never appealed to me.
I’m a Libra. I hate making decisions. I hate doing anything alone.
But here we are, eight years later, in sunny Guatemala, right from Northern Ontario, Canada. I’ve already been to Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, Honduras, London, and El Salvador as well.
And what a journey it’s been!
I realized you learn a lot about yourself when you travel alone. An awful lot. Some of it good, some of it not so good at all.
How Safe Is It Being a Solo Female Traveler?
So of course, before we get started, let’s answer the burning question: is being a solo female traveler safe?
Well. Mostly yes. As with anything, you must use common sense when you’re out and about. Sort of what you do in your own town/city anyway.
Now don’t get me wrong, we’ve all heard horror stories about how some young girl was raped and killed or mugged and beaten. I’m not gonna say it never happens.
I just think it’s really location-specific and you really need to be aware of your surroundings. I’ve traveled as a sole female traveler in Central America and South America and never once felt threatened.
Maybe by a dog or scorpion, but never by another human being.
So, is solo female travel safe?
Like anything else, do your research first. Where are you going? Where will you be staying? Are there any reviews of the city/hostel/neighborhood you’ll be in?
I love The Lonely Planet Books. So much valuable information!
If you’re ever unsure, just Google. But with that said, don’t go crazy and read a million different stories because then you’ll be overwhelmed and never leave your house.
That’s no fun either.
Stay informed. Stay alert. But remember to enjoy your journey too!
Another really smart thing to do is find Facebook groups for the town you are going to, join, and ask questions. People are always more than happy to help.
They will let you know if you will be in any crazy danger and things like what areas to avoid and identifying real taxis.
What are the best places for a solo female traveler?
I have to be honest, I’m no travel expert. I could rhyme off one hundred of the best places for a solo female traveler, but if you aren’t interested in any of the destinations, then what’s the point?
So many of my friends love Asia and tell me I should go, and that it is great for solo female travelers—hard pass. Asia never did and most likely never will interest me.
I could tell you that Guatemala is the bomb, but if you aren’t interested in Central America, well, you see where I’m going with this?
I think, as a solo female traveler, any place is the best place. No?
So enough with the small talk. Let’s get down to the things I learned as a solo female traveler, and some of these things might actually resonate with you or cause you to pause and think about your first solo travel trip.
10 things I learned as a solo female traveler
I now share these things with you (and a few solo female travel tips) because I think knowledge is power. When I ventured off on my solo travels, I was absolutely clueless. I didn’t know what I was doing, what to watch out for, or how to prepare for different things.
Yup. Totally clueless. So these things might give you that “aaah” moment. I hope they won’t stop you from traveling, though. That’s not my intention at all. Pack your bags. See the world. Explore. And then you can tell your stories too!
In no particular order of importance, here we go…
1 I hate bugs a lot
I don’t mean little bugs and stuff like that. No, not those cute little guys. We’re talking scorpions and spiders the size of the palm of my hand. Ya, those critters.
I have all my windows sealed up like Fort Knox. I’ve also sealed up every little slit and crack I could possibly find.
I’m used to earwigs, moths, and bees, but not these guys. Learning to remove a scorpion from my apartment for the first time, alone, was terrifying.
I’m kind of a pro now, though.
Be prepared for critters you’ve never seen in your wildest dreams. Get bug spray.
2 Learning a new language is hard
I was honestly a tad intimidated by the fact that not many locals actually speak English and I gotta get my butt in gear and learn their language. Fast. And I am, and I’m pretty proud of myself, really.
I never thought in a million years I’d be learning a new language at 53 years young. It’s pretty awesome.
I have a long way to go, but I’m getting by pretty good now (in my opinion). I still have yet to be able to read signs and words, which gets kinda tricky in a restaurant. Thank God most of them have English translations.
You should try to learn the basic words, especially numbers so you don’t get screwed over trying to buy stuff. But learn enough to be able to ask simple questions.
Duolingo is fantastic and free!
3 I’m actually rather shy
I bet some of my friends reading this are laughing right now, but really. I find myself feeling very shy, and the introvert in me comes out more than I thought it would. It’s taken me quite some time to make the few friends I have made.
I thought I would get down here and have many friends within a week. Such is not the case. I couldn’t talk to anyone, and I kept to myself.
I was actually, and in all honesty, kind of scared. (who wouldn’t be??) I’m getting better, though, and I’m pretty proud of myself.
Meeting and talking to new people can actually be somewhat intimidating unless you are a total extrovert. Kudos to you, babe!
