The Best Peru Itinerary for the Trip of a Lifetime (4 Different Options!)

Last Updated on June 3, 2022 by admin

Peru, located on the western side of South America, is a country that has it all: mountains, deserts, jungles, and beaches. Add to that list ancient Inca ruins and some of the best restaurants in the world, and it’s the perfect bucket list travel destination. In one moment you can be exploring the citadel of Machu Picchu, and in another you can be sailing down the Amazon River. In this post, we’re sharing the best Peru itineraries. Below you’ll find four separate itineraries depending on how much time you have to spend in Peru. We’ve crafted a one-week itinerary, a 10-day itinerary, a two-week itinerary, and the ultimate itinerary for Peru. These itineraries were informed by our own visit to Peru. We share some of our favorite places, and we also share the things we wish we would have seen!

Pisac Peru Sacred Valley Peru Itinerary

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About Peru

Peru is the third largest country in South America. It borders Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile. The Andes Mountains divide Peru in half, with the arid coastal region on the west side of the country, and the tropical rainforest region on the eastern side. The official language of Peru is Spanish, and there are also many people that speak Quechua and Aymara (two native languages). The official currency of Peru is the Nuevo Sol.

Peru is well known for the Inca empire, which ruled the region for several hundred years before the Spanish conquistadors arrived. There are many notable Inca ruins in Peru, including Machu Picchu, Sacsayhuaman, Moray, Ollantaytambo, and Pisac.

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Our Trip to Peru

We planned a trip to Peru shortly after I accepted a new job. I had saved up my vacation days from my previous job for our honeymoon, but when I accepted a new position, I needed to use up my vacation days or lose them. So, we booked a budget trip at the last-minute to Peru . We called it our “pre-honeymoon”! We spent 16 days backpacking through the country, and it was one of our favorite trips of all time. We also visited my “Tia Peruana”, the sister of my Spanish host father when I studied abroad in Spain. It was very meaningful getting to meet her in person. We were so glad we were able to book our impromptu trip to Peru! We hope that our experience in Peru inspires you to visit as well!

Salineras de Maras in Peru


What to Pack for a Trip to Peru

  • Power Bank Phone Charger: Before we leave home, we have at least one (if not two) power banks fully charged. That way we can charge our phones on the go while we’re traveling. Because we use our phones heavily for navigation and photography, it’s really important that we don’t run out of battery. 
  • Passport Holder: We like to use a passport holder or wallet to keep all of our important documentation in one place.
  • Power Adapter/Voltage Converter: Whenever traveling internationally, it’s important to be able to charge your electronics safely. We’re recommending this power adapter and voltage converter because it can be used globally. It’s a little more expensive than some basic products you can find, but this one has a multi-protection safety system. It also lets you charge up to 7 devices simultaneously. (You don’t need to fight with anyone in your travel party about access to outlets.) It works in over 150 countries. 
  • First Aid Kit: Whenever you travel, be sure to have some basic first aid items on hand. We most commonly like to have an assortment of bandages in case we get a blister or cut.
  • Anti-Theft Travel Backpack: Having an anti-theft travel backpack can give you peace of mind as you explore any large city. The one we linked here has lockable zippers, and RFID-blocking pocket, and cut-proof material. This backpack is also extremely light to carry. If you plan on carrying valuables such as a camera, cell phone, and wallet with you, we recommend considering a backpack such as this one.
  • Packable Rain Jacket: This rain jacket folds up small and can be easily placed in your backpack. You’ll be prepared for rain just in case!
  • Hiking Boots: There are so many epic hikes in Peru, including the famed Inca Trail to Machu Picchu! Be sure to pack sturdy hiking shoes that you have broken in. I’ve used Columbia boots for years and they’ve really held up. (Women’s boots linked here. Men’s hiking boots are linked here.)

(Click on any of the above images for current pricing and shipping information.)


