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A Day-By-Day 4-Week Peru Itinerary

Road through Sacred Valley

You’ve got ample time off and you’re going to Peru—awesome! Getting a full 4 weeks in Peru is a fantastic idea considering how huge the country is and how packed with interesting places it is.  

We’ve got a day-by-day plan for you complete with main places of interest, travel times and distances and our recommendations on where to stay.  

If you only have 2 weeks to travel, click on over to our 14-day itinerary for Peru. The longer itinerary you are reading now expands on the 2-week one. But seriously, two weeks is too short for Peru! Heck, we couldn’t even fit the shorter itinerary to just 14 days (it’s more like 16).  

Without further ado, behold, a 1-month itinerary for Peru:  

Day 1: Arrival to Lima 

Lima, city in Peru
Lima is not the place of your dreams

Ah, Lima, you terrible beast. It’s one of those places you have to either love or hate, and, since I attempted driving in Lima, I’m leaning on the hate side. Without the driving, I’d be hovering around neutral.  

Once you leave the most frustratingly slow airport I’ve ever met, you’ll be happy to find that the airport isn’t located out in no man’s land, and you’ll be doubting your decision to go to Lima in the first place in the comfort of your own hotel room in only about 15 minutes.  

Ditch the rental, get a taxi and “enjoy” the ride from the airport with your life and sanity in someone else’s hands. Get the Cabify app on your phone and always choose the best class of car available, because anything less than luxury and you’ll be glad the car has doors, let alone seatbelts. It’ll set you back about USD 18. Getting a regular taxi that is waiting at the airport will cost a little more, around USD 25.  

Tip: Don’t get a Peruvian SIM card at the airport. The prices are extremely high compared to what you get in town. This and other tips you need to read before you go to Peru in another article.  

Get a hotel in the fancy Miraflores neighborhood so you can walk around at any time of day or night without feeling like someone is always lurking in the shadows watching you.  

If you’re flying into Lima early and my description of Lima doesn’t entice you, you can see the main bits of Lima on arrival day and get the heck out of there the very next morning. Otherwise, leave day 0 as a travel day and see some of the (admittedly good) things Lima has to offer the next day in a more relaxed manner. 

Hotels in Lima 

We’re recommending only staying in international hotel chains in Peru, because everything else is hit and miss. This isn’t our usual tip, but in Peru, we felt like Hilton Hotel representatives. You know what to expect, you don’t have to worry about the standard and staff always speak English.

Miraflores Hilton Hotel rooftop spa, where to stay in Lima
Miraflores Hilton Hotel: Just some of the rooftop pools

The Hilton Lima Miraflores has some fantastic rooftop pools that’ll fix your first impressions of Lima faster than you can say cocktail. The breakfast is wonderful, the shower was probably the best we had in Peru and as an extra bonus, the hotel is QUIET. You can’t hear the horns of the crazy drivers. It’s like your own little sanctuary.

Radisson Red Hotel in Lima Peru, the lobby area
The Radisson Red Hotel in Lima: yellow alpaca with red and black cat heads? Sure.

If you like to be a little funky, are artsy, or consider yourself a cool cat, you should check out the Radisson Red Miraflores. It has a very trendy, colorful design. The colors being black, white, and, how unexpected, red. Think street art meets modern art gallery. Rooftop bar with great drinks, comfortable beds, and friendly staff.  

Note: The hotels we recommend in this, or any other article, are hand-picked by us. We’ve either stayed in them ourselves and were happy with our experience or they were in our top selection when we went on our trip.  

We have hotel recommendations in all of our articles.  

If you book any hotel through our links (and it can even be a different hotel than we recommend), we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for using our links!  

Day 2: Lima 

Plaza de Armas with yellow building in background
Plaza de Armas

Morning 

For sightseeing in Lima, you’ll need to take a taxi to the Plaza de Armas in the historic district. A taxi between districts won’t cost more than USD 3–4.   

You’ll see Lima’s typical yellow buildings with their dark wooden covered balconies, otherwise known as spy boxes for the rich. Wander around the historic district and tour the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco. It’s a whole religious precinct right by the Plaza de Armas.   

Tickets for the guided tours are on a first come, first served basis and come s/15. Tours are available in English and Spanish.  

Tuck into one of the many restaurants for lunch. Our favorite restaurants in Peru are in this article, and our Top Things to Do in Lima article has a few extra tips on where to eat.  

If you want a good coffee, choose something hipster-looking, otherwise it’ll taste like dirty water. More on what’s good to eat and drink (and what isn’t!) here.  

Afternoon 

The highlight of Lima is the Larco Museum. It’s in a gorgeous mansion, it’s well organized, the descriptions are clear and informative, and you learn tons about the history of ancient Peruvian civilizations. A must at the beginning of any trip to Peru.  

Take a taxi there from Plaza de Armas and allocate at least 2 hours for the tour unless you love these kinds of museums and want to read each and every sign, in which case set aside 3. Tickets cost s/35.  

Plan on spending the late afternoon and evening in the upscale Miraflores neighborhood. It sits to the south of central Lima atop the cliffs over the ocean with tons of restaurants, shopping, top hotels and great views from the boardwalk/sidewalk atop the cliffs. The sunsets here are spectacular. 

Again, some of our favorite restaurants (most of them, actually), are in Miraflores. Here’s a list of our favorite restaurants in Peru.  

For more detailed Lima travel tips, head over to our article about the top things to do in Lima.

Day 3: Chan Chan

Chan Chan ruins, a UNESCO site in Peru
A UNESCO Heritage Site: the Chan Chan ruins

Most of the main tourist spots are in the southern half of Peru, but we’ll start by heading north for a couple of days.  

Morning 

Hop on a 1 h 15 m flight from Lima to Trujillo (it costs about USD 80). Trujillo is a big city with about 800,000 people. The main attraction here are the nearby Chan Chan ruins, so you’ll head straight there today. Taxi to Chan Chan will cost s/15.  

Afternoon  

Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimu Empire roughly from 900–1470. In its time, it was the largest city in the Americas. Chan Chan is located a few kilometers west of Trujillo city on the coast of Peru 480 km (300 miles) north of Lima. It covers an area of 20 km2, making it the largest adobe city in the Americas and second in the world.   

The central city of Chan Chan was split into ten walled palaces, each containing temples, residences, ceremonial halls etc. You can see the reliefs and carved decorations on the walls. 

Don’t worry though, only a relatively small part of the ruins are open to the public, you don’t need to cover 20 km2. You’ll probably spend 2 hours exploring the area, preferably with a guide (s/50). Stop by the museum first and get your s/10 tickets there. Beware the site is closed on Mondays

After Chan Chan, head back to Trujillo and stop by Huaca Esmerelda and Huaca Arco Iris, two temples that are included on your Chan Chan ticket. They are small sites, but hey, you’ve already paid for them, so you might as well take a look.  

Check out our Best Ruins in Peru article for more information on Chan Chan (and other places, obviously).  

Hotel for the night 

There isn’t much to choose from in Trujillo as far as good hotels go. No Hiltons or anything. But you won’t be homeless for the two nights you’ll be staying at Trujillo. Try these:

 

The patio above the pool at the Costa del Sol Wyndham Hotel in Trujillo Peru 
Costa del Sol Wyndham: Pool party, anyone?

The Costa del Sol Wyndham is a few minutes by taxi from the city center, towards the coast. They have a large property with a pool, gardens and alpacas waiting to greet you. The staff speaks English, and the breakfasts are supposed to be lovely.

