Peru Itinerary – 7, 10 & 14-Day Epic Travel Guide

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Last updated Feb 1, 2023

Peru is the most popular tourist destination in South America. In this Peru itinerary post, I will lay out a 7-, 10- and 14-day options, depending on how much time you have to spend in Peru.

Things to know about Peru

Significant attractions in Peru are Lima, Machu Pichu, Cusco and many more. Each provides unique hikes and experiences worth exploring. Even with a 14-day itinerary, not everything can be seen and therefore requires careful decision-making per day.

If you are thinking about spending time in Peru, we have three great itineraries you can follow to maximize your stay.

On This Peru Itinerary, You Will Visit:

Cusco – the main tourist hub in Peru and the city from which endless adventures are possible.
Lima – the capital of Peru which is often skipped has an amazing food scene.
Arequipa – framed by three volcanos and a starting point for Colca Canyon visit.
Machu Picchu – the reason 99% of visitors come to Peru. Accessible from Cusco.
Humantay Lake – beautiful lake and the first day hike in the 5-Day Salkantay hike adventure.
Salkantay Trek (optional) – 5-Day hike to Machu Picchu.
Inca Trail (optional) – another multi day hiking option to Machu Picchu.
Sacred Valley – short drive from Cusco and hub of Incan ruins.
Rainbow Mountain – one of the adventures you can do from Cusco.
Colca Canyon (optional) – visit to Colca Canyon or multi-day hikes are possible from Arequipa.

If you are an avid hiker, you will love visiting Peru. There are many different hikes to do there, at various elevations, for beginners and veterans alike.

If you are not a hiker, not to worry. Different transportation options can accommodate everyone’s needs and visitors still get to enjoy scenic drives and stunning views.

7-Day Peru Itinerary – Short and Sweet Visit to Peru

This 7-Day Itinerary is a very quick visit to Peru. Most of the time will be spent in and around Cusco and the last couple of days will be left to explore Lima and/or the surrounding area. If you are already acclimated to a higher elevation, you may be able to fit in the 4-day Inca Trail or 5-day Salkantay Trek. If not, I would suggest saving that for a 10- or 14-day trip.

Day 1: Arrive in Cusco
Day 2&3: Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu
Day 4: Cusco or Humantay Lake
Day 5,6&7: Lima

Day 1: Arrive in Cusco

Most international flights to Cusco usually come with a stop in Lima. Because of elevation and possibly physical activities you may have planned to do from Cusco, I would advise stopping in Lima on the way back instead of on the way in.

Cusco is at 11,150 ft. elevation and does require acclimating to this altitude. You should take it easy for the first day, stay hydrated, eat light meals (soups, salads, etc.), drink coca tea, and walk around the city.

Peru Itinerary

After your arrival and check-in at our hotel, head towards the main square for a delicious lunch at Morena Peruvian Kitchen. Spend the rest of the day strolling through Plaza de Armas, enjoying the architecture and getting bombarded by street vendors to buy paintings or take pictures with alpacas.

Cusco, formerly the capital of the Inca Empire, is simply breathtaking and is a gateway to some of the best sites in Peru.

Day 2&3: Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu are at lower elevations than Cusco, making them an excellent option to visit at the beginning of your trip while still acclimating.

Since Sacred Valley is half-point to Machu Picchu, it is best to combine these two activities. Spend one day exploring Sacred Valley, then take a train to Aguas Calientes and spend the next day in Machu Picchu.

It is most convenient to hire a guided tour for this as they take care of all the logistics, and you have to be accompanied by a licensed guide to getting into the Incan citadel anyway.

Sacred Valley, once the heartland of the Incan empire due to its rich agricultural lands, is now one of the most popular tourist attractions full of Incan ruins. You can visit dug-out amphitheater in Moray, salt-evaporated ponds in Maras or weaving cooperatives in Chincheros.

OPTION: Instead of walking around Sacred Valley, you can choose to zipline over it and spend a night in one of the most unique accommodations on the side of the cliff – Starlodge.

