Peru Itineraries

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to exploring the diverse landscapes and rich culture of Peru. Whether you're a first-time visitor crafting your initial itinerary or a seasoned traveler seeking new adventures, this guide is your gateway to the wonders of Peru. Experience the iconic southern sights that captivate many, take the northern route for a unique experience, or dive into the wilderness with a trip to the Amazon rainforest where you can stay in an eco-lodge. Let's embark on a journey to discover the best of Peru!

Itinerary tips from Tamer: your Peru Travel Expert

"Crafting an itinerary in Peru is more than just trip planning; it's about embarking on a cultural odyssey," highlights our Peru travel expert, Tamer. Recognizing the significance of a thoughtfully curated itinerary in Peru, a nation brimming with ancient history and breathtaking natural beauty, is crucial. 

Peru is a vibrant tapestry of timeless traditions, diverse landscapes, and deep-seated cultural experiences. From the enigmatic ruins of Machu Picchu to the vibrant biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest, each region offers its unique charm and attractions. A customized itinerary is key to unlocking a comprehensive understanding of the distinctive elements and cultural treasures that make Peru an unforgettable destination.

With a wealth of expertise and comprehensive local insights, I am here to guide you through the complexities of creating the ideal Peru itinerary. Whether your interests are in unraveling the mysteries of ancient civilizations, indulging in the country's rich culinary heritage, or discovering the hidden natural wonders of both the Andean highlands and the coastal areas, a well-planned itinerary guarantees a smooth and enriching journey.

Let's collaborate to design a journey that aligns with your personal tastes, pace, and style, ensuring that your trip to Peru is not just a visit, but a lasting memory.

Morning sun rising with cloudy on Aden Mountain at Plaza de armas, Cusco, Peru © sharptoyou/Shutterstock

Morning sun rising with cloudy on Aden Mountain at Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru © sharptoyou/Shutterstock

If you are planning your travel to Peru yourself, use these itineraries created by our travel experts as a starting point for inspiration.

For more inspiration, check our itineraries by duration: 7 days - 10 days - 14 days

7 day Peru itinerary

This unique 7-day journey through Peru combines ancient wonders with lush natural beauty. Your adventure will begin in Lima, where a rich culinary scene and colonial sights will captivate your senses. 

From there, you'll travel to Cusco, the historic heart of the Inca Empire, where cobblestone streets echo thousands of years of history. The journey continues as you immerse yourself in the Sacred Valley with its bustling markets and majestic ruins, each day revealing more facets of Inca heritage. 

The pinnacle of your journey will be Machu Picchu, an awe-inspiring testament to the ingenuity of the ancients. After admiring this wonder, you'll return to Cusco to immerse yourself in the local culture. 

The last leg of the journey takes you into the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Here, you'll stay at an eco-lodge to experience the raw beauty of Peru's lush jungle and complete a week of unforgettable exploration.

Rainbow mountains or Vinicunca Montana de Siete Colores, Peru © Shutterstock

Rainbow mountains or Vinicunca Montana de Siete Colores, Peru © Shutterstock

10 day Peru itinerary

Fall in love with Peru on this 10-day adventure rich in cultural and natural wonders. Begin in Lima, where colonial history and gastronomic delights will introduce you to Peru's charms. Next, you'll travel to Arequipa to experience its white stone architecture and breathtaking views of Colca Canyon

Afterward, you'll travel to Puno and the mystical Lake Titicaca, where you'll visit the unique floating islands of Uros. Next, you'll travel to Cusco, the heart of the Inca Empire, and immerse yourself in its rich history. 

Spend a day in the Sacred Valley, visiting lively markets and ancient ruins before heading to the main site: Machu Picchu, where Inca ingenuity comes to life. End the trip with an excursion into the lush Amazon rainforest, immersing yourself in its biodiversity, and return to Lima with memories to last a lifetime.

peru-titicaca-shutterstock_481336384

Peru, Lake Titicaca @ Shutterstock

14 day Peru itinerary

Experience a transformative 14-day journey through Peru, a kaleidoscope of experiences that weave together ancient wonders and unspoiled landscapes. Begin in Lima, enjoying a blend of avant-garde art and culinary excellence. 

Travel south to the enigmatic Nazca Lines, uncovering secrets carved into the desert. Immerse yourself in the Amazon rainforest, where you can feel the heartbeat of the jungle in a unique treehouse. Climb to the peaks of the Andes and discover the secluded wonders of Choquequirao, a hidden gem with a rich history. 

Cross the surreal hues of Rainbow Mountain and traverse the desert dunes at Huacachina. Your odyssey culminates in Lima, where you'll make memories of artistic innovation, archaeological mysteries, and the raw beauty of Peru's diverse landscapes.

The stone face of humanity in marcahuasi, Peru © NiarKad/Shutterstock

The stone face of humanity in Marcahuasi, Peru © NiarKad/Shutterstock

3 week Peru itinerary

Experience a 3-week adventure through Peru, covering little-known treasures and iconic sights. Start in the northern city of Piura, known for its traditional cuisine. Head to the surfer's paradise of Mancora to bask in the sun on the pristine beaches. Venture inland to the forgotten ruins of Quelapa, exploring the ancient fortress city perched high in the Andes.

Travel south to Tarapoto, the gateway to the Amazon, and immerse yourself in the thick of the rainforest. Continue to the historic town of Cajamarca, known for its colonial architecture and hot springs. Then visit the bustling market town of Huaraz, a hiker's paradise nestled in the Cordillera Blanca.