Costa del Sol Centro Hotel in Trujillo exterior
Costa del Sol Trujillo Centro: Adding to the colors of Plaza de Armas

If you prefer staying in the city center, the Costa del Sol Trujillo Centro is right on the Plaza de Armas. There is a pool, a bar, great English-speaking staff and all of that is in a beautiful villa. Oh, and the breakfast gets accolades as well.  

Day 4: Trujillo 

The colorful Plaza de Armas in Trujillo Peru
Plaza de Armas in Trujillo

Today you’ll be exploring more of Trujillo.  

Morning 

Get a taxi (s/8) over to the Temple of the Sun (Huaca del Sol) and the Temple of the Moon (Huaca de la Luna) today. They aren’t large sites, and at the time of writing, the Temple of the Sun isn’t available to visit, but they are worth a stop. Some people even like the area more than Chan Chan.  

The Temples of the Sun and the Moon, from Moche period, are 700 years older than Chan Chan.

Colorful designs on the walls of the ruins of the Temple of the Moon near Trujillo Peru
Colorful designs on the walls of the ruins of the Temple of the Moon

Afternoon 

Take time to get a nice lunch in the city center and stroll around the Plaza de Armas is one of the most colorful in Peru, with not just the typical yellow buildings, but also blue and red as well.  

The La Libertad statue in the middle was made in France out of marble and copper. The Trujillo Cathedral Basilica is very yellow inside and out, while the nearby Carmen Church and Monastery also deserves a visit, at least as a passer-by.  

You day should come to an end on a delicious note, right? Try out one of the few higher-end restaurants in Trujillo and visit Restaurant Squalos. They have wonderful seafood dishes as well as Peruvian meals. Now I said higher-end, but this is still Trujillo, so don’t expect Michelin to be stopping by any time soon and you don’t need to wear your tux either.  

Our top tips for a month in Peru:  

✈️ Peru is huge. Flying between destinations is time-saving and cheap.  
📅 Two weeks in Peru is not enough. If you can go for month, do it. Even then you won’t see everything. 
🏨 Stay in international hotel chains. Not something we usually stick to, but in Peru, everything else is low value.  
🎟️ Don’t forget you need to book your Machu Picchu tickets months in advance.  
🚗 Rent a car at Alkila Rent a Car in Arequipa and Cusco, the only rental company that didn’t try to scam us. The international companies here are a joke.  

Day 5: Paracas 

At La Catedral in the Paracas National Reserve, Peru
The two nicest tourists you can ever meet

The time has come to go down south!  

Morning 

You’ll want to get the earliest morning flight from Trujillo to Lima. Remember they are only about an hour long and cost less than USD 100.  

In Lima, rent a car and off you go to a town called Paracas, home of the Paracas National Reserve. It’s also the starting point of the boat trips to the Islas Ballestas, which is in plan for tomorrow.  

Most rental places we tried in Peru sucked even though they were part of the biggest brands of rental companies. More on renting cars and driving in Peru here. Instead, read reviews online and don’t be afraid to rent through a local agency with high ratings.  

Renting a car in Peru isn’t cheap. The actual rental price of USD 50–70 per day for an SUV or similar vehicle is ok. But add on collision insurance and you’ll double the price.  

From Lima, Paracas town is a 3-hour, 250 km (150 mile) drive on the Pan-American Highway. The trip is long but the road is good and hey, you drove on a small part of the world’s longest road!  

You can stop for a lunch and drop off your bags in your hotel. You have to take our advice here and book yourselves into the Doubletree Resort by Hilton. We have a love affair with this hotel, see below. Of course, its restaurant, El Pardo al Mar, is fantastic as well.   

Afternoon 

You’ll spend most of your afternoon in the Paracas National Reserve. The desert here is vast and beautiful, and, coupled with the blue and turquoise shades of the ocean, is truly a memorable sight.  

And guess what?! More time in the car! You’ll need 4 hours to drive the 23 km (14 miles) route in the national reserve, including stops to take in the views and fill your Instagram. 

You buy your tickets and get your map at the main entrance on the road just south of Paracas town. The road is easy to navigate. Tickets cost s/11.  

Before you get to the last stop on the map you’ll find an area with a bunch of ocean-side mom and pop restaurants. Our favorite was Cevichería La Tia Fela. The chairs were plastic but the fish were super fresh!  

Read our article about the top things to see in Paracas for all the details of the individual stops and more tips.  

Hotel for the night 

DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel, drinking cocktails on a beach, Peru 
Karin enjoying her cocktail on the beach at DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Paracas

The DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Paracas was a-mazing, as we’ve very happily mentioned throughout our Peru articles. Right on the beach with ocean views from our room, amazing pool, breakfast, and staff at a standard every other hotel in Peru needs to take note of. Not to mention the hundreds of flamingos as neighbors and the free kayak and paddleboard rentals.

Pool area of the Hotel Paracas a Luxury Collection Resort
Not too shabby

And since we like to give you a choice, and if for some reason you have something against Hilton Hotels, you can opt for the Hotel Paracas, a Luxury Collection Resort. The property is immaculate and just oozes relaxation. There are pools inside and out and plenty of places to laze away the little downtime you have in Paracas. This property is closer to Paracas town than the DoubleTree Resort, but further from Paracas National Reserve.  

Book a room for 2 nights.  

Day 6: Islas Ballestas 

Islas Ballestas view from the boat tour, Peru
Islas Ballestas view from the boat tour

Another day of no sleeping in! Where’s the vacation?!  

Morning 

The Islas Ballestas, or Ballestas Islands, are a popular tourist destination in Peru just off of Paracas. It’s a small group of rock formations jutting out from the sea. They’re famous for the thousands of birds that congregate on the rocks and make them nice and poopy and ready for guano mining. You’ll also get to check out tons of seals, sea lions and penguins.  

To get to the Islas Ballestas, you’ll need to go on an organized boat tour. And since the sea is much calmer in the mornings that in the afternoons, that’s the time we recommend going.  

Group tours go for about 25 USD per person and may or may not include the s/13 entrance fee to the national reserve. If the price doesn’t include the fee, you will pay it at the pier. Hotel pick-up and drop-off can also be extra.  

Tours take 2 hours start to finish. Details are available in our full Islas Ballestas article.  

Afternoon 

Sitting on a rented catamaran in Paracas Peru
Somebody get this man a cocktail, stat!

After your boat trip, you’ll have the afternoon to either spend time at your hotel, try your hand at paddleboarding or similar water-based sport. There are massive jellyfish in the water everywhere in Paracas, so if you’re stability isn’t too hot, opt for a kayak.   

Our favorite DoubleTree Resort by Hilton “rented” those out to guests free of charge. Or just sip your cocktails by the pool, spying on flamingos.  

Better yet, rent a catamaran and sip your cocktail there, jellyfish-free and with no effort whatsoever.  

If you want to head out for more exploring, consider seeing the ruins at Tambo Colorado, about an hour from Paracas. These are very well-preserved Inca ruins. So if you just can’t wait to be over-Inca’s around Cusco, take a side trip to Tambo Colorado. Tickets cost only s/5. More details in our article about Paracas.  

Day 7: Huacachina and Ica 

Desert oasis of Huacachina in Peru, sandboarding spot
The desert oasis of Huacachina—sandboarding heaven

Another day, another activity. You didn’t think you’d have more time to chat with the flamingos, did you?  

Morning 

Drive 1 hour to the Huacachina oasis, which is about 75 km (46 miles) east of Paracas. Seeing a seemingly random body of water in the middle of the desert is cool to see, but the main draw here is actually the sand.  