The next stop is Machu Picchu. Nestled in the Peruvian Andes, served as a site for religious ceremonies where sacrifices were made to appease the gods. Never noticed or ruined by the Spaniards, only to be discovered by an explorer in the 1900s. It is a classic example of Incan architecture. Machu Picchu is the most popular tourist attraction in Peru.

Travel Peru

Day 4: Cusco or Humantay Lake

Today you can spend a day exploring ruins within Cusco, and hopefully, by now you have acclimated enough to be able to manage some elevation gain and stairs. Or you can take a day trip to Humantay Lake (1st part of the 5-Day Salkantay Trek)

If you decide to spend a day exploring the city, make your way up the Statue of Christ for amazing views of the city. Make sure you bring enough water to stay hydrated as it gets hot and dry, and when at high altitudes, hydration is crucial.

From the Statue of Christ, it is a short walk to Saqsaywaman. This monumental complex is comprised of three platforms on top of each other. The enormous boulders were perfectly put together without using mortar, some weighing over 125 tons. You can spend a couple of hours walking around here and enjoying the views of Cusco.

Peru Itinerary

On the way back to the city, you can make a stop at Acueducto de Sapantiana and Twelve Angled Stone.

If you decide to take a day trip to Humantay Lake, prepare to hike up to 13,780 ft. Humnatay Lake is a beautiful turquoise lake hidden in the Andes. It is a fairly short hike but once again at a very high elevation, so it will take longer than expected. After the hike, you will have lunch and then head back to the city.

Things to Know about Peru

You can finish the evening with dinner at KION Restaurant – a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese food – Chifa.

Day 5,6 & 7 – Lima

From Cusco, the best way to get to Lima is to take 1 hr. and 30-minute flight. The flights for Lima leave almost every 30 minutes. Taking a bus is over 20 hr. drive and not worth the hassle.

Lima is often skipped by visitors, but this sprawling metropolis is worth a visit if for nothing else than to try its exceptional food. Lima’s cuisine is world-renowned with flavors, ingredients and freshness only available locally.

Lately, Peruvian cuisine has become a fusion of international flavors Spanish, Arabic, African, Chinese, Japanese, and Italian. This is why Lima may be one of the world’s most exciting places to eat.

With this in mind, taking a cooking class in Lima is a must. We set one up with Sky Kitchen and learned how to make a pisco sour, causa, ceviche, lomo saltado, and finished this delicious meal with finger-licking picarones.

Cooking Class in Peru

After a cooking class, stroll by the waterfront in the Miraflores neighborhood. Here you can also go tandem paragliding, one of the popular hobbies in Lima. While in Miraflores, don’t skip a visit to Parque Kennedy or better known as Cat Park, home to the city’s homeless cats.

Most people do not realize that there are ancient ruins to visit in Lima, a short bus or taxi ride away from where you may be staying – Pachacamac, Huaca Pucllana, and Huaca Huakkanarca.

Lima is also an excellent location to explore from and go on short one- or two-day trips.

Some adventures in Lima are listed below:

  • Fly over Nazca Lines in the Nazca Desert
  • Visit an oasis in the desert – Huacachina
  • Take a day trip to the Galapagos of Peru – Ballestas Islands
  • Go whitewater rafting in the Cañete River
  • Go wine tasting or pisco tasting in Ica

Fly home from Lima.

10-Day Peru Itinerary – Cusco Delight

This itinerary is based on spending all the time in and around Cusco and incorporating the 5-Day Salkantay Trek. This itinerary will allow approximately two and a half days of acclimation before starting the Salkantay Trek. The Salkantay Trek can be replaced by Inca Trail if so desired.

Day 1: Cusco
Day 2: Sacred Valley
Day 3: Explore Cusco
Day 4-8: Salkantay Trek to Mach Picchu
Day 9: Rest or Rainbow Mountain
Day 10: Fly Home

Day 1: Cusco

Arrive in Cusco and take it easy, stay hydrated, eat light meals (soups, salads, etc.), drink coca tea and walk around the city.

Plaza de Armas in Cusco has stunning architecture and plenty of places to rest and people-watch.

