Planning a trip to Peru? You’re so lucky! Here is one of the most detailed Peru itineraries to get the most out of your trip. Though formatted for 2 week Peru trips, we also discuss how you can adjust it up or down for a 10 day Peru itinerary or even a 3 week Peru itinerary!
Peru is a South American country packed with biodiversity, generally great weather, and a low cost of living which makes it one of the most desireable locations for backpackers, solo travelers, and even adventurous families.
We spent 6 weeks traveling through Peru and still didn’t see everything, but Peru in 2 weeks is a great place to start.
This detailed Peru travel itinerary begins in the only South American coastal capital, Lima, takes you sandboarding on the giant dunes of Peru’s desert oasis, on a day trip to Machu Picchu from Cusco, and on to a trip through the Amazon rainforest.
That’s right- in just one country you’ll go from city to desert to mountains to jungle! I told you it was incredible!
Days 1-2: Lima
I’ll be honest, we had very low expectations for Lima when we were planning our Peru Itinerary. We didn’t get much helpful advice on spending 2 days in Lima from other travelers, so we weren’t sure if we would find fun things to do in Lima. I’ve come to learn that having low or moderate expectations is the secret to a great travel experience, and Lima is one of my best examples.
We ended up with 1 week in Lima and absolutely loved it!
You’ll most likely stay in the waterfront neighborhoods of Miraflores or Barranco on your trip to Lima. Both areas have lots of things to do, and a few journeys into the heart of the city will be easy to accomplish from either one. You can get around Miraflores or Barranco on foot or by renting kick scooters, and use Uber or taxis for longer trips.
Top things to do in Lima:
- Go paragliding along the coast (Miraflores, $85 USD)
- Shop at Larcomar, a mall built into the seaside cliffs (Miraflores, free)
- Stroll through Parque de Amor, the seaside park full of tiled (Miraflores, free)
- Make a wish as you walk across the Bridge of Sighs (Barranco, free)
- Tour the San Fransisco monastery and catacombs (Centro)
- Tour Huaca Pucllana pre-Inkan ruins (Miraflores, $7.5 USD)
- Walk the water fountain circuit at Parque de la Reserva (Centro, $1.5 USD)
Day 3: Day trip to Huacachina from Lima
Huacahina is Peru’s desert oasis, a small lake surrounded by palm trees in the middle of the sand dunes of Peru. A trip here is famous for sandboarding down the giant dunes and views of the lone water, making it one of the most unique and fun things to do in all of Peru and South America.
While we personally loved our 3-day trip to Huacachina from Lima, a day trip there can accomplish a lot! You can arrange your own trip to Huacachina by bus, but it gets complicated and isn’t optimal timing. To make the most of your two weeks in Peru go on a pre-arranged trip, where a company will arrange an early morning departure from your hotel in Lima, transportation to Huacachina, and back to Lima in the same day.
We highly recommend this top-rated Huacachina tour from Lima. This awesome tour includes all the highlights of Huacachina in just one day:
- Hotel pick-up and drop off in Lima
- Side trip to Ballestas Islands, the “Galapagos Islands of Peru”, with birds, sea lions, penguins, and famous Nazca Lines
- Side trip to winery for Pisco tasting
- Sandboarding and dune buggy ride in Huacachina
You’ll get back to Lima late, but in time for a night of sleep before you head to Cusco!
Days 4-9: Cusco
Fly from Lima to Cusco early in the morning to make the most of your five days in Cusco.
When you arrive in Cusco try to avoid the hoardes of taxi drivers who will hassle you in the airport. Walk outside of the airport and along the sidewalk to the right, where you can exit the airport and hail a cab for half the price a taxi charges. Or pay more for a taxi at the airport. You do you.
Cusco is a the main city in the Sacred Valley, but a trip here will take you to places pretty far away. You’ll want to explore the entire valley as well as Rainbow Mountain and Maccu Picchu, which means an hours-long voyage nearly every one of your five days in Cusco.