People come here to sandboard, sandski, sandsled and sand buggy. You can choose a tour that’ll get you a guide for whichever activity you choose. Those are usually 3 hours long and cost anywhere between USD 20 and USD 60. We recommend Dito Sand Xsports, founded by four-time sandboarding world champion Dito Victor Chavez.  

There’s a small town that has popped up around the oasis with several eating options. We have a bit more info on Huacachina in our Guide to Paracas.  

Afternoon 

Just a hop and a skip away—if you can call 16 km (10 miles) that—lies the city of Ica. And on its northern side are the vineyards you’ll be visiting this afternoon.  

Visit to the oldest distillery in South America—established in 1684—, La Caravedo(look for Hacienda Destilería La Caravedo in Google Maps). They give you a free tour of the facilities. It takes 1.5 hours and is only in Spanish, but you get to try free pisco samples at the end. It’s the next level of wine: distilled wine=grape brandy!

Map showing points of interest around Paracas in Peru
All the places you might want to see around Paracas… find out what the mystery spot is in our Things to See in Paracas article

Beware that the road you will be taking looks like you’re driving to someone’s granny’s house, but trust your GPS and persevere. You’ll arrive at a stunning yellow mansion, and you’ll know you’re in the right spot.  

Stay for dinner and enjoy the huge portions at the on-site Los Horcones Restaurant. And since you’ll be heading further south tomorrow, don’t worry about traveling back to Paracas tonight. Stay at La Caravedo’s very nice hotel and have a pisco sour or three to end the day.  

Hotel for the night 

Terrace and pool at the Hotel and Hacienda La Caravedo in Ica Peru
All that’s missing is you and a pisco @ Hotel & Hacienda La Caravedo

Since you’re heading further south tomorrow, book a stay at La Caravedo’s very own hotel, the Hotel & Hacienda La Caravedo. They have comfortable rooms, a swimming pool to cool off in, and a covered patio where you can talk about life and sip on more pisco. What’s not to love?  

Day 8: Nazca Lines 

Road cutting through the Nazca Lines in Peru
Sure, put a road through it, it’s not like it’s special or anything.

Road trip! That’s just a funnier way of saying you’ll be driving a lot today. Spoiler alert: You’ll be driving a lot tomorrow, too.  

You’ve probably heard of them: strange big shapes carved into the ground in the Nazca Desert in Peru. Geoglyphs that look like everything from a hummingbird to an astronaut that are shrouded in mystery.  

Now you, too, can go take a guess as to how and why the Nazca people made these designs. Or, read our article about the Nazca Lines and find out some hypotheses.  

Morning 

Nazca Line Viewing Tower Peru
Climb up this tower if you want to see for yourselves that you simply cannot see the Nazca Lines unless you’re in the air.

The Nazca Lines are located 115 km (70 miles) south of Ica.  

You first stop after the 2-hour drive will be at the Maria Reiche Museum. The museum used to be the home of the “Lady of the Lines”, as German-born Peruvian Maria Reiche was known for her life-long efforts to study and protect the Nazca Lines. You’ll be done with the small museum within 30 minutes.  

Continue a few more minutes on the same road and you’ll see the Nazca Lines viewing tower. It costs only s/2 to climb to the top of the tower and find out you can’t see shit of the actual shapes of the geoglyphs, but take it as your first taste of the weird lines.  

The road you drove here on actually cuts through some of the Nazca Lines. You aren’t allowed to walk into them, but you can get a very clear glimpse over the guardrails.  

Afternoon 

By now you are starving, so continue another 20 minutes to Nazca town and eat something. None of the restaurants made our Best Restaurants in Peru, so read Google reviews and just pick something. You might find a gem!  

The main event of the day is a flight over the Nazca Lines. The shapes are so big that you have no chance to see them in their entirety off the ground. Enter plane!  

Nazca Lines tours depart from the Maria Reiche Neuman Airport and cost USD 100 per person for a 30-minute, nausea-inducing flight. The pilots will be tilting the little planes to either side so that everyone can get a good view of the ground.  

Read our full Nazca Lines article for details on all the various ways to see the Nazca Lines.  

After you set foot on solid earth again, you can continue making your stomach upset by getting back in your car and heading back home.  

Where home is tonight depends on whether you decide to return for another night of pisco tasting in Ica, or prefer to get back to Paracas ahead of the long drive to Lima tomorrow.  

Day 9: Travel to Arequipa 

Renting a car in Paracas National Park
Even though this car was comfortable, you do not want to spend 13 hours in it

Today you will hate me. But it’s not my fault that Peru is so damn huge!  

Morning + Afternoon  

You’ll be driving back up to Lima and then flying down to Arequipa. It seems like backtracking but it’s either that or driving for 13 hours covering 780 km (480 miles) from Paracas to Arequipa. A hard pass on that from me.  

First, drive 250 km (150 miles) from Paracas to Lima, drop off your rental car, and then reach for the sky!  

There are over 60 flights from Lima to Arequipa a day. They take 1.5 hours and plane tickets cost USD 50.  

Get a rental car at the airport. Use Alkila Rent a Car and be prepared to pay upwards of USD 100 per day.  

Hotel for the night 

I’m not actually recommending “our” hotel in Arequipa because I got food poisoning there and I am butt hurt about it… ok, fine, the Sonesta Hotel Arequipa was pretty fabulous until I wanted to puke my guts out all the way to and from Colca Canyon, which is a long-ass way. I am resentful.  

Instead, check out the ones below. You’ll need to book into whichever hotel you choose for 4 nights.

CIRQA Relais & Chateaux, luxury hotel in Arequipa Peru
The closest you’ll get to staying in a cloister: CIRQA – Relais & Châteaux

The CIRQA – Relais & Châteaux is in the heart of the city and if the natural tones and stone walls won’t calm your soul, I don’t know what will. A peaceful haven in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Arequipa. The reviews don’t lie!

A suite at the Wyndham Costa del Sol Arequipa hotel in Peru
Earthy vibes at the Wyndham Costa del Sol Arequipa

If you don’t want to be in the center but still like to be walking distance from everything (and love a pool!), check out the Wyndham Costa del Sol Arequipa. A totally different vibe than the aforementioned CIRQA: more fancy Spanish farm than chilled-out nun. Reviewers commend the professional staff and the great bathtubs.  

Day 10: Arequipa  

Arequipa Basilica Cathedral, places to visit in Peru
Arequipa Basilica Cathedral

It’s time to slow down for a bit. With no driving and no big adventures today, you’ll have enough time to take in the whiteness of the White City of Arequipa. Everything here is built from the white volcanic rock called sillar, giving Arequipa a unique, bright appearance.  

You’ll also be starting your acclimatization process. Arequipa sits at 2,300 m (7,600 ft) above sea level, which is nothing compared to Cusco’s 3,400 m (11,000 ft). This is why I recommend going to Arequipa first and to Cusco second, getting used to the thinner air bit by bit, or else facing the wrath of altitude sickness. The side trips out of Arequipa will take you to very high altitudes, too, so having a lower ground to retreat back to is a plus.  

You can walk everywhere in Arequipa’s city center. I didn’t exactly feel safe in the outskirts, so maybe don’t go there, or, if you must, take a taxi. Also, driving in Arequipa is almost as crazy as in Lima. Read our guide to driving in Peru for more information on that. You’ll be glad you have a car though during the day trips on the following days.  

Morning  

Map of best things to do in Arequipa
Map of Arequipa highlights

After plenty of beauty sleep and a hearty breakfast, take a walk around the Plaza de Armas. The main square is the nicest I’ve seen in all of Latin America. It’s full of cafes and shops. El Misti Volcano looms in the background just asking for tons of photos.  