Visiting Peru

Day 2: Sacred Valley

A day trip to Sacred Valley is a must. You can decide if you would like to go from spot to spot and enjoy Incan ruins, dug-out amphitheater, salt-evaporated ponds or weaving cooperatives or zip line above the valley.

Peru Itinerary

Either is a great option and allows you to acclimate to the elevation.

Day 3: Explore Cusco

Take a city tour of Cusco you can hire a tour guide or do it on your own with a combination of walking and a taxi.

You can start at Qoricancha (Temple of Sun), walk up to the Main Square (Plaza de Armas), from there take a hike up the steps to the Statue of White Christ and from there take a short walk to Saqsayhumana. After a visit to Saqsayhumana, it is a good idea to use some type of transportation to make it to Q’enqo, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay archeological sites.

Day 4-8: Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Salkantay Trek is a 5-Day hiking adventure at very high elevations (the highest elevation is over 15,000 ft.) to Machu Picchu. Spending the nights in mountain huts, with guides and group chefs, or in campsites on your own if you’d rather do it that way.

Machu Picchu

We used Salkantay Trekking for this hike and had a fantastic experience. You can find all the details about the trek in our blog post, 5-Day Salkantay Trek.

OPTION: Instead of Salkantay Trek, you can do a 4-Day Inca Trail hike. We chose Salkantay because the scenery looked more stunning, the mules and vehicles carry the supplies instead of porters, and it is a less busy hike than Inca Trail.

Day 9: Rest or Rainbow Mountain

Today you can decide if you need rest after a difficult 5-day hike or if you would like to enjoy one last adventure in Cusco – Rainbow Mountain.

Even though the hike to Rainbow Mountain is short, the hike starts at an elevation of over 15,000 ft. and goes to 17,000 ft. Walking on any type of incline at that elevation becomes a challenge. This is a full-day adventure mainly because of the drive (3-hrs. one way).

Day Trip from Cusco

You can find a full write-up about the Rainbow Mountain experience here.

Day 10: Fly home

Allow yourself plenty of time at Cusco airport when flying out of there, as it can get overwhelmed with people and insufficient staff.

14-Day Peru Itinerary – Classic Peru

The first 10-day of this itinerary will be the same as the 10-Day Peru Itinerary above. On day 10, instead of flying home, you will fly to the Arequipa hike in the Colca Canyon and save the last few days for Lima.

Day 1: Arrive in Cusco
Day 2: Sacred Valley
Day 3: Explore Cusco
Day 4-8: Salkantay Trek
Day 9: Rainbow Mountain
Day 10: Fly to Arequipa
Day 11&12: Colca Canyon
Day 13&14: Lima

Day 1: Arrive in Cusco

Arrive in Cusco and take it easy, stay hydrated, eat light meals (soups, salads, etc.), drink coca tea and walk around the city.

Peru Itinerary

Plaza de Armas in Cusco has stunning architecture and plenty of places to rest and people-watch.

Day 2: Sacred Valley

A day trip to Sacred Valley is a must. You can decide if you would like to go from spot to spot and enjoy Incan ruins, dug-out amphitheater, salt-evaporated ponds or weaving cooperatives, or zip line above the valley.

Either is a great option and allows you to acclimate to the elevation.

Day 3: Explore Cusco

Take a city tour of Cusco you can hire a tour guide or do it on your own with a combination of walking and a taxi.

You can start at Qoricancha (Temple of Sun), walk up to the Main Square (Plaza de Armas), from there take a hike up the steps to the Statue of White Christ, and from there take a short walk to Saqsayhumana. After a visit to Saqsayhumana, it is a good idea to use some type of transportation to make it to Q’enqo, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay archeological sites.

Peru Itinerary

Day 4-8: Salkantay Trek

Salkantay Trek is a 5-Day hiking adventure at very high elevations (the highest elevation is over 15,000 ft.) to Machu Picchu. Spending the nights in mountain huts, with guides and group chefs, or in campsites on your own if you’d rather do it that way.

Machu Picchu

We used Salkantay Trekking for this hike and had a fantastic experience. You can find all the details about the trek in our blog post, 5-Day Salkantay Trek.