Tips for Visiting Peru

  • Before you leave for your trip, order some currency (Nuevo Soles) in advance from your bank. We needed to give our branch 2-3 weeks’ notice prior to our departure. Our bank called us when the currency arrived and we were able to exchange some of our money before we even left for our trip without large exchange fees. It’s always a good idea to have some small bills in the local currency on hand upon arrival for tips. It’s also good to have some emergency funds in the local currency in case you have difficulty accessing an ATM right away. 
  • Also before you leave for your trip, call the phone numbers listed on the back of your credit and debit cards to notify your banks that you will be leaving the country. Provide the bank your dates of travel and itinerary. That way, your credits cards will not be frozen for ‘suspicious activity’ when you use them outside your home country.
  • Remember to stop your mail if you will be gone for an extended period of time.
  • Make sure you have travel insurance. Do not travel if you do not have medical insurance abroad. You can purchase travel medical insurance from a number of companies.
  • Let your doctor know about your travel plans. You may need vaccinations prior to traveling. Our doctor prescribed us anti-malarial pills because we were planning on being in the Amazon Rainforest.
  • If you plan on visiting Cusco, the Sacred Valley, or Machu Picchu, you’ll want to build some time into your itinerary to adjust to the altitude. When we visited Cusco, we were fairly young and in good health. We felt pretty great our first day in Cusco, which was deceiving. When we woke up the next morning, both of us felt mild altitude sickness. We experienced mild nausea and we definitely had a headache. Make sure you give yourself a little wiggle room in your itinerary for a day or two, because you will probably want to take it easy as you adjust to the altitude.
  • If you bought new hiking boots, remember to break in your boots well before your trip. Stiff boots will definitely give you blisters, which will make hiking miserable. This is especially important if you plan on hiking the Inca Trail. Walk around your neighborhood in your new hiking boots a few times, and then try a small hike near home. You want to be confident that your boots will be comfortable for any trekking plans.
  • If you plan on visiting the Amazon Rainforest, expect to see a lot of bugs! You’ll want to bring bug spray and wear long-sleeved shirts. Pack accordingly! 
  • Be sure to leave a copy of your itinerary with a trusted family member or friend back home. If you’re a citizen of the United States, you can enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

Hiking Machu Picchu Inca Trail


Itineraries for Peru

Below you’ll find itineraries for 7 days, 10 days, 14 days in Peru, as well as our suggestions for the ultimate 25-day Peru itinerary.

Pisac Peru Sacred Valley Inca Ruins


One Week Peru Itinerary 

If you have just seven days to spend in Peru, we recommend that you focus your trip on the Sacred Valley. You’ll get to see Machu Picchu and the historic city of Cusco.

Day 1

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Fly from Lima to Cusco. 

Day 2

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

We recommend that you spend an entire day in the historic city of Cusco. Be sure to visit the Plaza de Armas and the Inca ruins at Sacsayhuaman. You can read our list of things to do in Cusco and pick your favorite activities.

Day 3

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Next, we recommend that you take a day trip to explore some of the most incredible sites in the Sacred Valley. We recommend that you head to Pisac to see the artisan market and the Inca ruins, Moray to see the concentrical circle terraces, and the Salineras de Maras to see thousands of salt flats.

Day 4

Recommended Lodging: Sanctuary Lodge Hotel (Machu Picchu)

For the next two days, we recommend that you book the 2-day trek of the Inca Trail with Llama Path. This is the tour company we worked with, and we thought they were wonderful. (We don’t get a commission for this recommendation – we just really liked this company!) You’ll wake up early and leave Cusco to head for Ollantaytambo, then take the train to head towards Machu Picchu.

When we visited Peru, we completed the 2-day Inca Trail trek and absolutely loved it. We were able to still experience the Inca Trail without having to dedicate 4 days of our itinerary to hiking. On the first day of the trek, we hiked the Inca Trail to the entrance of Machu Picchu. (We got to see Winay Wayna along the way!) After glimpsing Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate, we then walked around the citadel before heading down to the town of Aguas Calientes to stay the night. If you have the funds, we recommend staying at the Sanctuary Lodge Hotel, which is a luxury hotel located near the entrance of Machu Picchu.

Day 5

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Wake up early and see Machu Picchu again during the morning hours. If you have time, we highly recommend hiking Huayna Picchu. You’ll need to purchase a separate ticket for this hike. Securing a ticket is fairly competitive, so be sure to purchase your reservation early. If you’re working with a tour company they can assist you in purchasing the correct ticket. Afterwards, take the train back to Ollantaytambo, and then complete the journey back to Cusco.

Day 6

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

On your last full day in the Sacred Valley, feel free to explore Cusco or consider another day trip to the Sacred Valley.