Travel to the heart of the Inca Empire, Cusco, and explore its cobblestone streets and nearby Sacred Valley. Spend a few days hiking the Inca Trail, culminating in the breathtaking sight of Machu Picchu. End your journey in the cosmopolitan city of Lima, enjoying its renowned culinary cuisine and vibrant nightlife. This extensive itinerary offers a deep dive into Peru's diverse landscapes, culture and history.

Photo of the Paracas National Reserve in Paracas, Peru ©  Michael L. Demmons/Shutterstock

Paracas National Reserve in Paracas, Peru ©  Michael L. Demmons/Shutterstock

Grand Tour Peru itinerary

Discover the enchanting southern region of Peru, a journey that comfortably spans a couple of weeks, with the potential to extend for even more exploration. 

Begin with the coastal charm of Paracas and the Ballestas Islands, just hours south of Lima. Here, boat trips navigate waters teeming with penguins and sea lions, set against a backdrop of pristine beaches, desert vistas and exquisite seafood. 

Next, find serenity at Huacachina, a desert oasis encircled by palm trees, offering leisurely relaxation, sandboarding, and thrilling dune buggy rides. In Nasca, marvel at the mysterious lines and geoglyphs etched into the desert by an ancient civilization, a testament to Peru's rich history.

Arequipa awaits with its stunning colonial heart, crafted from white volcanic stone, and serves as a gateway to the world's deepest canyons – Colca and Cotahuasi. Puno, perched on the shores of the vast Lake Titicaca, offers a blend of desolate beauty, vibrant music, and tranquil island retreats. 

Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire, today merges outdoor adventures, bustling nightlife, and artisan markets with its ancient roots. The journey culminates with the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu, an easily accessible, magnificent Inca citadel from Cusco, making for an unforgettable finale to your Peruvian escapade.

Mountains near Choquequirao, Peru, South America

Mountains near Choquequirao, Peru, South America

The northern circuit Peru itinerary

Explore the less-traveled north of Peru, a region famed for its beaches and surfing, coastal archaeology, and a series of ancient mountain citadels and tombs, with the option of a jungle excursion for those with extra time.

The Mochica Trail is your starting point, extending from Trujillo's desert valley, a cradle of the ancient Mochica civilization. Discover the Huacas del Sol y de la Luna, and witness the legacy of the Mochica at the rich tombs of El Señor de Sipán and the Valley of the Pyramids.

Máncora, a trendy spot, anchors several stunning sandy beaches perfect for surfing, fishing, and diving. Southward, find Cabo Blanco, famed since Hemingway's days. Near Trujillo, the surfer's haven of Chicama and traditional Huanchaco await.

In the northern Andes, the Chachapoyas region presents a rival to Cusco with Kuelap, a mountain citadel featuring 20-meter-high walls. This area is rich in waterfalls, cliff-bound mausoleums, and trails begging for exploration.

For those with more time, venture from Chachapoyas to Tarapoto, a bustling city in the Amazon region. From here, journey by river to the Reserva Nacional Pacaya-Samiria or Iquitos, offering a glimpse into Peru's lush rainforest.

Things not to miss: Kuelap, Peru.

Kuelap, Peru.

The top ancient sites Peru itinerary

Venture beyond Machu Picchu with a journey from Lima to some of Peru's most captivating sites, a trip that can be seamlessly organized with Rough Guides Trips.

Begin at Caral, a 5,000-year-old ancient city sprawling over 150 acres, where numerous musical instruments have been unearthed, highlighting the significant role of music in this early civilization.

Next, explore Trujillo, a treasure trove of historical sites including the immense sun and moon pyramids and the ruined city of Chan Chan. Here, you can visit a home of the Mochica people's descendants, offering a glimpse into their enduring heritage.

In Chiclayo, delve into the mysteries of the past at the El Brujo and the Señora de Cao Museum, home to the mummified, tattooed body of a 1,500-year-old shamanistic leader, known as "El Brujo" or "The Wizard".

Journey to Chachapoyas to witness the Karajia sarcophagi, enigmatically perched on cliff ledges to evade grave robbers. This site is just one of over 250 in the region, yet it stands out as a unique destination.

Conclude your adventure at the Keulap Fortress, often hailed as the "new Machu Picchu". Predating its more famous counterpart, Keulap offers an unforgettable hilltop experience, accessible by horseback or cable car.

Choquequirao-Peru-shutterstock_691851439

Choquequirao, Peru @ Shutterstock

The best time for Peru holiday

Planning your Peru holiday hinges on understanding its diverse climates. Peru essentially experiences two main seasons – the wet and dry seasons – but each region varies dramatically. 

The dry season, from May to October, is ideal for visiting the Andean highlands, including Cusco and Machu Picchu. Skies are clear, and the landscape is lush, making it perfect for hiking and sightseeing. However, these are also the busiest months, so expect more crowds.

If you're drawn to the Amazon Rainforest, consider the wetter months between December and April. While there's more rainfall, the wildlife is vibrant, and the rainforest is in full bloom. For beach enthusiasts, the Peruvian coast shines from December to March, aligning with their summer, offering sunny days ideal for surfing and relaxing on the beaches.

Lima, being on the coast, is pleasant most of the year, although it can be overcast from June to December. Overall, the best time for a Peru holiday depends on your interests and the regions you plan to explore, but generally, May to October offers the most stable and dry weather across the country.

Rough Guides Editors

written by Rough Guides Editors

updated 25.01.2024

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