The massive, white Basilica Cathedral is an obvious standout in the city center. It’s right on the Plaza de Armas. To visit the cathedral, you’ll need to buy your ticket for s/10, which includes an hour-long guided tour (you can’t visit on your own). Be sure to dress appropriately—cover knees and shoulders. The views from the cathedral’s rooftop are pretty spectacular!  

Refer to our list of favorite restaurants in Peru to see which ones we liked best in Arequipa, and choose one for lunch.  

Afternoon 

Peruvian woman, travelling in Peru
Peruvian woman weaving alpaca textile in Alpaca Mundo Arequipa

Spend at least a couple of hours walking through the neighborhoods of Santa Catalina Monastery that used to be like the Monaco of monasteries. Easy to visit on your own, though guides are available. Tickets cost s/40.  

Continuing up a bit further north is the Mundo Alpaca, a museum where you’ll learn the difference between alpacas and llamas and learn all about the textile industry that these animals have helped create.  

Entrance is free but you’ll be sure to drop a dollar at the museum shop. Sweaters for everyone!   

Head over to Pasta Canteen for dinner and create your own pasta dish. For more dining options in Arequipa, check out our article about our favorite restaurants in Peru.  

Day 11: Laguna de Salinas and rafting 

Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve
Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve

No more of this lazy business, today is the day you see some salty flamingos!  

Morning 

You’ll be visiting Laguna de Salinas, the most beautiful nature reserve I’ve seen in a long time. Like ever. The mix of the wetlands with tons of llamas, alpacas and flamingos and the snow-covered peaks of the mountains above, makes for a landscape like no other.  

The drive to Laguna de Salinas is 60 km (38 miles) from Arequipa and takes 2 hours one way. You’ll be climbing up to Laguna de Salinas‘ 4,300 m (14,000 ft), continuing your acclimatization efforts.  

Spend an hour or two taking way too many photos, trying to position yourself for that perfect shot with El Misti in the center and a flamingo cuddling a llama mirrored in the lagoon.    

Take note that during the dry months of May to November, there is no lagoon to speak of, instead leaving behind a salty crust on the ground. With no water, there are also much fewer animals, so keep that in mind if you’re visiting in the wrong part of the year.

Rafting, what to do in Peru 
Try rafting they said, it’ll be fun, they said

Afternoon 

If you are in Peru during the dry months and don’t feel like getting car sick just to see some salt on the ground, opt for some whitewater rafting on Rio Chile instead. Actually, you could do both in one day if you’re that kind of over-active type!  

We absolutely loved our rafting experience. The rapids were real, not letting us rest the whole 1.5 hours we were on the water. Read about our trip in our Arequipa article.  

The rafting part of the trip starts just 20 minutes outside of Arequipa’s city center and takes a total of 3 hours including transportation, wetsuiting up and instructions. Most companies have 2–3 departures a day. Prices start at USD 25.   

If you need something to fill in the last hours of the day, take a look at Ruta del Sillar.  

It’s a sillar quarry where you can go and see a variety of statues made of the volcanic rock. A 30-minute drive awaits you if you head over from Arequipa’s center. Again, we give you the deets in our 10 Best Things to Do In and Around Arequipa article.  

Tickets are just s/5 and you will probably only spend 30–60 minutes at Ruta del Sillar.  

Day 12: Colca Canyon 

Colca Canyon viewpoint, Peru
The second deepest Canyon in the world: Colca Canyon

Today you’ll take on Colca Canyon, the second deepest Canyon in the world that cuts 3,400 m deep into the mountains.  

Morning + Afternoon 

In all honesty, today’s driving is an undertaking to say the least—4 hours one way (with some short breaks). But you’ve come this far, don’t give up! It is 120 km (75 miles) from Arequipa.  

Colca Canyon is the biggest reason people even come to Arequipa, so you gotta go. Plus, there are condors! Otherwise known as the huge, ugly-headed birds that gave name to the most famous lookout point, Mirador Cruz del Cóndor. Many treks start from this point. You can continue to Cabanaconde for more viewpoints.

Views of Colca Canyon, Peru
Views of Colca Canyon

You can spend as little or as much time as you want at Colca Canyon. We were happy with just the viewpoints, but by all means, take a hike.  

Colca Canyon is pretty high up, with the Cruz del Condor viewpoint at an altitude of 3,700 m (12,000 ft). You might want to stock up on some coca just in case you get signs of mountain sickness.  

Colca Canyon will take up all day. Head to dinner and hit the sack.  

More details on how to see Colca Canyon are in our Things to Do in Arequipa article.  

Day 13: Cusco city center 

Cusco city, Plaza de Armas, Peru
Plaza de Armas in Cusco

Get ready for Inca-overload! Flights to Cusco from Arequipa take an hour and cost around USD 100. Once you disembark your plane, you’ll be breathing heavier since you’re now in 3,400 m (11,000 ft).  

If you come to Cusco directly from Lima, you’re almost certainly getting altitude sickness. If you took our advice and spent time in and around Arequipa first, you might get lucky and get altitude sickness a few days later once you head higher into the mountains.  

Rent a car. You can again do that at Alkila Rent a Car. Alternatively, a taxi from Cusco airport to the city center is USD 25. You can use the Cabify app in Cusco as well.  

Cusco is one of the very few cities in the Americas that I think warrant a two-day stay. In this case it’s great because you might be feeling a little blah because of the altitude, so getting two days of “just” sightseeing in town will be just what your body needs to get back up to speed again.

Map of Cusco city highlights
The locations of Cusco’s highlights

Morning 

First stop: the Inca Museum. Learn about everything you’re going to be seeing in the next few days. The Incas were a fascinating people and getting to know as much as you can about them will elevate your experiences from the ruins you’ll be visiting.  

Definitely opt for a guide since the museum isn’t really that great when it comes to signs in English. Our guide was fantastic and really made our visit worthwhile.  

Expect to spend at least 1.5 hours at the Inca Museum. Tickets cost s/10.  

The Inca Museum is right by the Plaza de Armas, so spend some time there and at the massive Cusco Cathedral. It has three parts and includes a museum with hundreds of artifacts, sculptures and paintings, the most famous of which is Marcos Zapata’s Last Supper where guinea pig is served as the main course.  

You’ll need an hour to properly look around. Tickets cost s/30.  

By this point you’ll have worked up an appetite. Luckily, Cusco has fantastic eateries. We stumbled into Uchu Peruvian Steakhouse by accident and had the best chicken of our lives. See more restaurant tips in our dedicated Cusco article, or in our Best Restaurants in Peru article. 

Afternoon 

The views of the city and mountains from San Cristobal in Cusco
The best views over the city: San Cristobal Viewpoint

Walk through the side streets of Old Town. Don’t forget about Calle Hatunrumiyoc and Calle Inca Roca to check out the walls made of the Incas’ precisely cut stones. You really don’t need to do much, just walk and enjoy.  

Then climb up to the viewpoint at San Cristobal Church and ooh and aah over what is in front of you: the Plaza de Armas surrounded by the red rooftops of Cusco, bordered by the magnificent Andes in the background. Priceless.  

It’s a short (15 minutes max) but steep walk from Plaza de Armas. Your ticket from Cusco Cathedral automatically gets you into the San Cristobal Church if you’re interested. It’s nothing that special, the views of Cusco are the real attraction here.  