Day 7

Depart Cusco and make the journey back to your home city.


10 Day Peru Itinerary

If you have 10 days to spend in Peru, you can easily visit the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cusco, and Lima

Day 1

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Fly from Lima to Cusco. 

Day 2

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

We recommend that you spend one entire day in the historic city of Cusco. Be sure to visit the Plaza de Armas and the Inca ruins at Sacsayhuaman. You can read our list of things to do in Cusco and pick your favorite activities.

Day 3

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Next, we recommend that you take a day trip exploring some of the most incredible sites in the Sacred Valley. We recommend that you head to Pisac to see the artisan market and the Inca ruins, Moray to see the concentrical circle terraces, and the Salineras de Maras to see thousands of salt flats.

Day 4

Recommended Lodging: Sanctuary Lodge Hotel (Machu Picchu)

For the next two days, we recommend that you book the 2-day trek of the Inca Trail with Llama Path. This is the tour company we worked with, and we thought they were wonderful. (We don’t get a commission for this recommendation – we just really liked this company!) You’ll wake up early and leave Cusco to head for Ollantaytambo, then take the train to head towards Machu Picchu.

When we visited Peru, we completed the 2-day Inca Trail trek and absolutely loved it. We were able to still experience the Inca Trail without having to dedicate 4 days of our itinerary to hiking. On the first day of the trek, we hiked the Inca Trail to the entrance of Machu Picchu. (We got to see Winay Wayna along the way!) After glimpsing Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate, we then walked around the citadel before heading down to the town of Aguas Calientes to stay the night. If you have the funds, we recommend staying at the Sanctuary Lodge Hotel, which is a luxury hotel located near the entrance of Machu Picchu.

Day 5

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

We recommend that you wake up early and see Machu Picchu again during the morning hours. If you have time, we highly recommend hiking Huayna Picchu. You’ll need to purchase a separate ticket that is fairly competitive, so be sure to purchase your reservation early. If you’re working with a tour company they can assist you. Afterwards, take the train back to Ollantaytambo, and then complete the journey back to Cusco.

Day 6

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Take a bit of a rest day and feel free to explore Cusco or consider another day trip to the Sacred Valley.

Day 7

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

If you’re up for another hike, check out an excursion to Rainbow Mountain. This colorful mountain is located about 87 miles to the southeast of Cusco. The drive to Rainbow Mountain is several hours long, and then the hike up the mountain is about 3 hours long. Plan to make this a full day trip!

Day 8

Recommended Lodging: Miraflores Park, a Belmond Hotel (Lima)

Depart Cusco and fly to Peru’s capital city of Lima.

Day 9

Recommended Lodging: Miraflores Park, a Belmond Hotel (Lima)

Spend the day exploring Lima. We recommend visiting the Plaza of Armas, the Monastery of San Francisco (check out the catacombs!), and the Malecon boardwalk in Miraflores. Lima is known for its gastronomy, so be sure to check out our guide to Lima to find the best restaurants in the city!

Day 10

Depart Lima and head to your home city.


Two Week Peru Itinerary

If you have two weeks to spend in Peru, you can easily visit the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cusco, and Lima. In this itinerary, we included the full Inca Trail trek. If you’d rather not hike the trail, you could easily substitute more days in Lima, Cusco, or even a quick trip to the Amazon Rainforest.

Day 1

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Fly from Lima to Cusco. 

Day 2

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

We recommend that you spend one entire day in the historic city of Cusco. Be sure to visit the Plaza de Armas and the Inca ruins at Sacsayhuaman. You can read our list of things to do in Cusco and pick your favorite activities.

Day 3

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Next, we recommend that you take a day trip exploring some of the most incredible sites in the Sacred Valley. We recommend that you head to Pisac to see the artisan market and the Inca ruins, Moray to see the concentrical circle terraces, and the Salineras de Maras to see thousands of salt flats.

Day 4

Recommended Lodging: Inka Trail Camping

For the next several days, we recommend that you book a trek along the Inca Trail with Llama Path. You’ll wake up early on Day 4 to start your trek. On the first day, you’ll camp at Ayapata. Read the full itinerary description at the Llama Path website to find out the trail mileage, camping locations, and points of interest along the way.