4 I really do like being alone
I always did, but here, I am really alone. No one calls, no one banging on the door or showing up unannounced. They couldn’t anyway ’cause my house is pretty far away from town.
Seems not many want to make the trek.
But I’m really loving my own company. I feel so totally free here. I actually feel like I’m in Heaven some days. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t like some company every now and then; it’s just saying that I feel very free, happy, and alive, being alone.
I’m surprised by that. You may find this, too. You suddenly have a new lease on life and want to take it all in. Alone.
5 I learned how to light a gas stove without burning all my hair off
Ok, this one still freaks me out for the simple reason that I have always been afraid of gas stoves because I have a crippling fear of my hair going up in flames.
That’s the diva/former hairstylist in me that will never die.
So when I had to learn how to light my stove so I could eat to survive, I was really frightened. But I obviously did it, and I’m pretty proud of myself.
You will have to learn how to work foreign and somewhat terrifying things at first. Pull up your big girl panties. You got this.
6 Contrary to number 4, I find myself lonely at times
Not very often, but every now and then, it hits me and hits me hard. There have been a couple of times I actually thought I should go back home.
But where is home anyway?
I have nothing, nowhere. Such freedom! But at the same time, it’s not having that sense of belonging to anything anymore that may ignite that sense of loneliness.
I’m still not really sure about this one all I know is that every now and then, whammo, I wish I had someone.
If you are used to visitors and friends and a boisterous social life, in the beginning, it may not happen that way. You may get lonely and wonder if you made a mistake.
You didn’t. You’ll be fine. Embrace that time alone.
7 Becoming a vegetarian sounds good, but a vegetarian who can still eat bacon
So, like a pretend vegetarian. The only reason is that I had difficulty finding decent meat to eat in Guatemala. To me, it all tasted funny.
I have been eating more avocados, chickpeas, and other fiber and protein fillers, and I’m not minding a bit.
You may or may not have a hard time with the food. You may or may not get food poisoning. Sorry if you do. It sucks—a lot.
(speaking of food poisoning, make sure you know where the public health clinic is so you can get there right away)
But if you are a fussy eater, be prepared for some struggles. This is where your Facebook groups will come in handy, and the people there will tell you what you can and can’t find.
You may want to bring your own. Or do without. I do without a lot of first-world food, but when family or friends visit from Canada or the US, I have a grocery list ready.
8 I never know what day it is anymore
I don’t wear a watch anymore either, something I would never leave the house without putting on back in Sudbury.
I couldn’t care less. I wake up when I feel like it, eat when my tummy tells me it’s time, go out when I feel like it, and come home when I’m tired.
Days of the week don’t really matter much anymore. Every day is just a beautiful day. Why do we have to give it a name?
You will soon discover this. It’s rather normal. Days, hours, weeks, months. All irrelevant. And so liberating. Just enjoy life . Period.
9 I have way more balls than I ever thought any woman could legally have
I’m doing stuff that I never in a million bajillion years thought I would ever be doing.
From getting in beat-up wooden boats to go across one of the deepest lakes in the world to go see villages across the way to zip lining hundreds of feet in the air.
You’re going to feel compelled to do random crazy stuff. Do it all. Take it all in. Live on the edge. It’s so friggin amazing. You’ll see.
It blows my mind all the time. I’m actually now even thinking about going paragliding. Now THAT looks ridiculously awesome!!
10 I have patience??
I’m not sure where that came from. I’ve always been the most impatient person on the planet, but when you are in a different country, you learn to adapt to their culture quickly. You won’t be “Freaking out Felicia” anymore.
It took me a while to get there, but I’m here now—patience times 10. Mind you, I’ll be honest. Every now and then, something happens that ruffles my feathers, but when you realize no one gaf, well, neither will you.
You’ll just be all calm and doing your thing and letting people do their thing, and no one cares. And neither will you.
Tips for all travelers, not just females
I get that not all these tips are only for the solo female traveler but, that’s what I am, and that’s what I learned in my last eight years of solo traveling .
I just found that many of these things are girl-related (like the bugs). If you know someone who has been thinking about going solo, send this to her!
Oh, and I can’t forget one final travel tip for you. Don’t pay full price for anything, ever. They will instantly jack up prices when they see a foreigner. They will go high, you go low and meet somewhere in the middle.
Happy trails to you!!
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Heavy rain in gaza brings new problems and fears.
A downpour in Gaza on Tuesday (November 14) brought new concerns and challenges for Palestinians there, many of whom are homeless and living in makeshift tents after weeks of Israeli bombardment. Olivia Chan has more.
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