Here are our top suggestions for day trips to see the famous Inkan ruins in Cusco and the Sacred Valley and the glorious mountians of Eastern Peru:
- Spend 1 full day touring downtown Cusco. Walk around the Plaza de Armas, tour Saqsayhuaman ruins, and Cristo Blanco before going to Green Point for one of the most delicious and healthy meals ever. Check this article for more unusual and fun things to do in Cusco.
- Spend 1 full day on a bus circuit to the main Inkan sites around the Sacred Valley: Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and Moray. Check this guide for detailed directions on how to get to the top Sacred Valley sites from Cusco and how long you’ll need at each.
- Spend 1 full day on a hiking trip to Rainbow Mountain. Rainbow Mountain has become a social media phenomenon in the last couple of years, but is still fresh enough to not be too over touristed. Book this tour to Rainbow Mountain from Cusco to hike or ride horseback to the mountain boasting 7 incredible colors!
- Spend 1 or 2 full days on a day trip to Machu Picchu from Cusco. D’uh! Honestly, a trip to Machu Picchu was probably one of the main reasons you’re spending 2 weeks in Peru anyway. Good news: You don’t have to spend 4 days hiking Machu Picchu to have an incredible experience there! It’s a bit complicated getting to Machu Picchu from Cusco, so follow this guide to make the long and gorgeous trip in just 1 day. You could also plan your Machu Picchu trip for the middle or beginning of your time in Cusco to stay overnight nearby and make it back to Cusco before your flight back to Lima.
- If you happen to have 1 free day in Cusco, choose any of these mind-blowing activities to fill your free time. Longest zip line in South America? Yes! Shopping for gorgeous, hand-dyed textiles? Ok! Salt flats on the side of mountain? Cool! That’s the great thing about Cusco- there are some absolutely stunning things to do which are appropriately famous, but there is Even. More. people don’t talk about which is so worth doing!
*BONUS: Here’s my #1 tip for having a great time in Cusco: Buy the Cusco Tourist Ticket! One low price gains you entrance to 16 historical sites and things to do in Cusco. You won’t be able to see all of them on your 5 days in Cusco, but using it to enter just the four places I’ve suggested on this Peru itinerary will still save you tons of money. Check this guide to using the Cusco Tourist Ticket to see what it costs and how to buy one once you’re in town.
Days 10-13: Amazon Jungle from Iquitos
It’s bonkers that one country has sand dunes you can sandboard down, historic ruins built on top of mountains, and the Amazon rainforest. But of all the incredible things to do in Peru, this leg of your journey is sure to be a highlight.
We’ve spent the last two years traveling around the world, and I can honestly say our 3 nights/ 2 days jungle trek on the Amazon river was one of our best experiences ever. Just being on the river is exhilerating, but the jungle activities in this secluded, beautiful region is life changing. If you’re tempted to skip this area or to skimp your time here, don’t!
You’ll need to buy a flight from Cusco to Iquitos. The travel day becomes kind of long due to the necessary layover in Lima, but a morning flight from Cusco on Day 10 of your Peru itinerary will still get you to Iquitos around noon. The personalized, pre-arranged schedule you make with your chosen Iquitos jungle lodge will either begin with an airport pick-up and go directly to their jungle lodge, or begin the next morning, in which case you’ll need to occupy your afternoon and night in town.
We recommend staying at The Jungle House, one of the best mid-range Iquitos hotels, if your jungle tour doesn’t start until Day 11 or you need to spend a night in Iquitos before flying back to Lima.
You will need to arrange your activities with your Iquitos jungle lodge before arrival, but here are some of the best things to do to make the most of your trip to the Amazon rainforest:
- Visit a jungle village to see native dancing, blow darts, and, if you’re lucky, village pet sloths and monkeys
- Boat ride to look for pink and gray river dolphins
- Fish for piranhas and cook them for lunch
- Jungle night trek to see nocturnal crocodiles, snakes, and tarantulas
- Walk along 12 rope bridges in the highest and longest Amazon canopy walk
*BONUS: Stay at Ceiba Tops jungle lodge. Not only do they have access to the most and best jungle activities, this is the only jungle lodge out of Iquitos which offers private bathrooms with hot water, enclosed walls for ultimate protection against bugs, a pool, and air conditioning. It’s tempting to save some money by roughing it for a few days, but your time in the jungle is going to be jam-packed and exhausting. You’ll really benefit from a good night’s sleep in a comfortable room!