OPTION: Instead of Salkantay Trek, you can do a 4-Day Inca Trail hike. We chose Salkantay because the scenery looked more stunning, the mules and vehicles carry the supplies instead of porters, and it is a less busy hike than Inca Trail.

Day 9: Rainbow Mountain

Today you can decide if you need rest after a difficult 5-day hike or if you would like to enjoy one last adventure in Cusco – Rainbow Mountain.

Even though the hike to Rainbow Mountain is short, the hike starts at an elevation of over 15,000 ft. and goes to 17,000 ft. Walking on any type of incline at that elevation becomes a challenge. This is a full-day adventure mainly because of driving (3-hrs. one way)

Day Trips From Cusco

You can find a full write-up about the Rainbow Mountain experience here.

Day 10: Fly to Arequipa

Allow yourself plenty of time at Cusco airport when flying out of there, as it can get overwhelmed with people and insufficient staff. You can also take an overnight bus from Cusco to Arequipa.

Peru Itinerary

When you arrive in Arequipa and settle in your accommodations, head out to the historical center, which has been declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can either rest in the city park or at one of the surrounding restaurants with some refreshments.

From here, you can walk to the city market for some pork sandwiches, but even before you enter the market, you will find stands selling Papa Rellena and Empanadas with a line of locals waiting for the treat.

You can finish an evening at Zig Zag Restaurant with assortments of protein. Next morning you will get picked up at 3 AM to go to Colca Canyon.

Day 11&12: Colca Canyon

The following two days, you will spend hiking in Colca Canyon, the world’s second deepest canyon and twice the depth of the Grand Canyon. If hiking for two days does not seem attractive to you, you can opt-out for one day tour where you will visit the rim of the canyon and possibly see some Andean Condors.

Visiting Peru

We have written about our experience hiking in the Colca Canyon in this post if you are interested in more information.

Day 13&14: Lima

Lima is often skipped by visitors, but this sprawling metropolis is worth a visit if for nothing else than to try its exceptional food. Lima’s cuisine is world-renowned, with flavors, ingredients and freshness only available locally. Lately, Peruvian cuisine has become a fusion of international flavors Spanish, Arabic, African, Chinese, Japanese, and Italian. This is why Lima may be one of the world’s most exciting places to eat.

With this in mind, taking a cooking class in Lima is a must. We set one up with Sky Kitchen and learned how to make a pisco sour, causa, ceviche, lomo saltado and finished this delicious meal with finger-licking picarones.

Peru Itinerary

After a cooking class, it may be a good idea to stroll by the waterfront in the Miraflores neighborhood. Here you can also go tandem paragliding, one of the popular hobbies in Lima. While in Miraflores, don’t skip a visit to Parque Kennedy or better known as Cat Park, home to the city’s homeless cats.

Most people do not realize that there are ancient ruins to visit in Lima, a short bus or taxi ride away from where you may be staying – Pachacamac, Huaca Pucllana, and Huaca Huakkanarca.

Lima is also an excellent location to explore from and go on short one- or two-day trips.

Some adventures in Lima are listed below:

  • Fly over Nazca Lines in the Nazca Desert
  • Visit an oasis in the desert – Huacachina
  • Take a day trip to the Galapagos of Peru – Ballestas Islands
  • Go whitewater rafting in the Cañete River
  • Go wine tasting or pisco tasting in Ica

Fly home from Lima.

Exciting Alternatives For Your Peru Itinerary:

  • Instead of Salkantay Trek, go on an Inca Trail.
  • Add 3-Day Ausangate Trek that includes Rainbow Mountain.
  • Instead of making Arequipa and Colca Canyon seconds part of the trip, use that as the first part of the trip to help acclimate.
  • After the Colca Canyon hike, you can take a bus from Chivay to Puno instead of returning to Arequipa. Puno is the main town for visiting Titicaca Lake.

Other helpful posts from Peru…
Things to Know About Peru
5-Day Salkantay Trek
Visit To Rainbow Mountain
Colca Canyon – 2-Day Hike
7 Iconic Hikes In Peru
Wonderful Cooking Class Experience in Lima

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