Hotel for the night 

Views from the dining room at the Hilton Garden Inn Cusco
Did we mention the incredible views? Hilton Garden Inn Cusco

Another day, another Hilton? It sure was for us, and we can’t complain! The Hilton Garden Inn Cusco had super comfortable beds, wonderful staff and though it’s located a 10-minute walk to the Plaza de Armas, the bonus is that it is quiet. The spa is so good, they even have a special acclimatization massage. Add one of our favorite restaurants in all of Peru, the Garden Grille, and you have one of the best hotels in Cusco.

Palacio del Inka, A Luxury Collection Hotel, where to stay in Cusco
Palacio del Inka, A Luxury Collection Hotel by Marriott

The Palacio del Inka, A Luxury Collection Hotel by Marriott is right in the city center, basically calling itself neighbor to Qoricancha (see tomorrow’s activities). You’d be staying at an old Inca palace, which is pretty much all you need to convince you that this hotel is amazing. There’s a harpist that plays during breakfast… nuff said.  

Book your hotel in Cusco for 3 nights.  

Day 14: Cusco city center 

In the courtyard of the Museum of Pre-Coumbian Art in Cusco
Explore the cultures of Peru at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art of Peru

Today you get to see more of Cusco, learn more about Incas, and visit another very Peru-specific museum. 

Morning 

First, head over to the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art of Peru right by the Plaza de Armas. It’s part of the Museo Larco group (the Museo Larco that knocked our socks off in Lima), meaning it’s very modern and up to European museum standards.  

This museum presents the art and cultures of central Peru from the Mochica civilization to the Incas. You’ll need about an hour to go through the ten rooms of the museum. Tickets cost s/20.

Coca-related artifacts a the coca museum in Cusco
A cup of coca tea, anyone?

You can also learn about another staple of the region: coca. Just remember not to buy everyone at home souvenirs from the Coca Museum, it’s illegal to take that stuff out of the country! It’s fascinating to learn about the plant that might just save you from altitude sickness on more than one occasion while you’re traveling in Peru.  

Free admission.  

For lunch, how about something healthy? Have you ever had flowers on a pizza? No? You can at Organika.     

Afternoon 

After lunch, head to Qoricancha. It was the most important temple in Cusco during the Inca Empire. Though once the Spaniards took over, they took it apart and built a church on the leftover base, which is what you’ll see there now. There’s also a museum on site.  

You’ll need at least an hour on the site and in the museum. Qoricancha is part of Cusco Tourist Ticket circuits 2 and 3 (both cost s/70). You cannot buy a separate ticket just for this one place. More about the Cusco Tourist Ticket in our article about Sacred Valley.  

Qoricancha is right in the center of Cusco, so you’re still walking distance for everywhere and you can spend the rest of the afternoon around Plaza de Armas.  

In the evening, have a pisco sour or three at Hilton’s Garden Grille Restaurant or another one of the many bars and restaurants in town. The Garden Grille has the most fantastic views over Cusco though!  

For more details on things to see in Cusco, see our complete Cusco guide.  

Day 15: Cusco Inca sites 

Tambomachay, Qenco and Puka Pukara on a map
Tambomachay, Qenco and Puka Pukara on a map 

Today you’ll be taking a look at the Inca sites around the city. Take your car, because most of them are outside of town.  

Morning 

The first site you’ll be visiting is Sacsayhuaman. It was an important fortified Inca complex, so it sits atop a steep hill, right above the San Cristobal viewpoint. It’s a massive site with not only Inca ruins but also great views of Sacred Valley and even Ausangate, the sacred mountain of the Incas.  

You need an hour at the site. Tickets are not sold separately. You need the Cusco Tourist Ticket circuit 1 (s/130) or 2 (s/70). More about how and where to buy tickets in our Sacred Valley article.   

Plan your day so that you can have lunch after you see Sacsayhuaman, since after this, you’ll be heading out into the boonies.  

Afternoon  

Inca ruins at Tambomachay near Cusco in Peru
The water worship center of Tambomachay

Tambomachay, Qenco and Puka Pukara are next on your Inca itinerary for the day. They are all to the north of town. Qenco is right in the outskirts of Cusco while Tambomachay and Puka Pukara are a few kilometers outside of town, about 10 minutes by car.    

A water worship center, a mummification area and an entry checkpoint into Cusco are what you’ll be seeing. You’ll probably be content with 30 minutes at each site.  

They’re all conveniently on Cusco Tourist Ticket circuit 2 which is only valid for one day, so you have no choice but to group them together during one outing. More about how and where to buy tickets in our Sacred Valley article.   

For more information about all of these Inca sites, see our article titled The 10 Things to Do In Cusco That Are Actually Worth It.  

Day 16: Sacred Valley 

Sacred Valley, view of mountains in Peru
Just spectacular!

You’ll be driving through the heart of the Inca Empire today—Sacred Valley. It’ll be a whole lot of Inca ruins, but maybe even more exciting is the scenery. Peru ‘s Andes Mountains are awe-inspiring, and you’ll be awe-ing at every stop you make.  

All the places you’ll want to hit—Chinchero, Maras, Moray, Ollantaytambo and Pisac—are conveniently part of the Cusco Tourist Ticket’s 4th circuit, except for Maras. Get your Maras ticket separately at the entrance.  

We have a whole article about the Top 9 Places to See in Sacred Valley, so you can get all the details about each stop and the tickets there.  

Morning 

First, drive 40 km (25 miles) to Pisac. It’s not far, but you’ll need an hour for the trip. This isn’t a highway! Once there, you might overlook the Inca ruins and just stare at the views. But the ruins of the fortress are vast, so they’ll require at least an hour or two of your attention. 

Then you’ll head to Chinchero, a picturesque town where the locals still dress in traditional clothing. If you can come here on a Sunday you’ll experience a very nice market, not as touristy as most others. The drive between Pisac and Chinchero is 1.5 hours and about 75 km (45 miles).

El Maqt’a Restaurant, Peru
El Maqt’a Restaurant

Time for lunch! And we have a secret gem for you: Make sure to stop by the very local and very cute restaurant called El Maqt’a. It’s a gem we found on the road between Chinchero and Urubamba.  See here for the location of El Maqt’a and don’t expect them to have a website, but do expect the pink corn beer, chicha. More details in our Best Restaurants in Peru article

Afternoon 

Maras salt pools, places to visit in Peru 
Lookin’ good at the Maras salt pools

Continue 15 minutes from the restaurant to Moray, where the Incas experimented with growing different crops, and the circular sunken terraces are a very cool leftover of that agricultural laboratory.  

You’ll be using your Cusco Tourist Ticket for Moray. You will spend up to an hour at the site

Twenty minutes further and you’ll be stopping at Maras, which is a whole side of a mountain filled with thousands of salt evaporation pools. This is the spot where you’ll be buying a separate ticket at the entrance for s/10. Allow 30 minutes for your visit.  

We have a dedicated Moray and Maras article for these two sites.  

Last but not least, drive 30 minutes to Ollantaytambo. This is the place where you’ll alight your train to Machu Picchu tomorrow, but first, check out some of the best-preserved Inca ruins in all of Peru. If you want to know all about the ruins and Ollantaytambo town, read our Ollantaytambo article. You’ll want to spend an hour or two at the ruins.  

Hotel for the night 

Since you’re heading out to Machu Picchu Pueblo tomorrow morning, it makes no sense to go back to Cusco for the night today. Instead, stay at one of the hotels in Ollantaytambo. There are spectacular resorts there and especially around Urubamba, which is only 20 km (12 miles) away.

Vertical Sky Luxury Suites, where to stay in Ollantaytambo  
One of the glass pods at Vertical Sky Luxury Suites: You know you want to!