Day 14: Back to Lima
Plan a morning flight from Iquitos back to Lima on Day 14. It will take around 20-30 minutes to arrive to the airport if your Iquitos hotel is in downtown, but the aiport is small and checking in very early isn’t necessary. Give yourself 2 hours before your flight to get to the airport and check in.
This direct flight will only take around 2 hours, which should give you plenty of time to fly home from Lima the same afternoon!
If your flight home doesn’t leave until day 15, enjoy your free afternoon in Lima with one of these amazing things to do in the city!
Adujusting this Peru Itinerary 2 weeks for more or less time
Is there something you really do or don’t want to see on your trip through Peru? While this 2 weeks Peru itinerary is perfect for those with enough time, it’s easy enough to alter up for those with 3 weeks in Peru or down if you only have 10 days in Peru or less. (But, honestly, 1 week in Peru is just not enough time!)
If you only have 10 days in Peru:
If you can’t make a full 2 week vacation, you can still see plenty in Peru in only 10 days! Here are some suggestions for a great Peru itinerary 10 days:
- Go to Huacachina on your first full day in Lima. You can do a lot of fun things in Lima in just your free afternoon after flying into Lima, and even squeeze in more Lima activities on the other days you fly through the city.
- Cut down on your time in Cusco to only 4 days. It would be a shame to miss some of the bigger things to do, but a day trip to Rainbow Mountain isn’t necessary and the other big sites can be seen in just 1-2 days.
- Only spend 2 nights in the Amazon jungle near Iquitos. If you stay at a resort closer to Iquitos you’ll be able to begin your jungle adventure just a little bit sooner. You’ll miss out on some of the most incredible things to do in the Amazon jungle, but you should be able to squeeze in seeing dolphins, fishing for piranhas, and a village tour in a 2-night stay in Iquitos.
… And then plan on coming back to Peru some time, because there is so much more to see and do in this incredibly diverse country!
If you have 3 weeks in Peru or longer
A Peru itinerary for 3 weeks looks a lot like our Peru 2 week itinerary, but with a few extra days in each location. It sounds simple, but trust me- the extra time and locations are so worth spending an extra week in Peru!
- Spend an extra day in Lima when you arrive. People don’t seem to enjoy Lima very much, but believe me- this city can be really fun and interesting! Each neighborhood offers diverse things to do, and it can take a while to get through traffic to each site. If you have an extra day in Lima you can spend it doing even more of the fun things we suggest. It also gives you even more time to eat at some delicious restaurants. The one thing everyone agrees Lima has going for it is some of the best restaurants in the world, but they require plenty of advance notice. An extra day in Lima is another lunch and dinner slot you can fill!
- Add 1-2 days in Huacachina from Lima. Instead of a 14-hour day trip to Huacachina from Lima, opt for a one-way bus ride there and stay over night. Huacachina is a beautiful, sleepy little place, and a couple of nights here is good for the soul. Not only is it an incredible location to relfect and enjoy nature, you can spend your extra time doing some fun side trips!
- Spend a full week (or more) in Cusco. Honestly, you could spend your entire 3 weeks in Peru in Cusco and still not get bored. We lived in Cusco for one month and had something to do every day! Our 2 week Peru itinerary goes to the best ruins in the Sacred Valley, but if you have more time in Cusco follow this guide to see which places in the surrounding area are most worth the extra time. Alternately, stick to the main ruins and Macchu Picchu and spend your extra day or two in Cusco just relaxing. It will take a little while to adjust to the much higher altitude here, and it would be nice to build in a day to recuperate and make the most of the rest of your trip!
- Add a 2-night trip to Puno and Lake Titicaca from Cusco. Lake Titicaca is the highest and largest navigable lake in the world, as well as being the home to one of the oldest and most unique cultures in South America: the Uro. Uro have been living on man-made floating islands in the middle of Lake Titicaca for centuries, and a trip to Puno is an opportunity to tour the unique islands and see how the Uro live by boat.
Planning a trip to Peru? Save this Peru itinerary for later!