Day 5

Recommended Lodging: Inka Trail Camping

You’ll hike through Dead Woman’s Pass and camp at Chaquicocha. You’ll see the Inca sites of Runcuraccay and Sayacmarca along the way.

Day 6

Recommended Lodging: Inka Trail Camping

On this day, you’ll get to see the Inca ruins of Phuyupatamarca and Winay Wayna.

Day 7

Recommended Lodging: Sanctuary Lodge Hotel (Machu Picchu)

You’ll wake up early and hike to the Sun Gate, which is the entrance the Inca used to access Machu Picchu. Enjoy your first view of the citadel!

Day 8

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Wake up early and see Machu Picchu again during the morning hours. If you have time, we highly recommend hiking Huayna Picchu. You’ll need to purchase a separate ticket that is fairly competitive, so be sure to purchase your reservation early. If you’re working with a tour company they can assist you. Afterwards, take the train back to Ollantaytambo, and then complete the journey back to Cusco.

Day 9

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Take a bit of a rest day and feel free to explore Cusco or consider another day trip to the Sacred Valley.

Day 10

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

If you’re up for another hike, check out an excursion to Rainbow Mountain. This colorful mountain is located about 87 miles to the southeast of Cusco. The drive to Rainbow Mountain is several hours long, and then the hike up the mountain is about 3 hours long. Plan to make this a full day trip!

Day 11

Recommended Lodging: Miraflores Park, a Belmond Hotel (Lima)

Depart Cusco and fly to Peru’s capital city of Lima.

Day 12

Recommended Lodging: Miraflores Park, a Belmond Hotel (Lima)

Spend the day exploring Lima. We recommend visiting the Plaza of Armas, the Monastery of San Francisco (check out the catacombs!), and the Malecon boardwalk in Miraflores. Lima is known for its gastronomy, so be sure to check out our guide to Lima to find the best restaurants in the city!

Day 13

Recommended Lodging: Miraflores Park, a Belmond Hotel (Lima)

Take a day trip from Lima and visit Huacachina (a desert oasis) and the Nazca lines! This tour will take you to both.

Day 14

Depart Lima and head back to your home city.


The Ultimate Peru Itinerary

This is our recommended itinerary if you have lots of time to spend in Peru. In this itinerary, you’ll see the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cusco, Ollantaytambo, Lake Titicaca, and Lima. This itinerary includes the 4-day Inca Trail trek as well as a 4-day Amazon River cruise

Day 1

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Fly from Lima to Cusco. 

Day 2

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

We recommend that you spend one entire day in the historic city of Cusco. Be sure to visit the Plaza de Armas and Sacsayhuaman. You can read our list of things to do in Cusco and pick your favorite activities.

Day 3

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Next, we recommend that you take a day trip exploring some of the most incredible sites in the Sacred Valley. We recommend that you head to Pisac to see the artisan market and the Inca ruins, Moray to see the concentrical circle terraces, and the Salineras de Maras to see thousands of salt flats.

Day 4

Recommended Lodging: Inka Trail Camping

For the next several days, we recommend that you book a trek along the Inca Trail with Llama Path. You’ll wake up early on Day 4 to start your trek. On the first day, you’ll camp at Ayapata.

Day 5

Recommended Lodging: Inka Trail Camping

You’ll hike through Dead Woman’s Pass and camp at Chaquicocha. You’ll see the Inca sites of Runcuraccay and Sayacmarca along the way.

Day 6

Recommended Lodging: Inka Trail Camping

On this day, you’ll get to see the Inca ruins of Phuyupatamarca and Winay Wayna.

Day 7

Recommended Lodging: Sanctuary Lodge Hotel (Machu Picchu)

You’ll wake up early and hike to the Sun Gate, which is the entrance the Inca used to access Machu Picchu. Enjoy your first view of the citadel!

Day 8

Recommended Lodging: Vertical Sky Luxury Suites (Ollantaytambo)

Wake up early and see Machu Picchu again during the morning hours. If you have time, we highly recommend hiking Huayna Picchu. You’ll need to purchase a separate ticket that is fairly competitive, so be sure to purchase your reservation early. If you’re working with a tour company they can assist you. Afterwards, take the train to Ollantaytambo. 

Day 9

Recommended Lodging: Vertical Sky Luxury Suites (Ollantaytambo)

Spend the full day exploring the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo. The Inca had a sophisticated military fortress that was meant to protect Inca nobility. It’s one of the best Inca archaeological sites outside of Machu Picchu. 