At the Vertical Sky Luxury Suites, you can choose to sleep in a glass pod hanging above the valley floor that you get to by walking, strapped in, mountain climbing-style, to the ledge of the mountain, before getting into your “room”. You get your own Jacuzzi up there, too. Or, you can choose the more spacious and less hanging glass dome. You still get views for days, but it provides more comfort, like an actual floor you can walk on.

   

The pool area of the Tambo del Inka Hotel in Urubamba Peru
Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Valle Sagrado: bringing guests closer to nature… while they lounge by the hotel pool

At Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Valle Sagrado, you get not only luxury everything, an exceptional spa and pool, but staff are also happy to share their Inca knowledge. It’s like nothing is impossible at Tambo del Inka.

Day 17: Transfer to Aguas Calientes and first day at Machu Picchu 

Train from Ollantaytambo, traveling in Peru 
Train trip with a wonderful view

 

Today you’ll be taking the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (otherwise known as Machu Picchu Pueblo). In the afternoon, you’ll visit the one and only Machu Picchu.  

Morning 

Aguas Calientes, Peru
Aguas Calientes views

The first part of your day is going to be spent getting to Aguas Calientes, otherwise known as Machu Picchu Pueblo. You’ll want to go relatively early in the morning, because you have a big day ahead of you—Machu Picchu!  

The train trip from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes takes 1.5 hours, costs USD 120 one way, and takes you through more stunning scenery, as you’ve probably gotten used to in Sacred Valley by now. There are two train companies to choose from: Peru Rail and Inca Rail.  

You’ll want to buy your train tickets directly from the company websites right at the time you buy your Machu Picchu tickets, which should be up to 6 months before your visit. For instructions on how and when to buy tickets, read our All You Need to Know for Visiting Machu Picchu article

Once in Aguas Calientes, head over to the bus ticket office, Consettur, to get your tickets for the bus. Those cost USD 24 return.  

Afternoon 

Machu Picchu views, Peru
Machu Picchu is worth it!

The bus tickets to Machu Picchu aren’t time stamped, so you’ll need to line up and hope to get on a bus at the time you want. Don’t worry though, because unless you want to be the first one there (in which case, have fun getting in line at 4 am!), there usually isn’t much of a wait. The bus trip up to the actual Inca city takes 20 minutes

Because of how the Machu Picchu ticketing system works, you can choose a ticket to just Machu Picchu, or to Machu Picchu and a hike. We think it’s worth doing both, because if you buy the combination ticket, you can’t go on the best route through Machu Picchu city. And that kinda sucks.  

For this reason, I recommend buying two separate tickets: one with a hike, one without, and see Machu Picchu on two separate visits.  

This afternoon, you’ll be seeing Machu Picchu city on the comprehensive circuit 1. It has a set time limit of 4 hours per visit and costs USD 40.  

Our All You Need to Know for Visiting Machu Picchu article explains everything from costs and tickets to getting there and if and how to get a guide. You can also find a map showing all the routes. In a separate article, The Best Time to Visit Macchu Picchu, we discuss rainy season vs. dry season and why we think seeing the sunrise at Machu Picchu is overrated.  

Hotel for the night 

The Sanctuary Lodge, A Belmond Hotel on Machu Picchu 
Sanctuary Lodge, A Belmond Hotel: No need to travel, just wake up right on the mountain!

While there are several fantastic hotels to choose from in Aguas Calientes itself, consider staying at the wonderful Sanctuary Lodge, A Belmond Hotel, which is up on the actual mountain near Machu Picchu itself. Since you’ll be returning to Machu Picchu tomorrow morning, it saves you a couple of bus trips up and down the mountain. 

You can spend the evening at the fantastic restaurant or take a little wander around the manicured grounds with ponds and hummingbirds. The best part is that you get direct views of Huayna Picchu, which is the mountain you’ll be hiking in the morning, right after you wake up in your silk bedding. Bliss!

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel  
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel: Can you say magical?

The Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, located in Aguas Calientes, pulls out all the stops, with terraced hills, stone paths, waterfalls and villas in lush gardens that will make you want to stay another day.   

Day 18: Machu Picchu hike 

Tourist at Huayna Picchu with a view of Machu Picchu city and mountain 
The view from Huayna Picchu with Machu Picchu Mountain in the background

This is your second day at Machu Picchu. We did the Huayna Picchu combination, and it was fantastic. Not too strenuous or long but recommended as the most spectacular of all the hike options.   

Morning 

No matter which hike you choose, the combination tickets are only available for the mornings. “Our” Huayna Picchu hike and city tickets costs USD 53 per person. They let you explore for up to 6 hours, including one of the lesser routes within the city. 

Getting up to Huayna Picchu is an adventure, with narrow pathways and super steep stairs that’ll make you climb them on all fours. Whatever you do, don’t look down! Until you get to the top, that is.  

There are no facilities at Machu Picchu, so you’ll need to wait with your lunch until you get your butt over to a restaurant in town again. 

Afternoon 

Once you get back down to Aguas Calientes, spend an hour of four at one of our favorite restaurants in Peru, Chullos. We could’ve (and literally almost did) spent the entire afternoon on their balcony overlooking the Urubamba River. If the views and divine food isn’t enough to persuade you, know that they serve their own beer and it’s fantastic!  

You’ll need to head back to Cusco in the afternoon by spending 1.5 hours on the train back to Ollantaytambo and then driving 60 km (37 miles) to Cusco.  

Hotel for the night 

Monasterio, A Belmond Hotel, hotels in Cusco Peru
Monasterio, A Belmond Hotel in Cusco

You’re back in Cusco and you’ll be staying for 3 nights. You can either choose one of the hotels that we recommended for your first stop there, the Palacio del Inka, A Luxury Collection Hotel or the Hilton Garden Inn Cusco.  

Or, check into somewhere new, like the former monastery Monasterio, A Belmond Hotel. It’s right in the city center and is spectacular! The gorgeous rooms look out into the perfect courtyard or out onto Cusco’s red-roofed houses. The staff are praised for being professional and very accommodating.  

Day 19: Humantay Lake 

We’ve got a fantastic green-blue lake in store for you today. It’s called Humantay and you’ll see organized tours to it everywhere in Cusco, but it’s in fact easy to reach on your own. It’s a gorgeous lagoon located under snow-capped Salcantay Mountain.  

Morning 

The drive from Cusco is 3 hours long to the trailhead at Soraypampa 120 km (75 miles) away.  

The 2.6 mile loop hike will take you about 2 hours to complete, so it isn’t terribly long. The starting altitude is 3,800 m (12,460 ft) and the lake itself is at 4,200 m (13,780 ft), so the elevation gain is quite substantial over the short trek.  

The trail to the lake is clearly visible, so no need for a guide. You can, however, rent a mule if the elevation gain is too much for you.  

Keep in mind that tour groups from Cusco arrive at the trailhead around 7 am, so plan your arrival accordingly.  

The entrance fee to Humantay Lake is s/10, payable in cash at the checkpoint in Mollepata.  

Afternoon 

Head back to Cusco. Remember, the drive is 3 hours long, so you’ll be pretty pooped after you finally get back to the city.  

One of our favorite restaurants in Peru, Aulita, could be just the place to relax and have a dinner and cocktail.  

Day 20: Rainbow Mountain 

Rainbow Mountain, Peru
Not as colorful as on Instagram, but still beautiful

Get ready to drive (again!) for way too long and walk in way too thin air. Today you’ll get an answer to the burning question: Have I acclimatized enough?! 

You’ll hike to the incredible Rainbow Mountain. Located at an altitude of 5,200 m (17,000 ft), it’ll be a miracle if you aren’t grabbing for several cups of coca tea in hopes to cure your mountain sickness.  

Morning + Afternoon 

There are a few different routes you can take to see Rainbow Mountain aka Vinicunca (or the alternative Palccoyo).  

The standard route to Rainbow Mountain is called the Cusipata Trail. You start hiking at 4,600 m (15,000 ft) and continue for 3 km (1.8 miles) with a total elevation gain of about 400 m (1,300 ft), and then back the same way. So it’s not that long, but it’ll take you 2 hours to get up there and another 1.5 hours back down because you will be taking breathing breaks every 20 m (65 ft). The cost is s/40.

Map of route to Palccoyo Mountain, a Rainbow Mountain in Peru 
The trek to Palccoyo is easy enough with the lower altitude and almost flat terrain

The shorter Palccoyo Route is only 2 km (1.2 miles) long and takes you to a different rainbow mountain (several, actually) than the popular Rainbow Mountain. It’s an easy hike of about 40 minutes. The cost is s/10.  

Read our Rainbow Mountain article to see which one is right for you.  

No matter which starting point you decide on, you’re looking at a 3–4 hour drive from Cusco one way, so get up bright and early. It’s 100 km (62 miles), and at least half of that will be spent on mountain dirt roads.  

There are a couple of places worth a stop in the towns at the foot of the mountain, check out the whole Rainbow Mountain article to see if you’d like any of those. 

Day 21: Lake Titicaca 

The itinerary so far has been packed (btw, here’s our article on how to pack), and you deserve a breather—and not just because you may have had trouble breathing yesterday at Rainbow Mountain. We’re not huge fans of just sitting around, so get this: You’ll be traveling and resting at the same time today! 

Lake Titicaca is the highest-altitude large lake in the world at 3,800 m (12,500 ft). It is located on the border of Peru and Bolivia, with the border line running right through the middle of the lake. The main gateway city on the Peruvian side is Puno.  

Puno is 390 km (240 miles) from Cusco and the drive would take 6.5 hours. But get this: there is a luxury train line that chugs up and down this route. It is one of the most spectacular train routes…maybe even in the whole world.  

PeruRail operates a 20s-inspired train simply called Titicaca. It takes 10 hours to get from Cusco to Puno on this train, and while that sounds long, it’s really not that hard to spend that time sipping pisco sours in the bar car, eating your 3-course lunch at a slow pace in the restaurant and ogling the fantastic scenery from the open-ended observation deck. There are some traditional music shows as well, but I prefer seeing the life that was unfolding outside the train.  

Morning  

Beware the time schedule, because the PeruRail train does not depart every day. In low season there is just one departure a week, in high season there are currently three departures a week. The train leaves between 7–8 am depending on the day, from the Wanchaq train station in Cusco. You need to be at the station 30 minutes before departure time.  

Buy your tickets online in advance for USD 275. They’ll include lunch, dinner, and a tea time snack. Don’t expect great food, but it’ll get the job done. An attendant stores your bulk luggage in a designated car. It’ll be released to you in Puno when you present your luggage ticket.  

You’ll be passing through villages that don’t get visited by tourists and in that way get a small glimpse into real everyday life.  

Afternoon 

The train goes slowly and surely and no matter how rural the area outside your window looks, you’ll always see locals in traditional clothes either at work or taking a break from work, watching the train go by.  

Take note that this is a high-altitude route, going as high as 4,350 m (14,200 ft). You’ll be stopping at the highest point, the Raya Pass, for 20 minutes while you let another train comes past. Good thing you’ve acclimatized in Arequipa and Cusco!  

Puno’s train station is in the city center. You’ll arrive around 5–6 pm.  

Alternative: The Belmond Andean Explorer, also by PeruRail, is an overnight train that is basically a 5-star hotel on rails. The USD 2400 price tag isn’t for everyone.  

Hotel for the night 

One of the standout points of interest at Lake Titicaca are the manmade islands of the Uros people—built of the reed that grows around Lake Titicaca. Seventeen reed islands, complete with reed houses and reed boats, are located on the lake.  

Either that or stay in Puno town. Whichever you choose, book 2 nights.

The room at the reed island hotel QHAPAQ Lago Titicaca
A reed hotel room on a reed Uros island! QHAPAQ Lago Titicaca

Some of the families on the islands have made it possible for tourists to spend the night. Many are very basic rooms, but there is one standout: QHAPAQ Lago Titicaca. The rooms are fantastic, with hot water, huge windows with infinite views of Lake Titicaca, and the friendliest family taking care of you. The food here is excellent, too, and comes included in the price of the room. Spectacular.

Hotel room at the GHL Hotel Lago Titicaca in Peru 
Not on the lake but on the lake: GHL Hotel Lago Titicaca

If you prefer staying on actual land but still getting incredible Lake Titicaca views, consider GHL Hotel Lago Titicaca. The only 5-star hotel around offers comfort, professional staff and plenty of activities that you can book right at the main desk. A spa and sauna are part of the hotel as well.  

Day 22: Lake Titicaca 

Today you’ll tour the lake and surrounding areas.  

Morning 

Take a boat tour around the islands of Lake Titicaca and learn about local life and show you why and how the people live on the water. Everyone and their dog offers tours in Puno, we suggest taking the tours that the above two hotels offer if you end up staying in them.  

We have a more information about Lake Titicaca in our article about best places to visit in Peru.  

There are half-day trips available with prices starting at around USD 50 per person.  

You’ll be back at your hotel for lunch.  

Afternoon 

For the afternoon, choose a trip to Sillustani, a pre-Inca burial ground on the shore of another—much smaller—lake near Puno called Umayo. The tombs are in round towers called chullpas and they are scattered on the shore of the lake. Some destroyed, some not. 

The views from the hills above the lake are also worth the scramble. See the island in the middle of the lake? It serves as a nature reserve for vicuñas.  

The drive to Sillustani from Puno takes about 45 minutes and you’ll probably spend about an hour walking around the site. If you take a taxi, you’ll pay around USD 10. Organized tours will cost around USD 30.  

Day 23: Lima 

Miraflores coastline, Peru
Miraflores coastline

Today you’ll need to get on a flight to Lima. Once in Lima, do not rent a car, instead opting for taxis. Remember, driving in Lima is a nightmare.  

Morning 

Have a grand breakfast and then get to the Puno airport for your flight to Lima. There are several departures throughout the day and tickets cost around USD 150. You’ll be in Lima in no time… if you consider 1.5 hours no time. You’ll want to book a morning flight if you want to have enough time for the activity in Lima in the afternoon.  

Afternoon 

Take a taxi to the ruins of a city called Pachacamac about 40 km (25 miles) south of central Lima. Pacha Kamaq (which means Earth Maker) was the creator god of the Peruvians before the Inca times. There are many myths surrounding this god, and I urge you to read up on him prior to visiting “his” city.  

There is a modern museum at the site that’s a good introduction to the historical background of the area. It’ll take you maximum one hour to get through. Then, take 1.5 hours to walk around the ruins. I recommend a guide, but it is possible to go on your own.  

Tickets cost s/15, guided tour is s/30. More information about the site in our Lima guide.  

Later, you watch the sunset at the Miraflores boardwalk, called the Malecón, that takes you to the cliffs over the ocean. After sunset, head inland to one of the top bars in Miraflores called Open Tapas Bar.  

Hotel for the night 

A room at the Miraflores Hilton Hotel in Lima Peru
One of the rooms at the Miraflores Hilton Hotel

Both hotels we stayed at in Lima, the Miraflores Hilton Hotel and the Radisson Red Miraflores were good, so take your pick. You won’t be disappointed in either one, though the Hilton is certainly the more sophisticated one. The staff were exceptionally pleasant and we had no complaints whatsoever.  