Day 10

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Take a bit of a rest day and feel free to explore Cusco or consider another day trip to the Sacred Valley.

Day 11

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

If you’re up for another hike, check out an excursion to Rainbow Mountain. This colorful mountain is located about 87 miles to the southeast of Cusco. The drive to Rainbow Mountain is several hours long, and then the hike up the mountain is about 3 hours long. Plan to make this a full day trip!

Day 12

Recommended Lodging: Uros Titicaca Lodge (Lake Titicaca)

Take a luxury train from Cusco and head to Lake Titicaca. 

Day 13

Recommended Lodging: Uros Titicaca Lodge (Lake Titicaca)

Enjoy a full day at Lake Titicaca. We recommend seeing the floating islands at Uros. We weren’t able to visit Lake Titicaca when we visited Peru, and it’s one place I wish we would have seen!

Day 14

Recommended Lodging: Uros Titicaca Lodge (Lake Titicaca)

Enjoy a full day at Lake Titicaca.

Day 15

Return to Cusco by train. Stay the night and enjoy the city. Perhaps explore the San Blas neighborhood of Cusco. 

Recommended Lodging: Inkaterra La Casona (Cusco)

Day 16

Recommended Lodging: Miraflores Park, a Belmond Hotel (Lima)

Depart Cusco and fly to Lima. 

Day 17

Recommended Lodging: Miraflores Park, a Belmond Hotel (Lima)

Spend the day exploring Lima. We recommend visiting the Plaza of Armas, the Monastery of San Francisco (check out the catacombs!), and the Malecon boardwalk in Miraflores. Lima is known for its gastronomy, so be sure to check out our guide to Lima to find the best restaurants in the city!

Day 18

Recommended Lodging: Miraflores Park, a Belmond Hotel (Lima)

Take a day trip from Lima and visit Huacachina (a desert oasis) and the Nazca lines! This tour will take you to both.

Day 19

Recommended Lodging: Doubletree by Hilton Iquitos (Iquitos)

Depart Lima and head to Iquitos to visit the Amazon Rainforest. Stay overnight in Iquitos as you prepare for your excursion. If you have the funds, we recommend an Amazon Luxury Cruise. If you’re on a tighter budget (like we were), you can stay at an eco-lodge. We stayed at the Maniti Eco-Lodge. Either way, you’ll get to see the Amazon River and the Amazon Rainforest!

Day 20

Recommended Lodging: Amazon River Luxury Cruise (Amazon River)

Excursion to the Amazon Rainforest.

Day 21

Recommended Lodging: Amazon River Luxury Cruise (Amazon River)

Excursion to the Amazon Rainforest.

Day 22

Recommended Lodging: Amazon River Luxury Cruise (Amazon River)

Excursion to the Amazon Rainforest.

Day 23

Recommended Lodging: Miraflores Park, a Belmond Hotel (Lima)

Return from the Amazon Rainforest. Fly to Lima. 

Day 24

Recommended Lodging: Miraflores Park, a Belmond Hotel (Lima)

Enjoy an extra day in Lima to rest. Enjoy one last Peruvian dinner before departing.

Day 25

Depart Lima and return to your home city.


Frequently Asked Questions

How many days do you need in Peru?

We recommend spending at least one week in Peru, although it’s possible to fly to Peru and visit Machu Picchu with an itinerary as short as 5 days. The ideal Peru itinerary is at least 10 days long, because then you’ll have sufficient time to see Machu Picchu, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley. With an itinerary of two weeks or longer, you can spend more time at each of those sites in addition to visiting Lake Titicaca, Lima, and the Amazon Rainforest.

Is one week enough for Peru?

With one week in Peru, you’ll be able to see the city of Cusco, the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley. You’ll get to see the town of Pisac, the Inca archaeological site of Moray, and the salt flats at Maras.


Summary

We hope these itinerary guides were helpful to you as plan your trip to Peru! We spent 16 days in Peru and we feel like we barely scratched the surface. I would love to return to Peru to see all of the sights that we missed, like Rainbow Mountain, Huacachina, the Nazca Lines, and Lake Titicaca. Looks like we have a reason to go back to Peru!

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