Day 24: Iquitos 

Iquitos is the “capital of the jungle”. And to the jungle you will go!  

The not-exactly-charming city has a population of roughly half a million people, so it’s no village. There is no road leading into it, so you will need to get on yet another flight. But the Amazon Jungle awaits, so it’s worth the effort!  

You’ll use Iquitos as a gateway to the jungle and exploring the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve.    

Morning 

Flights from Lima take almost 2 hours and cost USD 100. A taxi from the airport to town will be around USD 5.  

You can take in the noise or the engines and horns of the motorbikes at the Plaza de Armas (remember, there are almost no cars in Iquitos). The city is busy, a little dirty, and you can see poverty. So not exactly unicorns and rainbows, but you’re here so you might as well try to enjoy it while you’re here.  

Iquitos center is full of colonial mansions, so take a stroll there and then check out the Tarapaca Malecon, a fairly manicured promenade on the riverbank not far from the main city square. You’ll find cafes and restaurants there, as well as views of the river and the houses that are built on and around it. A start contrast to those villas in the center! 

Afternoon 

Hop on a 20-minute boat ride (s/5) on the Nanay river to visit the Pilpintuwasi Animal Rescue Center. It’s located in the Padre Cocha community. Boats leave from the Bellavista Nanay port on the very north of Iquitos. Once in Padre Cocha it is a 15 minute walk to the center. Ask around for directions.  

DO NOT go to the other center right by Pilpintuwasi, they pretend to rescue animals but don‘t. They just saw that tourists were coming to Pilpintuwasi and wanted some tourist dollars too.  

There are guided tours at Pilpintuwasi daily except Mondays where you can see some of the luckier animals that got taken from the jungle. You’ll meet jaguars, ocelots, a tapir, parrots, a toucan, and many different species of monkeys. And there’s a butterfly village. The price is s/30.  

Through education, rescue and rehabilitation, they are trying to end animal trafficking in the region. A lot of it happens at the notorious Belen market in Iquitos, so we’d skip that place.  

Hotel for the night 

The pool at the DoubleTree Hilton in Iquitos Peru
A little pool time at the DoubleTree by Hilton

Spend the night at the DoubleTree by Hilton, which is directly on the Plaza de Armas. They’ll win you over with the poolside service and the comfiest beds ever. And all the mod cons that you’re stay in the jungle will have you missing!  

Day 25: Getting into the Amazon Jungle 

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in Peru
Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

Pacaya Samiria National Reserve is the triangular bit between the Marañón River and the Ucayali River, both of which become the Amazon River at their confluence.   

About 40,000 people and a large variety of animals call the reserve home. Pink river dolphins, piranhas, sloths, caiman, manatees, pumas, jaguars and all sorts of primates are some of them.  

There are many lodges in the jungle surrounding the reserve (none in the actual reserve obviously) that offer a multitude of different experiences, trips and themed stays.  

The lodge we’re recommending, the Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge, is the one that is the closest to the reserve, about 120 km (75 miles) southwest of Iquitos.  

Morning 

The bungalows of the Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge
Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge: Deep in the jungle

To get to the Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge, you’ll need to travel 2.5 hours on land and water. Transfers are organized by the lodge.  

Even if you stay anywhere else, you’ll always have the transportation provided by your accommodation provider because getting into the jungle isn’t something you just go and do on your own.  

Afternoon 

Take part in some of the programs offered based on what you enjoy. This can be anything from a walk through the lodge’s private reserve to learning how to climb palm trees like the Amazonian people.  

Hotel for the night 

Patio at the Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge near Iquitos in Peru
Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge common area 

We’ve chosen the Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge as the spot we think is the best place to stay in the jungle. Their 10 bungalows are as fancy as you’ll get this far deep in the Amazon. The programs they offer range from simple explorations to wellness- or sustainability-focused affairs.  

Day 26–28: Amazon Jungle activities 

A sloth in a tree in the Amazon Jungle
Wildlife spotting in the Amazon!

Spend three full days exploring the jungle.  

You can focus on the nature on one day. Besides actual jungle hikes, you could be doing things like visiting the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañon Rivers and searching for amphibians and reptiles, or trying to spot pink river dolphins. If you’ve visiting in October or November, you might be able to take part in releasing baby turtles into the river.  

Learning about handicrafts in a local community in the Amazon Jungle
On a trip to a local community organized by the Pacaya Samiria Amazon Lodge 

The next day could be spent with local communities, getting to know their culture and learning about how they make handicrafts, and even try your hand at cooking traditional dishes.  

Your last day could be a wellness program like a detox or yoga experience with workshops on traditional medicine.  

Day 29: Back to Lima  

The lighthouse in Miraflores in Lima at sunset 
One last night in Miraflores, Lima 

Time to head back to civilization, you’re trip to Peru is coming to an end.  

Morning 

Depending on which lodge you chose to stay at, getting back to Iquitos will take you up to 2.5 hours. So that’s your morning pretty much gone.  

Once in the city, you can grab a lunch at the Iron House Restaurant, which sits right on the Plaza de Armas. The Iron House that the restaurant is part of is a famous building, being called the finest example of civil architecture in Peru.  

You can sit on the balcony and people-watch with the deafening scooter noise in the background. The perfect way to end your stay in the tranquil jungle, no? Just do yourself a favor and choose one of the more Peruvian-inspired dishes. The burgers and other western-style meals could leave you disappointed.  

Afternoon 

Flight to Lima. Remember they take almost 2 hours and cost about USD 100. There are many departures throughout the day.  

Nothing further planned for the day. Get yourself in a nice hotel and just enjoy your last hours in the country with some good food and pampering.  

Hotel for the night 

A room with a pool at the Miraflores Park, A Belmond Hotel in Lima Peru  
When you can’t bother leaving your room since it’s your last day in Peru: Miraflores Park, A Belmond Hotel 

You could spend your last night in Peru at the Miraflores Hilton Hotel and the Radisson Red Miraflores, both of which were mentioned before.  

Or, if you want to change it up, the Miraflores Park, A Belmond Hotel is equally amazing. If you’re up for it, the presidential suite even has its own private pool. But even if you’re not the president, the coastal and ocean views are tremendous.   

You’ve had 30 days of non-stop exploring, it’s time for some R&R!  

Day 30: Departure  

There’s nothing left to say, you’ll need to come back to Peru another day! Believe it or not, there’s still plenty to see and do. (And if you were just dreaming about a vacation that long and you have to come back down to reality now, check out our 2-week Peru itinerary.

For example, we didn’t take you to Huaraz, the hiking capital of Peru, on this itinerary, because getting there is just so damn annoying! No flights, wtf?!  

Or, if you—unlike us—don’t mind overnight treks, there are tons of them not just out of Huaraz, but Cusco as well. I’d love to visit the true lost city of the Incas, Vilcabamba. Or trek the sacred Ausangate… or…  

We’ll be back for sure. Will you?  

End of the journey meme 

Extra resources 

We’ve put together a ton of information about visiting Peru. Not only destination guides, but also travel tips and tricks that we’ve learned the only way you can—by having traveled to Peru. Read these before you go so you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest: 

All You Need to Know Before Traveling to Peru 

Driving in Peru 

Best Restaurants in Peru 

What to Eat and Drink in Peru 

Best Hotels in Peru 

Best Ruins in Peru 

Best Places in Peru 

Christmas and New Year’s in Peru 

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